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5 Things You Must Know to Find the Best Headphones

5 Things You Must Know to Find the Best Headphones

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.” – Maya Angelou

That is precisely my favorite thing about headphones – they let you immerse into a world of your own, a world that is impervious to noise pollution. It has never been easier to enjoy life at your own pace; all you need is your favorite tune and a pair of headphones.

Never has a song sent more shivers down my spine or made my arm hair stand up straight than when I heard it through headphones. Music actually does sound better through headphones, and we can thank our brains and physics for making it happen.

Headphones have become a vital piece of equipment in our daily lives as they have the power of setting the atmosphere we like in everyday chores. As with most people, I find headphones to be most useful while commuting, but the experience applies to almost anything. I’ve seen window washers with headphones, morning joggers keeping the rhythm with the music, even people enjoying a bench in the park while being dazzled by music.

I’ll leave the music choice to you, but when it comes to headphones, there are certain things you should consider to get the best feeling and the best quality to price ratio.

1. Type of Headphones

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headphones-type

    Type of headphones basically translates to the choice between earbuds and over-the-ear headphones. People that have used both can testify to the fact that even though they serve the same purpose, they are actually entirely different.

    Earbuds are, because of their size are easier to store and carry around (i.e. in your pocket). They tend to be less expensive than their counterparts, but their type and size carry along a whole set of problems. Frequently falling out of ears and even ear pain are the reasons I gave up on earbuds. Another reason is that they simply produce lower quality sound even if they are made by well-known companies.

    Over-the-ear headphones are the ones that we all imagine a DJ wearing, and there is a reason behind it. They are bulky and a bit awkward to carry around all day but they more than make up for it by giving you the best sensation possible.

    They are perceived as being extremely pricey, but the truth is that you can get a decent pair for at a lower price. Check out the best headphones under $100 for example. Except for the superb sound quality, over-the-ear headphones are easier to wear and much less harmful than earbuds.

    2. Noise blocking

    headphones-noise-blocking

      Noise blocking is crucial for a quality pair of headphones. There is nothing worse than having to turn the volume up to maximum so you can overpower the sound of the annoying music in a bus. Not only will that hurt your ears in the long run, but you also might not even be able to play it as loud to negate outside noises.

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      Take a look whether the headphones have an open or closed back which will probably tell you the most about the quality of sound isolation. Open-back headphones do have a more appealing sound but are at the same time more liable to unwanted sounds.  Closed-back headphones will give the bass a nice boost, negate the outside effects but will suffer in the quality department.

      I have found that the special noise-cancelling types aren’t really worth the money. It will take at least $250 for a decent pair, and still you will be left with having to turn up the volume wasting precious battery life .

      3. Frequency

      headphones-frequency

        When it comes to frequency, try to find headphones with the largest range possible. Roughly said, human hearing ranges from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, and that is basically your target area if you want to hear the entire spectrum.

        However, headphones differ in the sound curve. The sound curve is an indicator of what the manufacturer meant to emphasize in the sound. High-priced headphones are well-rounded and place no distinctions between the lower and higher frequencies. In practice, this is often not a great trait.

        Less expensive headphones have a U curve meaning that you will probably hear the low and high frequencies better. As oppose to higher-priced headphones this means that you will really feel that bass in a song. Simply put, higher-priced headphones do give a better sound, but at a price of sounding bland and monotonous – something you don’t want when listening to music.

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        4. Impedance

        headphones-impedance

          Impedance is a well-known term from high-school frequently used in electrical circuits and is shown in ohms (Ω). I don’t want to get all boring and technical so let’s just say impedance plays a significant role in playing music through headphones.

          Lower impedance (less than 25 Ω) in headphones means that they require fewer amounts of power to transmit sound. 25 Ω is quite enough when playing music from phones, Ipads, and similar devices but what happens when you need a more powerful sound as a DJ might.

          DJs use headphones that have 25 to 70 Ω of impedance, so they don’t “blow out” their headphones when using sound amplifiers. If you are not going to use headphones professionally, you should stick to low impedance headphones (far less expensive) but keep in mind the devices you are going to pair them with.

          5. Try Them On

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            This is basically the best advice I can give you about getting yourself a decent pair of headphones. It doesn’t matter if someone gets technical or tries to explain by using their own words; there is no way to present the feeling you get from certain headphones.

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            Ask a friend to lend you his pair (if they are something you would consider buying) and plug them into your device. Have your device ready with music you are most fond of and simply listen to how they perform.

            Another way to test headphones is to try them on at the store. Most audio stores will let you try the headphones without charge so you can decide from your own experience.

            6. The Experience is No One’s but Your Own

            headphones-experience

              Whatever headphones you choose just remember to use them responsibly. Be careful while behind the wheel and try not to play the music louder than you need it to be.

              The wonderful world of music is for you to discover and I bet a quality pair of headphones can only make it better. Let the music set you free and allow me to quote Neil Young – “Keep rocking in the free world!”

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              Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

              Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

              There are many reasons why people might scream – they’re angry, scared, or in pain (or maybe they’re in a metal band!). Some might say that screaming is bad, but here’s why science says it’s good for you.

              “For the first time in the history of psychology there is a way to access feelings, hidden away, in a safe way and thus to reduce human suffering. It is, in essence, the first science of psychotherapy.” — Dr. Arthur Janov

              Primal Therapy

              Dr. Arthur Janov invented Primal Therapy in the late 1960’s. It is a practice that allows the patient to face their repressed emotions from past trauma head on and let those emotions go. This treatment is intended to cure any mental illness the patient may have that surfaced from this past trauma. In most cases, Primal Therapy has lead Dr. Janov’s patients to scream towards the end of their session, though it was not part of the original procedure. During a group therapy session that was at a standstill, Dr. Janov says that one of his patients, a student he called Danny, told a story that inspired him to implement a technique that he never would have thought of on his own.

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              How it Started

              “During a lull in our group therapy session, he told us a story about a man named Ortiz who was currently doing an act on the London stage in which he paraded around in diapers drinking bottles of milk. Throughout his number, Ortiz is shouting, ‘Mommy! Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!’ at the top of his lungs. At the end of his act he vomits. Plastic bags are passed out, and the audience is requested to follow suit.”

              It doesn’t end there, though. Dr. Janov said that his patient was quite fascinated with that story, and that alone moved him to suggest something even he believed to be a little elementary.

              “I asked him to call out, ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ Danny refused, saying that he couldn’t see the sense in such a childish act, and frankly, neither could I. But I persisted, and finally, he gave in. As he began, he became noticeably upset. Suddenly he was writhing on the floor in agony. His breathing was rapid, spasmodic. ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ came out of his mouth almost involuntarily in loud screeches. He appeared to be in a coma or hypnotic state. The writhing gave way to small convulsions, and finally, he released a piercing, deathlike scream that rattled the walls of my office. The entire episode lasted only a few minutes, and neither Danny nor I had any idea what had happened. All he could say afterward was: ‘I made it! I don’t know what, but I can feel.’”

              Delving deeper

              Dr. Janov says he was baffled for months, but then he decided to experiment with another patient with the same method, which lead to a similar result as before. The patient started out calling “Mommy! Daddy!” then experienced convulsions, heavy breathing, and then eventually screamed. After the session, Dr. Janov says his patient was transformed and became “virtually another human being. He became alert… he seemed to understand himself.”

              Although the initial intention of this particular practice wasn’t to get the patient to scream, more than once did his Primal Therapy sessions end with the patient screaming and feeling lighter, revived, and relieved of stresses that were holding them down in life.

              Some Methods To Practice Screaming

              If you want to try it out for yourself, keep reading!

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              • Step 1: Be Alone — Be alone. If you live in a place that you can’t be alone, it might be a good idea to talk to your family or roommates and explain to them what you’re about to do and make sure they’re okay with it. If you’re good to go, move on to step 2.
              • Step 2: Lie Down — Lie down on a yoga mat on your back and place a pillow underneath your head. If you don’t own a yoga mat, you can use a rug or even a soft blanket.
              • Step 3: Think — Think of things that have hurt you or made you angry. It can be anything from your childhood or even something that happened recently to make yourself cry, if you’re not already crying or upset. You could even scream “Mommy! Daddy!” just like Dr. Janov’s patients did to get yourself started.
              • Step 4: Scream — Don’t hold anything back; cry and scream as loud as you can. You can also pound your fists on the ground, or just lie there and scream at the top of your lungs.

              After this, you should return your breathing to a normal and steady pace. You should feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted off of you. If not, you can also try these other methods.

              Scream Sing

              Scream singing” is referring to what a lot of lead singers in metal or screamo bands will do. I’ve tried it and although I wasn’t very good at it, it was fun and definitely relieved me of any stress I was feeling from before. It usually ends up sounding like a really loud grunt, but nonetheless, it’s considered screaming.

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              • Step 1 — Bear down and make a grunting sound.
              • Step 2 — Hiss like a snake and make sure to do this from your diaphragm (your stomach) for as long as you can.
              • Step 3 — Breathe and push your stomach out for more air when you are belting notes, kind of like you would if you were singing.
              • Step 4 — Try different ways to let out air to control how long the note will last, just make sure not to let out too much air.
              • Step 5 — Distort your voice by pushing air out from your throat, just be careful not to strain yourself.
              • Step 6 — Play around with the pitch of your screams and how wide your mouth is open – the wider your mouth is open, the higher the screams will sound. The narrower or rounder your mouth is (and most likely shaped like an “o”), the lower the screams will sound.
              • Step 7 — Start screaming to metal music. If you’re not a huge metal fan, it’s okay. You don’t have to use this method if you don’t want to.

              If you want a more thorough walkthrough of how to scream sing, here’s a good video tutorial. If this method is too strenuous on your vocal chords, stop. Also, make sure to stay hydrated when scream singing and drink lots of water.

              Scream into a pillow

              Grab a pillow and scream into it. This method is probably the fastest and easiest way to practice screaming. Just make sure to come up for air.

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              Always remember to make sure that you’re not going to disturb anyone while practicing any of these methods of screaming. And with that, happy screaming!

              Featured photo credit: Sharon Mollerus via flickr.com

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