Friday, April 23, 2010
Like the celebrated music critic Lester Bangs once said: it's not nostalgia, it's taste. Besides, how can I be nostalgic for something that came out when I was three years old? Occasionally, I will get into some new music. More often, though, I find myself digging through the treasures of the past. No one ever clued me in to the Human League, mostly because I don't hang out with people who were of age and grooving to this shit in 1981 - but their album Dare is fantastic. You already know the Human League from their amazing single "Don't You Want Me" - which for some insanely bizarre or genius reason is the LAST track on the album. But the opening track, "The Things That Dreams Are Made Of" is the one I keep going back to. Notably, the staunchly anti-new wave Bangs was said to have died while listening to this album.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
If you're in the market for a nice, sweet-sounding, portable set of over-the-ear headphones for under $50, I've already done the research for you. It essentially comes down to two models: The Sennheiser PX100, and the Koss PortaPro. You can easily snag either one for around $30. Both fold up into something about the size of a pair of folded sunglasses. I decided to stop by J&R Music World to make my final decision, so I could test the headphones myself, and maybe some other headphones from their massive headphone wall as seen in their somewhat humorous commercial:
Or so I thought. That actual headphone wall does not exist. I don't know where it is, but it's not at the J&R Music World on Park Row in New York City. The actual headphone wall is about a third of that size. And the sample music coming from the headphones is definitely not heavy metal (it was more of a classical/world music bent).
They did, however, have the Koss PortaPros on the headphone wall (all the way at the bottom, in the corner) among the otherwise $200+ headphones (if you buy headphones that cost more than that, we can't be friends). The PX100s weren't there. Not only that, they didn't even have PX100's in stock (they did have the slightly more expensive PX200's, which feature more bass response). But I really liked the way the PortaPros sounded (they actually sounded better than half of the expensive headphones on the wall), so I was sold. Then I noticed the "25th Anniversary edition" PortaPros on sale for exactly the same price! During my course of research on the subject, I had learned that the PortaPros were first introduced in 1984 (they sure look like it - see pic below) and have not changed in any way. The 25th Anniversary edition is a slightly modernized version.
Why mess with perfection? One of the few knocks against the PortaPros was the flimsy cable. The 25th Anniversary edition has a cloth-wrapped cable, addressing the primary flaw fans have wanted addressed over the years. Additionally, the steel headband is a sleek black color, and the outer earpieces are a dark grey color, as opposed to the blue/teal 80's garishness of the originals. It all comes in a sleek box with a commemorative coin(?!), leather travel bag, and a booklet on the history of Koss. Normally, the 25th Anniversary edition sells for about $50, but J&R had them for $30. Additionally, I've heard Best Buy sells the 25th Anniv. model, but without the packaging, for the same price.
The final selling point of the PortaPros is this: LIFETIME WARRANTY.
You've just bought the last pair of portable headphones you will ever need in your lifetime.
These are easily the best sounding portable headphones I've ever had in my life. The best way I can describe it is "3-D". It doesn't feel or sound like you're listening to portable headphones, it sounds like there's a stereo system in your head - especially when you're rocking some tricked-out studio production like Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Welcome to the Pleasuredome":