Are Headphones the Answer?


Here we are at the end of September. It has been a great summer in our “neck of the woods” but the time to get snow tires is getting uncomfortably close. ‘Tis also the time of year when we consider spending more time – Much More Time – in our homes. Cozying up by the fireplace with a shot of brandy or scotch, listening to our favourite tunes – you know!

More often than not however, we run into wee snags in our environment.  The kids are busy making a racket, our spouse is doing whatever spouses normally do, too many distractions. Now may be the time to consider headphones. In some cases, they will hide all that is happening around you, or if you are in a calm environment, they simply shut out the outside world.

Headphones come in many different configurations, wireless, corded, open-ear or closed – ear, full size, mini or ear-buds but what we will concentrate on today is wired with either open-ear  or closed-ear design.

Open-ear headphones are those which allow sound from the outside (i.e. your living area) to be heard. There are many reasons that you might want theses units. Generally speaking, they are lighter, often have a more airy sound and usually start at a very attractive price point. The negative is that they funnel in noise from the outside. Great if you need to listen for the phone or door bell, not great if you simply want to relax to your favourite tunes or if the person with whom you share your living space can’t stomach your music as they can hear it as you listen.

Closed-Ear headphones are those designed usually with a large leather/leather-type ear-cup. The greatest advantage of these is usually they will block out all sounds from your listening area. The disadvantage is that they can be heavy, particularly after long listening bouts. I usually prefer this type myself as if well designed, can be very comfortable, totally shield me from my environment and usually are very sturdy. Closed-air headphones are most commonly used in recording studios by artists as these headphones allow the artist fewer distractions.

At All That Jazz, we offer 2 brands of headphones – Grado and Shure.

GRADO Headphones, from America are renowned world wide for sound quality are an open-air design. Foam earpads, lightweight headpiece, GRADO headphones start from about $100 and run up to about $2200.00.

The fabulous thing about GRADO, is that even the least expensive that they make is great sounding, to the point that most reviewers suggest they are one of the “Great Audiophile Bargains”!

GRADO also ensures long term listening pleasure as it offers exact replacement pads, quality headphone wire extensions, y-connectors and even their own headphone amplifiers. Excellent Stuff!

The SHURE company’s primary customer base has always been the pro-audio industry. They have forever made microphones etc. so it is no great surprise that they use a “closed -air” design. Just put them on your head and you will immediately understand the term “closed-air” To some extent it almost seems that you are in a vacuum until the music starts, then you are in a concert hall. Closed-ear devices are very commonly used by studios, recording artists etc. as they block out most audible distractions. They also have to be very accurate but sound musical, it is after all, All About The Music!

The Shure line is not terribly extensive with only 3 models of full-size headphones and 4 models of ear-buds. I only mention their earbuds as they are very good for active use.

SHURE Full-Size headphones start at the $70.00 range and run up to about $230.00 for studio devices. Oh, did I mention the Sound! Again audio reviewers consider them from excellent to unbeatable in their price point. Again SHURE offers earpads, some units even have replaceable cords and offer a 2 Year Warranty!

Come in and listen!