Not so long ago, thanks to Apple and Steve Jobs, we all bought MP3 players…more often than not an iPod. While many of us still use these – the concept and tech involved is a bit dated as we all have many other devices that are capable of playing music.
As we all know, a smartphone is a far more convenient method of listening to music than an MP3 player. We always have our phone with us, its always charged, we know where the charge cable is when it needs charging…its part of our everyday life. The MP3 player doesn’t fit this level of convenience any more, it needs charging and it needs to be synced with extra software from a computer.
What has accelerated this shift is the rapid growth of subscription based streaming services that can be accessed by a wide range of devices including smart phones, tablets and regular computers through a web browser.
Whilst the quality of MP3 files many moons ago was somewhat suspect. The quality of the modern day streaming services are fantastic. While some audiophiles may argue that they can here the encoding process in the audio – I think that most of us will be more than happy with the end result…I know I am.
A side effect of this streaming music boom, is that the earphone and headphone markets have seen a huge growth in demand. This has lead to loads of new companies entering the market place, with some newcomers creating some really interesting and different products.
It is pretty safe to say that the earphones that came with your smart phone are bad, really bad. If you are at all serious about your music, you need to upgrade them sooner rather than later. Budget is always a concern – £30 will get you a great set that most people will find amazing. Anything that costs less than £20 will probably lead to disappointment.
Finding a good set of earphones is straight forward these days. Most of the best in ear headphones come with silicone tips (the noise isolating type) and are capable of producing some of the best quality sound you can get at an unbelievably low price. With so many to choose from, its not hard to find a great set – with several examples winning numerous awards such as the Soundmagic E10s.
Once you have a decent set of earphones, you can still improve the sound further. Where mobile devices have the edge over computers playing audio through their web browser, is that the music players on mobile devices have a built in equalizer.
As all earphones sound different, everyones ears a slightly different and the amplifiers in different mobile devices also sound different…an equalizer allows you to adjust the way that the music sounds as you listen to it. This really is the icing on the cake.
The golden rule when tweaking the sound is generally that less is more – try turning frequencies down before turning them up. If you turn up a lot of the frequency bands, you are just making it all louder – this will distort the internal amplifier and sound pretty awful. Take it slowly & use your ears.
It is also worth considering that earphones and headphones wear in over the first few hours of use. This means that the sound will change a little – it may be very subtle or it could be quite dramatic, it depends on the headphones in question.
Portable audio really has never been this good before – get out there and enjoy your music.