You can't see it, but sound quality is a beautiful thing

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| Published: April 19, 2013

Today was enlightening for me. It started off with my favorite set of headphones being unexpectedly crushed by own foot. Not only did my foot hurt after this encounter, but more importantly my only pair of headphones were absolutely done for. This wasn’t one of those lucky breaks where I popped off a bauble and I just had to stick it back in. It was time to go out and purchase a new pair of headphones.

The pair of headphones I had weren’t expensive; they were the free kind that comes with your iProduct (you know, the kind that essentially ruined ears before EarPods). I once had several pairs of these lying around but this was the last remaining pair. I told myself that after this pair broke I would invest in a decent pair of headphones. Too many times have I bought the $0.99 buds that slipped out of my ears any time a hair blew in the wind, or the $10 ones that melted when left in a sunny patch in the car, but not this time; this time the plan was to go big or go home.

I like to do thorough research on products before making an expensive purchase – it only makes sense. If you’re going to spend an arm, a leg, and your first born child on something you might as well make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into beforehand. I looked at Beats, I looked at Bose, and then I thought you know what? Sound quality isn’t really worth that much money. Some of these headphones cost as much (or more) than some of these smartphones that we talk about every day. Talk about crazy. Who would pay that much for sound? And why on earth does HTC keep implementing Beats Audio with their phones? What’s so great about it? Sound is sound, am I right?

Am I ever wrong.

I decided to pick up a rather cheaply priced headset – one of those gigantic 80’s type headphones that suddenly came back into fashion, you know the kind. It’s an iHome brand, so I figured it’s probably not going to be fantastic. It’s going to be basic and maybe have some extra bass or something along those lines.

No. Totally wrong. This less than $20 headset which I immediately discarded as junk but would get me through the day actually turned out to be magnificent. I can’t bring myself to take them off. The sound is just so clear. The Backstreet Boys have never sounded better (say what you will, fan for life!)

And during the first few moments of listening to music I realized I had never heard sound so clearly, and if I think this is clear sound I can only imagine what the more expensive headphones could do plus integrating it with Beats Audio. There is a very real reason why HTC is marketing the brand, but it’s sad because people (even myself) don’t realize how important sound is until you experience it – and I probably haven’t even experienced sound to the fullest. Sound isn’t something you can physically show a person. They can’t see it, and they can read about it but it’s all about the experience. HTC is incorporating a very important element in their devices and most people overlook it because when we think phones we think apps, speed, and pixel density; things we can see. We don’t automatically think about sound quality of the device. At least, I never had; and never once in my retail career had I had anybody ask me what the sound quality was like on a phone.

These headphones actually make my phone sound good. In my opinion iPhones never had the best sound quality, especially in regards to speakers – and maybe speakers on the actual device aren’t that clear year. The best speakers I’ve heard on a device come from my Kindle Fire, and even that is mostly just a volume perspective and not necessarily referencing clarity.  But aside from speakers, iPhones certainly didn’t win any awards in regards to sound quality either despite the fact that they got their iPopularity from selling iPods – a premium device with mediocre sound output. I’ve been so concerned with looks that I didn’t look at the most important aspect of devices like mp3 players and even phones. The sound has never been as clear as the sound I’m hearing right now with my $20 headphones.

Our phones need this; for music, for voice calls, for videos, for everything. This clarity is amazing. I’m in a sound stupor because for some reason this makes me very happy. I can hear so many things that I could not hear before. Different instruments, different beats. Even the voice clarity is amazing. I bet phone calls would sound ten times better if this was a headset.

This puts a couple of things in perspective for me. I never really considered sound quality a “main feature” of a phone – not one that was important to me - but after listening to how much a simple pair of headphones changed the entire experience I think that sound quality is actually a very important aspect. It enriches the entire multimedia experience on my phone. I would have never thought that simply switching headphones would actually be this enlightening (I probably would have known this already if I wasn’t so cheap, but it is what it is).

Readers, how do you feel about the sound experience on your phone? Has sound clarity ever been of importance to you, or do you not consider it an important feature? Let me know your thoughts!

Image via Beats by Dre