|Penetrate Your Ears|
|Written by Murphy Simmonds|
FULL penetrative aural gadgetry - inserting technology into the side of our heads in a quest for the perfect portable sound.
Ears. As sensory input devices go, ears have always been the bridesmaid and never the bride. While our eyes take command by providing us with continually updating information about our surroundings, guiding our paths and warning us of danger, our ears have generally played second fiddle. They have it OK when compared to the remaining senses, which are either too specific (taste and smell) too vague (touch) or too fictional (spider) but when you're up there in the limelight as one half of the star duo, you don't want to be the back end of the pantomime horse."The sheer invasiveness makes for incredible sound quality and leaves you feeling faintly violated. No downsides, then"
So we've got a soft spot for the ear, and we like it when the world deals it a good hand. This happened with the invention of the headphone. For those unfamiliar with these exotic contraptions, they are essentially small, portable trumpets designed specifically to funnel sound directly into the wearer's head. When attached to a gramophone or similar music generating machine, they enable the user to enjoy personalised sound without disturbing the ears of others - and their helpful size means you can use them on the go. People are always on the go these days.
When headphones were invented back in 250AD, they required a full neck and shoulder harness to hold them in place. But the swiftness of technological progress has refined and redesigned them into a thousand forms, from hefty cushioned cans to light, foam-padded headbands and tiny, inner-ear buds. But the latest innovation has seen them taking a worrying turn. No longer content to live outside - or even slightly inside - the ear a new breed of 'phones has emerged, intent on tunneling deep towards your eardrum like a pregnant, sonic mole with a litter of fat, pounding sound babies. The sheer invasiveness makes for incredible sound quality and leaves you feeling faintly violated. No downsides, then.
The name to watch, if you're comfortable having the side of your head penetrated, is Shure. It cornered the unfathomably expensive end of the deep insertion market with the SE530 sound isolating headphones, selling for the best part of £350 and giving audiophiles a new brand name to drool over alongside the heady ranks of Sennheiser, Bose and Amstrad (except for Amstrad). Thankfully they've expanded their range into the realm of mere mortals, with the new SE110s pitched at £70. It's still loads of money, and thrusting machine parts into an orifice remains an acquired taste, but ask yourself this: after all they've done for you, don't your ears deserve it?