Headphones or Loudspeakers? How Technology has Changed the Way We Appreciate Music
Of all the ways music and listening have changed with jumps in technology, the most obvious and often reflected on is the almost unbelievable ease of discovering new music. New bands, genres and sounds, all at a tap of a finger.
Something that's discussed less often is how the music creation process has changed and continues to shift to account for our changing listening habits. One of those changes has been the increasing number of people turning to headphones.
A Quartz article points out that artistes are paying more attention to what the bass in their music sounds like, because lower frequencies are harder to capture on smaller speakers like headphones and laptops as opposed to bass-heavy loudspeakers used at large-scale concerts. In order for the bass quality to be better translated via headphones, producers often choose to boost its frequency even more.
Jess Ellis, producer of Frank Ocean’s album Channel Orange, also revealed that he would often play back his work on his headphones and MacBook Pro in order to get a grasp of what it would sound like to an audience who preferred to listen to their music on headphones.
The popularity of headphones and earphones has also closed the gap between the listener and their definition of time and space. “Whisperpop” is one of the most apparent examples – musicians like Billie Eilish incorporate close-range vocals, layered effects and alternating stereo sounds into their songs to create an immersive listening experience best appreciated through earphones. Take “Bad Guy” for example: when Eilish starts singing, it truly feels as though she's right next to you, talking softly in her signature sultry whisper.
STEP INTO A WORLD OF CLARITY
As expectations for a truer, more engrossing listening experience continue to grow, so has the spotlight on noise-cancelling wireless headphones; improving clarity while reducing noise has become the key for on-the-go listeners who demand immersive quality sound.
A recent addition to the lineup is British audio specialist KEF's Mu7 Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones. Custom-tuned by KEF's engineers and featuring multiple filters to capture environmental noise while cancelling different frequencies, Mu7 brings you high-fidelity sound away from home.
Renowned for his innovative approach and flowing, sculptural forms, industrial designer Ross Lovegrove (designer of the iconic KEF Muon and others) is the man responsible for Mu7’s sleek curves. Beyond design and high-fidelity sound, it's the other details – a lightweight aluminium build, 40-hour battery life and intuitive touchpad – that make Mu7's listening experience even more convenient for the modern music lover.
In the past, only over-ear headphones had the capacity to support ANC (active noise cancelling) due to the ability of its share to cup the ears completely. Yet again, with the dedication of engineers and sound lovers, some in-ear headphones today are able to deliver the same immersive performance.
The Mu3 Noise Cancelling True Wireless Earphones are one example of an obsession with pure, accurate sound taken to its extreme. Crafted by the same engineers behind KEF’s signature high-fidelity loudspeakers, the Mu3 contains a full-range driver within each earbud for crisp high notes and detailed bass while going about your day.
Unlike conventional earphones where audio is sent to one earpiece and then relayed to the other, both Mu3 earpieces receive a signal at the same time, resulting in seamless, highly stable connectivity.
HEAR THE DIFFERENCE OF HIGH-FIDELITY SOUND
There’s nothing quite like getting lost in your favourite tunes with the privacy of your own set of headphones. But there's also something irreplaceable about sharing the experience as a group, with pure sound made possible with high-fidelity speakers.
High-fidelity sound systems were previously considered an audiophile’s tool, available only to those with the right resources and technical know-how. Today, more music lovers are beginning to appreciate the difference in experience that a high-fidelity loudspeaker can bring: hearing the most minute details of each soundscape, reproduced in such clarity that the saying “let the music run through your veins” finally rings true.
That's where KEF’s LSX II Wireless Speaker System comes into the picture.
As a brand pioneering high-fidelity sound for over 60 years, KEF has housed the power of its exclusive Uni-Q® technology into a surprisingly compact and wireless form. For listeners ready to take the plunge into the world of high-fidelity, the LSX II delivers the most immersive music, film or gaming experience whether stationed in your living room or on your desk.
Ultimately, our constant search (and growing appreciation) for the best listening experience is only made possible by the pursuit of perfection from countless artists, audio engineers and acoustic research labs around the world.
What's next in the evolution of sonic miracles? We can't wait to keep listening.
All Images: KEF
Writer | Michelle Tan
Having spent the past decade turning her passion into profession, Michelle is a freelance writer/translator based in Malaysia. Her lifelong dream is to become an urban hermit.