11 June 2011

T.K.O. in Gamers vs. Audiophiles

Yesterday, I discovered that the local Radio Shack (in the poor neighborhood) no longer stocks plain old headphones. Instead, they exclusively carry "headsets" with a single earpiece and a microphone for speaking. While the pictures on the packaging show smiling young women in phone banks, it can safely be inferred that the target market for these devices is, in fact, young male gamers, who apparently now outnumber headphone users to such an extent that the more specialized devices are no longer worth stocking.

A trip to a nearly equidistant Radio Shack (in the cake-eater neighborhood) was more successful as customers there have their choice of several sets of headphones ranging from $14.99 to $99.99 (as well as the same selection of headsets located in a completely different part of the store). Since I seem to destroy these things regardless of quality or price, I opted for the bottom-of-the-barrel set, which is something musicians aren't suppose to do (or at least not publicly admit to doing), but in my world, harmony and counterpoint are the cake, everything else is the icing, and Grainger and Ravel are booo-ring.

An aside: a techie acquaintance chides me for shopping at Radio Shack in the first place, a chain which he says "sold out" to lowest-common-denominator consumerism years ago (indeed, as I found, it's an ongoing process). I'm a musician, not an electrician; record stores, jazz clubs and bandmates are entities capable of selling out, but electronics stores are not. When I need a piece of gear, I need it fully assembled and functional, not in raw component form, and I'm pretty much at the mercy of other people/entities who can provide such services. For reasons I won't go into, I've boycotted Target and Best Buy for years, and I have to assume that Wal-Mart is a nonstarter for anyone reading this, as it is for me. Chances are better that I simply don't know about Radio Shack's dirty laundry than that they have none; anyone out there got the goods and want to force me to become a headphone-maker? (Yeah, I'm sure it's all slave labor anyway...any American-made headphones out there?)

No comments: