Thursday, March 1, 2012

When I’m in the driver’s seat, I normally go about my business with the radio turned off, focus trained solely on the road, the only soundtrack furnished by ambient traffic noise. When I’m in the driver’s seat of my cubicle, however, I’ve got Pandora on full blast as a kind of workaday Moses, shepherding me through the grind. Or I did, at least, until this Monday, when I decided to stop cold turkey.

Why? I think my hearing’s gotten worse, ever since I began this musical odyssey six months ago. Back then, I was sporting a pair of low-end Altec Lansing earbuds I had procured, free of charge, about seven years ago after I filled out a form on the Internet. These earbuds were my conduit to Pandora, where I was slowly building up my “musical DNA,” which apparently is a hodgepodge of Jack Johnson, DMB, Ben Folds, Jet, Bowling for Soup, SR-71, Green Day, Cardigans, Sum 41, American Hi-Fi, and, Lord help me, Blink-182. “Lord help me” is an aside, by the way, and not a band.

It wasn’t my choice of music that did me in, however, nor was it my audio equipment. I mean, in terms of taste, I’m clearly never going to a meetup of, say, Pitchfork readers, where I’d likely be reviewed, then summarily executed. And you should know I discovered, one December afternoon, that my Altec earbuds were highly magnetic! I was absentmindedly jamming the two earbuds together, when I noticed they repelled each other. In effect, then, I had been administering a steady, months-long regimen of magnotherapy directly to my skull.

But I don’t think my hearing went downhill because of these factors. No, I’m blaming it on the sweet-ass pair of Sennheiser bass earbuds I purchased back in January. At the time, I had viewed them as an investment: if I’m on Pandora for hours on end, why shouldn’t I upgrade to better hardware to deliver these phat beats directly to my auditory nerves? Well, now I know why I shouldn’t, because prolonged exposure to what are essentially subwoofers in your ears is less than optimal. Now, don’t get me wrong–the quality was top-notch. If it’s a matter of deteriorating one of my five senses, though, I can probably forgo listening to “Jesus of Suburbia” for the twentieth time.

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