Can You Hear This? - 405 Magazine

Can You Hear This?

I have always been something of a speaker snob, constantly trading until I hit on the sound I’m looking for. So let’s talk about getting the best sound quality out of your speakers or headphones, whether you’re using an MP3 player or iPod, car stereo or home sound system.

This last spring, I made a big mistake. My buddy Dan and I were heading out for our weekly BBQ fix at Earl’s when he commented on how good the stereo sounded in my van. It started me thinking I needed a better stereo in my Volvo, the car I drive every day.

So I visited my buddy Google to look around for a replacement system for the stock stereo. I checked into the Volvo forums, where I heard about the Volvo Dynaudio system. I bought the components from eBay and had the guys at Audio Extreme do the heavy lifting.

I was blown away at what I had been missing in my car. But now I can’t stand to listen to the radio anymore because of the compression. It’s either load up the CDs and the MP3 players or listen to NPR.

I have always been something of a speaker snob, buying what I thought were the best speakers I could afford and constantly trading until I hit on the sound I’m looking for. So let’s talk about that sound for MP3 players and iPod.

Beyer Dynamics DT 770 Pro-80


Klipsch S4

I have maybe 20 different pairs of headphones around the house, all bought before I settled on the pair that I now use constantly: the DT 770 Pro-80 studio headphones from Beyer Dynamics (around $200). They are great headphones with excellent sound, no ear fatigue and the soft cloth earpiece cover feels comfortable even after hours of wear. None of the on-ear or in-ear phones I have tried can really compare with the sound quality and comfort, but if I have to wear an in-ear the Klipsch S4 at around $100 is not too bad.

Portable Dock
AT&T gave me a Beats by Dr. Dre™ BeatBox Portable™ ($400) to test, and I must say for a portable sound system it does very well. With the batteries loaded up and using the Bluetooth connection, I was able to listen to my iPod with very good sound levels and great portability. It would also make a great sound dock for a workout area or the bedroom.

Monster Beats by Dr. Dre™ BeatBox Portable™

Non-Portable Dock
The system that gets the biggest workout from me is from Digital Designs, a company based in Oklahoma City. They build a line of powered studio speakers and subwoofers with audio dock included. The DD-PM151 Speakers and DD-PS1 Subwoofer that I use are currently being replaced by a newer model with Bluetooth and multiple audio connectors. To me, this system is really the way to go for great audio regardless of the source. I have mine hooked up to my computer and a CD player so I can enjoy the best of both worlds. At $800, it’s pricier than the others, but worth the investment if you are serious about great audio from your music collection.

Make the trip down to your local music store and try out some of the small powered studio monitors – the kinds of speakers that are used to mix the CDs you listen to and can really bring the sound to life. You’ll thank me when you hear what you’ve been missing.

A photographer, computer consultant and self-avowed “media junkie,” Michael Miller has spent 20 years learning the ins and outputs of desktop computers and small networks, hardware and software, while developing an abiding love for technology and its continually evolving impact on everyday life.