I have — I blush to admit it — peculiar ears. There, I’ve said it! It’s out in the open! I don’t mean that my ears look abnormal to a casual glance, or even on a close examination, should anyone wish to attempt one. I mean that my ears simply will not hold the weird rounded buttons that sit on the ends of the earphones supplied by most retailers with devices like tablets and MP3 players. And the condition appears to be hereditary, though not on a dominant gene — my daughter has the same problem, though not my son. As a result I have accumulated a collection of earphones, useless to me, which should keep him equipped for decades. Meanwhile, though, I have to buy new bud-type earphones, because they are the only ones that work for me.
A couple of years back this was no problem; I could walk into a cheap Chinese imports shop and buy any number of them for a couple of dollars each. Since then, however, some iron law of economics has come into play, and the earphones that used to sell for two dollars have gone up to ten, twelve or fifteen dollars. And because they’re so fragile, my daughter and I go through quite a lot of them between us.
Is it perhaps a supply problem? Are the electronics manufacturers running out of earphonium? Clearly not, since it’s still possible to go on to eBay and buy the little perishers in bulk for a dollar each — which is what I usually do now. But just what has intervened in the marketing chain to push the Australian cost into double figures, I have no idea. Suggestions are welcome.
My latest earbud purchase, by the way, was a rather nice black number from Sony — a birthday present to myself — which has noise isolation technology. This is a passive system, rather than the active (and expensive) noise cancelling, but it does work extremely well in the gym, and blocks out most of the offensive noise coming from MTV, which is just about all the noise coming from MTV. Hopefully it will survive in daily use for a long time to come.