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God bless Koss

My little KSC-50 portable headphones from Koss finally kicked the bucket shortly before last quarter ended, and I was devastated. I loved them dearly, mostly because of their lack of a headband and superb bass handling, but also because they had so many memories soaked into their cushions: Ultimate Fakebook while sunning by the pool in Cancun, Built to Spill on cross-campus walks to visit Mara, and Modest Mouse while rushing to class, never on time. I wore them constantly, surrounding myself with a wall of sound. They were on my head as soon as the bell rang, and I didn’t take them off until sitting down for my next class or walking through my front door. But then, right before finals week, they just stopped working, so I had to choke back my sobs and mail them to Koss for a warranty replacement. My big, wraparound UR-30’s are too clunky to wear around campus, so this left me without headphones for my walk for the first time in recent memory.

And this is what I realized: I’d forgotten what the world sounds like. On campus, it’s a machine gun fire of different voices, each one flooding and ebbing out of my ears as they pass. Sorority girls talking about how drunk they were the night before blends into nerds discussing an online role-playing game, which segues nicely into EE majors bitching about the midterm they just took. Off campus, I hear the rustle of leaves and wind, punctuated by music and laughter, or sometimes drunken shouting, from the apartments and fraternities I pass. I was, in fact, just starting to enjoy the walk without headphones when the new ones arrived by mail yesterday.

I took them out of the box with some apprehension, new and unfamiliar and a little threatening. They sound better than the old ones, sure, but this isn’t the same pair I wore on the bus to the Mayan city Coba, and they sure as hell aren’t the ones with which I discovered half my favorite bands. I wore them for the first time today while walking to campus, and I was left wondering: am I better off hearing This is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About, or that old guy playing guitar on his front lawn? I couldn’t make up my mind, so I kept them on and kept walking.

Posted in Musings.

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