The history of headphones continues to open up a new era, that of mobility.
Indeed, until then the helmet was mainly intended for sedentary use but it was without counting on the intervention of Sony.
Thus, in 1979, the Japanese brand presented its famous Walkman™ to the world, which revolutionized the way of experiencing music on a daily basis. With the walkman™, it was therefore necessary to have lighter headphones for mobile listening to music. It was done thanks to the MDR-3L2 headphones that came with the Sony walkman. You could wander with your Walkman™ on your belt and your headset on your ears in the streets and alleys of the whole world.
One innovation leads to another; thus, in addition to becoming lighter, headphones are abandoning the circum-aural format for a supra-aural format. This architecture sees the earpiece covered with foam resting against the ear without surrounding it. Lightweight and inexpensive, this helmet dominated the 1980s.
Sony did not stop there and proposed in 1997, the MDR-G61, the first neckband headset to be more elegant than a conventional headset and leaving haircuts intact.
Another brand made a name for itself in the early 2000s by offering an innovative product. The American brand Bose founded in 1964 has developed headphones using “Acoustic Noise Cancelling” technology to eliminate unwanted sounds and reduce symptoms of hearing loss. So after having developed this type of helmet for the American army and aviation, Bose offers this helmet to the general public under the name of QuietComfort QC1.
It’s white, it’s small, it’s round and you put it in your ear?
Just as the walkman did in its day, 2001 sees the first iPod™ classic from Apple and Steve Jobs add its piece to the edifice of headphones and earphones that came with it. Thus, despite less insulation, audio headphones and then in-ear headphones (earphones that slide into the ear canal) became a real alternative to conventional headphones during the 2000s.
The arrival of the iPod™, becoming an iconic product recognizable among all, undoubtedly precipitated the change in the way we looked at headphones.
Who hasn’t recognized an iPod™ owner by the white headphone cord hanging around his neck?
The audio headset then begins to go beyond its condition as a practical object to also become a fashion object.
Since 2003, Skullkandy has been a perfect example of this with helmets in diverse and varied urban styles that are anything but discreet.
Nowadays, there are many brands of urban audio headphones that cannot be escaped, such as Marshall, beats by Dr. Dre or AKG who knew how to adapt the “signature” helmet initiated by Koss. Diddy, Lady Gaga or Quincy Jones are some examples of these artists personified by a range of helmets. Manufacturers compete for influence to appropriate the most outstanding personalities, athletes and artists of our time to promote their audio headsets.
After a practical use or a fashion effect, the helmet becomes people where each personality must have the product of the moment or a range of helmets in his name.
As you can see, modern headphones have a rich history and have gone through different stages.
First dedicated to military use, it was not designed for nomadic use.
Little by little, it has evolved to adapt to new mobile and urban modes of music and content consumption.
Today, headphones are as much a practical accessory as a fashion accessory and even a piece of jewelry. It comes in all colors, all styles and for all tastes.
It would be interesting to discover the aspect and the functionalities of the helmet of tomorrow, don’t you agree?
But until tomorrow, we can end with the words of the founder of parrot, Henri Seydoux and designer Philip Starck about one of the last outstanding headphones of this fall: the Zik.
Find here the history of the audio headset (first part).
PS: If you haven’t found a headset for your ears yet, BH can help you with its selection.