MASON MARK (.COM)

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2010-01-09

Why is it that whenever I have a question I really need google to answer right NOW, I only get some random dude on the internet tubes asking the same question to no avail?

Whyever that is, I've been wanting a decent set of wireless headphones for late night guitar/TV/PC/game use, but hadn't known what to buy.

I wondered: is this just because decent wireless headphones just don't exist? But... surely they must! And they do, it turns out: the Sony MDR-DS4000, released almost five fucking years ago.

sony_infrared_phones.png

Not quite as cool as the wireless headphones of my imagination, but unlike every other set I could find in the real world, all the flaws are flaws I can deal with.

Before summarizing the good and the bad, I think it is worth noting what is wrong with most other wireless headphones: THEY CAN'T FUCKING STREAM AUDIO WITHOUT FUCKING SKIPPING AND STUTTERING DUE TO RF INTERFERENCE. It makes me wonder how in the fuck these products are even on the market, but I guess there must be some places where they work okay.

Most of these headphones use the 2.4GHz band that is also used by WiFi, cordless phones, your neighbor's X10 pervcam, etc. And somehow, at least in dense areas like where I live in Tokyo, they just can't seem to pump enough data to the phones to make an uninterrupted sound stream. I've tested a couple borrowed/stolen wireless headphones here, and had the problem that the sound drops out sporadically for a second, or fraction thereof. So I never bought any of those.

For a long time, though, I have been wanting some wireless headphones for late night Guitar Rig sessions, gunning people down on the PS3, etc. Recently, I found myself in Akihabara with an hour to spare, so I tested EVERY SINGLE MODEL AVAILABLE at Yodobashi Camera (about 8). Granted, at 8 stories tall and about a city block in area, it's probably the densest electronics store in the world, replete with radio interference from every device known to mankind, but jeez--EVERY SINGLE ONE of the digital 2.4GHz headphones experienced dropped audio in a single minute of testing with a bit of head bobbing and weaving and spinning around.

But the infrared ones didn't. And the Sony MDR-DS4000 was the best of these.

In my dwelling, I have a lot of radio waves caroming about, but there's no infrared interference, since IR doesn't go through walls. (I've read that if you have a plasma TV, or certain kinds of domestic robots (but apparently not including my Roomba), you may suffer from IR interference.)

Obviously, not penetrating walls means you can't leave the room and still hear. But to me, that seems a hell of a lot more acceptable than sporadically not being able to hear when you are sitting directly in front of the screen. So: IR FTW.

PROS:
+ No fucking interference, wooohoo!
+ Very comfy
+ Sound quality as good as my ears can detect
+ No perceptible latency at all (great for Guitar Rig)
+ Not insanely expensive

CONS:
- Line-of-sight only[1]
- Charging the batteries takes a while compared to newer models

[1]: but seems to bounce off walls and stuff well... only drops the audio connection when I physically leave the room

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