Reading time: | Great sound requires silence.
Without a doubt, technical advancement can be a godsend and create something big. I’m not talking here about the 20 July 1969, more about Edward Jenner who invented 1796 the first vaccine and freed humanity from the deadly and gruesome decease smallpox (up to 20% of the case ended terminal). But there are also many little inventions that don’t do any big, have no side effects or downsides but make life more enjoyable when you use them.
One of these things is my Sennheiser headphones I bought in 2015 which does still a remarkable job. What it differentiates from regular headphones, besides its outstanding HiFi qualities, is its ability to suppress noise to a certain extent. While the industry tends to oversell the term noise-cancelling, there is still some noise to be heard but much less so. And this does matter, even in a mildly noisy place. Especially when you want to listen to music that shows high dynamics such as Beethoven. It’s also nice to have that feature when you are travelling.
I know that all this is nothing particularly new, frequent travellers tend to own such headphones in the third generation now, but I want to point out that my particular headphones still works as it did five years ago, no hiccups — nothing. And it sounds superb. It is, in fact, that kind of electronic quality gear which I thought of long be gone and thus deserve special mentioning. Quality gear will always have its place. It’s the breakneck pace of the obsolescence of expensive stuff that is indispensable if you want to take part in today’s society which raises deep concerns. Here, I’m talking about mobile phones in particular but we can extend this even to goods like cars which represent a real investment.
On 20th July 1969, the Eagle landed on the moon’s surface. The navigation to the moon and the way back to Michael Collins’ Apollo 11 capsule even more so was an unthinkable challenge in modern standards. The processing power of an iPhone was not even conceivable. Buzz Aldrin told me in 2013 that many of the navigational calculations he had done with a sliderule.
Back home, I got me a sliderule and figured out what a sliderule can do: it can multiply and divide by addition and subtraction (and other stuff like sine and cosine). It does this based on logarithmic scales. Why does this matter to me? Well, many of humanity’s senses are based on such scales. In fact, we hear, see, touch like a sliderule – weighted and not linearly.
When I pull up the volume on my headphones just a tad, but it sounds like double the volume I’m involuntarily thinking of Buzz Aldrin’s sliderule and his trip to the moon.