Geekiness / Minutiae · February 28, 2007

New Geek toy – USB Headphones

Those of you who know me also know that I’m an unashamed geek. Usually I keep a rein on my geekiness in my blog, but I’m so happy with a recent purchase that I just have to let everyone know.

I’ve had problems with sound cards in my computers – and I’ve never been happy with the standard ear buds for my MP3 player. I’ve found that I like a Sony earpiece that wraps around my ears – the quality is fair, but it is still small and easily packed away when not in use.

But for my computer I use headphones, usually headphones that still allow outside sound through – which is okay at home but not so good at work when I’m disturbed by distracting noises from my cube farm neighbors. And my headphones still relied on a computer sound card, which usually hissed, or didn’t have enough gain, or the audio jack would degrade over time…

So when I upgraded my work computer to my current duel-core P4, 2.1 Ghz monster machine, it didn’t bother me that the IT department forgot to add the sound card. I went looking instead for headphones that plugged in via USB.

What I got was the Ezonics EZ-638, a 5.1 surround sound USB headset that is semi-studio quality. I got them from New Egg for $30 – which was great because when I went to Circuit City and Best Buy in person to find USB linked headphones all I could find were things near the $100 range.

When I received my headphones I plugged them in and put them on. Windows XP recognized them immediately and installed them. But something was wrong –

They were way too quiet. No hissing at all. I honestly thought they were broken.

So with a sinking heart I started up Media Monkey and chose one of my current song favorites – and there it was! Beautiful music! It was as if I were hearing Jonathan Coulton for the first time all over again!

So now I’m telling you. You need headphones for your PC, take a look at these! They are definitely worth the price! No, they are not the same as a top of the line sound card hooked into your home media center with 7.1 surround sound and subwoofer, but they are much better than any standard computer sound – and when there is no audio they are completely quiet. And they do a good job of reducing exterior sounds. And they sound great!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go back to listening to “Skullcrusher Mountain”:

I’m so into you
But I’m way too smart for you
Even my henchmen think I’m crazy

I’m not surprised that you agree

If you could find some way to be
A little bit less afraid of me
You’d see the voices that control me from inside my head

Say I shouldn’t kill you yet