I bought a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7 QuietPoint headphones in December 2007. It was in preparation for my six months flouncing around the Americas. I anticipated a lot of time on buses and planes, a lot of time waiting, and was sick of using tiny earbuds, especially because my ears seem to find it very very easy to pick up infections. They were more expensive than I was expecting, but I managed to convince myself it was a worthwhile purchase: good headphones were necessary for my aural health and mental well-being.
And I was right, they were excellent headphones. But now they are nearing the end of their inanimate life. They have taken a lot of abuse. Where the plastic headband is joined to the cans; that bit seems to have taken the brunt of the abuse. Cracks appeared. The right headphone has been super-glued back on, the left one had been super-glued back on twice. But super-glue (actual generic name, the less-snappy “cyanoacrylate”) is a wonderful thing, and aside from the inevitabilty that they will need superguling again at some point, it’s no biggie.
For most of the life of the headphones, they have had a plaster over the little blue light that indicates that the noise cancelling is switched on. I first put it on them when I was travelling on buses in South America and, especially at night, I could see the reflection of the light in the window. And (sometimes) being a kind soul, (but more likely paranoid about not wanting to be hated by a fellow traveller) it meant that anyone else sat near me wouldn’t be annoyed by it.
The noise cancelling broke when I was in Toronto. Sat with a friend on the patio of a bar, we got chatting to a friend of his friend. Another friend of the friend came along, ended up having an argument with her friend, and she deliberately tipped a pint of beer over the table. Moody cow. My headphones got wet, and since then haven’t cancelled noise at all.
I’ve been through four cables; the jack that plugs into the iPod and gets shoved into my pocket takes a lot of battering and eventually, the wires inside give up. They came with a lovely cable. Not too long, not too short, and with a L-shaped jack that makes it comfortable in the pocket. The first one broke after about two years. I found it difficult to find the exact cable again, bought a cheaper one, and waited until the next time I was in London, where I went back to the store where I’d originally bought the headphones to pay a not-insignificant amount for the “correct” cable. That lasted until October last year, when my flat mate’s cat decided to play with it, bite into it, and render it useless. Since then, I’ve been using a farily crappy Radio Shack cable.
But now, I fear the headphones are nearly dead. The general structure is fine and aside from the totally buggered beer-soaked noise cancelling, they still sound good, but the padded part of the headphones has given up. Not the spongey bits themselves, but the black material that covers the sponge. On both headphones, it has split open. And everytime I want to use them, I have to stuff the orange sponge back in to the knackered-looking covers. And now, with no partt of those covers that is still attached, it’s becoming more and more difficult to not have tongues of foamy orange poking out when I’m using it. They’re not dead, just ready to go into a retirement home.
Considering the abuse the headphones have taken in general, it’s sad to see something so dumb bringing them down. But bring them down it has. It’s time to say goodbye to my headphones. My lovely, glorious friend for four years. Sounds idiotic, I know, but they’ve been through the adventures. Four years, three continents, eleven countries. They’ve been there for the smiles and the opposite of smiles. They’ve been with me on a beach, they’ve been with me on a glacier, they’ve been with me walking down long country lanes in Uruguay, and they’ve been with me drunkenly walking along the side of a highway in Mexico City. They’ve been with me as a single man, a married man, a separated man, and a divorced man. They may just be a pair of headphones, that look exactly the same as the previous and next pair of ATH-ANC7s out of the factory, but they were mine, and they were good around my neck.