This is a story of two very bad purchases. The whole thing started with my old Bose headphones breaking, one day the right speaker just started going in and out and well, they just broke. I had bought them in Japan 2 1/2 years earlier so the warranty was long gone, this of course meant I had to pay the €40 shipping-cost just to get an estimate on the cost for fixing them. In the end the price would most likely have ended up being the same or more than a completely new pair. So I set out to find a new pair of headphones that could fulfill my requirements of having excellent production quality, a hard-kicking bass and completely isolating both from the outside in and the inside out. No sound-leakage was one of the biggest requirements as I would use these headphones in the school library where there can be no noise or sound outwards at all.
After browsing through different price-categories and looking at designs, stores, reviews and all that I found one pair that seemed OK. They had gotten some good reviews, they looked OK and seemed somehow to compare to the ones I got. I knew they wouldn’t be as good but they only cost like €70 so I was happy, considering my last headphones had cost €200.
As it turned out when I got them, they literally sounded just as much outward as inward. If I had cared to study product descriptions from several different sites I would have found out from one of them that they were “open” design, and that this means they don’t isolate at all. So I fucked up. I’ve returned them and I think that will work out and I’ll get my money back.
So what next?
Well, I decided to up the price-class again to avoid having a pair of shitty headphones in my hands again. I went to Hi-Fi Klubben, a well known Swedish audio-store. They have an awesome slogan “Bad sound kills good music”, how can I go wrong with them I thought?
I found a pair of Denon headphones with active noise reduction, which would be an extra treat.
I got the headphones home, took them to school and spent a couple of hours with them. With the active noise reduction on it really killed out all other sound. It made a car-ride completely silent. If you listen to a lot of music on the bus or are a frequent traveler by plane, I could actually recommend these headphones. The noise reduction did however make the quality and power suffer. The headphones have no kick at all, the sound is very flat and I really can’t get into the music if I can’t feel the bass.
There was however a bigger problem! I bought them for about €240. I didn’t care to check the price that much at other places because Hi-Fi Klubben were the only Swedish retailer selling them. I’ve always had a good impression of Hi-Fi Klubben too, so I thought – “Surely, they must have reasonable prices”.
Turns out I was wrong, they charged me €240 for them when they cost €120 if I had ordered them in from Germany. What happened is illustrated in the image below.
What really put the icing on the cake (interpret that as you wish) they didn’t let me return them. Swedish laws require stores to give customers 14 days to return a product and get their money back if they aren’t satisfied. They had circumvented this however by declaring headphones as a “hygienic product” like underwear or a toothbrush, which you obviously can’t return. I can understand this for in-ear headphones, you can’t really return that, but for regular headphones? That sucks.
Now while it is hard to admit I got fucked, it is even harder to admit that it is my own fault. I should have checked the pricing and I should have tried to bring in my old headphones and see if I could get access to a quiet room to test them properly and compare. But the thing that really got me was obviously that I overpaid as hell. Everything isn’t lost however. The store manager gave me “a deal”, he bought them back with a 30% reduction in price, so I got almost all my money back, but I still lost €70. I don’t think I could have sold the things used for €50 above retail-price, plus I would have had to put in the hours it takes to sell stuff.
I licked my wounds, took the money I got back and walked over to the Bose store, bringing out my puppy eyes and asking them to take me back. I paid €210 to get back into the Bose club and I’m happy I’m back. Plus, they have a way better slogan then Hi-Fi Klubben anyway “Better sound through research”. I like sound, I like research, so we’re a perfect fit.
Bose has always treated me well. When my cord was broken I stopped by the store in London and they unpacked a new pair of headphones to take the cord and give it to me free of charge. When I bought the new Bose headphones today the store was actually closed, I knocked on the window and some guy came out and opened, started up the register for me and all that. I asked what cord was included (because it was the new model with the iPhone microphone and all that) and he opened the package for me without knowing that I was buying them just to check. Bose has service. Hi-Fi Klubben fucks you in the ass.