Dr Dre, with HP, is launching a line of — probably very expensive — headphones and laptops for higher quality digital music listening. As far as I’m concerned, Dre can do no wrong, but I wonder if these new devices will do much of anything. Interscope Chairman Jimmy Iovine, who’s working with Dre on the Beats by Dre line, said in a CNET interview, “We have to fix the entire chain. Our position is to go to all the sources and try to improve sound and educate people.” If you’re a serious audiophile, you’re already in touch with the fact that what’s coming out of your iPod through crappy earbuds doesn’t sound nearly as good as it should. If you’re an average consumer, presumably the target for this would-be “education,” you’re probably not inclined to drop a stack of cash on a fancy set of cans.
I feel strongly that casual listeners could benefit from some schooling on how to appreciate good music production and the effect of solid mixing (and remember those things called “Full Length Albums” that put songs in a specific order, to be listened to from front to back?), but I’m not so sure that introducing high end equipment that they won’t buy in the first place is the way to do it.
(Still, I’m curious how the collaborators are addressing the issue that people are predominantly listening to super-compressed audio files, which, to come in manageable sizes, have been stripped of certain sounds which you may not consciously notice, but which contribute to overall sonic depth. It’s not like you can put those lost sounds back in, right? I guess we’ll see/hear.)