Sound Is Timeless

A good sound system never gets old.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

A good sound system never gets old.

How many gadgets or devices you’ve bought, say ten or more years ago, are still usable today? That phone is long obsolete by now, and even if that computer still boots I bet it’s woefully slow. Gaming console? There’s no way it can play the latest games. But there are some things in tech that stay relevant even after decades have passed. One of those things is sound.

The tech behind sound production has barely changed over the past few decades. Sure, we have newfangled exotic materials like beryllium, titanium, and even carbon fibre, but the fundamental principle behind how sound is produced is mostly the same as it ever was – an electrical signal triggers a medium that vibrates to produce sound waves. This means loudspeakers or headphones purchased years ago remain as usable as they have ever been. 

Look at it this way, few people who listen to Sennheiser’s 17-year-old HD 650 headphone will say that it sounds drastically inferior to any modern headphone made today, but no one will say that photos taken by the first iPhone are in any way comparable to those taken by the newest iPhone 11. 

My Reading Room

That aside, music remains as timeless as it ever was. Sure, the charts today might be ruled by the likes of Taylor Swift and BTS, but classics from Mozart and Beethoven are still enjoyed by many today. Moreover, access to music has never been more convenient. The two largest streaming services, Apple and Spotify, both charge less than $10 a month and gets you access to over 50 million tunes. That’s more songs than you can ever listen to in your lifetime. In other words, when coupled with a set of great loudspeakers or headphones, what you are getting is a lifetime of enjoyment.

Loudspeakers or headphones purchased years ago remain as usable as they have ever been.

But if you find the sound of digitally streamed music too clinical, there’s also the resurgence of vinyl to consider. Made obsolete by the cassette and compact disc in the 80s and 90s, vinyl is enjoying a rebirth of sorts. Fans insist music played off a turntable sounds more organic and realistic. But more importantly, it demonstrates the agelessness of good audio reproduction.

The whole point of this article is this: if you have been eyeing or sitting on the fence on a big audio purchase, let me tell you to boldly open your wallet and go for it. Few things in tech stay timeless but sound is one of them. It might cost you, but I think the potentially endless returns are well worth it, and who can put a price tag on that?