日期:2013-08-29 16:44



Designer headphones




The sound of music




Dr Dre’s creation of a market for costly cans may herald the return of true hi-fi


说唱歌手Dr Dre创造的高端耳机市场可能预示着高保真时代的回归


Aug 24th 2013 |From the print edition



FOR decades the market for expensive headphones was mainly limited to hi-fi buffs. But now that the boxy stereo system in the corner of the bedroom is largely a thing of the past, and young music fans listen mostly on portable devices, headphones have become as much of a fashion statement as the music player itself. Among the first to spot the potential of this market was Dr Dre, an American rapper-cum-tycoon. In 2008 he and Jimmy Iovine, a record producer, launched their Beats range of headphones, to great success. They have all but created a new product category: premium-priced ($100-plus) cans whose sound quality is good enough, but which mainly sell on their brand image.


几十年以来,高端耳机市场都局限在高保真行家圈里G!W[XZD)KNw。但是现在箱式音响系统已经过时了,年轻的音乐爱好者基本都用便携式设备听音乐,耳机跟音乐播放器一样成了一种时尚C_Hi&C5SAI。Dr Dre就是最先发现这个市场潜力的人之一,他是一个著名的美国说唱歌手n24jzpLL+g45jgNEd。2008年,其与音乐制作人Jimmy Iovine一起推出了他们的Beats系列耳机,大为成功*bS6*ulD_VWb([n0。他们创造了一种全新种类的耳机品类:高价耳机,(价格在100美元以上),音质足够好,销售主要靠品牌形象QpHVXC2*=x][+8dn


Beats Electronics and its founders have proved adept at using celebrity endorsements and product placement to plug their headphones. In America the company now has almost half the market for premium-priced cans, compared with 21% for Bose, a longer-established maker. Beats headphones are bassy: that’s what hip-hop fans want, but might not suit opera lovers. Overall, though, they are a lot better than the earbuds that come free with most portable devices.




There is in any case a limit to how good music will sound through even the best headphones. Most of the music tracks on portable music players are in the form of mp3 audio files, in which the music has been compressed to make the files smaller and thus fit more of them into a given amount of storage capacity. Jim Anderson, a sound engineer who teaches at New York University, first plays his students an mp3 music file through good speakers, and then an uncompressed master recording of the same song: they are amazed at how much they have been missing, he says.


无论如何,即使是通过最好的耳机,好音乐也无法完全展现出来9JX0e%Eg_xdt,i。大多数便携音乐播放器上的乐曲都是mp3格式的,这种格式下,歌曲被压缩的更小,以便在有限的容量内放更多首歌^wG|)fu[cnKYOcJn%。音响师Jim Anderson在纽约大学任教,他说,他先通过优质播放器给他的学生播放了一首mp3格式的歌曲,然后播放了未压缩版本的歌曲,他的学生惊讶于前者丢失细节之多=PpHhabs^7@u^k*r@_


Since consumers have been persuaded, largely by Beats, that it is worth paying a fair whack for some half-decent headphones that look nice, perhaps they could be persuaded—especially since the storage capacity of many portable devices is now huge—to turn their backs on cheap mp3s and seek out recordings in true high fidelity. Linn Records, an online distributor of high-resolution music files, sold around 60,000 songs between April and June of this year, most of them in the FLAC format, which compresses the music lightly, saving a bit of storage space, without any loss of quality. Apple’s iTunes has a similar, though slightly lower-quality offering.


既然Beats说服了消费者放弃那些外观不错但是不够像样耳机,可能消费者也能接受购买高保真的音乐,而不是便宜的mp3格式音频,尤其是现在很多便携式音乐播放器容量变得巨大lrSiS0B;Oom8HW&rdHV。在线高保真音乐销售商Linn Records今年二季度卖出了大约6万首歌曲,大部分都是Flac格式的歌曲,Flac格式对乐曲稍稍压缩,节省了一点空间,但是音质却没什么损失XPq~yIhAui]9。苹果的iTunes也是一样,尽管质量稍差一点z*NJ|]rEJNVk#Z


If sales of these hi-fi recordings take off it may boost the market for really top-notch cans like those of Grado Labs, another American firm. Grado has for decades relied on reviews in specialist magazines, and word-of-mouth recommendations from fans, to spread news of its headphones’ faithful reproduction. In contrast to Beats, it has eschewed image-making: it has not advertised since 1964. Unlike Dr Dre, then, its fortunes are less tied to the fickle tastes and fast-changing fashions of the young.


如果这些高保真音乐的销量飞涨的话,可能会使得顶级耳机生产商,诸如另一家美国公司Grado Labs生产的耳机市场火爆起来fUY2pj)Ot]oU。几十年来Grado都凭借专业杂志的评测和粉丝的口口相传传播其质量过硬的耳机信息,XDn3P2,i-u2#0q。相比Beats,它避免品牌化,自1964年以来从未做过广告JJS~D4y_DDsD。所以不像Dr Dre,其命运也与瞬息万变的年轻人的品味与潮流无关D%yO|HIvztGAg

  • limitedadj. 有限的,被限制的 动词limit的过去式和过去
  • rangen. 范围,行列,射程,山脉,一系列 v. 排列,归类于
  • storagen. 贮藏,存储,保管,保管费,仓库,[计]存储器
  • qualityn. 品质,特质,才能 adj. 高品质的
  • faithfuladj. 如实的,忠诚的,忠实的
  • statementn. 声明,陈述
  • potentialadj. 可能的,潜在的 n. 潜力,潜能 n. 电位,
  • fidelityn. 忠实,忠诚,准确性
  • reproductionn. 再现,复制,生殖,幼树
  • brandn. 商标,牌子,烙印,标记 vt. 打烙印,铭刻,加污