Resetting the Curve
In order to keep myself sane and in the right mindset in the world of mid-budget consumer tech that I like to review, I sometimes need to reset my perspective.
It’s hard to know what’s good without also knowing what is bad. So it helps to take a dip into the absolute bottom end every once in a while, and try to enjoy some “trash.” Sometimes this turns out real winners, and other times…not so much.
I do this about every six months to a year, and it helps me to appreciate the benefits of spending a little bit more on headphones/hardware, so that I can more accurately describe the differences between lower and higher cost products.
Have you ever noticed that tech YouTube channels sometimes do a “cheap things roundup” video that doesn’t really fit with the rest of their content? In addition to driving up views from demographics that don’t normally watch the high end stuff, I’m pretty sure they also do this for the same reason I do.
Good and bad are relative terms. A well-rounded critic should ideally try to experience as wide a range of stuff as possible, in my opinion.
This is why I always took a little issue with the old game journalism practice of having a “sports editor” or an “RPG editor.” Yes, it’s important to have some expertise in the gaming field so you can talk authoritatively, but if you primarily only play one sort of game over time your comprehension of the industry suffers. The modern trend of personality-driven content has helped that a little bit, although these days let’s play videos and influencer content seem to drive game sales stronger than traditional reviews.
It’s a good bit of fun to buy something cheap expecting it to be terrible and then really enjoy it. And it’s nice to not have any personal stakes built up in a product since I’m still buying all of them myself. If I buy something low cost and then hate it, I’m not disappointed, and I learned about what the lower end stuff is doing to try and cut down production expenses.
I always say that, beyond a certain quality, headphones have diminishing returns. That point of quality is still around $100 for wired stuff, and around $200 for wireless, as a general rule of thumb in the consumer market. :) There are exceptions to every rule of course. There are budget products that rule and kilobuck headphones that are terrible. Read more than one review. Buy from a place with a return policy!