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Stereo Sound

I have a riddle for you: What’s worse than your headphones not working?

A: Only one side of the headphones not working. (Also acceptable: AIDS, being stabbed, the Toronto Maple Leafs…)
This was the unfortunate episode that presented itself to me today. It was a psychological dilemma! If your headphones are completely broken, you put your mp3 player away and read something, or even – get this – not block out any non-musical aural stimuli. Yeah, stimuli. I went there.

Anyway, with one side working, do you pack up your player? Or will the promise of Filter and the Tragically Hip enlighten you too much to say no? (Spoiler: They did). And if you wear your headphones, do you wear both sides or just one side?

My headphones are the “real” over-the-head kind, because I don’t like earbuds. Under most circumstances, I feel normal if I push one earspeaker away, but when that earspeaker wasn’t playing anything, I felt silly. It was like I was fooling myself. And then I had an even worse revelation: I was effectively listening to my music in mono. Mono! It’s been outdated since FM radio. I felt cheated. My left ear was in a state of self-pitying envy. My brain was confused (“Don’t we usually hear with BOTH ears?”) And yet – I don’t know what this says about me – I kept the one-ear set-up the whole way home.

It occurred to me that The Beatles recently (?) released a compilation of their music in mono. So people who already own the dozens of Beatles albums and compilations can now pay a handsome sum for the privilege of hearing the same music in lower quality sound. Yeah, sign me up! Maybe I’ll rent my favourite movie and wear an eyepatch when I watch it, too.