I first saw these headphones from a newsletter I subscribe to called Tokyo Otaku Mode, and I saw an article about these so-called earphones “made for Anime songs.”
This product is TDK’s new neo:n line of headphones. Of course, something like this gimmick is nothing new, like “Made for Hip-Hop” “Mastered for iTunes” and other fancy marketing terms so people would be buy products solely for name, looks, and sense of false audio superiority, even though the these type of products drop audio quality or emphasize certain kinds of frequencies and distort how the music is originally supposed to be heard. Beats headphones prioritize bass heaviness and name recognition (when Dr. Dre was still attached to the brand), while Apple Earpods use Apple’s branding power to have more people buy the headphones because it is an Apple product.
Anything Good About These Headphones?
While I do think the design of the headphones are good, and the price is not too shabby (around ¥1500-3100 Yen, convert to your currency accordingly), I think a product like this is an idea headed in the wrong direction.
First, let me say I do not own any of the three versions of the headphone line; this is rather a quick commentary on why headphones like these that are not a good idea. TDK made these headphones on five major characteristics of anime songs:
- Fast tempos
- Many mid-pitched notes in the music
- Distortion in medium-tone sounds
- High-pitched vocals
- A large number of synthesized sound sources
This makes them mid-heavy, akin to the bass-heavy Beats headphones. As someone who listens to a lot of anime and video game songs and soundtracks, as well as music from pop, rock, jazz, classical, electronica and much more,
I would want headphones that start out as flat as possible (no pre EQ adjustments without the ability to adjust). Although there are many anime songs that do fit that bill as described by TDK (Shounen Jump titles, Dating Sim-based harem anime, idol anime, etc), there are soundtracks that do not fit that bill and has more dynamics in terms of Hz, like Jazz found in Cowboy Bebop and Kids on the Slope, to full orchestras employed by Final Fantasy live performances, to the thrilling and chilling scores by Yuki Kajiura and Shiro Sagisu.
If you want to argue about using these headphones for more everyday situations, not necessarily for concentrated listening, or for purely aesthetic reasons, then by all means go for it. Here is a picture for my everyday headphones, each under $40.00 USD when bought new:
Honestly, earbud-type headphones hurt my ears after prolonged use, and I can’t wear over-the-ear headphones for more than an hour. I like ear-clip headphones, but they are harder to come-by nowadays. I use them for exercise, portable listening, and other situations I am not home (I don’t take my Sennheisers outside my room).
I am a fan of music, and although this site focuses on anime and video game music, this does not mean I listen to nothing else. The purpose for this blog is for anime and video game fans to discover that there are better quality music out there for your favorite shows and games. Anime and video game music are just as rich and varied as all kinds of music, and also that anime fans do not just listen to anime and video game music, but to a wide variety out there. The TDK neo:n headphones are decent for its price, and can be a collector’s item, but should not be the representative for anime and video game listeners.
(This post was originally published on April 19, 2015)