High-priced headphones have overshadowed earbuds to become the “must-have” item of music lovers in recent years.
With the rise of popular brands like Skullcandy and Beats by Dr. Dre, headphones are now just as much of a status symbol as they are a tool to listen to the latest music.
Scott Hunter, a recent BYU graduate from the information systems program, said his Beats wireless headphones by Dr. Dre are one of his favorite possessions.
“I normally would never buy such expensive headphones, but I won them as an incentive at my job,” Hunter said. “I love them because, to me, the sound quality is great, and they’re fully integrated with my iPhone. I use them so much that they’ve almost become a necessity. I wouldn’t want to work without them.”
Though Hunter got his for free, he said he understands why people are willing to pay prices upward of $400 for a pair.
“I think for most people it’s a status thing,” he said. “The other day, I forgot I had them on. I went to the store, and a couple of teenagers were like, ‘Hey, nice Beats.’ The brand makes you look cool.”
Skyler Aitken, an information systems major, said he bought his Skullcandy headphones as an upgrade from the generic earbuds that came with his iPhone.
“I love them because they’re comfortable; they have full pause/play controls; plus, Skullcandy has an awesome warranty policy,” Aitken said.
Aiken said it makes sense that headphones have become popular in recent years to correspond with the continuing rise of digital music.
“Amazon and iTunes made buying music really easy, and smartphones have made it really easy to play that music,” he said. “So it seems fitting that the headphone market has grown along with those developments. Plus, the celebrity and athlete endorsements of brands like Beats by Dre and Skullcandy makes a big difference to young people.”
Scott Dransfield, an English major, attributes the brands’ popularity to being fashionable and trendy.
“Headphone designers intentionally started making more fashionable designs, so they turned into a fashion statement,” Dransfield said. “Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Beats is attached to one of the biggest names in hip-hop: Dr. Dre.”
Aaron Hefner, a business supply chain major who owns a pair of Sony headphones, agreed that the celebrity culture has made certain brands the “it brands” in the headphone industry.
“The fashion statement element is really what drives the sales of some of these companies,” Hefner said. “When in reality, there are equally good headphones for much cheaper made by other, less flashy and trendy companies.”