Review: The 1-BUD Headphone Is Music To My Ear
By Justin Davis. May 16, 2012, 2:04 PM CDT
I’m deaf in my left ear. I was born with no inner eardrum on my left side, and I’ve had a few constructive surgeries when I was younger to create the look of a left ear because I was born without the outer appearance on that side too. In the last few years, I’ve also looked into getting a bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA) implant, but it’s not necessarily something I need as my right ear has become something of a super ear due to me having to adapt since birth. However, I’ve had little fantasies about what’s it’s like to stand in a doctor’s office when some magical device is turned on that enables me to hear out of my left side. Yes, I said side and not ear because that’s how the BAHA works, as it reverberates soundwaves through the skull in the brain to the non-deaf ear.
Being deaf in one ear isn’t a hindrance to my everyday life, but there are little quirks I have to deal with on a regular basis. As a performer, I sometimes find myself standing on specific areas of the stage when a scene starts so I can hear everything going on. So far, I don’t know of many times it has affected a scene, negatively or positively (it is improv, so I’d hope it could be spun the right way for a laugh, a good character moment, or even some strong foreshadowing). It’s also a running joke with me that I say, “One day, I want to know what stereo really sounds like.”
It looks like I may finally have that happen thanks to the 1-BUD by Scan Sound.
1-BUD Earphones mix Stereo Sound into a Single Earpiece. Very popular among people with a hearing loss in one ear. Enjoy stereo audio sound in one earpiece and remain safe while running, bicycling, jogging, at work or play. Hear all the music from your iPod, iPhone, tablet, MP3 player or cell phone.
The very thought of the 1-BUD excites me after getting so frustrated the other day when I failed to find mono headphones at any local stores. I also read about the tinniness that mono headphones can have and that some may even damage machines. The 1-BUD seems like the perfect solution, and it would certainly be better than having to snip off the right headphone from every set I buy. I ordered two of them (the deluxe version and a wraparound earphone for running) for a total of $47, including shipping cost.
Was it worth the purchase and the psychological and emotional investment?
Yes. Yes, it was.
First, I listened to a random piece of music on my computer using my regular headphones set-up, which consists of cutting the right earbud off of a regular set of headphones to create my own de facto 1-BUD. This is a practice I’ve done for years, so it obviously sounded like I expected it to. Then, I plugged the 1-BUD in my computer and in my ear, played the same piece of music from before, and waited to see what the difference was. I’m not ashamed to say I became misty-eyed. It’s an odd sensation that’s hard to describe. Try walking around all day with one eye shut. Then, open both eyes and follow the exact same path as before. The difference should be impressive.
Hearing what amounts to stereo for the first time blew me away. I proceeded to try many different types of audio, from music to audio books to movies, switching out my old MacGyverized headphones for the 1-BUD each time. For a while, I sat at my computer, staring off into space with a dreamy grin glued on my face. It’s not just me that hears and is impressed by the stereo sound in one ear.
I’ve let others (more like forced on them) listen to audio (music and more) on whatever device is handy. One person’s most immediate reaction was a simple, “Holy shit.” To those that have full hearing in both ears, the 1-BUD may be nothing more than a way for them to listen to music safely while running or riding their bikes. To others, the 1-BUD may allow them to freely listen to music or other types of audio at work and not worry about missing anything going on around them. To myself and anyone else with limited hearing, the 1-BUD allows us to listen in a new way. Who wouldn’t want that opportunity?
About Justin Davis
Justin Davis is one of the co-founders of Techcitement and acts as the editor-in-chief for the site, which is ironic because he's likely the least tech savvy/aware person here. He also wrote a monthly restaurant review column for The A.V. Club Austin from 2010 to 2011, and he regularly performs in and directs improv theater. That means he's ready for anything. Yes, even that.