Of Headphones and Husbandry

For some of you, this is going to seem a strange post. For others, you’ve been drawn here because of a search, and you’re not sure what you’ve stumbled upon.  Here’s the deal…I love music, sound, and my wife & family (not in that order, although, for those who share the obsession, that’s debatable…especially when UPS comes knocking).  More than anything, I love Christ.  As one who is passionate about theology, particularly as it fuels my love for God, I am fascinated at how God has made the world, creating man in His image, and leaving us beautiful pointers all along the way of His existence.

Now, a clarification. Most of the time, we don’t use “husbandry” to refer being a husband. Mostly, the word relates to the management of food or animals.  However, if you scroll down to third and fourth definitions, you will find that it relates to the management of “domestic affairs.”  So, you know, for the sake of a quippy little title…it works.

Sound

I’ve been a musician my entire life.  I’ve loved music (various genres) since being introduced to the Eagles, Bread, and Boston coming from my oldest sister’s room back in the 70’s.  As an adult, I’ve come to appreciate good production, precise presentations, and even a little bit of the science of all things sonic.  So, years ago I began looking for the perfect set of headphones.  There are several factors fueling this incessant search:

– Quality of sound:  I want it precise, but also enjoyable enough across spectrums that I don’t have to EQ from song to song.

– Quality of build:  If I’m spending any significant amount of money or time at all, I want the materials to be quality, but also comfortable.

– Quality of isolation:  I WANT to use open-back headphones daily, but I have 5 kids and several animals, so, closed-back it is.

– Quality of use:  I’m old enough (at 47) to realize that, while I desire the Swiss Army knife of headphones, that it’s better to spend time and money on getting the right tool for the right job.  Getting a (mostly) all-a rounder generally means that it does most things well, but no one thing particularly well.  So, that figures into budget, space, and an assessment of my lifestyle.

An important note related to sound is that having stated that I desire precision of reproduction, there must be a cohesion to the presentation.  I like the separation of instruments with my headphones, but if that precision sacrifices the joy of the overall presentation, I’m out.  Like a good orchestra, band, or even a simple singer-songwriter, there is a time and place for elements to stand out, not be drowned out, but also an overall experience to be gained from the entirety of the song itself.  This is tricky, and really subjective, but this point is important for some connections I’ll make later to being a husband and a dad.

Sound Theology

God has used sound and music to destroy things (the trumpets of Jericho).

God has used sound and music to bring comfort (David’s playing to soothe Saul).

God has used sound and music to deliver news (the angelic announcement of Christ).

God will use sound and music to announce His return (the trumpet blast).

God will enjoy sound and music by the “congregation” in the new heavens and new earth.

Far more than music itself, I love theology…the study of God.  I have been a Christian since around 1978 or so.  I was mercifully saved by God as a child when He made me aware of His goodness, my sin, Christ’s sufficient life & work, and the power to turn from living for self.  I’ve stumbled, tripped, even rushed headlong into sin, but He has preserved me all these years, and I can’t imagine doing anything in life, until the after-life, than studying and teaching about Him.  As I do that, on a day in and day out basis, I’m listening to music, I hear sounds, I pay attention to the voices of others.

That said, I believe strongly in pursuing theology that is biblical, historic, and articulated with conviction.  I want my theology “sound.”  I also have a theology OF sound.  Romans 1 makes plain that God has revealed Himself in creation, for all to acknowledge, at the least, that He exists.  Sound is a common grace, meaning it’s a gift of God for all of mankind, believer and unbeliever alike.  IT is through sound waves that the foolishness (according to the world) of the gospel is carried along to listening ears and resurrects dead souls.  Even for those who have lost their “hearing” God gives an ability to interpret the “sound” of the gospel in cognitive ways, which, by His will, gives birth to faith and salvation.

Now, that’s pretty hefty, and perhaps more “spiritual” than some of you would like to read, but it fuels my love for sound.  Gifts of God are meant to be celebrated and enjoyed.  These gifts should be examined, studied by those who enjoy such study, and brought back to a point of celebration and joy.  So, music, instruments, sounds should be something that promotes good and, hopefully, points others to God.

NOTE:  In case my lovely bride of 22+ years is reading this, this is NOT a “spiritual” justification for my purchasing of more headphones…though, can we really put a price tag on celebrating the beauty of God’s sonic creation? REALLY? (Somebody back me up, here).

Husbandry

Now for the potential stretch.  The other day, as I was reading not a few reviews of headphones, it struck me (for the 1000x) just how tricky headphones can be.  They are so very subjective, not just with sound preference, but even bodily ergonomics.  There are few items that you just have to try for yourself as much as headphones, and probably a few times.  I get nasty emails from Amazon a couple of times a year reminding of potential abuses of their return policy (not really nasty, nor have I violated anything).  Clearly, the people who write said policies hate music, headphones, and just don’t get NEED to get it right!  C’mon!  Well, as much as I want the greater precision of an HD600, I enjoy the warm, smooth presentation of an X2. Oh, but then I hear the kids, so I gotta get back to closed cans and race toward an SRH1540 or just have to blast things so entirely that I crank up good ‘ole ATH-M50x’s.  Mind you, I don’t have all these at once.  Finances don’t allow for that, but I have tried these and dozens more.  The fact is, the presentation and the circumstances matter.  I want consistency, accuracy, and sheer enjoyment most of the time.

Our families need this from us.

I can read, study, and pray that I am “accurate” at being a dad, yet not have enough joy to make being led by me a happy prospect for my wife and kids.  As much as I value being “right” I have to value the way that I’m right.  There is no necessary disconnect between being a technically (biblically speaking) good dad and being a joy to be around.  Think of it like this, when you listen to a great song, there may be some outstanding instrumentation, and you can appreciate that, but when you remember THE SONG (it’s singer, it’s context when you heard it, the genre, etc).  It’s a whole thing.

Dads, husbands, God has called you to be whole.  Wholly His, and wholly giving to them.  When they reflect on the heritage you gave them, would you rather they be technically moral, or joyfully holy?  Please, don’t get me wrong. I’m fully aware that God used my desire for morality to guard me from many of sin’s ill effects.  I also know that while that’s occurred, the overall tone of my life as a believer should be one who lives in joyful gratitude of my salvation and joyful pursuit of holiness, while joyfully gutting out the waiting for His return.

At the end of the day, music is meant to be enjoyed. We can parse the elements all we want, but let’s not forget that music should be provocotive, and ultimately, even if reflectively, provoke a joy.  We can take something from that.  I want my kids to believe rightly and my wife to be safe, but I want them to be joy-filled, equipped to fight for joy, for the rest of their lives, and in many ways, that’s part of my job, and my joy, in their lives.

Live cohesively.  Be technically “accurate” but also be a joy to listen to.  Like some headphones you can be so analytical in your accuracy that there’s a disconnect from the whole.  Like other headphones, you could also be so muddled that you hear something in general, but nothing special.  Be the guy that loves sound doctrine, and rejoices in the beauty it brings, especially for those who most immediately listen to your life…your wife and kids.

Lastly

As one way of renewing my blogging, I’ve decided to do some headphone reviews along the way, so I anticipate doing so about once a week.  If you have any that you’d like some input on, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to give my impressions.

 

One thought on “Of Headphones and Husbandry

  1. Interesting. Thanks for all that food for thought. I will listen to my music with a more sensitive ear and a more grateful heart. Greetings from an old friend in Madrid.

    Like

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