Well, I have been back in Canada for about a week now since my temporary status in Japan ran out without me securing a visa. Just a small setback, and one with several solutions. While here in Canada, I have been saving my money and avoiding spending on anything I can avoid buying, but I have caved in and purchased a pair of shoes (since it is very hard to find my size in Japan) and now I have also bought a pair of headphones.
For me, headphones are a staple of daily life. I always try to get headphones that sound nice at low volumes so I can use them at a conversational or lower volume and still enjoy them. To that end I have mostly be sticking to noise isolating headphones, but my last pair had started to give up. Actually, a frayed wire was causing them to cut out occasionally and frequently send small shocks into my ear canals, neither of which add to music appreciation. I still have a pair of nice overhead dj monitors, but they are not the most walkable and are a bit big to keep in a pocket for casual use. Needing a pair of carry-able in-ear headphones I tools look around for sales. There are actually a lot of headphones out there and a lot of them even have nice controls for iPads and iPhones, but most are either too cheap and sacrifice sound or much too expensive for my budget now. I particularly like Atomic Floyd headphones but they are quite pricey and are only sold in the UK and Japan.
This time I decided on some Bose MIE2i headphones. Never really being that impressed with lower-end Bose headphones I was a bit skeptical. They are also outer ear headphones as opposed to noise isolating inner ear ones and definitely let a lot of ambient noise in. Thinking it through, I realized that maybe being less isolated from the world was not necessarily a bad thing, and part of my decision to buy them was influenced by a need to open up more personally. As opposed to making the music a voice-over of my life I have chosen to make it a background soundtrack that permeates it. As for the sound, the headphones have quite a nice range and in a quite environment provide quite rich natural sound. In noisy environments they do virtually nothing in the way of background noise suppression, but that is kind of the point for me at this point in time anyway. They are highly wearable and I do not find them tiring at all. The ears are one of the main portals to the world, and spending most of your time isolating them can make you feel more isolated in general. I will have to wait and see how both aspects of this small change in lifestyle will work out.