This post is not focused on a specific technology, but more about how to find hardware with good support (e.g. spare parts, software updates, …) so you can use it for multiple years. In this case I use headphones as an example, but the general concept can be applied to just every technology you want to buy.
A headphone example
So let’s dive into my example. I currently own two different headphones. The first are my Sony WH-1000MX4 with active noise-cancelling (ANC), that I mostly use when I’m commuting, listening to podcasts while cooking, working in the office or at some other noisy place. The ANC works very good and is just perfect if you need an hour to do some deep work or get some reading done in a noisy environment. You can learn more about the Sony headphones in an older post.
The second headphones are my trusty Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro that I bought at least 9 years ago. I mostly use the DT-770 when I’m working/studying at my desk and they are connected via the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface to my computer.
What I really like about both headphones is that you can easily get spare parts to repair them. So this week it was time to change the ear pads of the Beyerdynamics headphones as they tend to become dirty after a few years of usage. In this case I only bought new ear pads, but you can get about every part of the headphones directly from Beyerdynamics. The change itself takes about 10 minutes and is very straight forward.
The point I want to make is that these headphones are about 10 years old, and I still can get new ear pads (or any other part) without any effort! That is something I really like about pro (or on this case studio) hardware.
So in this case the investment of ~130 Euro was more than worth it. I actually hope the same holds true for the Sony headphones, but I’m not so sure of that. The Sony’s are more of a consumer product than the Beyerdynamic’s and therefore will get updated more often. The predecessor of the MX4, the MX3 were released in August 2018 and the MX4 in August 2020. You can get new ear pads for the MX3/MX4, but I couldn’t find any official other parts than that. Hopefully I will never need more than ear pads from Sony.
If it is possible I would prefer to get parts from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) as they should know the specific specs of their product. The problem there is that they often call for absurd high prices, so you have to use some other Chinese company to get them for a reasonable price. Fortunately, that’s not the case here!
My conclusion is that headphones like the DT-770 are a good investment as you can use them for many years and if something is broken you can simply repair it yourself. Besides they sound excellent!
A generic view on technology
The trick is to know if a product will be supported that good for a time span like 10 years. In my opinion an indicator for that could be that a company exists at least for a few years. If you get a product via Kickstarter I am not so sure the (maybe new founded) company behind it can provide any support. You can’t be sure if the company will exist in a few years.
Also some people in the scene (like audio in this case) recommend their products. But with people in the scene I explicitly do not mean some random tech youtuber or influencer that uses a product for a few weeks and the declares it as ’the best product I’ve ever used’. I mean real feedback from people that use a product or a predecessor of a product for a long time. Most of the time you can’t directly infer the experiences from a predecessor to current product, but it can give you an idea how the product could be supported (especially on the software/firmware side).
These people can of course be found on the internet, just do some more research than simply trust your favorite youtube/random video service star. This is of course associated with the risk that the same circumstances do not apply to the new product, but this is the risk we have to take with every new product we buy.
Finally I think the headphone example is a very easy one as musicians/studios all around the world use Beyerdynamics headphones and you can see them often in studio videos. And in my case this was more or less a coincidence as I simply followed a recommendation in a forum. Besides that the Beyerdynamics do not contain any software like the Sony’s, so it’s much easier for them to simply work. But EOL your hardware because of missing software (security) updates is a whole other topic for another post.
If you have any thoughts on this please let me know via mail!