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The Audiophile Scene in a Third World Country - FUN READ

This will be a cathartic experience on my part since I haven’t written for a while after leaving The Huffington Post.

 

A little background, I live in NYC but was brought up in Bangladesh (used as a representative third world country among many others). Those who have not heard of the place – open up a world map (do they still have those – or has Google Maps killed it already?) – and look to the right side of India. I sort of proudly say to all that I am Bangladeshi even though “officially” I’m from Wisconsin. But this article (or whatever you want to call it) is about how similar and dissimilar the head-fi or high-end audio scene is from the Western world and a third world country (where the average income – I just looked it up – is 2500 taka/month = $35/month. That math is a misrepresentation because it accounts for garment workers et al. So, for those with the hobby, it would be around $1000/month. I mention money early because, let’s face it, this is a “financially fatal” hobby.

 

Add to that, we (well I do, I’m in US) don’t have an Amazon/eBay and we don’t have Paypal either. So, once you have it, you’re pretty much stuck with your gear. But things are changing – no thanks to Paypal or eBay but the HP lover community.

 

The data I will show are from a particular Facebook Group – local to the scene in Bangladesh. 

 

 

Most popular brands with some reasoning:

 

  1. Sennheiser (!!!!!) – yes, the kids with money usually go for the 598’s that they bring on foreign trips or family living abroad. The country does not have any authorized dealer.
  2. Xiaomi
  3. Samson (this is huge there because they actually have dealers)
  4. AT – yup M50x’s have hit the third world too. What’s ironic is, they are cheaper there.
  5. Takstar (see a trend here – Chinese companies are totally killing it, it makes sense too given the price tags)
  6. Beyerdynamic (770 ones) – those who can manage one
  7. VE Monks ( … wait for it … there’s a story to this)
  8. V-Moda (for rich kids)
  9. Logitech earbuds (costs like 800 taka = $10 – I have one – and I love ‘em)
  10. Dunu

 

What would an audiophile from a third world country like that ask you If you met him/her?

 

  • Hello, what is a good headphone under 3000 taka ($50)?
  • I want a flat sounding earbud but my budget is constrained. Is there anything good?

 

Why tell you when I can show you?

 

'

 

 

The demographics would be like 90% male and 10% female between the ages of 12-30. Observe how it is more like a “young folks” thing? I’m sure it will gradually grow to be more of a “12-70 years” hobby.

 

Struggles faced by a third world country:

 

 

  • No Paypal
  • No Amazon (India has though but no other South Asian countries do)
  • No eBay
  • No Authorized dealer for the name brands (trust me, there is demand – illustrated evidence coming up - and yes, talking to you - Germany - knock knock!)
  • No credible marketplace
  • Budget constraints

 

What we do have:

  • Super enthusiasm
  • Great discussions
  • Meetups at restaurants (ohh the food is heavenly – I never had a chance to join cause I live in the US)
  • Carpenters who would make you real Mahogany wood headphone stands for like $10 (wood included) if you just show a sample picture
  • Community FTW – see below (in the two pictures following this bullet point) how a subculture without any endorsement or financial backing “officially” have gotten VE Monks to come to a country few have heard of.

 

 

 

 

Hope you guys liked bits and pieces of the similarities and contrasts. Think of it as a tour.

 

More soon especially reviews of my own gears.

 

And lastly, HD600’s are the best headphones existing (I just wanted to write that sentence). 

 

- Adnan

 

Comments (6)

Loved your article Adnan! When I think of the money I have spent on my hobby.... I have lost IEMs which are more expensive than the HD600 and have a broken set of IEMs which were significantly more money and have given away headphones which were more expensive than 99% of your Bangladesh headphone enthusiasts could afford. But a thriving community by the sounds of it
Trev
 the cool thing that whey gonna appreciate every lil thing they buy,
Hiya, all. Thank you so very much for taking the time to read this.  HOWEVER, I think I implicitly conveyed that they are NOT here as in here on head-fi! There are numerous product reviews written by some of these dudes  (while being super active on the forums) under pseudonyms/nicks( unlike dumb me - telling everyone my full name ... haha). Truly appreciate it @Takeanidea (Trev) @starNdust . Cheers :) !
মারাত্নোক লিখেছেন। :D

what is the name of the group? It'd be great to be joined with them. And again, I've just decided to buy a portable DAC for listening hi-res music and you won't believe what i'm being through. Yes, right now, too much harassment.

I've ordered a tiny smartwatch from amazon and then sent from USA to BD by a acquaintance. Just for seeing what may happens if I want to ship product from abroad. You don't believe the watch did cost me about 18 thousand taka after converting from dollar to taka using current dollar rate, but that got stuck at the airport by customs and they want 22 thousand for releasing the watch, I mean, what the heck?? It's just a tiny childish watch, come on!!!

However, Life goes on and I've to move on anyway. Then i tried to contact some other people who assist for acquiring products from abroad but this is insane!!! They want 95-120 taka per dollar exchange + shipping cost. I'm really heartbroken. This products are spontaneously little bit overpriced, and when you've to pay more than what it actually costs, It's unbearable. As you mentioned, for an average guy living in a third world country.

 I've managed to get my hands on some quality headphones from shure and akg here in Bangladesh. There's also bose and others but i don't like the sound of bose or that so called beats audio. But NO portable DAC. There's some bostapocha bishal size er DAC for home use though, but no hi-res DAP or portable DAC available here in bangladesh.

It'd be great to join the group of people who are suffering like me and also to hear'em out about how the overcame this hindrance. (If any).

Again marvelous writing. 
Cheers from your motherland.
 
Good read this. Very true, and as an Indian, I do relate to your thoughts, but at least things are picking up here, what with guys like @raghavsomani from Headphone Zone starting events like Headphone Connect (which is a great initiative by the way), I'm sure things will definitely pick up in neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, especially with no dearth of demand and a good number of avid music listeners.
 
Here's hoping we all have a regional Head-fi meet some day soon!
 
Cheers & happy listening
Adnan A common but outdated name in Turkish

And living nearly the same struggles here.
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