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:
 
  • 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.
  • Xiaomi
  • Samson (this is huge there because they actually have dealers)
  • AT – yup M50x’s have hit the third world too. What’s ironic is, they are cheaper there.
  • Takstar (see a trend here – Chinese companies are totally killing it, it makes sense too given the price tags)
  • Beyerdynamic (770 ones) – those who can manage one
  • VE Monks ( … wait for it … there’s a story to this)
  • V-Moda (for rich kids)
  • Logitech earbuds (costs like 800 taka = $10 – I have one – and I love ‘em)
  • Dunu
 
What would an audiophile from a third world country like that ask you If you met him/her?
 
  1. Hello, what is a good headphone under 3000 taka ($50)?
  2. I want a flat sounding earbud but my budget is constrained. Is there anything good?
 
Why tell you when I can show you?
 
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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:
 

 
  1. No Paypal
  2. No Amazon (India has though but no other South Asian countries do)
  3. No eBay
  4. No Authorized dealer for the name brands (trust me, there is demand – illustrated evidence coming up - and yes, talking to you - Germany - knock knock!)
  5. No credible marketplace
  6. Budget constraints
 
What we do have:
  1. Super enthusiasm
  2. Great discussions
  3. Meetups at restaurants (ohh the food is heavenly – I never had a chance to join cause I live in the US)
  4. Carpenters who would make you real Mahogany wood headphone stands for like $10 (wood included) if you just show a sample picture
  5. 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