The Portuguese headphone scene.

siddharth-bhogra-143322What you’ll read next is my view about the headphone scene in Portugal, it’s a incomplete and somewhat subjective opinion, so please keep that in mind when reading.

Portugal like all countries in Europe has a massive smartphone user base, it would be expected that most Portugueses would care at least a little about the sound quality of their headphones but sadly that’s not the case.
Sure there are some headphone related subtopics in the biggest Portuguese online forums, but for most part consumers are more than happy with the stock options the companies provide with their smartphones.
I can actually know who reads reviews and who uses stock headphones just looking at what they use daily. I find it sad because at least 95% of the people I watch on my daily commute use average stock earbuds and the other 5% are enough people to grow the hobby but are dispersed on foreign sites.

Luckily the Portuguese audiophile magazine “Audio e Cinema em Casa” actually reviews High-End headphones so in a way the landscape is not a barren desert for the audiophile hobbyists. We love headphones just like foreign enthusiasts but there isn’t a dedicated Portuguese community to talk about the subject.
Brasil in that point is way ahead of Portugal, mostly because of Leonardo Drummond work on his reference site and forum “Mind The Headphone“, so at least there is a place on the other side of the Atlantic ocean to ask advice and help in Portuguese. I should also note there are some Brazilian facebook groups related to the topic who on their own right help both communities. Sadly it’s not really possible to share hardware with the guys/gals so far away.

The Portuguese headphone scene lacks a connecting hub, I’m sure if all Portuguese enthusiasts joined ranks we would at least share headphones locally and help each other like other communities do with so much success. After all the best way to know a headphone is to hear it first hand.
That community hub needs to be built soon or the headphone enthusiasts in Portugal will be missing a lot. Just look at the meets and greets on the US and it’s apparent their communities share more knowledge and thus have even more in return from their hobby.

Some will point out that I write in English and do little to help the Portuguese headphone community, they are probably right because I write for my own selfish reasons, this is after all a personal blog. Plus I don’t have enough skills or money to review headphones on a regular basis but hope someone does enter the rabbit hole and follows that path after reading my opinion.

Assembled or made in Portugal.

I really love Portugal, after all I was born and raised here so that nostalgic patriotic feeling did rub on me, especially from my father who was in the military during the 70′s. So I’m biased when I say, most stuff made in Portugal is of good quality.
The list is not amazing but if you want cork or leather goods, wines, hats, clothes and some typical rugs, my country excels in those areas. We had some pretty amazing heavy industry but due to economic changes around the world and in Europe they all sunk (pun intended…some will get it)

These days Portugal is mainly a services country so it’s normal that many companies around the world use our small factories to assemble things, because Portugal it’s one of the cheapest places to do so in Europe and also because the work force is often very professional about their duty, taking pride in what they assemble. Companies like Camel Active, Leica, gun makers, shoe makers, bag and even car companies assemble things around here and they also often take pride in their Portuguese factories and work force, something you can’t do with sweat shops in Asia for example.

Assembled in Portugal often means parts come from very low wage factories in Asia, sadly some Portuguese companies are now using the “Made in Portugal” stamp to promote shitty electronics made in China but assembled and packaged in Portugal, and when I say assembled it’s more like OS configured and that’s about it. I’m strongly against this practice because such products are not made or assembled in Portugal, they are not even designed in Portugal! The are re-packaged in Portugal and I think this practice should be strongly regulated by the European and Portuguese law.

So next time you buy electronics “Made in Portugal” you might need to check if the parts don’t come from a very low wage countries made by under skilled workers.

A little side note about China and other low wage countries, like I said in the past, their work force is really necessary but I’m against underpaid workers and sweat shops. Some pretty amazing stuff is made in China and they have amazing engineers. People should be paid for their work doesn’t matter if they are Portuguese or Chinese a fair wage is necessary.

The Portuguese crisis of dedicated portable audio players.

The big stores in Portugal don’t have much choice if you want a dedicated portable audio player.
Ok, you got the typical Apple products, some stuff from Sony and Philips and a lot of white brands on the shelves! It sucks hard because the stores have tons of cheap stuff and a lot of expensive gear but very little in between!

Ok, smartphones might be an alternative to dedicated audio players in that price range but a all-in-one smartphone will rarely win over a dedicated audio player in terms of battery and sound quality.

It would be nice to have some mid-price range to choose from, because even today my Sony PSP is still one of the best mid-price multimedia players on sale and the thing is a bulky portable console for God Sake!

Is it hard for a store to stock up gear from the Sony Walkman range, Philips, Creative and other respectable audio brands? Is there no market to mid-priced audio gear?
The smartphone market gave a mighty push to the sales of headphones so there is hope that some users will cross over to the dedicated audio players, let’s hope there is more on sale in the future than there is today.