05 April 2012

American-Made Electronics

I feel that it's important to buy American-made products when it's possible and sensible. A lot of it has to do with how much you are willing to pay, or whether or not you are willing to expend the effort to find an item for less from an alternative source, like buying a pair of American-made shoes on eBay.

But there are some types of products for which buying American is impossible, or nearly so. Have you looked at irons lately? (I'll be getting to that one soon.) Or electronics? I'm not saying that the available products aren't well-made, but it would be nice to purchase something that you know is supporting American jobs.

For Christmas I got a pair of headphones from the Mrs. I'd been using a pair of basic earbuds to listen to music at work, and decided that I wanted an upgrade. I already knew what I wanted, so it was easy to tell her. For years I've wanted a pair of Grado headphones, which are made in Brooklyn by a company that's been in business and run by the same family for over half a century. Grado's headphones are consistently rated among the best available. They also make cartridges for phonographs.

My headphones came from Crutchfield, an electronics dealer that has a deserved reputation for offering quality products and outstanding service. I bought my plasma TV from them as well. The headphones, which are pretty much the least expensive Grado model available, are nonetheless amazing. The sound they product is incredibly detailed and rich, but it's also very natural, a quality that is often lacking from headphones and earbuds.

These are over-the-head "cans" with foam cushions and a thick cord. I don't know how I would feel about using them with an iPod or other portable, but you certainly could if you wanted to. (Actually, Grado does offer earbuds and a behind-the-head headset that are intended for use with portable music devices, though those items are manufactured for them overseas.)

Recently I heard about another American-made electronics product, a Kickstarter project to fund an iPhone dock made out of a solid block of aluminum. The company is called Elevation Lab and their project was successful; the docks are in production right now, and will start shipping later this month. I decided to contribute to the project so I could get one of the docks at the promotional price, but you can still pre-order one through their website.

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