Hear, Here: How We Listen to Erotic Content

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There’s a hilarious scene in Olivia Wilde’s 2019 film "Booksmart" where highschoolers Amy and Molly are in the back of a Lyft looking for information about the mechanics of how women have sex with women.

Given that Amy and Molly obviously don’t know about Dipsea yet, they turn to visual porn. When the sound of a woman enjoying a very intense sexual experience suddenly blares over the car speakers, they have a small meltdown in the backseat as they try to disconnect their device...

I can relate. The first time I watched that scene I couldn’t help but be reminded of a particular evening I was settling down to enjoy some erotic content. I thought my AirPods were successfully connected to my computer, but realized after I pressed play that in fact, they were not. I’ve never shut my laptop so quickly in my entire life.

Nothing scandalous was even playing yet, but the chance that one of my roommates might have heard me listening to something in the darkness of my room was enough to keep me from opening my laptop again that night. Out to lunch the next day, I told one of my friends about it and their response was, “Oh my god, I don’t even use headphones.” Excuse me, what? The idea of listening to erotic content out loud on a speaker on purpose had never even crossed my mind. I was, in every sense of the word, shook.

Nothing scandalous was even playing yet, but the chance that one of my roommates might have heard me listening to something in the darkness of my room was enough to keep me from opening my laptop again that night.

Regardless of the revelation that I was friends with someone who exhibited (what I’d considered to be) extremely chaotic behavior, nothing about my own listening habits changed that day. It wasn’t something I thought about again until I started working at Dipsea, where listening to erotic content is a necessary component of what we do.

“I wonder how our listeners are listening.” I said out loud one day, not talking to anyone in particular. Julia, our product analyst, turned around in her chair and said, “I’ve got data on that!”

The shock I experienced when my friend told me they were a headphoneless consumer of erotic content was a 2 out of 5 compared to how I felt after Julia shared the numbers with me. She told me that 60% of Dipsea listeners report listening out loud. 58% report listening with in-ear headphones, 13% listen with noise cancelling headphones, and 12% with over-ear headphones (respondents were able to select more than one answer).

60% of Dipsea listeners report listening out loud. 58% report listening with in-ear headphones, 13% listen with noise cancelling headphones, and 12% with over-ear headphones.

I was fascinated. I turned to social media to see what the good folks of Instagram had to say, and an overwhelming number of people responded that they too were watching porn or listening to erotica over their phone’s speakers or connected to an external speaker. Here were some of my favorites:

“Headphones so my boyfriend doesn’t hear 😬”

“Speaker. I’m usually alone. Prefer not to have headphones on. Airpods if there’s company.”

“Headphones get in the way - just let it play full blast on the device’s speakers! 🕺”

“Noise cancelling headphones teehee”

“Headphones bc it feels like the narrators are talking directly into your ear which is hot.”

“If I’m masturbating or w partner, then usually play on phone speaker, but Dipsea stories I listen to in headphones out and about.”

“iPhone speakers bc I want my roommates to know I pleasure myself nightly”

“Loud speaker. From the mountaintops or mountainbottoms.”

“Just the speaker in my phone or computer! quietly to respect the roommates!”

While the ways people listen to erotic content are just as varied as the reasons why people listen, one thing is clear: the way you’re listening matters. Listening out loud might make it easier to have a truly hands free experience. It might also be ideal if you’re listening with a partner, where even AirPods can feel restrictive. But for those of you shaking your heads knowing you’re headphones or bust, Dipsea’s Sonic Sisters (our audio producers) have some advice.

The first tip is to try out all your options! While out loud listening is great, audio erotica can take on an entirely new level of intimacy when enjoyed through headphones, especially Dipsea. Aside from sounds of the beach or bar that immerses you in the scene, there are also delicious moments of contact, skin brushing against skin, gentle kisses (and not so gentle kisses), that might give you some bonus ASMR tingles. Plus, as one of the Instagram respondents said, it gives you the sensation that someone is whispering directly in your ear.

Aside from sounds of the beach or bar that immerses you in the scene, there are also delicious moments of contact, skin brushing against skin, gentle kisses (and not so gentle kisses), that might give you some bonus ASMR tingles.

If you’re in the market to treat yourself and also your ears, our Sonic Sisters recommend checking out these Bang & Olufsen over-ear headphones. They aren’t noise cancelling, so you won’t feel like you’re in a spaceship, but they do capture every single sound you’d want to hear. At $300, they’re definitely an investment. If you’re not looking to spend quite that much, Urbanears has a pair for $50 that will give you a pretty similar sonic experience. And of course, there’s nothing wrong with good old fashioned in-ear headphones. While none will provide you the sonic depth of the over-ears, a cordless option might allow you to test out some partnered listening without ordering a splitter (which is an option too! They’re only five dollars!).

Of course, there is no ‘One Right Way’ to listen to erotica, but a change in your regular routine might open you up to some new surprises and allow you to connect with yourself, or with a partner, in ways you’d never considered before. I took a chance and listened without headphones and it was a completely different experience for me. It somehow felt riskier, even though neither of my roommates were even home. And who knows, I might even invest in some over-ears, just as a treat to myself.