Hey there – thanks for stopping by. Even if just to see that I am indeed a real person behind the many articles now published on this site with my name on them.
Bonus points if you can identify the headphones I’m wearing in my picture there ☺ (hint: they’re longtime popular ones)
I’ve had an affinity for music for as long as I can remember – there is nothing quite like it that, for me, can evoke true feelings, be that of harmony and beauty, or perhaps something that is raw and uncomfortably real.
How I Got Started With Reviewing
I would say my foray into this crazy and irate world was mainly a result of the things that had really annoyed me prior as a mere mortal consumer:
- The seemingly arbitrary pricing, massive fluctuations, gear being half price one day then triple price the next.
- Branded gear costing multiple times more than some no-name competitor but sounding noticeably worse.
- The product reviews on supposedly top-tier (read: popular) publications being straight up wrong and/or bad.
- The major lack of objective review/discussion of budget gear in particular, and done so in a way as to help a layperson make a decision on what to buy.
…just to name a few.
On a whim, years ago, I put together and wrote some amateur-esque headphone reviews and comparisons and put them online – the goal was to create something that I would have liked to see myself when I was looking around for headphones to buy.
Lo and behold they got some traction, and, I also discovered that I liked doing the reviews, and all the more so as I gained more reference points and more experience. It really is fun to find that random $20-$50 earbud that blows me away. It’s also kind of fun to snuff out popular and (usually) overpriced products that are actually pretty bad. I guess I could call that a guilty pleasure.
I eventually found a home here on MakeItSoundGreat.com, a site that generally shares my philosophy and allows me to review and discuss things honestly. I can say X is bad and you shouldn’t buy it. And that’s how it should be. Yet you’d be surprised at how many of the big publications don’t condone that, and have reviews that blatantly skew towards positive. In Ear Fidelity wrote a great article on that problem here.
My Philosophy on Audiophilia and Reviewing Equipment (So Far)
Audiophilia tends to focus on (and incessantly infight around) higher end gear and setups that 99% of the population will never care about. Most people are not concerned if there’s an audible difference if you run a signal through a $1000 tube amplifier (spoiler alert: there probably won’t be). Most people are going onto Amazon to see if there’s something that can do the same thing that Apple AirPods can without necessarily costing over $200.
My main focus currently is helping said casual majority make decisions, and speaking of which, a lot of times that often isn’t necessarily the product that sounds best. *Gasp*. I know. And assuming that wasn’t totally subjective to begin with anyhow, it’s true that someone will pick some headphones because they’re comfortable, they have certain features, or maybe even because they look kind of cool, and if the headphones only sound 98% as good as the Sennheiser HD 800 S when they’re running on the treadmill then that’s good enough.
My Opinion on Standardized Specs
By “standardized” I mean the specs that are commonly used in the industry to describe the basic parameters of products, for example: frequency response range, frequency response variance, power handling, spl, ect. ect.
There are certain standardized specs that are very useful because they’re straightforward. For example, it’s good to know if a pair of earbuds has an IP code of IPX8+ because that’s the difference between them being waterproof or not. Most people understand that so there’s not much to discuss here.
But things get less clear when we’re talking about specs that ostensibly correlate with sound quality. Frequency response range is a great example – sometimes companies will quote super wide ranges with the implication that a speaker will sound better because it can produce super high and super low pitches. But that’s not really true. For one, a human ear can only hear up to a certain range, so any sound produced outside that which we can’t hear is obviously not going to improve or change the overall sound. Moreover, if the volume isn’t consistent across that range (usually indicated by a +/- dB variance) the sound quality will quickly drop – even if a speaker technically can produce very low bass, for example, if it’s not well balanced and blended it will sound terrible.
I could expound so many more similar examples, but here’s the ultimate point: standardized specs give us a basic idea of what a speaker is capable of, and that is fundamentally important, but they can’t really give me or you a true sense of how good it sounds.
And that’s assuming what a company purports is true and honest, which raises another issue: it often isn’t (shocker I know), and there’s no way of knowing for certain if a quoted spec on a sales sheet is accurate or not, especially if the company isn’t transparent about how they measure or otherwise ascertain their figures.
My Somewhat Rambling Opinion On Measurements
People love measurements now in the headphone community. But I really don’t care all that much about them. I know that might be considered blasphemous, but, here’s the thing about measurements:
They take a lot of time and money to do thoroughly enough to be worthwhile. Like, at least a sample size of 100 (that means measuring the same song 100+ times) for the results to be statistically meaningful in my opinion. And that’s when an earphone is fit into a stock plastic ear, which is not your ear, which is also different from every other human ear on the planet.
If something is egregiously off measurement wise, then I’m going to hear it. In fact, you want to know the dirty truth? I usually am 99% set on my verdict of a headphone within 60 seconds of listening to it. And it’s not because I have some ostensible “golden” ear. I don’t. Honestly just about anyone can be a decent and successful audio reviewer if they put in the time and effort.
What I do have is the fact that I’ve now critically listened to certain segments of songs probably well over 1000 times, on well over 100 different pairs of headphones and speakers. I know these segments like the back of my hand now, and I know what my reference points sound like on top-tier equipment, and what they sounded like on the 100+ other pairs of budget headphones I’ve listened to them on. If something is noticeably bad or good, I – indeed by definition of said word ‘notice’ – will hear it.
And if I can’t hear something that’s still technically measurable? Well, then I can’t hear it and you probably can’t either so who cares.
Are measurements useless? No, I didn’t say that. I look at them quite a lot, even if only sometimes because I’m somewhat curious. But, insofar as reviewing equipment per my main (current) focus, which said again is helping the casual majority make a decision? Nah, measurements aren’t all that useful, and 99% of consumers will never look at an audio measurement in their life before buying something.
My Other Relevant Opinion Pieces
So that’s me in a nutshell-ish, I guess? Hopefully it gives you enough of an idea of where I’m coming from. And if that can help you pick something that you’re happy with and brings you joy? Well that’s why I’m here. Good luck in your music and overall audio journey! Feel free to contact me at [email protected] as well if you’re so inclined.