Tyll Hertsens Blog

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Tyll Hertsens Posted: Dec 30, 2016 64 comments
There's just no question.

Four years in the making, this all-new Beryllium dome driver headphone design from Focal has completely disrupted the flagship headphone category. The Utopia ($3999) is the best headphone I've ever heard...by a significant margin.

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Tyll Hertsens Posted: Dec 14, 2016 28 comments

You all knew in your heart MP3 compression was bad, right?

Why yes, yes you did!

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Tyll Hertsens Posted: Dec 09, 2016 9 comments
Thinking about getting a youngster a headphone this season? Here's some great advice!
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Tyll Hertsens Posted: Dec 05, 2016 34 comments
Surfing through my headphone news feed the other day I stumbled across an article on Picky Ear titled, "Best Headphone Brands: What We Can Learn from 310,067 Headphone Reviews." After reading through their conclusions I learned that aggregating thousands of reviews, no doubt largely populated by folks who really don't know what they're talking about, generally nets you a fairly random result. Maybe I shouldn't pick on Picky Ear; I've seen lots of these lists and have a hard time taking any of them seriously.

Here's my list.

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Tyll Hertsens Posted: Dec 01, 2016 50 comments
I'm in the process of writing a survey of headphone manufacturers and their worth in the world, and find myself repeatedly asking the question of who will carry the banner for high quality sound reproduction in the future. Consumers will claim sound quality is important, but, in fact, it plays a lesser roll in actual purchase with styling, comfort, and build quality leading the way in consumer decisions.

Which of the following major headphone producers do you think will do the most to promote sound quality to consumers at large as important...and deliver on that promise?

I'd love to hear the reasons for your pick in the comments below!

Which headphone maker will be most influential in promoting sound quality as an important performance characteristic?
AKG
8% (6 votes)
Audio Technica
3% (2 votes)
Beats/Apple
9% (7 votes)
Beyerdynamic
4% (3 votes)
Bose
1% (1 vote)
JBL
0% (0 votes)
Koss
3% (2 votes)
Monster
0% (0 votes)
Philips
1% (1 vote)
Sennheiser
63% (49 votes)
Shure
3% (2 votes)
Skullcandy
0% (0 votes)
Sony
6% (5 votes)
Total votes: 78
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Tyll Hertsens Posted: Nov 23, 2016 12 comments
Many of you will be aware that I've had some trouble with distortion measurements lately. Well, fortunately it had gotten so bad and consistent that I was able to identify a repeatable problem and trouble shoot the system. Turned out to be a combination of a noisy power supply in the headphone amp I use, and a corroded power connecter to the mic pre-amp. I switched out the headphone amp and bought a small motorcycle battery to power up the mic pre-amp and BOOM! the problem is gone! Phew. So I went back and did some re-measuring of what headphones I still had here, and measured a few that were laying in wait. Good times.
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Tyll Hertsens Posted: Nov 07, 2016 7 comments
Oh man, this is already pretty interesting!
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Tyll Hertsens Posted: Oct 21, 2016 14 comments
Headphone commercials are pretty rare. National advertising is expensive and not many headphone companies can afford that kind of dough...well, one can.
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Tyll Hertsens Posted: Sep 21, 2016 27 comments

Anybody in a betting mood?

Back in June 2014 I reported on a little confusion that never seemed to be cleared up. The question is, "Can the Lightning port transport analog audio?" Most sources say no. But is that true?

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Posted: Sep 20, 2016 10 comments
Adding to all the ballyhoo around iPhone7's missing headphone jack is Nick Hunn's "Airpods – a Speculative Teardown" blog post. Boy, a sharp mind is a beautiful thing to behold.
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Tyll Hertsens Posted: Sep 07, 2016 53 comments

It's likely today may be marked as the most pivotal day in the history of headphones. The iPhone7 will be announced...most likely without a headphone jack. Tomorrow the news feeds will be filled with raves and rants. I thought Sean Olive's Facebook post was a good synopsis of the situation:

Today I was interviewed by a journalist writing an article about the removal of the analog headphone jack in the iPhone 7 expected to be announced tomorrow. She said there are thousands of people petitioning this.

Me I don't think this is such a big deal. First, iPhones only represent about 15% of the market. Secondly, if you have wireless headphones (which now surpass sales of wired headphones) you can access iPhone music via Bluetooth. Thirdly, in the long run it will encourage people to buy powered headphones with DSP chips that can fix the poor frequency response of most passive headphones. This is the current weakest link to obtaining sound quality over headphones -- not Bluetooth or even MP3.

Yes initially it will be an inconvenience and expense but most consumers have already spoken that they don't wish to be tethered to their music players and phones with a cable ( which BTW is the first thing that fails and turns the headphone into trash ). What do think??

Yes, I'd like to hear what you think too. I'll put this up as a poll, but I'd love to hear your more nuanced opinion in the comments. I'll give you my thoughts next week after I read some of the news on-line over the next few days. Have at it.

What's the Headphone World Coming to?
Consumers will eventually see the folly...wires will be back.
4% (2 votes)
Many will shed the wire, but many with good ears will keep the demand for cables high enough.
26% (12 votes)
Bluetooth will get plenty good for most. Wires for pro audio and enthusiasts will remain.
51% (24 votes)
Killer Bluetooth, good DACS, and DSP headphone correction will soon outperform all passive headphones. Good riddance wires!
19% (9 votes)
Total votes: 47
Tyll Hertsens Posted: Aug 23, 2016 19 comments
Well...here's something you probably didn't expect.
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Tyll Hertsens Posted: Aug 21, 2016 22 comments
The new Mr. Speakers Ether Flow and Focal Utopia and Elear have rocked my world...and the Wall of Fame. Here are the changes...
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Tyll Hertsens Posted: Aug 04, 2016 10 comments
It comes with the territory: Sometimes I just have to post things that are quick and easy to keep the pageviews coming. It's not a bad thing as long as there's a little entertainment value.

Jon Iverson and I were chatting in our weekly meeting...

"Do headphone enthusiasts dig t-shirts, " Jon asked?

It comes with the territory: Sometimes I just have to post things that are quick and easy to keep the pageviews coming. It's not a bad thing as long as there's a little entertainment value.

I was chatting with a co-worker...

"Do headphone enthusiasts dig t-shirts?"

(He was stimulated by this headphone t-shirt image search...which has some pretty cool results.)

"Oh," I snapped back, "they love them!"

"Oh," I snapped back, "they love them!"

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