About InnerFidelity

If you want to know about InnerFidelity, you will need to know about four things:

  • Source Interlink Media - This is the mother ship. Source Interlink Media (SIM) is the largest men's enthusiast periodical publisher in the United States.
  • Home Tech Network - Covering audio, video, and photography for SIM, the Home Tech Network is a family of magazines and websites dedicated to bringing you the best information on capturing sight and sound for the contemporary enthusiast.
  • InnerFidelity - This website. A place to turn for honest and accurate personal audio product performance advice and information.
  • Tyll Hertsens - Editor in Chief for InnerFidelity.com. The man at the wheel, looking for the way forward to great personal media experiences.

Let's take them one at a time.

Source Interlink Media
Source Interlink Media is the largest men's enthusiast periodical publisher in the U.S. with titles like: Motor Trend; Hot Rod; Motorcyclist; Bike Magazine; Surfer; Skate Boarder; Powder; Stereophile; and many others. With 78 paper magazines, 101 websites, 50 events, and a number of TV, radio, and mobile media outlets, SIM garners 9 million magazine readers and 181 million page views per month, and 1.8 million event attendees annually. SIM generates over a billion dollars in revenue annually. You'll almost certainly be familiar with some of the SIM brands.

Features_AboutInnerfidelity_photo_SIMlogos

I am immensely pleased to work for SIM. There's a big, big difference between companies simply publishing consumer information, and those that strive to publish content for enthusiasts. One publishes for quantity, keywords, and search ranking; the other publishes to enlighten and attract enthusiastic people. My sense after the first year with SIM is that they get this. Enthusiast content is expensive because its cost is based on the quality of the content, but those qualities attract loyal readers who are interested in the topic. I feel very fortunate to work for a company that "gets it."

Home Tech Network
The Home Tech Network is a family of publications within SIM dedicated to highlighting the best in sight and sound products for enthusiastic users. It includes (click names to view):

  • Stereophile - For 50 years, America's premier Audiophile publication, dedicated to great music reproduction and all that entails. John Atkinson has been masterfully at the helm of this magazine and website for decades.
  • Home Theater - Bringing you information and insight into the technologies that deliver excellence in the reproduction of film and video in your home. Available in both print and web.
  • AudioStream - Like InnerFidelity, AudioStream is a new addition to the Home Tech Network focusing on the rapidly developing area of computer audio. From home media servers to streaming clients, AudioStream endeavors to illuminate and clarify this complicated and ever-changing aspect of audio reproduction.
  • InnerFidelity - This here website, which intends to bring you the best in personal audio products, and encourage and inform those with an enthusiastic appreciation of personal listening.
  • ShutterBug - Bringing you the latest in the the art and science of photography, ShutterBug is the go-to site for photography enthusiasts. There is great editorial and product reviews, of course, but ShutterBug is also a vibrant community of shooters, exchanging tips and tricks on this wonderfully gadget-intensive topic.

Features_AboutInnerfidelity_photo_KeithThe Home Tech Network receives corporate oversight by Senior Vice President Howard Lim, but group strategy and day-to-day operations is handled by Audio & Video brand manager Keith Pray. It's important to mention here that InnerFidelity is a business proposition with three distinct constituent interest groups: the publisher; readers; and advertisers. All three must benefit greatly, or the publication won't survive.

Just as the industrial age made goods much less expensive through manufacturing automation, the information age has made access to content cheap and easy. That makes the job of publishers very difficult as the price of advertising plummets. $5000 full page ads are now fleeting banners netting pennies, or fractions of pennies per view. Instant access and search engine rankings dramatically narrow the number of publications that will succeed. Where once many could survive in the top tier of a market, now only one or two thrive. For example, Amazon, Google, and Facebook stand far ahead of their competitors. If a web/information business is to thrive, it needs to be very, very good--if not the best.

Keith knows this, and works very hard to ensure extremely qualified people are put into the Editor in Chief driver seat at the various Home Tech Network properties. He also does a great job empowering the editors to produce content that will attract a solid following of audio/video/photo enthusiasts. The Home Tech Network editors' task is to produce more than just accurate, informative content. If we are to be relevant we must act as agents for good in our respective market areas, and be among the leaders in the dialog that promotes a healthier market and products that increasingly satisfy enthusiasts. Though we must do both, I believe the opportunity to be a voice for enthusiasts may be more important than being a voice to enthusiasts.

But there's another part of the equation: advertisers looking for a place to display their product. The Home Tech Network has a very experienced sales team who are in close contact with a wide variety of advertisers. Many times an advertiser would like to place ads for a new product, but feel Stereophile (for example) might not be quite right for the new product. The company Paradigm has recently moved into the world of personal audio with in-ear monitors and small desktop speakers. While advertisements for their traditional lines of high-end gear would be well received in the pages of Stereophile, these new personal audio devices might be less attractive in those same pages. Keith's job is to remain aware of manufacturers' desires to have new and more appropriate venues in which the these ads may be more favorable placed.

With the burgeoning activity in the world of personal audio, and headphones in particular, demand for a web site that served that market escalated. Keith Pray, John Atkinson, and the Home Tech Network team have been well aware of the need for a personal audio website to serve readers and advertisers for years. All that was needed is the right editor to lead the charge.

And that's where I come in.

ARTICLE CONTENTS
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COMMENTS
Bubba Blackjack's picture

A+++ would read again.

ultrabike's picture

Great article.

"Headphones are the premier focal point, but products like: portable audio players; headphone amps; small desktop speakers; smartphone apps and streaming services; clock radios; and boomboxes will also be covered."

Clock radios are very interesting indeed. I wouldn't mind hearing about those and how they stack up against monitors sound quality wise. Probably not that great, but other considerations aside, the future may surprise us (Squeezebox). And along with it, its ramifications to other audio products.

Personally, I have found that the funny thing about doing what you like professionally is that you still have to deal with deadlines. Some are reasonable, some may not be. As boss, I heard layoff times can be brutal. As for myself, I love what I do for a living (I think it is uber-cool). But above all, I love my family.

Another funny thing is that one of my ex-bosses is a very able modem designer himself. Ridiculous amounts of patents and papers. Some really interesting discoveries and achievements. Yet, when he started on engineering, he did so because he wanted to design audio stuff... amplifiers, pre-amps, tuners... Something changed and he went to communications. Still, he got himself some pretty high end audio rigs (and expensive). He now loves his Apple ipod and ear-buds, while his uber-high-end audio rig gets no love... Point is, life takes really strange turns.

jediz's picture

Great history!
From a half of the year InnerFidelity, became website which I must visit each day, is there something new and may be it worth buy)
All started from the time when I looking for headphones, and thanks God i found this website. Tyll Hertsens recommends Beyerdynamic DT1350, and I decide - now it is time to buy this one. I never had such great headphones before, Thanks!. When my friends asked me - where did you bought such great stuff? I'm pleased to forward them to InnerFidelity website to find out what is actually needed.

donunus's picture

Very Nice! Love what you do and wish for more cool stuff being reviewed and cool articles in the future.

i2ehan's picture

Dear Tyll,

I absolutely love this website, and your enthusiasm shows in your honest and insightful postings. I've learned quite a lot since I first discovered InnerFidelity, and I look forward to your continued efforts. Now, can I get a virtual high five please? (:

Merck's picture

I too am a huge fan of this site. I visit it several times per week looking forward to the next article whether its a review of an interesting new product I can't afford or simply an informative piece on the history of an enthusiast website I enjoy. Tyll, your passion for the subjective and scientific facets of this hobby are obvious and it is an attractive quality that I think will provide you with many loyal readers. Keep up the great work and thanks!!

Tyll Hertsens's picture
I'm such a dumbass. I was riding my motorcycle down to play pool after posting this missive, and I realised I didn't have a section on the contributing writers here. I will correct this forthwith. They've been an enormous help, covering products and adding to the flavor here. My apologies to them.
4nradio's picture

...background you have, Tyll. From dangling your feet over an orchestra pit, to headphones dangling around your neck, and now plugged into a leading personal audio website!

A lot of authors would steer away from a detailed personal retrospective, but I appreciate knowing about your background. It says a lot about your publisher too, that he gives you the freedom to elaborate as you see fit.

I'm intrigued by your mention of a possible event ... "not just another trade show", and DIY oriented too. Sounds like a mashup of RMAF and Maker Faire! Consider holding it somewhere in your own Big Sky State. There are awesome resorts and lodges in Montana that would make a unique destination, not just another cookie-cutter urban destination.

Jazz Casual's picture

My parents were circus performers. My mother was the bearded lady and my father was the world's strongest man, but he wasn't really. I wish I could say the same about my mother. I ran away from there to join the civil service, where I have lead a life of quiet desperation 'til this day (it's my rostered day off). Thank you for allowing me to briefly alleviate the interminable tedium by posting here. Others haven't been so tolerant. ; ) I wish you and your site continuing success.

ultrabike's picture

"I wish you and your site continuing success." Me too.

HammerSandwich's picture

Tyll, your work history + love of DIY makes me wonder if you've seen the DIY electron microscope (here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=VdjYVF4a6iU).

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Well aware of it: my article.
sankar's picture

Tyll, Looking forward the Innerfidelity Tradeshow.

Frank I's picture

Tyll I really enjoyed the read and it was nice learning of your background because all I was really familiar with was the headroom stuff. Thanks for all you do.

gkanai's picture

Tyll, thanks for the great explanation.

Please try to schedule a visit out to Tokyo for one of the future Fujiya AVIC headphone festivals (twice a year.) We'd love to have you join us and I guarantee that you'll be impressed.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
It's definitely on my to-do list, just going to take a bit of time and budget shenanigans to make it happen, but it will!
vinjo's picture

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HammerSandwich's picture

The really sad bit is that I probably first saw that here...

Lunatique's picture

Ever since InnerFidelity went live, I've been sending people here to learn about headphones and to get all the misinformation that's been coloring their judgment sorted out by the headphone guru himself--as seen here at gearslutz's big thread about headphones for audio professionals: http://www.gearslutz.com/board/7857167-post927.html

There are three areas I'd love to see you guys cover, that I don't see anyone else covering, and they are:

-Using surgical parametric equalization to make headphones more neutral/accurate--as seen discussed here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/551426/my-eq-curves-for-lcd-2-hd650-m50-and-007mk2

and here:
http://www.head-fi.org/t/546077/my-meticulously-tweaked-eq-settings-for-...

Or using speaker/room correction systems for those who can't use acoustic treatments in their listening space--as discussed here: http://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-much-gear-so-little-time/469107-ik-mul...

-Using audio plugins like Redline Monitor to simulate crossfeed on headphones, or using TB Isone to simulate HRTF effects, and to create the illusion of speakers playing in front of you, in an acoustic space--as discussed here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/473885/isone-pro-the-best-thing-you-could-ever-...

Or using Focusrite's VRM Box to emulate industry standard monitoring speakers in different types of studio environments while using headphones:
http://www.focusrite.com/products/audio_interfaces/vrm_box/

-Using hardware units like the Victor/JVC SU-DH1 or the Smyth Research Realiser to simulate surround sound on headphones.

While these topics are discussed in forums, I think if an authoritative figure like Tyll covers them, he'll be able to bring his expertise into the discussion and enlighten the community on these subjects.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Thanks, those are some very good ideas. I'll see what I can do.
zobel's picture

Good article! Nice to have personal info about you, and dag nab it, it would be wonderful to have you head-up a show here in Montana!

Marcello's picture

It's always nice to see people who can combine hobby and profession.
I did not see anything in your biography that would explain the shirts, but maybe you can address this another time ;)

Tyll Hertsens's picture
It's very simple really: I'm a slob. Early on I figured if I could make a schtick out of wearing Hawaiian shirts, I'd never have to wear a suit again! :)
Timmy's picture

I've been following this site for a while now and seeing how it's one of the currently only 4 sites on the Internet providing actual headphone measurements, instead of just random babble, what you are doing here indeed is of immense value. Thank you for that!

But it's important to take a step back and have a look at the bigger picture too. I was wondering for a long time why this site is not part of Stereophile and this article finally tipped me off to what might be going on - Stereophile is for the most part irrelevant to the newer generation, and thus slowly but steadily dying off.

My guess is you are familiar with that overly long article, by some guy named Salvatore, which has some less than flattering things to say about Stereophile. In the hopes of this comment not being deleted I'm omitting the link - but anyone who has done a fair bit of research on audio gear online probably is already familiar with it, and has also an opinion about it. Salvatore's estimation was that Stereophile had lost its credibility due to the RCL-bubble-up and that ultimately there was little chance for ever restoring it. The only hope would be to at least retain the current readership.

And I'm beginning to think he may have been spot-on with that assessment, and thus his other claims too. You said Stereophile has a limited number of pages – but seriously, what's stopping them from just expanding the online version? What reason could there be to justify the tedious (and costly) creation of a new brand if there already was an older well respected one that just needed some slight modernization? As you said, it's not just Innerfidelity that Source Interlink Media is launching or maintaining for audio enthusiasts. It's not like your job would be any different (the only actual difference would be that your articles would be on stereophile.com instead of innerfidelity.com).

But my guess is that as new and younger potential customers, capable of harnessing the possibilities of the internet and search engines, and raised with an education to trust numbers and distrust salespeople, enter this market, it might be advantageous for a publisher to start off again with a clean slate – hence the new name.

Of course none of this is your fault Tyll. And there is of course nothing wrong in realizing one's mistakes and trying to correct them – although there are arguably more decent ways then just sweeping them under the rug. But please try to keep the history in mind and don't repeat it. Seeing how with headphones, unlike with electronics, there indeed is some room for speculation, since science does not have all the answers about our auditory system yet, it is imperative that you not abuse this situation and separate fact from fiction here, if you want to preserve your credibility. Because, as an example, how are your readers supposed to trust your claims about the overshoot on those 300/500Hz square wave charts being important (which indeed might be the truth) when just a few articles back you (quite obviously) lied about aftermarket cables for the HD800 sounding better?

Rest assured, science will eventually catch up one way or another, as it did with Stereophile too - and the question is whether people will then still ask for your opinion because of your expertise, or whether, much like the church after printing took off, you'll be exposed as a charlatan. I think you are smart enough to see how we would both benefit from the first alternative here.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
First, if I'm not deleting 13mh13 insane posts, why would I delete yours for posting a link? Here's the article you mentioned. This single biggest load of horseshit statistical analysis I've ever tried to read. I tried, really I did, but I could only make it half way through before the taste of bile was too much to take. So much about the reality of performing reviews professionally is left out. The simple practicality of moving shit around a Recommended Components List is completely missing from the argument. I don't really know what to say other than, "Haters Gonna Hate."

Your question: "What reason could there be to justify the tedious (and costly) creation of a new brand if there already was an older well respected one that just needed some slight modernization? " is a good one though. It has everything to do with branding. Because Stereophile's website is an extension of their paper publication, headphone enthusiasm can't be properly covered on their website. The category deserves a brand, the only way to do that is to create another brand. It's pretty much that simple.

This quote: " Because, as an example, how are your readers supposed to trust your claims about the overshoot on those 300/500Hz square wave charts being important (which indeed might be the truth) when just a few articles back you (quite obviously) lied about aftermarket cables for the HD800 sounding better?" is pretty disingenuous. Those are my opinions. You have yours, I have mine. Just because they may be contrary doesn't mean one of us is a liar.

Oh and, " the question is whether people will then still ask for your opinion because of your expertise, or whether, much like the church after printing took off, you'll be exposed as a charlatan." Um ... don't really know how to respond to that one. Let's go with: A change of panties; douching one's sandy mangina; and a nice motorcycle ride will often improve ones outlook on life.

(See, I'm not an Englishman in NY, I'm a motorcycle rider used to sitting around campfires drinking beer. So you probably out-class me, but I don't give a shit.)

Yeah, haters gonna hate. Have fun with that.

Respond if you'd like, but your bait is far too stinky to attract me again.

John Atkinson's picture
Quote:
My guess is you are familiar with that overly long article, by some guy named Salvatore, which has some less than flattering things to say about Stereophile. . . Salvatore's estimation was that Stereophile had lost its credibility due to the RCL-bubble-up and that ultimately there was little chance for ever restoring it.
Arthur Salvatore's case against Stereophile is based a fallacious assumption: that Stereophile's choice of what products to review is based on a Normal distribution of performance; ie, they cover the range from dreadful to superb. If that were the case, then yes, it looks suspicious when so many end up being recommended. However, as has been explained in Stereophile on a number of occasions, our choice does not follow a Normal distribution. We aggressively try to choose products for review based on the likelihood that they will perform well, based on our experience at Shows, in retailers' showrooms, etc. A review represents a major investment of our resources and I don't want to devote that investment to an undeserving product. Thus, if our sonic "triage" was 100% efficient, _every_ product we review would end up in "Recommended Components," not just most of them!
Quote:
And I'm beginning to think he may have been spot-on with that assessment, and thus his other claims too.
Salvatore's case against Stereophile is a castle built on sand, a logical fallacy. And statistical analysis shows that there is zero correlation between what Stereophile chooses to review, the outcome of its reviews, what products it recommends, even what products are featured on its cover, and advertising. There are as many products from non-advertisers in "Recommended Components" as there are from advertisers. End of story, as far as Mr. Salvatore is concerned.
Quote:
The only hope would be to at least retain the current readership.
The print edition of Stereophile has a circulation more than The Absolute Sound, HiFi+, Hi-Fi News, Hi-Fi Choice, and Hi-Fi World combined. So plenty of hope!
Quote:
You said Stereophile has a limited number of pages – but seriously, what's stopping them from just expanding the online version?
We have done so - there are show reports, news, blogs, forums, galleries, unique features, expanded measurements sections compared to the print magazine etc. But 2 years ago we deiced that rather than expand the on-line Stsreophile further, we would devote resources to creating new, related Web ventures, the first of which was InnerFidelity.com. AudioStream.com came next, and later this month we are launching AnalogPlanet.com, edited by Michael Fremer. John Atkinson Editor, Stereophile
Tyll Hertsens's picture
Thanks, John.

Very kind of you to step in, I wouldn't want to put words in your mouth.

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Timmy's picture

I'm not sure about out-classing you and that's not what I was heading for. You are of course entitled to your opinion, which is probably a lot more valuable than mine - seeing as how you're the expert here and I'm not. But what I am certain of is that there's a distinct difference between mere judgment-free facts and opinions. There is little point in disagreeing over facts.

Please do tell me, with all of your electronics background, for a length of less than 10 ft. (max. practical headphone-cable length?), how much difference does cable quality make for a signal that only goes up to 20kHz? Would you agree on that being a well-accepted fact that your former colleagues would be willing to back up? (This is of course excluding those severely and obviously botched up cables that you have to look really hard for to even find.) Furthermore, if you indeed heard a difference with the better aftermarket cables, why didn't you bother measuring it? You had every possibility to do so, and I think it would have been the logical thing to do, for someone with an inquisitive mind, as well as the responsible thing to do for someone with as much authority as you have.

You could run all sorts of test-signals through both cables and measure how they differ. You could repeat the HATS-measurements with the aftermarket-cables (you've done it for IEM-tips). You could create audio differencing samples and show the entire world how much difference there actually is. All opinions aside, you had (and still have) every possibility imaginable available to you to conclusively prove to everyone that there indeed is a difference - and that would have then been an irrefutable fact, not just an opinion.

Either way, sorry if my last comment sounded harsh - you are not one of the people I'm mad at. The comment really was intended as more of a plea for you to remain honest and not follow in the footsteps of those other reviewers that abuse their position.

vinjo's picture

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