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.


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.


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
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!
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.
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!
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.

poliman's picture

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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

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

johnjen's picture

In my nearly 50 years of audio involvement there is one thing that has withstood the test of time. One aspect that will ALWAYS get the heart pumping and the nostrils flaring.

Trying to quantify a qualitative experience.

And there are 'of course' the 2 main camps those who 'know' and those who 'imagine'.

This will forever be a contentious division and probably impossible to ever fully reconcile.

Experience being what it is has always been fraught with variability that many seem hard to come to terms with. Which tends to fuel the fires amid calls for proof or empirical evidence or…

I'd suggest that the use of discernment, being a quite useful tool, can help the individual resolve this age old dilemma. It allows each the ability to determine for themselves what is and is not of intrinsic value AND TO DISCARD THE REST. It also tends to promote self growth and learning how to get beyond our self imposed barriers.

Just a thought, or 2


Tyll Hertsens's picture
I think I've missed an opportunity.

This thread is "About InnerFidelity", so I'm gonna try to bring it back on topic:

First, the above exchange should tell you something about me: I'm not a bullshitter. But I'm also not above having fun ... in fact, if you ask the long-time headphone hobbyists who know me, they'll tell you I'm mostly about having fun. I consider it a high calling.

I'm going to find and review as much gear as I possibly can that's fun to listen to and own. For me it is pretty easy to go through a pile of headphones saying, "..this is crap ... this is crap ... this is crap ... this is crap ... Hey! This might be fun for the right people" and that's how I help. The "this is crap" stuff is boring. You can expect me to mostly review recommended components that are a joy to own.

It's also likely I'l review a higher percentage of un-recomended components than Stereophile because they operate in a different market environment than I do. Generally, I reserve bad reviews for products that are broadly miss-represented as good. That happens fairly rampantly at the moment, and I like to try to do something about that. The definition of "broadly miss-represented" means something very different in the headphone market than it does in the specialty high-end market. I would think there are far more people looking for Monster Beats Solo headphones than any single product that Stereophile covers. So Stereophile might not have that same need to proclaim caveat emptors. Another reason for having a different brand.

Second, this whole poopity-poop about measuring and blind testing is a red herring. I'm in total agreement that both will tell you the story up to a point; but neither barely touch the subject of how you experience living with a piece of gear. At some point, that "test the shit out of it" argument is picking nits ignoring the elephant in the room of whether you'll like it or not. The domain of human experience is significantly inaccessible to the purely objective physical domain of measurements.

Will my legacy be that of a charlatan? I can't be a charlatan if I don't claim to know it all. I hate it when someone asks for the best headphone. How the hell should I know!? I can tell you a lot about headphones, what value they have, and who they might be good for, but at some point, my job is done. I can help people with my significant experience, tell people what I might do, but people must choose for themselves. That's why Head-Fi.org meets are so great: an excellent next step after reading about headphones is to try headphones.

InnerFidelity is a good place to narrow down your headphone choices. InnerFidelity can't foretell the headphone that will please you most.

ultrabike's picture

"they'll tell you I'm mostly about having fun. I consider it a high calling."


I do not take what Tyll says as the absolute law. I do not necessarily agree in all of what he says either. Or for that matter what Steve Gutenberg, or John Atkinson says. However, I respect them and their work. And it is good work IMHO: It is FUN to read and excites my curiosity.

In my view, no one is above making mistakes, or changing ones mind. Specially in the subjective world of audio. I have seen different people who highly regard Grados, all of the sudden hate them with a passion, and now are all about Stax. Will they eventually hate Stax and come back to Grados? Maybe. Maybe they will be all about Sennheiser or Orthos. Who knows. Maybe the Beats will make a comeback once they disappear from the shelves, and 10 years from now they'll be $100K (only 15 of them in the world left).

If I wanted highly technical stuff, maybe IEEE Transactions would be a good start. But I want a break.

This place is also VERY tolerant when it comes to voicing an opinion or getting out of topic. Believe me. Specially with strangers. And that has only increased my respect for Tyll that much more.

jvlgato's picture

I really enjoy InnerFidelity for the interesting and honest reviews of equipment that I'm interested in. I, for one, would be less likely to read the site if 50% of the reviews were bad ones. I don't think having a perfect 50% negative review percentage would increase the site's credibility for me. I read it because there are interesting products and honest opinions from knowledgable people. much more often than not, what's stated in the reviews match my experience when I listen myself. For me, that's what earns credibility, not a normal statistical distribution of good, bad, and mediocre reviews. Why would I want to spend my time reading about all the crappy products out there? I'd rather let someone whose ears match mine narrow down the list for me.

And with regards to measurements, I like reading about direct listening experience, AND I like reading about measurements. Then I decide if I want to hear that particular product myself. Having heard t myself, I decide if I like it.

The other thing I do is if I am wondering something about an article, I ask a question about what I'm wondering. For example, if I'm wondering why a measurement wasn't taken on a particular product, I'd say, 'Tyll, curious why you didn't post a measurement of that cable. It would be very informative, and I think it would lend more credibility to your opinion.' Maybe he'll measure it, or maybe he'll explain why he doesn't measure it. Either way, you get more information to decide if there's enough credibility for you.

What I wouldn't do is immediately call that person a liar, then imply that person is heading down the road to being a charlatan. Nor would I then accuse an entire publication of the same. The decreasing sales in High End audio is complex and multifactorial. Many people choose to listen on the road on their iPods using poor quality files and gear. It's just silly to say Stereophile has lost readership because of science and charlatanism. Things change, many people don't like to sit in the basement for hours and listen to music. IMHO, what's happened is the High End has simply shifted to mobile and personal systems. Thus the rise in interest in publications like InnerFidelity.

And the inevitable rise in Haters Who Gonna Hate appearing here more and more. My advice has always been to use places like this as a guide, and listen for yourself. If you don't like what you hear, or don't like what you read, no one is forcing you to spend your money or to hang out here.

I, for one, quite like it here!

johthor's picture

Very nice to have the history you provided. I have been following your blog on this site since you started and will continue to do so. The depth of your knowledge really shows in the many articles and blogs you have produced. Keep up the great work it is much appreciated.

Windsor's picture

Thanks for a great explanatory article, Tyll!

I think Innerfidelity is a great asset to the world of personal audio and one I'm privileged to have access to. Keep up the great work, and please let me know if you're ever in the UK!

With thanks,

XVII's picture

Ling on the first page Source Interlink Media actuarly leads to Home Tech Network page!

And thanks for the article!

Tyll Hertsens's picture

And you're welcome.

arnaud's picture

Already written! How did I miss this fascinating read? While I was suggesting such article would be fun to read in a recent comment, it turns out you had already covered the topic and in a much more fun and informative way I could ever have imagined. May this blog be here for a long time to come and you keep the passion going for many more articles!

As gkanai said, you are indeed most welcome to a future fujiya avic event. Ask Jude, we know how to be hospitable :)

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miche's picture

Great article! Thank you for sharing this with us!


csnk'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.clothing manufacturer

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