Tyll Hertsens Blog

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Tyll Hertsens  |  Jan 04, 2018  |  38 comments
Had a cruise through the last year of posts; pulled some cans off the Wall of Fame for a listen; and put together a list of the 10 best headphones of year. This list is roughly ordered by the value proposition and not absolute sound quality. I say roughly because it's more by the seat of the pants than it is some objective measure. How could it be otherwise? In addition, some products listed may be relatively poor value, but have novel and interesting features and/or characteristics that make them valuable additions to the world of headphones. Bottom line: these are all worthy products. Pick and choose at will.
Tyll Hertsens  |  Dec 30, 2017  |  74 comments
After recovering from a Christmas day celebration that had way more 'party' in it than ought be, I spent a few days listening to the headphones on the Wall of Fame Over-ear Open page with an ear out for readjustments. Basically, the Focal Clear has reset the bar. From now on I expect tonal balance from a $1000+ headphone. If it doesn't have it, it ain't going up on the WoF anymore. Here's what I done did and why.
Tyll Hertsens  |  Dec 12, 2017  |  23 comments
Oh man! Lots more stuff showing up on the stoop. Worry not, the Sennheiser HD 660 S review will be up by weeks end, but I figured you'd want to see the measurements for a couple more soon-to-be-reviewed headphones: the Klipsch Heritage HP-3 and the Focal Clear.
Tyll Hertsens  |  Dec 01, 2017  |  31 comments
In the midst of reviewing the new Acoustic Research AR-H1 I found myself feeling the need to compare it to other open headphones newly relevant to the price point.

*doorbell rings*

Sweet! Sennheiser's new HD 660 S on the stoop.

Tyll Hertsens, Jana Dagdagan  |  Nov 29, 2017  |  15 comments
When Jana Dagdagan, Stereophile's Editorial Coordinator, told me she was planning a trip out to Bozeman to shoot videos we had a long conversation about what kinds of things we could shoot. One of her ideas was a Q&A session. I thought that was a cool idea and we started brainstorming questions. O.M.G. She thought of some doozies. Some of then I just flat out said, "No way, I'm not going to answer that." Fortunately she managed to convince me to leave most of them in.
Tyll Hertsens  |  Nov 21, 2017  |  61 comments
Just bumped into this patent from Microsoft for an ultra-thin 3.5mm headphone jack. Basically it uses elastic panels to allow the jack to expand around the plug as it's inserted. Actually seems like a good idea to me as it may give a little and prevent strain induced failure of the jack. Maybe there's hope for 3.5mm jacks on future smartphones.

Look, I have no desire to get all schmoopy about the mini-plug...as it often used to be called. When I worked as an audio repair technician at a Santa Cruz stereo store, the most common failure of Walkmans was the jack itself—followed closely by sand in the gears...it's a beach town. Anybody out there who never had a 3.5mm jack go bad on them?

*crickets*

None the less, I have a hard time thinking of a world without a 3.5mm TRS plug. The installed base is huge. My iPhone7 has pissed me off numerous times when I didn't have the jack adapter handy. OTOH, wireless headphones are outselling wired ones. I'm conflicted; I really wonder what's going to happen. What do you think?

New Life for the 3.5mm Jack?
Nobody will pay Microsoft the royalties. Wireless will kill it. Gone in 10 years. Get over it.
34% (12 votes)
It'll exist in cheap stuff, and expensive stuff with improved mechanics. But it'll be wireless as far as the eye can see between
11% (4 votes)
Too much momentum; no analog replacement in sight. It'll fade but won't go away. Wires will be with us for a long time to come.
54% (19 votes)
Total votes: 35
Tyll Hertsens, Jana Dagdagan  |  Nov 08, 2017  |  14 comments
Gotta say, it feels kind funny swinging my doors wide open and letting everyone into my home. I try to keep it mostly business here. But I've often thought you guys would enjoy some of the gadgets I've built. Make sure you stay 'til the end so you can see the back country camper I'm building from a FedEx truck. I'm particularly proud of Putt, my step van.
Tyll Hertsens  |  Nov 01, 2017  |  13 comments
A couple of months ago, out of the clear blue, I was approached by the folks at Listen Inc. to see if I was interested in having an equipment sponsor for my headphone measurement program. After a few moments of stunned silence I said, "Um, sure, let's talk about it."
Tyll Hertsens, Jana Dagdagan  |  Oct 28, 2017  |  26 comments
Chatting with Jana and listing out the review process really drove home just how complicated and how many discrete steps are involved. You'll notice I look down a lot in the video. It took about three pages of single line notes to detail all the steps in proper order.
Tyll Hertsens, Jana Dagdagan  |  Oct 04, 2017  |  32 comments
Oh boy, what fun! Jana Dagdagan, Stereophile's Editorial Coordinator, has been visiting me here in my home in Montana for a few days to produce a series of videos. You can expect quite few more over the next few weeks as she edits them. Today, I'm going to talk about my vision of the future of headphones.
Tyll Hertsens  |  Sep 26, 2017  |  39 comments
A quick recap:

Jude and I agreed to exchange pairs and measure each other's headphones. I sent mine off to him, and received them back a few days ago along with his pair. Here are my measurements.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Sep 18, 2017  |  46 comments
First and foremost I want to thank each and every person who commented on my initial Compensation Curve for InnerFidelity Measurements post. An InnerFidelity target curve should be considered journalism and not quite science, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't be juried by peers. So I very much appreciate and take very seriously dialog about this curve. Thank you.
Tyll Hertsens  |  Sep 14, 2017  |  43 comments
Nice surprise ending to this one.

You may remember my trip to Harman International last year to plonk my measurement head down in front of a reference level speaker system. My motive was to determine exactly what speakers looked like with my particular Head Acoustics dummy head. My basic assumption was that good headphones should measure like good speakers. If I could capture the head response with good speakers, I could then build a compensation curve for headphone measurements that would be related directly to my particular head and a speaker based reference.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Sep 05, 2017  |  27 comments
Just the other day while reviewing the Sennheiser HD 471 I had an interesting experience: In comparing three relatively neutral headphones (HD 471; HD 569; and ATH-M50x) I found my mind switching between analytical and experiential modes—some might say objective and subjective modes. What I found, oddly, was that while I could pick out the flaws of the HD 569 more easily than the HD 471, I also found it a more pleasing listening experience. It got me to thinking about measurable flaws, quantitative vs. qualitative differences, and the listening experience.
Jana Dagdagan  |  Jul 21, 2017  |  22 comments
Last month, I visited Ultimate Ears Pro in Irvine, California for a tour of their office/facility, and to finally try custom in-ears for the first time.

The customs that I ended up receiving (full disclosure: as a complimentary press sample) were the UE Pro Reference Remastered studio reference monitors ($999). They were developed in collaboration with Capitol Studios and house three balanced armature drivers.

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