Breaking The Ice

InnerFidelity Introduction

Hi, I'm Rafe Arnott, and I'd like to take a moment to introduce myself as the new Managing Editor to the dedicated readers of InnerFidelity. I'm not Tyll Hertsens, but I do have a beard.

This is a website about headphones: Headphone design, headphone technology, headphone sound reproduction quality, discussion of headphones, and their associated equipment, and how headphones fit into people’s daily lives. This is to name but a fraction of the focus points touched on by those who have helped make InnerFidelity the tight-knit community, and global resource for headphone information that it has grown into.

But it’s also about music, because I think it’s safe to say that without music, headphones probably wouldn’t be enjoying what is surely their greatest ascendance of recognition into the mainstream, collective human psyche in the history of recorded music.

Music brings people together. Which is going to be one of my primary goals here.

The shared love, respect, passion and appreciation for what music gives us as unique individuals, as an identifiable group – or tribe – within our culture, or as a species cannot possibly be overstated.

To me, music is life, and whether it’s a pair of over-ear electrostatic headphones, or those ubiquitous white earbuds, if you want to listen to your music – or podcast, news program, documentary, whatever – in that completely personal space which resides between ones own ears, then I identify with you as someone from one of the tribes I’m a part of.

While I’m a music lover, I’m also a dedicated audiophile, hardware, software, and technology enthusiast. I love gear, and have immense respect for all those who dedicate their lives to creating equipment that allows us to hear music ever more closely to the original recorded event.

I feel strongly that you cannot be a modern, well-rounded audiophile without the clear recognition that headphones are the largest market on the planet for transducers.

I think it’s safe to say that more people use headphones to tune in (or tune out) than probably every other speaker type combined. While they may not all be rocking Sennheiser HD800s, or an Astell & Kern SP1000, the earbuds and smartphone that many use to connect them to the sounds they need/want are just as precious to them as those 800s, and that SP1000 are to others.

The reason I point this out is because I have no intention of this being a website catering only to those who can afford the best-of-the-best. This website will be for everyone who wants to listen to music through headphones, whether they do it on the bus on their way to work, with a portable rig they take to the office, or in a dedicated setup in their home – I am budget agnostic.

This will also be a website of moderation, and tolerance, of understanding, and respect for different voices, different tastes, different priorities.

If you’ve got an issue with something on the site, or want to engage in discussion, by all means use the comments section to do that: I want a healthy dialogue to continue here.

Tyll made this site great with not only care, understanding, and recognition of its core readership, but by making it a trusted place for the greater audio-centric (and headphone-specific) community to touch down at for information, reviews, and measurements.

Not everyone who comes to InnerFidelity is focused solely on the gear, and measurements. Some just want to check in quickly, and then check out without getting involved more than that. That’s why this site will stay as focused as I can make it on traditional reviews, but it will also start looking at the bigger world out there, and headphones more prominent place in it.

It’s a world full of people who use headphones every day of their lives but have no idea that there is an intense, passionate headphone community hidden in plain sight all around them.

I don't have any illusions that it's going to be easy sailing taking over this site.

That said, I’m looking forward to taking to the waters whether they are rough or calm, but I’ll be doing it in my own way, with my own boat, and I plan on having a blast doing it. Yes, actual fun.

I welcome everyone to join me in this venture, I’m sure some will lament that InnerFidelity has changed, and I understand that, but I hope those with concerns can take comfort that change is here in the form of someone who sincerely cares about the site, and everyone who likes to call InnerFidelity home.

The site will be different, it's inevitable, and that’s OK because you can’t grow without change. So let’s grow together.

I'll be posting more soon, there's much to organize, so please bear with me as I get up to speed. –Rafe Arnott

funambulistic's picture

Please keep hands and fingers away from the animals and don't mind the smell!

crenca's picture


As you are obviously aware from your initial post, there is concern from the current community for continuity. For example, will you or those whom you assign be doing measurements and if so what is the methodology? What is your philosophy of reviewing, and what is your position vis-a-vis the objective/subjective tension in Audio? Tyll, even when you disagreed with him, had a good grasp of these things and explicitly said where he is coming from.

I and no doubt most others are aware you might not be able to answer specifics right now, but I would think you could give us some hint based on your experience and understanding of Tyll's work as it relates to your experience and work.

Three Toes of Fury's picture

Great intro Rafe. I read it as honest, passionate, well spoken, and excited. I particularly liked your comments on music..its a love of music and the quest to improve our connection with it that brings so many of us here.

Exciting things abound! Looking forward to your future posts, thoughts, and experiences.

Welcome to the site!!!!!!

Peace .n. Living in Stereo

Three Toes of Fury

tony's picture

Geez, you got Ice out where you are ??

How bout taking us on a little Jaunt around yer neck of the Woods : V. BC. ???

If we ever had any May Ice, Global Warming got rid of it a loooooooong time ago, for gods sake.

I tried to do a little Internet Search about y'all and didn't find much, don't know why. Just a picture of a 1960s v-12 Jag E Type ( I owned a V-8 Daimler of that Era, horrible car ) and a Recent Article in some upper Left Coast Culture Publication, kinda nice read. I'm a Bernie Sanders Support Staff now working to rid our WH of low Integrity

Taliban hair is becoming all-the-rage, I'll try not to notice ( of course I don't approve ) and I'll try to not hold it against you. Phew

I'm a traditional HD Sennhieser/Tube man, so don't expect to Convert me to those God Awful Electrostatics or any of the Planer Magnetics ( but do I love the Magnapan Loudspeakers for some psychotic reason ) . [ I was a Stax Dealer and owned Earspeakers for myself ]

I think that you are gonna enjoy this Adventure if you just plug yer contribution into the Soup that Headphone/Personal Audio is gonna be cook'n up over these next few years.

You just Won Life's Lottery!

Tony in Michigan

ps. I hope that Abyss sends you a pair of Diana headphones for .... we've been waiting ( a while ) for some intelligent opinionating on these things. Is Opinonating a word? I can't seem to find it in any of the many dictionaries I own. I like headphone people inventing new things, especially new descriptive terminology.

ps. 2 I'm guessing that you're born in the mid/late 1950s and that you have no resonance with 78 records

funambulistic's picture

Tony, I think you may be a couple off regarding Mr. Arnott's age. If not, he looks awesome for being in his mid sixties! Of course, it is entirely possible and I can only hope to look that good at that all-too-quickly approaching age.

tony's picture

OK, he's old and not "Burned Out", why isn't he retired and floating down the Florida Intercostal in a Hobie Kayak, with folks like me?

I'm wondering, is he on a mission to do something, to see something thru, to be part of something LARGE and exciting like : The rolling out of a whole New Generation of Audio Format where our always perfect music comes down to us from high up in the Atmosphere and we lucky inheritors of technological brilliance will enrich the rest of our lives with dopamine inducing levels of infinite pleasures?


I'm hoping to learn more about Mr.Arnott's Pacific NorthWest and the Audio stuff the Area seems to be know for, like Bottlehead and some of the other outfits. ( maybe Ray Samuals )

We have an entire new World to contemplate now. Such as the European Audio Marketplace taking on Prominence yet being comprised of Socialist and Communist Philosophical's operating the machinery of governance. How did we seem to fall so far behind ?, was it our love of Bose 5 loudspeakers compared to the success of the LS3/5a throughout Polite Society?

I anticipate and hope that our new ( NOS ) Mr. Arnott will enlighten us on all these pressing issues.

Thanks for writing

Tony in Michigan

ps. Of course, PS Audio is technically and musically competitive with any of the European stuff and the Schiit Valhalla 2 ( with Russian Communist Glass ) is magnificent and ultra cheap.

GNagus's picture

but can you spell and proof-read?

crenca's picture

Give me a solid understanding of measurements, a balanced review methodology, and a willingness to call them as he sees them and not make every review/article a "it's great, it's all great man!" lifestyle fluff.

Without this, all the correct editing in the world adds up to nothin...

Journeyman's picture

"I have no intention of this being an elitist website catering only to those who can afford the best-of-the-best. This website will be for everyone who wants to listen to music through headphones"
Well the above one went straight to the heart, most excellent words.

zobel's picture

You hit it out of the park with your introductory remarks. It truly is about music, of which the late Robin Williams said,

"You know what music is? Its God's little reminder that there is something else besides us in this universe; harmonic connection between all living beings, everywhere, even the stars."

I look forward to continuing reading and sharing ideas here, to better hear the music and share it. It will be fun.

PDC3's picture

It’s interesting that many readers haven’t considered that you, RA, might change your past style to better meld with your new flagship. Not imitate, but mesh. Anyway, best wishes. I knew this site had been teaching me a lot when I looked at the measurements FIRST and then predicted some, but not all, of what Tyll had written. It means to me that the measures do provide guidance, and eventually allowed me to calibrate how my preferences differ from Tyll’s. Hope to keep learning with your team’s guidance.

Johan B's picture

All visitors

Johan B's picture

All reviews from Tyll had the measurements embedded. So I am going to be less interested in if you don’t

badboygolf16v's picture

We can kiss goodbye to InnerFidelity as we knew it. Rafe's a conventional audiophile reviewer, and I mean that pejoratively. Adios.

HalSF's picture

Really nice introduction — it's great to read such a clear appreciation of the qualities Tyll embraced as you take the reins. The most important thing to me about InnerFidelity ((beside the measurements!) has been the emotional intelligence and general benevolence Tyll projected in an arena where a lot of people want to fuss and fight and troll and j'accuse. As you make the gig your own I hope that wonderful vibe and balance continues.

gibtg's picture

As much as I loved Tyll, it's unfortunate that our hobbies have to come to an end here. That begs the question whether anyone was ready and in waiting to take over where Tyll left off, but if there was unfortunately I don't believe he or she was selected here. I would have much rather preferred someone with a background in headphones and someone that was passionate about them.

It also really makes me wonder if in his undying optimism that Tyll was being cryptic about the new management. I'm sure he wouldn't have been ready to turn this site upside down to appease new ownership.

I guess if Tyll's passion for headphones has passed, mine will as well.

crenca's picture

Whatever the reasons for Tyll's abrupt departure, I don't think the new owners were prepared. Rafe is much more an Audiostream guy, and that site I think was supposed to be his to continue. The idea that he is a successor to Tyll and the spirit of Innerfidelity strains credibility to put it lightly.

My hope is that he will appoint an assistant editor (perhaps Katz can help him with this) who knows what this market is about (i.e won't confuse it with "lifestyle" or high end) and then with a light touch insert just enough "lifestyle" into it to make the owners happy without substantially ruining the place ;)

Core's picture

Tyll was not the only individual who left.

I hope InnerFidelity measures headphones. The main reason I visit InnerFidelity is for the headphone measurements. Without headphone measurements, InnerFidelity becomes an ordinary headphone site.

bogdanb's picture

It's nice to read someone's personal statement for a change.

So welcome Mr. Rafe Arnott! welcome to your new home that we are squatting. :)

I would gladly adapt to your new boat and sailing ways. Change even when unwanted can still be pleasant. However I think many of the readers hare would definitely like you to incorporate some of Tyll's navigation techniques and charts, for sure that will make sailing easier!

Good luck with your work and good luck keeping this site one we will still find dear to our hearts!

arnaud's picture

It feels like the mandate for this site is to pivot audience from the current hardcore headphone enthusiasts to a much larger crowd of young people enjoying youtube audio / videos on the go.

As such, the message feels like we, the "old farts" commenting here can either stay if we avoid stirring poop around or, at the very least remain polite but certainly this ship is headed to another direction from Tyll's...


Rafe Arnott's picture
Hi all,

The headphone tool will hold all of Tyll’s measurements - hundreds of headphone models. This database will be added to the website in the coming weeks so readers can access it forever going forward.

Because of Tyll’s retirement, however, any new measurements will obviously not be made by Tyll, so we will develop a new feature allowing the reader to choose whether they want to use Tyll’s measurements library to compare models he covered, the new measurements library (where applicable) or compare Tyll’s to the new measurements (also where applicable).

We’re also considering adding a third option for readers to upload their own measurements and add the to the database.

This is the most I can say for now, I'll definitely add more as we figure things out more concretely moving forward. I hope this info will suffice in the meantime, please bear with me as I do my best to sort everything out as quickly as possible, and get this site back up to speed! I also genuinely appreciate all the positive comments, thanks to everyone for the good vibes.

More soon!

crenca's picture

I am glad you see the importance of measurements for your readers.

gibtg's picture

Odd, do you plan on using the same measurement equipment as Tyll? Do you plan on running the same tests? I don't understand why the individual running the same test would matter when the responses are an average of positions on the measurement head.

crenca's picture

Probably a safe guess that Tyll took his measurement rig with him, as he owned it. So Rafe's plan is to outsource reviews/measurements to qualified reviewers, so you will get multiple measurement rigs and thus multiple data points that as you know can not be directly compared but offers its own sort of advantage.

OR, perhaps Rafe intends to get into the measurement game himself, but I sort of doubt this.

*did you see that...I said plethora! ;)

南开米饭's picture

Godfather 3 is a good movie

Peter Puck's picture

I'm looking forward to new reviews on both headphones and music . The music industry has changed so much in the last 40 years since I graduated from high school. I'm always looking out for new music so I certainly hope you will review music as well as headphones Amps and dac's. Most of my peers listen to the same music they listened to in high school where as I listen to everything except country music well except Johnny Cash but he's not really country. Well good luck and I for one am looking forward to you taking the helm of Inner Fidelity good luck.

yrodin's picture

What gear do you own?

EdAInWestOC's picture

I look forward to the coming years with your viewpoint driving this site. While I write this I am breaking in a pair of Focal Clear's, listening to Traffic, that were partly chosen based on the review here.

My gear isn't exactly high-end but I like what I hear. I am using an all Schitt Audio electronic stack (Schitt Wyrd, Modi Multibit DAC, Loki tone controls and Magni 3 amp) driving either a pair of HiFI Man HE-400S or my new Focal Clears.

The above system is for work days (I work from home) and is fed by a laptop via Foobar2000 with a lot of hi-rez digital files.

I have another system downstairs that is the intended home for the new Focal cans. It is definitely more high end with a Schiit Lyr 2 headphone amp driving the cans.

That system is fed by vinyl and is my weekend passion.

When it comes to headphone buying decisions, this is one of the places that I go to for information. It has helped me acquire gear that makes me very happy.

Good Luck with the site,

Le0's picture

Looking forward to your reviews and stuff you mentioned above!

Hifihedgehog's picture

I have a bomb-proof bunker which any of you small fowls are more than welcome to move into for refuge should any of the crumbling fragments of the volatile stratosphere should break off and tumble down to the populated regions of the Earth's surface. ;) In all seriousness, I have confidence that this is a change for the better, where objective measurements and an objective audience with a highly subjective reviewer is just the balance of ying-yang we need to see reviews with a deeper perspective than before. True, Tyll, besides being the grandfather of the headphone enthusiast hobby, also happens to be perhaps the most likeable guy in all of headphonedom, a bullseye straight shooter and a dead good one at that, and an adept technical whiz with measurements (his background as a electron repairman speaks volumes), but I am sure that even he would readily admit wordsmithing and brighter than neutral headphones were not his favorite passtimes during his reviewing.

I know, I know, many of you detest the taboo of playing with extreme subjectivism to please everyone and the harm that comes from it, and I completely get it--I am an objectivist myself who enjoys burying his head in technical journals, technology and science forum discussions, and the musings of NwAvGuy-type bloggers. In fact, without standards and systems as we know it, all we would have is wibbly, wobbly, timey, wimey ball of stuff with no way of extrapolating why effect A occurs since cause B is completely misunderstood or a total mystery. But the key here is that it is equally as important to see many different angles in ascertaining the merits and flaws of any headphone under review since everyone's tastes and expectations will vary widely from person to person and one man's trash may very well turn out to be another man's treasure.

I, for one, see this change of the guards as a significant stepping stone since all too often one's strengths, such as a objectivist mindset, can lead to one's own preconceived notions bleeding into the objective criteria as bias since they mistake their own opinions to be objective. In reality, such bias may actually come from limitations in the testing equipment or the reviewer's own tastes which, in turn, they may choose as the only important points for readers while, sadly, discarding other equally noteworthy pluses and pros that should not be tossed away so hastily . With that said, I welcome you, Rafe Arnott, as a new face, a new host, and a new--and dare I say bright!--vision to the site. I have only high hopes and well wishes to you as you chart a new course in the often tempestuous waters of distilling wiggly frequency curves and scribbled notes of aural analysis into a palatable, relatable review for the masses. And don't mind us nuts in the peanut gallery--my room is sufficiently padded. ;)

wgb113's picture

Always liked interacting with you on forums and reading your writing over at PTA.

Rafe Arnott's picture
Hi everybody, I'm working on hard on sorting Wall of Fame gear from Tyll for shipping, and also looking into new reference rigs moving forward. That said, it takes a bit of time to connect with manufacturers, and secure new streams of delivery for review gear. I've also got our man in the UK writing me something up regarding the new headphone-measurement rig, so please stay tuned. I also spent today grabbing some fresh gear which I'll be posting about in the next day or two at the latest. Almost there!
Ceynon's picture

Clearly Rafe is not Tyll. Rafe I suspect won't try to be Tyll. I don't think anyone would want him too.

What I think you will get with Rafe is someone who is passionate about music and music reproduction. I have had the opportunity to break bread and share time with Rafe. I don't suffer fools or charlatans. Rafe is a principled man who has a fantastic ear. I consider Rafe to be a stand up human and this place will be lucky to have him.

I honestly think Rafe is a fantastic choice to carry to torch. It won't be exactly the same but how could it be. Why should it be. I look forward to what he is going to bring to inner fidelity.

chadley's picture

I wish the ice didn't have to be so rudely broken like that. By "broken ice", I mean the platform for true headphone/audiophile enthusiasts. I know it may seem premature to voice disappointment without at least waiting for one article to come out, but yikes, its difficult to attenuate my expectations in any other way after reading the introduction from both management and RA himself.

Considering Air Pod wearing hipster outside the spectrum of this hobby is not elitist any more than considering the drummer of a death metal band outside of the circles frequented by professional opera singers. They both love music. Sure, we all love music. That is, of course, a requisite, a foundation.

The problem is, loving music is not a hobby, it basically narrows down the population of the Earth by about 2 or 3 percent.

I love music, I'm a former musician myself and also a lover of audio gear and "sound" itself. Thus, I spend lots of money on gear for the purpose of achieving sound to satisfy this love. 99.9% of "white earbud" wearing individuals have no idea what a DAC/Amp is or why I would spend more than $20 on headphones. Then, one day, I found this site, this little corner of the internet with people like me who can't wait to hear about the newest precision crafted headphone gear and who want to see how it measures.

Am I mistaken, or did they move this corner of the internet to the same street Youtube is on and then knocked down all the walls?

Whatever your intention, please don't sell me the love of music crap. I love money too and food with sugar in it. So does everyone.

Peter Puck's picture

I for one still loves music , I have over 10,000 albums on Vinyl, 6 thousand Cd's and have down loaded another 9 thousand albums, when I buy audio gear it's for one purpose the Truth . I want to hear the truth . I have gone so far as to group my music collection by studio instead of by bands or alphabetically. Just saying . Some of us aren't very keen on measurements over straight wire and gain equipment un EQed if you have to modify the sound of your gear then it's lacking.