Big Sound 2015 Participant Report: Roy (Romaz)

Roy snaps a pic of Tyll in front of all the Big Sound gear.

Ed Note: You remember Roy (Romaz)? The guy who did best on the blind tests...yeah him. Here's his take on his visit to Big Sound, and boy is it terrific!

Last Monday, I enjoyed one of my finest Labor Days in recent memory. I spent the day in Bozeman, Montana, of all places. It was far from anything I knew but I arrived to Bozeman with a swell of enthusiasm because I knew I would be spending the day with Tyll Hertsens. This would not be some trivial encounter where we would exchange superficial pleasantries for a few minutes in the company of a large group of people. No, it would be just me and Tyll for nearly 8 hours talking about headphones and listening to good music. Now, how often does something like that ever happen?

Well, the experience with Tyll was everything I could hope for. Having followed Tyll for years, I was expecting he would be a straight shooting, plain speaking, walking headphone encyclopedia and he was all these things and much more. Tyll is also the most gracious host you could ask for and at all times, he made me feel very much at home. He asked about my background, my interests and my opinions on a variety of matters. He took the time to get to know me. Over a delectable lunch that he prepared, he shared some of his own story and expressed some of his future hopes and ambitions. Tyll is as real as it gets. For the rest of our time together, he allowed me to pick his massive brain at will as I played around with the nearly $100,000 of gear he had assembled in his evaluation room.

For nearly 6 hours, I got to listen to some of the finest headphones in the world driven by some of the finest amplifiers in the world. I would switch from one component to the next and back again hoping to experience a certain a-ha moment. For me, it wasnt as simple as finding the perfect headphone or the perfect amplifier. I was hopelessly in search of a time machine...

On a certain Christmas day as a teenager during the early 1980s, I received a gift from my parents that led to an experience that haunts me to this day. That Christmas, I received my first personal audio device, a Sony Walkman that came with a basic set of on-ear headphones. Prior to that device, I had never before experienced music in my head. I inserted the first cassette tape I could find from my dads collection. It was Elvis Presley. As I placed the headphones on my ears and hit the play button, out of a dark silence came a voice that I had heard many times before but this voice sounded so hauntingly real I was convinced Elvis had come back from the dead and was singing in my bedroom. The experience was exciting and frightening at the same time. Unfortunately, within a weeks time and due to some carelessness on my part, this Walkman met an untimely death although that transcendent experience had forever been engrained in my memory.

Despite owning much more sophisticated gear over the ensuing years, I have not been able to recreate that same sound combined with those same emotions. Not surprisingly, this experience that Ive longed to relive could not to be found at Tylls either but truth be told, I had already come to grips long ago that what I have been chasing is a ghost, an ideal that can be approached but never fully realized in the same way that ones first kiss or first taste of ice cream can never be fully re-experienced. I have to admit, however, that my attempts to climb this pedestal in search of this audio nirvana have brought certain joys and moments of enlightenment. Sometimes the journey is indeed worthwhile even if the final destination is unreachable and my time with Tyll proved to be a bright star on my audiophile journey.

Having heard a lot of gear over the years, I came to Tylls with appropriately tempered expectations especially since I had already experienced much of the gear he had on hand. What was unique about this opportunity was that I was able to go through many different permutations of headphones and amps in a short period of time and in a quiet and controlled listening room where the source and cables were kept constant. It gave me a much more confident sense of what a certain component was contributing to the music I was hearing.

Whenever I read about the impressions of others, I find it useful to know as much about a reviewers preferences to see if were even on the same page and are likely to draw the same conclusions. Having read and enjoyed the impressions of the other gentlemen that have taken part in Big Sound 2015, it is interesting to read how different our conclusions are and for the reader at large, I can imagine the confusion and even the skepticism that this Big Sound exercise has generated for some. Who do you believe?

Of greatest interest to me were the opinions generated by Bob Katz, in part because of his professional audio background but more because it seems our preferences couldnt be more polar opposites but as I look at his needs versus my needs, it becomes easier to see why we like what we like. As a highly acclaimed professional recording mixer, Bob uses his headphone gear as a tool to accomplish an implicit task against the pressure of a deadline whereas I look for my gear to bring me unrushed pleasure and a carefree escape. Bob seeks neutrality and transparency above all else while I am willing to tolerate some editorializing if it leads to liquidity and tonal richness. Given his line of work, I would guess Bob prefers a straight up presentation so that he can do his job. Having already shared with you my Sony Walkman experience, it should come as no surprise that I am looking for gear that will move me emotionally.

Having perhaps viewed my video with Tyll, you might already be aware of the preferences that I voiced. At the time the video was shot, with the headphones I hadnt heard before, I really didnt have enough time to develop a confident grasp of those headphones character. After the video was shot, I had an opportunity to listen for a few more hours and some of my preferences changed which is why there is some discrepancy between what I said on camera and what was printed. While at the airport waiting for my flight home, I had a chance to review my notes and reflect further on what I had heard. I also asked myself a different question. Instead of listing which headphones and amps I liked best, perhaps the better question was to list which headphones and amps I would actually buy? As I now factored value into the equation, my preferences changed again.

Without further ado, I have listed my top 5 headphones after factoring in value:

#1) HifiMan HE-1000. To be fair, I knew quite a bit about this headphone already having spent nearly a month with a borrowed unit before actually purchasing a set in early August and so this headphone at #1 is not an impulsive choice. In the case of the HE-1000, I have put my money where my mouth is. Compared to what I paid for my SR-009 and given that this headphone does much of what the SR-009s did so well, at $3,000, I consider it a good value. This headphone both physically and sonically is supremely comfortable for long periods of listening. It is detailed and airy in a very 3-dimensional sense. There is an ethereal quality to its treble that undoubtedly colors it but I happen to prefer it because it lends itself to prolonged listening without fatigue. The midrange is rich, perhaps not LCD-3 rich, but it is textured and nuanced better than the LCD-3. The bass extends low with sub bass that matches the Abyss. The Abyss has better bass slam but the HE-1000 has better bass definition. Some have suggested this headphone doesnt need a special amp, that it sounds the same regardless of amplifier. My time at Big Sound taught me differently. The criticism against the HE-1000 is that it can sound too soft with details that can be too rounded and a leading edge that can be too polite. I dont completely disagree with this assessment and so I prefer this headphone paired with a more forward sounding amp with commanding authority and grip. While I generally prefer tubes over transistors, with the HE-1000, transistor amps can potentially sound better. Of the amps at Big Sound, nothing embodied these traits better than the HeadAmp GS-X Mk2.

#2) HD800 with mod. Yes, this headphone went from zero to hero for me. As I mentioned in my video, I once owned a pair of these headphones and returned them because they were too bright and sounded too thin and so I had low expectations for this headphone going in. As I shared on the video, I was surprised by what I heard and made the HD800 my #4 pick. Upon further reflection, it has risen to #2. Again, I have put my money where my mouth is and I have one on order with the mod. It remains the most comfortable headphone I have ever worn. It has the widest soundstage of the group and has the ability to present even the most subtle detail and so for live orchestral recordings with huge dynamic range, this surpasses the HE-1000 and approaches the SR-009. With the mod, I believe it is now suitable for long-duration listening (well see). With the wrong amp, this headphone still can sound too dry and clinical for my tastes. I actually didnt enjoy the HD800 as much on the GS-X Mk2. The Bakoon added a euphonic warmth and fullness to the midrange that benefited the HD800 greatly. The Teton and Woo WA234 sounded wonderful also but for considerably more money. In the video, the Bakoon was my top pick for the HD800. After factoring in value, my new pick is the Eddie Current Black Widow. It has most of the midrange qualities of the Bakoon at less than half the price.

#3) Enigmacoustics Dharma. Stax with bass—that was my first impression. Because the comparison against the Stax SR-009 is inevitable, the first thing I noticed was the presence of what was missing with my SR-009. The treble was clear and fast and the midrange was detailed, typical of electrostats. Im not sure it was exactly Stax level but the better tonal balance made up for some of these shortcomings. I looked at some of Tylls measurements and was concerned to see the high distortion tracings in the upper bass region but I didnt seem to be bothered by it. Im not sure if my opinion will change after more time with this headphone but I would be very open to exploring this further. I was also concerned about potential coherence issues given the combination of an electrostatic driver and a dynamic woofer but I didnt notice any issues here either. I was impressed by its comfort. Its high sensitivity allows it to be driven loudly by almost any amp, even an iPhone, but this headphone sounded especially sublime on the Woo WA234. From a value standpoint, however, I would probably go with the Black Widow once again. At $1,200, this headphone easily presents the best bang for the buck of the group.

#4) Mr. Speakers Ether. On the video, I actually stated this headphone wasnt one of my top picks. It seemed to do many things well but nothing exceptionally. The more time I spent with it, however, the more it reminded me of a mini HE-1000. It didnt have the resolving ability or the bass extension of the HE-1000 but it played all genres well and was very comfortable to wear, easily suitable for long-duration listening. After looking at its frequency measurements, Tyll suggested that this headphone lent itself well to EQing and properly equalized, it has the potential to sound very close to the HE-1000 at half the price. We had no way to test Tylls theory but I am intrigued by this possibility. This headphone played well on all the amps but from a value perspective, I would once again pair it with the Eddie Current Black Widow.

#5) Audio Zenith PMx2. I really like this headphone and it could have placed in front of the Ether if it was a little less expensive. At nearly $1,400, it is only slightly less expensive than the Ether and while they share similar characteristics as planar magnetic headphones, to my ears, the Ether presented a wider, more spacious soundstage and better instrument separation. If the PMx2s were $200 less, this headphone would have supplanted the Ether as my #4 pick. If I was on the go more than I was at home, this could be my #1 pick. As with the Ether, this headphone was very comfortable and played well with all the amps but from a value perspective, I would once again pair it with the Eddie Current Black Widow.

Special Mention:
Stax SR-009 - I continue to like this headphone very much even though I sold it. Despite the issue I had with it, for certain types of music (especially complex orchestral classical) and with the right amplifier, this headphone is second to none. While Tyll's KGSSHV sounded good, the Blue Hawaii SE still sounds better. To my ears, the two should not be considered separately making the SR-009 an expensive proposition.

Abyss 1266 - This headphone didnt make my top 5 but this is an exceptional headphone in many ways. If it werent for an issue I have with a brightness in its treble region, I would have bought this headphone long ago. It was actually the first headphone good enough to tempt me to leave my Stax SR-009 and was the initial object of my desire when I first began looking. Upon first presentation, nothing sounds grander. With crisp details, expansive soundstage and thunderous bass, it is the only headphone here that can sound like a pair of speakers when properly driven. It is with long-duration listening where problems show up for me. I have no problems with its physical appearance or size as it actually balances well on my head but this is a fatiguing headphone for me because of its treble. If you dont share my personal issues with it (and most probably wouldnt) and you can accept its high asking price, I would recommend these highly with either the Woo WA234 or Moon Neo 430HA. One final comment to take note of earlier this year, upon hearing of my issues with this headphone, Joe Skubinski, the owner of Abyss, reached out to me to see if he could help me resolve my problems. He was ultimately unable to do so but I was impressed by his gesture. How many owners of companies reach out to their end users like this to try and help out? A class act.

Audezes - My main issue with the Audezes is comfort. They are heavy and the clamping pressure is too high for my larger than average head. The Abyss is also very large but its suspension system somehow works well to distribute its weight. With long-duration listening, invariably, fatigue becomes an issue. As I mentioned in the video, the Audeze house sound is a bit too laid back for my tastes. In comparison to other headphones, they seem to always sound veiled. The LCD-X plays more neutral than the LCD-3 and the midrange sounds clearer and less veiled but the LCD-3 scales better, seems to resolve a little better and holds its integrity better at high volumes.

Woo WA234 - Of all the equipment at Big Sound (headphones, amps, DACs, digital front end, cables), the WA234 was the piece I was most curious to hear. In any of my hobbies, I am always interested to know just how high the ceiling is and I imagined that this headphone amp might be the best in production today. It was outfitted with Takatsuki 300b output tubes and Takatsuki 274b rectifiers, argued by some as the best production tubes available today. This combination of amp and tubes elevates the price of the Woo to just north of $20,000 so you can imagine my expectations were very high. With the Abyss, this amp played splendidly and its smooth romantic character balanced the forward nature of the Abyss well. Combined, however, this pairing will set you back more than $25,000 which is a tough pill for most to swallow. While this amp sounded very good with other headphones including the Dharma, the Ethers, Audio-Zenith and both Audezes, this amp is overkill for those headphones as those headphones can sound nearly as good with far less expensive amps amps. I was hoping for better synergy with the HE-1000 but a soft headphone on a soft amp wasnt to my liking, especially at this price point.

SimAudio Moon Neo 430 HA - I had spent some time previously with this amplifier and coming into Big Sound, I was expecting this amp to compete well against anything. From a design standpoint, the 430 HA ticks off all the boxes for me. It is attractive, runs very cool despite its high power output, has a nice remote and full complement of headphone outputs and should you order the model with a built-in DAC, this could be one of the best all-in-one DAC/preamp/headphone amps available today. During the blind testing, Tyll asked me how I was able to single out this amp so easily and my response was that it had the most air and indeed this is one of its strengths. At 8 watts output at 50 ohms, this is one of a few amps that can drive the Abyss to full glory. In truth, it drove everything well. In comparison to the GS-X Mk2, however, for most of the headphones present with the exception of the Abyss and the HD800, it sounded soft and lacking in authority.

Eddie Current Black Widow - This is the spoiler of the lot. It was very dynamic yet with tube-like midrange warmth and it played all of the non-electrostatic headphones well. Best value, bar none and yet competitive with any of the other amps regardless of price. Paired with the Dharma, you could have a top-of-the-line combo for well under $2,500, a combination I could easily be happy owning.

HiFiMan (the company) - I owned a HiFiMan HE-500 once upon a time. It failed shortly after the warranty expired and I chalked it up to suspect quality control after hearing of similar production issues from other owners. This made me leery of buying a HiFiMan product again but I went ahead and took the chance with the HE-1000. While listening to my HE-1000 shortly after returning from Tylls last week, inexplicably, the leather headband detached from its metal base rendering the headphone unwearable. My dealer was kind enough to contact HiFiMan on my behalf which was a good move because had I been the one to initiate contact, it would not have been a kind exchange of words. To HiFiMans credit, I was contacted via e-mail within 24 hours with an apology and an offer to replace (not just fix) my headphone immediately. They acknowledged my issue as something they were aware of and promised my replacement headphone would have no such problem. I will withhold final judgment until I receive my replacement but thus far, their customer service gets an A+.

Final Thoughts
I won't soon forget this experience as it reaffirmed a few headphone setup principles for me:

  1. Find the headphone that you love first, everything else comes second.
  2. Equipment synergy cannot be overstated. Learn the strengths and weaknesses of your headphone and find an amp (and DAC) that optimizes its strengths and minimizes its weaknesses.
  3. You don't have to spend a lot of money to get great sound. The headphones, amps, DACs and players being produced today are more consistently of a high standard and the best technologies of just a few years ago have trickled down to even entry level gear. My experience at Big Sound 2015 has reaffirmed for me that from the greatest to the least, differences are more often subtle than stark.

As for my closing remarks to my host, the best that I can think to say is "Thanks, mate!" It was a privilege to have lived in your shoes and sat in your chair for a day. I hope to catch you in Costa Rica one day lounging in your tricked out RV!

Editor's Note: Wow. Now I don't have to do my final write-up—I think you are dead-on with many things. Thank you, very much.

I especially loved your comment about enthusiasts listening for pleasure and audio professionals using them for work and needing different gear as a result. I know my choices are going to different than both you and Bob because I have very particular needs for work. The amp and headphones I'll choose won't be for everyone. It's sort of true for all intent headphone listeners—we all have our particular set of desires (values) when evaluating gear. Good times, eh!?

Equipment List

Front End
NAS - Synology DS414 ($479)
Renderer - Aurender W20 (~$17,600);
Digital Distribution Amps - Four ATI DMM100 Digital Matchmakers
and one DDA212-XLR digital audio distribution amp ($1450).

Power Conditioning
PS Audio, two P10 power regeneration station ($4999) and four DecTet conditioned plug strips ($499).

AURALiC Vega DAC ($3499)
Simaudio MOON Neo 430 HA ($4300 w/DAC).
HeadAmp GS-X Mk2 ($2800)
Schiit Ragnarok ($1699) and Yggdrasil ($2299)
Burson Audio Conductor Virtuoso ($1495 w/PCM1793; $1995 w/ESS1908)
Woo Audio WA-234 ($15,900)
Antelope Audio Zodiac Platinum DSD DAC, Voltikus Power Supply, and 10M Rubidium Atomic Clock. ($13,045)
Apex High Fi Audio (TTVJ) Teton ($5000)
Eddie Current Black Widow ($1248)
Violectric V281 ($2299)
Bakoon HPA-21 ($2995) current output headphone amplifier.
KGSSSRE (Kevin Gilmore Solid State Special Reviewer's Edition E-Stat Amp ($Unobtanium)

Sennheiser HD 800 ($1599)
Audeze LCD-3 ($1945) and LCD-X ($1699)
JPS Labs Abyss AB-1266 ($5495)
Stax SR-009 ($4450) and SR-007 ($2350)
HIFIMAN HE-1000 ($3000)
Mr. Speakers Ether ($1499)
Enigmacoustics Dharma (~$1200)
Audio Zenith PMx2 ($1398)

Digital cables by AudioQuest.
Cable complements for wiring entire systems will be from: Nordost; JPS Labs; WyWires; Cable Pro; AudioQuest, and Cardas.

Headphone stands by Klutz Designs

Luke's picture

I've been following the Big Sound 2015 throughout! I couldn't help but marvel at most of the world's best headphones.
Glad to see some Dharma praise as well as that is the headphone I am looking forward to hearing the most :}
Well done!

Tyler Schrank's picture

Enjoyed reading your report. Thanks for writing! And congrats on doing well on the blind testing. That HE1000 blind test was a bitch for me!

Tyll is the man, isn't he?

romaz's picture

Yes, there will only ever be one Tyll.

rschoi_75's picture

What a fantastic read this was. My thoughts and opinions fall right in line with Roy more than any other guest so far. As a "civilian" audio enthusiast who is just looking to unwind at the end of a long day, I definitely tend to lean towards tonal richness over clinical precision as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I know it will help me in my own journey. And Thanks to you Tyll for making it putting it all together.

castleofargh's picture

you can't dismiss the impact of the helmet on your HRTF. ^_^

dasfidelity's picture

very excellent and informative summary. i might just buy that Eddie Current Black Widow.

castleofargh's picture

I think it could be good to see the output impedance(even approximated) for the amps. to see if there is correlation with the preferences on something like the hd800. or if it's more complicated than this.

great feedback, just as the video was great. I don't seem to share the signature tastes, but they are well explained and justified, which is a billion year ahead of the usual "the sound I like is the right sound" attitude of so many audiophiles. one of those rare people where you know you can disagree and still enjoy the conversation and learn a few things. I really hope to read more from him in the future.

also I expect a full statistical report on haircut vs bass needs from Tyll. how they impact the seal and the low end, maybe create a Rapunzel compensation curve, or put a wig on the dummy head as new standard.^_^
I will leave now, my people call me!!!!

JK's picture

Way to go Roy !!! You killed the write up, just like blind test !!!

Hifihedgehog's picture

exactly all of my impressions and experiences with the HiFiMAN HE-1000 and Sennheiser HD 800, as also the Audeze, and I could not have said it better myself. So comprehensive, down-to-earth and easy to read. Thank you for the wonderful write-up!

I also, when it really comes down to it, will take a slight dose of color in the sonic presentation if it adds to the overall emotional experience and so, in the end, very slight frequency upturns in well-placed locations like the HE-1000 employs are ultimately preferable over dead neutrality. Even so, there still always has be extremely good sense of neutrality as the backbone to the general sound response for me, which is why Grado's and I have never really gotten along.

As of late, I find the FiiO EX1/Dunu TITAN 1, an IEM no less, actually fills all of the boxes for me in this regard and having heard many of these Big Sound contenders, I say at least give the EX1/TITAN 1 a try. (Notably, Tyll's datasheets were key in determining this for myself when I was considering options and this, the EX1/TITAN 1 made it into the final few. A marriage of science, or datasheets, and art, or reviews and personal demo sessions, actually does work wonders. Thanks, Tyll!) The EX1/TITAN 1 will at least come very close for many users aurally to the reference sound of these titans and, in my particular opinion, the EX1/TITAN 1--a titan itself, in my opinion--is neck-in-neck with these top-tier titans.

Womaz's picture

This has been a great series of videos and timely for me as I am looking to upgrade my HP and amp, and three of the HP i am considering are in the tests. My only disappointment is the amp I am likely to go for (Auralic Taurus) was not used.
In the UK its difficult to get some of the others used here. But a fantastic series and I will miss then :-)

romaz's picture

The Taurus is very much to my liking even though it wasn't included in the group. It would have competed well in my book had it been in the mix.

Womaz's picture

Good to hear and thanks for reply

m8o's picture

Much thanks for posting this Tyll. Roy and his opinions get all the respect they deserve. One can feel safe making buying decisions of pricy TOTL devices based on them! Roy, you should consider figuring out how you can make money at this :) .

I bought the Ether months back, and the HE1000 this weekend. I drive them with the Mc MHA100. I am reminded of how I posted here months back how I wished Tyll, you were able to include the McIntosh MHA100 in Big Sound. If for nothing else you both would have proved how right the comment about eq'ing is. The MHA100 has a bass boost in 2.5db increments centered at 40 Hz. My Ether lives on +5db and goes up/down 2.5db based on the material. In rare cases +10db. One has to experience Peter Frampton Live's Do You Feel Like I Do with HD matetial on the Ether via the MHA100 using +10dB boost before snickering or raising an eyebrow.

You think you will you ever get an evaluation unit of the MHA100 Tyll?

tmesis's picture

A tremendously enjoyable write-up. Roy, even as someone who probably will never be as deeply committed to headphones as you are, I really appreciated this report, along with your video and replies in the comments section.

"Despite owning much more sophisticated gear over the ensuing years, I have not been able to recreate that same sound combined with those same emotions. Not surprisingly, this experience that Ive longed to relive could not to be found at Tylls either but truth be told, I had already come to grips long ago that what I have been chasing is a ghost, an ideal that can be approached but never fully realized in the same way that ones first kiss or first taste of ice cream can never be fully re-experienced."

I think this cuts to the heart of the issue. Are you sure that upgrading equipments is the way to chase what you seek?

What the majority of us cherish most isn't necessarily high fidelity, whatever that may mean to us, but as you described, the goosebumps and the emotions so intense they make our spines shiver. I have also had an experience similar to yours. A few years ago, after an extended absence from headphone listening, I put on headphones again--a pair of what's now considered mid-fi cans. I experienced for weeks shivers in my spine nearly every time as I listened to music, almost regardless of genre. Of course, those ceased with time. But I still continue to undergo intense emotional engagements with music. I can't say that changing my equipment has contributed as much to this ongoing process as discovering new music, or new interpretations of existing music.

I bring this up because you have said more than once that music represents an escape for you. I believe there's a difference here worth a few words. Escapism, in my mind, demands familiarity to a great extent. Sometimes we want to take refuge in the familiar, and there is nothing wrong with that. Escapist summer block buster movies rely on familiar faces and well-worn narrative tropes. They are fun and they're reassuring. Sometimes we need to slump our weary bodies in the comfortable embrace of familiarity. But often they don't deliver the surge of emotions that you sometimes find in lesser-known films. I think those demand a more open, engaged mind.

I can already see that I am sounding pedantic and preachy, though that's not my intent. I apologize. I guess I just wonder whether the attitudes we bring to the music far surpass in importance the equipment that we use to listen to music. That's been my experience, anyway.

romaz's picture

Escape for me is a break from all that is familiar and mundane. I love to travel to see things that are new and unfamiliar. Rarely do I vacation to the same place over and over, just not my style. The first kiss, the first taste of ice cream, the first experience of a certain type of music -- I want to experience as many "firsts" as possible even when listening to the same track for the 1000th time. That is the wonderment that new gear sometimes provides and every so often, that kind of gear comes around.

Mrip541's picture

I think the blind testing bit would be infinitely more meaningful if you first established that the assembled headphone illuminati can hear the difference between a budget amp (with adequate power) and a totl amplifier. If only 1-2 guys can tell the difference between a Magni and a Rag blind, the test you’re doing now is kind of completely pointless (sorry). Building from the top down just doesn’t make any sense to me, other than it appears to be a hell of a lot of fun. I haven’t seen any response to other comments regarding adding in a budget piece (I could have missed it) and it’s kind of a giant red flag.

musiconic's picture

Going to take a stab at guessing why this wasn't done - it's a balancing act between sponsor/advertiser interests and audience interest. If folks can barely distinguish between a Magni and a Rag in blind testing with purely resistive headphones such that output impadence differences are accounted for (planars, etc), then that has implications to the sponsors selling amps.

Innerfidelity is absolutely the best headphone site there is, and we have Tyll to thank for that. But there are still some realities to the advertiser driven business models and that comes with a bit of compromise to how polarizing the testing can be.

On the flip side, it's clear Tyll does not butter his reviews in any way or restrict any of the thoughts of the writers and participants. I personally think he's done the best job I've seen representing truthfulness while still having an advertising driven model.

Mrip541's picture

I totally see that, and all I'll say is the complete radio silence on this topic has me seriously rethinking a lot of stuff.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Actually, I did have a Bottlehead Crack and HD 600 in the room so folks could take the step down and listen. Most said, "Ah." in recognition of the decreased clarity and finesse.

And about radio silence...this was an event designed to listen to the current TOTL offerings. I simply can not satisfy everyone's whim. Maybe you can just enjoy it for what it is, eh?

Mrip541's picture

Fair enough.

ultrabike's picture

Great impressions! Also good to see Tyll back in good health.

Jazz Casual's picture


bigrobdaddy's picture

Finally, someone who can express himself well! This is the first time I have even been tempted to comment on any of the Big Sound participants. There is only one Tyll but I hope to read more from Roy. Maybe he should be considered as a guest columnist. Clear, concise and very insightful. I really enjoyed reading his opinions which have already impacted which headphones I will be interested to hear at RMAF next week. Well done, Roy and Tyll!