InnerFidelity October Update!

Well, it has taken me six months, but I've finally managed to paint myself into a corner. I'm beginning to drown in the incoming headphones from the Stax Mafia, an over-abundance of celebrity cans, and DIYers sending their beloved projects.

Let's take a moment to breathe and reflect on the month's activities, and things to come.

Headphone Measurements
A big measurement month here at the lab with a variety of electrostatic, celebrity, DIY, and oddity headphones that peaked my curiosity:

  • You know, of course, that I just got the first two electrostatic headphones measured (Stax SR-007 and SR-009). Two more have appeared: a later version Mk2.5 SR-007; and another SR-009 from the second batch. More are on the way, so October should see quite a few more estats measured.
  • Numerous celebrity cans have been measured thanks to big help from The Beats by Dre Studio was better than expected, and I had high hopes the Beats by Dre Solo HD would measure better than the standard Solo ... OMG they looked just as bad. The Exodus by The House of Marley arrived, and they measured surprisingly well ... cool looking, too. I like. Lastly, the long awaited Skullcandy Mix Master got put in the chamber, and it was well worth the wait. Skullcandy is not playing around; they're figuring this stuff out, I tell ya.
  • Talked the Aussie company BlueAnt into sending a pair of their B&W P5-like Embrace headphones half way around the world for a listen. Like the P5 they didn't measure all that well, and like the P5 I think they're a nice piece of kit.
  • Talk about coming from half way around the world, I finally hooked up with Russian company Fischer, and LFF will be glad to know they do measure quite well. I think they sound better than they look on paper. Also measured was their SBA-03 in-ear balanced armature, which was just okay.
  • Finally got may hands on some Sony's I've been itching to try: The MDR-Z1000 was underwhelming after the really good ZX700. The MDR-XB1000 should be renamed "The Bloatmaster."
  • Steve Guttenberg's recent article "The Worst-Sounding Audio Product" about stock Apple iPod ear-buds got me curious, so I measured the two pair I had and a variety of other ear-buds. (Spoiler: I don't think they're as bad as Steve suggests.) Other buds measured were the Comradz NW-STUDIO and NW-STUDIO Pro, and I have some Sennheiser buds and generic $3 Wal-Mart buds going in soon. It's going to take a lot of ear-bud measuring to get used to graphs this bad. This is not an easy type of headphone to measure.
  • HeadRoom got in some of the new Polk Audio UltraFit headphones. Oh my, really some poor looking charts here.
  • And last, but certainly not least, some DIY modified Grados and Fostex T50RPs came in. I've got to apologize to the DIYers, I've been struggling to get these measured, photographed, and written about. I'll keep working on it.
All new measurements are now in the AllGraphs.pdf and on the measurement download page.

Coming Up This Month
I've made my first real progress towards headphone amp measurements by getting some advice. I'll shortly be publishing a recommended set of measurements article from quite an interesting and controversial source. Care to take a guess who it is?

I'll be continuing on with celebrity headphone reviews, of course, but the first half of October will be somewhat overshadowed by two big things. I'll be going to the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest to cover the doings at Head-Fi's CanJam there. I'll certainly post a few times while I'm there, but the bulk of the reporting will be done once I get home. I think it's important to take in the evening festivities rather than hole up in the motel room and write.

Second, while I'm gone at RMAF I will have the last AKG Q701 doing a 200 hour break-in test. I'm gonna do my best to close the door on the subject and prove break-in exists by showing clearly the headphones changing over time. And I've got a bridge for sale, as well.

InnerFidelity Growing
I mentioned in last month's update that InnerFidelity was doing pretty well. You know, these things can be a bit of a crap-shoot; success is never guaranteed. After all, pretty much all I've talked about so far has been headphones. The good news on this front is that we're up again this month 20% over last month. That's a 50% pageview gain in two months. Woot!

But the BIG surprise is how well the YouTube channel is working! Quite literally exponential growth there ... just amazing. Here's the graph of daily video views:

When I first started the YouTube channel it was about 3% female and the age maximums were in the 45-64 range. Now that the channel is gaining in popularity the average age has shifted down to the 25-44 range, and the percentage of women has doubled. It feels like the YouTube channel is really reaching out beyond the traditional audiophile and headphone enthusiast world. I'm stoked about that.

Can't rest on my laurels though, lots of headphones and portable audio gear yet to cover. We've only scratched the surface. Thanks so much for coming along for the ride!

Have a great October!

(Don't eat too much Halloween candy ... and save me some peanut butter cups.)

LFF's picture

Congratulations on the continued growth of innerfidelity! Let's hope it continues to grow.

Glad to know the Fischer's measure well. As many know, I have been a proponent of their headphones for quite some time.

Looking forward to all the DIY stuff! Just a small note - and it's my fault as I probably forgot to tell you - the Grado's I sent you were modified by Larry at Headphile.

I also wish you would have told me about the peanut butter cups. I would have sent some along with the Paradox. :-p

johnjen's picture

Your picture reminds me of Firesign Theater's 'How can you be in 2 places at once when you're not anywhere at all'. You're phase shifting on us Tyll. :thumb


Jamey Warren's picture

Nice work Tyll. It's exciting to get a little glimpse into your growth.

I think it would be sweet if you could showcase your video's on the website a little more prominently.

Tyll Hertsens's picture

Thanks Jamie. Sure, I'm the bulk of the posting here, but I think the truth is that this is a project who's time has come. Headphones just aren't accessories any more. For most of the population these days the stereo they use most is a phone in their pocket and they carry their speakers around their neck. What started out as an obscure hobby on one end, and Hello Kitty ear-buds on the other, is beginning to fill in the middle with real recognition by the broader public that headphones can be a great --- and very cost efficient --- way to keep music in their lives.

I feel very lucky to be able to continue the work I started quite alone 20 years ago --- I feel very happy to have so many friends walking with me now as it continues.

inarc's picture

Thanks for the update.

"The Exodus by The House of Marley arrived, and they measured surprisingly well ..."

I checked out the new measurements before I had fully read your article, and wanted to point out the exact same thing.

"I'll shortly be publishing a recommended set of measurements article from quite an interesting and controversial source. Care to take a guess who it is?"

He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?! ;)

jherbert's picture

Sort of reminds me of in a early stage. Was the best resource for digicam reviews then and is still the best around.

On a different matter: The measurements of the MDR-Z1000 are very disappointing indeed. Seems they use the same driver as the ZX700. And the magnesium housing does not seem to cut it, though midrange is much smoother than with the ZX700. Too bad, cause they look great, are comfortable and have an amazing built quality.

I guess I have to stay with the DT-1350 for some time to come.

John Grandberg's picture
The site is a blast to read - I check it every day in hopes of some new insight from you. The flagship headphone comparison was stunning, but I also like reading about minutiae such as the BlueAnt Embrace. I'm excited to be a (very small) part of this community - Keep it up!
Tyll Hertsens's picture
SLowly but surely I'm working on trying to get more quantity with as good quality. It's tricky. Still getting used to this job and how to do it ... like not getting so backed-up with cans in here. I'll get there. And thanks for your contribution, mate. I look forward to more of it as time goes by.
Inks's picture

I've been enjoying your reviews quite a bit, very nice work.

Noticed you measured the Sony MDR7550. Treble seems smoothed out on them, very interesting. Is there a review planned for those?


Tyll Hertsens's picture
They look so close the the MDR-EX600 on the measurents (which I thought was pretty good) that I dare say they're probably identical. So, I probably won't review them.
SAS's picture

Frequency response doesn't look too bad and the impulse response is nice and clean, but what about the leading edge of the 30 Hz square wave? Fortunately I don't listen to square waves very often. :)

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Square waves are definately not a fun listen. I talked to one of the Apple design team a couple of years ago; I was pretty impressed, it sounded like they were a pretty competent audio team. I certainly like the sound of my iPhone (gen 3); my HTC Droid Incredable not so much. The Droid's a better phone though, IMHO.
jherbert's picture

If so, some German owners closed the tiny bass ports and are quite pleased with the result. Would be great to know how it measures. And maybe it even sounds better. If so, this would be a case of distortion by design.

DoingIt's picture

Awesome job! Keep it up!
Now that you've listened to the Beats pro and Mix Master Mike's.. Which would you recommend.. and How does your pick compare to other $300 pairs in terms of quality?