January 18, 2011

A rough guide to reading my impressions

It's important not to overlook the most integral part of a review - the reviewer himself. This is my rough guide to understanding my reviews/impressions.

  1. This blog will never be anywhere near the level of the excellent and exhaustive IEM review thread by ljokerl on head-ficlieOS Signature wise concise review or dfkt's quick comparison on anythingbutipod. My purpose is simple: Have a place to record my rant and ramblings (uncensored) on IEMs.
  2. As with many things in life, my knowledge is acquired and hence not entirely free of influences from the helpful people of head-fi. I have a very similar preference to that of ljokerl, so don't be shocked if our pecking orders overlap a lot. Besides, his reviews have both helped me pick up some IEMs as well as save me from the dangerous mix of my curious mind and non-empty wallet. Like many others, I'm very thankful to ljokerl. I closely follow the critical, often controversial, but always exhaustive reviews of dfkt, though my signature preferences vary from his. Apart from these two, I regularly follow reviews of clieOS (especially his industry insider information and his quick help many a time), ever-easy-to-read mark2410 and posts of mvw2 (for pure technical views which help me expand), rawrster, james444 among many others. It would not be out of place to thank my fellow IEM connoisseurs on TechEnclave Audio Zone. It's the interactions with them over the course of the year that made me want to learn more and express about what I am hearing.
  3. I will make a simple promise. All my impressions will be honest based on what I hear and experience.
  4. I won't write "reviews" in this blog, even if I call them that. These are my subjective impressions of the IEM to the best of my knowledge at that point. Whatever you read in this blog should be taken as my personal opinion and nothing more. 
  5. I'm neither professional nor am I paid for doing this. So, my reviews won't be similarly structured or focused. The style and presentation will be all over the place. Since this is not within the realms of a forum and I don't have intentions to be politically correct, polite or perfect, I may cross the boundaries of G-rated reviews from time to time. But, I'll try to be decent and civilized.
  6. All stated opinion will be based on my knowledge and exposure at that point of time. For instance, until I got a taste of Hippo VB, I did not know what exactly sub-bass was. So, my reviews before that could not have looked at the bass extension aspect, but reviews from that point on will probably include them. I could possibly add comments / re-write previous reviews, but that's another story.
  7. I don't believe in displaying mastery of vocabulary or writing something with finesse, neither of which I possess. So, some of the things will be plain-spoken in layman terms, though they could be technically expressed in a better manner without sounding crude.
  8. Now, let's get to the point. On bass, my hearing goes down to 25 Hz with a few IEMs out of Clip+ / Fuze / S9. I just checked at the hospital and found that I have no dips in the audible spectrum of 200 Hz to 8 Khz. My hearing is rolled off around 15 Khz. So, if I talk about "extension", I am probably talking about a max of 15 Khz or was on a high.
  9. Broadly, there are two types of listeners - ones who appreciate detail, accuracy, neutrality, sound stage, technical factors more and those who like timbre, texture, naturalness, feeling of being there, musicality. I belong to the former category, but can appreciate the things on the other side as well.
  10. Likes: Details, brighter signature, treble, clarity, separation.
  11. Would Like, but not too picky about: Sound stage width, Sound stage depth, holographic imaging, great bass, forward mids, excellent timbre, good texture across the spectrum, lack of sibilance, airiness, great build quality, Isolation, Accessories.
  12. Dislike: Lack of separation, muddy or bloated or boomy bass, too laid-back presentation that bores me, too much hype.
  13. If given two similar IEMs, one with lesser treble, brilliantly liquid mids, but more bass and another with better treble, good mids and less bass, I am more likely to pick the latter.
  14. I don't have that much belief in burn-in, but I'll try to put on 50 hrs on any IEM I review here (except for out of the box impressions). I do believe and have experienced changes with tip rolling. Since they are the bridge between the driver and your ear canal, they do have great effect on the final sound. Sound also changes between deep and shallow insertion. Sometimes, it matters whether you are wearing the IEM over the ear or straight down, both from a comfort as well as proper insertion (, hence fit and seal) perspective. If I like the sound as-is (stock tips and over the ear for my regular usage), I won't mention it. If I do anything specific (tip rolling, insertion methods), I'll mention them in the review.
  15. My listening is usually done straight out a Clip+. Some IEMs pair better with Cowon S9 and I'll mention if they are so. Amplification via iBasso T3 will be done where necessary. If it sounds ok to me straight out of Clip+, I don't usually experiment much after that.
  16. I usually listen anywhere between -30dB to -17dB on my Rockboxed Clip+. Unless mentioned, the review was written listening in this broad range. 
  17. Some people belong to the "EQ or GTFO" school. Some lose their peace of mind if they need to EQ. I belong to the center school of thought - "EQ when necessary, not at all times". Anyways, EQ cannot alter timbre, texture, sound stage or tens of other factors. I am not a purist or an audiophile, so I have no shame in altering the frequency balance to get a better sound signature. But, I don't do it for all IEMs, only those IEMs where I like the basic signature, but the frequency response is off balance (dips, peaks, bumps).

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