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Impressions of Head-fi from a headphone manufacturer's point of view

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
My 10 cents

First off, I’d like to personally thank Immtbiker for organizing the first annual national meet. Of course, I also want to thank Jude for creating the space for head-fi to self-organize. But really -- I want to extend my gratitude and dedicate this post to EVERY single member of head-fi. As a collective whole, you have the presence and ability to effect markets and to make history. And that’s pretty ****in cool.

This weekend was quite magical for me and I find myself in awe of the world in which we live -- a place where individuals from around the world can be united through similar thoughts and passions. Anyway, I was just hoping to provide my thoughts on this weekend’s event from the perspective of a headphone manufacturing company.

In order for this post to be truly relevant, let me qualify it by telling you all a little something about myself. I’m Mike and I am the marketing director for Ultimate Ears. I love music but do not consider myself an audiophile. I always have music playing but I rarely sit and critically listen to it. Music and my relationship is more like a friendship -- it is always there to keep me company and to share in my triumphs and defeats. Before I started at Ultimate, I had always wanted a set of Grados but never got around to actually buying them. And my first introduction to head-fi originated from a business necessity rather than from the viewpoint of a music lover seeking and/or sharing information.

So when BRBJackson sent me the original national meet thread and asked if we were going, I chose to involve UE for 2 reasons. First, I have now developed quite a fascination with high-end audio equipment and second -- and this was really the more important reason -- it was good business to be there. I knew that I would miss the opportunity to meet with some folks who have never heard the Ultimate gear before. And I knew that other headphone manufacturers would be there. I did not want to get trumped. Now I don’t want to speak for any of my counterparts but I am going to go out on a limb and assume that their rationale was roughly similar. And this is where your true power as a group BEGINS. Just by committing to organize this event, you effectively corralled the world’s leading headphone manufacturers into one small room. OK, look. We all have crossed paths at huge industry tradeshows but this was different. This was a show dedicated to the headphone listening experience and we manufacturers were all there with really no other option but to acknowledge each other’s presence. Basically, you forced us to associate names and faces to entities that we have discussed in vague 3rd party terms in boardroom strategy meetings.

Your collective buying power then got us all to agree to sit on a panel discussion. That was historic. Think about that power for a moment. Now I may be biased because of my involvement in the industry but that panel was the most electrifying thing that I have seen since my employment with UE -- and trust me, I see a lot. My jaw was on the floor during the whole discussion. I found each company’s views and philosophies endlessly fascinating. And I realized just how different we all are as companies, and how those differences are engraved into our patterning as corporate culture. (And on a side note, I found myself to be utterly happy with being employed by Ultimate but not because of any perceived sound quality reasons. Only because I don’t think that I have the personality structure to be successful anywhere else)

So again, from a manufacturers point of view, you first forced/facilitated a true introduction to my peers and then you enabled a situation in which I got to witness each company spokesman as a dynamic, talented, articulate individual. I sat there listening in amazement and all I could think about was that I did not want the night to end -- I wanted to get to know the panel members as people.

And so yeah, I was lucky enough to then participate in some after-hours silliness with members from most of our “competitors.” (That word sounds so limiting now. I only used it in the above paragraphs to convey emotional context.) And again, I do not want to speak for anyone, but I got the sense that the feelings were mutual across the board. I truly think that there was a fundamental reality check/shift for all of us designers. And that in turn will translate to better products, services and educational programs for you -- the end-users. Sort of a giant headphone win all around -- an alliance that focuses on the bigger pictures of promoting how great music should sound and creating healthy listening environments.

So when I thank you all for being part of head-fi, what I am really trying to say is that your participation creates something much larger than you think. Your single voice has power but let that voice echo and amplify with other like-minded people and as I hope I conveyed, there is nothing that you cannot do.

Thank you all for your passion,

Mike
Reply
post #2 of 14
Your insights are quite intuitive Mike.

Good thoughts for all sellers and buyers to take note of. This playground that we work and play in, really is quite a unique and warming environment.
post #3 of 14
Wow, that's huge.
post #4 of 14
great to here that. Keep up the good work...looking forward to the new UESP5 cable.
post #5 of 14
Awesome. Thank you for sharing your viewpoint. I had been wondering, besides the obvious marketing slant, what value The Meet would have to the manufacturers. I'm glad to know that was perceived as invalueable and I take it that manufacturers would look forward to participating in future national meets.
post #6 of 14
I wasn't there, but I've seen the pictures and read the threads, and done my fair share of drooling and longing to be there.

I like the insight in the manufacturer's point of view you've given us, good to know that it wasn't just a great event for the end users.
post #7 of 14
Now I'm even more disappointed I couldn't go. But I'm glad to hear that everyone got so much out of the event even the manufacturers. I'm even more glad that the National Meet will have a lasting effect on our community even for those of us who were not able to attend.
post #8 of 14
As always it's always great to hang out with you, Mike.

No more Turkish Ouzo, though, OK?

The dancing and music was fun, though.

Along with running through the rain. Although, I have a cold and am paying for that one now.

-Ed
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by MtotheDeez
And so yeah, I was lucky enough to then participate in some after-hours silliness with members from most of our “competitors.” (That word sounds so limiting now. I only used it in the above paragraphs to convey emotional context.) And again, I do not want to speak for anyone, but I got the sense that the feelings were mutual across the board.
You mean you weren't just trying to get me drunk and steal our trade sercrets? Does that also mean that those soaking wet hugs goodbye in the (not so) early Sunday morning hours were genuine?

In all honesty it was humbling to be among industry peers and audio geeks alike. I was honored to be on the panel and to hang out afterwards.

As far as I am concerned the feelings are definitely mutual.

Now as for that Turkish Ouzo, next time I'll pass.
post #10 of 14
Excellent impressions! I keep expecting this thread to have the Ultrasone guy show up, post one word, and leave.

That word?


"Pain."
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sugarfried

Now as for that Turkish Ouzo, next time I'll pass.
Well, at least you didn't pay for a White Castles burger to use the bathroom.

-Ed
post #12 of 14
WOW. Knowing Mike, I now feel even more bummed I missed the meet.
post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jahn
Excellent impressions! I keep expecting this thread to have the Ultrasone guy show up, post one word, and leave.

That word?


"Pain."

"It is the future."
post #14 of 14
Will you guys please STOP posting about how great this meet was? Seriously, you're going to cost me a lot of money flying out to next year's meet if you don't quit it!

Thanks for the impressions, Mike & Matt. When are you guys going to do this in the UK?
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