Originally Posted by dnullify
I had a quick question. Do you judge soundquality all on the same scale? for example, the hippo got a fairly poor rating out of 5. Do you rate that to scale with it's price category, or on the same scale as you would se530s or UM3X?
SQ rating is based purely on how the IEM sounds, price is not a concern. First is the discovery phase where I'll spend some time on each IEM for several days, usually on random albums. Then I move to audition phase with two of my reviewing CDs trying to categorize the general sound signature (plus strengths and weaknesses). After that is the comparative phase, which I pull out a bunch of previously reviewed IEM listening/comparing back and forth to determine the relative position where the IEM-in-review should fit into the established rating. Most of the actual review is done by this phase. Last is the decision phase where I reconsider the points I given before finishing up the review.This is the time I take a step back and ask myself for all the reasons in giving the score - why it has such a ranking and not another, why it is ahead of some IEMs but below some others.
Value rating is more dynamic. Beside SQ, I also put the IEM physical properties (design, built quality comfort, etc), street price, warranty, accessibility, customer service, and the rule of diminishing return under consideration. It is basically a self evaluation of "how willingly am I going to pay for this IEM?" A Sonic Diamond is generally awarded when I feel like 'This IEM is still worth the price even if I have to pay double."
Note that, as much as I like to be as objective as possible, this is still a man's opinion. For that, I intentionally include a hidden 'margin of taste'
factor in every rating. For example, even if a pair of IEM isn't as analytical or as controlled as (or any other audible factors) than other IEM, I'll still rank it high if I believe it is more enjoyable and emotional sounding as a whole. After all, it is my belief that music is more than the precise replica of each and every note.
To me, the fundamental rule of the rating is simple: I want to give a rating that I can look back after a certain period of time (may it be a week or a year) and still feel justifiable to have given such a rating to such an IEM.
Hope these make things clear