How Can I Trust Head-Fi Reviews?
Nov 30, 2014 at 10:46 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 155

ILikeMusic

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Apr 30, 2004
Posts
1,538
Likes
39
Head-Fi is usually my go-to place for audio reviews because of the depth of experience of many users with multiple models and the lack of commercial influence. But lately it seems that all the headphone/IEM reviews I've seen are chuck full of comments like 'I needed to add brand x cables to open up the soundstage' or 'a set of silver cables really helped bring out the high end' or 'these IEMs really show the extra detail present in a 192/24 track' or... well, you get the idea. If the reviewer is so, err, I'll just say 'imaginative' to keep it polite, how do you trust anything else they might say? Does anyone have a list of trusted reviewers that actually have even a basic technical knowledge of audio, or at least enough self-awareness to know what they are likely really hearing and not some placebo effect? Or we just try to get whatever general consensus we can out of multiple reviews while trying to overlook the nonsense?
 
Nov 30, 2014 at 10:59 AM Post #2 of 155

Music Alchemist

Pokémon trainer of headphones
Joined
Dec 17, 2013
Posts
20,092
Likes
2,102
Don't trust perception - not even your own.
 
What I do is try to absorb all the information I can find on any given audio product, but regard each review as merely an information source. One of the most common things I have found is that no matter how good or bad something is, many people will have many different opinions, which are rarely definitive.
 
Unfortunately, the only real way to know what something will sound like to you is by listening to it yourself...easier said than done when we're in a market that often throws value out the window in favor of performance, be it genuine or placebo.
 
Nov 30, 2014 at 11:03 AM Post #3 of 155

Music Alchemist

Pokémon trainer of headphones
Joined
Dec 17, 2013
Posts
20,092
Likes
2,102
As for reviewers I trust more than others, purrin and Tyll Hertsens are two that come to mind. They take measurements in addition to doing listening tests.
 
I also love Jude's enthusiasm. (He's the person who started this site, but I'm assuming you knew that.) Given how much audio gear he has access to, I wish he published more in-depth comparisons between them, though.
 
I just noticed that you posted this in the Sound Science section. Any particular reason? You may get a better response in a more relevant section.
 
Nov 30, 2014 at 11:17 AM Post #4 of 155

SilentFrequency

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
Posts
788
Likes
44
I guess like all things in life "trust" is something earned so maybe one should only trust reviews by reviewers that have earned your trust by maybe having prior reviews that you relate to on a personal level (if that's possible of course in an ideal world)?

:)

Or to quote audio reviewer Tyll Hertsens, "42" :)

http://www.head-fi.org/t/741043/some-hot-science-from-synergistic-research/645

(If you scroll down page of link, there are links to explination of what "42" refers to :) )

I also think that maybe even if you trust a reviewer to be giving their honest opinion of something, that despite this, it may not necessarily make whatever product been reviewed favourable to you maybe?
 
Nov 30, 2014 at 11:32 AM Post #5 of 155

Music Alchemist

Pokémon trainer of headphones
Joined
Dec 17, 2013
Posts
20,092
Likes
2,102
I also think that maybe even if you trust a reviewer to be giving their honest opinion of something, that despite this, it may not necessarily make whatever product been reviewed favourable to you maybe?

 
Exactly. One person may hate something that you love, and vice versa.
 
Nov 30, 2014 at 11:53 AM Post #6 of 155

Folex

Member of the Trade: PLAudio
Joined
Apr 11, 2009
Posts
967
Likes
83
Take everything with a grain of salt. Here are things to consider.
 
1) New toy syndrome. When people spend money they will convince themselves that whatever they bought is awesome. When you see someone say "I just bought" automatically ignore it. Both in comfort and sound; they will change over time.
 
2) Learn to look at headphones and think of what sound/comfort they will yield. If you see pleather pads you can assume they will be hot and have booming bass. If they are velour you can assume less bass and will not sweat as much. If you see metal on the headphones you can assume its heavier. The size of the driver also impacts the sounds. The bigger the driver the more full the bass is going to be whereas a smaller driver in theory should produce better mids/highs. 
 
3) Official reviewers are normally given headphones. When you receive headphones for free your feelings towards that company and their headphones are going to be bias. You feel if you give them a bad review you are being ungrateful 
 
4) Paid reviews, refer to #3
 
5) Group-think.. *** I hate group think. People read reviews and think they are an expect. Even worse is when they try those headphones and they just repeat the review they saw prior instead of say what they truly heard. 
 
6) When people say a headphone is picky it just means they hate the sound sig and want an amp that colors the headphone to their liking. (Exception being if the amp can't fully power the headphone)
 
7) IEMS are junk. I don't care how expensive they are. They are junk. You can't convince me forced audio directly into your ears can sound good. I've tried well over 30 iems and hated them all. 
 
Nov 30, 2014 at 12:06 PM Post #7 of 155

Pirakaphile

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 10, 2013
Posts
815
Likes
108
I generally resort to looking at headphone reviews from not only Head-Fi, but all over the internet. I'll spend months, reading 50+ plus reviews over and over again, trying to get an overall understanding. Usually I can pick out recurring themes in more detailed reviews, and can assume something about the can, but I always make sure I don't take any single review too seriously. I try to go for the big picture.
 
Also, you can't trust Head-Fi reviews, because everyone on here has a bias that puts headphones in the spotlight. And we're all corrupt as congress. 
 
Nov 30, 2014 at 1:51 PM Post #8 of 155

ILikeMusic

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Apr 30, 2004
Posts
1,538
Likes
39
I generally resort to looking at headphone reviews from not only Head-Fi, but all over the internet. I'll spend months, reading 50+ plus reviews over and over again, trying to get an overall understanding. Usually I can pick out recurring themes in more detailed reviews, and can assume something about the can, but I always make sure I don't take any single review too seriously.


Unfortunately many professional reviewers don't seem to have much background in audio, as if they just picked any staff writer, regardless of experience level. But yes, overall I suppose that's good advice, or at least the best one can do. It's just kind of frustrating trying to filter out meaningful listening impressions from the physically impossible listening impressions.

To answer another post, the only reason I asked this question in the Sound Science forum is that I didn't want the thread to devolve into yet another silly debate over whether copper conductors 'really do sound warmer than silver', or whatever. I don't think that's possible anywhere else on Head-Fi.
 
Nov 30, 2014 at 2:03 PM Post #9 of 155

Music Alchemist

Pokémon trainer of headphones
Joined
Dec 17, 2013
Posts
20,092
Likes
2,102
To answer another post, the only reason I asked this question in the Sound Science forum is that I didn't want the thread to devolve into yet another silly debate over whether copper conductors sound warmer than silver, or whatever. I don't think that's possible anywhere else on Head-Fi.

 
That's actually a smart strategy to avoid that type of discussion. Bravo.
 
Nov 30, 2014 at 4:18 PM Post #10 of 155

Speedskater

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Dec 27, 2006
Posts
835
Likes
126
In a good review:
The reviewer might write about his efforts to keep the review as blind as practicable. (see the Sean Olive pages)
 
In a bad review:
The reviewer will place emphasis on switching cables or burn-in time.
 
Nov 30, 2014 at 6:12 PM Post #11 of 155

ILikeMusic

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Apr 30, 2004
Posts
1,538
Likes
39
In a good review:
The reviewer might write about his efforts to keep the review as blind as practicable. (see the Sean Olive pages)

In a bad review:
The reviewer will place emphasis on switching cables or burn-in time.


Yes indeed. It's unfortunate that there are so few of the former and so many of the latter. If I only had a nickel for every review that started out 'they sounded great out of the box, and they weren't even broken in yet.'
 
Nov 30, 2014 at 6:20 PM Post #12 of 155

Folex

Member of the Trade: PLAudio
Joined
Apr 11, 2009
Posts
967
Likes
83
The only "fancy" upgrade I've seen worth doing is silver solder. Not for sound but for durability. I've soldered 2 wires together with 60/40 and then tried to pull them apart with some success. I then did the same test with silver solder and no matter how hard I tried to pull them apart I couldn't.
 
Nov 30, 2014 at 6:40 PM Post #13 of 155

wuwhere

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jul 26, 2008
Posts
82,311
Likes
3,248
Location
🌎☮️
Reviewing is very complex. The reviewer is using his/her own equipment and his/her music preferences. Throw in there the reviewer's biases and prejudices, so the whole review process becomes one sided. Once the reviewer starts changing the cable that is foul. You have to throw away that review. That person is not reviewing the hp/iem any longer but is performing an experiment.
 
Nov 30, 2014 at 6:50 PM Post #14 of 155

Music Alchemist

Pokémon trainer of headphones
Joined
Dec 17, 2013
Posts
20,092
Likes
2,102
  Reviewing is very complex. The reviewer is using his/her own equipment and his/her music preferences. Throw in there the reviewer's biases and prejudices, so the whole review process becomes one sided. Once the reviewer starts changing the cable that is foul. You have to throw away that review. That person is not reviewing the hp/iem any longer but is performing an experiment.

 
I wouldn't go so far as saying it's foul, as long as they share their impressions between, say, stock and aftermarket headphone cables (and any perceived improvements from the latter) after going into detail reviewing the main product. In fact, I find extra information like that to be very interesting as long as it doesn't detract from the main review.
 
Nov 30, 2014 at 7:04 PM Post #15 of 155

ILikeMusic

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Apr 30, 2004
Posts
1,538
Likes
39
I'm saying that the mere fact they actually believe they can audibly resolve a cable difference calls into question anything else they say. Everyone has a right to an opinion regarding how a headphone or IEM sounds to them, that's what a review is after all, but if they are willing to accept an utter fantasy (such as silver conductors brightening the sound) then how can you trust any other impression they might have? My tendency is to simply skip over those reviews, but that doesn't leave many.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top