Ears vs the Reviews


It’s interesting for sure. No doubt our senses are more alert later in the day. I know I’m useless without my coffee. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Having been reviewing for the past six years I’ve learned that it’s pretty unhelpful to only look at a couple reviewers and believe everything they say. Instead, if I’m interested in something, I try to read many reviews and look for the consistencies between them because even if people’s hearing and preferences vary, if six people say something is bright, it’s probably bright. This is probably the most useful guide I’ve seen on how to read headphone reviews.

Also, when I read superlatives, I tend to give that review less weight because they are usually emotionally invested or inexperienced (“best”…until they find something better). And I’ve learned for many people, “neutral” means “I like this” rather than actually neutral.

Measurements tend to be more useful than subjective reviews if you want to see general sound signature and a few other qualities, but of course measurements aren’t an all-encompassing thing. This is probably my favorite way of showing that FR doesn’t mean everything, because obviously the Creative Aurvana Live!, HE500, and Utopia are all in rather different tiers of quality but don’t have enormous FR deviations.

Listening for yourself is ultimately the best indicator of what you’ll like, but of course, what you like may not necessarily be the highest quality. For example, I kind of like Grados but I would never, ever recommend them to someone without them listening to it first.


This is a good post


This post is very intuitive and informative, worth reading.


I would kindly disagree here. Our hearing is subject to so many variables it should be used with caution every time an assessment is needed. I made a post recently on another forum, that human ear makes for a poor audio analyzer. :wink:

What works best for me is reading as many critical reviews as possible and then go and demo the HP in local store. It’s not always easy, but over time, you’ll get the idea what you’re actually looking for.
It took me a well over 6 years before I found the pair I’m 100% satisfied with.

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6 years, wow that’s a lifetime for some. It’s ok to disagree and here in our community let’s adapt the mantra “let’s agree to disagree”


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@Torq well said. Some people seem to assume that all humans hear/perceive things the same way unless they have hearing loss/damage but this is not true. Every person is more/less sensitive to every frequency which means every person will perceive the sounds from a pair of headphones in a different way. The frequencies a person is more sensitive to may overpower other frequencies they are less sensitive to and change their perception on what they hear (in extreme cases the brain will not register some frequencies at all when this happens which is one of the reasons why some people can hear new sounds/instruments when using a different set of cans that puts more emphasis on frequencies they can’t hear as well).

Then when you do consider hearing loss from aging and hearing damage from various sources it becomes even more complicated since a pair of cans you may have enjoyed a decade past may no longer sound the same to you as it once did.


Bingo. The brain is the man (provided there’s nothing wrong with your ears).
Reviews are like guideposts to me that point me towards the general vicinity of noteworthy gear to check out. One only has to satisfy one’s own taste; and that might change over time or depending on your mood. Anything else is just plain old silly.


Sorry to say it took me a long time to simply trust my ears. Costly mistake. I’d buy equipment just to confirm if it was like what the reviewers said. I would say that is definitely not trusting them. Now I do since I’ve come to the conclusion it’s mine that is going to hear the music.

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I think one of the most forgotten things in reviews is the music. Even in general discussion when people comment on headphones, I almost never seen what music they were listening to when their impressions were gained.


I loved headroom, especially the ability to return an amp and either get a refund or pick something else

Met the founder once and he was fantastic, they did a road trip with his daughter and he asked for volunteers to help setup and man the room at a hotel conference room

He gave us each a small portable amp and a discount coupon, what was his name? Tyrll?

It was neat to see pretty much every amp they sold setup and available to try at length, beat the hell out of any reviews or most any audio store demo

I’ve got a lot more disposable income these days and wish I could have that experience again, but I still use that little 9v battery powered amp pretty often!


I also use a 9v custom amp. I’d have to look it up to remember who made it. It sure is sweet in the chain to my ears. As I always say it what goes to my ears that count.

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So true… Trust your ears. Also…

Your Ears Surprisingly Reveal A Lot About Your Personality, as well as your taste. So it goes…


I agree that the main thing is the music, what type, what instruments, what voices, etc. Also, I think there is a certain amount of air around the sounds we hear. Most headphones do not seem to have this and therefore sound boxed in and unrealistic. Again, just my own three cents.

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Is this like Phrenology for ears?

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Love music


Anything off the grid.
I like everything battery powered.
I think it’s easier than spending hundreds of thousand dollars on battery conditioners or something from PS audio
yeah thousand dollars
I like my money…


To revive an old topic, I just wanted to hop in and say that I think reviews are invaluable and how I discover new gear.

Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I agree that for a review to be REALLY useful you would have to know what kind of gear a person uses and what specific music they listen to. Without knowing that I depend on quantity. I will Google an item and read every review I can find be it magazine, Head-Fi or YouTube. If the reviews are overwhelmingly great, then to me it is worth trying out.

Where I live there are pretty much no headphone shops so most of my stuff is bought unheard and on the 'net. And so much of my stuff gets sold on at a loss. But I have learned over the past 4+ years what I like. I like FUN headphones!

Hit and misses:

  1. Sennheiser HD6XX’s. The holy grail for audiophiles in a budget range. This cost me $340.00, landed in Canada. I then spent more than that on the required amp. I don’t know if it was all the money or all the hype, but I have never been more disappointed in a headphone. The words dull and lifeless come to mind.

  2. Oppo PM3’s. Tons of great reviews and best of lists. I got a great price on a used pair. I thought they were flat, boring and just useless.

  3. Beyerdynamic T5p.2’s. Lots of great reviews and apparently Beyer is an icon. These were too expensive for me and so I got a pair of used ones. WOW! Several months on and these are the best closed backs I have ever owned. Super clear and sound great out of my amp or just balanced out of my DAP. Definite keepers.

  4. Meze 99 Classic’s. Read lots of great reviews and liked the look (brown and gold). Bought on the net from 4000Kms away. They are awesome. Much like myself, Jack of all trades, master of none. As I write this they are playing out of my Burson Fun amp. They sound just as good out of my LG V30 on the move. A definite keeper.

Reviews are just like Google recommendations. Far from perfect, but Very useful information.



You should check out the Campfire Cascade if you get the chance…or the Fostex TH-00 series. Both of which are my go to fun headphones. Also the CA Cascade sits on my nightstand as it is easily powered by my iPad for watching Rick and Morty or listening to music, without disturbing the wife.

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I am Very interested in the Cascades, but they are Very expensive. No auditioning those in Atlantic Canada. I looked far and wide for Boxing Week sales, but no luck. I am keeping an eye out for used.

Also, I forgot to mention that I am one third of the way through the Cascades thread on Head-Fi. It is over 1500 posts long.


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