I’ve been calling myself “listener” in the audio space for a while now, but I wager the name fit long before I ever needed an audiophile-tinged pseudonym online.
As I've said often: Music is a lifelong friend.
Our relationship began in the car with my mother, listening to her sing along to The Beatles. I credit my ear for music largely to her, both in her musical taste as well as the way she interacted with it. She always seemed to prefer harmonizing with the vocals of songs we listened to, instead of just singing the main melody, and I became accustomed to hearing the way she processed it all at an early enough age that it was forever imprinted on all subsequent interactions with music: Listen, understand, react, listen.
My experiences with music became more personal around 9-10 years old, through a pair of wired earbuds out of a pre-iPod MP3 player with room for about 30 or 40 songs. I loaded it up... and listened constantly. At home, on car trips, and on the bus to/from school, I was hooked on the feeling I got from being ensconced in the separated space-time bubble that music could always put me in regardless of where or when I actually was.
Fast forward to 11 years old, and my sister (whom I credit equally with my upbringing along with my mother and father) started to get into music, both as a serious listener and as a guitarist. Her being musical was a massive boon for me, and her enthusiasm for new music rubbed off on me just as the guitar did.
By age 13 or 14... I was a goner. Radiohead was now my favorite band, I was starting to write and record my own songs, and there was nothing in my world that was even close to as important as music was. Constantly being online looking for new music, guitars, amps, pedals, microphones, anything, led me to forums, publications, and imageboards wherein I was first exposed to, among other things, headphones other than those that came free with an MP3 player. At this time, my thoughts while listening began to change from “I like what I’m listening to!” to “Why do I like what I’m listening to?”
The answer was a resounding “I have no idea, but I wanna hear more.”
Along the quest to hear more, I happened upon InnerFidelity.com and Tyll Hertsens. We now collectively recognize Tyll as being the preliminary resource for headphone enthusiasts at the time, and he was my first legitimate contact point with this hobby (& I wager I’m not the only one). He’d reviewed ATH-M50, which I had already owned and enjoyed, and had even more recommendations further up in price, as well as for different form-factors. Having never tried IEMs before, I decided to try the Etymotic ER4p...
...And this is when the reproduction of music itself became one of the foremost emotional, intellectual, and communal pursuits of my entire life. These earphones revealed a level of texture, micro-detail, and intimacy that I'd never been exposed to prior. This is when I became an audiophile.
In the time since, I’ve spent my life with almost equal time in carefully monitoring music’s creation, playing multiple instruments, and “listening, understanding, reacting, listening” to any piece of music I came across. I was doing so with a pair of earphones exceptionally capable of providing honesty, clarity, and nuance thanks to Tyll, as well as a few other headphones along the way too... until 2020, when I’d realized that I never even scratched the surface.
From 2020 onward has been a hell of a ride. I’ve learned and unlearned more things than I can name, I’ve tried more headphones than I ever thought I would, and importantly, I’ve gained wonderful friends—the best of whom are my partners in this authorial endeavor. I hope you find our writing and individual perspectives entertaining and informative. We might just be a group of friends writing about audio gear, but I think we’re onto something.
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