This section is here simply so that anyone reading my reviews is aware of my preferences, bias and methodology (measurements).
Who Is “Brooko”
My name is Paul Brooks, and some of you may know me from my nick Brooko on Head-Fi.org. I live in a small city in New Zealand, I’m 50 years old, happily married to a wonderful lady who tolerates my “audio enthusiasm bug”, and have two growing children (currently young adults).
My previous reviews at Head-Fi can be found at this page.
I don’t call myself an audiophile, I’m simply a music lover who enjoys writing, and have found that people seem to like reading my descriptions of audio products.
My current gear
My main listening gear (for personal use) includes:
- DAPs = FiiO X5iii, X7ii and iPhone SE
- Portable amps = FiiO A5 and Q1ii, NRK NHB
- Desktop = PC > USB > iFi iDSD
- Near-field speakers = JBL LSR305, Celestion F10
- Headphones = Sennheiser HD800S, HD600 & HD630VB, MS Pro and AKG K553
- IEMs = Jays q-Jays, Alclair Curve2, 64Audio U10, and LZ Big Dipper.
My known preferences, limitations and bias
I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to grunge and general rock. I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, indie and alternative rock. I am particularly fond of female vocals. I generally tend toward cans that are relatively neutral or balanced, but I do have a fondness for clarity, and suspect I might have slight ‘treble-head’ preferences. I am not generally treble sensitive, and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and the Beyer T1 and DT880. I have a specific sensitivity to the 2-3 kHz frequency area (most humans do) but my sensitivity is particularly strong, and I tend to like a relatively flat mid-range with slight elevation in the upper-mids around this area.
I have extensively tested myself (ABX) and I find aac256 or higher to be completely transparent. I do use exclusively red-book 16/44.1 if space is not an issue. All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line). I tend to be sceptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, have never heard a difference with different cables (unless impedance related, different volume etc), and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences. I am not a ‘golden eared listener’. I suffer from mild tinnitus, and at 50, my hearing is less than perfect (it only extends to around 14 kHz nowadays). My usual personal listening level is around 65-75 dB.
My measurement system
Those who have followed any past reviews will know that I tend to listen and note what I am hearing (subjective), then measure and try to figure out what I’m hearing (objective), then blend the two when I write a review. I know I can’t trust the filter my brain often puts on what I think I’m hearing, so that’s why I rely on measurements as a cross-check. I simply know they are more accurate.
I use a relatively cheap USB based sound card which only measures down to about -110dB, but its perfect for measuring IEMs. I couple this with a FiiO E17K amplifier (low noise, flat frequency response and very low output impedance), and use a Vibro Veritas coupler.
I generate frequency response graphs using ARTA software. Ken Ball (ALO/Campfire) graciously provided me with measurement data which I have used to recalibrate my Veritas so that it mimics an IEC 711 measurement standard (Ken uses two separate BK ear simulators, we measured the same set of IEMs, and I built my calibration curve from shared data). I do not claim that this data is 100% accurate, but it is very consistent, and is as close as I can get to the IEC 711 standard on my budget.
I do not claim that the measurements are in any way more accurate than anyone else’s, but they have been proven to be consistent and I think they should be enough to give a reasonable idea of response – especially if you’ve followed any of my other reviews. When measuring I always use (where possible) crystal foam tips (so medium bore opening) – and the reason I use them is for very consistent seal and placement depth in the coupler.
I also use a calibrated SPL meter and test tones to volume match whenever I am making comparisons.