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How to Compare the Honest Audiophile Way!

Comparing audio products is a difficult process. Comparing audio products can be a confusing process. There are a lot of thoughts on how to do comparisons and some go to great lengths to make sure each and every minute detail is equal. But is it necessary to volume match, blind A/B/X, play short clips of same music, use same source gear, same time of day, same weather conditions, same room conditions, same mood and so many other controllable/uncontrollable variables?

Now that we have that out in the open, please let me share how I compare audio products and a few random thoughts on some of the arguments for how comparisons should be done.

Comparing gear, IEM, headphones, DAC, amps, speakers, are all done the same way and are part of my review process ( I have been doing comparisons this way since I started reviewing products back in 2018. Needless to say, I am pretty set in my ways when it comes to reviewing and comparing gear.

After I have listened to a product and am confident that I understand how it performs then I start comparing to other products of similar price, similar driver configurations and similar intended usage. The entire process is simple, I listen to all sorts of music. I don't pick and choose particular songs or only listen to 30 seconds of a song. I listen to entire songs even entire albums. I don't even volume match; I listen at my comfort level for each headphone, IEM or speaker, somewhere between 65db and 75db but can vary with each product. I don't swap out gear quickly; I let it tickle my ears for a bit. I try it on all applicable sources, DAC, amps, dongles and DAP. I listen to random songs, most of the time I will stay within a similar genre but sometimes I listen with variety, depends on the moment. I listen anytime of the day that I have available.

There is a method to my madness. I do this so I can hear how the products I am comparing sound in different scenarios that I experience on a daily basis. I take random notes about thoughts and impressions. As I listen and compare I start to pair down which 2 products are the best to note in my review.

Now that it is settled as to what the product will be compared to; I start to listen to specific songs and segments of the songs. I listen for how the review product performs and compares to the comparison products. I jot more specific notes down. I go through my reference songs and compare how each of the products compare to each other and note the differences.

And that is how I compare headphones, IEM, speakers, DAC, amps, USB-C dongles and DAP's. This process can be time consuming and frustrating but it also can be eye-opening and rewarding. But what about all the other ways to compare?

To be honest, you don't have to have a controlled A/B/C/D/E/F/G....X/Y/Z blind test to hear differences and determine which device performs better or worse. All you need are your ears, quality sources, quality music and an open mind. Trust your ears and if you hear it then you hear it Some comparisons are very obvious and others are more subtle or aren't different and that is all part of the fun and excitement.

I'm Dave the Honest Audiophile, thanks for reading. Remember to Enjoy the Music and that Honesty is the Best Policy!

I am not a professional sound engineer, producer, musician, or vocalist, etc. I have not done any scientific research, measurements, or in-depth testing of any kind; just my own listening, comparing and internet reading/research.  I have limited, real-life experience with recording, mixing and mastering gear.  I have been involved since my teenage years with various churches as an amateur sound booth technician.

Please take these thoughts, opinions and reasonings as just that, my honest audiophile thoughts, opinions and reasonings.

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