Jason belongs to the selected group of reviewers I recommend to audiophile newbies. His youtube channel is full of great reviews that I use as reference when I need to recommend headphones to friends and acquaintances.
Audiophiles aren’t just classical and jazz fans, you got a lot of people into other styles also, and Jason is one of them. Without further delay I give you Jason’s interview.
1. Would you like to tell us a bit about yourself?
My real name is Jason, and I work full time as a computer programmer. This is slightly strange since I hold a BS and MS in computer engineering, which is a more hardware-oriented background. Still though…the engineering mentality follows me with everything I do, so like many other technical friends of mine, audio was really a natural thing to get into. I’ll explain that a bit more in one of the later questions. As I also mention on my Twitter bio, I’m also a huge automotive enthusiast, which has been the case since I was quite young, growing up playing all of the Need For Speed games. Right now I’m driving a wonderful 2014 Infiniti Q60 AWD, which is just the new name for a G37x coupe. Speaking of which, video games were a massive part of my life for most of my years. That is, before my wrist eventually suffered the consequences of way too many hours of playing online first person shooters, so nowadays I don’t play anymore. I’ve been building PCs since as long as I can remember, which goes hand in hand with with my past gaming addiction. I’m just a tech nerd in general, and I keep a super close eye on smartphones in particular – I’m using a OnePlus 6t at the moment, since I value software update speed and performance over camera quality. Lastly, I’ve also been playing electric guitar as a hobbyist since 2004, and the only tube amps I own are for guitars only 🙂
2. What music do you enjoy and why?
I’m a bit unusual in calling myself an “audiophile”, as I really tend not to listen to stuff that most people think of when they use that term. I think many of my viewers know this, and I hope to cover a larger fanbase as a result of that. While I try to cover as many genres as possible when reviewing something, the stuff I’m listening to purely for enjoyment are metal and a rotating series of electronic music genres, which currently is trance. My love of all genres of metal dates way back – some of my subscribers might remember the really old stuff on my channel back when I was recording electric guitar covers just for fun. Electronic music is a much more recent obsession – it is extremely interesting to me to hear how headphones handle synthetically produced music, since it is the marriage of an “ideal” electronically produced output from a DAW being fed into the real (analog) world. Reproducing what the DAW created is extremely difficult for a real-world transducer. But that’s sort of besides the point – I simply prefer any type of music that has a strong, well-defined beat. Just about anything with that going on is fun for me to listen to.
3. Why are you enthusiastic about audio?
I’ve been an audiophile my entire life. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this before, but my hearing has always been the most sensitive of my senses. I would actually cry when I was very young if someone so much as raised their voice in a room, since I was terrified of anything loud. Man has that part changed…but sensitivity to sound has always been with me. I grew up with quite frugal parents, and this mentality was ingrained in my thinking from a young age. As a result, I never really owned more than a single pair of some cheap earbuds or IEMs until I started working full time, but the desire was always there to try out every headphone at least once. The gateway drug headphone that really got me into this hobby much more seriously, comically enough, was demoing an ATH-M50 that one of my graduate school labmates owned. So as you can see, this was always a hobby I wanted to explore, but it was just this frugality while I was still a student and a lack of disposable income that previously limited me. From that point on, my entire world changed as I bought and sold…too many…pairs of headphones ever since I heard that original M50 around 2012. Seeing a clear lack of sound quality description in headphone reviews on the internet at the time, except for Tyll at InnerFidelity, I shifted my existing YouTube channel to doing headphone reviews in 2014, and the rest is history.
4. What audio gear do you use?
Right now my daily setup at home purely for enjoyment is the Audeze LCD-2 Classic powered balanced from a THX 789, hooked up single-ended to a Topping D50, which is connected via optical SPDIF into a SPDIF bracket for my desktop PC’s motherboard. I use EqualizerAPO and the Peace plugin for it to EQ the signal that’s sent out via that SPDIF output device on Windows 10. Normally I’ll use Spotify Premium, but I do have a smaller yet effective audiophile FLAC collection that I break out for review purposes as well. In addition to the Audeze, I’ve got the Sennheiser HD 6XX and HD 660S as frequency response reference headphones, and an HD 800 for a soundstage reference. At the office I’m using an AKG K553 Pro, powered single-ended by an FX Audio DAC-X6, which is connected via optical SPDIF to my work PC. I EQ those using the same software as my home setup. Sometimes I’ll rotate out the AKG to a B&O H6 2nd Gen or my Audio-Technica ATH-A900X. This year I’m looking at adding a JDS Atom and ZMF Atticus to the office rig, and possibly upgrading to a standard LCD-2 from the Classic. I record the audio for my reviews with a Rode NT1 and a Behringer UMC404HD.
5. What would be your perfect audio gear setup?
The best thing I’ve heard to date for my own personal tastes is definitely the Audeze LCD-4. I’m wondering though still how the Stax SR-007 stacks up to it, since it was truly incredible during a short demo I had of one at a local Head-Fi meet. Until I have one of those at home to play with though, I’ll have to reserve my final judgement. The LCD-4 I released an extensive review on, but to boil it down to just a few things – it nails bass extension, dynamics, and quality, midrange and treble resolution, soundstage, and also isn’t too bright for me all at the same time like no other headphone I’ve ever previously reviewed. I’m not really into amps and DACs as much as some of the other reviewers, but that’ll probably be the next step I take once I’ve exhausted most of the headphone reviews I want to do, which will take a while! They’ve always made a much more subtle difference than the headphones themselves, so I just try to buy my sources based on recommendations I get from others who have more experience than me in that area.
6. What is your favorite format for audio and why?
FLAC is definitely my format of choice. I love having lossless for archival purposes, but I settle for Spotify Premium’s quality most of the time, since I usually can’t tell the difference. When I’m reviewing something with otherworldly treble resolution, I will always break out the FLAC to make sure I can get the impressions right by using the best possible version of my test tracks. Hi-Res audio on the other hand, seems crazy to me. In fact, the inventor of Ogg, Chris Montgomery, wrote an excellent article about how reproducing ultrasonics not only isn’t helpful for human hearing, but it might even cause nonlinearities in the audible band.
7. Would you like to share some photos of your audio gear?
I’m not really much of a photographer, but here is a pic of my main home setup with the review I’m currently working on (Massdrop x Koss ESP/95X) and my work setup right now.