How to choose headphones: tips from famous musician

The leader of the popular indie-band “Chester French” David Wallack (DA Wallach) recently has published an excellent article about how the musicians choose headphones, and why you should believe only your ears, not reviews of accessories.


DA Wallach in his studio

The popular company Beats Electronics has inculcated people to treat with their headphones very seriously. In return for this music fans want to pay any money. Unfortunately, instead of high-quality sound you pay for premium design, big box and aggressive advertising. All this has a very little in common with the quality of sound reproduction.

One day Jimmy (Jimmy Ayovin – music producer and founder of Beats Electronics) told me that he wanted to sell sneakers. But the idea of selling headphones, making them as a trendy accessory, proved to be more profitable.

David Wallack, indie musician, Beats Electronics endorser in the past

Instead of high-quality sound Jimmy Ayovin has invented to sell headphones as an attribute of social status and fashion accessory. This approach has allowed to increase the cost of Beats headphones for customers almost three times in comparison with analogues.

Unfortunately, people hoped if they were buying fancy and expensive headphones, they acquire also a sound quality.

The main slogan Beats company is: «You will hear the music in the same way as a musician hears in the studio during the recording.” Is it possible? No!


People at the very beginning of the era of mobile computers wanted to listen to music on them. And they paid an exorbitant price for large acoustic systems on their heads, which in several times were larger in size than standard phones. Everything for the “stunning sound”. Unfortunately, people haven’t received it. The main drama is that they will not receive it by using very expensive, but so popular Beats products and similar brands.

Here are some tips from David about portable speakers:

1. You can’t stand behind the musician

During recording, the musicians listen to recorded material from the speakers and/or headphones (Dr. Dre is not exception). Not only every monitor’s model has its own sound, but it depends on room (studio) in which it is installed. Don’t forget about setting acoustics, which is performed individually.

So there is only one way to hear music exactly as it hears the musician while recording – listen to it on the same equipment in the same room. It is desirable during recording.

Musicians can listen to songs on the different equipment in order to find some kind of averaged sound. Because everyone has his preferred portable speakers, and the composition should be liked by all listeners. So it is better to drive out of your mind the thought about opportunity to hear the song “in true form”. It always will sound in different ways.

2. The listener needs a beauty of a sound, not perfect quality.

Right sound doesn’t mean something beautiful and pleasant. Very often equipment’s limitation hides the problem areas of the composition, shortcomings in the recording or mastering. Correct and detailed reproducing of the sounds can open all flaws.

Remember how HD video can show all your defects on the face, as under the loupe? Headphones can do the same with sound. If the music was recorded in a hurry or has low quality, professional monitors reproduce it necessarily awful too.

Precision of reproduction is important when you create music for quality control or for the elimination of all defects. Music lovers will like slightly flattering sound than simple studio sound.

3. Louder is not better

The same song while is playing on a different volume is perceived quite differently. Usually, the song seems to be more intense at high volume levels. But this thing is a trick.

Very often all fashionable headphones are created only for a loud sound. The task of customer to buy a not loudest one.

Compare headphones on the same volume. Also choose a track, which has many dynamic transitions, loud and quiet moments.

Most of the modern music tracks present loud and quiet moments of sound at the same level. Unfortunately, people like loud sounds, so musicians compromise, making the music more dynamic (or “slow”) or “louder”. But they pay a high price for this, reducing the quality of the composition, at least for theirs ear.

4.Your phone is not designed for playing high-quality audio

Of course, the model of your smartphone and its software directly affect on the quality of the sound. But don’t forget that phones are not audiophile components, so in their design and manufacture a lot of compromise solutions.

Perfect playing of recordings on your phone or computer requires a minimum of external digital-to-analog converter (DAC). It significantly improves the quality of sound through the headphones.

This rule produces the other: compare headphones by a special quality equipment.

5. Acoustic selfishness: choose everything important only for you

There is only one thing that’s really important – your own perception of a sound. Even if we look at the reviews of headphones Hi-End-class made by audiophiles, you can’t find accurate conclusions from them.

Sound is subjective, so it depends on personal perception and even personal imagination. Everyone chooses exactly the model, which gives (for his own opinion) the magic reproducing sound.


Believe only your ears.

Try to find your own magic headphones on the site!