The Headphone Hobby with Tyll Hertsens

Tyll Hertsens, editor-in-chief of, talks about wearing earbuds while riding his motorcycle, the recent Head-Fi meetup in Los Angeles, the extent to which enthusiasts pursue the headphone hobby, his impressions of DTS Headphone:X, the importance of the relationship between the input impedance of headphones and the output impedance of the amp driving them, his recommendations for high-quality headphones at different price points, research into establishing a standardized target function for headphones to simulate the sound of speakers in an acoustically optimized room, answers to chat-room questions, and more.

Run Time: 1:08:58

As the son of two ballet dancers, Tyll Hertsens has been exposed to music all his life. Fortunately for headphone listeners, his two left feet and a penchant for gadgetry kept him out of the theater. Tyll discovered headphone listening in high school with a pair of Koss Pro-4AA headphones and spent countless hours listening to Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and the like. Later in life, as a scanning electron microscope repairman, he improved his listening with a DIY headphone amp with a crude crossfeed circuit.

In 1992, Tyll took his idea for a portable headphone amp to heart and started HeadRoom, introducing the world to the pleasures of well-amplified personal listening. HeadRoom went on to create the first commercially available portable headphone amplifier and the first balanced-drive headphone amp. Tyll also spent countless hours promoting the hobby of headphone listening, and today a thriving activity exists much to his credit.

After 17 years of operation, Tyll decided to leave HeadRoom and put his full attention on promoting headphone listening to a wider audience. To that end, he has recently joined Source Interlink Media's Home Tech group (which includes Stereophile, Home Theater, and to create a website dedicated to personal audio: The site focuses on headphones, headphone amplifiers, portable players, internet radios, and all manner of personal audio devices.