A number of years ago, I moved from the sunny slopes of Southern California to the crowded metropolis of Taipei. All of a sudden, I was displaced from the relaxed, beach-side Cali atmosphere, and thrust into a place of hustle and bustle, filled with car horns and noisy markets. Even though some of my first experiences in life were spent in the city of cities, New York, I was never an urban life type of guy. However, as the wind blows, I had to adapt.
I no longer had the safety and quiet interior of my car to enjoy my music and podcasts; instead, I rode the subway everyday, squeezed like a sardine into a 40-foot rail car by the stop. In my quest to find a productive way to pass the time on the subway, I turned to “earbuds” for music.
Quickly, I realized that my old Sennheiser CX400 canalphones really didn’t cut it for me, neither with sound quality nor isolation. Like a good, diligent consumer, I turned to the internet for help, and discovered the world of portable audiophiles — head-fi. I began reading peoples’ opinions and reviews, and (foolishly) chose my first pair of “high-end” in-ears — the Klipsch Image S4. It took a lot out of me to spend those $79, and at the beginning, I was very happy with my purchase. I had no knowledge of impulse response, balanced outputs, or any of the crazy audiophile mumbo-jumbo being thrown about in the forums. Yet, when my S4 broke after only two months of use, I was forced to look for options that were cost-effective, but still sounded great. My naturally curious and absorbent mind perused anything and everything on the internet, but I found that there was no substitute for a first-hand experience.
Luckily, the city that forced me to look for new earphones was also rich with headphone stores — stores that enabled me to try basically everything under the sun, and I quickly transformed from a neophyte to a grizzled veteran, thus allowing me to journey to the point where I am today. I’ve now heard over 95% of high-end in-ears as well as most high-end headphones as well; I’ve served as a beta-tester for custom in-ear monitor companies, and a burgeoning collection of CIEMs. Although I’m not quite sure how I got to this point, it has been an incredible journey, and I’m only too happy to put those moments of discovery on paper.
My own connection with music has always been to the quality of sound and the cadence of rhythm. I’m not partial to any one genre, but particular about the way a piece’s musical foundations resonates with my frame of mind. In that manner, my audio purchases have been informed by my preference for an immediate, yet unassuming note structure. On CYMBACAVUM, these tendencies will inevitably shine through in my pieces, but I truly hope that I can still provide valuable insights for readers looking for audio descriptions that come from within.