The ten step program to headphone hype
With the ascendance of personal audio, headphones have become a bit of a hot commodity in the audio world and with that has come the proliferation of sites devoted to the subject. These sites are populated by everyone from industry professionals to serious students of the art to rank newcomers. And with this comes people of all levels of expertise sharing their experiences, often vociferously. And sometimes with intemperate hype. So let’s look at the birth, death and resurrection of a headphone as may be found on an audio site near you. Any resemblance to an actual headphone is strictly coincidental…
1) Headco announces their new headphone, the somewhat expensive HP-6SJ7GT, with 4 paragraphs, a handful of specs and one picture. One week later, first HP-6SJ7GT information thread is posted along with the first conjecture-reviews. Two weeks later online retailers post availability information. The new phone will be available in 1 month, preorders taken.
2) (3 months later) Online retailers post a few new pictures and that the first shipment will be in in one month, more preorders taken. Natives on information thread getting restless.
3) (2 months later) Online retailers post that first shipment has been received, but rather than the amount ordered, 5 arrive at each of the five on-line retailers. Much angst on information thread.
4) (1 week later) First phones delivered to lucky few. First reviews appear proclaiming the HP-6SJ7GT as the best phone ever made in the most immoderate terms. Others on preorder list eat their heart out.
5) (2 weeks later) Rumors that the manufacturer will make a few “improvements” before full production starts. The early owners either have units a) soon to be superseded or b) that are the “good ones before Headco screwed ’em up”. One month later, the phones ship in earnest.
6) (2 weeks later) Three new threads appear, “HP-6SJ7GT appreciation” thread, the “HP-6SJ7GT; why do they suck so bad” thread and the “HP-6SJ7GT. Overpriced?” thread. Everyone on the “HP-6SJ7GT appreciation” thread loves them (except a few posts by the most Alpha personality members of the “HP-6SJ7GT; why do they suck so bad” thread), everyone on the “HP-6SJ7GT; why do they suck so bad” thread hates them (except a few posts by the most Alpha personality members of the “HP-6SJ7GT appreciation” thread). The “HP-6SJ7GT. Overpriced?” thread basically could have been cut and pasted from every other “overpriced” thread. 90% of the posts on all three threads are by people who haven’t heard them or heard them for 5 minutes at a meet/store/friend’s house/in their imagination/in a dream.
7) (6 months later) Backorders satisfied, you can call the dealer and order out of stock, but few are interested anymore. People are awaiting the release of Phonemagic’s new “Excelsior 7” (see step 1). Headco threads drift down the boards.
8. (1 year later) Headco announces the discontinuance of the HP-6SJ7GT, Amazon blows out the last remaining units.
9) (5 years later) Famous reviewer makes a comparison to the HP-6SJ7GT in a review of a new mega-expensive state-of-the-art phone and mentions how great and overlooked the HP-6SJ7GT was. People put wanted-to-buy ads on head-fi, prices go up, new threads start including the HP-6SJ7GT owners thread complete with owners serial numbers. Arguments start about which S/N were the best and which ones were bass light and which ones were bass heavy. The first run of 25 is rumored to be the absolute best.
10) (1 year later) HP-6SJ7GT’s now go for three times the original price and are gobbled up in hours when they appear for sale. Much angst from those who can’t find a pair, more from people who had a pair and sold them. The word “legendary” always appears before HP-6SJ7GT when they are written of. They are venerated when someone shows up at a meet with a pair. In fact, advertising that they will be there ensures your events success. Threads appear wishing Headco would bring the HP-6SJ7GT back into production. The naysayers say why bother, they sucked anyway and warn everyone of the lack of parts availability. Which is caused by DIY guys who bought up all the repair parts to build various “frankenphones”.
Oh well, to quote Talking Heads, “same as it ever was”. People are so suggestible. It is to laugh! BTW, anyone know where I can find a pair of Excelsior 7’s? I hear a rumor that Tyll Hertsens mentioned them in a review on Inner Fidelity recently…