The Great Audio Debate: Objective Measurements vs. Subjective Experience

L-R: Steve Guttenberg, Tyll Hertsens

Steve Guttenberg, freelance writer and author of the Audiophiliac blog on, and Tyll Hertsens, editor-in-chief of, start with a short summary of their headphone listening at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest and then debate the relative merits of objective measurements and subjective impressions in audio reviews and discuss the difference between audible and visual perception, answers to chat-room questions, and more. Don't miss this lively exchange!

Run Time: 1:03:57

Steve Guttenberg doesn't like being confused with the washed-up actor and "Dancing With the Stars" hoofer of the same name. His show business career started as a movie-theater projectionist in New York City. He built a fairly decent sounding Zuckermann harpsichord and became the world's worst piano tuner before he found his calling as a high-end audio salesman in 1978. That led to working as a producer for Chesky Records, which in turn ignited his writing career. He's contributed to a number of magazines and websites including The Absolute Sound, Stereophile, Listener, Audio, Home Theater, Home Entertainment, Ultimate AV, and Steve writes the Audiophiliac blog for three times a week.

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 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.