Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Testing, testing

I sometimes get asked: What do you test phones/sources/cables/etc with?

I have set 'virtual albums' which I use to select the stuff I actually want to keep. But in order for a review of something to be useful, you've got to cover a wide range of bases... there's not much point in reviewing based on just the music you like. The test tracks get chosen for a variety of reasons... specific tones or whole passages, the quality of production (or indeed, the lack of production quality), vocal tics, etc.

Here's a sample of the #1 track list I used to test the MDR-XD200, the latest phone to be listened to. It's fairly representative of the variety that I'd pick to test out a phone.

It's also important to test based on the intended primary use of the phone. For example there is no point sitting at home listening to and reviewing your Shure/Etymotic canalphones... some may use the phones in this manner, but the vast majority won't.

While I was writing my notes, because I was talking about it as an office/home phone and it is a very low-cost phone, I listened to the tracks from both their 256K MP3 rips on iTunes unamped from a PC in a quiet office environment, and also most of the tracks from the headphone jack of a mini system and one-box HT system at home. Of course I'll be listening to it from my more usual set-ups, but I'll always try and base the review on use within the sort of environments that the phone will be put in.

No comments: