Does the title sound grandiose? Well, so is this project we embarked on.

But let's start right from the beginning of the year when I jumped onto this steering- and brakeless sled.

Who am I? Don't worry, the name-dropping will come later, enough to make the weak faint and the Finns embarrassed.

Early in the year, I realized I needed some decent noise-cancelling headphones for my travels, and lo and behold, the Facebook algorithm read my alpha waves and popped up a Valco ad at the exact moment, offering me (or maybe insulting me?) Pulasorsia and Sorsia or some such strange headphones.

So, I immediately sent an email to the guys, politely introduced myself, and asked for the opportunity to test their headphones and write my informed feedback about the gadgets.

(A side note and context before we proceed: I am quite passionate about headphones and have a pretty deep understanding of them.)

I listened to and abused them for a while, took them apart, and examined what they were really made of, and then I kind of praised the current models by criticizing them: for the price, quite good, but they waste an incredible amount of potential.

Jassen valco verstas

The feedback from Valco was:

"Then design f***ing better ones yourself, and we'll sell them..."

Well, it didn't take much more encouragement. Soon I found myself in the guys' office, drinking beer and drawing a church boat on the whiteboard. Gradually, with a couple of engineers, we began to outline the recipe for excellent headphones.

Now might be a good time to introduce myself and drop some names

Jasse Valco Studio

My name is Jasse "Jazmanaut" Kesti, and I am an audiophile.

I have been doing sound work professionally for over twenty years, both in the studio and live.

The internet finds over a hundred albums with my name, and there is hardly a musical genre I haven't meddled with, from Tehosekoitin to Jorma Hynninen, from Texas Fagot to the National Ballet.

In live sound, I have mixed for Tuure Kilpeläinen, Elastinen, Laura Närhi, Jukka Poika, Emma Salokoski, Soul Captain Band, and numerous other front- and back-row artists in recent years. Not to mention system designs and sound mastering.

Nowadays, I also run my own mastering studio, Kesthouse, which can be found at

jasse festarit valco

From this perspective, uncompromising sound is of utmost importance to me, and I have been chasing it all my adult life. The topic is not small. Pure engineering tinkering and a comprehensive understanding of the physics of sound are not enough; psychophysics must also be considered. In the end, the human being is the greatest variable for which the end product must be designed, whether it is the music itself or the device on which it is enjoyed.

In other words, if I were to design a microscopically accurate and extremely neutral pair of headphones for myself, most consumers would find them dull and lifeless.

On the other hand, if you look for pure feeling in a pair of headphones and forget about accuracy and the so-called science part, you end up with Beats and similar monstrosities that impress in the first few minutes with their mega turbo bass, but soon tire with their mushiness and lack of distinction.

But we weren't out to make decorations, but rather damn good and usable headphones. At this point, we focused most on the essentials, the listening experience, refining it both by ear and with precise measurements.

Of course, it doesn't hurt if the headphones look good too.

Since none of us are obscenely rich, the headphones naturally had to be affordable. We skipped the golden cables and ostrich leather cushions and focused on making the headphones simply damn good to use and listen to.

The first Finnish-designed headphones will soon be ready for sale, and the beta testers from around the world have given such rave reviews that I strongly believe we have surpassed ourselves. Of course, next year and beyond, we will surpass ourselves again and even better.

It is an awkward feeling when you put the headphones on someone, and after a while, they start crying, throw their iPhone earbuds away, and refuse to give the headphones back. And those were just the beta versions at that stage. I kid you not!

The first small batch will soon be available for pre-order, but judging by the interest, they will sell out in a day. As our headphone project progresses, we will provide more information.

Jasse Valco Verstas