Valco's big headphone fair 2019!
Author Valco Laboratoriot
Sound like a grandiose title? Well that's just what it is.
But let's start at the very beginning of the year, when I jumped on this wheel-less and brake-less bandwagon.
Who's "me"? Don't worry, there will be name-dropping later, so that the weaker will be horrified and the Finn will be ashamed.
I realised early in the year that I needed asiallisia gegenamelukuulokkeita for my trip and lo and behold, the Facebook algorithm read my alpha wave and pukkasi näkyviin samalla sekunnilla Valco reklaamoksen, jossa minulle kaupattiin (tai vittuiltiin päamaa, I'm still not sure) Pulasorsia ja Sorsia tms. tms. kummallisia kuulokkeita.
Well, I emailed the boys from that session, politely introduced myself and asked for the opportunity to test-drive their handsets and write my enlightened feedback on the contraptions.
(Just a note and context here, before moving on, that I am quite passionate about headphones and my understanding of them is quite profound)
I listened and abused them for a while, took them apart and examined what they actually ate and then sort of praised them by decrying the current models, saying that for the price they are fine but they waste a shocking amount of potential.
The response, Valco-style, was that:
”Well, design a better one yourself, and we'll put it on sale..."
Well, I didn't need any more prodding. Soon I found myself in the boys' office, drinking beer and drawing a church font on a flipchart. From there, little by little, a couple of engineering boys and I began to work out a recipe for excellent headphones.
Now might be a good time to introduce myself and drop those names
My name is Jasse "Jazmanaut" Kesti and I am an audiophile.
I've been doing sound work as a profession for twenty years now, both in the studio and live.
The internet has a hundred or so records with my name on them, and you can find music that I wouldn't have gone to the trouble of listening to, from Power Mixer to Jorma Hynninen. From Texas Bassoon to National Ballet.
In the past few years I've mixed live for Tuure Kilpeläinen, Elastis, Laura Närhe, Jukka Poika, Emma Salokoski, Soul Captain Band and numerous other front and back row artists. Not to mention system design and sound mastering.
Nowadays I also run my own Kesthouse mastering studio, which can be found at www.kesthouse.com
So on that basis, uncompromising sound quality is of paramount importance to me and something I've been chasing all my adult life. And it's no small subject. Engineering alone and a comprehensive understanding of the physics of sound is not enough; psychophysics must be added to the equation. The human being is ultimately the biggest variable to which the final product must be directed, whether it is the music itself or the device used to enjoy it.
In other words, if I were to design a microscopically accurate and extremely neutral headphone for myself, most consumers would find it boring and breathless.
On the other hand, if, on the other hand, you only want a headphone to give you a feeling and forget about the precision and the so-called science side of the equation, you get beats and similar monstrosities that sound like impressive mega-turbo bass for the first few minutes, but very quickly become numbing in their mushiness and lack of distinction.
But we're not here to make a soundtrack, we're here to make a damn good and usable pair of headphones. This is where we focused on the most important thing, the listening experience, and rubbed it in not only from the ear, but also with precise measurements to get it just right.
Of course, it doesn't matter if those headphones look good.
Since we're none of us filthy rich, the headphones had to be ones that people could actually afford. We skipped the gold wiring and ostrich-skin padding and focused on the fact that the headphones are just plain damn good to use and listen to.
The first headphones designed by us in Finland will soon be ready for sale, andand we've received such rave reviews from beta testers around the world that I feel strongly that we've outdone ourselves. Of course, next year and the year after we will surpass ourselves again and even better.
It's an uncomfortable feeling when you put a handset on someone's head and after a while they start crying, throw their iphone earpiece at someone and refuse to hand it back. And they were only beta versions at that point. I kid you not!
The first small batch will go on pre-sale soon, but judging by the interest, it will be gone in a day. As our headphone project progresses, more information will be added, but in the meantime, it's worth checking in. Valco email list here.