Thanks to me finally knocking out a review of the Ultrasone IQ and IQ Pro, the time is right to call out reviews of the IQ, mine included, that both nailed it and failed it. The other review that I would like to point out was written by the almost-always-trustworthy Ljokerl of The Headphone List.
Here is his review of the Ultrasone IQ.
Where we agree: on IQ's construction, on its wonderful side-stepping of microphonics, and its crappy tips, is at odds with our impressions of IQ's bass. Ljokerl has the following to say about that:
Most of the above is spot-on. That part is about the IQ's control over bass bleed, about its impact, about its poise, is right-on. And then we get to this phrase: "and not at all overbearing for a dynamic-driver set".
Overbearing is a nice way of saying to overcome something with physical force. Ljokerl probably meant that IQ's bass doesn't overcome its mids or highs. He is partly right. But it blows out on too many occasions, turning details into boom. It burdens itself too heavily, and while not directly impacting the mids and highs, when it goes wonk, it's hard to focus on much else. Put simply, the IQ's bass lacks the overhead it needs to really trumpet fast, poppy beats with sustained precision.
LJokerl's review better explains the IQ's midsection than does mine. The phrase he adroitly uses to describe it is this: "the midrange is clean and clear, with surprisingly little warmth". His word choice is spot on. And awkward. And yet he misses it when it comes to bass.
Which indicates a larger problem in the review world. Each of us, in our own way, does his or her job. Some reviewers exist to promote the audio maker. You'll find a bunch of them at Audio360. This is the biggest one. Others attempt to be objective at all costs. Here is one. Here is another, slightly more water-soluble one. Most of us fall between the two.
From day one, LJokerl's reviews were cleverly organised, and easy to read. He transformed the random review into a wonderful table. The Headphone List is a Herculean effort. It is an effort far beyond my cravings as an article churner. And yet it is more than likely that subjectively objective reviewers like myself, like LJokerl, miss important things.
Because I lack a concrete formula, I missed adding commentary about the cool midrange. Because LJokerl appears not to be a fan of old Wu-Tang Clan and Guru, he missed the nasties hidden in IQ's bass. That, or he likes bass blow out.
And yet each of us have contributed to a broader body of knowledge about an earphone that was glossed over by a majority of Western readership. Which is a shame.
I suppose the title for this article should be: with a grain of salt. Certainly I'd suggest downing reviews from 360 and fellows with a bag of it. But truth can be had any place. It's your subscription to this, or that portion of truth that is most important.