June 29, 2019
Something that has always struck me about the audio hobby is how personal it can be. Whether it’s simply two friends discussing a pair of headphones that they enjoy, a forum obsessing over a new release, or the constant back-and-forth between manufacturers and reviewers, there’s always a relationship. Wherever you look, there’s a conversation. It’s alive. And virtually the minute I tried my first pair of in-ear monitors — a pair of Shure SE530s formerly belonging to my dad — I joined that conversation. I found r/headphones, and head-fi, and was enthralled by all the discussion; people posting photos of their setups, companies unveiling their latest set, again, a very much alive conversation.
I was completely engrossed. I began posting on Reddit, asking about experiences with certain products, comparisons between them, and started to contribute to the conversation. I loved it. I loved how honest people were, and truly welcoming to everyone. Soon after, I realized many of the people I had been discussing with were either long-time hobbyists and reviewers, or actual members of the trade. In fact, I was fascinated by the degree to which companies were involved in the discussion. Representatives from major audio brands would join threads on Head-Fi, asking about impressions, answering questions, and (I can only imagine) jotting down criticism and praise for reference in the development of later products and iterations.
I suppose it makes sense that they were, and still remain, so involved. Audio is incredibly subjective, and companies have every incentive to improve their products, especially in such a competitive and saturated market. The desire to stand out is strong and unifying. Appealing to a devoted base is imperative to staying relevant, and consistency is everything. I know for a fact that most people interested in investing a large sum of money into their audio are going to do their research first, and thus the image of a company is even more important. Therefore, many companies are, again, incentivized to constantly improve not only their product, but their relationship with the customer base.
Last winter, I pitched the idea of starting a review site to a friend of mine with a shared interest in audio. He signed on, and I began developing the website. I added a review that I had put together from a previous blog that I built on my own, but soon realized that I needed new content. Almost on cue, I received a message from a company asking me to review their budget noise cancelling headphones. They sent the headphones out, I wrote their review, and I felt accomplished. That presence I had built on the forums finally paid off, and let me pursue my passion a little more. I was now adding to the conversation.
As someone who’s trying to break into the industry as a reviewer, this was an important lesson in networking. Little relationships that you build over time can come back and help you out later on. It’s incredibly important to build those relationships, solidify your position, and eventually be the person that helps someone else get to where they want to be.
When I heard Mike Dias mention his new venture, Domo Audio, at a panel during Can Jam, I was immediately intrigued. For someone with his background to pivot so dramatically seemed incredibly interesting to me. Later, during one of our conversations over text, he mentioned to me that, in the very beginning of Ultimate Ears, he did landscaping for Mindy and Jerry Harvey’s lawyer. That all it took was saying yes to a few things, and the rest followed suit. By building those relationships and establishing his position, he was able to get to where he is today.
So, logically, it only makes sense that his shop would prioritize building personal relationships. As different as the situations might seem, working your way up in the industry and finding your audio endgame are very similar. In building those relationships, you are able to, in one situation, find the ideal listening solution, and in the other, find where you want to be on a much larger scale. Though, as I’ve learned from Mike, the one thing you aren’t ever, in the audio world, is done. There is always something new, and this time, it’s Domo. The endgame is, in both worlds, a myth.
A NOTE FROM DOMO AUDIO
Initially, audiophile and reviewer Lance Rothchild reached out to Domo Audio looking for in-ear monitors around $300. I had mentioned that we could find him some solid single driver customs for that price point but he mentioned that he really was interested in the Periodic Audio Be in--ears. This made me very happy indeed because I'm a big fan of what Periodic has been creating and I was fortunate enough to sit on a panel discussion with Dan Wiggens last October. I can't believe that Lance found that online. I was 100% sure that no one e ver watches those;)
Lance and I went back and forth a bit and I really liked his story and I asked him if he'd like to contribute to the Domo Audio blog. I'm sure that was NOT what he was expecting but it just goes to show you that you never know what's going to happen when you join the conversation.