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Founders Story

History of HeadRoom

Tyll HertsensYou could say that HeadRoom and headphone.com really began when its founder, Tyll (pronounced “Tile”) Hertsens, traveled the globe working as a repairman for a company that made scanning electron microscopes. The job certainly had its interesting technical side, but it also required Tyll to spend a lot of down-time hanging around airports and on airplanes.

To try to keep what little was left of his sanity, Tyll constantly listened to music. He started off listening to a WalkMan, upgraded his headphones to get better sound, and eventually upgraded to a portable DENON CD player. But he still wasn’t getting the superb high-fidelity sound quality he wanted.

Then, in a singular moment of Zen clarity that would eventually forever change his life, Tyll realized what he really needed was an amplifier to drive his headphones! Some soldering and a rough prototype board soon had him wiring up his first little portable headphone amp in the garage. It was an ugly affair, but at least it got the job done, and he finally had some quality sound while on the road.

One day as Tyll yet again settled into his seat for several hours of listening on a flying aluminum tube in the sky, the guy seated next to him asked what he had driving the headphones. The man turned out to be a long-time audio engineer. He told Tyll that headphone stereo imaging had some issues and that a scientist had written papers on the subject many decades ago.

During scarce down time, Tyll researched university libraries and found the AES papers that described various complex ways to fix headphone imaging. A little more solder and some better prototype circuit board magic and suddenly Tyll had his first amp with a 'crossfeed circuit' to address the psycho-acoustic soundstage imaging problems plaguing headphones. Read more about our unique HeadRoom crossfeed circuit technology here.

Tyll eventually left high-end electronics repair and, after a number of stints in corporate sales and marketing roles, eventually found himself looking for the next move. He well knew the difficulties of the start-up process from prior experience, but was confident he had enough chutzpah left to do it one more time.

As he searched for an appropriate idea for a new start-up venture, he recalled the little headphone amp he had built for himself and thought, “Well, if I needed one, then someone else must need one too!”

Serendipity sang her sweet song and Tyll soon found a brave lone investor willing to bet big on his product. HeadRoom Audio and headphone.com were born. That was September of 1992.

Fast forward to today and HeadRoom Audio and headphone.com have grown into the world’s leading authority on headphone sound quality and amplification. Nowadays, Tyll continues to exercise his creative juices and infectious energy as Editor In Chief at InnerFidelity, a superb technical headphone resource for headphone enthusiasts.

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