How I made our CFO happy
Background informationAudio + Home Cinema

How I made our CFO happy

Aurel Stevens
Aurel Stevens
Zurich, on 22.12.2017
Pictures: Thomas Kunz
Translation: Eva Francis
Making people happy can be hard work. But it can also be as easy as pie – for example, if you give them great new headphones. Let’s talk about open-back and closed-back headphones.

The man pictured above is Thomas Fugmann, our Chief Financial Officer (CFO). He likes listening to music. How do I know that? He has Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro headphones. It’s something I do: Whenever I see someone with headphones, I try to guess the brand and model.

I also observed that Thomas always has one can on his ear and the other can on his head. Why would he do that? After wondering for a while, I couldn’t take it anymore and asked him: «Thomas, why do you only wear your headphones on one ear?» I asked. «I don’t want to be cut off from my surroundings,» he replied.

I’m so taken aback that I don’t know what to say apart from «hang on a second.»

I go straight to our CIO Oliver Herren’s office. He borrowed my AKG 702 a while ago and is pitting them against his Beyerdynamic DT 990. My plan is to get the AKG 702 back and give them to Thomas. And that’s exactly what I do. «Give these a go,» I say to him and hand over the headphones.

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A few days later, a new message from Thomas arrives in my inbox: “Your headphones are awesome!”

How true. The AKG 702 are fantastic headphones. I paid over CHF 400.– for them a while back; now they cost less than CHF 150.–. Scandalous! They’re not crowd pleasers, most people say they lack bass – especially when listing to music from a smartphone. With 62 Ohm, these headphones truly aren’t high-impedance models. Even headphone amplifiers don’t bring out the big bass. But the soundstage is unreal!

On top of that, I’d say these are the most comfortable headphones out there. Huge but lightweight, you put them on and forget they are there in an instant. Their open-back design also helps – and this is exactly what makes Thomas so happy.

Thomas’s DT 770 Pro are closed-back headphones. They only allow sound out where it can reach your ear, isolating you from surrounding noise. The same applies the other way around; people around you can’t hear the music you’re listening to. With closed-back models, the air moves around in a closed-off system, so they produce more bass – often even echoes in bass notes – and a poorer soundstage than open-back earphones. When it comes to sound quality, closed-back models are up there with the best, but they can make your ears a bit warm.

Closed-back headphones don’t block out outside noise. You’ll hear what’s going on around you and anyone around you will hear the music you’re listening to. The negative term for this is «sound bleeding». While open-back headphones provide a more natural and clear audio experience, they’re designed for quiet environments and are the wrong choice for the office or the train ride to work. Most people wear headphones for that one reason: to block out the noise around them.

Not Thomas. He loves the AKG 702 and gets himself a pair. You’re welcome!

Here’s an alternative, if you’d rather have a Beyerdynamic model:

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Aurel Stevens
Aurel Stevens
Chief Editor, Zurich
I'm the master tamer at the flea circus that is the editorial team, a nine-to-five writer and 24/7 dad. Technology, computers and hi-fi make me tick. On top of that, I’m a rain-or-shine cyclist and generally in a good mood.

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