The Audiophile Journey of Currawong: Navigating Review Chaos in the Audiophile World

I’m Amos, otherwise known on Head-Fi and YouTube as “Currawong.” A few years after I joined Head-Fi in 2007, I became staff, and eventually an administrator, up until Head-Fi parted ways with Wikia, as Head-Fi has an actual staff now in Detroit. I’m still tagged as “Review Team.” However, I mainly review equipment on YouTube.

Can you tell us about your first experience with audio gear?

From as early as I can remember, my parents had an upright piano in the house, and my father had two moderate hi-fi systems, on which he’d play classical music. That exposed me to music at an early age, and experimenting with the piano and listening to the sounds it made gave me a strong appreciation later for the good reproduction of instrument timbre.

My father would listen to ABC FM classic radio and would record it onto reel-to-reel tape, then later onto cassettes. He had two systems, one in his “study,” consisting of Magnat speakers and a Luxman Acculock FM receiver. The second ended up with Paradigm 9SE speakers and Alpine-era Luxman amplification. Once CD players became readily available, I persuaded him to buy one, which he was reluctant to do, but once purchased, he accumulated a fair number of Naxos CDs (which were cheap at the time), and we had to get a second player so I could listen to mine!

Funnily enough, one of my patrons found exactly the same model of Luxman FM receiver on the side of the road that someone had decided to throw out, and it works perfectly! I wonder if it was the same one my family owned. So, if it has come full circle, then I’m very happy, as old Luxman gear was beautifully made.

I ended up inheriting some of my father’s equipment when he upgraded, and set up a system in my room with a small pair of Paradigm Atom speakers around the time I began university. Unfortunately, I couldn’t listen to it in the evenings, as he would go to bed at 8 pm, so the next time we went to the hi-fi store, I got him to buy me a good pair of headphones, a pair of MB Quart QP55s.

This was early in the ’90s, so I could say that I was into Head-Fi most of a decade before the forum came into being! At the time, I did notice that my headphones sounded different when plugged into my computer, my CD player, and my father’s CD player. Unfortunately, I was also aware that the more expensive Luxman CD player we could have bought sounded better as well when I tried them in the shop. However, it was over my father’s budget, sadly.

The Audiophile Journey of Currawong: Navigating Review Chaos in the Audiophile World

What inspired you to start your audiophile journey?

A decade later I was living in Sydney, and the headphones came in useful again, as living with my wife in a studio apartment, if she wanted to watch TV and I wanted to listen to music, headphones were the only solution. So I ended up joining Head-Fi in 2007 after we moved to Japan, as the stores here had huge headphone displays even back then, and I needed advice on what to buy.

Can you describe a specific moment or experience that solidified your love for audiophile gear?

At the time I was living in Sydney, I was listening to pop and rock music mostly, as I had from way back, but a friend who worked at the hi-fi store my parents went to suggested I try some jazz, though in the form of dZihan & Kamien. That bridged the gap between what I was listening to and the classical music with which I was very familiar. As I bought better gear, I was able to appreciate a wider variety of music, especially classical jazz such as Dave Brubeck, Bill Evans, and Coltrane, which I listen to a lot these days.

The Audiophile Journey of Currawong: Navigating Review Chaos in the Audiophile World

What are some of your favorite pieces of audiophile equipment and why?

It’s very hard to pick favorites! Nowadays, I get to listen to music through a variety of high-end headphones and equipment, and along with comparing my impressions to those of other people, I’ve learned to appreciate the different approaches that different manufacturers have, and how they bring enjoyment to listening to music in different ways.

Importantly, the manufacturers are people, and what has kept me enthusiastic in the hobby has been meeting the people who design the equipment, and hearing about what goes into their products. It’s easy for people to say things like “They should do this...” or “Why did(n’t) they do that?” but very often there are solid reasons behind manufacturing decisions. In knowing them, it’s similar to the ability to appreciate music more if you know the background to its creation or lyrics — you appreciate the equipment so much more knowing the care that has gone into the design.

Unlike back in the ’90s when I started, it’s often possible to ask questions directly to the designers and engineers on sites such as Head-Fi, and suggest ideas that could end up in their products. In my case, since I’m a well-known reviewer, it’s usually quite easy for me to ask for products to review. However, while I could review nearly anything, I find that I want to review things that I’d actually be interested in owning, or they have something new and unique that makes them interesting.

If I really had to pick something, I’d pick products that represent the peak of value and performance, and that would probably be a Chord Mojo 2 and DCA E3 headphones.

The Audiophile Journey of Currawong: Navigating Review Chaos in the Audiophile World

How do you select new pieces of equipment for your collection?

As for what I’m interested in buying and using myself, it has to be something that brings me closer to the music I’m listening to, both in resolution and emotion. For that, my ultimate setup would be a Chord DAVE and the soon-to-be-released MScaler successor. The tricky part is, I can never feel any headphones I have are quite perfect, as I listen to so many different genres of music, so a Schiit Lokius (or if I could afford a DAVE, a Lokius Max) and the Schiit Mjolnir or ALO Audio Studio Six I bought would suffice for those times I often want more bass response, or just a different sound.

Can you share tips or advice for someone just starting their audiophile journey?

The things I’ve learned are most important when getting into the hobby are deciding what kind of “sound” you enjoy, whether it be a warm, colored sound, or a neutral, uncolored one, as well as how well your hearing can resolve detail. People such as myself, who were brought up with musical instruments, are more sensitive to differences between components, so we tend to go down the proverbial rabbit hole in search of improvements.

Other people, who were not brought up with music so much, might try or buy an expensive system and feel it brings them no benefit at all. If you figure this out early on, it could save you a lot of money! Likewise, the type of music you like, and how loudly you like to listen will dictate most of the kind of headphone system you enjoy. The former, along with how sensitive your ears are to different frequencies, will decide what headphones or in-ear monitors are suitable for you, and the latter how powerful the equipment you need will be.

How does your audiophile hobby impact your daily life?

When you find the right system, it can be a magical feeling. In my own system, I might hit upon a combo that sounds amazing one day, but not quite so the next. I haven’t figured out why! Most of the time I actually listen to music while driving, which is a far cry from the quality of my home system, but when I find music I really want to listen to, I don’t care. I can always drop it into a playlist and listen again at higher quality when I get home, which is great when I want to wind down at the end of the day.

The only thing I wish is that I could cut my system down to a simple one at home and not have such a big power bill from my system!




The Audiophile Journey of Currawong: Navigating Review Chaos in the Audiophile World

Thank You Note:

We would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Hitanshu Joshi for his invaluable assistance in arranging this interview with Currawong. Hitanshu's dedication and efforts have made it possible for us to bring this insightful conversation to our readers and the audiophile community. Thank you, Hitanshu, for your support and contribution to The Audio Store. Your help is deeply appreciated!

1 comment



Thank you for interviewing this wonderful man. Amos has brought so much insight and enthusiasm to the audiophile headphone hobby. So much so, he’s become invaluable.

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