Favorite Genre / Artist: Hard Rock, Country, Classical
Favorite Audio Gear: Bowers & Wilkins P7, Beyerdynamic T70p
Lives In: Charlotte, NC
Jonathan West, a.k.a @army_firedawg
He took his pain and turned it into something beautiful. Into something that people connect to. And that's what good music does. It speaks to you. It changes you.--- Hannah Harrington, Saving June
Why Jonathan is an Ambassador
Honestly I'm relatively new to the hi-fi world only being in it for about 2 years and serious about it for roughly 1. I've always loved music and how it has the power to move one's emotions and allows one to feel what the artist was portraying. Before I began working at my store (InMotion Entertainment) 2 years ago I felt it was ludicrous to spend $100 on headphones for something that my $20 marshmallow ear-buds could do as well. Then once I actually began to listen, not hear, but actually LISTEN to how clean music can truly sound I was hooked. Then add the amazing fact that all brands and phones have their own sound signature I just couldn't get enough. So perhaps I can give credit to that love for my success in the field of selling headphones and speakers, I truly convey my feelings as to each audio equipment I am pitching. For when I see that look on a person's face who has finally found the sound they've always wanted and just instantly fall in love with it's euphoric.
We Love Jonathan because...
It doesn't matter how long one is involved in the audio world. Once that contagious audiophilia hits you, you have no choice. We've been trying to help people hear the difference of hifi audio gear and Jonathan can help spread the word of hifi and open people's minds to the possibilities of pure audio.
These are by far my favorite piece of audio gear I've every personally listened to, for they fit everything I look for in a monitor and leaves no cravings for more rather the fulfillment of satisfaction. I am referring to the highly regarded Shure SE846. The first thing I noticed upon glancing at the box was how the drivers are independently tuned to attain exactly the specified range the engineers are wanting which corresponds directly in the amount of crossover you receive which is seemingly absolutely none. These are also the most detailed monitors I've ever heard, leaving no detail unmentioned, then the soundstage, oh my goodness the soundstage. I didn't think it was even possible to possess one this massive in a monitor especially in a product that's just the entry point into the elite class of headphones. I love, truly love these monitors for I get chills when I talk about them let alone when I have them in my ears letting them drift me away to the performance I choose.
On more of an objective side (even more than the previous paragraph), these are also the most all rounded headphone I know of. First they're sweat proof so feel free to have a super hard workout in them, looks like it's about to rain don't worry about it, these won't even flinch. For those who like to listen when they go to sleep these are completely flush with most ears so feel free to lay on your side all while being completely undisturbed from ear pressure, and on that not those bikers who are annoyed for not being able to listen to music fret not they fit again flush against most ears so no worries about the helmet rubbing or breaking it.
I can't stop praising these for nothing I've heard to date gives me more fulfillment on a portable setup for these really go the extra mile and adds different filters so one may tune them to fit their desired sound. Me personally, usually have the bright filter on which is a perfect complement to the true sub-woofer these have, but when I'm wanting accuracy I equip the neutral (reference) filter and relish in the rich unbridled detail. Then for the bass heads the dark filter will give you enough bass to rattle your teeth.
In closing, I recommend these to absolutely everyone. They have an amazingly durable build quality that (I've proven) can take workouts, drops, tugs, RAIN and if ever you do somehow manage to break the cable, they're detachable. For being one of the oldest audio companies around, and American, these have never left me disappointed.
--- Jonathan West
Sennheiser Momentum 2
One of the best price to quality headphones I know of is the Sennheiser Momentum 2 (Over-Ear) Ivory. These have a wonderfully vast and detailed soundstage and, for those gamers, great directional ques. Very similar to their on-ear models these utilize a solid aluminum frame from can to can with a subtle amount of leather padding on the top, that's actually quite comfortable.
In terms of overall comfort I find these to be outstanding. I wear these in upwards of 3 hours with minimal fatigue but I must say my ears do begin getting warm after an hour or so with the leather pads equipped for its inability to breath. On a similar note, for headphones that aren't noise canceling, these isolate extremely well.
Onto the more objective side, I love the way these sound and believe they are true to the Sennheiser name and the sound they're known for. These are a very warm and welcoming headphone with very pronounced mids that take front stage, but also with a slight coloration to the bass line. The high are still very detailed but I do think it drops the notes on a violin or cello down a pitch ever so slightly. For me, this is the headphone personality I prefer; I'll happily sacrifice sonic accuracy over a warm, welcome and relaxing sound any day and these deliver that wonderfully.
In closing, I'd recommend these to those who are wanting a great catch all headphone that does a really good job of melting stress away after a long day at work. These are very durable and well built and even come included with a very nice hard case. Like I said earlier these are a great catch all pair that are great for people who want a detailed fun headphone but also for those like myself who want to lay back, relax and let the music sweep over them.
--- Jonathan West
One of the best monitors I've ever had and a very good all rounder is the Shure SE535. These are wondrously detailed and very, very comfortable in my ear. On the note of comfort, I actually slept in these quite a bit because, like most monitors, these are completely flush with your ears.
The build quality on these are amazing; they're completely sweat proof so have at a great workout and fret not if you get rained on these can take the beating without even flinching. For those who bike with full head helmets, they will find these very useful for they can actually put these in without any rubbing from the padding of the helmet (which from personal experience is very irritating and uncomfortable).
On a more objective side, these monitors are very neutral over all but has a slight coloration to its treble to emphasis the finite detail in your audio recordings. The highs a diamonds easily able to present a very energetic violin or cello, it's mids I find are very uncolored and true and their bass it super tight with very controlled decay. The best way I've came to describing these are saying they're like a waterfall. They're so smooth and tranquil with the ability to easily bring you peace and comfort; but make no mistake, for like a waterfall, when the time comes these hit with impressive power.
In closing, I'd recommend these to anyone wanting a very sleek and classy pair of monitors that are blissfully detailed and use higher tier audio files. These are amazing for what they are and their uses are only limited by the individual who owns them.
--- Jonathan West
I had the super small and portable Beyerdynamic T50p's for about 8 months or so and much say these are the most comfortable on-ear headphones I've ever worn. The pads are very soft and for not being memory foam the form to my ears very very well. Then when you add on the hand crafted metal frame you get a very nice, lightweight, finish.
On the note of being handmade in Germany, that in and of itself, is a hard to find luxury for it seems everything under the moon is mass produced in factories in China; so finding something that someone put their personal touch into, really says something.
Into the objective aspects, I find these to be some of the most pleasurable headphones in this price range for their mids are welcoming and inviting, their highs are crystal and detailed and not overly bright and their mids though are not heavy (which I personally am glad for) they are very tight and detailed. The T50p's are exactly what I've come to love and expect from Beyerdynamic, I've owned/extensively used almost every headphone they sell and have yet to be disappointed with any of them.
Though these are designed for anyone to comfortably use I can see these being ideal for the female audience for their naturally smaller heads and ears. Also, the lightweight split band I believe wont mess up any hair style any particular individual may be wearing, also being a metal frame they can handle their fair share of abuse in a purse for those who neglect to use the very durable yet still minimal case provided.
In closing these are a perfect fit for those looking for a great sounding, lightweight, and portable set-up that's very conservative in its size but is consistent with its sound. These are a reference class headphone so those wanting a bass heavy fun headphone may want to look elsewhere, but those searching for sonically accurate reproduction will be at home with these.
--- Jonathan West
Definitely my most expensive purchase to date, but I'm immensely glad I pulled the trigger on the Beyerdynamic T70'p. Though bulky these headphones are incredibly comfortable and don't weigh that much compared to their size. Though like many people will agree these aren't for everyone. They are very detailed in terms of sonic accuracy but can by polarizing in its highs which are definitely a turn off for some for those who love the absolute spotlight on the finite details of their audio files while love these.
Being the p model these are made specifically for portable applications i.e. your phone, computer, etc... but they maintain the signature sound of their high impedance model. These also use their patented Tesla Coil drivers which are wonderfully efficient, regardless if I'm playing at almost mute levels or maxed out they don't even flinch in their finesse. I prefer these when I'm wanting true sonic accuracy and absolute audio reproduction, I've listened to almost every model Beyerdynamic has to offer and have not found a one that is a disappointment. And being hand made in Germany, adds a very nice touch of flare that as a consumer is nice to have for finding something that isn't mass produced in a shop in China is becoming almost a luxury in and of itself.
Into the technical details, as stated these are definitely bright headphones for their emphasis on treble, but I still get a very satisfied feeling listening to these for their mids are nice and welcoming and uncolored. When I listen to hard rock or metal I find the bass to be wondrously tight and controlled with seemingly zero decay and delay between bass hits. The soul of these are unforgiving and truly a beast to control, for they'll highlight every flaw of your audio file if any were to exist, so mp3ers beware. The soundstage is massive and divinely detailed, so much in fact I use these as my gaming headphones on my PS4.
In closing for those who are searching for a great high end headphone that's so amazingly detailed it'll highlight the most finite of details in your music then these are absolutely for you. However, if you're looking for a super bass heavy fun headphone then I would look elsewhere.
--- Jonathan West
The only line from Shure I don't care much for, not saying that they're bad but unlike the rest of them I can think of many, many other brands that are much better for the same price or even slightly less than the Shure SE315.
This model introduces their HD driver which like its BA counterpart specializes in a specified frequency range, and these greatly accentuate this by having truly beautiful highs and accurately clear mids but such a poor bass line I almost want to call these tinny. I usually save the objective parts of my review for later but this is something one instantly notices upon playing almost any track, let alone one with prominent low notes. What this leads me to is a feeling of hunger almost for it's like you can tell they're trying to give you what you want it's just that they themselves weren't given the proper tools to do so.
These do still however maintain Shures streamline framework, staying very flush inside ones ear as well as being sweat proof so go for a run without worry. This model also has a very high gloss black finish which I personally don't really like but that's a matter of opinion.
In closing, I still give these I guess wannabes shots every couple of weeks only to be left with disappointment, would I still recommend these? Honestly, not if there other brands available and you're set in this price range for there is much better out there.
--- Jonathan West
One of my favorite $300 range monitors on the market and one that continuously impresses me, for the Shure SE425's are truly a well put together and engineered machine. These are very nice sounding and super accurate, with a quite impressive bass response.
I find these to be one of the most popular models amongst Shure's higher tier of IEM's for the dual HD drivers are exquisitely tuned to be super accurate it their reproduction but yet still possess the ability to satisfy those wanting a strong bass kick for when they're working out at the gym. Actually on that note these are sweat proof, so those wanting a great sounding pair that wont fall out nor break with some sweat and grime then these are perfect, also for you outdoor runners fret not for these can handle a downpour of rain and not even twitch.
On more of an objective note, these are great sounding, especially in the $300 price range. The highs are exactly what's to be expected from Shure with its mids being uncolored and clean whilst its bass though can reach low isn't as dark as I feel some may want it. For me I love them for I'd rather experience the finite detail rather than feel my eardrums rattling.
In closing these are a great pair for everyone and most any ear size, for the fit flush with your ears and easily fit into any helmet. The sound quality leaves me satisfied and excited to return back to them.
--- Jonathan West
Denon Ah D600
Though I had these for only a very short time I found the Denon AH D600's to be some of the biggest (you could also but that literally) underdogs I had in my possession. First and foremost one cannot ignore the massive size of these cans for they are massive, a joke I often hear involving these is you feel like you've an astronaut helmet on. But one you get past the size all the remains is unbridled comfort and sound quality.
These fit oh so very comfortably over any ear with our blinking an eye (my papaw has some very large ears and they'd easily fit over his head [just neglected to tell him the price of these]) the lush leathery pads just mesh to my head like the fluffiest of clouds and so long as I'm not laying on my side I could very easily (and have) fallen asleep whilst wearing these.
Onto the objective side of things, I find these to be some of the most accurately sounding headphones I've tried in the (+/-)$500 price range. They're not aggressive in the least but instead, confident in their presentation of whatever you want to test them out with, rather I'm playing Joe Leader: Rite Of Passage or Five Finger Death Punch: House Of The Rising Sun these do not fatigue or even remotely give the impression of being over worked. The highs are so clean and bright the violin just breaths it's transparency, the mids are accurate and uncolored (which I personally would've liked them slightly warmer but I still take away no points) I could easily see these used for editing and mastering music with, and finally the bass notes and goodness are there bass notes. Now, I don't know if you've read my other reviews but I'm not a bass head by no means, quite the opposite in fact, but I do appreciate a good hit and presence when the music dictates the need and these fit that to a T.
In closing these headphones are honestly for anyone who isn't concerned with the slimmest or most fashionable headphone but rather an amazing sonic experience for the price. The build quality feels very well put together and I'm confident in their ability to take a little abuse so those with kids don't have to feel to squeamish. Lastly I reiterate the comfort level of these, which is sublime.
--- Jonathan West
The Frey Concert
During the summer months I went to The Fray concert here in Charlotte N.C. for Groupon had a really nice deal on them so I thought 'what the heck', but I must say, it was a really interesting time. This concert would be my second outdoor concert, which I found I greatly prefer, and the day leading up to it was such a beautiful warm summer day.
The concert opened with a band that honestly I enjoy rather well which is Oh Honey. The female vocalist has a really nice and smooth presence in her voice and I often found myself drifting away in her songs and the genuinely upbeat and honest tempo was very pleasing as well for I find most upcoming bands (and even some quite established ones as well) overdoing the bass and it sounding just dark and aggressive but this band was a very pleasant experience and one I highly recommend.
The second band I can't help but feel bad for, for I remember them being fun and upbeat for but nothing else about them I found to be very memorable, for I honestly can't even remotely think of what their name was. I believe this is partly because the last half of their set list if you will all sounded like the exact same some put on repeat minus a few words changed here and there. Wish I could tell the name so you can get an opinion yourself but I've even tried looking that date up and am unable to find them.
Finally was the main attraction The Fray. When it was time for them to come out, no offense to the previous artists, but you could tell they were much more experienced. For the slow built up of the drummer followed by guitarist and finally the vocalist as they began their first song Heartbeat set the tempo for the remaining night. The crowd, as one would expect, grew very excited and everyone stood on their feet for the entire performance. Cheering, laughing and above all, having a great time so on that regard I give them my highest praise. Something else I haven't seen before but rather loved was the vocalist actually got off the stage and walked through the crowd; not in the sense of the small area just in front of the stage but actually in the crowd, high five-ing, shaking hands just really making it a memorable experience for the audience.
Another high note, and as I start talking about this I can see how some would wonder how it's a high note, is when it began to rain (and I'm not talking about a small drizzle) the band didn't stop playing the current song or slow in the least, in fact, they actually increased the excitement and enthusiasm presented to the audience. They were jumping up and down and on the rest sections of the song he would make a funny joke or some sort of humorous comment for some comic relief of the monsoon that was falling on our heads. At this point many of the audience had already left and the previous performers were putting their gear away but The Fray however, continued to play and put on a very enjoyable performance.
In closing my experience was a very enjoyable one and one I would recommend to anyone. Both Oh Honey and The Fray are wonderful artists whos music I continue to enjoy and would recommend to anyone.
--- Jonathan West
Drew Baird's CES live stream
The live stream of Drews CES2015 showcase was a very educational experience. For those of us unlucky enough (such as myself) to have the ability to attend events such as these I find it very nice for someone to not only bring back information and share it but give great detail and a personal opinion on the sound, build, emotions etc... and not just read off a checklist or brochure.
Though I couldn't listen to is consistently all the way through for I was also at work while he was live streaming his favorite picks but when I was able to tune is I was just so amazed by not just all the new amps and dacs coming to the market (super interested in the hifi-man) for I've been really searching for a great amp and dac to start my home hifi experience and him presenting me (us) with so many very viable choices.
On a more objective side, if I could change one thing it would be for Drew to have slowed down a little bit for he sounded a little rushed (now I've no insight on what else he had going on nor is it my business) which took away from what I feel could have been a very grand presentation of super end hardware. Everything else I really enjoyed learning about and still look forward to the next product live stream.
In closing the moon-audio live stream of CES by Drew Baird was a great insight on what products are quickly coming to the market that those who've the finances to attain such products should truly look into.
--- Jonathan West
Seventh Day Slumber concert
During the Summer months back when I still lived in Kentucky, I attended my first outdoor concert (which as I found later I actually personally prefer) of some up and coming Christian rock artists The Letter Black, and the header band Seventh Day Slumber.
I originally wasn't going to attend this meeting for I was still in college and put quite bluntly, broke. But the radio said earlier of the day of the event that it was a free concert paid for my the city (Pikeville) and local churches, so I would quite excited. Upon arriving at the location there were small sermons going on, small church vendors selling things like Bibles, CD's, and various other bake sale goods and generally a lot of people smiling greeting everyone with open arms and truly showing what should be the definition of what a religious event should be.
After greeting some amazing people and having truly heart warming conversations it grew time for the show. And to be honest I was expecting a decent experience at best. So as the first band came out The Letter Black there was this very cute singer and two rough looking gentleman on the drums and guitar which peeks my interest but only as much as a free local concert would someone. Until they began. The energy just erupted from them. Heavy but cleanly played drums started up the performance quickly followed by a very energetic guitarist that easily showed used the energy from the audience to fuel his fingers. Then finally the vocalist began with their song Fire With Fire and this cute young woman can absolutely sing; her dynamic range was or is rather something to experience, from her soft sensual whisper notes to her somewhat aggressive but contained screams really drew myself and the audience in for very quickly into the beginning were all on our feet cheering and applauding.
Throughout their performance, rather between songs or during the rest periods in the songs each of the members would give their own personal thanks, firstly to God for giving everyone the ability to be there enjoying themselves then to us for coming to the performance. This distinction on who to thank first and even at all really did a lot for me and I greatly respected them for such.
Finally was the header band Seventh Day Slumber. This group, though from my personal opinion wasn't as good as the first, they portrayed a wonderful Christian message. From their first song Surrender they really showed their love and belief in God. Also like the first group, each member gave thanks to first and foremost the Lord and then to us. But this performance was also different in the fact that it wasn't just a performance but was also a sermon. Between each song they played they each presented a story from their life that they felt was impossible to come out of and was about to give up until God saved them and showed them the light. Though they didn't play that many songs, maybe 4, they were all very powerful, the lead singer also led us in very heart warming prayers that for those who are religious can take great pride in brought a large number to God.
In summary this was one of the best experiences in both a concert and religious setting in which if anyone can attend either of these artists I would highly employ one to do so. Even going on 5 years since I attended this event I still remember it better than any other I've attended to date.
--- Jonathan West
Every April I go back to my hometown of Pikeville, Kentucky to enjoy an event that celebrates the heritage of what is known as the Hillbilly in an event properly coined Hillbilly Days. I look forward to this every year for not just the heritage side but the music and oh my goodness gracious the food is probably the best food you can ever find. Also probably the unhealthiest but hey you go to these things to have fun not to be a health nut haha.
But upon walking into the festival, which blocks off the entire downtown city, you're instantly greeted with a blissful smack in the nostrils of some of the best and most greasiest food that'll ever bestow your taste buds. From true home made funnel cakes to crocodile steaks, from blooming onions to dark lamb gyros, and yes my friends my mouth waters while writing this.
Also you are greeted with some of the happiest banjo and bluegrass music along with a smorgasbord of people laughing, dancing and just generally having a great time, which for me is something that brings me great happiness. Further walking down the roads you'll come across the parking garage which is completely filled with many different forms of arts and crafts. Ranging from true one of a kind art pieces to hand crafted coal sculptors of everything from bears to miners.
It's local festivals like this that really bring out the pride in a community and walking through different vendors and viewing their masterpieces and listening to them explain all the work they put into each piece agrees with each ones story. Also, on a side this event is unfortunately becoming more and more mainstream so your traveling vendors are all there with their same fake crap that degrade what beauty as I was just describing is there. But, if you're looking for a really fake pair of Beats then here ya go.
As I continue to walk I get to the center of the festival which is also the center of town and that's the courthouse. Here is where as a music love I have some of most enjoyable experiences. As I'm finding me a seat on the freshly cut hillside riddled with small white flowers (the weed kind that some find annoying but I personally like them [guess they remind me of home]) and eating my super unhealthy but oh so delicious food, I begin listening to the most heartfelt, serene, and honest music you could never hope to hear on the radio. But here is where the stage is, where it's free for anyone and their band to perform for about 10 minutes and showcase just what you have. Now, is a lot of it wannabe's wanting to make a career thus their music sounds just like everything else, yes. But, more often during this weekend you get small church quires, or local garage bands who play just because they have fun with their friends. And it's this type of music that you'll hear the true soul of people. From one band who was talking about their dreams of growing up from childhood to one band who's power was heartfelt by her sorrow over loosing her parents.
I'm an audio lover of every kind, but my favorite consists of those small bands who, though might not by as sonically pleasing as ones who are making millions, but they are the ones who are genuinely giving it their all and throwing their hearts into it because, like audio is for us, it releases them from the reality and gives them such peace and love. And I for one, would take this over fake popularity any day.
--- Jonathan West