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Finding the Best Speaker Reviews?

Since more and more loudspeakers are being purchased sight unseen these days, it seems a logical question to ask where do I find the best speaker reviews. One would assume that the copy on a speaker companies web site would be biased toward their own brand, D'oh, but what about review sites?

Audioholics, one of my favorite audio sites and forums online posted a great article today about Double
Blind Listening Tests where neither the person running the test nor the listener knows what they are listening too in order to cancel out any bias. "A Double Blind Test (DBT) is one in which neither the participants nor the experimenters know who is receiving a particular treatment."

The article suggests that if you're a consumer purchasing a pair of speaker in a showroom, that a double blind or at least blind listening test would be the way to go. I would agree with this. Of course the caveat here is that no matter how good the room you experience the speakers in, the speakers will sound different in your home. 

Back to where to find the best speaker reviews.

Although review sites like Audioholics have trained listeners, near perfect listening rooms (though still not YOUR room) and reference electronics to drive the speakers, they still have one inherent problem: 

The reviewers don't have your ears, musical preferences or taste in what resonates with your body. 

Your age, physical condition, listening habits, habitat, specific musical taste and listening history will make your best sounding speaker be different than everyone else. 

Does that mean you can't rely on a review, professional or not to help you choose your next speaker? Of course not. Just don't treat it like a magic bullet. Follow the time honored tradition of bringing a CD of your favorite music to the store and sit and listen to as many speakers as you can, in your price range. Why your price range? For the same reason bed sales people tell you which beds to lay on first, if you start with the ones you can't afford you might end up never being happy with your purchase. 

So final advice on buying speakers
  • User your favorite music to audition speakers.
  • Find articles on how to listen.
  • Take your time.
  • Make sure you have a return policy in case they don't sound good in your home.
  • And yes, Read reviews. If nothing else they will make you a more educated consumer.
Read the full article on double blind testing here.

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