Best Speaker Reviews, Who has Them?

Reviews are a great source of information, especially when they are consumer reviews that are verified by the site your reading them on as having been purchased there. Reviews by professional reviewers are also a good source of information but must be read in a totally different way than consumer reviews. Here is my suggested approach to reading speaker reviews. Hey! We all have opinions, these are mine. :^)


The problem with all reviews for speakers

Sound is a very personal thing. What you hear and what I hear are different. In fact "The mechanisms of sound interpretation are poorly understood, in fact is not yet clear whether all people interpret sounds in the same way." according to this article on UCSC.EDU.  I can't find anything on the effect our inner ear structure might affect sound interpretation but I'll keep trying. So if we're all hearing sound in the exact same way, reviews are good. But if we're not, then you can see we have a problem. I believe just like many people are color blind or see some shades of purple as blue, we may hear things differently as well. Not a bad thing mind you, just a thing. 

Consumer Speaker Reviews

Let's ignore the concept that we're hearing things differently. Consumer reviews are still a challenge in that even if we all hear exactly the same, we're still going to have a different idea of what "sounds good". Some people like lots of bass and therefore love bass heavy speakers and Beats headphones and others like a more balanced sound. Neither is correct, they are just different. Unless the reviewer tells you there preference you really have no way to judge. 

That said consumer reviews can still give you a good idea as to what qualities a speaker has. Rather than look at how many STARS a review gives, look for words they use; Lots of bass, great sounding vocals, excellent highs, etc. This might give you a better indication as to whether you'll also like the speaker. 

Think about the qualities you like in music when you hear it and look for words that match your tastes.

Professional Speaker Reviews

Having worked at Denon/Marantz who also owned Boston Acoustics and Snell Acoustics,  I met quite a few people who were excellent listeners. They had listening to music down to a science. Not that they did not enjoy it just for the sake of listening, but they knew how to listen with "intent".  These folks made listening to music a visceral event. I suspect it was not because they all heard the same thing but because they were listening for agreed upon qualities of the sound. 

Professional reviewers often do the same thing. They listen to speakers and make judgments based partially on their likes. Hey, they're human too.

So how do you choose a speaker based upon reviews?

Look at professional and consumer speaker reviews with the same angle as I suggested with the consumer reviews. Think about the qualities you like in music when you hear it and look for words that match your tastes. Don't worry bout it being perfectly flat frequency response. You're almost never going to come close to how the music sound performed live. And besides, performed live "where"? Every environment will make music sound different. 

So go read the reviews with an eye on what you like to hear. At least you'll increase your chances of getting something that sounds good to you. After all, that's all that matters. 

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