You can get 85-90% of the way there if you put in the effort. You must listen and let your ears tell you. Taking notes will help you find speakers to do 2nd and 3rd auditions and eliminating at least half right away.
This should be FUN!
Ahmen brother. Not that what I personally did is for everyone, but I selected three CD's which I knew like the back of my hand. One a classical four piece violin and piano concerto, a jazz sampler that featured all kinds of instruments as well as both male and female vocals and an all time favorite Rock CD. I used these same three CD's on every one of my audition sessions. I also kept a detailed journal of every single audition session.
One of my very first auditions were the Klipsch RF-7's. At that time, their flagship towers. I absolutely loved them (and almost stopped right there and bought them). I wrote in my journal about the detailed high end and bass slam along with the super dynamics. Long story, many auditions and nearly six months later, I went back with the same reference material in hand to audition them a second time (they were in my final four). This time with a DVD movie sound track in tote as well to check integration with (and listen to) subs. Now understand.... these were the exact same speakers I had auditioned earlier. They were in the exact same spot in the showroom and connected to the very same receiver. All I can say is about ten minutes in and barely through the first movement on a Mozart Violin Concerto.... I nearly ran from the store because my ears were in such severe pain from the super high end treble energy from the horn tweeters. Needless to say, I never got to the DVD or sub auditions with them.
The moral of the story.... over time and many speaker auditions, I had learned what type of sound that not only pleased, but moved me. If I had listened to all of the internet fans and reviews of the Klipsch RF-7's at that time (the main reasone they were on my audition list to start with), it more than likely skewed my first audition due to the subconscious feeling that they were one of the best speakers available in the price category and had such a loyal following, I knew they were SUPPOSED
to sound and be great. But, they ended up NOT being great to me once I learned what I like and enjoy. Had I bought them there on the spot like I almost did.... I would have been sorely disappointed down the road (most likely) and been doing it all over again.
My other three final auditions went much better. So much so, that I've enjoyed my AUDES Blues based HT/Music system for over eight years now. It still brings a smile to my face whether watching Saving Private Ryan, U-571 or spinning up a TELARC rendition of Beethoven's Ninth or Viena Teng and her sultry voice singing just to me while I sip on an Old Bushmills on the rocks.
Sure, I drove many, MANY miles during my auditions. Even traveling to other cities that had shops that carried brands that weren't available locally. Even doing "road trips" with the entire family in tow. I would audition speakers all day while they did the zoo circuit, museums or like most women like to do.... shopped. We would then all meet up for dinner and spend the night and drive back home the next morning. Did I spend a fair amount of coin during this audition phase? Sure, probably several hundred dollars (not counting the shopping which the women seem to do no matter where they are). But for me, it was money will spent in that I learned a LOT about not only what I liked, but audio and HT in general. The money I "invested" in the journey to find the speakers that were right for me.... I've saved many times over because I've never once had the "itch" to upgrade or change anything about what I have.
So, like I said.... to each his own. But I DO at least encourage you to audition as much as you can. It's not only fun, but you leard a lot.