Originally Posted by dave2441
I understand that critical listening is important but if I demo a bunch of speakers and like how one particular brand or model sounds, isn't that all that really matters. I am looking to get various opinions on this matter.
Critical listening is important if you're a connoisseur of sound. Critical listening is basically listening for fine detail. Critical listening is a learned (unnatural) behavior. Think wine snob vs somebody who enjoys a decent bottle with good company. Are you about the wine or are you about the company you keep? It's the same thing, are you about the sound or are you about the listening experience and sharing the experience with others?
Are you wanting to become a critical listener of music or are you simply wanting some kick butt sound quality in which to impress your senses when watching a movie? As to accuracy of sound, that's a concept that doesn't exist. There's a flat response and then there's how sound interacts with it's environment and how your hearing interprets the soundwaves. The simple choice of instrument, choice of strings or choice in stage amplifier will color the sound. Hence why I post, accuracy of sound is more a subjective concept then a quantifiable reality.
From here the question becomes, what's your budget? My recommendation would be, set a budget and then triple it if you're serious about quality sound.
It's a real simple formula:
A decent AVR with a room analyzer. Audyssey, MultEQ XT room analyzer at minimum. Audyssey, MultEQ XT32 is much better still. How big a budget, determines your AVR choices and which room analyzer you'll get with the AVR.
Decent speakers to reproduce the upper range with. Speaker sensitivity are an important consideration. Sensitivity affects how loud and the quality of the reproduced sound.
A decent pair of subwoofers to reproduce the lower end with. The better to impress your friends with.
And some 12AWG zip cord to connect everything (a bit of an under exaggeration but makes the point that wire is not as important as some want you to believe.
To give you a budgetary idea, if we had to start from scratch, knowing what I know and setting things up to mirror the way our system is currently spec'd out, our budget would be in the $6,500.00 - $7,500.00 range. If I wanted to seriously improve on what we have, I'd have to set a budget in the $20k range. But a decent system can be put together for much less.
I always tell people; Do you know why I drink half-way decent bourbon? It's because I can't afford decent bourbon.
The above is not intended to impress or scare one away, but to give one a realistic idea that directly answers the question; how much? That being said, on your part, stating a budget helps answer your questions as there are many excellent choices well below the above stated budgets but at the same time, sound quality will suffer accordingly.