When purchasing speakers, how important is personal preference or are there speakers that are universally "good"? - AVS Forum
View Poll Results: When purchasing speakers, how important is personal preference or are there speakers that are univer
It's all personal preference: someone can find a $200 speaker sounds better than a $2000 speaker 5 15.63%
It's mostly personal preference: within the same price range (considering mostly greater than $200 , not like $20 speakers), people can find a speaker (any brand, any model) that they love that someone else hates/"doesn't care for". 6 18.75%
It's split between universally accepted SQ and preference: there are select brands/models that have good reputation/quality and then personal preference picks the best from them 9 28.13%
It's mostly universally accepted quality: a good speaker will sound good to most and to the few will still sound good, but they might prefer a different sound 12 37.50%
It's all universal: a good speaker will sound good to anyone 0 0%
It all has to do with the price range of the speakers in question (explain below) 0 0%
Voters: 32. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 09-05-2013, 12:13 PM - Thread Starter
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I bring this up because I've had difficulty with this before. This is good to know when ordering speakers online without hearing them before. Basically, how much can you trust what everyone says about how great they sound or do you have to listen to it yourself to decide?
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Old 09-05-2013, 12:27 PM
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I would say you need to listen to speakers to evaluate them.....


Everyone has a different set of ears....

To someone that doesn't hear high freqs very well, they might like the sound of Klipsch.....which I find to be too bright for my taste....

Every person is going to have different hearing ability.....

That is why you need to hear speakers for yourself.....

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Old 09-05-2013, 02:41 PM
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Also, look for patterns or consistancies in the type of sound, bright, soft, harsh, etc. And in build quality. Solid, light-weight, expensive look and feel. Internet speakers can be a great value but sometimes with value comes a little risk.

You can also see if someone in your neck of the woods has a set you can audition. Bring the wine.
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Old 09-05-2013, 02:41 PM
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Also, look for patterns or consistancies in the type of sound, bright, soft, harsh, etc. And in build quality. Solid, light-weight, expensive look and feel. Internet speakers can be a great value but sometimes with value comes a little risk.

You can also see if someone in your neck of the woods has a set you can audition. Bring the wine.
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Old 09-05-2013, 09:32 PM
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There has been testing done to show that most people are drawn speakers with a flat frequency response, ie those speakers which are the most accurate, so while you might prefer a speaker that has some coloration, you probably won't hate something that has been measured to be accurate. If you want to play it safe, go with something that measures well, preferably by a third party.
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Old 09-05-2013, 09:42 PM
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Can't vote with your parameters. Good set of measurements go further to judge the potental of a speaker than price or someone else's subjective opinion, altho I did choose my Ascend speakers based on both measurements as well as various subjective reviews.

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Old 09-05-2013, 10:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadyJ View Post

There has been testing done to show that most people are drawn speakers with a flat frequency response, ie those speakers which are the most accurate, so while you might prefer a speaker that has some coloration, you probably won't hate something that has been measured to be accurate. If you want to play it safe, go with something that measures well, preferably by a third party.

I think this is generally true, but is not universal and may not apply to you. Psycho-acoustics is a complex subject. In general, people think more bass means better sound, so some speakers have a mid-bass bump to make up for its lack of true bass. Some people like an elevated mid-range and some like an elevated treble. They call this "lively" or "exciting." These people find an accurate speaker "boring." Some people only want a speaker that plays loudly, even with increased distortion.

My advice is to listen to as many speakers as you can. Find out which you like and which you don't like and why. Then read up on the speakers you like and see how they are described in the forums and look at the measurements, if available. You'll be able to build a profile of what you like in speakers. Then look for other speakers that match that profile.

Some speakers are polarizing, such as Klipsch, and to some extent, JTR. Some seem to be universally liked, such as Ascend, Salk and Philharmonic, among others. Find what you like, then find a speaker that matches that profile.
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Old 09-05-2013, 11:50 PM
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Originally Posted by BarnacleBill View Post

I think this is generally true, but is not universal and may not apply to you. Psycho-acoustics is a complex subject. In general, people think more bass means better sound, so some speakers have a mid-bass bump to make up for its lack of true bass. Some people like an elevated mid-range and some like an elevated treble. The call this "lively" or "exciting." These people find an accurate speaker "boring." Some people only want a speaker that plays loudly, even with increased distortion.

My advice is to listen to as many speakers as you can. Find out which you like and which you don't like and why. Then read up on the speakers you like and see how they are described in the forums and look at the measurements, if available. You'll be able to build a profile of what you like in speakers. Then look for other speakers that match that profile.

Some speakers are polarizing, such as Klipsch, and to some extent, JTR. Some seem to be universally liked, such as Ascend, Salk and Philharmonic, among others. Find what you like, then find a speaker that matches that profile.

Preferences change with experience. The type of sound that I liked when I started out in this hobby is completely different from how my system sounds now, and I love my system. Considering two equally experienced listeners and two pairs of equally good sounding but different speakers, I believe that personal preference will dictate why one would choose speaker A and the other speaker B.
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Old 09-06-2013, 10:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by BarnacleBill View Post

I think this is generally true, but is not universal and may not apply to you. Psycho-acoustics is a complex subject. In general, people think more bass means better sound, so some speakers have a mid-bass bump to make up for its lack of true bass. Some people like an elevated mid-range and some like an elevated treble. They call this "lively" or "exciting." These people find an accurate speaker "boring." Some people only want a speaker that plays loudly, even with increased distortion.

My advice is to listen to as many speakers as you can. Find out which you like and which you don't like and why. Then read up on the speakers you like and see how they are described in the forums and look at the measurements, if available. You'll be able to build a profile of what you like in speakers. Then look for other speakers that match that profile.

Some speakers are polarizing, such as Klipsch, and to some extent, JTR. Some seem to be universally liked, such as Ascend, Salk and Philharmonic, among others. Find what you like, then find a speaker that matches that profile.

I like the idea of getting as much personal experience as you can and then compare that to what people say online to explore others. It sucks having only 4 brands or so of speakers at my local Best Buy so just going off of that listening gives you very limited selection.
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Old 09-06-2013, 07:06 PM
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Preferences change with experience.

True. The best you have heard is the best you know.
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Old 09-06-2013, 10:40 PM
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I trust my ears way too much for this.

No way I am plunking down my hard earned dough on something that I hate, but that measured well when someone I don't know performed the measurements.

Personally, I used the measurements and reviews to decide what to listen to that wasnt readily available at every corner where I live, but my purchase within that set was determined by what I preferred. I cant see how it could be any other way.
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Old 09-07-2013, 10:54 AM
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There has been testing done to show that most people are drawn speakers with a flat frequency response, ***

Sort of. In blind listening, speakers with flat axial response and smooth horizontal polar response are overwhelmingly preferred.

In the real world, the eyes often get in the way. People can end up preferring the "sound" of speakers that are objectively horrid because they look really cool, even though in blind tests the same person would rate that speaker poorly. Martin-Logan and B&W both benefit immensely from their industrial design in sighted listening, for instance.

But there's also the issue of matching speakers to a room, both in terms of polar pattern and bass capability. A speaker that sounds really good in one room may be totally inappropriate for another, because of placement constraints, reflection patterns, room modes down low, or other such issues.

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Old 09-07-2013, 12:19 PM
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Sort of. In blind listening, speakers with flat axial response and smooth horizontal polar response are overwhelmingly preferred.

There's also evidence that many people like a house sound curve for their setup. So I'm never 100% sure what to believe smile.gif

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Old 09-07-2013, 08:07 PM
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There's also evidence that many people like a house sound curve for their setup. So I'm never 100% sure what to believe smile.gif

What's a "house sound curve?" You mean drop-offs at low and high ends and peaks in the middle? I never heard that expression.

You're right, different people seems to like all kinds of inaccuracy and distortion. Look at all the cheap ear buds on the street. What they hear is barely music.
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Old 09-07-2013, 08:17 PM
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What's a "house sound curve?" You mean drop-offs at low and high ends and peaks in the middle? I never heard that expression.

No, It's highest at low frequency and gradually drops to be a bit lower at the highest frequency. Usually the smaller the room someone is in, the steeper the drop is preferred. It's a well known and established term. Perhaps you aren't as knowledgeable on audio as you think you are?
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Old 09-07-2013, 08:22 PM
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conversation has turned a wee bit judgmental, huh
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Old 09-08-2013, 12:21 AM
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No, It's highest at low frequency and gradually drops to be a bit lower at the highest frequency. Usually the smaller the room someone is in, the steeper the drop is preferred. It's a well known and established term. Perhaps you aren't as knowledgeable on audio as you think you are?

I make no special claims. I just try to help others if I have relevant information. Thanks for setting me straight.
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Old 09-08-2013, 01:11 PM
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The most important attribute is the room. You can read reviews and see pretty charts with lines that say a speaker is flat, but your room will make the largest difference in sound. I recommend auditioning speakers in the room you will be using them in if you can, and take measurements then if you want more info on how the speaker performs for your setup.
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Old 09-08-2013, 01:33 PM
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The most important attribute is the room. You can read reviews and see pretty charts with lines that say a speaker is flat, but your room will make the largest difference in sound. I recommend auditioning speakers in the room you will be using them in if you can, and take measurements then if you want more info on how the speaker performs for your setup.

Plus infinity. I'm surprised this wasn't brought up sooner.

In a near-field setup, where you're just a few feet from the speakers and you're hearing mostly direct sound, then the sound of the speaker itself wll be the most important factor -- except for bass, where the room always exerts its influence.

But in any larger room, any configuration where room reflections come into play, then room+speakers=system. I include placement within the room as part of the equation, and to the extent that the room constricts placement, the room is even more important.

Room correction like Audyssey can help somewhat; physical room treatment will help even more but it takes some expertise to accomplish. Otherwise, the same speaker can sound completely different in a long, narrow room with wood floors vs a cubical room with lots of upholstery, and you won't be able to predict which speaker will sound better in which room without either extensive detailed knowledge of both the room's and the speakers' acoustical properties, or the simple expedient of trying them out.

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Old 09-08-2013, 01:41 PM
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The most important attribute is the room. You can read reviews and see pretty charts with lines that say a speaker is flat, but your room will make the largest difference in sound.

I don't disagree with your point. And it's a good one. smile.gif

But there are also some speaker attributes that are there regardless of room influence. If you have bass resonance problem in a poorly designed enclosure. Or you would often be able to hear the difference between a driver with poor transient response and one with good response, regardless of the room.

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Old 09-08-2013, 03:07 PM
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I don't disagree with your point. And it's a good one. smile.gif

But there are also some speaker attributes that are there regardless of room influence. If you have bass resonance problem in a poorly designed enclosure. Or you would often be able to hear the difference between a driver with poor transient response and one with good response, regardless of the room.

This is obviously true. Some speakers are better than others. Speaker lines tend to have specific characteristics. You will note the consistency of reviews of speakers in different environments. Above 200 Hz, the speaker is the biggest determinant of the sound, not the room. Of course the room does matter.
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Old 09-08-2013, 05:44 PM
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The most important attribute is the room. You can read reviews and see pretty charts with lines that say a speaker is flat, but your room will make the largest difference in sound.

I don't disagree with your point. And it's a good one. smile.gif

But there are also some speaker attributes that are there regardless of room influence. If you have bass resonance problem in a poorly designed enclosure. Or you would often be able to hear the difference between a driver with poor transient response and one with good response, regardless of the room.

The problem I have is that you had to invoke speakers with what I would call serious correctable flaws in order to make your point. While we are probably still light years from having perfect speakers, we do seem to have quite a few speakers that are relatively free of serious flaws.
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Old 09-08-2013, 07:14 PM
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The problem I have is that you had to invoke speakers with what I would call serious correctable flaws in order to make your point. While we are probably still light years from having perfect speakers, we do seem to have quite a few speakers that are relatively free of serious flaws.

Which speakers are you talking about? Is it going to be the Infinity Primus is all anyone needs argument? LOL

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Old 09-19-2013, 05:05 PM
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What's a "house sound curve?" You mean drop-offs at low and high ends and peaks in the middle? I never heard that expression.

I've been reading audio related articles for 30+ years and I've never heard that term either. Google'd it and found many articles and forum posts from others who had never heard of it - made me feel better! rolleyes.gif

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The most important attribute is the room.

That is something that few will argue, but most people still have a "sound" of speakers that they like the best that is sometimes a trait of particular brands. I like slightly bright speakers which probably measure flatter than this "house sound curve" but sound bright when compared to them. My favorite brands are decidedly "mid-Fi" and are Paradigm, NHT, and Polk.

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Old 09-19-2013, 06:00 PM
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I've been reading audio related articles for 30+ years and I've never heard that term either. Google'd it and found many articles and forum posts from others who had never heard of it - made me feel better! rolleyes.gif
Try searching for "house curve" instead of "house sound curve." There are dozens of article about "house curve" that explains exactly what it is. It's a well-known and well-documented practice in theater sound. It's applicability is less well-documented for Home Theater. Still, many people like, (prefer) the sound of a "house curve," even in a "home" theater.

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Old 09-19-2013, 10:22 PM
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I've been reading audio related articles for 30+ years and I've never heard that term either. Google'd it and found many articles and forum posts from others who had never heard of it - made me feel better! rolleyes.gif
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