I have an honest question for the purely objective camp, i.e. those who claim that subjectivity is useless and has no value. When you make an audio purchase (speakers, amplifier, preamp, dac, etc.), do you do so purely based on measurements and spec sheets, or do you listen as well before making your purchase? And why or why not? Again, there is no right or wrong answer IMO, just curious. Thanks!
Just for the heck of it, I'm going to argue that you shouldn't waste your time listening to any audio gear before you buy it. Obviously, for components that really aren't going to sound different from one another (amps, digital sources, wire), listening is pointless.
For speakers, the problem is different. First, as has been noted, there's the room issue. But more fundamental, I think, is that humans are just really, really bad testing devices. We're completely uncalibrated. We listen to the same thing over and over, and hear it differently each time. We listen to two speakers at different times (maybe only minutes apart), and we won't remember the details of the first well enough to compare the second. And even when we're comparing speakers side by side, they aren't in the same place in the room.
The right way to shop for speakers, it seems to me, is to look at measurements (not spec sheets, measurements) and choose one with a good, balanced frequency response both on and off axis, with as much bass extension as you can afford. Bring it home, and use your ears to place it properly in your room and control resonances. You'll get much better results than the hopeless dreamers auditioning speakers in showrooms.