A bit of an extreme example, but going from a high quality sub to a much lower quality sub makes this obvious. For instance, I recently sold my Mirage OM-200 which was a pretty decent sub in it's own right (albeit only having dual 8" drivers), but sounded amazing. I recently borrowed my brother's old Mirage PS-12(or whatever it was), which has a 12" driver powered by a small 90 or 180 watt amp in a decent sized enclosure. Could the 12" sub pound a few beats out? Yes, but talk about a one note wonder. Everything sounded "muddy" and I believe I can finally say I know what too much "THD" sounds like! I'm very familiar with the tank scene in Saving Private Ryan which with the OM200 you could feel the shaking and it really made you feel like you were there with the rocks crumbling underneath the tank, with the PS12 all it did was belt out sound. Compared to the OM-200 which was refined/tight/detailed, this sucker is just boomy. Music was even worse, I played some DTS tracks and there was so much of what I could only describe as overhang with deep drum notes it wasn't funny. The OM200 played these notes wonderfully, with quick response times and bass that stopped when it should.
Having said that, I agree with the hun when he says:
but if I had to choose between subjective review and objective measurments as to which is more valuable to me a prospective buyer? I would choose the latter.
Will two subs with similar measurements sound the same? No, but then, just because one person likes the sound of sub A versus sub B, doesn't mean the next person won't like the sound of sub B.
However, detailed "objective" measurements that can be repeated provide the only relatively unbiased info on the web (again, assuming one can rely on the reviewer's methodology).
At the end of the day, unfortunately, most of us don't have the luxury of getting all the subs we want to listen to in our rooms (without potentially incurring multiple shipping costs to return them). Case in point, I'd love to listen to the HO in my room, but at a $300 shipping/brokerage/duty cost to and from it's not that easy should I decide I prefer the sound of another sub (say an SVS or Paradigm or whatever) better! So we have no choice but to rely upon the few well written reviews out there and hope they are as objective as possible.
Actually, the more I think about it, my best option might be to make the 5 hour drive from Toronto to The Ear's house and just listen to the 30 he has there!
Hey Ear, you charging admission?