(Apologies for the length...I understand if you don't read or respond to this reply...to lazy to edit...;-) )
Just to keep things clear: once again, I'm absolutely not arguing against the worth of measurements. (I tend to spend more time arguing FOR measurements in audiophile forums, never against). We both believe that measurements are useful and important. And that listening is important.
It's just it seems we disagree on which one sensibly has primacy. You seem to want to put measurements in front, I suggest listening is the ultimate arbiter.
I say that because listening to (sound through) speakers is the ultimate goal, it's what they are for. (IF we are talking about listening pleasure as a goal, as it normally is, and which it seems we are agreed upon).
So the ultimate test has to be how a speaker sounds to the individual who may purchase that speaker.
Originally Posted by Gooddoc
When I said short term listening, I was speaking in terms of a typical sighted speaker audition - like in an audio shop or home. Not a controlled lab grade environment where all factors are controlled for and near instantaneous switching between speakers and content is possible. It takes much, much longer to reveal speaker flaws in the typical sighted listening environment with many uncontrolled factors. By using trained listeners with excellent hearing in a controlled environment Dr. Toole dramatically shortens the time it takes to get answers.
But in both cases they are short-term listening tests. You'd said: "IMO long term enjoyment is predicted by measurements."
Was I wrong to presume that by "long term" satisfaction over long periods of time owning a speaker? If so...what relevance does the "instantaneous switching" have, it's still short-term testing that can only make claims to predict preferences over a short time using instantaneous switching.
But you say they predict long term satisfaction. Since you don't have actual scientific data establishing long term satisfaction (at least that I'm aware of), the only evidence it seems you could appeal to is your own experience listening over long periods of time. So your listening IS in fact the final arbiter, not how the speakers measure.
Originally Posted by Gooddoc
And if you don't look at measurements, how do you determine what speakers to audition to begin with? Price? Looks? Sighted reviews? None of which correlate in any way to speaker quality. That was also clearly proven in the research. The only proven correlation I'm aware of to speaker quality and preference is measurements.
I don't have trouble believing that I may be among those who pick a Harman Kardon or Revel speaker in the type of blind listening tests they set up. Statically speaking, I should bet money on it.
The problem is, in my actual experience listening to a very wide variety of speakers, the type of measurements from the NRC and Toole don't help predict what I'll like BEST. If the measurements and design criteria used by Harmon Kardon and Revel were the end of the story, then I may as well just buy HK or Revel speakers and be done with it. The problem is...I've heard those speakers. Auditioned a number of Revels. They matched the sound predicted by the measurements to this degree: they sounded like VERY competently designed speakers, coherent, pretty smooth, well controlled and generally neutral top to bottom, and smooth off axis performance.
But they just didn't turn my crank. They had not "it" factor at all for me. I did not find myself at all excitedly wanting to dig through ever more of my CD collection to keep hearing everything I've got on them. I could just take or leave the listening experience. That is entirely unlike my reaction to some other speakers (including many I've owned), which just spin my head with some "it factor."
I'm a fanatic for timbral realism and an organic quality. When I play my acoustic guitar I "see" the tones in my mind vividly, a sort of golden sparkly harmonic quality and absolutely "woody" resonance of the guitar. I've used recordings of my guitar (and my son playing sax, and voices in my family) to do live vs reproduced comparisons with many speakers in my home (I also used to review speakers so I had access to many different types), and closing my eyes many just did not nail what I hear in real life, but some DID, they came really close, and THOSE ones were always the speakers that would have me stuck to my chair late in to the night, listening.
I just didn't ever get that magic from the Revels. Just a sense of competence.
I'm familiar with the general "NRC" school speakers, which are designed generally with the characteristics advised by Toole's research. Most of them have left me unmoved. I've owned PSB speakers (used them for work and some music listening). They never did much for me. I still own waveform speakers - designed for the characteristics of neutrality and well-behaved off-axis performance - and I love them. But they sound a bit different than the PSB (or Paradigm speakers) to my ears. They have a natural timbral warmth (I don't mean added richness of lower mids, I mean that wood based instruments SOUND like they are made of wood, not like an electronic facsimile, that kind of thing). I could go through any number of speakers I've heard, or had in my house, that I found utterly mesmerizing...that were not of the strict "Harman Kardon" or NRC-approved" design.
Not long after auditioning a couple of Revel speakers, I auditioned some Devore Fidelity Orangutan speakers. The Devores had received excellent reviews, but some raspberries for their design from "by the books" folks, and for how they measured in some parameters. But I preferred the Devores by a large measure to my auditions of the Revels. Some drum tracks I'm familiar with sounded like excellent recordings of drums on the Revels. On the Devores I'll be darned if they didn't sound like....drums! Right in front of me! Closing my eyes they were just more dynamically and tonally believable to me than the same tracks on the Revels. Unlike the Revels, I was excited to hear track after track on the Devores, they had an "it" factor for me.
Would I have predicted this reaction if I went only on some small selection of speakers approved by the spinnerama-type-measurements? Likely not. And yet...they were a revelation. I'd hate to have missed out on the many speakers I've truly enjoyed, by thinking only speakers known to pass the HK-type tests would please me most. They don't.
So I've listened to speaker A, and to speaker B, and preferred speaker B. Why would I then choose to pay for speaker A because someone has told me "it measures better, and predicts listener satisfaction." Well, sorry, that may be theoretically true if I were doing blind tests, but in the conditions I'm actually listening, both in stores and at home, for whatever collection of reasons, I prefer speaker B. So why pay for speaker A?
For me, my satisfaction with a speaker has always been determined by listening. I've never heard a speaker that left me unmoved on first audition, that later grabbed me or blew me away another time.
Finally, as for long term satisfaction: Again, we don't have any scientific data on that, that I'm aware of. The best we have is just a sort of "in the field" loose surveying. In the various forums I've been a part of for decades, many threads have come up asking "For those who are satisfied long term: what speaker did you settle on?" And every time, the results are ALL OVER THE MAP in terms of speaker design. You have people who swear by their electrostatics, by their Maggies, by their British box speakers like Harbeth, by their High sensitivity Horns, by their narrow tower speakers, by full range speakers, by "stand mounted only," by omnis, by controlled directivity. ALL of those have managed to make audiophiles intensely happy over long periods of time. Despite that most audiophiles have been exposed to many different types of design. In other words, I don't see that the spinnerama measurements correlate with or predict what speakers audiophiles will latch on to as satisfying their particular criteria and interests, as audiophiles manage to love a great many designs that will measure quite differently. There's all sorts of real-world influences going on for that, no doubt. But the end result is that just going by spinnerama measurements don't seem to be the road to success in satisfying all the different criteria audiophiles have in speaker preferences, which is why individuals decide on their own listening tests, not just on Harman Kardon's or the NRCs or whatever. Anyone who has attended audio shows have heard the Revel speakers, and yet most go on to prefer speakers in other rooms, and other speakers more often win "best in show" with most votes for "best sound."