AVS Forum Special Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Philadelphia Vicinity
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Specifications do not describe the sound of a speaker.
If you can find tests run identically on two different speakers by the same lab, you might have a basis for comparison that doesn't involve listening. For example, those lab results from HT Mag could be compared to the same tests in the same lab run on Polks or Pioneers or whatever. And then you would know something about which speakers have better bass extension, for example.
But you still wouldn't know anything about how they sound. Only listening tells you how a speaker will sound, and only listening in your listening room tells you how they will sound in your listening room.
The Internet has made it much too easy to buy speakers without hearing them first. And unless you already know good sound, almost anything you buy that's decent is going to impress you when you unpack it and get it fired up in your home. Especially when you think about the hassle of packing it all back up and shipping it back if you decide you don't like them.
Meanwhile, one speaker is -3dB at 80Hz, and another is -3dB at 70Hz. Do you automatically buy the second one? Why would you do that? Bass extension is only one quality -- and arguably far from the most important quality, given the availability of decent cheap subwoofers that will get you down to 30-40Hz -- of a bookshelf speaker. How smooth is the high end? How's the imaging? How's the quality of the crossover?
To illustrate my point, here are some quotes from the same review of the SM350 according to which some would have you dismiss the speaker because in their lab measurements its bass extension is not what DT claims it is:
"The StudioMonitor 350's vibrant dynamism in no way interferes with its careful subtlety, whether you're listening to a beautiful choral layering of voices (as on the Gadeamus Sacred Feast disc) or on a simpler but no less engaging arrangement of voice, accordion, and guitar on Sara K.'s 'Whiter Shade of Pale' (What Matters)."
"The bass response is smooth and natural—about as good as you're going to find in a passive speaker this size. "
Now, I'm not suggesting these 10-year old quotes are a reason to buy these speakers, any more than the 10-year old lab test is a reason not to. I'm suggesting that neither one tells you anything about how the speakers will sound in your room, or how well they will match what you want and expect to hear.
Listening, not reading specs, is how you learn how a speaker sounds.