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I have been building my home theater over the last several months and I’ve noticed something interesting about reviews... especially speaker reviews. I’m currently looking for some in-ceiling Atmos speakers and just about every unit I look at seem to have stellar reviews. Anything from an inexpensive Micca MC8 to an expensive Focal or Martin Logan seem to be universally well-liked. Check out Amazon or Best Buy or any other seller... pretty much everything comes up with almost 5-star totals! There is, of course, the rare dud with a poor review but it seems like it’s actually difficult to find a truly disliked speaker. In a world of online shopping, reviews are important so it actually makes decisions tough. Have y’all noticed this? Are speakers just all getting that good?
 

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Everyone just has a different view point and experiences.

Someone coming from zero speaker experience would think that the Miccas sound fantastic as they’ve never heard anything.

Someone who buys Miccas coming from something like Kef’s or Revels or anything of the like, would probably not leave a favorable review.

You don’t see those reviews because, well, no one is buying Miccas if they are coming from nicer, more expensive stuff.
 

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Anything from an inexpensive Micca MC8 to an expensive Focal or Martin Logan seem to be universally well-liked. Check out Amazon or Best Buy or any other seller... pretty much everything comes up with almost 5-star totals! There is, of course, the rare dud with a poor review but it seems like it’s actually difficult to find a truly disliked speaker. In a world of online shopping, reviews are important so it actually makes decisions tough. Have y’all noticed this? Are speakers just all getting that good?
I've noticed it. I've also noticed so-called professional reviews on audio websites frequently say things like, "at this price point, they sound pretty good", or "these speakers sound like much more expensive speakers". There is really no information in those types of statements. Another one I have trouble accepting is, "they're not worth $900, but when they go on sale for $499, grab them." Yes, I get that there is a cost-benefit analysis being done with these sorts of buying decisions, but it can be murky trying to pin down the dollars vs. sound quality scale.
 

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I have been building my home theater over the last several months and I’ve noticed something interesting about reviews... especially speaker reviews. I’m currently looking for some in-ceiling Atmos speakers and just about every unit I look at seem to have stellar reviews. Anything from an inexpensive Micca MC8 to an expensive Focal or Martin Logan seem to be universally well-liked. Check out Amazon or Best Buy or any other seller... pretty much everything comes up with almost 5-star totals! There is, of course, the rare dud with a poor review but it seems like it’s actually difficult to find a truly disliked speaker. In a world of online shopping, reviews are important so it actually makes decisions tough. Have y’all noticed this? Are speakers just all getting that good?
Very true, you can safely ignore pretty much all professional reviews imo, the only useful reviews are when a speaker is compared to another, if a reviewer used a decent neutral speaker like a Revel M16 to compare all other speakers to I think reviews could be very useful. Since no one really does this, the best way to do it is to narrow down the field to however many speakers you want to compare and order them to try out at home. Many places like Crutchfield allow you to do this relatively cheap and then you'll for sure you made the right choice.
 

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Are speakers just all getting that good?
Hahaha, if only.

At least half the time, reviewers are obeying hidden agendas: not pissing off lucrative advertisers (that's why Stereophile type reviews always mention boutique amps & cables), possibly receiving free "test speakers" in exchange for reviews, etc.

All you can hope for in reading pro reviews is noticing what they DON'T say, i.e. reading between the lines.

Thankfully, there are return policies including free or subsidized return shipping that make in-home auditions easier to do today than 20 years ago. That's still the bottom line best way to choose for yourself.
 
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Hahaha, if only.

At least half the time, reviewers are obeying hidden agendas: not pissing off lucrative advertisers (that's why Stereophile type reviews always mention boutique amps & cables), possibly receiving free "test speakers" in exchange for reviews, etc.

All you can hope for in reading pro reviews is noticing what they DON'T say, i.e. reading between the lines.

Thankfully, there are return policies including free or subsidized return shipping that make in-home auditions easier to do today than 20 years ago. That's still the bottom line best way to choose for yourself.

I’ve noticed that about professional reviews... YouTube is especially bad. Those guys rely on free test units from manufacturers so all of their reviews are positive. I’ve stopped watching them after it became evident. Regarding the in-home audition... I’ve used that several times. The only problem this time is, I have to cut holes in my ceiling. Testing out an Atmos speaker is a commitment.... LOL!
 

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The only problem this time is, I have to cut holes in my ceiling. Testing out an Atmos speaker is a commitment.... LOL!
I don't think I'd worry about it enough to bother...Atmos speakers do so little of the output to begin with, as long as you go with something from a relatively decent brand I assume you'd get decent performance out of them. :)
 

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I have found that speaker reviews can be helpful for learning about the type of sound that the speaker makes and the general character of the sound. For example a speaker described as “bright”, “forward” or “sharp” versus “warm”, “laidback” or “relaxed”. The value of these descriptions is helpful once you have an idea of the type of sound that you like. The only way to know this is to spend some time with different speakers featuring different designs to know what you prefer. For example, I have learned that for movies I prefer a sharper and more forward sound whereas for music I prefer a warmer laidback sound. You may prefer something different and when the reviews give you a description of a particular speaker you can know if you should consider them. There are so many speakers out there it is helpful to have some guidance even if you don’t arrive at the same conclusions.

For Atmos, I would suggest the largest in ceiling speaker you can accommodate with an aimable tweeter. The larger woofer will help with the lower frequencies (even when using a sub) and the aimable tweeter is helpful to make sure your seating position is in the dispersion area of the speaker. Otherwise, most of the widely sold ceiling speakers will be fine for Atmos.


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A relatively safe bet for Atmos would be something from KEF, as they will have the most uniform dispersion in all directions.....you will get very similar sound no matter where you sit. Also, KEF has a proven track record of building well designed, well engineered speakers with good on and off axis response.....a fundamental basis for speakers that sound good to most listeners......individual preference is not as drastically different as many believe. Of course, not many have done decades of rigorous scientific research into subjective preference of loudspeakers. However, those who just have opinions will defend their position that we all prefer different sound very voraciously. I lean towards trusting well established science that is widely accepted by many leading speaker companies and top industry experts.

Several KEF models have detailed objective measurements available on ASR, and KEF tends to be somewhat transparent with many of their products as well. I find this can be more beneficial than the "trust us, we have great speakers, our customers like them" tendency that some companies have.

Measured performance can be a very useful tool in determining sound quality....beware companies that refuse to share any as there are plenty out there that do. Just my two cents.
 
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