All About Sound: How to Evaluate and Compare Speakers

Here are some tips to help you evaluate and compare loudspeakers when you're shopping for speakers.

Of course, for us there's only one real option, and that's Paradigm. But in the spirit of self-effacing generosity, we offer these pointers to help you come around to our point of view on your own.

First, you need to ask yourself about application. Invisible in-wall speakers throughout your house? Compact home theater system in the den? Stereo pair in the living room, or small speaker system in the bedroom?

Once you have decided why you want loudspeakers and where you will use them, you can make decisions about size and solution.

Price enters into the equation, of course. You'll have a budget. We're pretty sure you will be able to find the Paradigm loudspeakers that will fit your needs in any budget.

But none of these preliminary factors is related to sound quality. And when it comes to speakers, what counts most is how they sound.

So here are some more quick tips you can keep in mind when you're comparing loudspeakers to fit your application and budget.

Make side-by-side comparisons: Our acoustic memory is short. It’s hard to remember the sound of speaker “A” if you have to go to a different room or a different store to compare it to speaker “B.”

Listen at equal volumes: Even small variations in loudness can easily be mistaken for differences in sound quality.

Bring your own material: Bring some music or movies that you are familiar with. You'll instantly hear differences when you're intimately familiar with the material.

Turn the video off: Eliminating visual distraction will help you focus on sound, especially in a home-theater setting, where you will listen for spacial effects and imaging details.

Listen for clarity: Do the loudspeakers reproduce the difficult dynamics of acoustic instruments and vocals with a clear, natural-sounding ambiance?

Listen for a “seamless” soundstage: Professionally timbre-matched loudspeakers present a broad, well-blended, seamless image of the original sound.

Listen to the bass: Deep bass is organic, tight, accurate, well defined. You should feel it as much as you hear it.

Sit up straight, then slouch: If you hear distinct changes in sound quality when you change your listening position even slightly, then the speakers may have a deficiency in their vertical dispersion.

Move around: Successfully engineered traditional loudspeakers should clearly disperse sound over a wide listening area. Move around the listening room to experience what people in different listening positions might hear. Listen for "holes" in the soundstage.

Your local Paradigm loudspeaker dealer can help guide you through the decision-making process and help you find the loudspeakers that suit your application and budget needs.

Take your time. Trust your ears. Have fun.