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All About Sound

How to Evaluate and Compare Speakers

Here are some tips to help you evaluate speakers. And remember, when evaluating speakers don’t let what you SEE influence what you HEAR. For example:

Speaker Size
Is bigger better than smaller, or smaller better than bigger?

Driver Size
Are bigger drive units better than smaller ones?

Design Type
Which design type is better — bass reflex (ported) or acoustic-suspension (sealed)? Dynamic drivers or panels?

Are exorbitantly priced speakers better than more affordable ones?

None of these factors is necessarily related to sound quality. When it comes to speakers, what counts most is how they sound.

Here are some tips to help you compare speakers:

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 to compare it to speaker “B.”

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

Turn the video off 
Eliminating visual distraction will help you focus on sound, especially in a home-theater demonstration.

Listen for clarity 
Are the speakers clear, natural-sounding and intelligible with instruments and voice?

Listen for a “seamless” soundstage 
The speakers should present a broad, cohesive image of the original sound.

Listen to the bass 
Is it deep, tight and well-defined?

Sit up straight, then slouch 
If you hear distinct changes in sound quality the speakers may have a deficiency in their
vertical dispersion.

Move around 
Good speakers disperse sound over a wide listening area. Move around the room to find out what others
in different listening positions will hear.

Following these tips will help you compare ‘apples to apples’. Take your time and trust your ears.