Loudspeakers Buying Guide - page 2
Top Ten Things to Avoid in Home Audio Loudspeakers (most cases):
- Multiple passive radiator implementations.
- Passive radiators and ported implementations in the same design.
- White Van Speakers ( http://www.scamshield.com ) or speakers with the words "Digital" in them..
- Cubed speakers with passive "so called" subwoofers.
- Speakers with paper tweeters.
- Speakers that do not give any specs for nominal operation. (IE. frequency response, power handling, etc)
- Two way speaker systems with woofers larger than about 8 inches.
- Low priced tower speaker systems from mass market companies with internal powered subwoofers.
- Speaker systems with warranty periods less than 5 years.
- Speaker systems without binding posts to accommodate 12 gauge wire.
These are general things to avoid in loudspeakers and may not always apply for all circumstances. They are intended as a guideline and not as divine law.
Above everything else, sound quality is the most important consideration in a loud speaker system. You the consumer must be satisfied with the sound of the speakers in order to maximize your enjoyment of the listening experience. I recommend to bring some music CD's or DVD movies you are very familiar with to your local hifi shop and listen to speakers on electronics similar to what's in your home. Avoid speaker switch boxes as they only degrade sound quality by adding unwanted inductance or DCR to the system, degrading the sonic performance and your true judgement of the loudspeaker system you are evaluating. Spend considerable time on each loudspeaker system to listen for the common problems I have tabulated below:
Top Ten Things to Listen for When Evaluating Loudspeakers:
- Boomy bass.
- Mid bass bloat (especially in female vocals).
- Harsh or overly bright highs.
- Collapsed soundstage when playing music at loud volumes ( above 90dB).
- Weak, loose or sloppy bass response.
- Narrow soundstage with a 2-D impression.
- Overemphasized or too forward sounding midrange.
- Cupped or nasal sounding midrange.
- Gaps or obvious dips over the audible frequency range (20Hz - 20KHz)
- Unlively or limited sound dynamics.
Obviously small speakers will not have the bass response of larger models and may suffer from some of the above mentioned criteria. It is however more important for a loudspeaker system to produce excellent sound from midbass to high frequencies as a powered subwoofer can always be added in the future to reinforce low end bass response.
Choosing a loudspeaker system in a very subjective matter. There are so many attributes in determining how well a loudspeaker system will sound and each person hears and perceives sound differently. It is recommended to listen to as many speaker systems as you can for long periods of time to determine what is right for you. You must also consider what speaker system will properly integrate with the electronics you plan on using them with. Room acoustics play a vital role in determining how well a system will sound in its given environment. A speaker system that may sound great in the dealer showroom may sound horrifying in your home environment. Take the time to audition the speakers you plan on buying in your home to determine if they are right for you. In the end it is what makes you happy and you have to be the one who can live comfortably with them happily ever after, at least until you decide it is time to upgrade again ;)
Updated 10/20/02 Added links and clarification of loudspeaker types