Best way to A/B speakers......

Most of you probably have the same problem - you have two sets of speakers and want to compare them but by the time you disconnect/connect you forget what the first pair sounded like.
Is there a device out there that can facilitate this, like when you go into a car audio store and you simply push a button for an immediate comparison?
I suppose you could merely go by test CDs.

I prefer listening in my own system with familiar recordings and taking notes. Honest & objective ones, if possible. I say it that way as sometimes I've been prone to believe for no really good reason that a particular pair of speakers should or do, sound better than another on a few points... esthetics, price, size, brand, driver types, x-overss, etc.

So I'll just make and use my own notes on each pair... when that becomes a possibility. Usually, it's not that way. Apart from two way monitors, getting a pair of large pricey near full range squeakers in house for a demo hasn't happend yet and likely won't.

Primarily because I usually have to sell my reference squeakers so I can buy the next step up units my last two main loudspeakers were purchased, one on a dealer demo, the other completely in the dark. the one I actually heard? I sold. The latest ones, Sonata IIIs, I've been pleased with and kept. They've also been a learning experience, yet a rewarding one. The only regret there was the color choice, 'following' a complete remodeling and painting of the room for HT uses.
blindjim method is seconded. A lot of work but absent a double blind process it is the best you can do at home.
With all due respect, you have just come upon the leading edge of a very steep learning curve. The reason you can't tell the differences is because you have not established a frame of reference.

To use the automobile analogy, On Monday you drive a Porche, on Tuesday you drive a Mercedes, on Wednesday you drive a Cadillac, on Thursday you drive a Mazda. You (probably) can easily retain knowledge of these experiences even though the cars are different in most all respects and demos are days apart. You not only retain the experience of the individual performances and the differences between them but you assign a value to them.

Probably not so with audio. You probably have never heard what a good system sounds like in an audiophile's home and/or you have never visited a dealer show room where time an effort has been expended to proper set up a system. Most dealers who are trying to sell good speakers will not use an A/B switcher because each speaker has seperate needs to sound good, including selection of the amplifier, as well as room set up. So, in that respect you have no goal. With out such a frame of reference, you could go into a store which utilizes a speaker switcher like your car audio store, hear two terrible speakers, and buy the best and assume you had good speakers. You could hear a very good speaker not properly set up and driven and it could sound like crap.

There is no quick fix for this problem. What I would do is get the assistance of some audiophiles in selecting a system which will sound the way you think you want it to sound (by telling them what aspects of sound are important to you in response to thier questions) and setting a budget to work in. DON'T just go into a store an buy the best speakers (according to your ears) that you can afford and take them home and expect them to sound great. It ain't going to happen unless you have a habbit of winning lotteries.

Thanks for the responses guys. I could never buy a pair of speakers based on store listening as I need to be in the comfort of my own home without pressure or time constraints, even then it doesn't take hours - it takes me days to fall into a good listening groove.
I bought the Dali Ikon 7s along with the Nait Naim 5i and Cambridge 840c (CD player) using Kimber 8tc and Hero ICs) based on some top reviewer's ideal system under $5000 in TAS. The system was great - my first step into higher end audio. I then bought the Magnepan 1.6, hooked them into this system and thought "what is the big deal." I still preferred the Dalis but after about 10 hours of listening to the Maggies I got it and I can't listen t the Dalis any more. This has me wanting to switch the speakers about quickly to really put a finger on what I like/don't like.
Now I have an expensive system hooked up to the Dalis - a Pass Labs X250.5 with a Parasound JC2 and good cables......I think the $1.500 Naim sounds better!!! I know when I hook up the Maggies that this gear it will be very nice sounding as the Maggies do need a lot of power but it would be nice to switch back and forth immediately.
I think my strategy for buying speakers in the future, since being objective in a given timeframe can be difficult, is to read up as much as I can on reviews, narrow this all down to probably a few classics and understand their sound from many peoples perspectives and accept that hundreds of thousands of people can't be wrong in the case of certain speakers (Maggies, Vandersteens etc).
Thomas, What ever you do don't underestimate the impact of properly setting up speakers in your room. A long and often tedious task. You mention Dali's and Maggies. I can't imagine two speaker types with more obvious differences in set up and amplyfing requiremnets. Proper attention to set up an room acoustics can get some excellent sound from speakers that some might consider uninteresting. FWIW.
An alternate method would be to set up identical systems in two different identical rooms, the only difference being the speakers.

Once set up and playing, you just run back and forth between the two rooms listening in each room for around 30 seconds at a time.

This way you're sure to be comparing crab apples to crab apples. And it's also a great way to get into shape!
Thanks guys, yes, I understand that the room is a very major part of the puzzle, which brings up another question - at present I have the recommended "V" thing going on in my 24' x 17" room. However, the speakers are set up so that the back of them are aiming directly through into the large kitchen (this room is open aspect into the kitchen). Am I losing anything by not having any sound deflected back into the listening room?

The house is laid out that I don't have many options without disrupting the present living situation. I have an attic style room upstairs with the same measurements and it would make a great cozy listening room and is out of the way....but the ceilings are very low, that is, the walls are about 5' tall at the outside and come up to a peak in the middle at about 8 or 9 feet. It is difficult to say if this will be too small in terms of cubic feet but the Maggies when placed about three feet in from the walls are almost touching the slanted ceilings. It would be a great place for listening and I guess I will have to drag all the gear up there to find out. I have been promising myself some trips to the gym lately so this might just be a substitute.

When you find such a setup, do let me know. Maybe they'll also want to share with me the right six numbers for that weekends lottery drawing.

... but it is a nice thought... just too impracticle... and costly.

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I'm pretty unlucky at times. When I make rash or quick decisions, or when I'm anxious. It depends. Various times... various things.

As newbie said... and real estate agents echo daily, with squeakers, it's 'Location, location, location'... mening not so much if they're int the attic or living room.... just where are they in any room.

We have what we have by way of rooms. Scant few of these are conducive to the audio only element. So we gotta be practical. Adjust. Probably as imporrtantly if not more, we often must compromise, or more plainly put, 'settle'.

or.... we spend scads of time energy, and you know what else, to reconfigure or generate a dedicated listening room or theater in our home. Fine if you have a home, not if it's an apt, rental, or lease.

I think 'audioland' is like any other amusement park. One can visit annually, monthly perhaps, or get a room inside the park. The ones with the season's pass are our beloved audio nuts. The ones living on the premises are either well vested economically, or severely lost.

IMO one simply has to make do with what's on hand and within ones abilities. I'd suggest maybe something like those folding dressing screens from past days, or making some hinged ones for yourself to better contain your space. Folded up and set aside when not in use unfolded when listening. Perhaps.

I think also I've foudn whatever I've heard in a dealership to sound better in my home almost as a rule, not the exception. this points to the setup again.

Being familiar with the music you drag along is of top notch importance. Knowing it will serve you well indeed.

The car analogy above is pretty good, and still better if each car is driven over the same roads or route. One has to attain a 'feel' for a thing. Finding great squeakers isn't tremendously difficult, it is just quite tedious. it's like properly shoeing Cinderella without the Fairey Godmother.

Once you find some that you both like and can afford, some which sound great to you even at a dealers suspect setup, know that you will most likely be able to improve upon them in your own home.

The only caveat that sprang out at me when you commented on those squeaker lines which seem most popular as being some to look into... I'd say do go slow there. Numbers of ownership point to great production, marketing and availability... and perhaps not to the best in their respective levels. And then too, you will be listening with someone else's ears, eg. reviewers. if you do acquire from another audio nuts perspective, pick out one or two to fill out the planned system, not 10 or 20. Indeed you might just acquire their philosophies instead. it reduces the frustration and confusion.

It's easier to find Martin Logans, Paradigms, BW, Theil, Maggies, etc than it is to find some other outstanding loudspeakers which may well meet or beat out the aforementioned, and be more of a value in the bargain..

Think about your preffs for sound. Think about the room they'll be in. give it your best shot... and enjoy the listening more than the getting. Things will work out just fine.

The thing about much in the high end audio market is this, there is a whole bunch of very good stuff out there. the setup usually determeins just how good or great it can be. With speakers, the room and amp is most important if the outcome is to be exceptional.

Good luck.
Thomas, Re your question about set up - If you are talking about setting up the Maggies you would want to set them up so the back wave would hit a wall behind it, something you could control the acoustic nature of, and you would want them, ideally to be 5' from the wall. The wall's surface would be ideally broken up with diffusing materiels, There are all kinds of tricks with panels that will work - one thing I have done is to set the speakers up close enuf to a side wall that so with a bit of toe in the back wave hit the side wall and then hit the wall behind the speaker. Just something to remember and try if you.

Setting up front firing box speakers in front of the open space could work, but I still like them in front of a wall with the open space behind me for a couple of reasons. One is that the open space breaks up the reflection from the side walls (which would hit a solid wall otherwise and give you reflections from an additional surface) and could result in a cleaner sound.

Re the room with the side walls and pitched ceiling. If you set that room up, and you could, I would have to set the room up so that the speakers fired down the lenght of the pitched ceiling - you do not want to fire into the sloping sides. Also, if you want to maximize imaging potential, you would want to be sure that the speakers were set up so that the middle was directly under the center of the pitched ceiling and your chair also. That way reflections off the cieling would be identical and not screw up the sound stage. BTW, I suspect I would not really enjoy panels in that room, but you can try if you've got'em and see what happens.