Pbb: If a circuit will not "lock" properly due to improper wave-shaping and / or losses within the circuit, don't you think that the results would be audible ? Obviously, one can force themselves to believe that once the circuit "locks" that any sonic differences would be undetectable, but that would strictly be a matter of personal belief based on pre-concieved ideas.
Audible differences of 200 - 300 millibels in amplitude or frequency response have been easily detected under controlled and repeatable conditions. For those that aren't electronically inclined, that is .2 - .3 dB's. This does not mean that everyone can hear or detect such differences but that it "could be" audible to those with good ears that know how to listen. Bare in mind that i'm not only talking about differences in amplitude but those of linearity ( frequency response or "frequency abberations" ) also.
As such, there is more to being a good listener than just "hearing". As an example, a layperson HEARING an engine run might think "it runs good" while a skilled mechanic could be LISTENING to that same engine. Due to the differences in background and skill, the mechanic might be able to discern that the timing is slightly off, resulting in less than optimum performance. This is much the same reasoning that most audiophiles discount the validity of blind listening tests performed on unskilled listeners. Should anyone expect the same level of quality / performance when asking a novice to do the same job as a pro ? I think not.
For the sake of clarity, i don't think that being an audiophile automatically qualifies one as a "skilled listener". Because one chooses to / can afford to dine in expensive restaurants does not make them any more a "connoisseur" than one that chooses to / can only afford to eat fast food makes one a "common-sewer". Sometimes, such matters are nothing more than a difference in personal tastes, convenience or priority.
Eldragon: I don't doubt the info that you posted in the least. It was experience after experience like those that you mention that drove me to learn about speaker design and experiment with parts quality. When one finds out that you can buy a better driver with a retail cost of $15 than what a well respected manufacturer is using in what was their top of the line speaker, it makes you sick. This is not to mention the use of wire that wouldn't be suitable for use in hooking up a door bell !!! All of this tells you that one can do much better on their own for less money if they are willing to take the time and have the equipment to do so.
My personal findings are that the majority of companies that manufacture and market raw drivers for public consumption do better at driver design than they do at building a finished product. As such, i would not personally buy a speaker system from Dynaudio, Focal, Morel, etc... even though one would think that, since they build the drivers, they would know how to get the best out of them. My experience differs with that point of view, especially given the costs involved with most of their models.
To be fair, i might feel the same way about other companies that manufacture their own drivers but do not market them ( B&W, Thiel, Bose, etc*...) but have a harder time finding that out. The difference is that i can only go by what my ears tell me with these since i can't review the quality and electrical specs of the raw drivers themselves. While i would always prefer to use both my ears and specs ( if available to me ), the previously mentioned companies ( Dynaudio, JM Labs, Morel, etc... ) allow me to do the math and compare alignments / crossover points and slopes, etc.. right off the bat.
By doing the math, i've found that quite a few of these companies use box sizes that are less than optimal, poor selection of vent size, less than optimal crossover points, etc... In some cases, i've seen drivers used in a vented box that would work best in a sealex box, etc... On top of this, they sometimes take premium drivers and couple them with less than optimum support components ( box construction, damping material, cabling, capacitors, resistors, types of connections, etc... )This is the kind of stuff that makes one scratch their heads and wonder why they bothered with using better quality drivers to begin with...
Marakanetz: If we could apply all of the knowledge that we have in our heads learned from others' experiences, we would all have the finest quality systems in the world. Unfortunately, accumulating knowledge and transferring that from our heads to our hands can sometime be quite time consuming. Making the time to do so is typically quite worthwhile, but due to scheduling conflicts and / or lack of organization, it becomes hard to do. I'm sure that you can relate : ) Sean
* Mentioning Bose in the same sentence as B&W or Thiel does not mean that i consider them to be of the same quality. What it does mean is that these manufacturers build their own drivers yet do not publish specs on individual drivers on their own. As such, one is left to discern how well they work as on the whole when fully assembled in a system. It is possible that some of the drivers made by any of these companies could be superior to those made by their competitors BUT the implimentation of the product is not up to snuff. This would result in one drawing an incorrect conclusion about the driver itself when the problems noticed were due to poor design / engineering of the support components.