The truth about high end speakers MUST READ


We audiophiles are a fussy discerning bunch who demand very specific requirements when it comes to what we hear.
The problem is that these requirements are seldom met no matter how much you spend on speakers. 

Forums like this indicate that audiophiles are trapped in a cycle of neverending upgrades and dissatisfaction no matter how much is spent.

We have been deceived into believing that a "one size fits all" speaker that has been designed by an "expert" who knows better than we do about our requirements, will be ok. This is obviously not the case since every audiophile has a different hearing response curve and different preference. 

If you choose a speaker that has a rising response with frequency, and you prefer a darker sound then its not going to matter whether it uses diamond or berylium, or mdf or aluminium cabinets, or a 4th order or 1st order crossover.

Its not going to matter if the designer has a phd in physics or decades of experience in speaker design because its YOUR hearing that needs to be satisfied not THEIRS.

We are being duped folks. The best you can expect out of all these high end speakers is substandard satisfaction for a few years before you get fed up and decide to UPGRADE!

In conclusion, the notion of a high end speaker is in fact a myth. No such thing exists. Buying a high end speaker is a complete gamble and most audiophiles end up losing not winning. The only winners are the speaker manufactures because as long as they continue to sell, they continue to profit. 

Its also impossible to compare all the different speakers out there in the comfort of our homes so the dealers obviously dont make it any easier for us audiophiles. Its pointless going to a store demo since thats not where youre going to be listening once you buy the speaker. We are getting a raw deal. 

Thankyou for reading. 






kenjit
First of all, this is my first post, after comparing a variety of online evaluations of various amplifiers for the past several weeks. I've been particularly interested in Odyssey, Van Alstine and, lately, the Nuforce STA200. I've been working off a Parasound HCA1200ii for over twenty years.

I stumbled back into audio, after attempting to fire-up my Vandersteen 2Ci's and found the 8" woofer offering complementary "clapping" along with the tunes I selected. Now it's in the shop and they want about $400 for the right speaker, but that would call for revamping of drivers in the left speaker, if I want a coherent sound. I should also mention that I "scored" a couple of RP280F Klipsch speakers for under $500 and so now I'm chasing the idea of a 3-d soundstage, which these speakers might not even be able to achieve. So, this sort of brings me to the topic of this thread, which is adequately provocative and certainly resonates with those who like to ponder the subjectivity of one's evaluations as they interact with the alleged objectivity, and apparently equal subjectivity (in evaluation and promotion), of what others are selling. 

What I'm seeing in the world of audio, and having gone to numerous live music events, is that many live events sound inferior to carefully recorded music, played back on a decent system. I would guess that my pair of RP280's, fueled by the parasound 1200, would seem rather low-fidelity by the standards of audiogon co-operators. Nevertheless, it's obvious to me that they produce much higher sound quality than what I often encounter in live events. 

I have always enjoyed quality audio equipment. I was blown away by my father's klipschorns, when he set them up in 1976. I was blown away by Apogees and Martin Logan Quests when first I heard them. I also find that music itself is basically a miracle - not all of it, of course, but so many absolutely beautiful artistic, intellectual, emotional and even spiritual statements. No one needs to have anything close to an audiophile system to have a tremendously moving experience with a song. If a person is calibrated to critique ever nuance of a system, they will, in some/many cases, not be able to enjoy the expressed musical ideas, the wonderful music itself. None of this modern sound reproductive ability even existed one-hundred years ago. In fact, many people were much more satisfied, and I mean MUCH LESS NEEDY, than we are today. Let's not get into discussions about children working seven day work weeks, which was and is inexcusable. 

To be honest, much of what we do here comes down to externalizing our restlessness, which is always changing forms and will always offer its own restless response to any apparent answer that surfaces, even if that means we change to another hobby, another point of restless interest. It's worth taking a moment to review all of the things we have "conquered" over the years, all the objects of desire we have hunted, trapped, and moved on from. Some question whether this undermines more soulful living.

So, again, we can call it a hobby, or anything else, but in essence we are finding a way to output a lot of energy in our searches and experiments. There is hope for and experience of some levels of pay-off, but the inner drive to keep searching is rarely given much consideration. It is rarely understood as anything more than the driver of experience... There's nothing particularly wrong about any of it, but it does, in my view, blot out the bigger picture... Lately, I find myself just listening to the sound of the environment - how life itself magnifies sounds, as a way to track what I might be doing in looking for a 3-D capable setup. The living sound environment, say on my back porch, is always unique, always depends on my focus, always depends on my tensions at the time, and even depends on how I'm identifying with time, whether I'm truly giving myself over to the listening experience. I think this whole notion of beautiful music is really a very deep thing, very essential.

Ultimately, in my view, the setup is less important than one's willingness to sit receptively, with a state of mind that can truly receive and enjoy the full impact of music, mostly making system limitations far less important than the personal engagement with the sound. 

It is the same a buying a great car, you sample the cars you want to buy to find one that matches what appeals to you.

And how are you supposed to sample all the speakers in the comfort of your own home without being pressured into making a purchase by dealers? Dealers dont make it easy. No dealer will bring all their gear round to your home and let you borrow it. Its very rare for that to happen. It should be a right not a privelege to be able to sample all the options to help make your decision.
What happens if after sampling all the available options, nothing suitable is found, why should the customer be penalized? is it their fault that nothing could be found? its a complete gamble to expect an audiophile to sample dozens of speakers in an unfamilar in store demo room, over months or years then expect them to miraculously end up with one that suits their requirements.

If youre going to do this properly, you need to be fully blindfolded. Every possible variable should be constant except one. Then you vary that one variable, and note the preferences.

When you compare two speakers side by side youre actually comparing multiple variables at the same time which just leads to confusion. Speaker A has an mdf cabinet, a low end response down to 40hz, a diamond tweeter, a paper woofer and time cohesive crossover. Speaker B has a carbon fibre composite cabinet, a low end response down to 20hz, berylium tweeter, aluminium woofer, and a 4th order linkwitz riley.

Its impossible to know whats causing any differences you think you hear.

We are being duped into ignoring this.

Magazine reviewers arent blindfolded. They dont test one variable at a time. They dont even compare two speakers at the same time. It can be months or years in between each review. Yet audiophiles rely on these faulty rave reviews to help them decide what to buy.

Really a high end device is not a myth if you don’t think you can go far faster in a Porsche than a Preis you got another thing comming.

it depends what you mean by going faster. Youre just causing more confusion by bringing cars into this discussion.







A few comments on this article:

1.  Like wine, the best speakers are the ones that YOU are satisfied with - your tastes in audio, music, your environment, your budget

2.  "High-end" as a term generally refers to the expertise and materials used to produce speakers, whether they are handmade or coming off a mass production line, etc. So in these terms, there certainly are high-end speakers, albeit perhaps not for everyone's particular taste.   

3.  To really understand what you may like, plan to attend a high-end audio show in your city.  They are usually held in a hotel or similar venue, where a hotel room will be dedicated to all types of audio equipment, including high-end speakers.  You can bring a favorite CD (easier) or LP to listen on their equipment.  Look at what equipment they are using with their speakers, and look at the size of the space, and furniture layout, carpets, curtains, etc.  The speaker size and price are also important considerations.  This way you can narrow your selection options.  

4.  Some better audio shops will allow you to test their speakers in your home - if so, take them up on their offer.

5.  Speaker selection (without going into matching amps and preamps, etc.) is a totally subjective exercise, and people's tastes change over time. Enjoy and then gradually upgrade as your budget and time listening will justify.  Audio is a journey - not a destination!  With discerning judgment, you will "get what you paid for." 

On final vignette:  One of my dearest, old, audiophile friends had just acquired a pair of Wilson Watt Puppies, but no matter what he did he hated the sound of these speakers, although he had spent an inordinate amount for these "top-end" speakers.  He went in for his annual physical, and the doctors revealed that his hearing was deteriorating and that he needed hearing aids in both ears.  Now with his new hearing devices, he once again a "Happy Camper".  

Mainly get the audio selections out-of-the-way, and then enjoy your Music!




 
He went in for his annual physical, and the doctors revealed that his hearing was deteriorating and that he needed hearing aids in both ears. Now with his new hearing devices, he once again a "Happy Camper".
Thats exactly the point Ive been trying to make. You dont have to have severe hearing loss before it affects your ability to hear. 

Everybody has a different hearing response. This can be proven by having a hearing test. Your hearing test results will be different to the speaker designers test results. So even if you were sitting in his chair, youd still be hearing differently.  Now factor in your room, your preference, your music, your chosen speaker positioning and its obvious that what you hear is not going to be anywhere near what the speaker designer hears. 
 One has to wonder how the OP can see to type with his cranium firmly inserted in his fundamental orifice.