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The proper way to subjectively evaluate loudspeakers

BenB

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#1
1) Use "selective hearing" to focus on the direct sound of the speakers to the greatest extent possible. Ignore the impact of the room. Evaluate speakers only on your perception of the sounds they actually make.

2) Evaluate the speakers on the sum total of sounds that you perceive: direct, and indirect (reflected). Don't try to filter out "noise" stimulus from the room.

Personally, I think I've always used selective hearing to concentrate on the direct sound from speakers whether evaluating them, or just listening to them. Recently I started pretending I was actually listening to weightless headphones instead of speakers. It's a different perspective for me. I attribute every perceptible sound to them: no spatial filtering.

So how do you listen, and how do you evaluate, and do you think it makes any real difference?
 

stevenswall

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#2
I don't think you can simply turn off the effect of the room mentally. You could get close to the speaker though and that would provide you more with direct sound. Or ignore the bass issues since those change a ton in different rooms, and play stuff and see if there are audible and annoying treble peaks. EX: I think the HiVi DIY 3.1 has an annoying treble peak that trumpets and triangles hit on some John Williams music, and the UE TripleFi10 has an annoying tinkling peak that "Circle of Life from the Lion King hits.
 
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#3
Speakers sound so different when I play them at home with my specific room acoustics I have just about given up on trying to listen to speakers in a showroom. At times it is just downright deceptive, something sounding fantastic at the shop then sounds really poor in my room. I don't have the ability to move my gear around at all, it literally has to go where it goes (although I do have some wiggle room for the sub). I rely on reviews and 30 day return policies more often these days.
 
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#4
"1) Use "selective hearing" to focus on the direct sound of the speakers to the greatest extent possible. Ignore the impact of the room. Evaluate speakers only on your perception of the sounds they actually make."

So is that what you do when listening to music on said speakers? Or do you listen in a room? If the latter, what is the point of your evaluation method?
 

MattHooper

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#5
I can't carry around a Klippel analyzer with me for auditioning speakers at stores or wherever. But a routine that I've used for years seems to generally work out pretty well.

When I audition speakers I do so from a variety of positions. Pulled out from the back wall, or closer, if that's what I can play with. I play with speaker positioning, distance apart, toe in toe out. Seating distances I vary from midway equilateral triangle, to closer to nearfield where I'm getting more of the direct sound of the speaker less of the room, and then further away to see how they are interacting with the room, I vary my height vertically (e.g. squatting to listen), standing, listen off axis, listen walking around the room, distant etc. A sort of "make-do-human-subjective" analysis. (And, yes, I do tend to have pretty long speaker auditions).

This actually seems to end up giving me quite a good take on the character of a speaker, it's deficits, how it interacts with a room, with the seating arrangements I may use. I have never been surprised by the sound of a speaker that has ended up in my home, after auditioning them in this manner. So it seems a decent method for getting a take on the inherent character of a speaker.
 
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#6
That sounds (no pun intended) like my approach, or used to be. Even still room acoustics and variance in downstream bits and pieces are way to variable in my opinion. For a hobby/obsession which tries to squeeze every last % of fidelity out of everything the listening test at shops is just way to imprecise. So I guess my answer to the OPs question, if you are to call it a test as opposed to a bit of fun:

As objectively as possible - In my room, using my ears, gear and content......
 

Doodski

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#7
When I audition speakers I do so from a variety of positions. Pulled out from the back wall, or closer, if that's what I can play with. I play with speaker positioning, distance apart, toe in toe out. Seating distances I vary from midway equilateral triangle, to closer to nearfield where I'm getting more of the direct sound of the speaker less of the room, and then further away to see how they are interacting with the room, I vary my height vertically (e.g. squatting to listen), standing, listen off axis, listen walking around the room, distant etc. A sort of "make-do-human-subjective" analysis. (And, yes, I do tend to have pretty long speaker auditions).
A good salesperson will see you are very serious and engage you. I liked technical serious buyers when I sold audio gear many moons ago. :D
 
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#8
A good salesperson will see you are very serious and engage you. I liked technical serious buyers when I sold audio gear many moons ago. :D
I used to insist they didn't speak to me. I am susceptible to suggestive perception (as are most of us), it a real thing although I have no idea how you might measure it's impact on audio quality.
 

Doodski

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#9
I used to insist they didn't speak to me. I am susceptible to suggestive perception (as are most of us), it a real thing although I have no idea how you might measure it's impact on audio quality.
I've experienced the type that wants to do it that way. My method was to ask if they would like to use the sound room by themselves. It usually elicited surprise and a yes that would be good response. Most customers can be trusted and if they are going to steal something well that was a common occurrence but carrying out a pair of speakers or a 17"-21" wide piece of gear is near impossible. I've never had a customer blow a piece of gear. They all where pretty good that way. I liked the tough customers and the ones with a bazillion questions too. They are all buyers.
 
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#10
I've experienced the type that wants to do it that way. My method was to ask if they would like to use the sound room by themselves. It usually elicited surprise and a yes that would be good response. Most customers can be trusted and if they are going to steal something well that was a common occurrence but carrying out a pair of speakers or a 17"-21" wide piece of gear is near impossible. I've never had a customer blow a piece of gear. They all where pretty good that way. I liked the tough customers and the ones with a bazillion questions too. They are all buyers.
Lol. My favourites were the "you probably can't afford these" salesmen..... Must have been my T shirt.
 

digitalfrost

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#11
Take an SPL meter with you, and use some source that allows you to calibrate the speakers to the same volume. Choose songs you like and now well of as different genres as possible.
 

Doodski

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#12
Lol. My favourites were the "you probably can't afford these" salesmen..... Must have been my T shirt.
haha .. I would never say that to anybody...lol. That's antagonistic for sure. I made it a point to make things as easy as possible for my customers and if that meant they didn't buy that day and came back another for something better then so be it. My methods worked. I held the all time highest average gross profit margins for home audio in a company of 750+ salespeople and I was often in the top 15% of gross sales. That comes from treating the customers well, selling the better gear that usually also has higher margins and spending more time with the customers than most salespeople would. My workmates at that place called me, "The entertainer." Because they said it was like going over to my house with me entertaining guests. I took on the weirdOs, the poor, the rich, the brash, the arrogant, the meek, the technical peeps and the families with the uncles, sons and daughters and children all in the store to pick out a stereo. Looking back it was kinda fun and most days I left floating on air from all the socializing at work.
 

MattHooper

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#13
A good salesperson will see you are very serious and engage you. I liked technical serious buyers when I sold audio gear many moons ago. :D
Yes to me the good salesmen were the ones who could easily recognize the type of customer he was dealing with and adapt their interaction accordingly. If it's a customer who is really looking for direction from the salesman and needs handholding, the salesman obliges. But the salesman should quickly recognize a customer who has come in knowing what he wants, and who has some experience. These ones understood that all they needed to do is set up the items I was interested in, hand me the remote, and leave me alone. Those were the ones who ended up with my business.

Some would just not stop yapping, or telling me everything I already know, despite my giving every indication it was unnecessary.

Among the worst experiences I've had (and I've had plenty), was a while back I went to an audio store that sold a speaker I was interested in.
The set up was in one of their fairly small listening rooms. This place was fairly well known to have high end pretenses, but also a level of high pressure (*whips out the calculator, "usual price was X, but today on sale for Y!"). Anyway, one of the junior salesman accompanied me in to the room, I sat in the listening chair, and he pulled up a chair right near me and proceeded to constantly blab about the characteristics of the speaker.
I literally could not concentrate on the sound. Eventually I'd had enough and asked him politely as possible if I could listen in the room alone, to concentrate. He gave me a slightly offended look, left the room, and clearly went and told the owner of the store. Moments later the owner entered the room as I was listening, and pulled up a chair right behind me with his arms folded, murmuring things now and again, in a clear sign "sorry buddy, you wanna listen alone? Well this is MY store, and I'm not going to be pushed around!"

They did not get my business.
 

Doodski

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#14
Yes to me the good salesmen were the ones who could easily recognize the type of customer he was dealing with and adapt their interaction accordingly. If it's a customer who is really looking for direction from the salesman and needs handholding, the salesman obliges. But the salesman should quickly recognize a customer who has come in knowing what he wants, and who has some experience. These ones understood that all they needed to do is set up the items I was interested in, hand me the remote, and leave me alone. Those were the ones who ended up with my business.

Some would just not stop yapping, or telling me everything I already know, despite my giving every indication it was unnecessary.

Among the worst experiences I've had (and I've had plenty), was a while back I went to an audio store that sold a speaker I was interested in.
The set up was in one of their fairly small listening rooms. This place was fairly well known to have high end pretenses, but also a level of high pressure (*whips out the calculator, "usual price was X, but today on sale for Y!"). Anyway, one of the junior salesman accompanied me in to the room, I sat in the listening chair, and he pulled up a chair right near me and proceeded to constantly blab about the characteristics of the speaker.
I literally could not concentrate on the sound. Eventually I'd had enough and asked him politely as possible if I could listen in the room alone, to concentrate. He gave me a slightly offended look, left the room, and clearly went and told the owner of the store. Moments later the owner entered the room as I was listening, and pulled up a chair right behind me with his arms folded, murmuring things now and again, in a clear sign "sorry buddy, you wanna listen alone? Well this is MY store, and I'm not going to be pushed around!"

They did not get my business.
That's a horrible experience. In my experience that would result in a reprimand at best and a dismissal at worst. The really fast closers "slam" the customers. Then there are "sharks" and "skaters." All of them are a pain in the butt to work with and cause issue after issue in the workplace.
 

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