Speaker Demo Tips

So Uncle Sam gave you a refund, and now you are thinking of treating yourself to a really smokin’ set of speakers for that stereo or home theater. (btw – the Connoisseur thinks this a great use of your funds!)

Rule #1 – Don’t go trundling off to Fred’s We Carry Everything Bargain Basement Chain Store to listen to speakers.

Why, you ask?

They normally don’t carry a wide variety of high quality manufacturers, the sales staff often times is barely old enough to drive a car let alone tell you anything of substance regarding their products, and the listening environment is generally akin to standing in the middle of a giant warehouse (not a good thing). Look on the net or in your phonebook and find some smaller, dedicated audio/video retailers and visit a few of them – they will generally carry a variety of brands and you want to expose your ears and brain to several options.

Rule #2 – Take it with you! Something to listen to, that is…

Go through your CD or vinyl collection and select 3 to 5 songs that you are familiar with – you want to know what you are listening to. Also be sure to have some variety, and cover all the genres of music that you listen to as well as varying instruments.

Rule #3 – Take your time. If you run out and listen to 10 different speakers at three different stores in a single day, your ears will become overwhelmed. Demo a few speakers today, maybe a few tomorrow, and narrow down your favorites. Then listen to them again another day and see if your thoughts remain the same.

Rule #4 – Take it with you again!

Once you are down to the finalists, ask for a home demo - if you can take them home to listen in your own environment and with your own equipment. Your listening room affects the sound quality to a huge degree and many of these specialty stores will be fine if you run a card and bring them back the next day.

During one of my speaker listening endeavors, I was down to two competing speakers from two different retailers, one of which was a clear favorite to both me and my wife. I managed to bring the competitors home over the same evening and lo and behold, in my room and with my equipment, the underdog speakers won the duel.

Good luck and happy listening!


Re: Rule #2... if you have to go through your VINYL collection, you're probably fine at one of those warehouse stores. Or rather an antique store. ;)

Actually, a large percentage of the audiophile crowd prefers vinyl to CD - take a look at this site and you will get an idea of what is out there...