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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 10:22 am 
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Location: Oakville, ON, CA
Hmmmmm.... here is today's dealer-posted link floating its way into our emails:

How to Audition Gear

https://www.planetofsoundonline.com/pag ... 83a7522c58


"... A lot is written about gear -- what's good, what's bad -- by reviewers, manufacturers and an increasing number of amateur reviewers on the internet. In fact, there are more opinions at our disposal now than ever before. The trick is, how much of this is unbiased? Of the portion that is unbiased, how much of it is accurate or even informed? And of the unbiased and accurate information, how much is actually applicable to YOUR situation?

With so many contradictory or biased opinions being thrown at us, it is probably more important than ever to go and audition prospective purchases yourself. Sure, we all like to read and research what we're buying, but so many people have jumped head first into the shallow end of purchases that people have started buying entire systems based on other people's opinions. Would you trust someone else to choose your favourite food or colour for you before experiencing it yourself? Most people think twice about spending $200 on a pair of shoes online, yet they will pay $2000 for a pair of speakers based solely on reviews.

Auditioning gear yourself is a sure-fire way to getting what YOU want and to learning about things first hand so that when you do buy it you are confident and proud to have bought the best product.

To start you off on the right foot and give you some tools to make an educated decision in an audition, here are 10 essential points to consider when auditioning:

1. Always bring your own music. Choose 3 of your favourite discs. It doesn't really matter what they are, but they will serve as a reference for you when you listen to different systems at different stores and compare at home. If you have an iPod, use that. The reason you should use your own music as part of the evaluation process is because A) it is consistent between stores and B) you're buying a stereo that hopefully increases your enjoyment of that music! As silly as it sounds, less than 10% of people bring their own music to audition with.

2. Listen to one high quality pop-studio recording of the salesperson's recommendation, i.e. Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms. This is a universally known disc and for a studio recording has good dynamics, fairly natural instruments and a range of effects. Even if your discs are sub-par recordings you will get a decent idea of the absolute quality of the system and likely you can hear the same disc at various stores.

3. Listen to one completely unprocessed jazz, classical or vocal recording of the salesperson's recommendation, i.e. Wynton Marsalis - The Magic Hour. A recording such as this has little studio trickery, just a minimal set of microphones designed to capture the event as it was. While we firmly believe a stereo should be able to play pop music enjoyably, the ability to recreate live, natural recordings in a believable way really separates the merely good from the truly magical products. Pop recordings you'll remember are engineered to sound good on AM radios. All the subtle real-life cues in an unprocessed recording such as the ambiance of a recording space or where the performers are located are like what we hear every day in real life and when the stereo is missing them or playing them out of proportion most people can immediately sense something is wrong.

4. Listen to one recording of only voice, such as a radio broadcaster, or someone famous like Johnny Cash who has a distinctive and immediately recognizable voice. You'll know in an instant if something isn't up to par with the system.

5. Don't get fooled by an overly loud demonstration. Loudness is the #1 way to sell things because people cannot ignore something that is unnaturally loud. Even terrible systems can easily play loud. In fact, loudness usually eliminates your ability to accurately judge how natural the tones and textures of the actual instruments are. Start any demo with a low to moderate volume. If you listen at ear blasting levels right away you will lose all ability to judge thereafter.

6. By the same token, the vast majority of stereos (speakers especially) nowadays are voiced to be excessively bright. This means that there is too much high frequency information where things like cymbals or "S" sounds are. Like loudness, the human brain is easily overwhelmed with this information and the natural tendency is to think it is "exciting". However, living with this kind of unnatural sound in the long run is extremely irritating. Don't be fooled in a 10 minute demo. Listen for 30 minutes and then ask yourself how pleasant the sound is.

7. Ask to hear the best product in 3 different price points (yours, one lower and one higher) to get an idea of the range of performance on offer. You may be surprised that some very expensive things don't sound good at all and you may happily readjust your budget! Other times, you may be surprised at how much more enjoyment spending a little more can bring.

8. Ask questions when you think something is wrong. The way someone answers your question tells a lot about who you're dealing with and how knowledgeable they are. If the explanation is based on "it's a big seller, or it's a big name" and has little practical reason or any demonstration follow-up, then you might be wise to question the purchase of the product. For example consider these two types of answers to the question: "Is the bass a little boomy?"

Answer A) Positioning can play a big factor in the bass response of a speaker. Let me move them a few inches away from the wall so you can listen and hear how it makes a difference. In your room it will actually be preferable because...
Answer B) Brand X has always majored on big sound, it's one of their main selling points.

9. Don't get fooled by quick A vs. B comparisons. A/B demoing is a tried and true method of selling to the point where stores in the past would have a box that could switch between components instantly. For the advanced listener this is often required to notice fine technical differences between products, however for an inexperienced listener, or someone who is simply used to a particular character of sound, it is a detrimental way of auditioning. The reason is that the brain is exceptionally good at noticing relative differences, but not at noticing absolute differences. For example, 2 speakers may sound different, but it tells you very little about which is actually most correct unless you have a solid knowledge of a reference of correctness. In this situation, most buyers will fall for either the loudness or brightness tricks employed by manufacturers and salespeople, i.e. the louder or brighter speaker of the 2 will sell every time even though it is possibly the inferior one. We strongly encourage listening for longer periods and letting yourself subconsciously decide which is better. Listen to an entire song with each product for example.

10. Before you buy, go home and listen to the same recordings on your system. Try to remember the experience of one vs. the other. If the audition was informative, and the gear superior, you will likely not be able to discount the difference, even by memory. If it wasn't, you'll find yourself liking your current system better which is sure to save you a lot of money!

It is amazing how few people audition products before they buy them nowadays. On one hand this is understandable with the plethora of products available online. The herd-like consensus in web audio forums, bombardment with advertising from manufacturers, and the potential biasedness of magazine reviews has succeeded in replacing first-hand research. All this influence combined with the ease of online buying taps into everyone's primal tendency towards instant-gratification. Buy NOW! One-click to nirvana!

However, over time, if you looked at the success rate of these kind of purchases and the cumulative cost of selling gear that didn't live up to the hype, it's likely few people would come out on the winning side. Even amongst those people who are satisfied, do they really know what they're missing when they listened to only the piece of equipment they bought?

Audio equipment's sole purpose is to be listened to and there is a huge difference between equipment and between people's impression of it. Sure, read the reviews and do the research, but before you buy, hear it for yourself first!..."


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 11:31 am 
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Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 7:16 am
Posts: 538
Location: Hamilton, ON, CA
Gunner wrote:
Hmmmmm.... here is today's dealer-posted link floating its way into our emails:

How to Audition Gear

https://www.planetofsoundonline.com/pag ... 83a7522c58


"... A lot is written about gear

... before you buy, hear it for yourself first!..."



1) Plug in (to AC Power)
2) Turn audio components "ON".
3) Select Source/Music
4) Ensure correct Source/Input button is selected-engaged.
5) Turn up Volume
6) Listen.
7) And, if your thing; fire-up a Trudeau Tribute "cigar" (or plain ol'-fashioned Scotch-on-the-rocks, or equivalent)
8) Re-listen

pj


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 11:59 am 
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Location: Kingston, ON, CA
Are you now...or have you ever been? Move Slowly...... Do you need something stronger?

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:10 pm 
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Location: Kaleden, BC, CA
If the purpose of the audition is to make an informed buying decision, then there is only really one thing that matters ...

The audition must take place in my room in conjunction with the rest of my system.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:48 pm 
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Wind Chaser wrote:
If the purpose of the audition is to make an informed buying decision, then there is only really one thing that matters ...

The audition must take place in my room in conjunction with the rest of my system.


I agree...I've always felt when I go into a show room or show and listen to a so-called great system (or any system for that matter)...that all I can really ascertain is how good the speakers are or are not...as driven by that system...

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 2:22 pm 
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Location: Brandon, MB, CA
Wind Chaser wrote:
If the purpose of the audition is to make an informed buying decision, then there is only really one thing that matters ...

The audition must take place in my room in conjunction with the rest of my system.


Yup, you could spend all day auditioning equipment at a store but it sll may sound drastically different in your own room.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 2:42 pm 
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Location: Winnipeg, MB, CA
Whenever I’ve auditioned speakers at the dealer, they’ve always played better at home. Then it takes months of listening to fully appreciate what they can or can’t do for me. :D


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 3:17 pm 
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Location: London, ON, CA
Wind Chaser wrote:
If the purpose of the audition is to make an informed buying decision, then there is only really one thing that matters ...
The audition must take place in my room in conjunction with the rest of my system.


TRUE. Besides the recording and the speakers this has the biggest effect on the sound. But for the sake of discussion let's say you have to audition speakers elsewhere. We have all done it and that is how most are bought.

While well-known and well made recordings are useful as you know what they sound like, one must also be aware they can introduce psychological effects. If one knows what something sounds like, we can believe what we are currently hearing sounds the same. And auditory memory is notoriously poor.

A/B comparisons are useless unless the volume levels are matched within 1db. The psychological effect is that the louder system is perceived as 'better'. If the levels are matched and the equipment is unsighted then the A/B compassion is useful. If the user can see the equipment then confirmation bias is likely to occur, the more expensive piece is statistically more likely to be perceived as better.

If you want to test the speaker's resolving ability then bring recordings and listen for specific characteristics such as the slight lisp in the singer's voice on 'Some Other Time' from Alan Parson's I Robot, or the crickets on Ride Across the River on Dire Straights Brothers in Arms, or Mick Jaggers characteristic phrasing of 'don'tcha' in the background vocals of Carly Simon's You're So Vain or the bongo drums on the Doors, Riders on the Storm. The benefit of listening for a known item at a specific point in a song gives you a reference. Speaker A = NO, Speaker B = NO, speaker C = Yes.

Note that you may still prefer the sound of a speaker with less resolution, the same way some people prefer Cerwin Vega's or other speakers with freq response variations of up to +-6db (although research has shown the majority of people prefer speakers with a flat frequency response +- 3db good, +-2db excellent, +- 1db incredible).

One of the best tests is simple music, a single acoustic instrument like piano, guitar or voice. We all know what those instruments sound like, if the speakers don't sound 'right' on these you will know it...

Finally, i like to research the designer and their design protocols or methods. What is their philosophy? Do they do extensive computer modelling and measurement and follow up with blind AB or ABX listening tests to confirm the specs? Or does the designer just tweak each part by listening to the sound...and then release a 'best in class' $$$$ speaker with no specs or measurements but glowing reviews by the high-end audiophile reviewers.

In the end tho' it is all personal taste, whatever you enjoy listening to with your money is all right


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 3:32 pm 
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Location: Winnipeg, MB, CA
gnickers wrote:
Wind Chaser wrote:
If the purpose of the audition is to make an informed buying decision, then there is only really one thing that matters ...
The audition must take place in my room in conjunction with the rest of my system.


TRUE. Besides the recording and the speakers this has the biggest effect on the sound. But for the sake of discussion let's say you have to audition speakers elsewhere. We have all done it and that is how most are bought.

While well-known and well made recordings are useful as you know what they sound like, one must also be aware they can introduce psychological effects. If one knows what something sounds like, we can believe what we are currently hearing sounds the same. And auditory memory is notoriously poor.

A/B comparisons are useless unless the volume levels are matched within 1db. The psychological effect is that the louder system is perceived as 'better'. If the levels are matched and the equipment is unsighted then the A/B compassion is useful. If the user can see the equipment then confirmation bias is likely to occur, the more expensive piece is statistically more likely to be perceived as better.

If you want to test the speaker's resolving ability then bring recordings and listen for specific characteristics such as the slight lisp in the singer's voice on 'Some Other Time' from Alan Parson's I Robot, or the crickets on Ride Across the River on Dire Straights Brothers in Arms, or Mick Jaggers characteristic phrasing of 'don'tcha' in the background vocals of Carly Simon's You're So Vain or the bongo drums on the Doors, Riders on the Storm. The benefit of listening for a known item at a specific point in a song gives you a reference. Speaker A = NO, Speaker B = NO, speaker C = Yes.

Note that you may still prefer the sound of a speaker with less resolution, the same way some people prefer Cerwin Vega's or other speakers with freq response variations of up to +-6db (although research has shown the majority of people prefer speakers with a flat frequency response +- 3db good, +-2db excellent, +- 1db incredible).

One of the best tests is simple music, a single acoustic instrument like piano, guitar or voice. We all know what those instruments sound like, if the speakers don't sound 'right' on these you will know it...

Finally, i like to research the designer and their design protocols or methods. What is their philosophy? Do they do extensive computer modelling and measurement and follow up with blind AB or ABX listening tests to confirm the specs? Or does the designer just tweak each part by listening to the sound...and then release a 'best in class' $$$$ speaker with no specs or measurements but glowing reviews by the high-end audiophile reviewers.

In the end tho' it is all personal taste, whatever you enjoy listening to with your money is all right

And that’s why I proudly own the Harbeth Super 5 Plus :D


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 4:49 pm 
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Location: Calgary, AB, CA
Gunner wrote:
Hmmmmm.... here is today's dealer-posted link floating its way into our emails:

How to Audition Gear

https://www.planetofsoundonline.com/pag ... 83a7522c58


"... A lot is written about gear

... before you buy, hear it for yourself first!..."


Ok...after that don't buy it until you auditioned the said equipment in your listening room to make sure that what you hear in the dealership's listening room will sound the same in your listening room.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 3:48 am 
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...huh? :D ...I think the point being made above about auditioning at home is that anything else requires a certain leap of faith or calculated risk...we do it all the time...

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:24 am 
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Stone wrote:
...we do it all the time...


I don't, but for "those" that do - why?

I have yet to come across a dealer that won't allow me to take a product home to try it over the weekend. In some cases I have left a deposit and or personal ID, but never had an issue if the demo didn't work out.

Buying online is even easier as they all have money back return windows.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:43 am 
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Stone wrote:
...huh? :D ...I think the point being made above about auditioning at home is that anything else requires a certain leap of faith or calculated risk...we do it all the time...


I always auditioned the equipment in my listening room before buying even if I'm upgrading to a similar brand of equipment. Case in point a friend wanted me to listen to his dac to confirmed his hunch with regards to its sound quality. I thought the dac sounding quite good when I was listening to it in his listening room but in my listening room, the dac performed even better. The reason for this is my equipment together with my well-balanced listening room is more resolving than his. I told him what I've heard, but he won't believe me...and of course, who am I to argue.

-- 19 Oct 2018 17:49 --

Wind Chaser wrote:
Stone wrote:
...we do it all the time...


I don't, but for "those" that do - why?

I have yet to come across a dealer that won't allow me to take a product home to try it over the weekend. In some cases I have left a deposit and or personal ID, but never had an issue if the demo didn't work out.

Buying online is even easier as they all have money back return windows.


I guess I'm lucky in a sense that when I am seriously thinking of buying a certain equipment the dealer is ready to accommodate me to have the said equipment available for audition. They usually give me a week time to audition the equipment which is enough time for me to make my decision.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:14 am 
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Wind Chaser wrote:
Stone wrote:
...we do it all the time...


I don't, but for "those" that do - why?

I have yet to come across a dealer that won't allow me to take a product home to try it over the weekend. In some cases I have left a deposit and or personal ID, but never had an issue if the demo didn't work out.

Buying online is even easier as they all have money back return windows.


I've not had the convenience or luxury of "testing" everything I own in my home (much of bought from other cam'rs)...I get as informed as I can and bite the bullet...or not...

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:22 am 
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Stone wrote:

I've not had the convenience or luxury of "testing" everything I own in my home (much of bought from other cam'rs)...I get as informed as I can and bite the bullet...or not...

Sounds familiar but I will say that I've also had the good fortune of working with a couple of dealers in the GTA where the only risk to me is the cost of shipping it back if it doesn't work out. 8)

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