5 Steps to Choosing HiFi Speakers
- Grab your favourite CD or record from each genre of music you listen to, try to pick a truly representative track from each recording pick something that you have listened to enough to judge the quality of the sound on. Ideally something you have heard live recently. Each speaker performs differently, so a wide variety of music will ensure you have a productive listening session.
- Those in the know will listen to a song featuring almost exclusively female vocals and cut a good number of speakers out based on how they can reproduce the tones in that range. Nobody can tell you a speaker won’t cut the mustard faster than Diana Krall - Live in Paris.
- Starting with your favourite genre listen to the sound from all the speakers you are considering. Note the one or two models that sound the best to you. Try to focus in on all the instruments individually. For example try to focus in on only the drummer, do the bass drum beats sound crisp? Listen to the vocals, do they sound warm?
- Moving to a different genre of music, repeat step 2. Bear in mind that your favourite speaker for one type of music may not be your favourite for the next.
- Moving back to your favourite music listen to an entire track, do all the parts of the music blend nicely? Repeat with the other songs.
- Once you have decided on one speaker, do a test of its dynamic range capabilities. Does it reproduce the recording faithfully at low volumes? (below those you’ve already listened to). Lastly, turn it up higher than you normally would, listen for any loss of clarity.
- Always begin listening at a modest volume. Loud noises cause the timpanic membrane (eardrum) to tighten and your ears will lose sensitivity for the rest of the listening session. Do not do a dynamic range test until you are ready to vet the speaker you want to buy. You want to have the sound loud enough that you can distinguish the different sounds you are listening to, but not so loud that your hearing sensitivity suffers.
- It should go without saying that the appearance of a speaker is fairly unimportant to how it sounds. That being said, you want to be able to live with it. How much weight you place on appearances is up to you, but ideally it is zero.
- With bookshelf speakers, the best quality sound is had by using speaker stands. This allows the speaker cabinet to resonate properly and deliver the sound as envisioned by the design engineers.