On 2/9/2013 5:32 PM, Steven Smolian wrote:
> Testing speakers. Using anything but acoustic instruments has the inherent
> problem of what an electronically processed signal really is. A piano, well
> recorded (in the auditor's opinion) runs the frequency spectrum and dynamic
> range based on sound that begins life pushing air. That takes
> somesubjectivity out of the experience. How a Beatles or Stones record
> sounds on such speakers (in the mix used on that iteration of the sound
> source) is totally subjective. A pleasing listening experience therefrom
> may not give an acceptable sound for a string quartet (pace Eleanor Rigby).
> Using a pre-distorted signal, no matter how nice, simply adds inaccurate
> noise to mask what a system may be doing otherwise and gives the seller an
> excuse to sell bad stuff, no matter how well reviewed.
But certain things can be determined even from a highly-processed
pop/rock record. You can compare the sounds of the bass; does one
speaker make the note sound clear, while the other fuzzes it out with
distortion? Does one let the pitch of the bass be heard, while the other
gives a vague boom? Does one speaker reproduce sibilants cleanly, while
the other makes them harsh and "spitty"?
If you play a record over ten speakers, and they all have spitty
sibilants, it's likely that the record is the problem (or the player or
maybe the amplifier), but if you compare speakers and one doesn't have
certain problems while the other does, the issue is probably with the
Even without absolute references, pop records can help sort sheep from
goats. And for identifying good transient performance in the woofer, a
well-recorded kickdrum is hard to beat. Even a badly-recorded one can
tell you things.