How to buy a speaker
I cannot keep track of how many times we’re asked—begged sometimes—for help choosing which loudspeaker to match with our stereo equipment. And often, not even our equipment, just “how do I get great sound?”
My advice is going to be rather simple and straightforward. Choose the company, its people, and its mission, not the speaker. Do a little homework to see if your values line up with theirs. Once you find a company you’re comfortable with, a company whose mission matches your own, that’s when it’s time to check their references, see what kind of reviews they get, and what people think about them. But first, you need to see if they are on the same page as you.
Take for example a vaunted long-term company like JBL, or perhaps Bose, Sonos, or Klipsch. All four companies make great and well-respected speakers for some portions of the market. But while their outer persona speaks of quality and music, look deeper at their stated claims. JBL serves mostly the pro-market with sound reinforcing speakers for live events—but you’re interested in home audio. Bose is heavy into the consumer market and strives to give good average sound for the dollar, but is that what we’re trying to do here? Sonos is the leader in connected home audio, but few believe they strive for audiophile quality performance, and Klipsch—while once dedicated to bringing the sound of live music into your home—is now on a different sort of mission.
From their website: “Delivering an intense sound experience in an elegant package, Klipsch floor standing speakers provide soaring highs and booming lows while complementing your home décor.”
See what I mean? While soaring highs and booming lows might interest many, they are not necessarily what we, as audiophiles, are looking for.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but when it comes to home audio reproduction I am looking for honesty, purity, and full range excellence that brings the sound of live musicians into my room without coloration or affectation.
If purity of music—bringing truth and life of what’s recorded on the disc—is what the company you’re considering are aiming for, then you have a fighting chance.