Yes, listening is the only way. That is about the only thing we agree on.
Specs give you a starting point when you can't go to a local store and get at least a quick audition. But when you ask a company about their product and they respond with BS, that does not give me a warm and fuzzy. Customer support is something some of these companies need to understand. Heck, even IBM is nice to you before you signed a contract.
To inform you Jeffery O'l boy with your snarky attitude, The above mentioned dealers do not have audition return policies. I don't live in Ca, Fl or Tn. Now, what part of me suggesting it could be great or poor as the specs ( rather poor) are useless did you not understand?
I am not on ASR as I DARED to suggest I could hear the difference between my DACs. That was too much for Amair. As I understand the specs and how they were measured, I know when they are actually a hint or not.
PS: I know a little more about Google than you think. The guy who wrote Acumulo, the Java version of Big Table/H Base, used to work for me. Just a hint.