How do you judge audio components and speakers?

I would say - listening to music you're familiar with, and comparing. We can talk about tight/bloomy bass, midrange clarity, treble extension and things of that nature. We can also be very specific with regards to how a particular track is supposed to sound; based on high-performance gear that we were able to experience - but only if it purports to be accurate without sonic colorations. Therefore, I guess you could say we have a reference point. This part is what I would consider "objective performance." 

Along with this, measurements go hand-in-hand.

On the other side of the coin - subjective performance is how we "want our systems to sound." If the vocals are too bright or sharp, if snares or unpleasant sounding instrumentals ruin an otherwise good song, it's usually because the system is too accurate. So high-end audio is about chasing an ideal that doesn't exist in reality - but in the minds of audiophiles who are seeking a very particular kind of sonic presentation that bodes well with their music library as a you just enough detail to keep you interested, while at the same time having a sense of realism, presence, and imaging that makes the speakers dissapear. We are seeking the illusion of a live performance.


The above are just my points. Feel free to share what you think. If you think I'm wrong, I don't mind. 









I never insulted you. I'm serious. If your acoustic treatments make a lot of difference, then take it to people who deal with audio for a living. I bet they could learn something from you.

No audiophile cares about how inexpensive or costly a fellow audiophiles system is or tweaks. I was attacked by you, simply because I consider your approach very unique compared to others.

I’m a gonna be real chief…those pics gave me serious Buffalo Bill vibes 😳

I start with a high quality jazz recording, then some classic rock and finally some 80s pop. After that, I begin with my well known favorite songs. Regardless of that, what I value most is how well the speakers present the soundstage and how good is the imaging. If the phantom "third channel" is cleary present then is a winner for me. Other subtleties such as if the sound is neutral, warm are of my interest only if the speakers passed the first tests.


@insoc -- Thank you for getting this thread back on track--what a derailment!

OP - whether you feel like you insulted mahgister or not, as a former judge i would have to rule that you did simply by telling him he needed to get rid of many things and although many long time contributors here have found his "system" to be very unique indeed, no one has judged it. 

On the topic at hand, i take several well-recorded vinyl records and CD's (all live recordings) and play them on systems i'm considering--if the music sounds live--I am there and it sounds right--good enough for me...


I disagree with the first paragraph in your opening question. Your objective will be different from mine and probably most other contributors on this forum. So, it is subjective.

I significantly agree with the comments in your third paragraph, especially the latter part.

It has taken me 40 years to get the sound that I am very satisfied with. No longer do I criticise my system because it always provides me with an entertaining experience and, that's all that matters.

I have learned how to audition new components, passively, to begin with. I also have studied the perception of hearing and, therefore, I observe not only the music reproduction, but my state of mind and wellbeing at the same time. High end hi-fi systems are very fickle and can require re-tuning from time to time. But so is our ability to LISTEN.