Seeking tales of speaker demos

I'm in the process of choosing speakers; I'll have some Salk SS6M's to try out once they're built and shipped. Right now, I'm listening to Fritz's Carbon 7 Mk II speakers, and have been rotating through some others — including some less expensive Klipsch RP-600M. I have yet to hear towers in my system, nor speakers with other technologies — baffles, electrostatics, etc.

I'm curious to hear your home-audition stories.
Which speakers did you try in your home with your own gear before making a final selection?
What did you set out to test?
What contrasts (in speaker technology, price point, etc.) were you juxtaposing?
What about your listening preferences was confirmed for you?
What were you surprised to learn?

Or, for those who were married for a while to a set of speakers — but then divorced them for new ones — what did the new one bring to your listening life?

Any other hints, tips about what you did for your home audition are welcome.
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Same for me limo. I have done in store demos a few times. I bought the Vandersteen 3A Sigs when I had actually come to listen to other lines and they left me in a room with those while they prepped the room with the others. The others left me unimpressed while the vandys impressed but had not been on my radar. Just listened to the B&w 800d3s and purchased after listening. The rest were all bought based on reviews and reading online. 
Thanks, guys.
@b_limo How does one own 50 pairs of speakers? Do you like to change them like shirts? Are you a perfectionist? Do you have a speaker for every room of your house? Do you just have a choice process that is full of errors? I cannot fathom owning 50 pairs in a lifetime. ;-)
I tend to keep speakers about 15 years and did in store demos. It worked well for me even though the store and my listening room are different.
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Thanks for the history, b_limo. I was curious just because I imagined that it would not be so difficult (50 pairs) to arrive at a speaker one likes enough to settle down. But if it’s fun, well, that’s what hobbies are for!

As for myself, I’m genuinely curious about people’s processes — not just to instruct me, though there there is that aspect, but also because I’m learning about the hobby by learning about the hobbyists.

Regarding my own situation, I have *not* decided whether I will or won’t like the Salks. Why wouldn’t I just want to wait? Because they are close to $4k and I only have a month to decide.

And decide based on what? My personality needs and wants to compare. I think I will learn by at least trying a few of the other kinds of speakers (towers, with Amt tweeters, electrostatic or planar). If I learn, say, that I really like passive towers, then I can think within that category. Or electrostatic, etc.

Ultimately, this won’t go on for months; I’m not going to listen to a dozen speakers at my home; I can’t. But I can do more than simply wait for another good bookshelf to try if I can try others for little or no money before I have to send back the Salks.

The other way would be to buy, live with, get curious or dissatisfied, sell, shop, buy again. There's a lot of effort and time in that sequence, and so I am merely trying to save effort and advance the process a bit in the initial phase. Will I wind up with my "final" speaker? Probably not. But if I can learn processes from hobbyists and get speakers to try from shops, I can at least get something I’ll have for several years or more.

And will it be fun? In a time of lockdown and with very little cost to me -- you bet.
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I was obsessed for about three to four years ago trying to find the right speakers as an upgrade from my old rig.  My base system was Revel Performa3 M105s driven by a Rogue Hydra Power Amp and with an Ayre K-5xeMP Preamp, Marantz NA-11S1 DAC and a Rega RP3 Table.  

The speakers and the table were the weak links in the chain but the Revels were very, very good for the money and I was struggling to find a speaker with better imaging and detail.  

I listened to every speaker I could find that was up to 60% above my target budget of $10K and I have a very systematic approach with a series of tracks I use for screening.  It is decidedly possible that I ruled out products because of bad setups and irritating sales people.  One was the audiophile embodiment of Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons.  Another told me "my tracks suck" during a demo and a third interrupted my dinner and when I politely told him I was eating and would call him back the next day he kept me on the phone ranting about purity of sound for almost 15 minutes.  I finally had to just hang up on him. 

I finally narrowed it down to four models that will remain unnamed (I make speakers now and would prefer not to criticize other companies products).  Range in price for in-home demo was $6K to $12K.  Got them in my room and none worked though one, "with a long break-in period" was promising.  It sounded great but didn't deliver the soundstage I heard in the store.  The rep assured me that if I just let them break in, the soundstage would come together.  It did not.  Six months later I traded those speakers for a PS Audio DSD, and four months later I started my own company and developed my own speakers.  .

Lessons are, you need to know how the speaker is supposed to be optimally setup.  Most manufacturers will tell you this.  In my case that was the fundamental issue.  These speakers needed 3' from the back wall and 9' of spacing.  My room at the time allowed for 18" of space from the back wall and 6' of spacing.  Retailer was a jackass and should have told me that.  He new because it is clearly communicated by the manufacturer.  

What is the break-in time and is it longer than the return window?  If the break-in period is 500 hours, move-on.  

Take copious notes about tracks.  Listening memory is 2-4 seconds at most.  Taking very detailed notes about what you hear is the only way to compare speakers.  If you are comparing two or more speakers at the same time, find optimal placement for both.  Label it and make sure that you only do critical listening in the optimal location.  I put little masking tape Xs on the floor.  

Avoid Q-Sound tracks. Optimal placement for Q-Sound is usually much more flexible than normal tracks.  Take Amused to Death, the Immaculate Collection, etc... out of rotation for setup.  

Keep in your rational mind.  We may want to like a speaker more than another because of the way it looks or we like the brand or the rep is a good guy or gal.  Stick to your notes and if something isn't working, accept it and move on.  

That is my advice.  Be smart about it and be willing to return things.  It may cost you a few hundred $$$ in return fees but that is better than eating 50% of the value of a speaker.  Learn from my mistakes.  

Good advise from verdantaudio. To me, speakers are a very personal choice. So I won’t say go with brand X or Y. I can only suggest to keep couple of things in mind, pick a high efficiency speaker (atleast 92db or higher). They are much easier to drive with moderate to low power solid state or tube amps. And if possible, stick with a single driver speaker that offers full range.

To my ears, multi-driver speakers sounds bit dis-jointed due to multiple wavefronts not reaching the listener at exactly the same time. In an ideal world a speaker designer would want to design a single transducer that addresses the entire frequency range – the ideal of the single-driver speaker. That transducer would cover the lowest bass notes as well as the finest details of the upper treble.

There are quite a few speaker manufacturers that are offering single full range drivers. Once you hear a single driver speaker, it’s very unlikely you would consider anything else. I believe you’re already planning to augment the low / mid bass with a pair of REL subs.

Good luck!

Thanks @lalitk and @verdant for your very helpful comments. I'm copying the gist of them into my auditioning plan notes.
re: ..."Ribbons and Air Motion Tweeters (amt’s) are very fast and detailed but don’t quite have the decay characteristics that the BE tweeters in the Salks will possess"...

Hey b_limo,
If you don’t mind sharing your research, which AMT based speakers or drivers have you evaluated and what amplification did you use to evaluate them?

@decooney , sorry for no reply, just saw this now.

My experience with AMT’s is limited to the Wharfedale evo 4.4 at RMAF where I listened to them for an hour.  I can’t recall the amplification but I really loved the sound in that room.  They seemed very detailed but didn’t quite have that decay and shimmer ghat some high end beryllium tweeters have, in my opinion.  My other AMT experience is with some Adam Tv5’s that a friend has using a pretty nice dac and treated listening area.  
As far as Ribbons, I had Monitor Audio Gold GX50’s with a Peachtree Nova 220se in addition to a different setup using a bryston 4bst.  I really love the ribbon tweeters in the Monitor Audio Speakers.

Both the AMT’s and ribbons that I’ve heard were fast and detailed.  The Monitors had some nice shimmer and good decay.  From memory, I slightly preferred the Ribbons to AMT’s.  I am a fan of a variety of tweeters as they each have certain strengths and characteristics.  I usually don’t care too much for titanium, but I do like Beryllium, ceramic, Amt’s, Ribbon, planers, plasma...
Good to know on all fronts. While I've had a long exposure to AMTs since their original design in the 1970s, some material changes too.  Along with variations of AMTs from different manufacturers available on the market now all sound different from one speaker maker to the next. Fun to compare whenever possible.  Some better than others. Same with ribbons, or at least the ones I listened to over time.  I stopped building speakers and never got a chance to try Beryllium tweets, sounds like fun.  Thx.