Robert Harley on "How to Choose Loudspeakers"

exupgh12

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To my opinion RH article is logical suggestion for most beginners:
  1. Study and research potential speakers.
  2. Audition and listen to a variety of speakers.
  3. Narrow down your choices and audition more speakers before deciding.
RH just helps the buyer narrow down their choices before going to audition and listen.
This is a good thing, because it can save the buyer time and effort. However, it is important to note that RH cannot tell you which speakers will sound best to you. You will need to audition the speakers yourself to make that decision.

Overall, I think your advice is good. It is important for beginners to study and research potential speakers, to audition a variety of speakers, and to narrow down their choices before making a final decision.
 
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bonzo75

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To my opinion RH article is logical suggestion for most beginners:
  1. Study and research potential speakers.
  2. Audition and listen to a variety of speakers.
  3. Narrow down your choices and audition more speakers before deciding
What you wrote is very different from the below that Ron quoted:

The place to start loudspeaker shopping, therefore, is in the pages of a reputable magazine with high standards for what constitutes good loudspeaker performance. After you’ve read lots of loudspeaker reviews, make up your short list of products to audition from the crème de la crème. There are several criteria to apply in making this short list to ensure that you get the best loudspeaker for your individual needs. As you apply each criterion described, the list of candidate loudspeakers will get shorter and shorter, thus easing your decision-making process. If you find yourself with too few choices at the end of the process, go back and revise your criteria.
 

exupgh12

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What you wrote is very different from the below that Ron quoted:

The place to start loudspeaker shopping, therefore, is in the pages of a reputable magazine with high standards for what constitutes good loudspeaker performance. After you’ve read lots of loudspeaker reviews, make up your short list of products to audition from the crème de la crème. There are several criteria to apply in making this short list to ensure that you get the best loudspeaker for your individual needs. As you apply each criterion described, the list of candidate loudspeakers will get shorter and shorter, thus easing your decision-making process. If you find yourself with too few choices at the end of the process, go back and revise your criteria.
here is RH quote from TAS:

"You’ve done your homework, read reviews, and narrowed down your list of candidates. Now it’s time to go out and listen. This is a crucial part of shopping for a loudspeaker, and one that should be approached carefully. Rather than buying a pair of speakers on your first visit to a dealer, consider this initial audition to be simply the next step. Don’t be in a hurry to buy the first loudspeaker you like. Even if it sounds very good to you, you won’t know how good it is until you’ve auditioned several models. Audition the loudspeaker with a wide range of familiar recordings of your own choosing. Remember that a dealer’s strategic selection of music can highlight a loudspeaker’s best qualities and conceal its weaknesses."

as I see it, its:
  • Study and research potential speakers.
  • Audition and listen to a variety of speakers.
  • Narrow down your choices and audition more speakers before
 
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ssfas

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What you wrote is very different from the below that Ron quoted:

The place to start loudspeaker shopping, therefore, is in the pages of a reputable magazine with high standards for what constitutes good loudspeaker performance. After you’ve read lots of loudspeaker reviews, make up your short list of products to audition from the crème de la crème. There are several criteria to apply in making this short list to ensure that you get the best loudspeaker for your individual needs. As you apply each criterion described, the list of candidate loudspeakers will get shorter and shorter, thus easing your decision-making process. If you find yourself with too few choices at the end of the process, go back and revise your criteria.
I have absolutely no idea how reading a magazine is going to tell you anything useful about how a speaker will sound.

As I said earlier, in RH's book the article posted by Ron is cut into chunks. The first part that you quote above seems to be RH's editor (does he write for TAS or Stereophile?) saying "please read our magazine and hopefully choose a speaker from one of our advertisers". RH's "alternative" approach seems far more sensible.

For me the hardest part is finding a "reputable magazine with high standards" . I no longer read any of them. I get paper copies of two music magazines and HiFi+ for the music section and James Hughes' occasional reviews.
 

bonzo75

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here is the quote fro RH

"You’ve done your homework, read reviews, and narrowed down your list of candidates. Now it’s time to go out and listen. This is a crucial part of shopping for a loudspeaker, and one that should be approached carefully. Rather than buying a pair of speakers on your first visit to a dealer, consider this initial audition to be simply the next step. Don’t be in a hurry to buy the first loudspeaker you like. Even if it sounds very good to you, you won’t know how good it is until you’ve auditioned several models. Audition the loudspeaker with a wide range of familiar recordings of your own choosing. Remember that a dealer’s strategic selection of music can highlight a loudspeaker’s best qualities and conceal its weaknesses."
This I completely agree with.

Except, unfortunately, "the wide range of familiar recordings" can change

Also, it does not account for changing tastes, which a hobbyist would go through. If one is not a hobbyist, it would not really matter much he could go to any dealer and get a system for his budget.
 
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Elliot G.

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I dont think that one needs to listen to everything ,and sorry but most dealers arent going to play everything , no more than a car dealer is going to let you drive every car. There does need to be some pairing down when buying anything.
Size of your room, your budget, the looks, what other gear you may have or have to buy and certainly other factors that need to be thought about before trying to listen to everything . I don't need to drive a Rolls Royce to know I am not buying one ( can't buy nor afford one). So I do narrow down my list of potential candidates before I go shopping to not waste me time nor anyone else's time.
Dealers are in business to make money and sales they are not there to give someone a fullscale education on everything that exists. That is unfair if the customer wants or expects that. My point is one needs to start with the thought process and what could possibly be in your potential buying candidates . If you want to hear everything go to a show, which could also be a good place to start.
I dont reject that doing some reading can hurt just that selecting who to read is as important as the reading itslef.
I may read reviews of restaurants, or cars, or movies but one should make sure you have similar tastes and objectives.

Searching through everything without some thought and a plan is a recipe for disaster in my opinion.
 

DetroitVinylRob

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For instance, if I already have power amplifiers that I favor, and they are of an OTL variety, I will be looking for a relatively high-efficiency and a nominal impedance load. As it turns out, there are very few available that meet this criteria. It would do one well to try and study out and read through some possible choices and impressions, and then find dealers that can provide an in person listing session. If you already have some idea that the presentation made by monkey coffins are not to your preference, then it helps to have a short list of providers who offer, possibly horns and large pulp cones. Just saying. Narrowing the herd, finding that companies such as Wolf von Langa, Ojas, or Cessaro Horn Acoustics even exist is remarkably helpful… you certainly are not buying a loudspeaker from a review. Simply generating leads.
 

exupgh12

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This I completely agree with.

Except, unfortunately, "the wide range of familiar recordings" can change

Also, it does not account for changing tastes, which a hobbyist would go through. If one is not a hobbyist, it would not really matter much he could go to any dealer and get a system for his budget.

It also neglects room treatment, which can affect any speaker\audio system. Moreover, the article doesn’t discuss what if we don't begin with a clean slate?

If we focus solely on the negatives in every article, we'll never make progress.

RH article serves as a valuable starting point for beginners or those interested in entering the hobby.
 

bonzo75

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If we focus solely on the negatives in every article, we'll never make progress.

RH article serves as a valuable starting point for beginners or those interested in entering the hobby.
no this article tries to answer unnecessarily a difficult question by putting a specious logic around it.
Kind of like telling an inexperienced teenager how to shortlist his perfect wife. We all know the flaws of going out and meeting women, we will never meet them all, so sit at home and draw up a strategy.

best thing is to not go there
 

AudioHR

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Many people do not have even one high end store within 200 miles of their house. Most people are not going to be able to audition every speaker in a high end store, for lack of patience (either their own or the store staffs’).

The magazines give entertaining suggestions for preparation of a short list, as do forums.

For those whose lives do not revolve around trying to find the best at any cost, Harley’s advice is as good a starting point as any, and relatively inexpensive. It’s just a starting point, and it’s just a magazine. Why pick a fight over every one of his editorial positions?
The are fewer and fewer brick and mortar dealer so you are correct in pointing out that auditioning or even listening to a variety of speakers is difficult. I also agree that Harley's advice is a decent starting point for many audiophiles especially if you are just getting into it.

No one has to be wrong on this. Ron's perspective on this is that of a seasoned audiophile. I see his comment on Harley more as a WBF check and balance to the audio magazines. Your comment which is similar to my viewpoint recognizes that many are not easily able to listen to all of the fabulous speakers we hear about in forums and magazines.

The best part of this forum is that after everyone has their say there will be some excellent advice on ways to select our next speakers.
 
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AudioHR

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I am genuinely interested in your opinion. I certainly want to know if members think I am doing something unfair by commenting on another publication's editorial. I truly do not conceive of a thread counter-commenting on a major topic in our hobby as airing a grievance.

I do not consider my long reply to Robert's editorial about long-term loans to constitute "bashing." At the serious risk of breaking my arm patting myself on the back I think my reply to Robert's editorial about long-term loans was comprehensive, thoughtful and detailed. Do you disagree?

Why isn't debating policies and challenging different viewpoints an interesting intellectual aspect of the hobby?
I agree!
 

DetroitVinylRob

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I am genuinely interested in your opinion. I certainly want to know if members think I am doing something unfair by commenting on another publication's editorial. I truly do not conceive of a thread counter-commenting on a major topic in our hobby as airing a grievance.

I do not consider my long reply to Robert's editorial about long-term loans to constitute "bashing." At the serious risk of breaking my arm patting myself on the back I think my reply to Robert's editorial about long-term loans was comprehensive, thoughtful and detailed. Do you disagree?

Why isn't debating policies and challenging different viewpoints an interesting intellectual aspect of the hobby?
To my mind Ron, just keep doing what you are doing. It’s fine, it’s helpful, and for goodness sake, you are allowed to share your opinions too.
 

Another Johnson

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I am genuinely interested in your opinion. I certainly want to know if members think I am doing something unfair by commenting on another publication's editorial. I truly do not conceive of a thread counter-commenting on a major topic in our hobby as airing a grievance.

I do not consider my long reply to Robert's editorial about long-term loans to constitute "bashing." At the serious risk of breaking my arm patting myself on the back I think my reply to Robert's editorial about long-term loans was comprehensive, thoughtful and detailed. Do you disagree?

Why isn't debating policies and challenging different viewpoints an interesting intellectual aspect of the hobby?

It was not my intention to be negative towards you, but I can see that I was negative and perhaps too harsh. So I am offering a public apology. Certainly you are a gracious host, and I do not mean to be an unworthy guest.
 

Rexp

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Good idea to find a Reviewer you trust, not a magazine like Absolute Sound who have reviewers that haven't actually heard what a good loudspeaker can do, like reproducing solid 3d imaging for example.
 

Another Johnson

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FWIW, I’m on record over and over again as a person who views the magazines as entertainment, not education.

Before Harry Pearson and J. Gordon Holt took the initiative to argue in favor of listening rather than measuring, most of us were woefully ignorant of the small companies that were trying to break into the scene.

The British magazines of the day did a better job than their mainstream US based counterparts (Stereo Review, High Fidelity).

TAS and Stereophile led the way on this side of the Atlantic.

I’ve never taken them as authoritative. There have been too many cases where I disagreed with their reviewers. But I’ve still enjoyed looking at them. After you’ve matured in any hobby, the magazines are really there to introduce you to new products. Their teaching function becomes diminished.

RH has “risen” to HP’s throne. He is much less obnoxious than HP was. I admire that he has built and sustains his empire through writing books and overseeing TAS. Most of the time I can readily understand why he writes what he writes. I don’t begrudge him his opinion, nor his ability to share it.
 
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AudioHR

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FWIW, I’m on record over and over again as a person who views the magazines as entertainment, not education.

Before Harry Pearson and J. Gordon Holt took the initiative to argue in favor of listening rather than measuring, most of us were woefully ignorant of the small companies that were trying to break into the scene.

The British magazines of the day did a better job than their mainstream US based counterparts (Stereo Review, High Fidelity).

TAS and Stereophile led the way on this side of the Atlantic.

I’ve never taken them as authoritative. There have been too many cases where I disagreed with their reviewers. But I’ve still enjoyed looking at them. After you’ve matured in any hobby, the magazines are really there to introduce you to new products. Their teaching function becomes diminished.

RH has “risen” to HP’s throne. He is much less obnoxious than HP was. I admire that he has built and sustains his empire through writing books and overseeing TAS. Most of the time I can readily understand why he writes what he writes. I don’t begrudge him his opinion, nor his ability to share it.
Right on!

Magazines have had a role in growing this hobby and your viewpoint reminded me of how I got started.

I think it must have been in the late 60's before TAS started. A friend of mines father had a component system, the first I had ever heard or seen for that matter. I thought music playback came from consoles like my dads. This system looked really cool and I wanted to hear it but my friend was reluctant to play it. Fortunately his dad came home and was pleased to play it for me. It was glorious unlike anything I had ever heard from a stereo. He could tell I was interested so after the mini concert he gave me a few of his stereo magazines to read. I devoured them, pouring over all kinds of unfamiliar terminology and interesting pictures. It would be nice if I could remember the names of those magazines but I don't, I think one of them was a British one. Anyway I was hooked and started to search out this fascinating stuff!

A few years later I became aware of Stereophile and TAS. Reading a mimeograph copy of the first issue of TAS was mind bending and educational. I subscribed right away and double Advents became my first serious speaker. I will admit that for a number of years I did find there alternative magazines authoritative, opinionated, educational and always entertaining.

Years later I still subscribe to Stereophile and TAS. I quite like the writing style of a few of the contributors so they are still entertaining and sometimes educational, although I must admit I seldom read them from cover to cover. They are the mainstream American magazines now and I see them more as advocates for the audio industry rather than being an authoritative source. I certainly wouldn't base my purchases just on what they say but they still might spark my interest in something.
 

bonzo75

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They are the mainstream American magazines now and I see them more as advocates for the audio industry rather than being an authoritative source. I certainly wouldn't base my purchases just on what they say but they still might spark my interest in something.
this is a good summary
 

Ron Resnick

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It was not my intention to be negative towards you, but I can see that I was negative and perhaps too harsh. So I am offering a public apology. Certainly you are a gracious host, and I do not mean to be an unworthy guest.
Thank you for your kind words! No worries!:)
 

tima

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I am genuinely interested in your opinion. I certainly want to know if members think I am doing something unfair by commenting on another publication's editorial. I truly do not conceive of a thread counter-commenting on a major topic in our hobby as airing a grievance.

I do not consider my long reply to Robert's editorial about long-term loans to constitute "bashing." At the serious risk of breaking my arm patting myself on the back I think my reply to Robert's editorial about long-term loans was comprehensive, thoughtful and detailed. Do you disagree?

Why isn't debating policies and challenging different viewpoints an interesting intellectual aspect of the hobby?

An alternative take suggests this is analogous to Alon Wolf critquing Darryl Wilson's products or a dealer criticizing another dealer's wares. TAS and this forum are both audio media and in competition for attention, eyeballs and advertising dollars.
 
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Ron Resnick

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An alternative take suggests this is analogous to Alon Wolf critquing Darryl Wilson's products or a dealer criticizing another dealer's wares. TAS and this forum are both audio media and in competition for attention, eyeballs and advertising dollars.

Thank you for your thoughts. Respectfully I think this is not an apt analogy.

I agree with you that Chevrolet critiquing a Ford product is one thing. But this is not that.

This is Car and Driver critiquing an editorial in Motor Trend. Or the Washington Post commenting on an editorial in The Wall Street Journal.
 
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