The best advice is to never buy speakers based solely on a review without having an opportunity to listen to them first. Online reviews should only be used as a general guide on what brands and models to consider but should not be the primary source in making a buying decision. Why? We are not privy to the relationship of the reviewer with the speaker company that they are reviewing.
There may be possible conflict of interests. What qualifications and experience does the reviewer have? The reviewer's room acoustics, associated equipment, reviewer's taste and how his/her system is set up are all important factors in determining the outcome of a review. The best advice is to only buy speakers that you are able to audition yourself. Regardless of how good the review is, never buy speakers based solely on a review because there is a good chance it's not the right speaker for you, your system and your room.
Once you have narrowed down speakers that you want to audition call your local dealer and ask for an appointment to audition the speaker(s) of your interest. This will give the dealer time to properly set up the speaker(s) of your interest to make your visit more productive. Dealers may have your speaker of interest on demo but it may not be on active display.
Bring a few of your favorite CDs that you are very familiar with and ask the salesperson to play them for you at the volume that you normally listen to. Listening to music that you are not familiar with will not give you a point of reference to compare to your system. Secondly, overall sound quality of speaker may change based on volume. That's why it's important to listen at your volume and not the salesperson's volume.
Notice that I recommend audition speakers using CDs and not DVDs or blu rays. Never audition speakers with surround sound because there are multiple speakers and subwoofer playing at the same time. It is impossible to hear the qualities of the main speakers on surround sound. Even if you are buying speakers for surrounds sound always audition them with CDs that you are familiar with. Speakers that sound good with music will most likely sound good with surround sound.
Since there is a good chance that one dealer may not have all the brands and models of speakers of your interest, use the same CDs to audition at all dealerships that you visit. Remembering sound going from one dealership to another on a single visit is very difficult if not impossible. Therefore, I recommend visiting your chosen dealerships multiple times to audition. You will eventually be able to discern the differences and select the speaker of your choice. Always trust your own hearing and the advice of local dealer(s) that have earned your trust.
Resist the temptation to buy a speaker based on a review without a personal audition. Unfortunately it's a common mistake that I have seen in my 18 years in this industry. Once you have selected the speaker of your choice buy it from the dealer that worked to accommodate your multiple auditions and answered all your questions. It's the ethical thing to do and you will get proper service for your speakers should you need it and advice on how to maximize the fidelity of your new speaker with your system and room.
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