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How do you determine which audio gears right for you?

Testing and measuring Speakers

We are all different and even reputable professional audio reviewers who review high end audio gears that ordinary people dream of owning have their own preference around different gears.  


I have been an audio enthusiast for quite some time. My original audio system was AR turntable, NAD 3020 Integrated amplifier and EPOS ES14 speakers which was great for me for many years.


I was early 20’s and now I am late 40’s. For last 20 odd years, my audio system has been evolved with quite a higher price tag and it feels like it is never ending journey.


We can agree that most of us are looking for emotional response from our music listening session. Lately, this is how I have been testing potential changes to my audio system.


I listen to some of favourite music that I get emotional about, and then see what changes, enhances, or subtracts from that emotional experience.


Essentially, when we listen, we are looking for dopamine hit. In a simple term, dopamine is the neurotransmitter of pleasure, and how this happens electrochemically in our brains is different for each of us, depending on our unique past experience, triggers, chemical makeup, etc.


But there is possibly enough commonality in ‘dopamine response to music’ that we can have a discussion about what “sounds good” or “tastes good” or “looks good”.


It is obviously not right or wrong, but maybe more right or more wrong, based on our unique electrochemical response to whatever piece of gear we are listening to.


So do we just toss out measurements and all, right? Not exactly. I personally think that measurements allow us to correlate the unique footprint of sound each one of us needs to get that perfect little dopamine hit we all crave.


Hence, I try to check published measurement data (such as impedance, frequency response chart and spectral decay plot etc) especially for speakers that makes the biggest difference in audio chain.


It will be unique for each of us, but measurements might get us closer to determining just how the hell does it for each of us individually. If what electronically creates this sonic footprint can be accurately measured, then each of us knows where we stand.


Obviously, actual listening will still likely the supreme source of determining and evaluating audio equipment but maybe there is a way to more objectively provide some clarity as to why we individually like what we like and don’t like what we don’t like in audiophile equipment.


Enough said, this methodology may be just me, and would love to hear how others determine which audio gears to get with hard earned dollars.


James – Ion Forge Team

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