How to Audition Car Audio Speakers

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Walk into the store with a plan. When auditioning speakers be sure to bring music that you normally listen to. This will give you a better idea of how the speakers are reproducing sounds you are familiar with. Never, ever use radio to evaluate speakers. Listen closely for low level details and how natural different instruments sound. When you have narrowed down your choices to a couple of different speakers, audition them at length.

A poor quality car speaker will become tiresome to listen to, usually because of an exaggerated low and high end. Be sure to adjust the bass and treble as well as the volume to levels that are comfortable to you.

Make up your own mind about speakers. The sales person is there to maximise their commission and/or may be biased to a product they have some knowledge about. Most sales people know less about car audio than my mother and by their nature won't shut up long enough to actually even listen.

Beware of salespeople that do an A/B comparison of loudspeakers for you. When switching between speakers, unscrupulous salespeople will turn up the volume slightly on the more expensive speakers to persuade you to buy them. It is an established fact that people tend to prefer the loudspeakers that they determine to be louder.

Demo boards aren't the best way to hear how speakers will sound in your car but its hard to try out a good variety of speakers which are already installed. Speakers that are on the display board at ear height have a big sonic advantage over ones that are above your head or firing into your stomach (guess where the ones they want to sell you are). Bare in mind they will sound quite different in the actual car.

On the demo boards the speakers will be set to run through a meaty amp to make them sound their best. Make sure the amp they are running through is similar to the one your are going to use or if you aren't going to be running an amp make sure you hear them just running off a head unit.

Some speakers "jump off the shelf" and sound flashy at first listen and then turn out to be annoying sounding over time. The speaker that sounds most natural and well balanced gets your toe tapping and emotionally connecting with the music will be the more satisfying speaker over the long haul.
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