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Consumer Reports: Speaker Ratings

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#1 of 82 OFFLINE   ChrisMatson



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Posted July 06 2001 - 08:55 PM

The August Issue of Consumer Reports has ratings for bookshelf speakers priced from $100 to $650 per pair. They do a good job of emphasizing personal taste and the importance of auditioning many speakers to find a personal favorite. The ratings are based primarily on accuracy and the abillity to play bass at loud volumes with little distortion. The speakers were tested in an anechoic chamber and fed with test signals at all audible frequencies. Unfortunately, the graph for each speaker's accuracy is available online only and I am not a member. Without further ado, here are the results: 1) Pioneer S-DF3-K 2) Bose 301 Series IV 3) Cambridge Soundworks Model Six 4) BIC america Venturi DV26si 5) Infinity Entra One 6) B&W DM 602 S2 7) NHT Model 1.5 8) JBL Northridge Series N28 9) Polk Audio RT15i 10) Polk Audio RT35i 11) PSB Image 2B 12) Yamaha NS-A638 13) Mission 780 14) Bose 141 15) HTD Level Three 16) Acoustic Research Stature S-20 17) Polk Audio RT55i 18) JBL Studio Series S26 19) Cerwin Vega RL-16M 20) Infinity Interlude IL10 21) Klipsch Synergy SB-3 Monitor 22) DCM DCM6 23) KLH 911B They also tested 3-piece systems: 1) Cambridge Soundworks Ensemble III 2) Bose Acoustimass 3 Series IV 3) Bose Acoustimass 5 Series III 4) Bose Acoustimass 3 Series III 5) Cambridge Soundworks New Ensemble II They said that home theater systems will be rated in an upcoming issue.

#2 of 82 OFFLINE   KonradN


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Posted July 06 2001 - 09:29 PM

hmm, the ranking certainly does not show what was expected. For one the higher end jbl scored lower than its lower end counterpart and seeing pioneer and bose take the top spot away from b&w, psb, klipsh or the other high end manfacturer is very surprising if not hard to believe.

#3 of 82 OFFLINE   Jeremy Hegna

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Posted July 06 2001 - 09:46 PM

"...seeing pioneer and bose take the top spot away from b&w, psb, klipsh or the other high end manfacturer is very surprising if not hard to believe."

What do you expect from a group that rates the performance of vacuum cleaners and hair spray one day, and speakers the next? Posted Image

It's too bad that soooo many uneducated people rely so heavily on "Consumer Reports". They do have their strengths...but they surely need some help doing speaker reviews!


#4 of 82 OFFLINE   Norm Strong

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Posted July 06 2001 - 10:13 PM

I happen to be educated quite well. I also rely on consumer Reports to do something I'm simply unable to do, i.e. test 25 different speakers to see which ones are the most accurate. I have no anechoic chamber. I have no battery of mikes and a turntable to rotate the speakers and get the 2pi solid angle response. I think the main objection to Consumer Reports is that they don't come up with the answers many people in the audio world are hoping for. It is an interesting fact that the average price of the top 11 speakers in CU's test is lower than the average price of all of them. ------------------ Norm Strong (nhsns@aol.com)
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#5 of 82 OFFLINE   ChrisMatson



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Posted July 06 2001 - 10:21 PM

FWIW, the same issue has beer ratings. The highest rated American Lager...Stroh's!!! Pabst Blue Ribbon finished 4th, ahead of Coors, Miller Genuine Draft and Rolling Rock, which came in last. Consumer Reports may not be the best place for advice on subjective products.

#6 of 82 OFFLINE   Chip E

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Posted July 07 2001 - 03:23 AM

I stopped my subscription two years ago.. The speaker rating is comical, lol.. - Chip
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#7 of 82 OFFLINE   Thomas_A


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Posted July 07 2001 - 03:31 AM

Well ya know the something funky is going on when-

"Ratings are based on accruacy and ability to play bass at loud volumes with little distortion"

bose # 2.... roflmao............ hahahahahahahahahahahahah
give me a break!

So far, So good, So what



#8 of 82 OFFLINE   Wayne_T


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Posted July 07 2001 - 04:10 AM

Those sales guys were telling me the truth all along, but I listened to you guys on the forum. I'm going out today to upgrade all my Paradigms to Bose. Posted Image


The bitterness of poor quality lingers long after the sweetness of low price has passed.

#9 of 82 OFFLINE   Ryan Pream

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Posted July 07 2001 - 05:26 AM

I've never agreed with Consumer Reports on any products I have had a lot of knowledge with. Ryan ------------------

#10 of 82 OFFLINE   Ron Stimpson

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Posted July 07 2001 - 05:27 AM

These are the same Einsteins that once rated bicycles (that is REAL bicycles that tend to cost over $500) by how far they rolled down a hill without pedalling, and how easy it "seemed" (if I recall) to stop by squeezing the brakes. Uhh. Right. If you want to learn about bikes, read a decent enthusiast mag on the issue (naturally all pursuits have at least one with "HT Magazine" sort of coverage, so just cuz it's an "enthusiast mag" does NOT mean it's a good one). If I want to learn about HT gear I'll read The Sensible Sound, Sound and Vision or a few others. If I want to learn about computers? PC Mag and Computer Shopper. Bikes?? "Bicycling" and "Mountain Bike Action". Toasters and dish soap? Consumer Reports. Pioneer speakers ahead of B&W? Let's hope they stick to toasters. Unfortunately Bose just sold a bunch more speakers with that issue. Ron

#11 of 82 OFFLINE   EdS



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Posted July 07 2001 - 06:41 AM

Just to add another point of view... The ratings for speakers are objective, that is they measured the accuracy of the speakers, the ability to play loud w/o distortion, and made their ratings off of these measurements. It does not mean that the Pioneer or Bose sound better subjectively than the NHT (which was judged among the most accurate speakers) or the B&W; it just means that they were more accurate. Accuracy does not necessarily mean "sounds better". Regarding the beer taste tests, the testing was done by two "experts". On the one hand it is easy to dismiss the results domestic lagers, on the other hand they rated Sam Adams, Pete's Wicked Ale, Killian's Irish Red as the best "crafted lagers" and ales. I don't have any issue with that. The point is, when taste testing it is easy to disagree with the "experts" because everyone's taste is different. On the other hand, one may not like the result of an objective test, but the data is the data; interpret as you will. FWIW, Consumer Reports is by no means my "bible" for making buying decisions; but I don't dispute the accuracy of the objective tests they make, only the value.

#12 of 82 OFFLINE   DavidY


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Posted July 07 2001 - 07:06 AM

Speaker reviews on Consumer Reports.....I don't trust them anymore. The last time I did was when I was a newbie and bought a pair of Bose 301 Series IV. That was the worst decision that I have ever made which was HT related. Personally, I guess that the one good thing with the most recent speaker ratings, with Bose 301 Series IV ranked #2, is that I can now get good resale value on it....it's probably a good time for ebay. For the average consumer, they seem to be fairly happy with Bose, VHS, and such.....ignorance is bliss. Dave

#13 of 82 OFFLINE   Burke Strickland

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Posted July 07 2001 - 07:27 AM

How do they test "accuracy"? With music, or sine waves? A speaker may do very well at "accurately" reproducing a single frequency sine wave, but perform miserably when reproducing the complex waveforms of music. Burke

#14 of 82 OFFLINE   Marty M

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Posted July 07 2001 - 08:00 AM

When I am looking for a car or a major appliance, I always read Consumers Report. IMO, they have never gotten it right on audio equipment.
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#15 of 82 OFFLINE   Shade Watson

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Posted July 07 2001 - 08:10 AM

I haven't read the article. But from reading this thread, I can make a conclusion that will explain most of their strange rankings. The typical HTF member only expects his bookshelf speakers to play low enough bass to meet up with his subwoofer. Consumer Reports wants the bookshelf speakers to play as low as possible. That is why the speakers with larger woofers are at the top of their list. The Bose 301 has an eight inch woofer. The JBL N38 has an eight inch woofer while the JBL S26 just has a six inch woof. I guess CR takes the term "bookshelf" a little more seriously than we do.

#16 of 82 OFFLINE   Manuel Delaflor

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Posted July 07 2001 - 08:35 AM

Interesting thread, I wonder why the source of an opinion is important and not the objective measures they have done. And is not that I'm saying that the article on CR is well done or not because I don't have access to one (I assume is a magazine on the US). I'm more concerned with the argument of the "recognized authority", this is, if somebody is an "specialist" automatically is assumed that all his opinions are correct. I prefer to think differently, I cannot accept ANY opinion, I have to make my own tests or, at least, know exactly what tests "the specialist" does in order to understand them. And only then I will feel in the right mood to make a more objective decision... ------------------
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#17 of 82 OFFLINE   Greg S

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Posted July 07 2001 - 09:04 AM

Well I bet there will now be a spike in the sales of these 2 items. 1) Pioneer S-DF3-K 2) Bose 301 Series IV Greg

#18 of 82 OFFLINE   Jonathan Burk

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Posted July 07 2001 - 11:09 AM

Don't miss the #1 rated bookshelf speaker here, for $135/pr!http://www.1cache.com/pioneer5.html

#19 of 82 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted July 07 2001 - 11:23 AM


They said that home theater systems will be rated in an upcoming issue.


I can hardly wait. Posted Image

Any publication that ranks Bose ahead of such quality speakers as B&W and Klipsch isn't worth the paper it's printed on. I used to own a pair of Bose 301's, and now have a B&W setup (with the 602 S2's as surrounds). There is no comparison.

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#20 of 82 OFFLINE   Keith Smith

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Posted July 07 2001 - 12:15 PM

I have been a great fan of Consumer Reports for many years. I always want to check their report before making a purchase. However,I hardly ever purchase their top ranked items. I believe that their rankings are valid according to the criteria that they state in each report. With loudspeakers, they tell you what they are measuring and how; it is objective. My purchasing decisions take the CR data into account, but I have my own criteria that I use in making my decisions. Usually, the CR information will enable me to eliminate quite a few candidates for purchase, and that makes it worthwhile for me. I personally do not like what I have heard from loudspeakers by Bose, Klipsch and Theill, but I have friends who love their sound. How loudspeakers stack up in a ranking will not override my personal preferences, and, on the other hand, it would be inappropriate for me to scoff at objective rankings just because the results are inconsistent with my personal preferences. Keith Smith

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