Is It Easier For Musicians to Evaluate Speakers?

Member Omsed recently queried the Speaker forum if playing an instrument helps speaker evaluation.  Interestingly enough, the responses were slightly ambiguous.

Wolf_garcia: I’ve been a musician forever and think it’s sort of strange that most musicians don’t become audio geeks, so in that sense they resemble actual people. Also, sound is a personal perception thing…my acoustic guitars sound different in my hands than in somebody else’s (you can’t even count electrics as a reference), and the “piano in the room” (I have one in my listening room) reference exists only relative to wherever you sit…I mic live pianos at jazz shows (lately gigantic Steinways) by sticking a great condenser mic facing the soundboard with the lid open…and nobody actually listens to a piano like that, unless they got stuck in it somehow (you often hear pounding from ’em if the lid’s shut…usually well after the party ended). Is the reference a live instrument in an acoustically dead space? If so that is not good as it’s creepy and lacks life, and a reverberant live setting isn’t your house. I think opinions of musicians may be useless (except mine of course), and if it sounds good to you, it’s good, because it doesn’t sound exactly like that to anybody else. So the answers are yes and maybe.

Jeffb28451: Yes, absolutely, but…

Have played bass, trumpet and guitar for over 40 years. Experience in amplified, unamplified, sound reinforcement, etc. Have sat in audiences untold times, and right in front of trombones at full bore in orchestras…here’s the catch.

Wolf has it right on the head. A few years ago, I was in a very high end dealer on the East Coast, at a Transparent cable unveiling/demo. There were about 20 people present.

Now, I’ve used Transparent and tons of other stuff, down to 24 gauge cotton wrapped silver, so this is no knock on expensive cable (that’s another post). Anyway, “A” and “B” samples were played of an acoustic bass and french horn. No one in the room commented when asked about hearing the differences. Since I’d bobbed my head, I got called on and said the harmonics were different and the attacks/leading edges were obviously different. The demonstrator seemed satisfied with that, until I added that moving the microphone just a few inches closer or further from the bridge or the bell could also make the same difference.

Simao: [I play] drums and percussion. And I listen for how honest the toms sound – whether I can hear them being struck. Also, does the bass drum have its individual timbre? or does it just sound like a generic thump? Cymbals should have their own location and soundstage. I get frustrated when I hear cymbals disappear into a generic wash of sound, or compressed down to the point where the hi-hat is the same volume as the crash.


Do you notice subtle differences that non-musicians don’t?  If you play multiple instruments, are you more attuned to how lifelike one sounds over the other when recorded? Comment below!

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