The good folks at Harman International, and in particular Dr. Sean Olive, (and previously Floyd Toole) have written many AES journal articles (search for Sean Olive) on the use of trained listeners in evaluating speaker performance, and comparing their results to evaluations performed by untrained listeners. It turns out that training people on how to critically evaluate speakers doesn’t change their overall perceptions on the speakers (i.e., trained and untrained people prefer the same better sounding speakers), but it gives the speaker designers a more consistent evaluation method and a better basis and even vocabulary for understanding and conveying the good and bad parts of the sound from the speakers.
Now (as of 2011, I know I’m a little late on this, but it’s still available!) you can train your ears on how to perform speaker listening tests! Some of the features are listed below:
- Supports 2-channel stereo and multichannel wav files (up to 24 bit, 96 kHz)
- includes Session and Practice Modes
- Currently supports two training tasks (more will be added in the next release) that include the following:Band Identification
- Peaks, Dips, Peaks & Dips, Low and High pass filtersAttribute Task
Left/Right Balance (stereo mode)
Front/Rear Balance (surround mode)
I think this is a great tool which will help us in figuring out what things to look for in evaluating speakers and headphones, and in talking about their sound quality.