It’s quite a while since I went through this process myself (to choose my current loudspeakers, as it happens) but I remember following pretty much the traditional approach. That said, I don’t think I’m languishing in audio hell at the moment…
what a wonderful read!!! Thanks a whole bunch!!! Couldn’t agree more with the following line of argument:
“Do you avoid using music of which you are particularly fond so that you can properly attend to objective analysis rather than be distracted by the music’s pleasures and passions?”
“If you answered “yes” to question #3, you probably require the services of an audio exorcist; for if the purpose of your music playback system isn’t to involve you emotionally, then why aren’t you shopping at Sears?”
I’d recommend the following method, described in the article posted by Ian.
“Line up about two dozen recordings of different kinds of music - pop vocal, orchestral, jazz, chamber music, folk, rock, opera, piano - music you like, but recordings of which you are unfamiliar. (It is very important to avoid your favourite “test” recordings, presuming that they will tell you what you need to know about some performance parameter or other, because doing so will likely only serve to confirm or deny an expectation based on prior “performances” you have heard on other systems or components. (…) First with one system and then the other, play through complete numbers from all of these in one sitting.”
Zelinger’s article is very provocative, but the author also admits that “among audiophiles only some become fetishists, while the majority remain mere enthusiasts.” In other words, only a small minority of HiFi lovers suffer from what Zelinger describes as a “narcissistic disorder”.