Ok, I'm curious
What do people think of this video...
Guttenberg is saying that specifications are meaningless...
Do you agree or disagree?
I can, with reasonable reliability tell you what an amplifier, pre-amp or source device will do just by looking at the specifications (provided they are honest). Speakers pose a special problem in that most measurements are done in anechoic chambers or outdoors (??) but even there I can generally discern the stinkers from the nuggets by seeing response curves, power handling, sensitivity etc. So, I tend to disagree with the video.
The subject of online sound demos is different. That's about the dumbest idea ever since no matter what they do, your speakers are going to sound just like your speakers... and in many cases that's just not going to give any idea what the speaker being demoed actually sounds like.
If there is a graph of the speaker's response at a minimum of 1W and up to about 65-75% of it's power rating, along with all the normal specs, plus driver sizes, then yes, I can get a rough approximation of it's sound. Especially if the graph has both on and off axis curves. Of course you can't get depth and soundstage info from that, but at least you have a basic idea.
Sound clips. Let's get the elephant out of the room (TOTH to Sean). No, you cannot tell what a speaker really sounds like from a sound clips. Many of the arguments are valid. However, the purpose of sound clips is really misdirected by those who are too focused on the minutiae of the hobby. Im going to paraphrase what I said to Ron at New Record Day. 'What sound clips are good for are for giving a first/initial impression to gauge interest.' If the speaker has a quality that you can distinguish, then it is something that you would want to further investigate in person.
Notice the I used the word distinguish. There is a difference between that and hearing. You can hear anything (within reason) but you may not be able to distinguish the difference between 2 or more sounds. The radio men in the armed forces could hear all the chatter on the airwaves, but the ones who had better rigs and headsets could distinguish the important stuff from the useless noise. If you've ever listened to shortwave, or even standard AM, you know what I'm talking about. And that is something that can be recognized on the cheapest fidelity speaker around.
I gave Ron my thoughts about what would make sound clips viable - start with a baseline using your personal speakers for everyday listening. Then when subsequent pairs come in, place them in the same spot and place the microphones in the same positions, use the same electronics and run a test tone to set the level the same for all tests. That way, it takes the room etc and makes it a static part of the test setup, thereby making it a moot point as all units have to contend with the same conditions.
I relayed to Steve G (above) a story he told a while back about this pair of speakers that came out and based on a review by a guy he trusted, he fell in "lust" with them. Unfortunately, there were none around for him to audition or buy. After several years, a pair became available and he bought them immediately. When he got them home and hooked up, he ended up being extremely disappointed and had a hard time unloading them. If he had a good audio clip to listen to, it might have saved him from all that frustration.
There was a guy I watched recently, don't remember if it was Vinyl TV, D-Lab, X-RayTonyB, The Guitologist, or someone else, but the statement they made really makes a point. Paraphrasing, 'To the artist, the amp and pedals are just as much of their sound as their instruments. How many times have you heard one or two notes and known instantly that "that's Jimi Hendrix" or Roger Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughn, etc., etc.? Because that sound signature is unique and is instantly recognizable while listening to the lowly transistor radio up through the multi million dollar systems."
To that end, I'd like to share an observance on my part, and then I'll be finished. When Paul at PS Audio recorded his last listen to the old Listening Room 1(?) and the IRS5s there, the quality of sound in the room was evident on every device I used, my old Samsung Avant and it's internal speaker, the cheap 1.5" USB speakers at my work computer, the 2.1 system on my home computer, and in the car. I could tell from each that they (the IRS5) are definitely something I should experience some day. Do I know what they sound like? No. Do I have a rough idea. Yes. Would I like to check them out in person? Yes. Sound clip objective achieved.