However, in a phrase, the best home speakers are those that “disappear” into the music. In effect they deliver the truest high fidelity to all instruments and vocals so that they are like an open window into the music, neither exaggerating nor diminishing any part of the musical range we all hear. Singers should sound as if they’re in the room. Vocals shouldn’t be harsh or piercing; they should be smooth and natural.
The best home speakers are really neutral and transparent, and they come from companies with a long history of research and testing into how speakers “sound,” both to music lovers and average listeners.
Scientific tests have shown that humans agree on the best and most natural-sounding speakers when they are not influenced by the brand, price, and appearance. (On the basis of sound quality alone, price is not an accurate indicator of transparency and neutrality in music reproduction.)
Speaker companies that do scientific research using measurement and blind listening tests include brands such as Axiom, PSB, Paradigm, Infinity, and Revel, to mention a few. Furthermore, with rare exception, the best home speakers are designed and built by Canadian, American and British companies, simply because the history of research into sound and speaker reproduction is long and detailed in those countries.
Speakers have to “fill” a room with sound, so they must generate lots of pressure waves in big rooms. Tiny ones are not up to the task. The larger the enclosure for the speaker (the box), the greater the deep bass output will be. Deep bass lovers embrace “subwoofers”, sizable boxes with their own internal amplifiers used for the deepest tones in music.
Another myth to ignore: that there are speakers that are “best for music” and others “best for home theater”. Wrong! The most musical-sounding, neutral speakers with music will also sound the best with movie soundtracks.
Try to choose speakers that you can audition in your own home, with your own music, to decide if they are right for you. If you’re auditioning to find the best home speakers read my guide to judging speaker sound and accuracy.