The editors of AudiophileReview.com recently sat down for a classic debate over what are truly the best, ultimate level loudspeakers of all-time. Everyone has their cross to bear in an argument like this. Some love electrostats. Others love hulking tower loudspeakers. Some remember game-changing speakers from the past while others gravitate towards the latest, cutting edge speaker technology. In the end one speaker had to win.
We agreed to a format for voting that takes a “Sabremetric” (the Bill James-created science behind baseball and inspiration for the book Moneyball) look at the topic so that we would vote with more accuracy than judging upon pure emotion, passion and reputation.
We created five weighted categories to judge speakers including:
Performance 100 total points max
Longevity/Relevance 25 points max
Value 25 points max
Aesthetics 25 points max
Lust Factor 25 points max
Total 200 points maximum
* Ties are settled by highest score in Performance, Longevity-Relevance, Value, Aesthetics and Lust Factor (in that order).
Performance is easy to understand. The highest performing speakers would get the highest grade of 100 points. Longevity/Relevance is a topic about how meaningful a speaker is in the marketplace and how long it has been a relevant speaker for those seeking top-level audiophile speaker performance. Some speakers have been around for years but are getting a bit long in the tooth, whereas others had/have a long run but are still highly relevant, thus earning a higher grade. Others have specific applications that make them uniquely relevant.
Value is a funny topic when you talk about speakers costing $5,000 and above; however some speakers are a better deal than others. Some speakers that perform very well also cost more than the GDP of a small nation. Some speakers hold their value when others drop 50 plus percent the day you buy them. The better the value for the speaker the better the grade in this category.
Aesthetics is a key vote as anybody who tells you speakers are all about sound and not about design have no idea what they are talking about. At these prices you deserve to get it all; however some of the speakers on this list are just plain ugly. Others are fantastically designed, finished and appointed and those speakers are the ones who get the highest grade for this category.
Lust is the most ambiguous category and likely the biggest wild card. There was more than one occasion when a speaker got medium to poor grades across the board. But when it came to the question of “How badly do you want to own this speaker?” its score suddenly changed. Other speakers could do well in every category but when it came to lust – there was just nothing there. In many ways, this was the most fun category.
We created a basic list of speakers at $5,000 and above for consideration and put the list out for external recommendations. We ended up with 45 qualified contenders that in many ways represent the elite best loudspeakers ever made. Then we voted, argued and then voted again. And again. This was the process we used in order to come to our final, 25 Best Expensive Audiophile Speakers of All Time list.
Ever speaker on this list is a winner. They are excellent at one or more elements, thus have a place in audiophile history – but only one speaker can win and you will have to count down the 25 best speakers in our slide show to see who wins. Then you can see the runners-up after that.
We encourage you to be part of our experiment in several ways:
• Download our spreadsheet here (link) and vote like us and use Facebook to post the results in the comments below.
• Vote on each slide on a scale of 1 to 10 as to how good a pick you think each speaker is.
• Comment on the overall list, the voting, your list of winners, and speakers you think should be on the list that weren’t considered and more.
The goal here wasn’t to pick a single winner (though we did) but to engage you, the reader, to really get down to thinking about what are the best expensive speakers of all time. It’s a fascinating debate when you get involved and you are invited to be part of the discussion right here on AudiophileReview.com.