Intro

Most audio reviewers find it pointless to record what they hear – and for good reason. There are just too many variables. Including microphone quality, recording device, compression after delivery, and the differences in the end-user listening environment.

It’s impossible to fully assess a piece of equipment from a YouTube recording (“fully” being the keyword). Especially when it comes down to purchasing decisions. However, after tweaking and playing with some recordings myself, I realize there’s some value in sharing these comparisons. Allow me to explain.

That A/B video…

A few months back, I posted a quick video comparison with the KEF LSX and KEF LS50W. It was done hand-held, on a cheap Sony A6500 camera with its internal microphone.

My expectations were low, but I thought it’d be a fun experiment. A few friends remarked “Are you even going to get 100 views on that? Seems a bit pointless.” Well, that video now has over 30,000 views.

With the original files, it was easy to determine which speaker was playing. Even on a laptop. Not too much of a surprise, as there’s a huge tonal difference between these two speakers. And I didn’t need an expensive microphone to hear them. But what about YouTube?

As you know, YouTube (and Vimeo) compresses audio down to 320 kbps. However, many commenters were still also able to hear the differences I heard. They were able to decide which one was brighter or warmer – and even which one had more detail or a larger soundstage. Interestingly enough, a lot of them weren’t even using “audiophile-grade” equipment.

The point is, we’re still able to hear relative differences between these two speakers (in regards to detail and tonal color). That’s still useful information! So that got me thinking “What if I use better recording equipment?”