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Patented Virtual Audio technology
for auditioning speakers online
There's always been one big hurdle when shopping for speakers online — you can't tell how they sound. Until now. We're proud to introduce SpeakerCompare, a new tool on our website that simulates the sound of home and car speakers through headphones. It lets you compare sonic characteristics between speakers so that you can make a more informed shopping decision.

Grab your headphones and listen!

We've preloaded four bookshelf speakers so you can try it out.
Klipsch Reference R-51M
KEF Q150
Jamo S 803
Polk Audio Legend L200
Choose different speakers to audition

1. Choose a category below
2. Select "more info"
3. "Add to compare" up to four speakers
4. Click listen now

1. Choose a category below   2. Select up to four speakers to compare   3. Click listen now

SpeakerCompare is also available at the bottom of many speaker product pages under the frequently compared with section.

This is what has been needed forever! I can actually hear the differences, and can choose the speakers that sound best to my ears and taste.
Crutchfield customer

A new way to shop for speakers

About 15 years ago, Bill Crutchfield imagined a new type of “virtual” store, where speakers could be demonstrated online — something that had never been done before. He hired a team of engineers and built a specially designed testing facility in Christiansburg, Virginia. After more than a decade of research, this patented Virtual Audio™ technology is now available on our website.

Now when you're shopping for speakers, you can compare two or more pairs by listening to sample music clips with select headphones to hear sonic differences between each model. We hope you'll find it a valuable addition to conventional shopping resources like reviews, feature lists, and specs.

SpeakerCompare: Rick and Gary
Engineers Rick Wright and Gary Gibbs have created a way to simulate the sound of speakers through headphones.

Our engineers, led by Rick Wright, Ph.D., and Gary Gibbs, Ph.D., had to develop a process for simulating the differences between speakers online. Rick explains that it starts with the team’s anechoic chamber, an acoustically neutral room that uses sound-deadening material to eliminate reflections. The room is equipped with highly sensitive microphones to measure each speaker’s frequency response, sensitivity, power handling, and other attributes.

Next, they gather data on important details like room characteristics and how our ears work. They also carefully measure the audio characteristics of different headphones to account for any sonic coloring they may add to what you hear.

SpeakerCompare tailors your listening experience to the specific type of headphones you have, so that what you hear is comparable to auditioning speakers side-by-side in person. Gary sums up the process of comparing the relative differences of speakers virtually through headphones: “When you break apart each of these pieces, model them, and put them back together, we can simulate the experience of listening with speakers.”

To date, Rick, Gary, and their team have measured hundreds of different home and car speakers. Their ongoing work ensures new models are researched as they're released.

To try out SpeakerCompare, select two or more pairs of home or car speakers to audition, then select your model of headphones from our menu. (We currently have more than 100 to choose from, with more on the way.) Pick a genre of music to cue up a song sample, and hit play. You can then toggle between each speaker in real-time using two listening modes: equal power mode lets you hear differences in loudness as they naturally occur, while equal volume mode gives you a more direct comparison of tonal differences between your selected speakers.

SpeakerCompare: Speakers await measurement
Floor-standing speakers from Polk Audio and Klipsch await measurement.
SpeakerCompare: Our anechoic chamber
Our anechoic chamber, which eliminates acoustic reflections to accurately measure each speaker.
SpeakerCompare: Measurement equipment
Part of our measurement system used to create a profile for each speaker.
SpeakerCompare: Ear-simulating measurement device
One of the ear-simulating measurement devices used in our headphone research.

SpeakerCompare gives you a sense of the sonic differences. But performance in the real world is affected by the acoustics of your car or home, your choice of amplification, and your source material. We still believe that the gold standard for auditioning speakers is hearing them in your own environment — that’s why we offer a 60-day money-back guarantee.

SpeakerCompare Listening Kit
Hear an accurate comparison

If you don't have a set of headphones that we've researched, we recommend renting our SpeakerCompare Listening Kit for the most accurate experience.

Rent a kit
Compare the sound