Does that description sound hyperbolic? It's really not. Earlier this year, there was a big kerfuffle when Monoprice -- an Internet merchant devoted to delivering audio products and accessories at a fraction of the prices charged by competitors -- introduced a $249 5.1 speaker system that appeared to be practically identical to the well-reviewed $395 Energy Take Classic system. CNet reviewed both systems and found no significant performance difference between them.
Then they asked my colleague Geoff Morrison to dig a little deeper into the two systems. He in turn asked me to run some lab measurements on the speakers to see if there were any differences. In the resulting article, we found enough differences to say the two speakers weren't technically identical, but enough similarities to say that they were functionally identical.
A lawsuit ensued, which was settled on undisclosed terms.
Now Monoprice has introduced a new system, with the model number 10565. It appears quite similar to the previous 9774 system. The woofer in the satellite speaker has a dished dust cap, instead of the convex dust cap (styled to look like a phase plug) on the original. The crossover in the new one has one fewer resistors but the same number of capacitors and chokes. All components are of the same size as the previous ones and, we assume, the same value or at least pretty close.
Fortunately, I have a super-accurate and completely objective and scientific way to find out if there's a difference between the new and old systems: my Clio 10 FW audio analyzer, which I use in conjunction with a Clio MIC-01 measurement microphone. The Clio could tell us exactly what was going on by measuring the frequency response of the new one so I could compare it directly to the measurements I took of the original. I used quasi-anechoic measurement technique, with the microphone placed at a distance of 1 meter.
Want to learn more about speaker measurement? Read my white paper (PDF) on the subject.