• Impedance. This is the electrical "load" that the speaker presents to the amplifier. The speaker's impedance (for example, 8 ohms) should match the amp's capabilities. A low-impedance speaker can draw more power from an amplifier than a high-impedance model, but if a speaker's impedance is too low, it may damage the amp or cause it to shut down to protect itself.
• Power handling. This is the wattage a speaker can accommodate before extreme distortion or damage might occur. You can use a higher-power amplifier, but don't crank it up too much!
• Dispersion. Check the speaker's coverage pattern, or dispersion, both horizontally and vertically. Good speakers can produce sound that is consistent over a wide area. (For example, the center-channel speaker should create a wide sweet spot for good dialogue intelligibility.) If you want a huge ambient sound field, choose dipole surround speakers, not direct radiators. When dispersion is measured as a "Q" value, the lower the value, the wider the coverage angle.
Of course, there are other criteria to consider. When it comes to the subwoofer, for example, think big. A sub with a large cone (a 12-incher is nice) and high amplifier power (maybe 300 watts) is required to rock your neighbor's world.
But in the end, you'll still have to just listen. If you're patient, and a good listener, you'll find the speaker that's perfect for you. Same thing goes for finding the perfect woman.
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