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Mike H
08-17-2004, 01:32 PM
Hey all, first post here. I'm going to start off here at audio review with a bang...I'm sure after reading this huge post the Nuance lovers are going to try to rip me to shreds. But thats ok, I'll have my flame suit on and after all the cold hard facts I submit and the Nuance fanboys still don't "get it", well then they have no hope at all.

First off, I'm a member of for close to 4 years. Some of you here I'm sure are familiar with it. If not, I highly recommend you check it out. Probably the best internet home theater discussion to be found with close to 50 000 registered members. There's other big forums too, like AVS, but for some reason I prefer HTF.

There is an FAQ/Primer there that members have submitted different topics explaining various subjects related to Home Theater. I volunteered to write one about Nuance so people would be informed. The site moderators, especially the one from Canada had no problems with me writing a bit of a negative review since he was aware of the scam too.

So here it is.


A salesman said they are the #1 selling speaker in Canada. Is this true?

Probably not but a lot of people do buy them. Nuance audio is a Canadian speaker company based in Markham Ontario that is sold throughout the country in various shopping malls and stores. In any given store that sells these you may be looking for a specific product (like a DVD player) but the salesperson will want to show you these "amazing new speakers". So off you go to the demo room.

I heard them and they sounded quite good, especially that spatial 3D sound

So what was it they played for you? The man chopping the wood? The song Vogue by Madonna? Perhaps it was the hula girls? Maybe the Roger Waters tune? All these tracks have one thing in common which is Q sound. They do have some great imaging like the salesperson claims but its only because of Q sound encoded discs. To put it simply, Q sound makes the audio seem like it comes from the sides and behind you when in fact no speakers are there. Remember- its not the speakers that do this. Any speaker will have this effect (to a degree) as long as you play a Q sound encoded disc.

But the speakers are so big and loud, they have to be good!

Yeah them towers are quite impresive. Big bad-boy in your face sound. But there's a reason behind this, they do it to appeal to the 18-35 demographic. Big 12" subs, lots of drivers and 6 feet tall. Everything a testosterone ridden 20 year old needs. As for the actual sound of them...well I have done my own listening tests and I can honestly say they fall way short of what is considered good sound.

How come when I told the salesperson I wasn't interested he said he would slash the price by 50%

Because he can afford too. He could probably afford to slash it another 50% on top of that and still make a good doller. These things are ridicuously overpriced to begin with. When he slashes the price he's fooling you into thinking your getting a bargain. Its a great selling tactic that unfortunatly works.

But they have a 10 year warranty!

Yes they do. Most speaker companies have 5 year warranties so a 10 year warranty seems like they must have faith in their product. The truth is that the drivers (woofers and tweeters) are very cheap and inexpensive for the company to replace. Without going into great detail the woofers are paper with a laminate of sorts on the surface to give them a more expensive polypropelene look. Paper drivers, for the most part, are a thing of the past as new and better materials become available.

I checked out their website but couldn't find any pictures or specifications

Nuance belives we should all "trust our ears and to not be fooled by flashy specifications" and that specs are not needed. Well then I guess its a crap-shoot as to whether your amplifer at home will properly drive them to a real world listening level. This spec called sensitivity makes all the world of a difference of how loud a speaker will go and yet they don't supply it. Wow, a company marketing their product on their website and there is not even one picture of it. Very strange.

Now I'm starting to wonder about there anything else I should know?

Glad you asked. For one, they do not advertise. Also, Nuance does not allow any professional reviews of their products. They have even threatened to sue Andrew Marshall, publisher/editor of the Canadian magazine Audio Ideas Guide if he borrowed or bought a pair to do this. And if that isn't enough, journalists (like Andrew Marshall) are not allowed to go into the Nuance closed door demos at such events as the Canadian Hi-Fi Show and Montreal Festival du Son.

In short, these speakers are not a good value. They will sound louder and better than many speakers that grace many Canadian livingroom's. But those speakers are a few hundred dollers, not thousands like a full set of Nuance. And for thousands, you can buy a much better sounding quality speaker that doesn't employ shady tactics. Quite frankly, Nuance Audio is a disgrace to Canada's reputation in the audio world for we manufacture some world class speakers.

heres a link to Nuance's website.

I have some editions of Audio Ideas Guides magazines that in the letters column there was some discussion about these from readers. Andrew Marshall responded to some of these letters:

To understand what these speakers really represent I will quote Andrew Marshall who's the editor of the Canadian publication, Audio Ideas Guide. This is taken from the Summer/Fall 1997 Vol.17 #2 edition. This is in response to a letter from a Nuance fan.

"The whole marketing approach of this company is unconventional, and appears to me as a journalist somewhat defensive and paranoid. Yes, they have refused to allow me in their room at Canadian Hi-Fi shows, and have specifically refused to provide review samples. They also do no advertising, placing the burden of awareness on their dealers. In this sense, Nuance (known derisively in the trade as "Nuisance") loudspeakers could be said to be like a house brand for their dealers, without any broad identity or promotional presence.

One feature of house brands is their much larger profit margins, since they are made as specifiacally for a dealer or chain; I am told that a dealer buys his Nuance speakers for half their retail selling price or less, which raises the question of value for money to the consumer. So Nuance puts less money than other speaker makers into either promotion or production, and, I'm told, claims through their dealers that their speakers compete with those at much higher prices.

Though I obviously can't comment on their sonic attributes, all this alledged value for money doesn't compute, unless the companies engineers have discovered a much more cost effective manufacturing process and are able to get drivers (their woofers and tweeters) much more inexpensivly than other companies. What they save on advertising may contribute to their ability to provide higher profits to the dealers, but their unwillingness to allow professional scrutiny of their products makes me quite suspicious, to say the least. And when they threaten to sue if I actually buy or borrow a pair and review them, I start to really wonder. You should, too."

-Andrew Marshall

Last year I contacted Andrew via email to see if anything after 5 years had changed. I asked him if they still threatened to sue, if they still advertised and if they participated in Canadian Hi-Fi shows. Here's his reply:

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael H []
Sent: January 20, 2003 11:03 PM
Subject: A question about a letter in your Vol. #17 magazine

Hi Michael,

Nuance advertised with us for a year on the inside back cover, but did not want their speakers reviewed, I think because of their unusual marketing techniques. I do know that they have tended to have their own paid salesperson in their dealers' premises, hence the two-pronged sales approach. However, my relationship with the company has always been cordial, and I'm not about to review a product if the manufacturer does not desire's too much work.

Nuance has showed at the Montreal Festival du Son, and done their closed door demos, but they would not allow journalists in. It's always made me wonder about their confidence in the products. I haven't yet looked at their web site, but I will. By the way, I think the web site you linked me to (home theater forum) says it all as far as their marketing techniques are concerned, and I'm just as happy to not be associated with them, given the consumer response.

And this is for you Audioreview mods. About 3 years ago in the Nuance product reviews area I had written a few long posts about these. Seems they dissapeared. I know it could have been a software bug or something but I question that. It looks like certain posts that didn't agree with the Nuance scam were deleted. Makes me question just how valid this website is, I have noticed many negative reviews of these getting deleted. However somebody liked what I wrote and was thoughtful enough to save it before it was deleted. They then emailed it to me out of the blue when he noticed it went missing. So a big thanks :)

So, for your reading pleasure, I'm going to repost what I posted here 3 years ago.

Date Reviewed: 2/23/01 10:33:05 PM

Well today I had the pleasure of going to international Stereo to really hear a pair of Nuance sing. I told the "nuance rep" that I wanted to hear it in 2 channel, no surround. No movies. Just music. He said fine and threw in the chopping wood track. What great imaging for Q sound! It even got better when I moved the chair slightly off the center. All that imaging dissapeared! Looks like only one person will ever "benefit" to hear Nuances great imaging. I wonder what Nuance will do when multi-channel music takes off...all that wonderful imaging will really mess things up.I guess Nuance will have to make some Q sound multi channel DVD-A for demos! Can't wait to hear these!
I have a reference Cd that I listen to. It has great sound and I have listened to it on numerous different makes and models. Most have impressed me.I heard it on Paradigm Titan speakers($400.00 bookshelves), my Mirage Om-10s($1500.00 passive towers) and also JM Lab(not sure of the model, but they were $98 000). Each of these speakers sounded pretty good and obviously, at least in this case, as the price went up so did the quality of sound I heard. Them JM Labs are something else.
So I tell the Nuance rep to put the disc in and put it on track 8. He says sure but first I have to listen to Madonna's Vogue. Great...another Q sound encoded disc. And this I know...cause I have it. I thought great I can make a comparison to what I hear at home. To say the least I was not impressed. The bass was a little muddy and they had no depth. Forward, in your face bright sound.Sure, they imaged! Sounds came from beside me. Big deal,its the quality of sound that really matters. But I still had not listened to my disc yet. This is when I asked him how much for the pair...he told me $4800.00 . I knew I was going to get a riduculous price so I saved the moment by not laughing and keeping a straight face. Of course you can wheel and deal so I imagine you can pick up these bad boys for 3000-3500.
Now for the real test. On came the track 8 that I requested and within 20 seconds something was horribly amiss. I knew these would sound bad...but this bad? Even after blasting my eardrums with my portable discman on for the last 3 hours? This song has great detail, so many nuances that a listener will hear. I didn't hear them much on these 4800.00 dollar speakers. The bass was not accurate and very muddy. No crispness to the highs. The cymbals that I have come to love didn't have that nice airy feel. All this on speakers that are 3000.00 dollars more than mine! What a bargain! I was in shock at what I was hearing.
Mr. Nuance rep asked me what I thought. I told him honestly I think they sounded terrible. ESPECIALLY for the price. I could have started ripping into him about everything I know about this company but I wasn't there to do that. I just wanted to hear where my hard earned 4800.00 dollars would go. He figured me out and knew that I had an idea about audio. So he quickly took my CD out and opened the door but we chatted a little more.
He asked what I had at home and I told him. He asked me if they were "imiging speakers" and I said No-there Bipolar. He gave me a puzzled look. Expected. I shot off a quick ramble about soundstage and detail that I wasn't hearing. Soon he was blaming the acoustics in his demo room. I looked at him and said "Buddy, I have the same hard reflective surfaces in my room at home...the only difference is my room is small, about 10 ft. by 12 ft. Hardly enough room for a set of bipolars for optimum sound...believe me I dream of a room this size"
And basically that was it. I walked out and left the store.
All of you that think I just spent the last how many minutes typing this for my own pleasure think again. This is all true and if any of you are thinking about spending loads of cash on speakers, do yourself a favor and shop around. I realize that many of you love these speakers but I really don't think you have listened to much of anything else. I know there big and intimadating looking and rate very high on the impress-your-friends scale. I also know that some of you actually question your purchase of Nuance but people don't like to get burned. So, pyscologicaly you think they sound great...but now I'm starting to sound like an audiophile. Heaven forbid I wouldn't want that. I just don't like to get screwed. And all of you that go for these pieces of trash are getting it real hard in the ass.

My second posting some time later:

Date Reviewed: 12/18/01 1:27:28 AM

In regards to the post below mine.

*begin rant*

First- They DO sound terrible. This would be very apparent if one could do the A/B test. Hook 2 sets of speakers up and see which ones sound the best. If Nuance is so wonderful, then why (at least here in edmonton) do they not sell them beside another speaker that could potentialy change the consumers mind? I'll tell you why. Two reasons. Because then most would agree that they do sound terrible (bloated lows, no nice crisp cymbal crashing highs, a mid that sounds like a megaphone; I don't need to go on). The second is the most important-the markup. The amount of money it takes to make one of these is scandoulus considering what they are selling these for. That flyer they have, the $10 000 ultimate, best home theater in the business. Hmmmm. You get your mains, center, surrounds, a reciever thats worth no more than $1500.00 and a DVD player thats worth no more than $900.00(I only say this because the flyer says its progressive scan, but probably not a true 3:2 pulldown progressive scan player) so its probably really worth closer to $500.00. So in this case, the speakers cost $8000.00 roughly. All of you Nuance reps out there reading this (ya you know who you are)know there is a lot more to be had for 8 Grand than this crap. And, as a rep, if you don't know, then the company loves you. Because your selling an inferior product to people that don't know any better and taking them to the cleaners. Thinking that because they spent big bucks it HAS to be good. I say Ignorance is bliss, on both ends.

Second-The writer below says there is no tricks with the CDs they play, it simple 2 channel. CDs one can buy in the store. He's absolutley right. However, these discs that they like to demo for music do have an ace up their sleeve. They image. They image very well. They do this because of Q-sound, an old technology being used on these state of the art speakers. Nothing more than tricking the mind into hearing things where they shouldn't be coming from. Why do they use Madonna's greatest hits as demo material? Because its encoded with Q sound, especially the track Vogue. That disc is over 10 years old. Wheres some newer demo material? Its old hat, nobody really encodes with Q Sound anymore. Theres another speaker manufacturer that uses the same trick, but its not so much with the software. Its DCM Timewindows and they have actually designed speakers that make you think your hearing stuff behind you. Its not nearly as effective as a 5.1 set-up but still does the trick. And its way less money. The people of Nuance/International Stereo decided that the J6P's out there (J6P= Joe six Pack, a term for people that don't know and sometimes think they do) needed a really expensive speaker to become available to the masses and they will buy it because they just don't know any better. And it has worked. They say nobody can out do them with their 10 year warranty. Bryston, a highly respected Canadian company that makes amplifiers offers a 20 year TRANSFERABLE warranty on their stuff. Sure, its amps and not speakers, but their prone to breaking down too, like everything else we as consumers buy.
To touch on the Q sound idea again, every speaker images(to a point) and all Nuance did was grab a theme(Q sound) and go with it. Nobody knows about Q sound so they can manipulate them into believing that the state of the art Nuance speakers are reproducing this. Simple as that. And thousands have bought into it.

As for the sound of look closer at the drivers. They want you to think they are expensive and have a polypropelene look to them. It's just paper woofers with some hardening substance on them. If they left them just paper it would probably sound better, but these audio scammers at Nuance know that the look of the speaker is almost as important as the sound. If it looks good, it sounds good. And anyway, who wants to admit that they got burnt for thousands? Nobody. So even though you may hear something that sounds crisper, tighter bass and is only $600.00 you will justify your Nuance purchase because you spent more. Or there bigger. Or whatever. Go to A&B sound and listen to some Energy's. A fraction of the price with 10 times the sound. Or, if your feeling adventurous, check out some hi-fi shops. Great deals can be had there too.

And for all wondering about the true legitimacy of Nuance, check out there website that they FINALLY put up.

then check out these other canadian manufactures

Pricewise, Nuance is competing against these others. Make sure you check out specs. I wouldn't even worry so much about looking at the actual numbers, just make a note how Nuance specs their stuff. Go to "customer assistance" and that is their specs for all models.

Go to these other websites and you will see they have specs on every speaker and every little tidbit of information you need to PROPERLY amplify the speaker.

Today is the information age. Anybody that spends this kind of money and doesn't do a little research is asking to be burnt. However, in the consumers defence, a company shouldn't sell something that is outright overpriced and use false information to sell the product.

*end of rant*

Here's a link to a thread on HomeTheaterForum about these speakers that has been a off/ongoing discussion for a couple of years.

Do a google and put in Nuance review. Other than what comes up in audio reviews there is not one. Not a single legitimate review on the entire web. Probably one of the only electronic's companies out there that has this distinction. Perhaps Nuance threatening to sue publications has something to do with it....

So here it is all summed up. I hope it makes some sense :)


08-17-2004, 03:47 PM
Wow, your first post and already you've made a name for yourself. I don't know if your post makes any sense here, as it seems to be just a copy of some Nuance flame war from another forum. We're not going to have one here so you can take your flame suit off.

Mike H
08-17-2004, 04:33 PM
I don't know if your post makes any sense here, as it seems to be just a copy of some Nuance flame war from another forum.

I wanted to post this here because this is where I have seen the most Nuance discussion on the net. It wasn't in these particular forums mind you, it was in the review area.

I did in fact copy and paste most of this write up but since I have written it all (except the passages from Andrew Marshall) from the last 3 years and I pieced it all together. Of course there is opinion but added with the hard facts it should at least, I'm hoping, open some eyes.

And if you really think this comes across as a "flame war from another forum" instead of a researched, informative post then I can already see I'm wasting time here.

This Guy
08-17-2004, 07:07 PM
Thanks for taking the time in posting all that, but like Geoffcin said we don't really have any problem with Nuance lovers or haters. Pretty much everyone that posts on these forums are smart enough to stay away from them. The reviews on this site aren't really taken seriously here and are mainly done by people who don't post here.

08-19-2004, 05:06 PM
this post reeks of flame. the smoke gets in my eyes. but not a problem.
i believe that posts like this have two options, they can be read, or not. i chose to read it. i might have learned some stuff. and i definitely thought it was suspiscious that the nuance website had not a single photo of any of their this correct? maybe i missed something? but i do think that it should be rather easy to find product photos on an audio website. after all, audiophiles like to know what different products look like. the lack of photos on the website makes me think that this post could be totally correct. but wait! there is a photo: of a customer service rep on the phone. i guess that nuance is a customer serive oriented company. they do bark that on the homepage. i guess these talented sales reps are part of their customer service orientation. nothing wrong with that. but, if they are so bad, and do cost so much, and have a vow of secrecy (whats up with having closed doors at the convention?) then id be interested to hear them. just to know for myself.
after reading this post i will be keeping an eye open for nuance. however, if nuance speaers are not as "terrible" as the poster claims, i will be thinking someone other than the speaker company is a nuissance. after all, it is weird to make your very first post such a rant. i would think that if you came into my house and started going off on how ugly the paintings on the wall were id be quite upset. however, if i agreed i would just take you as a very outspoken person. i could see though how this temperment could easily offend many people. id be curious to see if you stick around too. or maybe this was just a log-on flaming? and i am just an innocent reader-by.

08-19-2004, 05:15 PM
ok, i just re-checked the nuance website. whats the deal with no pictures of their products? and the really obvious statement of customer service on their homepage? are they expecting to have to offer so much customer service? where are the pictures of the speakers???

also, whats with this? i found it in their q&a section under who they are:
Q. Will Nuance speakers sound as good in my house as they do in the store?
A. Generally the acoustics in your home will give you equal or even better sound then the store

uhm, ok. generally right? as long as you dont live in a glass house. right. none of us live in glass houses, so that means that the speakers will sound better than in the store where the dealer has gone through wall treatments, acoustics, etc. right. i think that a dealer selling $4000 speakers should not worry about wall treatements or acoustics...i think the nuance website is making me rant now.
oops- sorry people.
if anyone has other information to validate nuance please post. id like to learn more about individual experiences from fellow audioreviewers.

Mike H
08-20-2004, 06:29 PM
The website is filled of nothing but fluff. Its funny reading the customer quotes, I mean does "Their Great!" really tell us a lot? Its like it was written by 10 year olds.

Go to ANY other audio speakers website on the internet. Check a few of them. Then check out Nuances and you will see the difference.

08-23-2004, 08:37 PM
if anyone has other information to validate nuance please post. id like to learn more about individual experiences from fellow audioreviewers.
I got sucked into Nuance when I first started audio about 4 years ago. I managed to get out of it with only a minor loss as I was able to make a large enough stink that they exchanged their speakers for a new Sony Wega TV that I gave to my brother for Christmas that year. I don't think that there is anything good about Nuance speakers at all, although that is simply my opinion.

nusic, I'm a bit surprised that you've never heard anything about Nuance before. In any case, I'd recommend that you go out and pretend that you haven't seen any of these posts and go and find out about the "Nuance listening experience." It's worth the price of admission (free) just for the laughs.

Mike H
02-06-2005, 03:45 AM
*Bump* :)