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jrbackon
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dealer vs. online

I am looking to purchase my first audiophile grade system. I currently have nothing. I play my music through my computer with "decent" speakers.

I have been doing tons of research and all the literature can't seem to stress the importance of "auditioning" products at a dealer enough. The problem for me is there don't seem to be any dealers near me. I live 45 minutes east of Pittsburgh and the closest dealers with products I'm interested in are outside of Philadelphia, 5 hours away!

My question is, since I'm buying a system (cd player, integrated amp, 2 channel loudspeakers) from scratch, would it be "audiophile suicide" to purchase components I've researched via an online dealer like musicdirect?

Any comments or advice on this conundrum would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Jan Vigne
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Re: dealer vs. online

Buying a collection of high end components does not guarantee quality sound. This is most especially true if there are any budget restrictions involved in the purchase. A well put together system with a synergistic match between components can easily elevate a lower priced system head and shoulders above a higher priced system of just good gear put together without much thought. However, IMO, this sort of system synergy reflects rather deeply held convictions as to what is important and what is not for any individual listener. You cannot simply rely on someone else's ears to tell you what you will really, really like. They can only tel you what they - and others - really like. System synergy comes from the sort of conviction to a musical reference which can only be had through a familiarity with the sound of live music. If you have these references for live music fresh in your head and you believe you know what live music should sound like and what reproduced music should do to come close to that reference, you can do no better than a live audition of components. If, OTH, your reference is your car system or just what sounds good at the moment, then buying willy nilly and without the benefit of an audition is just as likely to get as good a system as any other method. An experienced salesperson can suggest a system they know will work well together. However, it may not be the best system for you. If you don't feel you have the best possible for the price paid, you will get the upgrade bug rather soon. Sooner or later, as you run through funds, you'll decide you really should listen before you buy somethng.

dbowker
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Re: dealer vs. online

I've bought a number of items online without actually hearing them, but that's after years of experience with other items in a line, or owning previous incarnations. In your case I'd strongly recommend getting an online dealer who will give you a 30 day no questions asked return scenario. They may change shipping or something, but if they are good, they should be able to help you out. The guys at needledoctor. com have been fantastic with customer service for me- no promises they'll do what I mentioned above though 'cause I never asked them too. But I have a hunch they just might. Ask for Patrick- never met him in person but he's been a really good, stand up sales guy for me.

The other thing is- don't try and order everything at once. Start with an amp maybe, then speakers and then cd player, etc. Point being you have to get used to something before you can decide how things work together (or not) and what you like/don't like.

Good luck!

jrbackon
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Re: dealer vs. online

I think you make an excellent point. I am interested in creating a system that will please me with respect to my ideas of good musical reproduction. I guess my question is then: how can I go about doing this? Is it worth it to get in touch with a dealer several hours away and make a day trip some weekend? Is the dealer going to view me as a one time sell and not as a long term customer? Is there an easier way to audition components without having to make a 10 hour round trip several times? I'm prepared to make a time and monetary commitment but I want to do it right the first time and not make costly mistakes.

jrbackon
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Re: dealer vs. online

The 30 day return policy seems attractive. Unfortunately it would be next to useless to buy only one component at a time. If I bought an amp it would sit in the box until I had speakers and a source to play through it. Unless there is a way to hook up my computer to the amp... Then again my computer speakers are self powered so if I hooked an amp up to them they would probably blow. I really need to audition an entire system and it doesn't seem like there's a good way to do this without going to a dealer.

Jan Vigne
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Re: dealer vs. online


Quote:
I am interested in creating a system that will please me with respect to my ideas of good musical reproduction.

Then you first need to know what live music sounds like. I have on ocassion suggested to a client the need to go hear some live concerts before making a decision about which piece of equipment to buy. If you have not heard live music in the fairly recent past, I would suggest you make reservations to go listen. If you are only making it up in your head as you go along, you can buy anything and be disappointed.

z038
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Re: dealer vs. online


Quote:
I think you make an excellent point. I am interested in creating a system that will please me with respect to my ideas of good musical reproduction. I guess my question is then: how can I go about doing this? Is it worth it to get in touch with a dealer several hours away and make a day trip some weekend?

Yes. I'd do it in stages. Call a few dealers and verify that they sell equipment you are interested in listening to. Drop by each of them one day and spend an hour or two in their shop talking to them in person. If you dig the vibes and they are willing to set up some equipment for you to audition that day, then do so. Otherwise, just visit and get a feel for the shop. Pick the one you like the best and plan to go back on another day to audition the equipment you like. Tell them what you want to audition and when you'll be coming back in town. Call a couple days before you go back and make sure they're ready for you.


Quote:
Is the dealer going to view me as a one time sell and not as a long term customer?

Maybe. The point of the first trip is to evaluate the dealer more than the gear. Go with your intuition.


Quote:
Is there an easier way to audition components without having to make a 10 hour round trip several times? I'm prepared to make a time and monetary commitment but I want to do it right the first time and not make costly mistakes.

No way that I know of. You are looking at two trips minimum, if all goes well.

jrbackon
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Re: dealer vs. online

Thanks everyone, I think its abundantly clear that I need to hear a system before I buy. Also a refresher on my concept of live music seems to be in order as well (although I have a pretty good idea of what I want). I'm going to visit some dealers this weekend (hopefully) and go from there. Thanks again!

cyclebrain
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Re: dealer vs. online

First of all don't be one of those A-holes that go and listen at your local dealer and then mail order to save money.
Second, listening at a dealer, even a good one, even for an extended time, has little to do with how anything will sound in your listening room. Sorry. Thus the amount of high end equipment for sale on audiogon.

z038
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Re: dealer vs. online


Quote:

Second, listening at a dealer, even a good one, even for an extended time, has little to do with how anything will sound in your listening room. Sorry. Thus the amount of high end equipment for sale on audiogon.

So what alternative to listening at the dealer's store do you recommend then? Make purchase decisions based on other people's reviews and/or measurements? Use manufacturer's published marketing specs to base your decision on? Or maybe rely on their customer's testimonies? Buy strictly based on price? Trust in divine providence? Consult a Ouija board? Roll dice? Maybe look at pictures and pick the sexiest-looking gear that integrates best with your listening room decor?

While the sound in your listening room will be different from what you hear from the exact same equipment in a dealer listening room, you still have the advantage of listening to many different combinations of gear at the dealer's store and you can get a sense of the relative differences between them, ceteris paribus. That is valuable, and it is the reason why you listen to the equipment before you buy it, regardless of your awareness that the equipment will sound different when you get it home.

cyclebrain
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Re: dealer vs. online

I am aware of the problem, but don't have a good answer to it. My current unaceptable solution is to buy stuff and listen to it at home. Stuff I don't care for resell.
Also based on the Vincent add in the Nov Stereophile issue page 136, this stuff looks promising. I mean if she likes it,I like it.

dbowker
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Re: dealer vs. online

I disagree. It won't sound that different when you get home! Go listen and trust that the basic character of the system will remain. Unless your room is vastly different it won't kill the demo. A good dealer will try and minamize the differences between your home and the demo. Make sure to bring your own music though!

tebs
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Re: dealer vs. online

I like what my dealer said after auditioning at his store..."I am here to sell what you like (what pleases to your ears). I am not going to disagree or argue that my speaker is better than the others that you've heard. You will buy my speakers if you like what you've heard so far."

If a dealer is available in your area, it all comes down to convenience & practicality.

59mga
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Re: dealer vs. online


Quote:

Also based on the Vincent add in the Nov Stereophile issue page 136, this stuff looks promising. I mean if she likes it,I like it.

A local dealer carries Vincent and I was about to go give it a listen. Then I saw the ad you mention...to which part of my anatomy are they trying to appeal?

If I was 25, again, I would has made the purchase equipment unheard. But, hey, I'm past the age of 50...need I say more.

p.dow
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Re: dealer vs. online

spend your money where you feel you will have a good deal/service.
imo - you have to start somewhere . if you never go into a brick and morter store because you will feel guilty if you dont buy after looking or listening to something certainly you will be missing that particular store experience. your quest for audionirvana may yield a failed sale for the owner of the store if you go-and buy elsewhere.
certainly it is easy for a store owner to blame a failed sale or store failure on newbe lookers. overhead cuts into profits and a single store can only carry a few products.
i say go into any store you want and dont worry. if the owner thinks you are wasteing his time he might let you know- whats the worst that could happen, dont worry-be happy.
yomv
good luck in putting your system together.
paul

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