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z038
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What if you can't audition?

Do any of you ever decide to buy major components of your audio systems without auditioning it? I'm tempted to buy a piece of equipment based solely on reviews and comments of others. The reason is that the manufacturer has no dealers in my state (Texas). There is nowhere I can go to audition the equipment.

I may ask the manufacturer if I can return the unit if I purchase it and find out that I'm not satisfied with it.

Have any of you ever done something like that? What kind of experience was it for you? Would you do it again?

mrlowry
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Re: What if you can't audition?

If it's really a pricey (which of course is relative) piece of gear a trip might be in order. Especially if you plan to keep it for 10, 15, or even 20 years.

Buddha
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Re: What if you can't audition?

I've done it with "incidentals."

CD players, mostly, or items of seredipitous opportunity!

I think many audiophiles spend vast amounts of time researching and listening, comparing prices, narrowing their choice to one or two items, pontificating the pros and cons, really trying to dice out minute differences...

...and then they see some smoking hot deal on something they've never really heard of, let alone listened to, and all that research goes out the door and they buy on an impulse based on sudden fiscal benefit!

Ask around, it's a common story!

zane9
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Re: What if you can't audition?


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Do any of you ever decide to buy major components of your audio systems without auditioning it? ...

Of course one can do this. I've done it and would do it again.

For example, if you are looking for an amplifier, and you have some knowledge of electronics, and you trust the manufacturer's published specs then there's no need to audition it. There's nothing to "hear". It takes a truly poor design/build to screw up an amp. OTOH, I would want to audition speakers.

Monty
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Re: What if you can't audition?

I buy and sell quite a bit of gear on Audiogon just so I can test drive components that I'm curious about. If you buy right and conduct business in a respectable manner, it's a great way to get lengthy exposure to gear with only modest risks and expense. The positive side effect is you can reach your own conclusions about the relative worth of highly reviewed components and how well particular reviewer's tastes might match your own.

I learned real fast that a universally well reviewed component doesn't mean I'm going to like it. Often times it takes a long audition period to determine that a "different" sound that you initially thought was a "better" sound is in fact just a different sound. At full retail, that can be an expensive proposition.

z038
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Re: What if you can't audition?


Quote:

Quote:
Do any of you ever decide to buy major components of your audio systems without auditioning it? ...

Of course one can do this. I've done it and would do it again.

For example, if you are looking for an amplifier, and you have some knowledge of electronics, and you trust the manufacturer's published specs then there's no need to audition it. There's nothing to "hear". It takes a truly poor design/build to screw up an amp. OTOH, I would want to audition speakers.

It's an amp. Of course, I have a proper respect for magic, but I have no knowledge of electronics.

linden518
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Re: What if you can't audition?

I've done it with my turntable. I thought I was really crazy since it was a major investment, and I wouldn't have done it if I did not have the chance to return it w/in 30 days. Happily, it ended up being fantastic, and to this day, it's the single most satisfying piece of equipment in my system. If it's a substantial investment, I'd advise you have a provision like that in order so you don't get stuck with a megabuck gear you hate to listen to. That's one of the huge drawbacks of Audiogon. You buy it, you live with it or sell off for less, most likely, and possibly get addicted to the buy-sell cycle on 'gon....

z038
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Re: What if you can't audition?


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I buy and sell quite a bit of gear on Audiogon just so I can test drive components that I'm curious about. If you buy right and conduct business in a respectable manner, it's a great way to get lengthy exposure to gear with only modest risks and expense. The positive side effect is you can reach your own conclusions about the relative worth of highly reviewed components and how well particular reviewer's tastes might match your own.

Thanks Monty. Now, what's the negative side? Not what selfdivider talks about below, I hope.


Quote:
That's one of the huge drawbacks of Audiogon. You buy it, you live with it or sell off for less, most likely, and possibly get addicted to the buy-sell cycle on 'gon....

Buying used equipment on Audiogon or elsewhere is sort of scary. You're having to take someone's word that a piece of equipment is accurately described, and has been treated well. I guess that's equally true for any sort of remote purchase of any kind of used "stuff", as with items on ebay. Only for audio equipment, you could be talking a whole lot more money at risk.

I suppose this is a fear I'll have to get over if I want to try a lot of stuff. But to tell the truth, I really would just like to put together a system that pleases me, and stick with it. ... Yeah, right.

Monty
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Re: What if you can't audition?

The downside is getting stuck with a lemon. All you can do is read the seller's feedback and length of time he has been on Audiogon. If you use a little common sense you can reduce the risk. I've never had a bad experience on Audiogon or Ebay and I've been doing the Ebay thing for over 10 years and 300+ transactions. If something just doesn't smell right, I don't bother.

If you are the type that is reluctant to sell a component at a modest loss, it's probably not a good idea to do the Audiogon thing. I approach it as an expense that comes with the education. For example, If I transact 10 components over a year and it costs me $50 bucks for each component when I resell them, that doesn't bother me. $500 a year for a hobby I enjoy is nothing. It's the cheapest education and experience you'll likely find in this hobby.

tom collins
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Re: What if you can't audition?

i took a chance on an amp by "cary" last week. i had never heard any of their amps personally. the seller asked a reasonable price such that i believe i could resell it if need be. he lived close enough that we could meet in the middle after about a 130 mile drive. i already had a set that i was happy with (important), so my decision was that one of them would stay and one would go. it seemed a low risk proposition. i inspected the amp and tubes, gave him green cash in hand and drove off with the amp.
just to end the story, it will not be sold anytime soon and my old gear is going.
just go about it sensibly, watch the feedback, have a budget, narrow it down and give it a shot. you might want to try it with some smaller items first to see how it goes.
good luck.

linden518
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Re: What if you can't audition?

Right, I second Tom's approach here. If possible, try to buy from a seller who's nearby you, who has a stellar feedback rating. As far as I'm concerned, if approached rationally, buying on 'gon should be as safe as purchasing from a dealer. I've bought a few items there myself & all my experiences have been positive.

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Re: What if you can't audition?


Quote:
Do any of you ever decide to buy major components of your audio systems without auditioning it? I'm tempted to buy a piece of equipment based solely on reviews and comments of others. The reason is that the manufacturer has no dealers in my state (Texas). There is nowhere I can go to audition the equipment.

I may ask the manufacturer if I can return the unit if I purchase it and find out that I'm not satisfied with it.

Have any of you ever done something like that? What kind of experience was it for you? Would you do it again?

Never. where there is a will there is a way. If there is no way then there may be reason to be skeptical.

j_j
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Re: What if you can't audition?


Quote:

Quote:
Do any of you ever decide to buy major components of your audio systems without auditioning it? I'm tempted to buy a piece of equipment based solely on reviews and comments of others. The reason is that the manufacturer has no dealers in my state (Texas). There is nowhere I can go to audition the equipment.

I may ask the manufacturer if I can return the unit if I purchase it and find out that I'm not satisfied with it.

Have any of you ever done something like that? What kind of experience was it for you? Would you do it again?

Never. where there is a will there is a way. If there is no way then there may be reason to be skeptical.

ESPECIALLY for loudspeakers, where room/speaker/listener interactions are crucial, I can't imagine spending any substantial amount without a home audition.

Scott Wheeler
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Re: What if you can't audition?


Quote:

Quote:

Quote:
Do any of you ever decide to buy major components of your audio systems without auditioning it? I'm tempted to buy a piece of equipment based solely on reviews and comments of others. The reason is that the manufacturer has no dealers in my state (Texas). There is nowhere I can go to audition the equipment.

I may ask the manufacturer if I can return the unit if I purchase it and find out that I'm not satisfied with it.

Have any of you ever done something like that? What kind of experience was it for you? Would you do it again?

Never. where there is a will there is a way. If there is no way then there may be reason to be skeptical.

ESPECIALLY for loudspeakers, where room/speaker/listener interactions are crucial, I can't imagine spending any substantial amount without a home audition.

I can't imagine that either. The thing that was always hardest to audition at home was high end turntable/arm/cartridges. And that is for good reason. However we now live in an age where we can really audition them with the greatest of care and accuracy. One can simply make hi rez copies off of any rig. then one can take the copies home, adjust levels and listen and compare any which way one wants. There is no excuse now for not making a very informed decision on what was once the most difficult thing to audition.

z038
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Re: What if you can't audition?


Quote:

Quote:

Quote:
Do any of you ever decide to buy major components of your audio systems without auditioning it? I'm tempted to buy a piece of equipment based solely on reviews and comments of others. The reason is that the manufacturer has no dealers in my state (Texas). There is nowhere I can go to audition the equipment.

I may ask the manufacturer if I can return the unit if I purchase it and find out that I'm not satisfied with it.

Have any of you ever done something like that? What kind of experience was it for you? Would you do it again?

Never. where there is a will there is a way. If there is no way then there may be reason to be skeptical.

ESPECIALLY for loudspeakers, where room/speaker/listener interactions are crucial, I can't imagine spending any substantial amount without a home audition.

Room/speaker/listener interactions. That is precisely the rub. If you audition at the dealer, the dynamics will be completely different. So do you just ask the dealer if you can take the speakers home to audition? How does that work? Is it common for high-end audio dealers to accommodate such a request?

By the way, when I asked this question, I was referring to auditioning equipment at a dealer's store. It never occurred to me that a dealer might entertain a request for a home audition.

tom collins
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Re: What if you can't audition?

if you are a good customer (i.e. have spent money there) of the store, a home audition can often be arranged. but, it would usually be of demo equipment already opened and running. it would not be reasonable to ask the dealer to send you home with an unused piece of equipment. my local dealer has permitted me to do this on several occasions.
however, if i remember the original post, he doesn't have a dealer anywhere near, so that kind of negates the demo possibility.

z038
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Re: What if you can't audition?

That's right, tc. It is a Rogue Audio Cronus that I want to audition, but Rogue Audio has no dealer in Texas. I did not ask where the nearest out-of-state dealer is, but it hardly matters when you live in Texas. Odds are it will be a long drive.

Lamont Sanford
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Re: What if you can't audition?


Quote:
Do any of you ever decide to buy major components of your audio systems without auditioning it? I'm tempted to buy a piece of equipment based solely on reviews and comments of others. The reason is that the manufacturer has no dealers in my state (Texas). There is nowhere I can go to audition the equipment.

I may ask the manufacturer if I can return the unit if I purchase it and find out that I'm not satisfied with it.

Have any of you ever done something like that? What kind of experience was it for you? Would you do it again?

Don't do it if you are talking about a lot of money.

z038
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Re: What if you can't audition?


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Don't do it if you are talking about a lot of money.

That's relative, right? Rogue Audio Cronus integrated amp is $1800 new, and that is what I'm talking about. The loss is the difference between what you can buy it for and how much you can sell it for. The time it might take you to sell it could be a factor too.

I haven't made up my mind yet.

Have you had any bad experiences with unauditioned purchases that you'd be willing to describe, Lamont?

Lamont Sanford
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Re: What if you can't audition?

I've never had a bad experience because like yourself I did a lot of homework and my gear was not high dollar so the few items I do have in the closet are an acceptable loss on my part. If you are comfortable with your research and have a good idea on what you're getting than it is just a normal gamble on your part that we all have to deal with this hobby ourselves when it comes to purchase time.

Personally, if you can't find a tube tester at the local grocery store than you have an idea on why you don't have a dealer in your area as well. Tube technology is old. I wouldn't spend a lot of money on it. But I'm a junk equipment kind of person. I would buy a classic and rebuild it for that kind of money.

z038
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Re: What if you can't audition?

Ah, if I only had the ability to rebuild a piece of equipment, I would do so. I know which end of the soldering iron to hold, but that's about it.

There are no tube testers in drug stores around here, that's for sure. There are plenty of dealers of tube equipment in Dallas though, and most brands are represented by one or more dealers. But it happens that none of them sell Rogue Audio.

Lamont Sanford
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Re: What if you can't audition?

Ah, there is your answer. The manufacturer that deserves your hard earned money is the one that has a dealer near you.

BTW, when it comes to electronics. Never do anything yourself that you can pay somebody else to do.

Seriously, you have dealers in your area. I'm sure, no, I'm positive you will find the amp you need in the Dallas area. You really don't owe Rogue anything. They don't have a dealer near you. The invisible hand of supply and demand. Rogue can't or won't put a dealer in your area. That isn't your problem. It's their loss. Do you have a #2 or #3 amp on your list that you can see, touch, and listen to in your area? I would love to be you. All I have is a Radio Shack in my town. I'm 200 miles from any type of metropolis from every point on the compass.

z038
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Re: What if you can't audition?

I can easily audition Prima Luna, Audio Research, McIntosh, and I'm sure a lot of others. Dallas has a number of hi fi dealers.

Lamont, I am not sure I understand what you are saying about a manufacturer deserving my business. I'm not angry or offended that Rogue Audio has no dealer here. I am interested in the gear because of the excellent reviews it has gotten, and because it sounds like it is probably a lot of bang for the buck in its class, which is entry level.

I do plan to go listen to Prima Luna again. A couple of the PL amps are also in my price range.

Lamont Sanford
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Re: What if you can't audition?

I know you are not angry or offended because Rogue isn't in your area. I'm just implying that because they are not in your area Rogue already has one strike against them. BTW, I love McIntosh. My sister has a complete system and she won't tell me how much she spent. Mrs Sanford went and visited her in the Bay Area. When she came back the first thing I asked was, "Tell me about the McIntosh?" She replied, "What's a McIntosh?" See what I'm up against?

z038
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Re: What if you can't audition?

Hey, it could be worse, Lamont. Mrs Sanford might say "Honey, you can spend as much as you like, as long as I get to spend the same." That's the one I get all the time. So if I want to buy a $2000 piece of equipment, it will really cost me $4k.

j_j
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Re: What if you can't audition?


Quote:
Hey, it could be worse, Lamont. Mrs Sanford might say "Honey, you can spend as much as you like, as long as I get to spend the same." That's the one I get all the time. So if I want to buy a $2000 piece of equipment, it will really cost me $4k.

I have sorta the same problem. I buy something, or build it, and soon as you'd like, the offspring and the spouse are monopolizing it, and I need one for me.

mutter...

Jim Tavegia
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Re: What if you can't audition?

I have never had the problem of my wife competing with my hobbies as I am very lucky in that regard for 39 years. She likes some music, I and we love music and the gear that provides our musical moments. It is my only vice, or the only one I really am aware of. (I know...denial)

With my hearing loss I would tend to, and do take advise often now, especially when I do my school recordings in having others check to make sure I have no hums or other noises in the background that I might miss. I have not so far, but one cannot be too careful as you only get one chace to capture a moment.

More to the point, I have not heard an ultimate system like say, that Mr. Fremer has. So not knowing where the bar can go, it would be easy for me to know if something is a good piece of equipment, but not know is it approaching gear that resides in A+ of the Recommended Components listing?

I don't have B&W 802's in surround mode so I have no idea what Dr. Kal hears, but I can be sure it is amazing with the processors and amps he has at his disposal. Probably if ST heard that he might think twice about MC music.

I may have something close to WP's small room, but certainly can only dream of the sound in his big rig with all the amazing gear that has passed through there all these years.

I can only dream of what all the fuss is about. I do gladly take the advice of others without auditioning these days. I am sure that many have purchased either the Benchmark DAC or the DacMagic from Cambridge Audio without hearing it and are greatly pleased they did. They are inching closer to the finish line and are probably glad for the advice.

Tone controls are also becoming a more important factor in my life, but only for listening, not for recording where no EQ or compression is the norm.

KBK
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Re: What if you can't audition?

Get on the boards. Audio circle etc. There may be someone nearby who has one - which you can travel a short bit to hear.

Always worth a shot.

As well, treating audio as a 'goose through' hobby is not such a bad idea.

Buy and sell lots of gear. The losses are minimal if you do it right and can even be mildly profitable. This will take years to learn how to do so, but in the end, you will have heard 100's and 100's of pieces of gear. Be a gear flipper! Today!

I showed a friend how to do basic CRT projector alignment and fixing..and he ended up going through about 150 high end CRT projectors when he was done. He amused himself mightily along the way...and even ended up using the profits to pay for part of his house. But that was an exception to the rule and at a time when he hit the market 'just right'. Being obsessive-compulsive tends to help.

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