Are Hi-Fi shops obsolete?

Are Hi-Fi shops obsolete?
Completely obsolete
13% (33 votes)
Becoming obsolete
21% (54 votes)
There will always be a place for them
67% (176 votes)
Total votes: 263

In the responses to last week's poll, one reader stated: "It is easier to buy and sell through the Internet. Hi-Fi shops are obsolete."<P>Is this true, are Hi-Fi shops on the way out?

Nodaker's picture

Bricks and mortar stores are on their way out. There will always be big box shops (ie BestBuy, Circuit City), but the specialty stores are a losing proposition. Too much reliance on the web will do them in.

EG's picture

Reviews in magazines and information on manufacturer websites are the primary methods I use to screen potential acquisitions. Before I part with coin of the realm I still require a tactile experience with real hardware at a distributor's shop. For this reason, specialty dealers will always have a place in the market. They will be increasingly rare perhaps but never extinct.

wally's picture

There's a double-barreled shotgun pointed at hi-fi brick 'n mortar shops. First time consumers get dumbed down by Bose and BestBuy; audiophiles do lots of moaning about the death of service, yet feel no qualms about auditioning products in a shop and then buying the piece they auditioned at an Internet site. Further, I've had more than one delusional joker insist hotly that it's my duty as an authorised dealer to provide service to him when his gear hits the wall. The company I work for has survived and we're doing okay, but our type of personal service is slowly being squeezed out of the marketplace.

Michael Holmes's picture

You can talk to your favourite "experts," you can see and hear the kit. For the committed, a good retailer is a lifelong friend!

Laura's picture

I can't imagine buying any quality piece of high-end audio gear without listening to it first. For me, it is all about the music and I want to hear music through the equipment before I buy. I traveled over 800 miles (twice) to hear my current speakers before purchasing themspeakers. If you can't audition the equipment in your listening room, the dealer's listening room or a show like RMAF is the next best alternative.

Paul B's picture

Dinosaurs. And good riddance. I'd rather deal through the 'net with a friendly fellow audiophile than these snobby, tiresome peddlers.

Jim G.'s picture

They are very hard to find.

nywytboy68's picture

You can only find half-assed equipment on the Internet most of the time. Also, in order to increase a persons knowledge reguarding sound quality you need a personal touch for guidance. Try getting hands on with the Internet. Nothing beats hearing!

tom's picture

They may not become obsolete, but there will be a lot fewer of them. The market will decide whether it values what the knowledgable shop owner brings to the table, just as it values every other commodity for better or worse.

Carlos Gallardo's picture

We will always need a hi-fi shops to listen to different gear and to choose the most suitable for us.

Jeffrey Bean's picture

If I could buy it all online with a 30-day money back guarantee, I probably would. Not that I have anything terribly against local shops, they just don't provide much help to me for the most part, given the price premium they require. Most are just glorified order takers. Certain, very rare, shops are the exception and I happily give them my business.

dan coffee's picture

As far as they stay up to date. The hi-fi shop near me has been open for 35 years. A vary stable place. My first purchase was 1995, a demo piece.

kevin McCullagh's picture

The computer is a cerebral experience and the shop a personal one.

djl's picture

I can't remember the last time I even visited my local shops. The brands they carry are lousy, so why should I visit 'em? The local prices are lousy too, the prices on-line are way better.

Freddy Silva's picture

I believe people still would like to listen and play, before purchasing.

Keith B.'s picture

The retail experience is as much about the relationship as it is about the product. In the face of Internet competition, they won't go way, they'll just become more specialized.

Al Veeh's picture

Being born in the '50s and growing up with LPs and tape I am hooked on good sound. However If I was born today and all I heard was MP3—well you can see where I’m going here. Why would anyone want to get into high-end when it will reveal how bad MP3s sound ?

John B's picture

I would never make a significant purchase without an audition. My experience in the past couple of years has indicated there are two types of dealers. The first doesn't have a clue and could not set up the best of products to give a good audition. The second, and quite rare, are capable of setting equipment up properly, are knowledgeable, and give their customer ample listening time. This second type of dealer will get my business and the rest are irrelevant and obsolete.

J.R.'s picture

I have saved money by purchasing online but always appreciate being able to see, hear, taste, touch, lift, and smell my stereo componets before purchase. (In my experience when it comes down to two different brands or models of speakers & amps., 9 times out of 10, the heavest is the best.)

H.  Williams, Hollywood Hills's picture

Hi-fi shops are more than abundant online. What a sad commentary...

Alfredo's picture

There are always people that want to touch what they buy.

D.  Morgan's picture

There's no substitute for actual listening, especially when hi-fi shops will let you audition using your own system. Only chumps waste big money spending deaf.

Don Reid, Amarillo TX's picture

Hi-fi ended with the introduction of the stereo LP in 1958. The '60s replaced serious music listening with sex, drug,s & rock-n-roll. '70s retailers eliminated outdated concepts such as DIY kits, used gear trade-ins, service departments, & trained sales staffs, leaving customers to chase price points as their only option. In 1983, CD "Perfect Sound Forever" ended any further need to market quality audio, while the VCR and videos replaced critical listening, thinking, & conversation. During the '90s, the Internet & PC delivered the final blow, eliminating the need for physical location (bricks&mortar) or person to person contact. For the present, DVDs, digital TV, and big-screens are widening the gulf between fantasy & reality. Media corporations will soon be streaming terrorism, torture, rape, murder, war, and death directly to our homes in life-size 3D virtual reality 24/7 at the click of a button. Bye bye dealers. Bye bye Stereophile.

Miguel Fernandez's picture

Gotta try it before you buy it.

pathfinder's picture

Most hi-fi manufacturers don't sell to consumers direct through the Internet. Otherwise, Internet purchases should be cheaper as these eliminate the middle men- the hifi shops. Internet purchases (period) should be cheaper but this is not the case at present. So hi-fi shops are still necessary.

Osama's picture

There will always be a niche market for quality sound.

charles's picture

The internet, at its best, allows for a buyer to audition-in a home setting,the equipment of choice. Buying/selling used equipment—the only way to fly—has already made the "trade-in and trade-up" aspect of retail shops obsolete. Can the overpriced, overblown, and the "why mention it to you if I don't sell it?" hypemanship of the brick-n-mortar places be far behind?

Fred Huff's picture

The only true hi-fi shop in my area closed its doors about two years ago. A real shame, but not an unusual occurrence in a small market. The owners were very helpful to me. They made it a point to carry gear they felt gave good sound at a good price point (Arcam, Cambridge Audio, Rega), as well as some more upscale brands. Now I have to drive three hours each way to find that same type of expertise and service. It could be worse.

David A.  Silverman's picture

It is still important to hear and see the products in person. The higher end shops will remain. Problems are more likely in the lower end electronic stores, where it is not as important to hear or compare products.

tonyE's picture

Where are they? Some shops have gone "by appointment only" and whole hog to Carriage Trade HT. The old mom and pop has disappeared. I seldom go to one because they are very few of them left but I do take my components (tubes) for maintenance even if I have to cross the entire LA area.