Do You Buy Speakers Without Hearing Them?

In the 'good old days' there were a lot of hifi stores around so there was plenty of opportunity to go in and listen to various brands and models of speakers.  With the continuing disappearance of audio shops, I'm wondering if more people are making the leap to buy speakers they've never heard in person, or just limiting their purchase options to the brands they can hear locally?  If you are buying a speaker that you haven't heard, how do you get comfortable with that?  Magazine reviews?  YouTube demos?  

I've mostly heard any speaker I ended up buying, but in two cases I bought speakers that weren't available in my area.  I made my decision based on reviews.  In one case the speaker was really nice, but in the second case, the speaker was well-reviewed but ended up being disappointing.

Appreciate your thoughts.


Ag insider logo xs@2xazkeith

In general no. Descriptions of the sound of speakers is only really effective if done in relation to speakers you have heard and know. Otherwise each qualitative statement has little quantitative information. A comment like a bit bright and detailed could mean anything from something you might not hear it to ear shattering, chalk board scraping sound. It is difficult to talk about without common sign posts.

But after three decades of experience and owning a lower tier speaker from Sonus Faber to verify that they had exactly the sound I wanted, the next two upgrades with the same company and doubling or more my investment was very safe. The outcome was exactly what I expected.

i did that with 3 speakers



Triangle Comte

Ref 3A de Capos-had these for 14 years now

As a general rule,I’d never buy anything without hearing it first, although I made one exception.  I have a Hegel H390 and when Hegel was at the shows, they were using KEF speakers for a while.  I figured that Hegel would want to show off their wares in the best light, so I bought a pair of KEF Reference speakers and after two years I’m still pretty happy with them.

All the best.

I really sympathize with folks who live removed from metro areas and have no hi'fi shops.  When one buys new speakers there is always a large loss taken if the speakers are unsatisfactory and have to be sold.  I think I would be OK with buying speakers that I've never demoed off the second hand market.  They can always be sold for break even or a small loss.  Good luck and cheers. 

My last 2 speaker purchases were without audition; Buchardt Audio S400 MKII, and Clayton Shaw Caladans (which have finally shipped and should be here Wednesday now). Both bought direct from manufacturer without dealer middlemen.

The Buchardts turned out to be a home run for $2,000 two way bookshelf, and here's hoping the Caladans are as well. I definitely bought those on Clayton's reputation alone, and an extremely attractive price point.