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

I bought without hearing either the speakers or other examples of the same model but I did listen to the two next/later examples of that size/type speaker made by the same company.  I liked the house sound, bought my speakers used, unseen and unheard, and it worked in this case. 

The speakers I bought after a dozen auditions of all sorts of speakers at local hifi shops in 2000 were good, but ultimately, not keepers.  In 2009 I bought my current speakers without any auditions, based largely on a lengthy thread here on the 'gon.  They sounded exactly the way the posts described, and were exactly what I wanted in a speaker, including the price point.  14+ years on, I haven't had a minute's regret.  The speakers were direct from the manufacturer, and came with a 120 day return option.  Ohm Walsh 2000s.  It's a shame that Ohm seems to have gone dormant since founder John Strohbeen passed last October.

I bought my entire +$30K system online without auditioning at any audio store. I’m 74 years old and I don’t have the energy to drive to Denver for two hours and drive back after what would be hours of auditioning I would hope. There is one hi-fi store in Boulder. Not many choices of equipment and full retail +Tx at Listen Up.  Ugh
I did buy Zu speakers! (Not too popular here) Yes you have to pay to return them, but they let you keep them for a while I bought the Soul. They were great, but I wanted something better, so I traded them in for a pair of Soul Supreme.  Paid shipping only to return them. The new-traded speakers were shipped free as I remember. Could be wrong on that. They have a very generous no fee trade-in program. and great to work with.
Electronics, including phono, pre and amp are all from Aric audio. Without audition. I bought the Pro-Ject carbon 10 EVO Table from Music Direct, I think. I researched hard. I shopped hard and bought everything at a discount online for about $22K. Everything, cables, SUT, phono, cartridges, all without audition and online. Nothing is used except one pair of cables.  Don’t forget the NOS  tubes from Brent Jesse.  The entirety of my system was purchased on-line, on-line trying anything. I’ve not been disappointed with anything. And never traded anything in or had to resell  any of these components except an ion Audio preamp.
 I must admit  this is a very fine system. It does take work to do it. You have to do a lot of research. It can be done!  
Good fortune to you on your quest!



Bought my tannoy eatons w/o a listen, luckily I like them. Hifi stores used to be prevalent...not any more. Also bought my wharfedale diamond 225’s without an audition. I bought them based on Stereophile’s Herb Reichert and the late Art Dudley’s review of them. They both seemed to enjoy them and gave them a very positive review. I’d have to say they were not lying...they are terrific speakers for cheap. My last acquisition was the JBL Synthesis 4309's bought on line. Still new in box, no idea how they sound. I bought them because they have horns, and because I think they look cool. They did receive many positive reviews as well. 

Lates 60s I bought JBL Dorian S12 after hearing a huge JBL system at a Dick Clark concert production at the Chicago Stock Yards amphitheater. I think I did listen to them at Allied Electronics on south Western avenue when buying.

Mid 70s I bought JBL L222 Disco after listening to them at a store north west of Chicago.

I still have both sets. The L222 are my active speakers.

Now for the ones I did not listen to but purchased. I was into collecting JBL at the time.

L25,L36,L40,L120,L300,AquariusIV,S1,4408,L65,L100,B380. Still have but not using the last 3.

If I had the space I would have really tried for a Paragon. 😊