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 usually try and hear everything first. Speakers. Amps. Pre amps. But didn’t do that with my last 2 big purchases. The first one was the B&W Matrix 800s. Have read about them for many many many years. I knew they would be phenomenal. Also without hearing I bought the ARC Ref 750s. Once again I read many many reviews over the years. No regrets. Same with my AQ Dragon PCs. Phenomenal sound. No regrets. 

@deep_333 How to find out the IQ level of speaker designer? Is there some kind of database?

My way of thinking 50-50 is stupid odds and buying on total magazine opinions can only make a loss feel worse. 


Bought pair of Dynaudio Evoke 10s without audition But I had Audition other Dynaudio at RMAF and new they were good and what I liked.  Hooked them up to my AV system and thought they sounded a bit thin. Moved them to my main system where there is a Quad Atera amp and realized the issue was the Denon Av amp. 

Before the Evokes I had a pair of Gallo Classico book shelf speakers in the AV system that I bought purely on reviews and they were cheap on Craigslist.  

Although the Evokes are certainly better but at 2X the cost it made me realize how good the Gallo's were for the $$ and were a better bang for buck solution.  I need a better AV amp to make the Evokes do their thing.   The gallos masked the inadequacies of the amp or were a better match. 

Bought a pair of Quad S-5 based on reviews (again, smoking deal off craigs)  and ran them head to head against my Focal 926s.  Sold the quads but a year later I wish I had kept the Quads as my music taste changed to favor the Quads.  

Just recently I bought a pair of Quad Z-5s again off craigs for a good deal but totally based on how much I like the Quad S-5.  Ran those against the Focal 926 and ultimately sold the Focals but I really liked those speakers.   Wish I could have kept them both but I need a new espresso machine so they had to go.