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

Yes I have. Many times and  to me, it is one of the facets of this hobby I love. 

My first “real” speakers were AR3a’s back in the mid-70s, through the military mail-order store. A friend vouched for them and the reviews were positive; another friend in the Pacific fleet bought a Sansui 8 Deluxe receiver & an Akai reel-to-reel with Dolby (!) noise reduction. I thought I was in heaven!

Not sure I’d take that chance again, but I’m not a member of the $100K+ club yet….

I bought speakers I didn’t even listen to for several months. They were waiting for me at another location and then I eventually hooked them up and they seemed OK

  • I think the current arrangement for dealers to purchase everything leads to them not carrying a lot of stuff

Most of the time these days it leads to buying without seeing or listening because the dealers don’t have what you want.

Eventually everything will be direct sell. And there will be limited audio dealers mostly in bigger cities.  I don't understand how these smaller dealers stay afloat. It's not easy being a dealer. There is so much overhead and financing involved and then you get to spend all your time dealing with customers answering questions hoping that someone's gonna buy something. Lots of dealers are just providers of information and they know that. A lot Are really nice to talk to but they know you're probably not gonna buy anything.  

If there's a pair on sale used I'm interested in that I think I can resell without losing much money I will buy them so I can compare them at home with my own components. I've bought 5-7 different pair and there's still 2 or 3 I'm interested in, but the market's slow right now so I wait.