What’s really hurting the audio hobby?

Maybe it’s the audio dealer experience? Where else can newbies go to get started in this hobby. Isn't that where most of you got hooked?  Let me describe my latest visit to an audio store nearby. I won’t use the store name here, as that’s not the point.  Where I live there is really only one audio store left. That’s strange because I live in a very wealthy community. The Friday after Independence day, me and a friend went to this local audio store.  First time back there in years. We are both looking to upgrade. They have 3 audio rooms and two home theater rooms. The hi-end audio room (the store’s term) was an impressive room with extensive acoustic treatments. Mostly McIntosh gear. Sitting in the listening chair, you are looking at 600 watt Mac monoblocks running some nice tower speakers. A massive JL Audio Gotham subwoofer unit sat front and center facing the only listening chair. The McIntosh turntable was spun first. Sloooowww. It took my friend less than five seconds to point out the TT was running slow. The salesman had started to play Pink Floyd-Wish You Were Here, and it was noticeably slow. So the salesman flipped the switch to 45 rpm. Yes, that happened. He figured out it was too fast all on his own. Fiddle and poke at the TT for a bit and then the salesman said- "I’ll let them know it’s broke". Then he said he would just stream some music from a server. Bass! All you could hear was bass, and NOT good bass. He turned the subs down a little when asked, but all you could hear was tubby, muddy bass. The big tower speakers were overpowered by the sub.  I really wanted to hear what the main speakers alone sounded like, but could not get the salesman to shut off the subs.  On to the mid-fi room (the store’s term). The salesman tried to play us two different turntables. Neither turntable worked. One would not power up, and one was not hooked up to a system at all. Let me point out we didn’t care what source they used. I did say we both run analog and digital sources. Nothing interesting in the mid-fi room the first time through. Next room (no name) was a wall of bookshelf and small towers run by a wide selection of integrated amps. Not bad sound from some. Again, we were told this is “streaming quality audio”. This was the third time he mentioned we were listening to streaming quality audio. I took a guess at what that meant and asked if we could hear higher quality audio. So he took us back to the mid-fi room. He popped in a CD.I could not tell what CD equipment was being used. I think a Rotel integrated was selected. Everything in the cabinet was black faced behind dark glass. Not sure what CD it was either, but since he only had one, I let it go.

Big change! The Paradigm towers were now making good sounds. A big difference from his “streaming quality” demo. Next we switched to a pair of GE Triton 1s. I seriously might get a pair! They make nice sounds. By far the best thing we heard. There was more that happened that contributed to a poor experience, but I will move on.

Here is my point- What would anyone new to the hobby think of that experience? It took two seasoned audio guys pushing the salesman for over an hour before he played anything worth listening to. Would you buy anything from this place. Would you send a newbie in there? Let me know if I'm off base in thinking these audio stores are killing themselves off by the way they do business. Or is it just my misfortune that I have not been in a good dealer showroom in years?

Hi elizabeth, I get your point but I must admit it is pushing it a bit too far too duct tape a speaker LOL...
@mindlessminion, yes eShopping is a force to contend with. The face of UK retail has been transformed in the past 2 decades by it. Electrical outlets have been decimated by its onslaught.

And its not done yet.

Its also fair to say that audiophiles are not exactly helping either. Nor the vinyl pressing plants. Nor the loudness wars. Nor the snake oil parasites.

On the other headphone sales are absolutely booming. Easy to see why when you can trade up, swap, and chop and change with ease. And you can get high quality fashion statement portable sound too. HD6XX anyone?

As they say, follow the money.


Don’t get me wrong but not everyone would consider buying old or used.  Duct taping is I bit much... Technology changes often and usually we look for those advancements and that come at a cost. Have you looked at current prices? I understand we don’t have to buy an amp for 30k but even at 4k for an amp plus everything else to have a decent setup comes at a price. My point is the majority of our population can not maintain this hobby including keeping up with new technology which changes regularly.
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I agree with elizabeth that many on these forums contribute greatly to the problems in this hobby. I would think that many audio enthusiasts are of above average intelligence and therein, perhaps, lies the problem. Why would any person indulge in this hobby if they didnt allow for the possibility that things can be greater than the sum of their parts? But I think the worst aspect of these forums are members who speak authoritatively about things they have never heard. There is also a great deal of regurgitation of what they have heard from other "experts".