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?

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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". 
When the Boomers were growing up, everyone 16 or older had some
variation of a "Close and Play" in their rooms. Not you can get it all
and a heck of lot more on a phone. If we had the access they do,
(pot, porn) we might never have ventured outside either!
Well the iPhone doesn't sound as good you say? As an 18 year old earning a whopping $3.50 an hour, I could afford Marantz separates, a new TR6, and the Bose 901s. Today America has digressed into a world that requires immediate satisfaction. Saving up for 6 months is a "burden"on the Millies. And so the song goes...
I think a lot of posters hit the nails on the heads- confluence of factors.  With the dominance of streaming and low quality MP3's, I think most consumers are now looking for the best streaming and individual experiences.  Premium headphones are starting to disrupt the high end market along with soundbars, whereas before it was only soundbars.  It's becoming a 1-2 punch of sorts.  The typical A/V consumer probably does one of two things-either shops at BB or Amazon.  Your typical BB salesman most likely suggests a "good sounding" soundbar with the bigger screen for a few reasons- easy to install, clean install with few wires, and very price attractive.  Most consumers put the bulk of their budget toward the tv, especially the millennials.  The new comparison, sadly, is how much better it sounds than the tv speakers and how well it streams.  If they buy from Amazon, they may have demoed it in BB or just read reviews and that takes care of that.  It leaves the high end stores in no-mans land.

In a lot of instances with high end, many consumers know what they want when they walk in- I'll take this, that, and the other.  Still, it just blows my mind with stories like this when we talk about the marginal high end shopper.  They need a lot of instruction, demonstration, etc.  I looked at high end equipment in a BB super high end, and the guy wouldn't hook the B&W 805 D3's to the Mac equipment- I left without purchasing from them.  When I found the right store, I ended up spending $5000 more than I had budgeted- the great salesman said that happens all the time without even trying.  If I owned a high end store, my first order of business everyday would be to ensure ALL of the equipment works and the salesmen were willing to do what it took.  Cheers!