What speaker could safely be ordered without hearing it first?

Hi everyone,

I’m in the midst of my speaker search and curious about something.......as noted above. There are some brands I would be interested in based on reputation, reviews, looks etc but may never be able to hear first.

I’m curious what the collective group thinks would be a safe choice having never heard them first. I know there are variables as in size of room, current gear etc. Just want to see what people would suggest. The one I would note based on what I have read is Joseph Audio. I’d also be curious if people would say the same about Borresen.

So it may be a frivolous exercise but I’ll ask the question anyway. Let me know your thoughts.


How "safe" do you want to be?

Personally, I'd never buy any speaker I couldn’t first audition in my room.

Your money. 

Your ears. 


Based on your profile pic, a whole lot of speakers are out if putting them against the wall is the only option.

Thread title is hard to resist...

Kind of really depends on what you like and want.  It looks like you have a low-power amplifier.  Do you want to play softrly to medium or get loud?

For the former, Monitor Audio and Fritz are good bets, for the latter perhaps Klipsch Heresy's.


+1 …. Big time.

This wistful fast ‘n dirty blind shortcut approach to select your speakers is a fast roadmap to falling into component flipping purgatory. Synergy (or lack of it ….) matters …, full stop.

More so, your added qualifier of “safely” in the context of a blind purchase renders any meaningful response from the forum public impossible .

note: Enthusiasts can fall into the trap of ignoring key principles.


Audio - amps and source vs speakers 

The philosophy is clear. An affordable speaker with decent amplification (and source) makes more sense than an expensive speaker with a cheap amp (and source) 

(hint: this is a journey and not a destination.) There is no substitute or shortcut for rolling up your sleeves, and conducting personal auditions and including some key advice from a dealer.

choose wisely.



I think this is a relevant thread since reputable dealers are disappearing and fewer and fewer of us have access to good dealers/equipment within a reasonable distance.  There are speakers that walk that fine line between detail and musicality that I call “straight down the fairway” speakers that are probably pretty safe bets buying blind if you have to go that route.  Joseph Audio is one that the OP mentioned, and I’ll add ProAc and Usher.  Hard to see anyone being unhappy with any of these wonderful all-around speakers. 

I have the same problem. I am interested in some speakers that weigh 230lbs each, cost a lot (to me) and there are very few (1-2 dealers within the USA). There is no way to audition them at home. I may be able to audition them in a few months when the importer gets more, but I would have to take an expensive plane trip and there will be a $10,00 price increase looming if I wait.



Auditioning speakers is often not an option for a lot of people, hence their dependence on reviews. But unless you can hear them in your room in your system, it's always going to be a bit of a gamble....Something might sound great at a dealer and not so great in your environment.


Auditioning speakers is often not an option for a lot of people,

You mean: a lot of people are not willing to limit their choices to what can be purchased with a return policy, right?   

Joseph Audio


YG Acoustics

Yamaha NS-5000

go to a consumer electronics show

Thanks everyone.  

@erik_squires @tablejockey you guys are looking at the upstairs system, this question is more for my downstairs.  

@vonhelmholtz interesting question.  Haven't tried without but can tell you I've consciously ruled out some speakers where the drivers are on the floor, so to speak vs. ones that have them elevated above the line of the table.  

@stuartk I'm totally with you, and can't say i'm really even entertaining this.  In the sports car world some guys just blindly gamble on a $250K car and have it delivered.  I'm much too picky in re: condition.  

Everyone else I get that it's dependent on room, synergy etc as I already stated.  What i'm hoping bubbles to the top is a few names or models that I should target auditioning, that are just that good that the collective here would nearly unanimously agree.  @soix @markalarsen thanks for the feedback.  

Unless you have had broad exposure to speakers and know the house sound of a good number of brands and read professional reviews extensively, then while you may be happy with your choice it is likely to be very sub optimal. Even if you’re comparing $50K speakers. Sure they will all sound good to you without anything to compare them to.

The best thing to do is to make a trip to a big city part of the process. I have normally lived 2 - 3 hours from a big city. A long but doable trip in one day. If further, do a weekend trip. Do your research first… the you best guess narrowing down to a few brands. Make appointments to listen. Each company has house sounds, so you need not listen to the exact model. Listen to the music not the speaker. Hopefully one speaker company will emotionally grab you. That’s the one.



I ask because this must be close to first reflection point off the floor and if so, it should have an impact on the sound presentation.

ghprentice gave you the best and frankly, the only advice to be acted upon.

"looking at the upstairs system, this question is more for my downstairs."

Yes, now I see. Didn't display 1 look.

I'd fine tune room 1st.

Those little black thingies probably aren't doing anything.

 Side walls/ceiling  could be addressed for diffusion/damping issues  and as mentioned-loose the table.

Multiple subs needed for real low end performance.

All that for serious audiophool fun.

If you're gonna drop some serious cash with only reading reviews/forums, then buy from ae legit stablisment with a return policy, and don't complain about a restock/shipping charges.

@stuartk - I dunno - some folks, like me, wouldn't want to deal with returning big floorstanding speakers, returns or no returns.. 

I hear ya. The speakers I am interested in will weigh 500lbs total in the flight cases and I would need to take them down a flight of stairs.

If, the dealer would accept returns, (questionable) I would have to bring them back up the flight of stairs. (gulp) I am 70 with a bad knee... and a lazy son-in-law.

I think I am talking myself out of this endeavor.


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How about this:

(a) read reviews and forum posts to try to get a ballpark idea

(b) search for top candidates used; places like the The Music Room have slightly higher prices but also a two-week trial period.

(c) If you don't like them after a time, re-sell for closer to what you would have paid retail.

I’m going to be a bit of a contrarian...

As long as you stay within the same design family, and you’re not too obsessive about the various shades of goodness, and the speakers are generally well-known and discussed, I think it’s a pretty low-risk endeavor. Oh, and you don’t have unrealistic expectations based on a price point. That’s a biggie.

Given your current setup, would I purchase a set of Magnepans, or Martin Logans, or even a set of monitors without listening? Probably not. A set of 2 1/2 way or 3-way floor standers with a dome tweeter and cone mid-range / woofers? Sure.

If you purchase used, it’s even a lower-risk endeavor (from a monetary perspective). I highly doubt the OP is considering $100k speakers. Audio shows may be the best way to look at equipment, but it’s probably the worst way to listen to equipment.

So it may be a frivolous exercise but I’ll ask the question anyway.


you are right, it isn't a frivolous exercise, but it is a goofy question

you can order any speaker (or any component) unheard, you just take the risk that you may not like what it does, then have to dispose of it, at a cost of money and effort

this is what the used gear market is all about - you buy what interests you, see if you like it, then resell at a reasonable price if you don’t



Interesting service, but it must be a challenge to compete with those that are walking into a store and auditioning speakers.  I do think that @mtbiker29  should audition speakers using his integrated amplifier.  I shopped integrated and speakers as a package and I’m glad that I did because it turns out that the speakers that I purchased are wonderful to listen to, but probably don’t play nice with many amplifiers.  I assume that you also have speakers assembled that can be auditioned at your location.

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I've heard the Joseph Audio speakers, not in my own room, but enough times that it would be an easy recommendation to buy without an audition. 

"How "safe" do you want to be?

Personally, I'd never buy any speaker I couldn’t first audition in my room.

Your money. 

Your ears. "

I'm pretty sure this rarely happens. Its a great idea, but I can't imagine many dealers are going to let you take expensive speakers home, unbox them, audition them,re-box them and then bring them back. They may sell them too you, and let you bring them back with a restocking fee.

I think if you read enough. You can pick a brand/model that works well with your existing gear. I always stay with well known brands that have good resale value.

I bought my last last speakers unheard and they are the best I have owned. Trust the measurements, they will point you in the right direction.  

Within the confines of room and amplifier:

Agree with--

Joseph Audio

Monitor Audio




Possibly agree with Yamaha NS5000

And would add--

JBL 4367

Revel PerformaBe

Kef Reference


Harbeth P3ESR

I always try to audition, preferably at home but I broke that rule when I ordered my Omega Super Alnico Monitor.   They have a 30 day return privilege , but hopefully i will really like them.

My Dad just bought a pair of Sonus Faber Electa Amator III , the best stand mounts I have ever heard ....   still can't recommend them.  They sound incredible, but this hobby is one of personal taste so they probably aren't for everyone .

I agree with ghdprentice,  venture out and listen at a few different dealers.   So many great speakers out there at all price points 

not that complicated

budget >

specs such as

sensitivity > doesn’t matter > list of best value speakers > looks > reviews

                   > does matter > list of best value speakers > looks > reviews

I have a database of 78 brands and 300 speaker models, that’s how I would run the query....



When you pick your new speakers by spec, you can invite your friends over to read the spec sheet.

since you can't listen to all the speaker before you buy ONE, it is the same process, you narrow it down to a list of speakers. Then you would listen to those on the list. Just how I would do it, but of course you can make fun of looking at specs. And by specs you can look at a lot of speaker and company data that indicate how well it will match your system 


Specs for speakers that are important to me ; sensitity,  min power recommendation.  Max power ....   sure FR is nice , but that's room dependent 

Harbeth speakers work well with Luxman solid state integrated amps. You can’t get much safer than that.


I dunno - some folks, like me, wouldn’t want to deal with returning big floorstanding speakers, returns or no returns..

I get it. I just don't trust my ability to make a purchasing decision based on a showroom demo or review. But there are many here who are much more knowledgeable than I am. 


I'm pretty sure this rarely happens. Its a great idea, but I can't imagine many dealers are going to let you take expensive speakers home, unbox them, audition them,re-box them and then bring them back. They may sell them too you, and let you bring them back with a restocking fee.

I agree -- but I never suggested it did!  I'm referring to online sales.

One's you can return, hopefully within driving range, or, risk return shipping as the price of getting out of the wrong thing.


Ones with LEVEL controls, allowing you to adjust their frequency distribution in your space, that location in that space, to your 'taste' or specific hearing characteristics!!!!!

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I can't imagine many dealers are going to let you take expensive speakers home, unbox them, audition them,re-box them and then bring them back.


Audio Advisor.

Music Direct.

And that's just the start.

I tried out Dynaudio, Martin Logan, Fritz, Salk, Ascend, Focal in my room. All had return policies. The Martin Logans from Crutchfield were towers and they cost me $10 each to ship back to them.

I bought all my few speakers pairs on many faith reviews before buying ... I could not listen to them...

it is no problem to buy good speakers this way today...

The real problem is what speakers to buy with no acoustic dedicated room or what speakers to buy with as goal a dedicated acoustic room...

And even before the acoustic question what are the room dimension and the speakers characteristic...

Buying without listenings is way less a problem than buying without paying any attention to  any acoustic basics...


My fist speakers were the Tannoy concentric dual gold... Astoundingly good speakers... Believe it or not i NEVER listen to them in 45 years...Why? Because i learn acoustic AFTER selling them...I never hear them at their optimal level.... Alas!

Buying without listening them before was not the problem... Never listening to them in a good acoustically controlled room for them was the problem...


Order some 43-year-old speakers from Reverb dot com.  That sounds safe doesn't it? Hmmm, maybe not. 

What’s your budget ?

MBL 101,   Marten Coltrane , Wilson watt Any of them ,

YG Acoustics , Magico , plus many more ,  your electronics, a front end , and cabling  all have a factor Synergy to all the above is important 

I owned a Audio store for a decade and nothing is a one size fits all 

if the front end electronics and cables are known then a speaker can 

be chosen to fit the buyers tastes.

None no matter how revered they are even by every expert. No speaker is perfect and the combination of characteristics that make you happy may be very personal.

Saying that there may be two ways to do it. The safest is, of course, if you can return the speakers for a nominal fee and you can afford the shipping and restocking.

The second sort of contradicts my first paragraph and is way less safe. If you read a lot of reviews and the descriptions sonically in the reviews sound like the kind of sound you like AND  you've found in the past you have agreed with the reviewer's  work and many reviews are very consistent and you have no other way to hear the speakers it may be worth the risk. But it would scare me to do it even though it sounds logical.


I have never heard a Fyne Audio or Joseph Audio that didn't amaze me, I'd have no qualm about buying either brand on reputation. Also I would have no problem ordering a "direct to consumer" brand like Buchardt Audio, that have solid demo policies.