Are Dealer Recommendations Useful or Useless?

I had asked several dealers what their recommendations were for speakers for a specific product line of electronics that each of them carries. I realize that they all do not carry the same speaker product lines so what I got was a recommendation on what they do carry. Not surprised I guess. Only one or two asked any specific questions about my listening/musical tastes. Just a quick note back to me with their recommendation in the price ranges I asked for.

Did not seem like much of an effort to me.
If the dealer recommends speakers they carry and you purchase them, then the recommendation was certainly useful to at least one party in the transaction.

maybe it depends upon what they are recommending/selling
A really good dealer will try to figure out your tastes, your likes and dislikes. And then, and only then, make recommendations accordingly. And yes, these are few and far between.
Seriously, Peter. Nobody is going to know your system's pros and cons like you do.

I believe any consumer should rightfully be suspect about any dealer's recommendation for a product they carry always has the potential to be subjective since they are in business to sell. Yes, I know there are some good dealers and bad dealers out there.

As a friend had said in a recent post, the best thing one can spend on their system is time. I'm convinced now that there is no substitute for time.

And I think the way you've been buying and/or borrowing power cables and in-line conditioners to demo in your own home is an excellent example to determine for your system, which works best for your system and your own preferences.


I find that the best dealers are those that run a smaller operation. They tend to carry fewer products but know EVERYTHING about them. They also take the additional time to make sure you are getting what you want. The trade off is that they charge closer to manufacturer's suggested retail price because they don't sell high numbers of products that have huge mark ups. You also feel guilty auditioning products and learning about them and then buying them on sites like audiogon! For this reason I make sure to buy from both!
Isn't the fact that a dealer carries a specific product line a recommendation for that product? Hopefully, they have mixed and matched their electronic lines with their speaker products such that each complements the other. I don't think you should be surprised, nor suspicious.
The best experience I've had at a retailer was when the "consultant" refused to recommend or share his likes and dislikes. Sound is subjective and we all hear differently. What they like and listen to has no bearing on what you like or will listen to (of course, unless you want it to!).

BTW, that was Goodwins Hi-End in Massachusetts.
Did you actually go into each store, or were you doing this by e.mail or phone? Your comment about just a "quick note back" from them leads me to suspect that you were doing this by e.mail. If that is how you approached your research, you're lucky they even replied to you.
If you live hundreds of miles away from any dealer, that's different. But if you're close enough to go a take a look & listen, you should be doing just that. A dealer will be more likely to spend some time with you if you're there, instead of an anonymous person on the phone or on e.mail.

Another thing to note on the objectivity of dealers when it comes to recommendations, of course he'll recommend his products. However don't forget that he has probably tried or heard MANY OTHER brands, has rejected them and does not carry them in his store. So, his experience may be much wider than you would think.
My friend was shopping at Sound by Singer in NYC and he's got a recommendation for Tannoy R2 speaker. Not the speaker to my tastes, but after that the dealer offered him Monster M2.4 $600 speaker cable. When he brought this real thick Monster I showed him that the price shows nothing and high quality RadioShack wire does nearly the same saving him nearly $600 for better amplifier not speaking of the first mistake of purchasing R2 speakers.

The moral is that whenever the dealer has the highest mark-up he will promote the product and such product should deserve minimum or no attention from the consumer. The higher markup the higher bull-hit.
Quicke, then exactly what was the 'consultant' consulting?

I think I understand the point you are trying to relay.

But the sad part is that nobody is ever going to benefit from consultant's knowledge base and experience.

If the 'consultant' is not sharing his expertise, then he is not deserving of a commission.

Unless, of course, he get's you a nice cup of hot coffee and quickly swaps in and out the different products you are demo'ing.

Of course, the other side of this coin is that I'd rather have the consultant who is trying to earn a commission relay his 'expert' opinion such that it was more of a fragrance rather than an odor.

Imagine that our entire country took on the same philosophy as your 'consultant'. Regardless of subject matter.

First thing we'd have to do is disband the National Education Association and shut down the public school system.

Hey, wait a minute. I think your consultant may be on to something here.

Marakanetz, I was there a few days ago! They have a very good selection of name brands to choose from but I cannot waste their time because I know I will not buy at their list prices. The sales rep did know alot about each manufacturer but like someone already posted, your ears may want something different. I did email each dealer who carried a specific brand of electronics to see how they would respond to my specific questions regrading speakers. I did expect to get this response but I was hoping for a little more insight I guess.

Thanks for the replies.
Also folks bare in mind that mark-up on Bose speakers is very close if yet not larger to the markap on kilobuck-per-meter interconnects or speakerwires.
I suppose the dealer use to be the backbone of high end audio. In this day of computers and internet sales it has become less so. It has been my 40 years of experience that a good dealer is the best resource for audio. That said, I just haven't found that many good dealers out there. Many are more concerned with a one time sale and then move on to the next guy. I always try to purchase locally but find myself using the net more and more, not only used but from online dealers. I recommend doing your homework, making your own choices and than going to a dealer to purchase the item. It only makes common sense that a dealer is going to recommend what he sales.
The same conflict of interest problems as a tip from your broker; the high end dealers just havn't ended up on the front page yet. And since they are so impotent at getting the word out about the hobby, they probably never will.
Viridian, are you serious about your last statement. Is just trying to sell a product an inherent conflict of interest?
The question used the word "recommend", not "sell", a subtle distinction perhaps. In my experience most dealers do sell products, few recommend them. The phrasing of your question alone indicates the degree to which you have been conditioned by the buying experience. How many dealers are "recommending" items from lines that they do not carry? Yes, I am quite serious.
I am the buying direct type of person. I hate middlemen and dealers.

In my experience dealers have been no use to me at all. Dealers have always been quick to judge what components are "right" for me and more than ready to malign any component that I have interest in that they do not carry or stuff that I already own. I swear I have a this written on my forehead "I will buy up all your slowest moving stock to help you make room for new inventory, and I will do so with the upmost gratefulness."

I guess, in my opinion, selling is an art of subtle problem-solving information dissementation that may lead to a desired action/response. I think dealers think "What does information have to do with selling? Just do as I tell you and one of us will be very happy." Once I asked what DAC was in the Krell CD player that the sales person led me to auditioning, a piece I have no interest in but kept an open mind about, he replied, "Tissue paper! Who cares what is in the CD player as long as it sounds good."

I've had much better experiences dealing with and buying from small business owners who make their own products. These people tend to offer more intrinsic value to their products as they exude enthusiasm for their product and passion for audio. I would suppose the reason for this is smaller companies depend on consumers' word of mouth as their main form of advertising thus better products and service ought to be expected from them. Works for me!
Well, I bet you never knew that "consult" comes from "confuse" & "insult"
Well folks,

Good mentioning of con-sult but it's not realy the point.

A dealer can "hook-up" a millionair guy or his careless wife to enter the house, look-up arround to build-up >$100k AV system and what was realy notable the wires are used the top grade of Nirvana or NBS...

It's a dealer's job otherwise no money would be made if no fools are found. Nowday's our education is narrowed down significantly upto the levels that school student shouldn't realy know Ohm's law because for that he should get licence and pay for it. D'u think that dealers are the ones that know Ohm's law? Nah! Vast majority of them realy don't and it's good for business! They can believe to what they're selling and make others believe as well. They can be fed with loads of unneccessary information from the tongues of manufacturers, Stereophile or other audio magazine "reviewers" to transfer loads of myths to the consumers and there goes and established chain of business-es!

For those who still think that dealer "recommends" is wrong. Dealer sells because dealer must sell. To be able to sell he must be dressed in the skin of the same hobbyist as we are.
Viridian, I recognize that you're serious and I respect your opinion because it's based upon your direct experience. What I have trouble understanding is why if you walk into a Mercedes dealership do you expect them to recommend that you purchase a Lexus? Your expectation defies common sense.
Ohnwy61, I still find your way of looking at things very consonant with that of most dealers and your symplistic analogy reflects this. Though they too would look at it your way, a car is not one component to be added to an existing system. Do you order your body from Mercedes, your engine from Lexus and your suspension from Chevy? That is essentially what we are doing with an audio system. There are many instances where a competeing manufacturers component may be much more appropriate to the system. But dealers, by and large, don't sell systems, they sell boxes and would be better served selling cars. Naim is a really good, though extreme, example of a system where non-Naim components can be problematic not just in sound but in hook up as well. I would expect the Mercedes dealer to be able to discuss with me the strengths and weaknesses of competeing brands as part of their recommendation though. In my experience, many audio dealers do not even know how to assemble a unified system to meet a given customers aestetic and budget from among the brands they carry, never mind being able to throw competeing brands into the mix. I would stick with my core assertion that all dealers "sell" and few "recommend".
That is because Lexus and Mercedes are substitute products. Either one will serve your need if you are in the market for that kind of thing.
Viridian, I suggest that you contact the AMA and report the finding of a new desease - Dealer Influenced Thought Syndrome. Being a DITS sufferer myself, I would be most interested in your research on a cure. If you do find a cure, or better yet a vaccine, be sure not to try to sell it, but only recommend it to us sufferers.

Viggen, while both M-B and Lexus are luxury cars, there are significant differences between the two. Whether or not the differences are significant to you is more of a reflection upon you than a judgment about the two cars. I certainly don't mean that as if it were a character defect. The fine nuances between luxury products can be illusive, maybe even illusionary. For myself the differences between fine wines is completely missed, but for other people it's a life or death issue. To each their own.
Wow Onhwy61, is the word "judgement" a powerful word or what? For somebody whose into Eastern studies, should look at the last statement of yours carefully and respectively. :-)
As a dealer, this has been a thoroughly entertaining and educational thread for me. It's nice to see that dealers have been useful to many of you, and educational to see in what areas we often fall on our faces (such as blindly recommending stuff we sell without taking the time to find out your personal preferences).

I know of several local dealers here in New Orleans who actually do recommend products they don't sell, and/or will tell you how to DIY solutions to problems that arise rather than just throwing money at the situation. In various scenarios I have recommended products I don't sell (including Magnepan, Pass Labs, Classic Audio Reproductions, CAT, vintage Audio Research, Talon, Audio Physic, Boston Acoustics, Rethm, Joseph Audio, InnerSound speakers, Quad, Avantgarde, Kharma, Intuitive Design, Merlin, Harmonic Technology, Goertz, Nordost Valhalla, and probably a few more that I can't think of right now). Ideally, I'd carry all these cool products so I'd never have to recommend something I don't sell, but realistically I can't carry 'em all.

Personally I have no problem with people taking dealer recommendations with a grain of salt. To a slightly lesser extent, I take the enthusiasm of both proud manufacturers and proud new owners (and even raving reviewers) with a grain of salt - at least at first.

If you find a dealer or fellow hobbyist (local or online) who proves to you over time that you can trust his advice, hang on to him. But still always listen for yourself wherever possible, as two people will have different tolerance levels for different colorations and so may very honestly arrive at totally different conclusions.
Great to hear from one of the good guys. You are clearly a credit to your profession.
Audiokinesis offers sage advice. Advice that should be heeded by all of us. Regardless of the industry or circumstances.

What perplexes me is the attitude that some have developed by thinking that simply being a participant in this specific hobby somehow shields them or elevates them from the ill-effects of diverse forms of human behavior.

Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of good people in this hobby, but there's plenty of the other types as well. Just like in the real world.

There an old story: "If an uneducated man walks up to a vegtable cart with a horse attached, he'll steal as many vegtables as his pockets will hold. You take that same man and educate him, he'll find a way to steal the entire horse and cart."

In other words, education does not increase morality. If anything, it's the other way around.

And no I am not a misanthrope. At least not yet. But there have been occassion where I wish I were. ;)

But I always hope for the best in others while simultaneously trying to prepare for the worst.

Duke is the best. If I lived in New Orleans, I'm sure I'd own Sound Labs by now.
Hey Onhwy61,

Lets get one thing straight. Do you know what fallacy of composition means? Whether you think you have the sensibilities or you are just a victim of smart marketing is besides the point. Fact of the matter is anyone dropping into a Mercedes dealership with desire for a luxury car and appears to have the purchasing power will not be directed to a Lexus dealership. Please don't fall into the fallacy of composition that just because you think you have "taste" then these two fine vehicles have obvious distictive advantages. There are tons of car buyers out there that does not share your own background and experiences.