Getting good audio equipment out where the public can see and hear them is all to the good. Don't know what lines are there but anything that enlightens people as to what is possible is worth promoting.
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As much as I hate to say it, Its a good and bad thing.
I guess there will be more people actually exposed to a decent HI-FI and Theater.
With a little luck local dealers will be able to gain business by claiming "Well beat Best Buy" which will hopefully be possible as I'm sure B&W and Mcintosh are prestigious lines which demand a fair amount for their dealers. I cant see them just throwing away their whole dealer network to jump on a chain that while is doing good look at The Good Guys and Circuit City which have closed in the last 10 years as well as they closed down a good chunk of Magnolia Stores.
I find it somewhat hard to believe B&W would sell to Best Buy but then again they'll sell ALOT of $300 to 500 Speakers and small 5.1 systems (Not HTIB Im sure)
Heres to hoping for the best, A quick 6 month flash in the pan where it doesnt work but gets a bunch of people to get over to their local dealer come tax return time after they close down and forcing Best Buy to sell their gear to local dealers on the cuff at a discount to be passed on.
My understanding was that BB was only going to carry the 600 series but it sounds like they have moved up the line. I have not seen higher end speakers driven by MACs around here, but I will keep looking.
Existing B&W dealers typically carry the whole line. And, as much as they would like to sell just high end speakers, they also sell a lot of low end and mid range ones, especially if they also sell home theater. If they have to compete with Best Buy on a significant part of the line, I would not be surprised to see a signficant number of dealers drop B&W and Classe and find another alternative.
from what i've read, best buy is trying to salavage its magnolia investment, which has foundered, by taking it further upscale in terms of both products and shopping experience. their earlier iterations of the concept flopped because of the economy, bad customer service and the brilliant strategy of axing their higher-paid, more knowledgeable salespeople. frankly, i'd be surprised that even if properly executed this version is successful--there's too much price competition in an quickly-shrinking market + high-end buyers may be unwilling to wade through the cacophonous din to get to the fancy goods. fwiw, everytime i'm at best buy the high-end section is virtually deserted--i've never seen anyone actually buy anything there.
I was astonished, a few years ago, to see a pair of KEF-branded bookshelf speakers on display at a Super Target, for somewhere between $300 and $400. They were actually hooked up, along with a number of pairs of less expensive speakers, and so I listened -- they sounded so much better than the others that it wasn't even funny. As I stood there, a Target salesperson came by and asked if I needed help -- when I explained that I was admiring the KEF speakers, she said "well,if you want them, better buy that pair -- they are the last ones we have, and we can't hardly move them, so we aren't getting any more. Too expensive."
I can remember when KEF was THE prestige speaker brand in the U.S. -- now nobody talks about them and you can hardly find them here at all -- not even at Target. Infinity and Klipsch were prestige brands, and now they're just more mass-market mediocrity. Maybe it won't happen to B&W, but I wouldn't bet against it.
I agree with the comment that there is almost nobody in the Magnolia section of BB.
Back when Tweeter was flying high, they sold Sonus Faber speakers (the home series), along with Vienna Acoustics. Because of the SF Tweeter deal, many independent dealers dropped SF and, in my mind, they have not recovered. Most independent dealers want a somewhat exclusive line and most high end companies make sure there is not a great deal of overlap in dealers in a given region. I think B&W is making a mistake in letting BB/Magnolia carry a significant portion of the line. Since Classe and Rotel are part of the same line, they could also be hurt. Time will tell.
You can bet they won't have the top of the line in their stores in smaller markets. They already have Martin Logan in their major markets. I don't know what they are driving them with but in recent times many of them are being driven with very good receivers from Marantz, Pioneer, Onkyo and Sherwood. From what I have heard they have specialist that know their product relatively well. If they have the top of the line in any store hopefully there will be some options for better electronics. Their main focus is Home Theater and that's what B&W is banking on to increase their sales. An independent store here in my area has B&W line and he is featuring them in a Home Theater setting only. I guess a 2 channel system to these guys are out of the question. But it's all good.
The Mag stores carry the higher end B&W. Some of the larger Best Buy stores do carry the entry level gear so it depends on what you have around you.
I was suprised when I went to the Mag AV store in Chicago. I was speaking with a girl who acutally knew the products and was willing to demo the 802D's as well as some Summit Xs they had on display. Was being powered by some Mac 501's. She stated they were trying to focus a lot on whole home systems and integration which is a big money maker for them. Their 2 channel selection was good but not anything like a larger dealer would have.
I know they are trying but its still under Best Buy. The Mag stores at least have some hope of helping people who want some decent gear but the main Best Buy stores are just plain awful. Its not about selling the product but to con you into buying all the other junk that they make money on.
The biggest problem is that they need to know what they are selling. Even if you have a great selection if someone doesn't really know the product in the end they really are not doing a service to the customer.
My local BB/Magnolia has the B&W 600 and CM series. They also have entry level Martin Logan, Energy, Def Tech, and Mirage. They used to drive them with Primmare integrateds, but dropped those along with Vienna. I think Sumiko stopped selling to them.
I know people think it's a bad thing, but I disagree. There's nothing wrong with people being exposed to this stuff IMO. They're definitely not nearly as busy as the rest of the store, but they've got a share of people looking around.
If they keep it entry level, I don't think it'll hurt the brick and mortar guys much, if at all. Most people in there wouldn't go to a brick and mortar audio shop anyway IMO. It may also motivate a few to go to one and see what they've got.
I don't think 800 series stuff or Mac and the like are a good move though. My local Magnolia is limited to Pioneer Elete, Yamaha and Denon AVRs and DVD players, so I guess the downside is the customer won't really hear what the speakers are capable of.
"I can remember when KEF was THE prestige speaker brand in the U.S."
KEF went for a period with no U.S. distibution, that is way the brand basically dried up. A few years ago, the Fry's chain began carrying KEF. The last I knew, KEF brand was owned by a company from Hong Kong and ALL models are made in China. The Fry's chain also picked up Martin Logan.
I dont really have a problem with big boxes picking up "quasi higher-end" "reduced to brand - name products". now that stand alone dealers are almost dead and the manufacture need to sell somewhere - better than buying gear from the back of a "white van" . :)