I know speaker stands are expensive, especially those supplied by the speaker manufactures but if you need to elevate your speakers cheaply why not try beer crates. You can choose your favorite beer!
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You can only convey the on-axis behavior of a speaker on a headphone. And even then it's assuming you have properly calibrated the headphone to match your HRTF, which can be tricky. And I think sound power is a better representation of overall tonality which a headphone isn't going to be able to convey.
You are forgetting the room is a major part of the performance of any speaker system. Some speakers will do well in a certain room others may not. Having said that If you have a good set of reference headphones you can use them to get an idea of what your system is doing by comparison. I use to do that often when I made significant changes. Now I have a system that pings each speaker and gives me an exact read out of each ones frequency response anywhere in the room then automatically calculate and apply correction curves as well as any changes you wish to make to the response curve. The other added benefit is that I am use to knowing exactly what I am listening to so when I hear another system I can usually tell right away where it is off.
I think this kind system will become progressively more available at reasonable prices. Right now the only units that do this that I know of are the Trinnovs.
Shipping a pair of large floor standing speakers across the country to audition in home and possibly have to return them is not easier.That's also not typically possible, either. That's not the way to buy a large speaker system.