Taking a poll to get opinions of A'goners. If you were looking to hear a particular component but had no local dealer or the local dealer didn't stock the piece, how far would you be willing to travel to audition it? Many of us don't live in the major metros so I'm just curious to what you think. Thanks for your time.
Not very. I did make my first trip to an audio show (RMAF) this past October and would do that again in a heartbeat. Although not ideal conditions, you can hear a lot of gear and get a sense of the sound, sometimes a great sense. If I could narrow it down, I'd then look for a decent used price and buy it to audition for as long as I liked in my own room.
Like Viridian, I'd drive a few hundred miles to purchase something used, especially if it was high dollar.
This isn't really applicable to your question, but I live in NW Louisiana. Made a deal with a fellow in Washington DC to buy my Klipsch LaScala's. We agreed to meet in Chattanooga Tn. at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel. I brought the speakers, he brought the cash, the deal went off without a hitch. We each drove 10 hours one way.
I sometimes will plan auditions when I am traveling. I plan on being in boston Mass. this spring for a conference so will arrange a visit or two with local dealers. I let dealers know my situation and plans and if I do audition from them and end up deciding on the product I audition I will always make the purchase from them. There are no dealers where I live, closest and most often visited in 250miles away.
Flew from Seattle to Denver to hear some monoblocks. After listening to the monos I had an opportunity to listen to the amp that I ultimately purchased. A full, very pleasant day at the dealer in an enclosed room with my music and some outstanding components...sweet.
I drove from Halsey, OR to Depoe Bay, OR (maybe 100 miles) with my New Advents in their original boxes strapped to the luggage rack of my Toyoata MR-2. They really affected the aerodynamics and handling. :-) The buyer drove up from California, but he was there on vacation and to see his parents, so like Chadnliz, I guess that doesn't count.
I also drove from West Point to the southern tip of Manhattan to buy a turntable, and it was one of the most harrowing experiences in my life. That was the one and only time I drove into the city, since I didn't want to tote the unboxed TT onto the subway and train.
It was worth it though; great deal, great turntable.
Not very far considering that the components sound is going to change, maybe even dramatically, when you get it home and put in with your equipment and in your room. I have been more successful in buying a single piece by reading user & professional reviews, questioning and researching here and AA and then buying the component then I have by auditioning at a dealer. I think this is due to various things. One is synergy and room interaction. the other is that the dealer usually has a superior room and therefore the component sounds at its best. This changes in my living room where there are some compromises and therefore the component doesn't sound as good and I am let down. Buying without an audition usually keeps me from the let down. i have not bought any pieces that I was displeased with so far. I have bought some that I was more wowed with than others though. Maybe this thinking is somewhat askew. but i always remember back in the 80's when I bought a high end receiver to replace my ailing HK 730 receiver. it sounded great at the store. I NEVER liked it and sold it within a year.
I won an ebay auction for a Salamander synergy twin 30 audio rack in Oklahoma City last month(I live in New Orleans). It stated local delivery only. I got a great price and planned a trip in the Talimena Parkway - a high mountain road in se Oklahoma Kiamichi mountains. 10 hours each way. I also hit up 3 record stores on this weekend trip
Usually I'd keep a trip down to 5 hours one way
Galibier in Boulder Colorado offers airfare trip compensation for those who purchase their turntables. Sounds like a nice scenario
I'd probably fly to hear a big speaker or amp purchase or do it as a side loop to a vacation. That being said I purchased a pair of Salk HT3's lightlyused - unheard as they had many extra features I wanted and were competitively priced. This turned out really well.
Analog front end purchases - cartridge/arm I've done off of word of gon mouth, I trust those who have done all the legwork. And you can't go wrong with Mehran at Sora Sounds
On the amp end - I am considering a Moscode 401hr they have a money back 30 day in house trial that's a nice option to see your own in house synergy
The furthest I've gone to audition was 100 miles but I've gone much further to pick-up/deliver gear. I took a trip a few months ago & delivered some spkrs, picked up a tuner & then picked up another pair of spkrs for a friend. I also stopped & visited w/2 good friends in 2 different cities.
Total mileage for this trip was 1865 & I was gone for 5 days.
No wait, that's wrong. I was in Denver visiting my sister & planned the upgrade of my amp so I could pick up when I was there. That was 1700 miles one way but I stopped at my friends (same as last trip) and picked up a trailer so I could haul a motorcycle when I got to Denver.
About 3 years ago I drove from Michigan to New Hampshire to buy a pair of Coincident Super Eclipse II speakers. I did this over a two day weekend. I swore I would have the speakers forever. I enjoyed them very much but they only stayed for about 1.5 years. It was an adventure but I was really sick of driving and being in the car that long.
A couple of hours each way is about the limit for me. I've done 4 trips (2 stops on one of them). Only one resulted in a purchase, but the others were well worth the time considering each trip saved me $3-5k on equipment that would not have satisfied me.
I flew from Albany NY to Denver CO to audition the Galibier. While one can read about the product, and chat with the maker - the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. In this price category, it would be nearly analogous to buying a new car without first taking it out for a test drive. Happily, my expectations were exceeded on my trip to Boulder, and I am one very happy Galibier owner.
A little off topic but the Tallamena Parkway is worth that trip on its own. I've ridden my motorcycle and driven it in my sports car on several occasions. It's kind of like a 30mi piece of the Blue Ridge Parkway on the edge of Arkansas and Oklahoma. Unfortunately, that's about all there is to do unless you head to northern Arkansas where you'll find more terrific roads.
Thanks to everyone who has responded so far. It sounds like we are all pretty much the same. A few hours or while out on business or vacation is the norm it looks like. I've auditioned pieces from San Francisco to NY, Minneapolis to Orlando myself, but only when I'm there for another reason, too. As I've moved to a more rural area, the nearest "city" has dwindled their offerings over the past decade for the high-end market. So I am envious of you who get to hear the latest and greatest in person. Often when I enter my zip in a dealer locator I get "no dealer in your area." Usually I'll put in a zip 4-6 hours from me and will sometimes get a hit, but not often.
So I've tinkered with the idea of opening a shop of my own, but then it dawns on me that there isn't the population to support it within 2 hours or so. Oh well. Just leaves more time for listening, what a shame.
Just last week Reno HiFi shipped me a pair of Pass Lab 160.8s. (286lbs.) Tonight will be day (6) of audition. "Rocked Out" last night past my bedtime! So far; Don't think that I will be shipping them back.
I live near Wichita Kansas and would drive to the Dallas or Denver metro area with no problem. I am attending the RMAF for the second time this weekend. Going solo this time Miss Janna had 0 fun at the last one.(2014)