None. Haven't used a dealer in more than a dozen years. Oh, I've gone in a few times. But the only thing I ever bought was some nuts and bolts to mount a cartridge. Even getting that was like pulling teeth. There was one good one I knew, but he retired about 15 years ago.
If I buy through a dealer vs manufacturer direct my choice of which dealer to purchase from depends upon what brands/model I am after. I have no interest in my purchase decisions/options being limited by what brands a particular dealer only carries.
I believe we should support dealers....there's many good ones out there and I certainly wouldn't be proud about bypassing dealers or only buying from manufacturers with a direct sale model (which is fine as well). But please, support dealers.
One...Taylor at Goldprint Audio. He is great to deal with, not pushy, he's knowledgable, does setups in his home office (when it's safe), has driven miles to meet me to deliver an item (we are ~75 miles apart). I have a more local audio dealer who I shall not mention who is miserable to deal with, so I stopped in 2008.
There are so many brands that you can only buy through a dealer unless you're buying used (often without a transferable warranty). Are all of y'all just sticking to the direct selling manufacturers and the Music Direct's of the world? I do sometimes buy direct from the distributer when there is a product with no dealer in my state (eg Kuzma). I'm kind of disturbed by the anti-dealer sentiment I'm reading above, suggesting there is no value to use them. I get great advice from them, I get loaners for free if my gear ever needs service, and I get nice discounts for regularly sending business their way - show me the last time Music Direct or Crutchfield sent you a loaner.
There’s several dealers around PDX and they’ve all been in business for years. I do most of my business with two, one of which sells mainly used gear. This past year their businesses have done better than ever. They both have treated me well over the years which keeps me coming back—for gear, amusement and advice. I support and appreciate them.
Dealers were quite helpful and gave good advice, provided good recommendations and often had second hand or demo gear to buy. I suggest that those who are entering the playing field rely upon brick and mortar dealerships if nearby, not exclusively, but certainly as a (usually) solid ally.
Catalogue/online shopping is completely guesswork; you have NO idea how it will work out in your system. As a reviewer, I strongly suggest you learn the personality and preferences of the reviewer before you take their advice/recommendation! If you do not align yourself with a reviewer who hears similar to you, then you can have some real fun when you buy a product that was all that to the reviewer, and not so much for you.
Best advice, attend a show, or better yet, several shows. I spent as much as a nice vacation for two attending shows because I was serious about building a better rig and wanted to judge in person the products. Some of the best money I have ever spent in audio. It allowed me to be the judge on hundreds of products, to narrow down my field of winners and select the ones I would focus on. Even better, it allowed me to eliminate dozens of products that were not right for me, that I would have no way of ascertaining from a distance. I certainly would suffer wearing a mask for 3 days to find exceptional equipment. No mask wearing needed when you are in your home with the sweet system you built! :)
There is one brick and mortar in St Louis, Music for Pleasure, that I’ve used consistently in the past when buying products that they represent. Another that I used didn’t have a formal brick and mortar, operating out of his house, but is no longer in business. I’ve also worked with a couple of other dealers/distributors who do not have a formal brick and mortar shop, AAudio Imports and Laufer Teknik. For all three, I trust their input and recommendations. While I’ve also bought used gear over the years, I believe it’s important to establish a personal relationship with a dealer to gain their insights and recommendations, have the ability to audition in your own home, and to have support after the sale. Knowing someone personally always beats a 1-800 number, and the only way to have them survive as businesses is to support them.
I generally have a dealer that I know well and knows me. Typically the relationship lasts for twenty years or more. The alignment first comes from the brands he/she carries, as this shows a common sensibility. I occasionally buy some things on line or from another dealer as he is not able to carry every brand. For instance the Transparent dealer was already in place. His insights and exposure to products is greater than mine. He is constantly learning, goes to audio shows at least once a year, advanced training classes (e.g., Linn master class). This does not mean I am not learning constantly, I am… but he does this 50 hours a week. He Is exposed to dozens of high end systems that he has installed in vastly different acoustical space.
I will as a question of a product and get back a very detailed and nuanced objective description using standard audiophile terminology which allows me to decide if what ever it is will have the effect or quality I am looking for and if it is cost effective to me.
I credit my dealer with joint design of my system. He pushed me to try a component I was not interested in, that had a profoundly positive impact on my system. My system is both of our favorites.
It would be great if there were some really good ones around. I'm not sure I'd support them, why? So they can be supported?
I can find a better reason for a LOT smaller brick and mortar store with a repair facility, ACCESS to a variety of new and used products, on consignment for trade or sale. It would be nice if there was the a good source for analog supplies too. Vinyl, R2R any media.. I don't want to support a 20k per month store front AT ALL..
I see no added value just added COST.. I know shoot the messenger.
I have deep relationships w three dealers and casual ties to others. They are a constant source of friendship and trusted ears. While I get to hear and experience a lot of gear, they have many insights. Having said that, I have bought some items they direct model with ok results
I don’t have anti dealer sentiment , in Memphis there are no hi-end dealers any more . Over the last several years I’ve made purchases that have supported dealers such as Goldprint Audio, Nashville Hifi , Atelier 13 , Amherest Audio , Moon Audio to name a few while not setting a foot in their stores ; those purchases were made via phone/email correspondence . Likewise,I’ve also bought manufacture direct from Daedalus Audio, Audio Art Cable, Silnote Audio, to name a few that don’t sell through dealers. Additionally, I have also made purchases from few manufacturers that have dealers but also sell direct e.g. Modwright Audio, Finale Audio. And yes, I’ve made purchases from the Cable Co, Audio Advisor and Music Direct for isolation , contact enhancers and the like. All of the aforementioned are "dealers", they simply operate with different business models. I don’t tie myself to one particular dealer as no dealer carries all brands , and see no reason to get tied into a specific one if the dealer doesn’t have what I want just so that dealer can be supported.
When there were dealers in my area i went to more than one to find the best stuff from all of them but eventually i went to just one and now sadly there are no dealers left that i care to go to in my area. I can say that when you find the right dealer they can be very valuable and you should not need to go anywhere else, but they have been going out of business a lot recently.
Currently, none. I moved to Austin TX full time several years ago and have not established any custom with a local dealer. There are far fewer here than there were in NYC (obviously) despite the shrinkage of brick/mortar. The last dealer with whom I had a relationship did all of our transactions via phone, email and house calls. I had never been to his place of business until things were winding down and I visited largely for social purposes. (Of course, we did some listening). I had, in my first years in NYC, bought a lot of gear from the old Stereo Exchange, when in the pre-Audiogon days, Dave & Co. ran what amounted to a clearing house for used high end and cast off flavor of the month, as well as some rare stuff (Decca tweeters, Crosby Quads, among many other things) over the years. Dave’s folks did a big home theatre for me at one point (with my direct involvement), but I got to a point where the horn/SET thing drew me in and it was shortly after that when I hooked up with the dealer who did house calls. Over the years, I did some business with various dealers in NY and other places. I have bought some equipment through authorized channels since I moved to Texas, but most of my effort and expediture- apart from tubes--has been LPs. I culled a lot of records before I moved, and have continued to do so, but have bought a considerable amount of vinyl since I moved (mostly used, and a small percentage of reissues, especially so-called soul jazz, spiritual jazz and more obscure stuff. Some of the Tone Poets are a killer- I recommend Katanga! before it sells out). If you read some of what Jim Smith wrote about what it takes to deliver top level service as an audio dealer, you realize that very few meet the standard. I have nothing against dealers- some are friends. I’m kind of around the bend, compared to some-- I’m retired, I’m not actively gear hunting (though I have one more speaker system in me, something that is going to take time) and an upgrade to the digital front end of my main system (which may put some of what I’m using now on that system into the "vintage" system). If you have a relationship with a solid dealer, you are fortunate. I do not like to be "sold"; anybody in the luxe goods category should know that is true of a lot of folks. Information is good as are the connections that a dealer might offer, including leverage to get replacements, loaners, etc. A good dealer is a thing of value. I’m not a DIY guy-- I respect that aspect of the industry. I’m a capable audiophile that is not a tech or engineer, but have been around this stuff, and the industry itself, for many decades. Some of it is fascinating enough for me to research and occasionally write about, but I’m not really a "reviewer" in the sense of the term. Call me another slightly "off" character who shares the passion for gear, music and the history (including the history of the technology and media). My professional career (I’m now retired) paralleled some of this and though the industry wasn’t audiophile oriented, I did get the opportunity to meet people and visit places that are part of the history.
0 for over a dozen years.last dealer was the used dealer in pdx. I attended ces and rmaf and got many ideas on what to get. Problem with most dealers is that they don’t have all the gear you want. 1 dealer might have the speakers you want, but not the amp or dac. No dealer is going to recommend a piece of equipment that they don’t sell. I always try to buy new equipment with a 30 day return policy or if I buy used, I’m prepared to delist the piece if I don’t like it
Had patronized a few back in the day (last 20-30 years), but only one surviving now even within any reasonable distance. I am buying a cartridge and probably a pair of speakers from them as we speak. They did make the move to mid to high end home theater (necessary at the time), but retained audio as well. And some of the original guys still there.
I have been involved with a local audio society for a dozen or so years. Many of our meetings are hosted by B&M dealers. While I don't make many audio related purchases, I try to patronize those dealers when I can. That said, there is one dealer that stands, for me, head and shoulders above the rest. John Rutan at Audio Connection is not only one of the most skilled and knowledgeable people in this space, but he is also kind, helpful, and genuinely interested in helping people get the best sounding system they can afford. If I told you what he did to help me solve a challenging problem I was having with my system, none of which was purchased from John, I might add, your jaw would drop. So, insofar as I might make any future purchases, I will try to support him. Another great dealer I would like to support is Larry Borden of Distinctive Stereo. Another true gentleman, who is also extremely talented and genuinely interested in helping people get great sound in a domestic setting.
Yes I have a go to dealer but will never become married to them and limit my options. My biggest rule is burn me once and I will never be back even if you are the only option. I would rather do without than go back. Guess I am the poster child of stubborn as their are stores I have not gone back to ever!
@bobthenailer FYI amazon is the largest source of counterfeit merchandise in the world. Customs officials estimate that 80% of what they sell falls in this category. At best you have a 50/50 chance of getting the real item that was advertised.
The more time I spend on forums like this, the more it amazes me how many audiophiles, apparently, make major moves or changes to their sound systems so frequently. Even if I had deep enough pockets to do that, I'm not at all sure I'd be inclined to. I'm the kind of audiophile that does his homework and tends to (thus far, anyway) buy major pieces of equipment that last and satisfies for decades. For example, I still have a working Sansui 2000X I purchased from the shop I cut my audiophile teeth at in 1972 (i.e. Tech HiFi Cambridge, MA). Of course, after 28 years of faithful service it became obvious my old friend's capacitors & transistors were tired and I had to replace it. I also had a Philips 212 Electronic I bought from Tech HiFi in 1972, as well. It, also, performed very well and faithfully, curiously, for 28 years, too, before finally giving up the ghost. Odd timing! Maybe it missed its old buddy, too. Rarely, have I made major upgrade moves purely predicated upon a desire to achieve a higher echelon of audio performance. What I've purchased, along the way, worked very well for its intended purposes, whether dorm room, bedroom, apartment or, now, a home with a good size living room. I know, or course, there was and is always something better out there than what I had or have now. There always is! I guess, comparatively, I've been content to, as the Doobie Brothers would say: "Listen to the music", rather than continually chase incremental audio performance improvements. Maybe, by definition, this means I'm not an audiophile at all. I am definitely a lover of music, though.
So, when buying gear retail I tend to identify the handful of local or, actually, not so local but within reasonable driving distance high-end audio shops and spend quality seat-time in critical listening auditions in the shops that have equipment I'm seriously interested in. I buy stuff from reputable on-line retailers, too, but only when I can't find what I want in a local shop at a reasonable price and only after a hefty amount of reading & research. I prefer to support brick & mortar shops, as much as possible. Although I have purchased a major component sight unseen, sound unheard, (i.e. turntable) on-line, I try to avoid this as much as possible. I prefer to see, feel, touch, operate and hear expensive gear before parting with substantial sums of cash. I just need to kick the tires on stuff like that. I know some folks prefer ordering stuff on-line and/or direct from manufacturers and you never really know what a major component will sound like in your sound room until you get it there. However, I like listening to a wide variety of stuff before a purchase, if possible, and I'm just too lazy to deal with the possibility of shipping something back that didn't quite measure up, was damaged in shipping, defective or whatever. Also, I'm the type of person that would be plagued by the "I wonder if this, that or the other thing would sound even better" syndrome.
As a result, my relationships with dealers, per se, tend to be somewhat ephemeral over the long haul because I don't buy stuff very often. That being said, however, my recent exploits have led to some pretty good relationships with several brick & mortar dealers and sales people that have worked in those shops for a good number of years. There's also one person, in particular, at an on-line dealer that I've developed a pretty good relationship with over the last several years by virtue of buying stuff like cables, interconnects and small but not entirely inexpensive tweaks like that. I would imagine folks who buy stuff and/or make major moves with their systems more frequently have solid connections with dealers of choice. Sounds a little like an addiction, doesn't it? Regardless, music and audiophile gear, as far as I'm concerned, are a splendid and soul-pleasing addiction at that!
Not in the area you specified but if you don't mind a drive up north, you might want to Google: "high-end audio shops CT" and have a look at what pops up. Seems like there are a number of them further north. NYC, I'm sure, must have some great shops but I'm guessing you are going to pay NYC prices.
I’ve only been in this hobby for a year so I relied heavily on my local dealer for advice. Having gained some knowledge about the high end audio world I would like to see what other dealers in my area have to offer in terms of products and advice. I’m not unhappy with the dealer I went with just wanting to see what else is out there. If anyone knows of some good dealers in Colorado besides Listen Up please let me know. Thanks !
I like having a couple of trusted dealers to work with. The one's I do business with are usually very helpful, knowledgable, and friendly. They also provide discounts on what I want as they know I don't have a golden wallet to match my golden ears!
I do occasionally buy direct when there is no other choice, but I try to make sure they have a decent return policy. I don't trust reviewers, ANY reviewer or mag for that matter, but use their info from time to time as a "heads up" on something new that I will check out and make my own opinion of a product. Been in this hobby for over 50 years and have made mostly good choices of my equipment, although I'm not perfect and have made a few mistakes over the years and made the proper corrections.
I hear what you're saying but I regard "Listen Up" fondly. When I wanted to purchase a SimAudio transport and the closest N. CA dealer refused to provide an in-home trial, I called "Listen Up" and they agreed to ship me one.
1) I bought the transport. 2) I will never buy anything from that dealer in SF
@stuartk Thank you for your thoughts. They were very helpful to me as well and even price matched a few things I could of gotten cheaper elsewhere. I will definitely keep my relationship with them in good standing. Happy listening
I almost never buy gear "retail", but when I do it's usually either Echo Audio or Gig Harbor Audio. Echo in particular has been really good to me, more than once they've helped me avoid a system mismatch or a sideways move from the gear I already have. In other words, they've talked me out of buying something.
I have visited many audio dealers for over 30 years, lately with audio clubs. I have visited a few in Atlanta that have very nice equipment but sound like crap. Some of the best sounding dealers are/were Definitive Audio in Washington state, and the audio gallery in Portland. I don’t go to dealers any longer but if I were to, I would make a trip to Seattle
I’ve visited many audio dealer stores in California. Although I’ve read it’s good to get an experienced dealer for advice, I keep them at arms length because lack of trust putting customer first before sales. When I was starting out green in high end audio, I had one bad experience with a salesman asking me my budget (which I didn’t know yet so threw out a number) then he proceeded to push a system (used car salesman) that sounded only meh. I complained and subsequently upper management apologized.
Most of what I learned was from years of intense research and occasional forum or manufacturer inquiries. Maybe someday I’ll find a dealer I can trust putting customers first - any advise regarding this is welcome.
But there are some online dealers that also participate in forums which I trust much more - their helpfulness reflects a customer first b4 sales attitude.
I do generally trust Rhapsody Audio in NY who did a WBF forum review of the Magico A5. When I contacted him he suggested I purchase from a local dealer (I’m in California Bay Area) so I can get local advice, but I’ll likely give the sale to Rhapsody since their forum review led to this sale.
On average I probably go through an upgrade cycle every ten years and it takes one to two years to do it. I just love the time in between enjoying the music.
One of the reasons I have been active on the forums is that over the last couple years I upgraded two of my systems and realized how much the last fifty years of being an audiophile has taught me. So, for a while I thought I would try and be helpful to some folks that are actively working on upgrading their system. After a while, I will probably go back to mostly appreciating the system I have.
My audio gear dealer of choice is Bill Soderholm of Stereoland in Bloomington, Minnesota. A company which he started in 1974, and from where I’ve been buying many wonderful treats since 1976. In this fickle hobby having someone to help steer you through the marais of components, cables, headphones, and speakers is important.