I personally feel Audiogon is the best thing to happen to the high end audio industry since the end of vinyls golden age.
The forums have allowed all of us to learn. Most of came to Audiogon through some search engine, either looking for used equipment or advise. With very little time invested we discovered other people just like us, looking to learn and share this wonderful hobby. For me it was a place to learn from the very basics of system start up, to the art of pulling the most from what ever level I could afford.
After a few years, I found myself experimenting beyond the level of most, and in return I was sharing my findings. This is the description of the Audiogon forums, and how they have raised the level of knowledge in our hobby. Then it dawns on us, these are our friends too. I started finding myself sharing with friends from Audiogon, both in the forums and off site. I discovered this was becoming a big part of my life, and I enjoyed it. Then the damnedest thing happened, Lugnut! This thread changed lives, and allowed Audiogon to rise to a much unexpected level. We shared our love, tears and hearts for a man most of us never actually met.
Is Audiogon good for the hobby? Is caring about people you dont know in any way other than through an Internet forum significant?
Oh, then there is the used market for audio gear. Audiogon just happens to dabble in this too. Suddenly we had a place where we were able to sell our unused gear. In audio, most people tend to take very good care of their equipment, and yet part of the hobby is trying new equipment in our ever evolving systems. Before Audiogon there was no true market for this gear, and many of us had closets full of stuff. Audiogon allows us to trade our equipment in a very stable used market. For the most part we can buy and sell used equipment with very little actual cost, thus making the Audiogon community a group of friends trading equipment and sharing experiences. Its like we all lived close by, except we have never met. But that is not quite true; I have found a group of local audio friends through this site too. Funny I needed to go out into cyberspace to discover now two more people who live in my 3000 person suburb who also share the passion of high end audio.
Now the down side, but this is not an Audiogon issue as much as an Internet issue. The Internet has created a marketplace where some sellers have chosen to exploit the ability to undercut pricing. We consumers of course benefit from this by cheaper prices for new gear, but at the cost of killing what was. The amount and variety of bricks and mortar retailers has dwindled to a very few. This limits our personal exposure to equipment, and limits our chance to audition equipment before we buy. If we shop at Audiogon, chances are we do not shop in our local audio retailers, and visa versa. That is too bad, but it is reality. Audiogon did not create this issue, and in fact does little to support it, so in my eyes, not even this issue is pinnable on Audiogon.
I guess one could make the argument that the newly discovered local friends (unknown without Audiogon) all have different equipment, and in fact we are auditioning other equipment, and in fact sometimes in a far more affective way. I will leave that discussion to others however
So in conclusion, I believe Audiogon is the best this to happen to the high end audio industry, and I am proud to be a ten year member.
You would think any resource that generates interest in a hobby area has to be good for the associated industries.
You wrote "Absolute Sound drives me into retailers and listening rooms, helps educate me and helps create my wish list, but, AG helps me make it a reality. The result is that I spend far more $$ on equipment...which by the way, drives me to buy absurd amounts of source material through acousticsounds, etc..."
Which means you are buying "used" equipment and merely using the Brick and Mortar stores as a way of auditioning equipment, without paying them anything. Thus they go bankrupt as you are merely wearing out their equipment, and wasting their time. Now I know why the title of your thread is "Is audiogon good for the audio industry or bad?" Based on your use of it, I would say "bad". (No offense, but that is how I feel.)
Now, that being said, I too use Audiogon to buy and sell equipment. (However, I try very hard not to use B&M stores as you do, as it is not morally right, from my point of view anyway). What I do is use Audiogon (and Audio Asylum) to create a network of friends and acquaintences, through which I can ask (or get asked) to listen to their equipment. If that does not work for a particular piece of equipment I am interested in, I will, on occasion, take a chance and buy something used, that I have not auditioned, at a good price, knowing that I can resell it if I don't like it, (usually on Audiogon, and make most, if not all, of my money back). In this case, I think Audiogon is somewhat good for the audio industry, as it makes used equipment more valuable, and thus makes people want to try out more equipment. The downside to this is that it means people are buying more used equipment, rather than new equipment, which is not helping the audio industry.
Obviously the absolute best thing for the audio industry would be for all of us to buy only new equipment, and donate our used equipment to up and coming audiophiles. (But that ain't happening! Although, I do help out my friends with cables and other accessories.) I remember back in the eighties and early nineties, before the internet boom, (and before Ebay and especially Audiogon), and basically, you bought all of your equipment new, and traded in your old equipment, because the used market was basically limited to your surrounding cities. It seems to me that the eighties were the high point of the audio industry.
My two cents worth anyway.
Jadem6 is right on. Audiogon keeps the pressure on prices, on line and B&M.
I well remember the audio hobby before Audiogon. Tons more quality audio retail stores, but this was the only way to get to hear a variety of equipment.
The rise of the internet in general has also been amazing for the audiophile. We used to have to find out about equipment by sending away for pamphlets, snail mail!
Audiophiles were pretty much alone as well, I had no easy access to other audiophiles, pretty lonely hobby/obsession. A much wider variety of opinions and reviews is available today, back in the bad old days we had to rely much more on magazine reviews.
The 'old' days were not the Golden Age of audio, the Golden Age is now! More recent audiophiles may not realize how good they have it.
Amen Sns,this is definately the Golden Age.The future looks fairly rosy also,keep on truckin,cheers,Bob
I think that you are stealing the resources of your local dealers by auditioning products and then purchasing them on the secondary market. That is, most certainly, bad for the industry.
Overall, I think JD and Sns make some very good points.
We live in an age where we can research product in ways we'd never dreamed about 15 years ago. Likewise, we have access to that equipment, so, on a certain level, I agree with the statement of the golden age of audio being the past several years.
I will say that on the other hand, the internet revolution has completely decimated the brick and mortar dealer network. Those local dealers were where the lion's share of your audio dollar was spent. Now, most people buy used components here on Audiogon or find an internet dealer willing to prostitute the product out at the expense of the guy who's close to you - effectively putting a lot of them out of business. So, in that respect, things have been bad. In fact, real bad.
I vote yep.
I liken it to getting music via online downloads. You get a couple three tracks and either buy the CD or move on. Both are eye openers and allow for investigation without the full on need to outlay enourmous duckets right away
or of course, you very well can.
Through Agone I met makers and dealers, made friends and my knowledge base grew. I bought used at first along with some new items online and then locally. Found other resources I would not have otherwise.
Through the used buys, I found some makers with whom Id have no reservations buying new from sight or sound unseen or unheard as my confidence in them and their efforts increased. In facrt Ive done just that along the way too. Ive found as well, the opposite side of that coin, the lesser entrants in the game, and thats good too.
Consequently, Ive made new purchases as the result of Agones presence
my experience here, and via the people in the industry Ive made contact with. That has to be a positive aside, and a real world benefit to the industry at large.
I get in where I fit in. Used. New. Demo. The matter for muyself is getting where I can as is best for me and my current state of affairs. Who among us wouldnt prefer to buy new items everytime? Everyone would of course, save perhaps those whose preffs are in classics or collectors items
and maybe the die hard DIY crowd.
Such however is not always the case with me, and I suspect it the same way with many, many others. It is however, always the desire, and the now an then certainty thats of course a plus to some degree as the Agone pages seeded the interest initially..
From my singular interests here, some of my friends have ventured deeper into the waters of high end video and audio gear that would normally have just laid down for a Bose setup, or mass fi outfit.
I must think then, that from our own efforts here we do in some cases affect those about us. Sometimes to the end that those other normal, non committed or non card carrying audio nuts, will indeed delve into the auspices of the industry by and large, to some degree, that simply would not have otherwise. That too must be a positive.
Be it new purchases or not, there is an impact I feel is positive in the higher end audio or video industry as the result of Agone, and certainly due to its membership base. As Im pretty sure its the members and visitors here that are doing the actual buying
Together, the membership base and Agone, there is a decidedly better impact. Alone, Id suggest something less.
A better query perhaps, might be to ask those B&M dealers who also enlist the aid of Agone to disclose generally, which side of their business provides them the greater revenue stream routinely
I am responding to a few folks who thought I was saying that I condone going to a dealer, auditioning and then buying on audiogon, which I have never done before... I was misunderstood here...in fact I have recently tried hard to buy products at a local dealer but the audition failed (Elipsas or cemonas in a small room didnt work). And, my recently purchased 3 items on audiogon are all from dealers...none of this equipment was auditioned at another dealer...the price was simply more competitive than simply msrp through audiogon...so it seems, I am contributing to dealers success through audiogon as I am a new customer for them.
While Absolute Sound drives me into retailers, my intent is to buy the product from the retailer as there are 2 in my area that I have spent much $$ at....if I do not, it is because of cost or the audition doesn't pan out....but as I have a better idea of the prices that are out there due to audiogon I am a more educated buyer.... In addition, I have met dealers nationwide (including ones in my own area I didnt know), opened myself up to new products and I see products at more competitive prices..especially demos or slightly flawed products which are fine for me and MUCH more affordable....these products have made owning a really nice system possible for me.....that is a more detailed explanation for how I utilize audiogon to afford better equipment.
As much as I love Audiogon and the Internet for providing me Information on products. I still miss the days of old when you could visit stores and audition the equipment for yourself.
Seems to me anything that gets a customer into a retail shop should be a good thing. The problem with high end is that if you are an audiophile on a budget, most stores suck. We are just too picky and want to be able to test drive things in our own homes. Are we supposed to go into a store, listen to a product for 15 minutes on unfamiliar equipment and then plop down $4,000 on a whatever just because we didn't want to waste a salespersons time. We all have a certain something we are looking for in sound. At least here on audiogon if you do your shopping right you wont lose more than a few shekels when you buy a product that doesn't quite fit you. I purchase and sell here on audiogon because most of us here are like minded. Most retail stores are not in business to please audiophiles.
Well said Scpetscott. I've been to more than a few hi end stores and have been very disappointed with the service and most of all the sound. In fact I've never went to a store and heard something and though I've got to have that. Not to mention at least half of the time I've felt there was a real snobby attitude to go along with it. Personally the advice and knowledge I get from experienced and devoted audiophiles on this site means far more to many than any visit to a dealer. If I am interested in a product I would almost be afraid to go hear it at a dealer since I don't expect to get a real impression of it and what it will sound like in my system. The only reason I would go into a dealer now would be to see what a speaker looks like in real life. I wouldn't even ask to hear it. And I do agree that it is not cool at all to go waste a dealers time when you have no intention of buying.
Some of the comments on 'need to support the b&m' crowd remind me of BO's refrain 'that it is your patriotic duty to pay more taxes'. I wish there was a 'used' government I could purchase at half price, like most of the audio equipment I have purchased used, some from B&M dealers. Just as a new car is the worst economic way to purchase a car, so is the new piece of audio equipment. Wait, let it go into the 'used' market. I don't feel bad about behaving the way I do, just like the used car market supports the new car market, in audio it is no different. I do test drive new cars to get the feel of what I could like to buy used. As the car leasing business has proven, bargains are there for those that wait. So, continue to 'kick the tires' at your local audio dealer, you are doing his customers a favor. Just tell the dealer you are waiting for a 'certified, pre owned unit'.
the ability to unload used equipment and upgrade I believe is good in the long run. I have upgraded to new equipment that i could not have bought without getting reasonable dollars for my used equipment the result that i keep trading and more trades mean more purchases and more expensive at that. On the flip side, yes, the folks buying from me are buying used, not new...but that doesnt mean all of their equipment is used and they too may trade and upgrade and purchase new equipment down the road. more trades are good for the business.
The only reason I would go into a dealer now would be to see what a speaker looks like in real life. I wouldn't even ask to hear it.
LOL, if all the B&M stores go by the wayside you will still be able to look at a picture in a Magazine. LOL, might even have a scratch and sniff feature someday.....
I wish there was a 'used' government I could purchase at half price, like most of the audio equipment I have purchased used, some from B&M dealers. Just as a new car is the worst economic way to purchase a car, so is the new piece of audio equipment. Wait, let it go into the 'used' market. I don't feel bad about behaving the way I do, just like the used car market supports the new car market, in audio it is no different.
But what if everyone thought the same as you? I guess the used market would continue to feed on itself. The used, used, aftermarket, LOL.
Of course the manufactures would eventually go out of business. Even if all the manufactures have their products made in China they will still go out of business if there are no buyers for their product.
Viridian and Jea48 have hit the nail on the head. While it's a free market, if a large percentage of equipment purchases were of used products instead of new, it could be impossible for many high end companies (manufacturers, distributors, and dealers) to survive. It's a self fulfilling prophesy. Buying used is okay, as long as you accept that often there is no warranty, the cosmetic condition most often is less than perfect, the product may have been superseded by a more recent version or model with better performance, and most importantly an audition especially in your own system may not be possible. As a dealer I make every effort to demonstrate current products meaningfully, loaning out equipment to customers for home trial, supporting the products after the sale, giving generous trade-in allowances and fair prices. I may be an exception among retailers, but maybe that's because I was an audiophile for 30 years before becoming a dealer. I may be the antithesis of what Scpetscott describes, where he feels pressured to make snap decisions in a matter of minutes. At the same time most people are not going to use your resources by coming for a demo and then buying online. The dealer who is little more than a box mover is going to suffer the most, I think deservedly so. My clients value the knowledge, advice, and customer service I provide for long term satisfaction. I have traveled long distances to deliver and set up equipment to ensure it performs optimally as expected and will continue to do so. I do my utmost to bring significant value to each and every transaction.
Just as you wouldn't buy a car you don't know about except for pictures and specifications without a test drive, why would you risk doing so with mail order and online retailers for significant audio purchases? The idea of sending something back if you don't like it is bogus, because statistics show a lot of people won't even if they don't like it. I hear that all the time. Likewise, the idea of buying something used with the intent of reselling it for about what you paid if you don't like it is like throwing darts and is a waste of time. I see some people changing their equipment very frequently, buying stuff unheard and unseen, making buying decisions because they read something in a magazine or something online posted by people whose identities and allegiances are unknown. After a while you say what's the point. Life is too short.
No matter where you are, my advice as a longtime consumer is find a retailer who will take the time to explain and demonstrate the equipment that interests you, will let you try it at home, will set up the equipment you purchase in your home, will help you long after the sale, and has prices that are mutually fair. If you do not intend to do business or are considering buying used, be up front with the dealer. I respect people's purchasing decisions and welcome their curiosity regardless but expect to be treated in kind.
There are at least two distinct Audiophile groups. One is an interactive group who might include DIY, long time music lovers, long time audio junkies, new people who aspire to be one of the above. The common thread is we all are looking, searching, compulsively addicted to finding the perfect sound.
We try equipment, we take advice, we give more advice, we try other stuff, and we even force our families to adapt to our needs. We hide our latest purchases in the closet until the wife is away. We plan our schedules to intercept those purchases before they arrive. We always come clean with the real price, out loud to our friends yea, I picked up this $20,000 amp on the Gon for $1200! The code amongst us is to never use real numbers, in the prior instance, $1200 is code for $12,000. Oh and power cords never cost more the $75!
This group as described above might sound familiar. THEY ARE US! And we love them all dearly. These people research, shop on line with little regard for security, share their latest discovery, often as THE BEST must have. We defend our views with passion and know we are right, until the next purchase, then we, and only we discover something even BETTER! Yes we are the Audiogon community, and we love our friends who share this addiction.
The other group is the B&M guys. This is doctor uptight, home from twelve hours of brain surgery. Very uptight, very stressed and VERY wealthy. Yes his collage tuition is long paid off, his home is well stocked with all his family needs, and he needs a place to escape. He discovered music as a teen, but never took the drugs required to fully understand its meaning. He went off to collage, and never looked back. Then he was at a friends house for a cocktail party. He discovered a very impressive sound system and asked where he might find the same. The next week he entered the B&M store, claimed he needed the BEST sounding system they had, wanted it delivered to his home and set up properly. When asked if he wished to hear it first, the doctor replied, oh yea, but I only have a minute.
OK, I know I over amplified that, but these people do exist. Actually enough of them to keep a couple well stocked stores open in each community of a couple million people. Fact is we the Audiogoners might actually be the minority here, again. I have a feeling the I just want the best sound where I can escape from my high pressure life guy is more common than we think. These guys would never discover Audiogon for they do not seek knowledge or bargains. As unlikely that the B$M buyer will find Audiogon, the typical Agoner would hardly plunk down full price for gear he knows he can find discounted from someone.
The lose to the Agoner is the local help and service. Of course this too is available on line, and from a far greater community of offerings. So what we lose is the chance to hear what ever system they are selling. For me, I have never walked into a store and seen the system I would choose to put together. They are restricted by who they represent. On Audiogon I am free to learn, test and purchase every brand on the planet! This for the Audiogoner is heaven, to the doctor above, it might well be hell.
Essentialaudio, please see this in the light it was written. Your points are excellent, and I only wish you were in my community...
Sorry if it's already been said, did not read all the replies. I think it's definitely not bad. It's a community that perpetuates people's interests in audio equipment and also attracts others to the hobby. I remember a study at the height of the illegal music download hype (actually, that is still going on, isn't it?) showing that songs heavily trafficked illegally online actually had their legal sale increase, not decrease as a consequence. Such studies are very hard to do, yes, and prone to all sorts of errors, but it does make sense that this type on online trading community works to some extent as advertisement and popularization for the industry.
I would happily spend my money at Essential Audio. I just spent 2000 at Magnolia hifi in Los Angeles. One point that I was trying to make is shops should be welcoming us into their doors as foot traffic is a good thing. We may not spend money every time we go into their doors but we do spend money. And of course I agree that nobody should be wasting people's time. If you are buying off the used market, there is much advice and reviews to be had on line as well. Maybe audio shops should have a button at the front door that says, "I am an audiophile, please be kind." lol
I think its a bit smug to say you basically use stores for demo then go buy from the net, you should come clean with them and pay them some fee for your "education" as I doubt you would like it dont to you and your business. I buy here and also pay what dealers charge and love the service and relationship a dealer offers
As far as trade, how can you prove this either way especially since there are used markets for everything. I can say that it doesn't contribute to the GNP.
Audiogon forums definitely help everyone because it allows communications and shared experiences and raises everyones level of understanding which is something that an independent audio industry will never be able to provide. Do you think the used car dealers are bad for new car dealers or the automakers? Now that I think about it, maybe we should leave the automakers out of this!
For the record I did note OP stated he was misread but all the same my point was in general to those who agree with exact or similar behaivior. Its too bad so many dont have a great store to deal with or things may be alot different.
Audiogon is a great place to buy and meet/network but it would be here if not for dealers previous efforts and these guys need our support if justified. I think that the end of Brick and Mortar will be like death of physical music being that the net will leave us all a bit empty inside wether it be a file to simply listen to or no actual store to check out.
I no longer visit 'actual' audio stores and audio is more a part of my life than ever. DIY is my present preoccupation, tons of self-satisfaction, dealers no help here. The web has made it possible for novices like me to undertake projects I never would have undertaken otherwise. More audiophiles of moderate means should investigate DIY upgrades, way more bang for the buck than circulating equipment in a never ending quest for the holy grail.
Having said that, I do think audio stores are important for some. I just no longer use them as I don't usually intend to purchase from them, it is wrong to use them as an auditioning outlet. I also usually prefer the home based audio dealer, much more personal service. The 'big' stores around me cater to the high rollers, most are more into home theatre than stereo.
I don't think B & M are vital to many manufacturers, quite a few generate most or all of their sales via the web and word of mouth. I believe the web is becoming much more indespensable to the health of this industry than B & M, the home based stores may be the exception. I would be tempted to start a home based business if I could raise the capital.