It's much easier to do it. You don't have to have an extra space to demo just push links with great reviews and find some or more dumbs to go for it.
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This is going to be the type of buying we are going to be faced with in the near term future and it is only going to get worse -in audio and probably many other commodities. We have created this problem by insisting on the best possible deal and buying from some saavy person selling whatever it is, for less on the internet. The lure of lower price is difficult to resist for most people. As you said, in this economy, we can't afford a bad purchase decision.
The only salvation maybe the emergence of a new business plan/model where regional "Demo" stores somehow supported by the manufacturer will exist to audition before purchase. This has been done in a way with regional home based audition/sellers.
I haven't heard much about this since leaving my old home area where there was a home distributor audition person or two, and some brick and mortors that still survive.
It is only gonna get worse until we come up with some kind of solution.
Personally I had to go through several years worth of making a bad purchase for my taste and selling at a loss. I had to buy most of my components on faith. It is an expensive way to go. Strange all that in the name of buying for less actually costing more.
I wonder if this will backfire. I bought my 3.7's back last November, while Magnepan was blowing smoke about the 20.7 rumors. As it is, I like my 3.7's well enough there is no way I will take a beating on reselling the 3.7's, then buying the 20.7's without a decent audition. If I heard the 20.7s at my dealer, who knows? I can't get too mad at Wendel though. The 3.7's perform way above their cost.
I agree, the business model going forward on $10K and up speakers will be buy on the review. Dealers have little incentive to stock demo's on those price points as auditioning them is so subjective. Only in hearing in the listeners environment will work for many. Also, a dealer stocking problem exists as few manufacturers will 'floor plan' the units for more then 30 days. Even with the dealer getting list price, it will be hard to make money on the carrying cost of the demo and inventory.
Mangnepan has a solid customer base and more sales than they can build.
Magnepan was really smart NOT to expand the company when they started getting backorders.
Way too many companies just get too big, then collapse. i am glad magnepan is smart enough to not fall for that.
As it is, they do not need to do anything at all.
The sales of magnepans are still backordered and brisk.
So if you do not want some. no problem as far as i can see.
I just bought 3.6s new a year before the 3.7 came out.
I might at some point buy 20.7s..
But I am certain Wendell is not worried.
Magnepan has a really unique nitch in the audio world.
Elizabeth, You may be right about keeping the company the size it is, I guess, we will see. The 3.7s were my 4th set of Maggies I have purchased and I for one will not buy the 20.7s without audition. I am fairly sure I would buy them IF I could hear them 1st and cannot imagine I am alone.
Having said theat there are only 2-3 dealers in country with 20.7s on floor where as almost every dealership had 20.1s to audition. From my recent conversation with Wendell I do believe he realizes he has a challenge and flying folks to White Bear Lake isn't going to work too well. The back order ststus will subside as all the "early adopters buying the latest and greatest with no audition" comes to an end
I also have to ask how can you have a "statement speaker" when no one can hear it?
In a way, I think that the comments posted above apply to much of hi-end equipment purchasing experiences.
When I was a kid, a buddy and I used to hang out at a local super high-end retailer to listen to the latest and greatest gear coming out. Being just kids, most of the time we just listened and gawked because we didn't have the dough to buy.
Today, there aren't that many high end retailers around and certainly the breadth of equipment selections no where approaches the many fine brands on the market. And as I have said on other threads, I am uncomfortable hanging out at the few brick and mortar shops still around unless I am ready to make a purchase. I think it is inconsiderate to take up a saleperson 's time unless I am a serious buyer.
So what is one to do?? We're kinda stuck with relying on reviews and comments from other A'gon members. Also, a lot of my gear is made by old line companies who have excellent reputations like ARC and VPI.
Welcome to the modern web based IT economy.
Just my opinion.
Wendell will need to soon move on with an estate plan. That will trigger being acquired by one of the mega buck hedge funds. ARC was the latest to need an 'estate' bailout. Small companies no matter how profitable they are, need liquidity so they can fund the owner's retirement and pass on the wealth created to the heirs. The trade off for customers is that production will need to grow and marketing vastly expanded. Distribution of the product will need to increase. I would not be surprised to see Maggies at Best Buys hi end business.
Retire? I know a multi billion plus private company owner who gave (almost)all the shares to his kids with No VOTING rights.
He kept the voting rights with his share. And whe HE died that went to ONE family member.
Solved all the issues temporarily.
The son who got the voting rights got sued endlessly (naturally) by disaffected other family members. But that was his being a whimp..
Finally he bought out the complainers and is happily making his billions just like his pa did...
So it can be done
BTW my initial post/question was about business judgement and current dealer situation not about the character of the folks at Magnepan or dealers. Everyone at Magnepan I have ever talked with have been helpful and wonderful to work with over the last 25+ years I have owned Maggies
Having said that the fact is in the DC/Baltimore area you cannot hear 20.7s a 14k flagship speaker for Magnepan. You can however hear many Wilson, Avalon, Magico, Meridian models costing 2-6 times their price.
I am not really sure what that says but I do find myself asking how many dealers have actually heard the 20.7 and if not how can they recommend them? What is their "value add" if they themselves have not heard them?
Not crying poverty and I have been a Maggie guy forever, but I still cannot see spending 14k on something I have not heard.
Thanks for feedback.
This is probably a naive question, but I'll ask it anyway: Why don't middle-sized manufacturers like Magnepan built 5 or so pairs of "demo-only speakers" that they will ship to potential customers to audition in their home for a fee? Here are some thoughts on how it might work...
--The fee is just enough to allow the manufacturer to break even on the cost of construction/shipping/logistics for the "lending program." They don't make money on the fee, to keep it as low as possible.
--Maybe the customer is allowed to keep the speakers for 1 week, and then the shipping/freight company picks them up from him and ships them to the next potential customer. In other words, the speakers never go back to the manufacturer unless they develop a problem. They simply circulate from potential customer to potential customer.
--After his 1 week in-home demo, if the customer wants to proceed, he then buys a new pair FROM HIS LOCAL DEALER, who provides him with all the subsequent support he needs. That way the dealer doesn't have to stock the speaker and the customer gets to hear it the way he wants, i.e. in his own home with his own equipment. Everybody's happy.
--Maybe the lending program is ONLY FOR SELECT MODELS, so that the local dealer isn't cut out of the picture too much. And maybe the lending program is coordinated through the dealer, so that the dealer can do a certain amount of "filtering" for the manufacturer, to weed out the crazies.
--The cost of the in-home demo may of course get expensive if the speakers are very large/heavy, due to freight costs. But the folks who can afford large/heavy/expensive speakers can probably also afford a more expensive demo, given that they may be about to spend more than $10K, $20K, $30K... And for smaller speakers, amps, preamps, etc., the cost of freight is much less burdensome.
--Since the lending program is through the manufacturer, it costs the local dealer exactly $0. That should diminish the implicit or explicit pressure dealers sometimes apply when they agree to an in-home demo of their store's stock.
I, for one, would be VERY tempted to participate in a lending program like this, and I suspect there are plenty of other audiophiles who would feel the same way.
Quote: "I would not be surprised to see Maggies at Best Buys hi end business." -- Buconero117
Wow, I would be surprised to see Best Buy still in business in 5 years. I hate to say it, but all the things we love, bookstores, newspapers, HiFi shops will be few and far between. You will find a few independent shops but I just don't know how the pre internet business model can continue.
The lending program is a great idea. Hope it catches on.
I agree with your idea but the logistics of something that large can scare off the maker. A buyer with that kind of disposable income could manage such an arrangement but for the maker, it is a different story. I'm sure their bean counters looked at it from every angle and decided this is what's best for them.
Over at AC they do it all the time with various makes of equipment. They call it 'tours' and the prospective buyers/listeners simply agree to handle the item with kid gloves and pay shipping to the next person. But I've never heard of something that large making the rounds. The impetus comes from either the maker, who wants to get it around to trained ears with the caveat that they comment/review the item to a group of listeners who petition the maker to let them hear it. Heck, sometimes one just buys it and sends it around to folk he trusts.
Maybe there's a formulae in there that those interested can follow up with. When I bought my Legacy Classics, all those years ago, they had a program that listed some owners who were more than happy to have people come over and have a listen. All of those Legacy models were just too damn big and heavy to lend out.
All the best,
All fair points, Nonoise. Still, a boy can dream. It would be a great enhancement to our hobby, IMO.
A scenario where other owners open their homes to fellow audiophiles is also a nice idea, though that requires a culture of trust, which doesn't exist everywhere. Personally, I'd be happy to let someone audition something at my place. Of course, that sort of makes me the dealer, which I'm not sure every manufacturer would be happy about. ;-)
Where is AC? "As in over at AC...."
I think we may be surprised when audio comes back some, and maybe even on Main Street. It seems people are indeed concerned about sound quality. I saw an ad featuring some "Beats" speakers on a tablet computer. I can't be sure that there won't just be a resurgence of a great mid-fi boom like there was in the 70s. That will still leave the more hardcore aficianados who are really into Hi-Fi where we are now, as a miniscule or so it seems, minority. As you said a guy cvan dream can't he?
I ran into the same issues, so I opted to fly up to White Bear Lake for a personal listen. Wendell and everyone at the factory were very nice. Wendell gave me a personal tour of the factory that lasted almost two hours! Then I spent three hours listening to the 20.7's in their factory listening room (ideal room dimensions, but very sparse room treatments, electronics, and ammenities)... However, even under those less than ideal listening conditions I was able to be convinced that the new 20.7's are several notches above my old 3.6's; so I immediatey ordered a new pair from one of my local dealers (neither dealer in my town will ever have the 20.7's).
Btw, not too awfully far from Magnepan at White Bear Lake is a good hi-end dealer called, Audio Perfection. I spent half a day there listening to 3.7's and the Wilson Sophias and Sashas before visiting Magnepan. So, over a quick three day weekend I was able to hear the 3.7's, 20.7's, and several very good Wilsons. Ultimately, I felt that the 20.7's were the best speakers overall. The 3.7's are a " best buy" and a truly awesome speaker for the money.
My 20.7's should arrive in Sept (I hope...)
This is actually in regards to what Stickman wrote but before I get to that I'd like to offer just another Maggie lovers opinion. I had the 3.5's for a year. Then had the 3.6's for 12. Have had the 3.7's now for 7 months. The 6's, while being an outstanding speaker and an even greater value at what they're selling for used, unfortunately don't hold a candle to the 3.7's. The 20.1's still a better speaker then the 3.7's but not $7,000 better. 20.1's at used prices of less then $8000 are the better buy. I had a chance to buy them instead of the 3.7's but my wife was afraid of the size. Now, after living with the 3.7's and realizing how fabulous the 20.7's must be she's agreed to live with the size issue. This is where I'd like to add further to Stickmans' comments. I'm ecstatic to hear how well Magnepan is doing. I don't like the fact that the 20'7's are not out there for demoing. My wife and I will be travelling to White Bear Lake to hear and thought it would be fun to see how the speakers are actually produced. So, if Magnepan wants us to come there to listen wouldn't you think it would be in their best interest to put a little effort into the demo room?
As much as I love Magnepan speakers, I do have to say that Magnepan as a Company is a bit different in thier thinking. To me, they are frugal to an extreme but this has enabled them to sell excellent products at unmatched value. In the 3.7 for example you get a world-class speaker that in my view outperforms many (actually most) speakers regardless of cost. I have compared the 3's to the Wilsons, Focals, Klipsch, Avalon, MBL's, etc...and many others and in my view they bested most of them and were embarrassed by none. Of course there is no such animal as the 'best' speaker; all speakers have pluses/minuses and to me the first rule is to properly match your speaker to your room; put the 'best' speaker in the a bad room and you still get poor results.
The speaker wire terminals on the Magnepans are an example of thier frugal thinking; they are terrible! Why not put a really nice, high quality 5-way binding post on all Maggies to facilitate easy connections? My guess is that they don't feel that this would improve the sound and would only add to the expense...
If you go to White Bear Lake make sure you look up Audio Perfection; it is an old style audio store with lots of interesting gear. They carry Magnepan, Wilson, Audio Research and many other top brands.
I had my 3.6s for 8yrs and 2.5s for 13yrs before the 3.6s, and MG1s for 13 years before the 2.5s. I always demo'd every component before purchase. Until the 3.7s. That was a mistake. I have yet to discern a major sonic benefit over the 3.6s in my system. Always audition before you buy, preferably in your own system at home. Reviewers and the opinions of fellow audiophiles is not a substitute.
I would have to agree to audition whenever you can because you really can't depend on what someone else hears. A perfect example would be if you were taking Djexxx's advice and not buying 3.7's because there is no difference between them and the 3.6. Not only is there a difference, it jumps out at you immedietly. The same can be said for the 20.7. Yes, Stickman, I was at Magnepan and it was a very unique experience. Wendell gave my family and I the tour and it was really interesting to see just what goes into these speakers. A number of folks here on AG have also been there and I can only second what has already been reported. This is a company that operates with a minimal workforce. They are all specialists and just about everything is done by hand. They work on one type of speaker at a time. Mr. Diller was very engaging and we had some laughs and just a very casual meeting. When first making the arrangements for the tour there had been some chance, according to Wendell that the 20.7's might not be available for demo. In another thread I commented that I would be rather put off if after making plans two weeks ahead that they wouldn't be available. My comments were that if they are inviting you on their website to come to the plant to hear what you want to buy then it would be in their best interest to have them available. I mean how hard is it to hook up two speakers at the place where they're made? Well, let me tell you that Wendell most definitely reads these threads and he had the 20.7's ready. I actually felt a little bad after writing what I did and then being treated so wonderfully while we were there. But even at that, I still stand by what I said. If you extend the offer then follow thru....and they did. When we got to the lab, also their demo room, Wendell warned us that it was nothing special, and it wasn't. Just as the other visitors have noted, this is a concrete room, no acoustic treatments and very sparse electronics. The amp and pre-amp were Bryston and the CD was Denon. The amp was 125w a side. Now I'm not calling Bryston sparse. I refer only to the wattage and that the preamp was nothing special. Wendell stayed with us for a few songs and then turned the controls over to me and just said to have at it. We stayed for about an hour and played just about everything we had brought with us. I could've stayed quite a bit longer but my wife didn't want us to overstay our welcome. As to what was heard I'll just say that the 3.7 isn't in the same league. There's a reason why there's an $8000 difference. I luv my 3.7's. I think they are fabulous speakers. But they just don't come close. You have to hear the 20.7 to know why. There's a fullness, and a richness you don't get with the 3.7's. I am not technical. I couldn't care less about specs. I couldn't tell you what most mean anyway. I go by what I hear and the 20.7's are phenomonal. One thing I did notice though was that on some of the music we played, when the volume was kicked up, there just wasn't enuff juice. 125 watts just isn't going to drive them unless your listenning to acoustical guitar at low levels. But as my wife said, if they sounded that good, with minimal amounts of power, imagine what they'd be like with bigger amps. Bless her heart. So, the bottom line is if you love Maggies, and you'd like to see the uniqness of the Magnepan company, by all means go and see it. The company is only about 25 minutes away from the Mall of America so my wife enjoyed that also. Yes Wendell, there is still money left for the speakers.
I would agree that the differences between the 3.6 and 3.7 may not seem as major as reported in the Audio press. However, in my brief listening sessions I did feel that the 3.7 was a more 'coherent' sounding speaker overall; the blending of the three drivers is more complete in the 3.7, especially with regard to the ribbon tweeter. To me that is the "largest" overall difference in the 3.7. I would say that the bass sounds a little more potent also, not by a great deal, but I do hear a little more snap and force in the 3.7 than the 3.6. Worth the price of admission for a new 3.7; that's a real individual value question for sure. I have the 3.6's now and have ordered the 20.7's, and there is a LARGE difference there!
Mike, as far as I know, Magnepan doesn't have a say in this. The dealers choose what they want to stock. They've been trying to find a way around the shrinking dealer network. The Dealer Direct program allows you to try a speaker in your own home that's shipped from Magnepan, but it's probably better suited to smaller speakers like the Mini Maggies and MC-1's than to a hard-to-ship behemoth like the 20.7. And the factory demo/tour offer for the 20.7. I'm not sure what else they could do. Trade shows, as we know, are a good way to see what's out there but not such a good way to hear it under the kind of conditions that would allow a buying decision.
I think that as several have been said, we're going to be buying more stuff on the basis of reviews and faith. When I was at Magnepan, they were surprised and touched by the number of orders they'd gotten for the 20.7, "sight unheard." But of course, that isn't going to work for everybody.
Stickman, those binding posts are a gripe of mine too but someone once pointed out that they wouldn't be flush with the back of the speaker, which would make shipping difficult. So they'd need some kind of plug-in arrangement and I think they already sell an adaptor for people who want one (or recommend one). But you're adding an extra connection when you do that.
The idea of a company-owned demo facility is a good one. Back in the late 1950s AR had several such facilities, one in Harvard Square which I visited from time to time. Another was in Grand Central train station in NYC. You could listen while you waited for your train. Could be done at airports today. Nothing was sold out of these facilities. Just demos.
My new 20.7's are sounding better every day. First week they sounded a tad bit 'closed-in' and distant. However, after about 50hrs of play time they are definitely opening-up and sound much better.
The 20.7's are sounding more powerful and 'richer' than my old 3.6's. They definitely reach down lower; I hear more power and 'grunt', more bass and mid-bass 'punch'. The space between the speakers and the front wall is fuller, more dense, and sounds even more real (the 3.6's sound real too). The 20's speak with one voice, the separate drivers blend into one voice, unlike the 3.6's where on occasion the tweeter ribbon could 'stick-out' just a bit.
Very favorable so far! And expecting the 20.7's to get even better!
Congratulations on the 20.7s!
My 20.7s arrived on Sept 21st. I lugged the things in and installed them myself, these things are absolute monsters. I knew they were bigger and heavier than my 3.7s, but OMG.
Anyway, as you experienced and as expected, they were just plain dull at first. But in fairly short order they begin opening up nicely. I probably have 30ish hour so far.
My biggest concern, and what drove me almost nuts for the 4 month wait time is that I'd find something about them I did not like as much as the 3.7s, which I thought were wonderful.
Fortunately, my fears are over, as these things really do everything the 3.7s did, better. That coherence is there as you mention, it's like listening to single driver speakers.
I had myself convinced that they could not be as good as the 3.7s were in this regard!
That added bit of lower end is very nice.
I noticed they can play louder with no "congestion". Male voices are a bit fuller. (i.e. Leonard Cohen's)
Also noticed they are ever so slightly less bright than my 3.7s were. (using the same 1 ohm Duelund in tweeter and jumper on mid) I like this because I think it provides a bit more centered adjustment range with smaller value attenuator resistors. No more fears for me. :)
According to Wendell, brightness in Maggies is usually a consequence of low midbass rather than excessive treble.
The thing is, each of their models is tuned for an average room. The larger a room, the less but smoother bass it tends to have -- and of course each room has different room modes/placement/etc. The larger ones have more panel area and this may be what you're hearing. They might also have more panel area to do the acoustic equalization that allows them to tailor the response of the woofers.
Another week with the 20.7's and all I can say is WOW!!! These things smoke my 3.6's like crazy. EVERYTHING is BETTER.
I am laying down a grid on the floor (per Jim Smith's instructions) so that I can tweak the speaker and listening position. I want to get these bad boys RIGHT!
Ray000, have you tried the resistors yet? Anyone tried these yet? My sound is so good now I haven't taken the time to test these out.
It's great to hear you're continuing to enjoy the 20.7s
I know I am!!!
At the moment I'm running jumpers in both tweeter and midrange. I'd had a 1 Ohm (Duelund) in the tweeter, which I felt with the 3.7s was needed.
I just at this point don't see the need of it or any attenuation in the midrange either.
I guess this could change as break-in continues, but I'm happy just the way things are at the moment.
Now that I have heard both the 3.7 and 20.7 in the same room with the same electronics, I have to say that the 20.7s better the 3.7s enough out of the box to warrant the upgrade.
The 3.7s are a great speaker and a steal at their price point but to my ears the 20.7s offer a fuller richer sound, above just "more bass".
Everyone needs to make their own decision on whether the price vs sound differences justify the upgrade, but for my part and situation, I have no hesitation saying yes.
Regardless, if you have the chance to hear these wonderful speakers, do yourself a favor and give them a listen
Unless they re-release a 3 panel Tympani type speaker, I cannot imagine ever looking to change them out
Another week with my new 20.7's and I have to repeat what I said above; WOW! These are one of the very finest speakers that I have ever heard!
They crush all of the 3 series Magnepans (all of which are damn good!). The 20.7's are rich, full-bodied, amazingly detailed, draw a HUGE stage in all directions, have a considerable amount of slam and 'grunt', and just plain sound REAL...
Very happy with this purchase; if you have a room that is large enough for these monsters (ie you can set them at 5 - 7 feet out into the room) and still sit 9 - 11 feet away, you must audition these before buying the 3.7's or any other speaker in the $12k - and up range!
It is amazing how a 79 inch tall speaker can simply disappear and all you really seem aware of is the music.
Maggie's have always sounded musical to me but the 20.7s seem to do more than reproduce, they recreate with a realism that startles me on occaision.
Simply a wonderful speaker. Jim Winey would be proud.