Try a common carrier or freight forwarding company. They are designed to ship heavy items like this. I would guess you would be in the $450 range for that kind of size and weight.
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Shipping expenses are based on "class" or what you are actually shipping. For instance jet engines cost way more per pound than scrap metal per pound. Make sure you have the proper class code when you ship them or you may pay too much. We ship aircraft fasteners Class 50. This is a lot cheaper than the class for aircraft parts and it is properly classed. Hope this helps.
Good luck, John
Things you can do to make your shipping experience as boring and uneventful as possible, (which includes paying as little as possible, and not worrying whether they are going to make their safe and sound!) are:
One, put your speakers on a pallet and ship them as freight. This means that the shipping companies can use a forklift (which is relatively safe due to the pallet), and your speakers will (usually) be kept in an upright position.
Two, have the shipping company put a layer of at least double thick cardboard around the speakers on all sides and top. Then have them shrinkwrap the package to the pallet. (Note: my speakers arrived save and sound, but my buyer did note that there were a couple of good sized dings in the cardbroad armoring that might have penetrated the speaker box had it not been there!)
Three, deliver the speakers yourself to the shipping terminal, and have them shipped to closest shipping terminal to your destination. (This will mean dropping off and picking up speakers by your and the recepient, but it will save you time and money.)
Four, bite the bullet and pay for insurance though. Typically the cost is around 3% of the insurance amount.
I recommend the following shipping company.
They were very helpful and were (relatively) cheap.
Navis Pack and Ship
FYI, I recently used them to ship my Revel Studio speakers from San Jose, CA to Denver, Co. The total cost was about $616, if memory serves. And, $150 of that was for the $5,000.00 worth of insurance. The total weight of everything, including the speakers, pallet and extra cardboard was about 500 pounds, so I think that is in the same ballpark as your situation.
Try Bax Global. Put them on a pallet. Borrow a banding machine or just get some plastice banding and a few of the clips. You can do it yourself using a pliers instead of the banding tool. Uhaul sells that stretch plastic, about $6. per large roll and definitely go around each speaker to keep out the rain.
Very important. If one gets damaged could you replace it with an exact match? I would insure for twice the amount of the speakers that way if one goes you are covered.
Also extremely important. The buyer must view the speakers before signing off on them. In other words he must remove the plastic wrap and have a clear view of the boxes to check for damage. Once he signs off on them it could be over.
Next time purchase smaller speakers...
U-ship. Please e-bays shipping sub. I have used them and was pleased. A must is a current insurance certificate that names you and covers the replacement cost of the speakers. If you cannot get that from the u-Ship person, do use them. Most of U-Ship's providers do not provide the certificate. So, beware.
I would only sell or purchase such large items locally. For premium audio equipment someone should be willing to drive 3 or 4 hours to make a transaction. If both parties are willing to meet halfway that gives you a 400-500 mile market radius. It can be a hassle, but it completely eliminates the problems of shipping damage.
I have used Pilot Air Freight a few times now and there prices are great and so is there service and I have had no problems with damage. If I am shipping large speakers no matter what I will build a custom pallet for them and strap them together to it, that way they can only lift with a forklift and not topple individual boxes end over end.
I shipped some Von Schweikert VR4 SRs that weighed well over 300 pounds on the pallet from California to New Hampshire and it cost 300 bucks and took a week.
Bax is good to and Cheap. I shipped some Maggie 3.6s to Italy and it only cost 200.00. The only thing is they won't deal with delivery to residences. In fact they refused to come to my place for pickup since I live where I work, even though I have room to turn a large semi truck around and have a forklift on site.
I tried calling Bax Global now called DB Schenker. It seems they don't deal with private customers. I asked them if I could drop off my speakers at one of their locations. Their reply was that I am an unknown shipper and they will only deal with businesses.
Thanks for all the replies. I'm checking into some of your suggestions.
You may want to look into moving companies in your area.
My Infinity RSIIb's (pretty big speakers) were shipped from Florida to NJ (to me) via a moving company that goes up and down I-95 every 10 days or so. In addition to their normal loads they will bring along other items if there is room. Instead of the UPS Freight charge of >$1000, I paid them ~$475, and the speakers arrived in perfect condition.
Pilot Air is the best - $230 for speakers 6 feet tall and 175 pounds each. $116 for 50 inch - 105 pound speakers. That is fully insured. No reason to pay upwards of $500 with others. Check out Pilot Air.
I used them at least 6 times with heavy speakers and each time the cost was $115 - $230. Yes, you must ship and pick up from one of their locations.
Forward Air offers very reasonable terminal-to-terminal air freight shipping. The speakers would have to be strapped to a pallet, but I believe the offer that service. You'd just have to make sure there's nearby terminals where you are shipping to and from. I've had good experience with them in the past, but it's been many years since I've had to ship anything like that.