shipping speakers

I was wondering how sensitive are speakers to shipping? Are they often broken in transit? Whats the best way to pack them?
As far as rough handling goes, the cabinets would probably suffer before the drivers sustained any damaged. In other words, if the furniture makes it, the mechanics are almost surely OK.

As for packing, that's really a function of size/weight, and you didn't indicate.
UPS being the master blasters that they are, managed to damage both cabinets and drivers the last time I shipped with them. Then they refused to honor the insurance because the original boxes were used, and that "reshipping causes the box to lose 50% of it's integrity." It's been pretty well document of course that UPS has lost all of it's integrity!
Original boxes and packing are critical, especially for speakers of odd shapes, and with stuff hanging off of them such as "tweeter on top." Heavier full range speakers should be shipped by motor freight such as BAX, preferrably with the original boxes strapped to a pallet. For smaller speakers (and larger ones if possible), I recommend double boxing the manufacturer's original box, to better resist penetration and cabinet denting. Screw in binding posts so they do not protrude and get bent. Wrap the speakers in plastic to prevent scraping of the cabinets against styrofoam packing, insure properly, and you should be good to go.
I had an almost indistructable Rel Stentor -as many know, it's got several internal wall to wall braces- that was destroyed by "UPS we droped it". My final guess is that it was droped from at least 30 feet in the air (thats 180 pounds falling from the sky). That was the dealers guess also. A little research with some employees and YES thats very possable because the conveyor belts do go that high at places. The inch thick bottom was compacted one inch into the box! And 5 grand later, UPS would not honor the insurance I fully paid for. Nothing is safe going through UPS. And yes it was factory double boxed.
You wouldnt believe the nightmare Im going through right now. Nothing is safe in transit the guys that load the stuff at ups are way under paid. You think they care how they toss this stuff on a trailer? Be carefull and pick a courier you can trust.
You sometimes see tilt indicators on large parcels like major appliances or computer cabinets indicating that said item was tilted too far from vertical, and may have sustained damage from such treatment. I believe similar indicators are available that show if a package was dropped, and how hard. They go either inside the box or outside for all to see. Gives new meaning to the term 'slam'.
Original boxes are not necessarily the best way to ship. I had a pair of Thiel 2.2's that were damaged in shipment to me precisely because they were shipped in the original boxes. The boxes, as built, completely depended on a glued brace to keep the speakers in place and the way the brace was built into the box almost guaranteed that the leverage generated by any side pressure would break it off. That's what happened and both speakers spent their cross-country ride sloshing around inside the boxes, arriving with dinged corners all around.

On the other hand, I received a pair of ProAc monitors that had been shipped in a professionally packed, foam-lined box that is substantially better suited for individual shipping than the original boxes, which sometimes are designed to be good enough if strapped to a pallet but not if left to the mercy of being tossed around individually.
I just got my Wilson Sophia 2's.---One had a forklift tip go through the wood crate.(on the way from Wilson) ---So, shipping speakers can be hazardous to the speaker----no matter how well it's packed. I prefer to buy or sell tube amps and speakers;local. Brand new, at least the dealer and factory will stand behind me--i.e. they get to do the tap-dance with the shipper.
I've been on the receiving end of 2 speaker shipments that UPS damaged. Both were under-packaged in my opinion, but had obviously had been severely dropped. One is a Rel Storm, which was packaged at a UPS Store were destroyed, and they honored the insurance claim. The other was a set of Rega Ela mkII's shipped in the original cartons. They had the plinths split free from the enclosure, but were repairable.

I successfully shipped a pair of Paradigm 7seIII's using UPS only because they were overweight for Fedex. They were packaged in the original Mfg shipping cartons, PLUS I packaged these cartons inside another box surrounded by 3-4" of styro peanuts packed tightly. As I said, they arrived safely, but I was prepared for the possibility UPS found a way to destroy them too.

Finally, I have received small monitor shipments that were delivered un-scathed. Small things seem to do better.
If you want to insure proper handling for anything larger than monitors or subs, or ANY electronics, don't use ground shipping from anybody! Use a reputable airfreight company (even FedEx.)

For example, I shipped a pair of ARC M300 MkII tube amps (2- 2x2x2 foot double walled original ARC boxes, 120# ea.) by FedEx "Express Saver" (3-day airfreight) from Tucson to Dallas, including $6000 insurance, for a little over $330. FedEx Ground would have been $260. So what's the big deal!? They arrived promptly, not a scratch or dent, and FedEx overnighted the COD cashiers check they collected back to me for another $4.50

Most buyers have no problem spending an additional 5 - 10 percent of the value of their purchase for the best and fastest air shipping. And, if there ever is a problem, airfreight claims seem to get resolved with less hassle.

Another tip (even with airfreight) is: use crates and/or pallets whenever possible, even with small stuff. And ALWAYS use them whenever sending two of something (speakers). Again, the additional cost is negligable, and it automatically requires more careful handling and less stacking.

Otherwise, avoid ground shipping unless the item is very cheap, or very indestructable (like a big isolation transformer or something.)
I ship many loudspeakers ,UPS FEDEX stay clear.Frieghts your best shot. I have had no loudspeakers damaged in shipment[30 pair]some giant I mean realy giant 19ft end to end, since going roadway.
I have sent and received floorstanding speakers by air freight with no problems. On the other hand, I received speakers by UPS once that arrived with a broken binding post. Fortunately it was an easy fix.
I once shipped a pair of Vienna Acoustics speakers (factory boxes) 300 miles away. The shipper completely destroyed them. I filed claims on buyer's behalf and got the money back after 3 months later. That's the reason why I drove 600 miles to pick up my Wilson Sophias.
I agree with everyone above and would only add that for large, heavy speakers, forget the original shipping boxes, custom crates are a must. The cost to build them (materials, etc.) should be included in all calculations. I had a pair of Tannoy D-700's shipped to me that met with the UPS forklift and fortunately didn't suffer damage becuase they were packed so well in a custom made crate (thanks again tbadder). Pack with care, nobody cares about them like you.

which air freight companies are recommended for shipping speakers?
is bax good?
The problem with BAX is they will only ship from commercial entities that have an account with them -- it's a terrorism thing. I'm not sure of the details, so check with them,

I sent a pair of Kinergetics SW 800 5' tall woofer towers @ 120 lbs ea. to Scotland using FedEx air for $800. 4 Days, no problems.
so far ups has done well for me (fed-ex was a nightmare) but only because i insure each package for $5000. this is the point at which they 'baby' the package...hand trucking and no high conveyor belts. still i keep trying to improve packing because........
I have shipped two pairs of speakers with FedEx and have had no problems. I think that the key is in the packaging. Both sets of speakers were in the 90lb/spkr range and double boxed . I received one pair of speakers, shipped through a trucking company, that were banded to a pallet. They were not double boxed and were received damaged .
U-haul sells a large 'wardrobe' box that is double wall thick and works quite well. It accepted JM Lab Electra 926 speakers in their original box's with enough room left for some 3/4" styrofoam wall insulation panels from the home store, for a little added buffering ! Cost was @ $50 for the box's and styrofoam, enough for one pair of speakers . Well worth it IMO . YMMV.
Good Luck
Saki70, those look like good-sized speakers but I think my Usher 8871s are larger yet. As I am getting ready to sell them I am thinking ahead and wondering what is the best way to ship these. I do have the orig boxes of course and even custom crates that are in ok shape. They are a little over 200 lbs each when crated. Any pointers appreciated!
Hello, would GREATLY appreciate advice on getting some fairly large speakers [missing their original packaging] packed well.. without adding $300 to the price ! Are there any nationwide places that would do a great job of this without tremendous expense? Thanking all in advance.
If your shipping med-large floorstanding speakers make sure you have them banded to a pallet, upright, (in original shipping boxes) where nothing else can be with them. That way its assured they will not be seperated or have other things on top of or even next to them.
I ran into a real quandry when I tried to sell my Alon Circe's. They were too big for Fedex and for UPS and the only other shipper in the area, BAX, required that they be shipped from a business. Since I work part time as a host for an NPR radio show, I tried registering this business with BAX. All went well, until they asked to come visit my "business" to make sure that it was legitimate. When I told them that the business was run out of my house, they said this would not work and that I was SOL.

The other option I was exploring was shipping the speakers from my wife's medical office. They would have had to get registered with BAX and I would have had to bring the speakers to her office for pick-up.

Fortunately, I then found a buyer who was willing to drive to Knoxville to pick up the speakers!

In these times, it is increasingly difficult to ship large items from individual to individual.