you are wise to hesitate shipping speakers,don't start now,YMMV,Bob
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If you have to do it, I would suggest getting someone to make crates OR have Fedex Office (aka Kinko's) or UPS Store pack them. They will charge you big $, but then they will on the hook if the packing is not up to snuff, so that when the big brown guy runs a fork lift thru them, they cannot claim that you used a box w too low burst strength!
I don't think Fedex or UPS will offer that service but may be wrong. There may be local packaging service companies that will do this. That said, building packages for speakers isn't rocket science. Depending on the speaker size it will be labor intensive though and take some doing to procure the packaging material. Still, you may be better off trying to sell locally, or regionally (eg deliver them yourself or have the buyer meet you w/i 100 miles). Regardless of packaging, the moving/handling in transit can be hard on speakers as they're not engineered for shock stresses.
very tricky - lots of threads here on that and the related topic, insurance...
first thing to know is that most manufacturers boxes are not up to the job. most are designed to be strapped to a palette - usually in the company of other boxes creating a kind of semi-rigid block.
the very best way is to build an individual wood case for each speaker, then build a foam cradle inside it to keep the cabinet in place during transit. Terry at Cain and Cain was famous for the artful construction of his museum quality cases. needless to say these are expensive to build and expensive to ship. oh yeah and a PITA to store
in the not quite but almost category is to start with the manufacturers box and foam inserts. then build a case around it (all six sides) of 2" high density foam. then put that inside an outer box filling any empty space with peanuts.
again this is a time consuming, not inexpensive way to go
Though they will pick-up, none of the shipping companies (ie FedEx, UPS) will pack anything for you
Over a certain weight limit (easily exceeded by a big set of speakers) you have to use a common carrier (eg BAX) some will pickup at a residence, some will not - which means that you have to schlep these big old crates to them. Then there are issues getting anything that heavy delivered to a residence at the other end.
IMHO it doesn't really pay for anything but a high dollar pair of speakers.
Be interesting to see what some of the other folks have to say.
I found the most important areas to protect a speaker when shipping and even having them moved by movers is when packing them try your best to protect the corners they seem the most fragile, and also the bottom area of the speaker. I boxed up a pair of sound dynamics 300ti and a pair of small proac tabletts without a hitch buy double boxing them and then wrapping as much unused cardboard around the corners and edges and securing with packing tape...also stuffing the heck with more unused cardboard at the sides and also areas that I felt would easily be crushed. I also found cheap pillows from walmart used on the bottom and top to be an added protection. I would think that a really heavy speaker, that I would look to either look to have it crated or sell it locally. I hope this helped.
The only two times I have experienced shipping damage have been transporting full size speakers: both packed carefully in original boxes. One pair were unpacked and damaged by Canadian customs agents. The other were damaged during an altitude related pressure change on a cross country flight. Be very careful here. Local sale and pick-up is always preferable.
I've never used them, and I presume their services don't come cheap, but I've read comments by others indicating that Craters & Freighters is THE place to go to for custom packing and shipping of large fragile items:
The one time I used Yellow Freight, about 15 years ago to deliver a large antique radio, they were only equipped to offload to receiving docks, and not to lower items to the ground on a lift at the rear of the truck. They told me this in advance, and I had to arrange for a local short-haul trucker to bring it from their facility to my home.
Lots of good comments above. I have done this a couple of times and I agree with Swampwalker, IME for big speakers, if they cannot be hand delivered, and you want them to arrive safely, box carefully then have them strapped to a pallet and shipped by BAX or equivalent freight shipper. You may consider the added protection of building wood boxes to go around the mfg boxes. I would use the simple 3/8 in. plywood boxes used by Lamm Industries as a pattern for a simplistic and inexpensive, but sturdy, wood shipping box. If you have a table saw and finish nailer you could have them done in an hour or so. Look up Lamm gear for sale here and there is usually a picture of one of their shipping boxes. You may need to drop your creation off at the shipper where they have a forklift to load it, then make sure your buyer has both help and at least a hand truck at his end since you cannot count on the delivery trucks to have lift gates, and they will generally not help carry them into the house.
I used to work for FedEx for 19 years and truly the only way to ship full siz floor standing speakers is via freight on a pallet shrinked wrapped with lift gate service to your door.
The only exception I can think of is where the speaker manufacturer designs their boxes to be ship in the normal 'unedr 150 lbs' systems of UPS and FedEx.
For example McIntosh preamps weigh about 25 lbs but their packaging is another 20 lbs and very sturdy with screws, special feet and wood inside to protect the component. They can be shipped via common carrier in their original box.
Using UPS store or FedEx office only drags them into the picture if there is a claim and then they become the shipper and you are in the middle. And given the economic climate these days, neither company is looking to pay claims unless your case is bullet proof and is one big hassle.
I've had B&W speakers shipped to me common carrier on 4 occasions and all were damaged. From then one I insisted and paid for freight on a pallet and no damage. It costs somewhat more, but you get what you purchased intact instead of a claim and useless speakers.
I'm referring to speakers 70 lbs+ each.
Just my two cents.