Thoughts on my speaker search...kind of long......
For what its worth, I decided to share my experience on searching for new speakers. I recently replaced my B&W speakers, switching to ATC 20-2 Actives. I auditioned a lot of speakers over a 2-month period and it turned out to be a lot more time consuming than I had expected. I learned a lot in the process, particularly the characteristics that were important to me. The buying process really makes you focus on what you want your overall system to sound like. I was also adamant that I must demo the speaker at my home before finalizing any deal.
I found I could make a pretty quick assessment in the store if I was on the right track. Its actually pretty amazing the array of the sound presentations out there. Some of the speakers I tried were:
ATC 12, 20, 35 & 20-2 actives
Linn Espeks and Ninkas
Paradigm Sig 4
JM Labs 906 & 926
Dynaudio Contours 1.4
Focus audio FS688
Von Schweikert (never found a cooperating dealer who had inventory)
I found in the process- rely on your own ears, demo in your home, take your time, understand/realize what you want to change & don’t rely on any reviews. I know this is all common sense, but I know I rushed my last decision (which I regretted) b/c it takes a lot of time to hear what is out there. I also found my criteria for a speaker was a lot more extensive than I initially thought. In terms of reviews, I found 2 reviews were totally different than my take, and not by a small margin. I really wondered how we could be hearing 2 totally different things.
I also got some great advice from some members hear. They had range of experience that I didn’t have. They focused on the sound traits I was looking for and providing some great leads. They were also able to provide recommendations without imparting their emotions into the selections.
The dealer experience ranged from horrible to fantastic. I was upfront with all of the dealers; I was planning on listening to a lot of speakers before deciding, I must hear them in my own room, and I would buy from the dealer that did the demo. Of the 7 dealers, 2 were great, 2 were okay and 3 were awful. The awful dealers were very similar. They had limited inventory, a pushy sales approach, a lack of manners (not ready for appt., slow to return call, etc) and a lot gripes about the internet destroying their business. The two dealers who were great had a totally opposite approach. They listened to want I wanted, created comparisons to evaluate & ultimately added value to the process. While I didn’t buy from one of them, I am sure I will at some point and/or lead someone to them.
The dealer experience also made me appreciate the store I have doing business with for years. They don’t have a fancy store, but a lot of good products (albeit not my speaker choice) and a great attitude. They couldn’t help me this time around, but they have my loyalty.
At this point in time, I had the speakers for just about a month and I am totally pleased with their performance. They are a great fit for my listening room and I think I will have them for a long time. They bring the enjoyment back to a lot cds that I stopped listening to. While I’m glad I spent the time searching (and won’t have any regrets from not trying something out), I certainly happier that I don’t have to go through this process again. Buying speakers was more difficult than buying any other component in my system.