Unable to audition used speakers a problem

One component I will not buy unless I can audition the item for sale are speakers. This severely limits available candidates, but that is OK with me. The problem is that whenever I find a local pair I would consider purchasing, the seller is unable to allow an audition because "they're boxed up". What's up with that? Wouldn't it make more sense to leave them connected or ready to be connected for at least a few weeks after they're listed for sale? Why box and seal them up before placing the ad? Does anyone else find this a problem or am I just being overly prudent?
I agree.

I audition all the equipment I sell locally to avoid problems in the future.
I agree, it's supicious at least that a seller will not allow audition, but your choice is not to deal with that seller, and he/she must realize their unwillingness to accommodate a potential buyer limits their market. On the other hand, if your intention is to troll around and listen to speakers before you're really committed is going to be viewed by most sellers as a waist of their time, and rude on your part.
I generally would provide an audition of ANY equipment I'm trying to sell; but would qualify the buyer's readiness and commitment before hand.

As to whether you're overly prudent - I have purchased and sold many used components as a means of performing "in home" auditions. That's one of the great things about the existence of a well established used market. You will learn a lot more about the speakers and make better use of your time IMHO by doing it this way. And if you're careful it may not cost you much or any $ out of pocket - although really heavy speakers can be an issue with shipping $, or are limited to local sales.
Lots of reasons starting with privacy/security, lack of front end gear, not wanting the hassle of tire-kicking fruitcakes coming around, and simply wanting a quickly transacted sale. Your reservations are noted but it is an agreement between two parties that constitute successful sales.

Many spkrs have enough reviews and internet buzz that you pretty much know what you're getting before the fact. And how many dealers let you take valuable stuff home [and off the sales floor] for an audition? Sure, you can listen in the store with unfamiliar equipment in an environment almost guaranteed not to be anything like your own room, and with unfamiliar material if you didn't bring your music. Yes, lots of pitfalls in the spkr buying game. One recourse: after you buy, break them in, tweak and listen for awhile, you acclimate to the sound and often end up liking what you bought, albeit in a back door kind of way. Good thread.
I understand what you are saying, but most sales I have encountered here on agon always required shipping.
Think about this:
You buy a new set of floorstanders to replace the old ones.
Do you really think you have room for 4 speakers in you living/listening room?
Then there is the fact that you have twice as many speakers (4) & probably more boxes (6) & you better half is on your case.
Good point on the privacy issue, but not a issue for me - but space is!
I just pack them up, put them in the garage & save twice the room & they are out of the way until the phone rings or a serious e-mail comes along & my wife is happy.
Always best to do your research/auditioning first & then jump on the right choice @ the right price & take 'em home - but do take them out of the boxes & check out their condition first.
Since the seller is local - Have him/her agree that if there is a problem or serious issue - He will take them back within a 3 day period.
I have shipped (sight unseen) to California, Maryland, Canada, UK, Germany, Italy & Spain with no problems & 100% positive feedback.
Hope this helps in your quest
So if I have (wich I do) a pair of Innersound Eros with an outboard crossover/bass amp that I replaced with a VMPS speaker wich also has a crossover and needs a horizontal biamp why would I want to take the difficult task of re-installing the Innersound for a "possible" purchase?
Many sellers pull a pair of speakers and hang onto them for sometime before the are comfortable with letting them go to a new home, so they get boxed up for safe storage.
I see nothing suspicous in this pratice and Tripper has got some great points, ask questions, get answers, try it and if you buy used then sell them if they dont live up to your expectations for little or no loss, just be sure you leave then ready for another guy to audition. :)
Thanks to all. All good points. This gives me a different perspective and is very helpful. Space issues, spouse issues, tire kickers, etc. I agree.
Whether or not the seller is willing to unbox and demo the speakers for a prospective buyer falls under the heading "terms of sale". He may find that his policy works out just fine or he may learn that lots of people feel as you do.
Either way, I see it more as his problem than yours.....if it's a problem at all.
99% of the sales are sight and sound un-seen, un-heard.. Just the way the used market works.. Most of the time there is Zero optimal way for someone to hook up where they are going to sound correct, or even with the right equipment anyway..

Unfortunatley this is the built in risk for you wanting to save 50% or more on a used purchase in the first place... Most definatley people better have a pretty good idea of what they are really looking for or have previously heard such items as speakers before trying to purchase if possible, I mean I know many will never be heard, and your just forced to jump in and buy, this is a big issue with a big item like a speaker just in size, mostly though Preamps, amps, Front end components etc... are just something you have to take a chance and re-sell if not happy in your configuration, because you setup is likely to sound extremly different then some half baked quick hook up in somebodys garage to just prove to you they work still. Very rare to find somebody able to give an actual audition, and even rarer to find them in state, unless your living in California, then it seems you can just about find anything within 200 miles if they are willing to let you get a session!

Also I have seen many times people Have ZERO ambition to actually buy, they find an ad used, and say.. Oh man I wanted to hear this, but I never got a chance, lets see if I can B.S. my way to have somebody feel I am half serious, get them to set back up and let me see if I even feel these are worth anything to me, and then leave them in the cold with a "I'll get back to you in a few days." Then they go back on the net and find the better deal, or even the next line up or color they really wanted, or something completley different... Again this is not great but how it works, because even if you can perfectly prove this is as good as it sounds right there in person to somebody, even if they love the sound, guess what happens??? In their mind now you have just given them an excuse to worry about well now I need to know what this one can do and if its even better value.. It is impossible to sell this way on the used market, and I for the most part unless its really easy or necessary to do business this way would stay as far away from this scenario as possible, and just take the easy route of sale and ship out of state, let them figure out what they are doing wrong or right, or how much they are willing to put into getting the sound right in their environment, otherwise its the "Sh*t, or get off the Pot" syndrom that we all end up with in these cases... Maybe not all the time, but with speakers especially this could kill more sales than it could create, especially in the higher price brackets, if they were cheap enough than you would think they are good enough, but nobody knows why a 20 k speaker should really sound better, and they honestly in most cases don't.
The real key is to buy good used speakers at excellent prices. That way you can essentially audition them for free. Buy the speakers, listen for a few weeks or months, and if they don't suit simply turn around and sell them for exactly what you paid. There may be a bit of hassle involved, but since you can get an extended in-home audition this way, in the long run you win. Happy listening!
In the used market you often do your research and by without auditioning. That's the way it happens. When selling I usually often end up packing speakers up ahead of time because I may have a new pair in house. I really don't like to have people I don't know coming to my home to audition and my wife would really have a big problem with this. You never know who is walking across your threshold.
I welcome potential buyers to listen in my home. After 30+ years as an audiophile, I have found that all of the folks I've dealt with over the years have been stable folks with just the audiophile disease....

So, when I shop out for new items, I want to listen. anyone who will not accomodate doesn't get my $$$$.

Scaredy cat PC weenies should be leaving their used items at the dealer to hock for them.


Scaredy cat PC weenies should be leaving their used items at the dealer to hock for them.

Beemer I love that!
I've sold a few speakers locally, some auditioned, some not. The last speakers I sold that were auditioned made me want to back out of the sale. The buyer played them MUCH louder than I ever listened to them. They sounded fantastic loud.
As for buying, listening isn't a prerequisite.
Why do you only insist on auditioning speakers?
Timrhu: Good question.
Prefer to buy locally as floor-standing speakers are the most susceptible to damage in shipping (size, weight) and can be more difficult to repair if damaged in shipping (assumption), especially if: manufacturer is out of business; or custom drivers; or cabinet is damaged (badly dented speaker cabinet not as easy to repair and likely effects performance more than a badly dented amp, assuming electronics are not badly damaged). I worry more about shipping speakers than other gear.
Prefer to audition because IMO speakers are more difficult to evaluate than other gear when they have not been heard. IMO, if electronic gear is scientifically sound, well built, and proven over time, then I have far more confidence that it will sound as I suspect and can therefore be purchased unheard. IMO speakers are infinitely more subjective regardless of their build and specifications. I have pursued used speakers I had never before heard, but only after a lot of investigation and only ones which meet my requirements. I'd rather hear them before I purchase. Hmm ... (self evaluating here) does that make me a tire kicker? After all, if they sound at all like they are purported or I suspect, then I'd buy them. So I don't think so.
So, personal situation and preference dictates much easier to bring into my home different electronics rather than speakers.
But I had not thought of requesting a three-day trial period. I think that is a very good idea. It would better prove to the seller that I was acting in good faith and not just a "tire kicker". Especially if they are holding my money. And if the speakers perform up to (agreed upon) par, then they're mine.
I can understand why buyers might want to audition, but for when I'm a seller it's a major inconvenience to offer an audition. A trail would be completely out of the question. One of the reasons prices are so low on Audiogon is because as private sellers we do not have to offer the services that a dealer typically provides. It cost serious amounts of time to provide an audition. Plus you'll always have those people who just aren't serious buyers. Why invite them into your house? If someone does their homework, it shouldn't be a big deal not to have an audition.

I guess another way to approach the issue is to acknowledge the market forces at play. If it helps make a difficult sale, then an audition may give the seller the edge they need to get the sale done. Alternatively, a buyer could use the audition as a opportunity to further negotiate the price. Lastly, if a buyer really needs an audition, they could always offer to pay a premium to get it.
As always, whatever is mutually agreeable to the seller and buyer is fine with us, but as a geneal rule "used" market is different.

It is a dealer's full-time job to wait for customers and provide them with auditions, to help them decide what they like. He also charges a premium for it. A private once-in-a-blue-moon seller is hardly equipped with time or resources to do so.

I can see an exception being made if I were buying/selling a very expensive piece, but in general I would neither offer nor expect auditions in routine transactions of used equipment.

Speakers are unlike a piece of furniture that you can inspect in a few minutes. Imagine what an imposition it is on the seller's family and their private life if each potential "buyer", often someone just interested in hearing that model, spent a whole evening listening to his favorite cd's in their living room.

So, no cigar. :-) I must tell you gently but clearly that you don't have a good case. If you want audition, find a dealer and pay the price. This is not a game to be played at the expense of a family's private life, already under attack in our soceity from jobs, schools, and many other demands.
You can certainly ask to audition, but based on the above it is legit to refuse. On the other hand, the seller sends the speakers out the door without the hassle of shipping them and wondering what might happen during shipment or what dumb thing the buyer does as he un-packs them and hooks them up.

I suspect a buyer with exceptional feed-back and thoughtful discussion forum comments should be able to talk his way into an audition as this would not be a total 'stranger' anymore.
I like Unclejeff's comments about qualification. Why not apply the same considerations we use to filter on line prospects to the evaluation of local suitors? Feedback should certainly come into play as well as knowledge and comportment.
You can stop by my house for an audition anytime, Unclejeff.
>Prefer to audition because IMO speakers are more difficult to evaluate than other gear when they have not been heard.<


I see your point, BUT, the speakers in question (any speakers, really) are not going to sound the same in YOUR room with YOUR equipment as they did at the previous owner's home. You strike me as someone who puts little credence in the importance of front end equipment. Hell, my son has an old pair of Polk Monitor 7s in his bedroom that I can make sound fantastic in my big rig. Do they sound that great in his system? No, only average.

Ok, now let's say you have taken ALL your components to the seller's house. Better, but still no cigar. Room acoustics will also drastically change the sound. So either you end up buying a great pair of speakers that sound like crap in YOUR room, or you pass up a great pair because they sounded like crap in HIS room. That's a no win situation if ever there was one.

I agree with what was mentioned before. Buy the best speaker you can for your $$ on the used market and sell it on the used market if it doesn't cut it for you. Beyond that, only buy from a dealer if he lets you bring them home first, or you feel confident that your environment will be better suited to said speakers. In the end, this type of dilemma is what keeps Agon flourishing.

Interesting discussion and good points made by both buyer and seller. I'm actually looking for another pair of speakers and would like to buy used (and local) and being as such would appreciate hearing said speakers, but if that's not possible, at least being able to actually physically examine the speakers before purchase. Now I do understand from the seller's point of view about "tire-kickers", "strangers coming to house", issues. One thing I've thought about offering to a seller is a "non-refundable" audition fee ($20 or so) to cover the seller's inconvenience for "unboxing" and setting up the speakers for audition, and this fee would be sent in advance of the audition. If I actually do buy the speakers, then the fee would be applied to cost of the speakers. If I didn't buy, then at least seller has gotten something for their time and efforts, and no doubt, this would help get rid of the "tire-kicker" crowd. Any thoughts on this approach?
Being from a small town originally, I am generally trusting of strangers who share a common interest with me. My wife, who is a native of Los Angeles, is not so trusting.

I am usually open to allowing auditions to local buyers, but my wife is less so. Considering our house was robbed several years ago, I can see her point.

Whatever works for a specific seller/buyer pair.

By circumstances or temperament, some people may welcome serious auditioners and the opportunity for audiophile chat, while others (or their families) may find the imposition too much. I have been in both situations.

Your solution is somewhere in between. I see no harm in proposing it in your communications, whether you are a buyer or seller.

BTW I would also consider it fair if dealers demanded an audition fee like this. That would take away the sting of demonstrating to someone who then buys online.
Rockadanny, I have purchased more than a few pairs of floor standers and for all but one pair they've been local pick up. When selling them I have always insisted on pick up or delivery. Have yet to ship a large speaker. Damage is my primary concern.
You strike me as someone who puts little credence in the importance of front end equipment.
Incorrectly struck. Perhaps I was not clear in expressing that the front-end equipment, if properly engineered and built (such as my relatively inexpensive front-end: used Opera Audio Consonance Reference 2.2 CDP; Mapletree 2A SE pre; Van Alstine Ultra 550 Fet Valve amp), would likely not sound much differently TO ME than other similar gear built and engineered equally as well, compared to speakers. I assume (based on my experiences thus far, though I admittedly have not heard a great amount of equipment/speakers) that I would be more sensitive (liking/disliking) to different speakers than I would different front-ends. Should I never audition speakers anywhere else except for my room and with my own gear if allowed the opportunity? Of course not. I realize all of the variables involved. For example, one thing I would do to minimize variability would be to audition speakers at such a volume where room modes would not effect the sound. And as far as the front-end gear is concerned, I've offered to do what you've suggested - bring in some of my front-end gear. That way even the seller has an opportunity to hear different gear as well - perhaps a good time will be had by all.
"minimize variability would be to audition speakers at such a volume where room modes would not effect the sound"

Rockadanny, Hello, room modes affect the sound at all volume levels. Of course it sounds worse as the music gets louder but it is still there at lower levels. This is one reason why I listen to my system at the same volume control setting for every recording, as you are setting up your system to the room acoustics, among other variables. This way you do not end up chasing your tail around adjusting this or that at different volume levels which affects the percieved sound.
I recently sold a very heavy and large pair of speakers on 'Gon. The Buyer was a local buyer ( Thank goodness!).
I left the speakers up and running and actually required an audition prior to purchase. Why, because of these reasons: I am not willing to move speakers weighing over 180 lbs each more than once, I am not giving a return policy, I want buyer to view condition of speaker and be sure that they function correctly at time of sale,I want something to listen to until they are sold( not buying next pair until same and therefore not kicking tires on my next seller); I want to encourage a local sale if at all possible.
The security issues and inconvenience are certainly valid points, however, when selling something expensive and large/heavy, sometimes a little inconvenience has to be put up with IMHO. The security issue is less of a concern for me, but this could be a more major factor for many, however, I think there are ways around this. One example, might be to insist that all auditions are done at certain times and with the man of the home present. Perhaps have a friend also present if security is still a concern. What I also insisted upon if the Buyer was intending on making me an acceptable offer was a non-refundable deposit to hold the speakers prior to full payment.
In my case, not having to ship out of area was a major benefit, so offering a local an audition for a local sale was really no inconvenience compared to having to ship over 400 lbs of speaker to a sight unseen buyer...:0)
Just IMHO.
>This is one reason why I listen to my system at the same volume control setting for every recording,<

I don't get how you can do this. Every recording has a volume level where it "locks in". For example, you wouldn't want to play simple "girl with guitar" music at the same volume as ZZ Top. How about classical chamber music at the same level as Holst's The Planets?

Wasn't it Ivan Tiefenbrun who said that every recording had one volume, and one volume only, where it sounded realistic, or something to that effect.

Daveyf: "I want something to listen to until they are sold...not buying next pair until same..."

This illustrates how personal circumstances can differ. I know a friend who had to buy his next speakers first because an opportunity presented itself and wouldn't have waited for him. He also didn't have room for both pairs.

The situation with the living space, spouce and kids is obviously too personal to have any general rules. Of course, even a person whose circumstances are tight can accommodate one serious buyer, but a steady stream of curious and interested audiophiles, many with their own sources and electronics, would be something else.

So, know your situation; deal with a buyer or seller who is compatible; politely but firmly apologize to the rest.
A few years back I bought a pair of speakers locally. I did not get an in-house demo because the seller had his new speakers properly setup in his room and did not want to move them and lose his fine tuned placement. So he suggested we take the speakers to my home, and we were able to audition them there. The price was right and it made an immediate sonic difference. He told me to get back with him over several days but after listening for 1 hour I was already willing to cut him the check then and there and I had no question that they would work in my room. It was rather nice of him to offer this, and I helped him lug them over.

My latest set of speakers which will arrive in a few weeks - I bought without demoing out of state. I did extensive research, talked to the owner, the speaker manufacturer, and others in several forums. These speakers are made by a small manufacturer with a strong cult following and I compared comments people made with other speakers that I was quite familiar with. I was evaluating buying a new pair when I found these on the GON. I bought lightly used (3 months) and was able to get many significant upgrades (custom finish, wiring, cabinet damping, etc) for the price of a standard pair. I'm sure these will work out and can't wait and in the remote chance that they don't work in my setup know I shouldn't have a problem selling them as there is a long waiting list for newly ordered speakers.

If I was really concerned and especially if I was buying new I would actually fly somewhere to demo them first.
Audiotomb: My latest set of speakers which will arrive in a few weeks - I bought without demoing out of state. I did extensive research, talked to the owner, the speaker manufacturer, and others in several forums. These speakers are made by a small manufacturer with a strong cult following...

Why the suspense, why not name the speaker brand? It's not like you stole them or something. :)
Hi Ozzy62, Good question, and I have been thinking of starting a thread on this. But the short version is I can do this with my system, and I do this for a number of reasons. First off I have been working on this "theory" for the last several years and it has taken me a while to start to understand this "phenomena".
I, like most every one else used to turn the volume up and down for different albums and styles of music. I came to the conclusion that this is wrong. I have read also the ambigiously stated "there is one volume for every recording", but as in Star Trek and the Hobbit, every saying has two meanings.
Well I dont want to hijack this thread but I believe it is the recording engineers job to give us the correct level on a given album and as with anything some get it correct and some don't. With a set volume control, this is the only way to tune your system and let the recording reveal its makeup. Every engineer has the ability to make a recording too loud, or compressed amongst other things, Every record pressing plant has the ability to makes its records too noisy or distorted amongst other things. This is what I am in search of, the real truth in the recordings. Is a recording compressed? Will turning up the volume help this? Is the rcording too loud? Will turning it down make it more palatable? Is the record noisy from the pressing or condition? Will anything help this? What will adjusting the volume do for any of these records?
As for the system tuning with one volume setting the systems strengths and weaknesses are revealed to allow you to hear them. Not enough low level info? Boomy bass? Not enough bass? Does turning up or down the volume "solve" these problems?
I only listen to music at this "reference" volume. Doing this gives you a reference point for these recordings and remember these are recordings, you cant ask the conductor or the singer to "turn it up a bit". what is on the record is all that is there, warts and all. Your job if you choose to accept it is to find these great recordings and have fun doing it. How can one say this record is quiet when the volume control is down 6db? Or this record is noisy when it is up by 6db? How can you properly adjust you subwoofer output to match your main speakers when you are changing the volume by 12 bd?
Chamber music vs the Planets at the same volume setting yeah you bet. If the engineer did his job, no problem. If the Chamber music is compressed and engineered incorectly, no way but that is the recording and I am sorry but it is what it is.
I have said enough for now Ozzy, if you wish to discuss this further let me know and I will start my first conteptious thread.

wasn't trying to be secretive - the speaker manufacturer wasn't relevant to the thread

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