Used Market Savings vs. The Dealer Experience

Hi all,
I’ve asked a couple questions on these forums and have always gotten great advice, so I’m coming back to the well. My fundamental question is: how do you reconcile (or balance) the auditioning value a dealer provides vs the absolute dollar value you get from buying on the used market?

I bought a McIntosh MA252 recently, and it’s so great it’s convinced me to commit and invest in a serious hi-fi system. I’d drop $30k for something that put my jaw on the floor. Right now I’m running Goldenear Triton 2s, a Marantz TT-15 TT for analog, Mytek Brooklyn + Bluesound Node 2i for digital, and just replaced a Marantz PM-8005 with the Mc. Silnote cables all around. The Mc gave me my first taste of actual holographic imaging and sound you could reach out and touch. Now I want more of that, as well as greater/faster/more pronounced dynamic shifts.

I have a dealer nearby that’s been a joy to work with (bought the Tritons and Mc there). They let me listen to their 200k Wilson setup with D’Agostino amps and sweet little baby Jesus -- it was like trying to box a feral animal in the complete darkness. Lashes of sound just came out of nowhere, smacked you upside the head, and were gone. I was dumbstruck. The Sonus Faber Olympica IIIs, by comparison, were a smoother, more musical sound signature but far less of that arresting clarity.

I make this point because, had I not been allowed to audition this gear, I would have had no idea about any of that. In doing my due diligence to shop for a setup, I know I want to hear Focal Sopras, Olympica IIIs again, Goldenear T-Refs AND maybe a Wilson Sasha for good measure. I want to hear Mc separates, ARC separates, Rega TTs, Linn TTs, etc. To me, my dealer provides real value in auditioning, optimizing, and being confident that what I’m buying is what I like best.

Unfortunately, with new vs. gently used prices, the $ cost of that experience is massive -- $10k+ quite literally. On the used market now I can get Olympica IIIs for $7k instead of $13.5k, a Rega RP10 w/ Aphelion for $6.5k instead of $9ish, Mc C1100 + MC275 for $13k instead of $20k, and a pair of Sasha’s at $15k is within striking distance. New? They’re $30k. I also live in a high sales tax (10.1%) area, which doesn’t help anything.

For those with more purchasing experience, or even dealing experience, how do you square the value of auditioning gear with the exorbitant relative cost of then foregoing the used market? I feel definite guilt sucking my dealer’s resources to then just go buy it all online. That’s bad business, and if everyone did it, there would be no dealers, and heck, no new gear being made.

Is there a better way to do this?

If I know that I’ll keep the item and it’s a large purchase, I buy it from the dealer.

If I’m not sure that I’ll be keeping the item and the item is easily shippable, I’ll buy it from Audiogon
Awesome @bfjones01 !
Glad to hear about you ending up happy and saving money. Sounds like you’ve got a good dealer there.
You just experienced the best reason to establish a relationship with and purchase from a dealer.

And I was tickled to hear you say "she". Not too many of us in high end audio.
Part of the hobby for me has always been experimenting with different amps, speakers, etc. in my own home.  I helped a dealer with setup for a few years and was fortunate to be paid gear instead of cash (side work with benefits).  That and buying used has allowed me to try a dozen speakers and amps over time while maintaining a similar overall  investment, give or take.
After of tinkering, upsizing and downsizing, I have no problem paying closer to retail for something I want because I feel like my itch to make changes is wading.