I have driven 700 miles round trip in one day to audition equipment which I purchased.
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How far would I drive? Not far.
When about to buy my Tekton Moab speakers last year there were a couple in the Seattle area I could have gone to hear them if I really wanted. But the reality is if the speakers are any good at all then I won't really be hearing them. Mostly I will be hearing the other guys gear, which almost always is crap. Honestly was afraid it might even turn me off enough to change my mind.
Same goes for everything else too. Everything else. All you can do by hearing something somewhere else is get some sort of idea what that guys system sounds like. In that room. The way he set it up. Not much help. Not at all.
The only way you stand even the slightest chance is to hear that system and then change or swap out the one component under consideration. Then at least you can say how the one compares to the other. But to think you have any idea at all what it sounds like all on its own? Forget about it.
Videos on the other hand, might seem even worse but via video you can listen to the component in question in a whole bunch of different situations, eventually getting some sort of idea what it sounds like. I did this with Herron, Koetsu, and Tekton. Helluva lot faster and easier than driving all over creation, and actually works.
IF you know how to listen. But if you don't, then how is driving going to work any better, eh?
This is why after spending many years driving around all up and down I5 going everywhere listening to everything now all I do is read reviews and comments and talk and ask questions.
This turns out to work even better than when I was buying everything based on home auditions. Because then it was something like three or four (or more) brought home to audition in order to find the one keeper. Now though it has been a dozen years buying sight unheard with zero returns on components. Only one PHT in all that time didn't work out.
Herron phono stage, Koetsu Black Goldline, Origin Live Conqueror, Tekton Moab, Synergistic Element CTS and Atmosphere Level III, Dayton sub amps and DBA, Townshend Pods, and next up Townshend Podiums. Never heard a one of these before buying. Totally pleased with every single one.
If you think you're gonna drive somewhere and find the Holy Grail, well I was there once myself. I wish you good luck. You are gonna need it.
I flew to Texas and bought 32K worth of Mac gear, behind a dealer here in the bay area, not giving me and the Wife the time of day.. 25+ years ago. My wife’s purse was flush with cash. We walked out after 15 minutes of being ignored. Two phone call to dealers, I wound up in Texas spent 32K which is like spending 70K now for gear.
I went back to the store and showed them the receipt.. One of the sales person cried.. I said.. "I went to a Baptist revival, bought my gear for less, they paid for my entire trip.. BBQ, hotel, plane ticket and car rental"..
I wiped my feet on the way into the Bay Area store and on the way out..
They went out of business 10 years ago..
A good dealer is worth their weight in gold.. My opinion!
A bad one.. well out of business for one, and 32k shy of my money for another..
Next by the way, if my miners take off (which technically now they already are- got silver? ;) then the next ones to buy without ever hearing them will be:
Raven Reflection MkIII
and finally whatever Statement speaker Eric Alexander comes up with.
All of these I have done so much research I don't know if I would walk across the street to audition. To bask in the glory of the sound is another question. But to base a buying decision on, that is pretty much a done deal.
But seriously- got silver?
Three years ago, I rode my motorcycle about 600 miles (one way) from Detroit to Vestal, NY to audition some speakers at Audio Classics. I also took a tour of the nearby McIntosh Labs factory with one of the salespeople.
The trip was absolutely worth the effort, as they had a pair of used Magnepan .7 speakers that really sounded better than anything else I had heard for the money. Magnepan was totally off my radar until that trip.
I ended up buying a pair of Magnepan 1.7i new from a local dealer. I felt bad that I didn’t buy anything from Audio Classics on that trip, but after a year and a half I called them up and purchased a NOS McIntosh C47.
From SE Michigan to Columbus Ohio(2001) to hear Spectral Audio gear. The Compact DMA-100s amp has to be one of the best sounding Spectral amps made. IMO it out classed the 360 mono amps, I had the funds and green light from my wife but the matching preamp was another 4-5k? which I would have to put on hold, so I decided to pass on purchasing that great amp. Notice you never see any on the used market..
Funny you should describe being ignored. In the 1978-1981 period I sold audio on straight commission at Shrader Sound in the Georgetown neighborhood in DC. One afternoon a guy came into the store that looked like he was homeless, hadn't shaved or showered in a long time. All the other salesmen on the floor said that I'd help him out. It was a slow day, so "what the heck" I thought. Long-story-short, he was a neurosurgeon and was on duty so long, hence his appearance. I sold him over $38k of equipment, in 1979 dollars!