Would you trust a local dealer to help you put

together a modest system. (think $10k). Let's say you got tired of the whole "system building on my own thing." If you had a good local dealer, would you go take a chance on them and say "I want speakers, an amp and preamp (or integrated) that will sound good in a small to medium size family room." "I already have my sources." What's your take on this?
NO. Most dealers salesmen will just sell you what they need to sell. Either what makes the most money, or what they have in overstock.
If they think they will never see you again, they sell you crap, if they think they can sell you more real soon, then they just might sell you something decent.

It is true a few dealers might actually sell you what you would really enjoy. But i am afraid there is really no way to know which dealers are honest audiophile lovers, or just wanting to maximize off your ignorance.
And the pressure on the dealer/salesperson to move unwanted stuff or overstock is HUGE...

So all in all, as an idea for neophytes to go to a dealer,, and just buy whatever they want to sell you.. no. You should have a good idea of what you want to buy before you go into a store, and have a distraction free audition. (nothing worse than a short audition a earsplitting levels, all the while the salesperson yammering how great it sounds).

I guess i just do not trust strangers.
Just like going to a used car dealer. Buyer beware.
totally agree with elizabeth on this one
I actually would trust a couple of local dealers that I'm familiar with. I do agree with Elizabeth about strangers, though. My local dealers are not strangers to me and I already know them to be "good". I would have no qualms sending someone to one of those. The owners are there every day and are likely to be on the sales floor helping customers and I think they care about their satisfaction. The hard part is figuring out which dealers are good ones. The best looking store near me is very impressive but is not the best-the best ones are either a bit shabby, small, or filled with cigar smoke but they can put together a great system and they have some of my money.
Maybe. If I got some good word of mouth feedback from other audio buffs in the area I'd go talk to the local dealer. It would also depend on the vibe I got when walking into the dealer. Most of the time I've seen some of what Elizabeth details. That or the place just wanted a big $20,000+ HT build. If you just wanted to buy a couple of pieces of equipment they really wouldn't want to talk to you.
Nothing to stop you from asking them to put together a system on paper and, if possible, auditioning the stuff in their shop and if possible in your home. But before you buy you should check the internet forums and see if the advise is sound.

I wasted a lot of time and money when I first started out with high end stuff relying just on merchants for advise. Elizabeth's comments are very realistic.
I would not personally, but its always better to consult with someone knowledgeable and trustworthy when one is not sure what to do alone.

I know a local dealer that I would trust for the most part if needed. There are others I would not. It all depends...
A blanket yes or no answer is pretty worthless IMO as it depends on the dealer. The local dealer in Indianapolis (Tone Studio) is one I would trust to put together a solid system. That being said, I wouldn't do it as I enjoy the hunt.
Hi Emerson,

No matter how well intentioned a dealer may be, they cannot tell you what speakers in a given price range will sound best to your ears in your room. You've got to make that choice yourself, based on research and auditioning that is as extensive as possible, and perhaps also by buying used, to minimize financial loss if it doesn't work out.

Since speakers have more of an influence on the character of what is heard than any other component in the system (assuming at least that everything is of reasonable quality, and that no gross incompatibilities are present), that has to come first. And in following the evolution of your system from afar my impression has been that most or all of the components you have been through have been of very good quality, and there have been no significant compatibility issues.

Once the speakers have been purchased, it may then turn out that an amp and preamp that you already have will be suitable matches. If not, it shouldn't be hard to determine suitable choices, based on further auditioning and/or help from a dealer and/or inputs from the membership here.

Hope that helps. Best regards,
-- Al
the answer is no. the dealer's ears and brain is not my ears and brain.

i am an empiricist.

i would rather listen to different components without dealer input.

experience is the best teacher in audio.
The best dealer in the world doesn't have your ears,taste or room.
I have been an audiopile for over 40 yrs during which time I've lived in 12 major metros and have yet to find a dealer that knows much about classical music .
Any dealer HAS to sell what he has to stay open, unless
they are spoiled trust fund kids,(common in audio) ,since they aren't worried about money- but for the same reason those types usually are so arrogant they make Dick Cheney seem humble.
Thanks for the responses, everyone. But of course, a dealer can make suggestions/recommendations, but the ears and judgement of the customer is the final arbiter and decision maker on what sounds good or not good. I suppose one simply trusts the dealer to make reasonable recommendations.
If a dealer told me 10K was too much to spend on a mid sized roon, I might just listen to what he or she has to offer. No tweeks (tricks) now.
yes, for a modest system and as you gain experience and knowledge you can begin to customize to your tastes, however, there are dealers that can help you grow also. And there are dealers that only have one strategy in mind, their own. With growth you will recognize that also.
A good dealer will attempt to determine what you are looking for (not what they like best) and also take your room and any other external constraints into consideration.

But in the end they cannot hear what you hear so there needs to be room for trial and error along the way.
Yes, I totally trust my local guy. My local shop is the best of the best.
Like many have said there are dealers of all types and proficiency. May I suggest a method to the madness that ought to help you suss out the good from the bad local dealers and in the process also will help you start formulating what you like/look for in a system. If you have multiple local dealers (many are not fortunate to have such a luxury), I would call in advance and ask to talk to the store manager or even owner and explain to them that you are starting out researching/auditioning equipment and that you want to put together a 2-channel (or HT) for around $10K. Describe your room and your listening preferences and let them know that you are serious about making the purchase but that you are seeking their professional advice as to what combination of gear could work given your preferences and the size.shape room you intend to place the system in. Let them know that you would like to listen to a few combinations and that you would not be making a decision immediately following your audition but rather you would like to research the components after you listen to them and maybe listen to other gear following such research. Let them also know that you would like to establish a long term relationship with them as long as you feel you are getting good advice/service. From their reactions, you will immediately start to get a sense for who is open and willing to accomodate your requests and who is a waste of time to deal with. Those who show interest and willingness to let you audition multiple gear combinations on multiple visits without high pressure sales tactics, you ought to cultivate that relationship becuase they are generally showing an interest in establishing a relationship with you and not looking for an immediate sale (as per Elizabeth's scenario). If you only have one or two dealers in your area and they don't fit the criteria above, I would find out if there are any dealers within 3 hours driving that may fit the criteria above.

When you go audition equipment, bring music from different genres and music that you are familiar with. If you are just starting out and don't feel like you know what to listen for, pay attention to one and only one thing - are you getting emotionally immersed in the music playback (tapping your toes, closing your eyes, etc...). If you are not, and finding yourself just looking around in the room and being distracted by other gear etc..., then you should move on and listen to something else. Also if you call in advance and figure out what gear you will be auditioning ahead of time, you can read reviews before hand and try to see if what you read mirrors what you heard during the audition. This way you can start formulating for yourself what your likes and dislikes are and how this translates to audiophile terms/descriptions used in reviews which will start giving you a vocabulary with which to converse with the dealers. [You can also buy Robert Harley's Intro to High end Audio book which walks you through audiophile terms, different types of gear and what to listen for].

Finally, I totally agree with Al that you should start with selecting the speaker first and working your way back. I recognize that this is way more intensive than just showing up at a dealer and asking them for a reco but this process while more time consuming will help you establish a working relationship with a good local dealer, will help you start define what musical attributes you look for most in gear, and will make you a better listner and will likely result in a system that you will enjoy for many years.

Sorry for the lengthy response but hopefully this was of some help. What ever you decide to do, good luck and enjoy the journey. I found the exploration/research/auditioning process to be super fun. I hope you do too.
Some dealers already do this sort of thing- have pre-configured system options at a price point, and you can swap stuff in and out. Audio Systems here in Austin offers that. Obviously you'll want to listen and see if it works for you. Pretty hard to beat having a good relationship with a reputable local dealer. I am not affiliated with Audio Systems in any way.
Very well thought out post Cmalak! Thank you for the excellent perspective.
Trusting an audio dealer to sell you what you need at a fair price is like trusting a car dealer to sell you what you need at a fair price. Will never happen. Elizabeth is right on. I've never had a pleasant bricks/mortar audio buying experience, but then again, I've never had a pleasant car buying experience. No hope for me?
Cmalak lives in a dream world. I suggest he call Lyric in New York City and try his plan. My quess is that they will hang up on him withing 30 seconds.
I don't think Cmalak lives in a dream world at all. My shop is The Analog Shop in Victor NY. The owner (Bob) prefers you to set up an appointment. If you set up an appointment, he blocks out his calendar for you. Once you walk in the door, he locks it behind you. He asks questions to get a feel for what you might be looking for. When he sits you down to listen to something, he basically gives you complete control and walks away for awhile. Zero high pressure sales tactics. You can walk out the door without even talking about buying anything because he realizes the scale of the decision. He's a great relationship builder and he's been in business for a very long time because of the way in which he conducts his business. There's nothing better than a shop that is owned and run by the same person and that person truly loves what they do. Previously I was buying equipment from a store that had 3 salesmen working the floor at the same time. Nothing more annoying to me than being in a listening room with other customers. That's not a good way to listen and it's not a good way to spend your hard earned money. I would find a shop that takes appoinments. If you're spending 10k, that's the least they can do for you and you can do for yourself. It's one less distraction.

From our interactions in the past, I think you are on the right track. You need someone who knows what they are doing and will listen to understand your goals and most importantly is able to listen in your home with you perhaps in order to help advise. I think these are the main things needed to find your optimal solution. I would have a budget (sounds like $10,000) to work with , but try to come in as far under as possible initially.
It depends, there are guys who are knowledgeable and they even let you demo gear before buying. Before going to a shop i have a shortlist of what i want, of course after receiving recommendation from fellow agon'ers.
Foster_9, Where ARE you? Asking for tips on good dealers in your area might be helpful.

And of course, when buying new from a dealer, you're going to pay maybe 2x what the same level of gear would cost when it's even 2-3-4 years old (on average). Early on, I realized I could put together roughly twice the level of system for the same $$ by buying used. (With all of the trade-offs of buying used vs. new of course).

In my area, (metro-Boston area) there are a couple of relatively good dealers, the place on Comm. Ave. in Boston is "pretty good", the place in Natick MA is generally good, but even there the "good" salesmen can have weird lapses of recommending really bad component matching. And a "bad" salesmen or repair guy may "go off on you", w/o warning.

Then there's one of the snootiest "audio salons" on the planet: "goodwins high end" in Waltham MA. Even if I wanted brand new gear they sell, I'd buy it somewhere else.

So in general, I recommend doing your own research, maybe even cutting your budget in half (?), & considering buying used gear from A'gon or elsewhere. (unless you feel totally lost of course, which is natural, if you're just starting out).

Just my own, highly opinionated, 2 cents.....
Buconero....I may live in a dream world but it is exactly what I did 7 years ago when I got into this hobby. I live in Boston and at the time there were 4 local dealers. I followed this exact strategy and the most high end of all the shops in Boston (Goodwins High End comparable to Lyric and any of the NYC shops including Sound by Singer and many others in terms of high end equipment and brands offered minus the attitude)was the one that was most willing to work with me. I have been a loyal customer ever since. I am not saying every dealer will act this way which is why you should feel them out as per my post. Perhaps you did not take the time to read my post but my point was to use this approach to figure out who is willing to work with you and who won't.

One final note Foster 9. If your aim is to bottom fish and get the lowest price, then the dealer network is not the way to go. But if you want to establish a relationship with a local dealer who can provide you with advice and post-sales service, then going with a good local dealer is the way to go. One cannot have it both ways (get excellent service from a brick & mortar dealer) but pay discounted prices you can get from internet dealers who don't care who you are and who don't have overhead to pay. It's one or the other but you can't have both.
Steveaudio...it's funny. Yo must have posted right before me. My experience with Goodwins High End is the exact opposite. I followed the process I outlined above and they were the only shop who really worked with me. Every time I went to audition gear, they would block out 2 hrs in one of their listening rooms and left me alone. Never a single high-pressure sales tactic. They often gave me unvarnished advice and have steered me away from various gear options that they carry because it did not necessarily synergise well with the rest of my system. They have come to my place numerous times to help me place/voice my speakers in my living room (since I moved condos)without charge and I did not buy my speakers from them (the only piece of gear which I have not bought from them). It's funny how different people have different takes on things. In any case, this is neither here nor there. Foster 9. Good luck.
Sales people , any industry, are motivated by one thing: making money. They aren't there to make you happy, they are there to make money. It really is like buying a car; it takes effort and skill on your part to derive a benefit from their expertise. the choices will be limited to what they have on hand.
Even if I trusted the dealer, I'm not sure their sonic choices would necessarily be mine. Add to that, few dealers carrying everything- they will be constrained by the brands they represent. So, I wouldn't do it, although I'd certainly listen to what a dealer recommended as a system at a given price point and decide for myself.
If you can decide on speakers then you could post here for recomendations. Ask for recomended electronics with synergery to your prefered speakers. That would be a start
a dealer can tell you what you like. there is no substitute for experimentation.
After 40 years I now know that speakers only let you know what your amp sounds like. In a 10K system I'd spend at least half on amp.

If I had any sense I'd buy a Rega Brio-R intergated,Rega Apollo CD and a pr of Rega RS3 speaker with DNM Reson wire
for about 3k and be done with it.
Thats at least 85% of whats possible and thats from someone
who has spent at leasr 150K over the years.
I'm surprised by how many people think that dealers are driven only by the profit margin. Everything except one CDP, and one pr of speakers, I bought from my local dealer. I walked in in 1985 to buy a particular speaker. He could have took my cash, and I would have been gone in 10 minutes. He instead asked if I could come back tomorrow, and he would have some others I could demo. Long story short, I ended up with something else, which I still have to this day. We became great friends, and for 3 years now, I've been listing things on Audiogon for him. (we do still have the local retail store BTW)

I never pressure anyone. In the last few weeks, I actually told several buyers I thought they were better off going with something else. After emailing with one for a day, and telling him a subwoofer was wrong for him, I spent about an hour on the phone, telling him what I thought would work best. (several brands I can't get) I also basically turned away a 4k sale on a recvr in this same time frame. When the buyer told me what he had, I explained he may like mine better, but, his set-up was first rate. I honestly didn't see it being a big step up for him.

I'm not looking for a "pat on the back" I'm simply trying to say that all dealers don't try sell what they are over stocked on, or what has the biggest profit. First, and foremost, I'm an enthusiat. I like talking to people, and I like to help them when I can. If I can't, I'm honest and tell them so. Better to be in it for the long haul, and make some friends, than to make a quick buck and have to run and hide. (we all know someone like that)

Maybe I'm a "dreamer" but I like to think most dealers feel/treat people like I do. If you go to a big box store, all bets are probably off. Then you are dealing with part time employees, who really need to sell to get paid.

Thats my honest take on it. Others will surely disagree. So be it.
Tennis- I think you meant 'can't.'
Schubert- yes, there is something appealing about that, including the idea
of an integrated amp today when, 20 years ago, it would likely have been a
compromise. I suspect though, that you are only at the point where you are
now, having been through the thoroughbred stuff. It's sort of like seeing the
appeal of a Dino 246- not a macho car, but after you've had your share of
those, you get the idea of its beauty and its limitations are far more in
proportion to real world driving than a modern-ish supercar.
True, remember that a wise man learns from other's mistakes.
Actually I do have just that Rega system in my 13x11 den and it sounds VERY natural and captures both the dynamic range and low-level dynamics of the acoustic music I listen to.
In a big room I'd only need switch to RS-5's perhaps-there is a great synergy in a all Rega sytem, they know of what they do.
Don't tell the wife but on all but the largest symphonic works, I actually prefer it to my Belles/Maggy 3.6 rig in fsmily room.
The RS-3 is star on vocals,but probaly not a rockers dish which is irrelevant to me.
Dealer disclaimer:

After reading most of you guys posts, I thought to myself what a bunch of cynical, bull.

I have worked in the NYC market for 17 years, before opening my own shop, and I worked for two of the biggest high end audio dealers in the city, and over the years there were many excellent salesman and many happy and satisfied customers.

As with purchasing anything there are good dealerships and salespeople and bad dealers and bad salesman.

A good dealer is one that is trying to do right by their clients and put together a magical system for the client no matter what the price point is.

A bad dealer is one who sells their overstock stuff or pushes equipment that is in stock to the wrong client and is serving themselves.

A good dealer will have a wide selection of equipment and will spend the time to educate a prospective client and provide expert setup and installation services.

Yes it is true that only the client will know what sounds good to them but without having the ability to be educated

and experience the difference that changing electronics, or a digital source or cabling will make a neophyte can find the entire process extremely challenging to nearly impossible and that is what a good dealer is all about.

If this gentleman has a good local dealer or dealers then he should bring some music and start demoing and maybe he will put together a great system and become a happy audiophile instead of someone who can't stop upgrading because their systems that they put together themselves sound dreadful.

In order to achieve a goal, the goal must be clearly defined. In home audio, that means knowing the sound you want. To know that, one must actually have heard it and known it prior to achieving the goal.

Have you heard it? What is your reference system that you have heard? You have to have that reference standard to achieve your goal. Dealer systems at dealers can provide that. Then the dealers job becomes helping you achieve that sound as best possible in your quarters.
The positive exeriences are nice to read about. However if you are new to audio, How exactly will you just 'by chance' walk into a dealer who honestly wants to help you? Instead of the dealer who wants to just use you as a cash cow?
No one wrote that all dealers are bad. The problem is a new person has no idea ifa particular dealer is just selling whatever is the best for the dealer, or what the dealer thinks is best for the customer.
So if one does not know.. Isn't it better to be a little cynical? than too trusting?

Even my own favorite dealer, i can tell he is internally pressured to try and sell stuff he needs to sell. No way is he going to just disregard his own self interest to the point he goes bankrupt.
Cmalak, interesting. I got soured on Goodwins High End, when in the mid '90's, I had just bought used B&W M802 speakers. I was a total newbie to high end, & they were pretty useless on giving me any kind of guidance re component matching with those speakers, claimed to not really know anything about them (even tho they're extremely well known speakers), etc. They also wouldn't give me a penny discount (off of list) on anything, no matter how many components I bought.

Then they hired a tall guy from the now defunct audio place in Arlington. (I had bought a lot of stuff at that store). One day he went off on me, LOUDLY, in the front part of the store, in front of other customers & employees, ranting about how horrible my speakers were, while bragging about how many of them he sold at his old store (!?). (If they were so horrible, why didn't he tell his old customers that?). I never went back there.

After also getting clueless (but not rude) advice at a couple of other audio stores in the area, I started relying on advice from other hobbyists on A'gon & elsewhere, & buying & selling used gear to make upgrades I couldn't possibly do always buying new. (A salesman at Natural Sound in Natick--who I like--& overall like the store--& is a B&W dealer--tried to convince me that I could easily power B&W M802's, with a 70 wpc tube amp (!?). Most of his other advice is spot on tho.

But I'm glad you've had good luck there (Goodwins High End). It is a nice store, great listening rooms, & not a zoo like some other places. I just felt they had the most "attitude", & it's far from the first time I've been insulted by an arrogant audio salesman--I don't know what it is about that job that attracts (some of) those "pompous" types....
I had similar experience at Sound By Singer in NYC once.

High end audio guys can be full of themselves sometimes or at least money grubbers that will say anything to get you to see things their way.

There was also at least one salesperson at SBS that seemed interested in what the customer wanted.

SO the moral is its the individual people you deal with that make a difference. Bottom line is you have to be able to trust them. The more you know, the harder that can be sometimes. Ignorance is bliss?
Steveaudio, sorry to hear that you or anyone else has bad experiences at Goodwins. I've purchased a couple of great items form them and they were very helpful. However, if ever there was a contest about bad attitude, lousy repair, unfair charges, incompetent work, arrogance and being pompous, AV. South in Tampa Fl. would beat all others combined even if the others had Johnny Boey as a tag team partner in a Texas Death Match. Best of luck.
To Elizabeth,

If the dealer doesn't stock anything which I can tell you many dealers don't stock anything these days, then there is never any financial pressure to recommend any product other than the dealer feels this is the best product for the consumer's room, taste, budget etc.

My shop audio doctor has over 60 lines located in four sound rooms and we have about $1 million dollars worth of equipment on display, we have 0 stock, so there is absolutely no benefit to recommend one product over another.

My method has been to make a sale and then reinvest rather than cashing out and living large. My ex boss at SBS I feel didn't run his business that way so many a customer was recommended gear by the owner by what was in stock.

I never cared about the stock issues, and I frequently sold what I felt sounded the best which lead to constant battles leading up to my leaving his shop and starting my own.

The way you don't go bankrupt is to do custom work which is where most of the money is made these days.
Not to get OT but I couldn't help but notice Steveaudio's comment
A salesman at Natural Sound in Natick--who I like--& overall like the store--& is a B&W dealer--tried to convince me that I could easily power B&W M802's, with a 70 wpc tube amp (!?)
Assuming you mean N802s, I heard at least one tube amp (less than 70 wpc; 2 6CA7s per side, maybe 50-60 wpc) 802s (and 802ds) extremely well. Just sayin'...no excuse for being rude and arrogant and condescending. Like Cmalak says, you basically have 2 options; find a good dealer and pay them for the value added, or DIY thru internet/secondary market purchases. One of the reasons why B&M dealers are a little gun-shy is that there are lots of folks who use their sound rooms and their expertise to assemble a system and then buy it "on-line". Not easy at all to tell the good guys from the product pushers but one benefit of the internet is being able benefit from a wider range of "word of mouth".
This thread has morphed a little, which is ok, but I want to come back to the original premise: would you just let the dealer pick the system for 10 grand?
My view had nothing to do with whether you could trust the dealer- assuming the best intentioned dealer, with good ears, and access to a wide array of different equipment, the dealer's sonic 'taste' may still be different than yours.
I have certainly relied on dealers in the past and will continue to do so- and i believe there is value in that: in addition to benefitting from their wisdom (with the right dealer) and the ability to get access to some hard to get equipment, they can (generally, not always) provide support, like help with set-up, loaners, handling repair processing, and accepting trade-ins and trade-ups.
At the same time, I have had any number of negative experiences with dealers, including some in NYC.
Even the best dealer is sometimes constrained by the lines they do not carry.
if you are a problem solver, you don't need a dealer. learning the basics about component function and mismatches is necessary.

then trial and error will eventually lead you to a desirable result
Why not let somebody invest 10K of your money for you instead?
Whart, and everyone, in my original post, the premise is whether or not to trust a dealer to "help" put together a system for around 10k. Once the dealer does this, then the decision is made whether the sound of the system warrants a purchase. This would require much listening /auditioning. Andrew, my reference sound goes back several years to a McIntosh and Paradigm S8 system I heard, and also to a system I had in the 80's consisting of a Nikko integrated, Dual turntable and ESS AMT 2 speakers. But I realize I need to get out to some dealers and hear some systems.
foster, i misunderstood the premise. then yes, of course, take advantage of what a good dealer can offer you. (and by that, I don't mean tap their knowledge, and then buy on line), a good dealer is, to me, worth the premium if they can offer the kinds of support that i mentioned as well as an array of good two channel equipment. sometimes, the 'premium' is not a premium at all.
mr tennis- yes, of course, independent research is not only important, but fun, it is part of the hobby. however, trial and error can be expensive.
one of the added benefits of using a good dealer is the opportunity (not always, for every piece of equipment) to get a home trial before you buy.
that can save grief, and money.
Here's an example of a good dealer interaction.

When I was looking for a pre-amp, compatibility and good results with my existing phono rig was a consideration. I was interested in the ARC sp16 that I ended up buying, but wanted to make sure the phono section was up to snuff. The problem was the sp16 phono input sensitivity versus the low output level of the Denon DL103R cart, which I did not want to have to change.

So the dealer ( a very small home audio shop in Baltimore area) let me bring my Linn with DL103R in and give it a try. As expected, not enough volume was possible. When I insisted that this was a problem, he offered to let me try and buy a used Electrocompaniet step up device from an associate of his (he was NOT an Electrocompaniet dealer and the unit was not a current model anyhow). So I did the audition again with the Electrocopaniet and bingo, so I bought the ARC and got a good deal with the Electrocompaniet.

I had to know to stand my ground on the input sensitivity issue but once I did the dealer did what he needed to do to make things work and make the sale.
Absolutely. I've used dealers to assemble my system with no regrets. And I'm happy to say that I have developed long-term relationships with them.

But go to more than one. Obtain their input, evaluate their input, then decide if you want to move forward with their input.

Sometimes I follow their advice, sometimes I go in a different direction.
As I remember SBS, one month he was promoting brand X as the best
thing since sliced bread, and a few months later, it was an entirely different
brand. I bought a few pieces from him back in the day but they were things
I went in knowing i wanted- it was simply that he carried the line at the time.