Originally Posted by rayzer123
Hello, I'm starting to build my gear and would like to know what's the best way to test which speakers would be best for me. I've heard from some people that in the past, you could bring the speakers home to listen for X days but I don't know or think many retailers are willing to do this anymore. I was also told that at the store would be good but not ideal since they might carry limited brands and would pressure you to buy brand Y over another (I'm a sucker when I get pressured). Last I heard that audio shows (ie Montreal Show, Rocky Mtn, and the new TAVES in Toronto) would have lots to hear and test without being pressured. Pouring over magazines provides me with some recommendations but I don't know if that's bias or if the manufacturer "paid" to get published. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
I can't tell you what is best for you, but I can tell you what I would do if I were starting from scratch:
Number 1- Trust your judgment and don't let others tell you what you like (or should get).
Number 2- Narrow down a price range and what type of speaker (floor, monitor, wall, etc.) It sounds like you've already done this and are looking for a floorstanding model in the $3-5K range.
Number 3- Decide how much time you are willing to spend shopping and researching. I've worked with people who make a decision in 10 minutes and people who have been looking for years. If you are the indecisive type try to set a limit for yourself.
Number 4- Keep in mind that differences are always more obvious when comparing and once you "bring it home" you'll most likely be happy.
Number 5- Aside from what others may tell you there is no "perfect" choice. How critical you want to be is determined by you. You may find a "perfect" choice for yourself at the first shop.
Number 6- Make sure the speakers you are looking at don't have any strange/unreasonable issues that won't work in your space, i.e. too far from the wall, too insensitive (and need too much power), too small, too big, too narrow a proper listening zone, etc....you get the idea.
General recommendations about what to bring...
Number 1- Bring along a handful of discs (or a demo disc you've made) to help audition speakers. Don't bring 30 discs and don't bring only one. My recommendation would be at least 3 tracks and at most 5-6. You don't need to listen to your entire library of music to decide if you will like the speakers.
Number 2- Bring music you are familiar with, offers a wide range of sound and is the type of music you actually listen to. Don't bring genres of music like jazz or classical just because people tell you this is what you should audition speakers with. Don't bring discs that are severely scratched or have food and other sh*t on them--don't laugh! I've seen it....
Contacting the store and what to say/do...
Number 1- Be honest!
Number 2- Be honest!
Number 3- Call a prospective store and ask for someone in "sales." Tell them: You are looking "to buy" a set of floor speakers up to $5K (if this is your upper limit). DO NOT say "audition!" Ask them what they have in this range and whether you can come by and take a listen. Ask who you should ask for, whether the speakers are all set up and if you need to make an appointment.
Number 4- Don't get into a lengthy conversation over the phone with the salesperson. Definitely don't say something like "do you have a few minutes to talk?" If you are serious, then go down there and start the process with them.
Going to the store...
Number 1- Under no circumstances bring a notepad, a book, pen and paper or any of that nonsense!
Number 2- Don't assume and act like you know more than the salesperson (even if it is true).
Number 3- Make sure you allow as much time as needed--don't be hurried or in a rush. At the same time don't bring a pillow and act like you are prepared to spend the entire day there.
Number 4- Be friendly and try to enjoy yourself--don't give off the vibe that buying is a chore and you'd rather be having root canal work. At the same time don't act like you are going to be hitting every store in the tri-state area and listening to every speaker that is currently being manufactured for fun.
Number 5- Answer questions the salesperson may have about your needs and your wishlist. If the look or color of the speakers is important, then tell them this from the start.
Number 6- If for any reason you don't like/trust the salesperson then don't proceed any further with them. This is very important. Make an excuse to have someone else there assist you.
Number 7- Try to compare speakers under the most "like" conditions as possible. If one system is using a 3 watt SET and the other has 1000W monoblocks then you’ll want to have the speakers moved around. If you are serious then it shouldn't be a problem. If you aren't then you shouldn't be in the shop in the first place.
Number 8- Find a favorite and then stick to it. Always compare between two sets and once you have a favorite, eliminate the other. This goes for other stores as well. For instance, if you got to shop 1 and they have speakers A,B,C,D. The salesperson recommends listening to A and B first. You like B best. Eliminate A from your list. Tell the salesperson what you like about B and don’t like about A. Compare B to C or D if it makes sense. You then end up liking C best. Listen to C a little more with some of the other tracks you’ve brought. If you are ready to buy then go to “Ready to Buy” section. Otherwise, get the info on this model, pricing (don’t negotiate yet), business card, etc. and leave. If you are going to another store that sells speakers E,F,G always keep C in mind as your “favorite.” If you have to go back to the store and listen to C again then do that at the end when breaking a comparison or a “tie.”
Number 9- If you do go to another store, tell the salesperson which speaker you’ve heard that you’ve liked so far. Do not give them a laundry list of every speaker you’ve heard—only the one you liked best. Tell them why. Find out what they suggest you might like better that they sell. Say this, “I had the chance to hear speaker C and I like it a lot. I’m in the 3-5K range, what do you have that I might like better?” They may say “nothing” in which case you saved some time. They may say…”I would recommend X” At this point go back to the beginning of this list.
Number 10- If you spend time with a salesperson and end up deciding to buy a product they showed to you, then give them the sale! It’s good karma.
Ready to buy…
Number 1- You have the best chance of negotiation when you are actually ready to buy. Don’t talk exact numbers until you have “cash in hand.” Every store/product is different.
Number 2- If you want a discount, then ask for it.
Number 3- Everyone negotiates differently and has a different feeling about how much to ask for, etc. That is up to you to decide based on your views/philosophies, etc.
Relationship with a store…
Although some might disagree, establishing a good relationship with a store can be beneficial for any problems, service related issues, future purchases, etc. If a salesperson likes/respects you then he/she is more likely to go to bat for you if it ever becomes necessary.
Good luck with your speaker search!