Buying after listening

So, if you had auditioned one set of speakers and really liked them, would you wan to audition a few others In home as well, or would you buy what you heard and liked?

It seems sort of obvious to try lots, but the logistics and pissing off the dealers isn’t ideal - who has done what, with what lessons learned?

I’d want to audition a few at the dealer, ensuring driven with the same amp as mine (or actually with my own amp if they don’t have it), then ideally try the one I liked best at home to be sure, that being a confirmation and only if it sounds wrong at home thinking of auditioning others at home. But whether I’ve just been lucky, or whether it is my penchant for transmission line speakers, I have never found I haven’t liked the speakers at home, and for me the same speakers have worked well in multiple homes.

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Only you can answer that. Even if you are fortunate enough to live in a location where home demonstration is possible, not everyone is comfortable with the upheaval of lugging speakers in and out several times and finding places to park the old ones. It is a considerable domestic upheaval in my opinion.

If you are able to do it and have the appetite for the effort and short term domestic upheaval, then this will let you perform the most informed buying decision without a doubt. But in my experience most customers (myself included) are comfortable making a decision based on time at the dealer’s. Preferably with the understanding that the dealer will take the speakers back in the first few weeks if they really don’t work out in your room.

Talking to a mate, I realised there is also two types of people who buy hifi. Those who just see it as a means to an end for music and those who unashamedly enjoy trying out new gear and box swapping. The latter has more appetite for making frequent changes at home because that is part of the fun. Personally, I get to point where I want to pull the trigger on something I heard in the dem room and get back to focusing on music.


I don’t think I’ve ever demo’d stuff at home. I know from experience that dealer showrooms for the most part sound like sheet. So if it sounds good there it’ll be better in my home; and if not I just move it on.

I’ve not found shop demos very predictive with speakers, Focal Profile 918s won the shop comparison but sounded really harsh at home. I took 3 more pairs of speakers home from two different dealers and the Thiel CS1.6s I chose in the end weren’t the first choice at that dealership’s demo. The next time I changed speakers I walked into the shop and they’d taken NBLs in as a trade in. I asked to try them at home and the dealer brought them round and spent a couple of hours setting them up, he didn’t have to collect them.
The first time I was replacing 20 year old mission 700s with perished bass driver surrounds, the second I could have stayed put and hadn’t gone out to buy speakers in the first place.

I have found that home demo of speakers is absolutely essential. Each room has its own characteristics and this can only become evident once the speaker options are allowed to perform at home. I have preferred some Titan 606 at retailer but they just didnt do it in my home and so I chose the speaker that suited my room.

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Which speakers worked for you?

I’m truly grateful for home demming. I really wanted a pair of Neat Ultimatums and a reasonably local dealer went to considerable length to arrange a home demo. Unfortunately they just didn’t work, couldn’t control the bass. Dealer concerned was very nice about it. I imagine he took the long view, better to find out then rather than have a dissatisfied customer later on.



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I tried ATCSMC40, Kudos Titan 606 and PMC Fact 8. Home demo of Titan and PMC and chose PMC after home demo as they sounded fabulous in my listening room. I used CDS3/XPSDR, 282/250DR at the time.
Fortunately after a 2 hour drive to my dealer for demo at shop, he brought 2 pairs of home demo to me and spent an afternoon listening to both with me before taking Titans back with him. I kept Fact 8’s but now have Fact 12’s following further upgades (552DR/300DR).

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Great set up, glad I asked and a fantastic front end!

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I managed to find a dealer with a listening room almost the same size as mine which was acoustically treated. Listened to 3 speakers there with same Naim set up as I have at home ( 272/250DR) and established a very clear preference for KEF Reference 3 . The dealer then brought 2 of the speakers for me to home demo. I started with KEFs which confirmed my opinion of them and did not even bother with the second speakers.

Bought the KEFs which I love but am now in the process off acoustically treating my room as I know there is even more to be gained having heard them in a an almost identically sized treated room at the dealer.

So for me the ideal process is dealer demo of options in similar sized room to your home room with system as close as possible to that at home. Then definitely home listen to confirm room set up/ dynamics etc don’t completely change your opinion. My dealer was brilliant and very patient making the whole process stress free and enjoyable.

Never found it too difficult to make a decision on buying loudspeakers. What you don’t want is the nagging doubt three months down the line that you made the wrong choice. Or you need to spend more money to get them just right for you. Having said that, other parts in the audio chain are usually easier to decide on.
Its the number one problem for us all. The room interface and how your speakers react in that invironment. My dealer’s demo room is smaller than my listening room so I know if they sound good (acceptable?) there, then it should’nt be a problem. He also has a cellar beneath so that’s not a help.
A good rule of thumb is a standmount will be easier to accomodate than a floorstander with more bass which can drive the room. Some think transmission line speakers sound better than reflex. Does’nt bother me with my B & W 802D3’s. My trouble is I like a “big sound”. Luckily no problem with driving the room. Before I bought them I was tempted by the only slightly larger and heavier 800s although my wallet wasn’t. It has larger twin bass drivers and not much more in weight. My dealer said the 802’s were the ones to go for as the bigger brothers would be a problem.
It took a transit van and two persons to unpack and set up along with fitting Stillpoints, remove the old speakers, then carry out a listening session. About 3/4 hours in total.
You would’nt want to do that to often!

Because of lockdown my boxed speakers ( 8 stone each ) were dropped off at the front door. I had to put my old speakers outside for them to take. Then I had to unbox single handed , establish best position as well as mount plates on the bottom for the feet. Not ideal but definitely worth it in the end !

Well, for me, I had in my mind that I wanted PMC twenty5 23’s after having listened to Twenty 23’s at a dealers a year or so before. This time I went to a different dealer and listened to the 5’s along with Monitor Audio gold 200’’s and a pair of Dali’s at a similar price point, can’t remember which model.
I preferred the PMC’s and put a deposit down. A couple of days later the dealer phoned me to say that the light oak veneer I chose had a waiting time of a month or so and very kindly couriered the demo pair to me to fill that void but after a week at home, they weren’t working for me. I decided on the Twenty5 24’s and after discussing this with the dealer, drove up there with the speakers crammed in the car with my knees up near my ears, did the swap over and set up 24’s at home. Wonderful
Previous dealers I’ve used have never offered home demos, maybe I look a bit dodgy :clown_face: but this dealer I found very helpful and obliging. One more uncomfortable trip later I had the light oak 24’s and lived happily ever after. There’s nothing like a home demo, one dealer I have used in the past, had the demo room recarpeted and that sucked virtually every ounce of bass from the music. No good at all…!

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Speakers need to be audition only in your room …otherwise it’s like not to listen to it at all


It’s certainly a big disadvantage but I’d not go that far. 90% of the hifi buying public live in countries where home demonstration isn’t offered or is incredibly rare.

Saying anything other than a home demo has no meaning is a bit like saying most if the world have no business buying hifi.

When I wanted new speakers about a year and a half ago, I home-demoed 3 pairs in total. I stopped at the 3rd pair as we really liked them. The in-home demo is helpful for assessing aesthetics as well as how they’ll sound.

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Whilst listening at home has to be the best way, I disagree that listening only at thee dealer is a waste of time: Firstly you get the character of the speakers, which can be a major choice factor. Secondly, it is usually possible to adjust one’s room layout & positioning etc to accommodate different speaker/room interactions. However the greater the degree of commonality between audition situation and home, the more meaningful the audition is likely to be: Other people have mentioned similar room size being useful, and I mentioned ensuring that the equipment driving is the same (or at least comparable), but one other thing I omitted to mention that I have done in more recent auditions, which is take my own speakers to hear first in the dealer’s surroundings giving me a reference point for differences in room sound. (Yes, even with big 60kg speakers!).


With my experience the same speaker sound different to me in different locations …even with the same electronics…and I know it’s very difficult to find how to audition in your room … it’s worth to pay a dealer for a listening in your room

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Yes that is very true. My listening room is also the living room so I don’t want anything overbearing and the slanting back PMC’s work perfectly for me in that respect, blending into the background for listening sessions on cosy winter nights with the curtains drawn