Can a (HiFi) dealer ever be truly impartial?

Providing a place for everyone’s opinions on dealer impartiality. So we can keep other threads on track!

Probably best to keep dealer names out of it, please X) Unless the trade members want to post obviously, in which case I’d love to hear their contributions!

I like to think that there are at least some dealers who, even though they specialise and will talk to the merits of the kit they sell, recognise that buyers, on the whole, won’t appreciate being misled in any way. I say this as someone who has worked in commercial sectors a long time now, and have always been painfully honest to customers about the products and services I’ve been working on. I can’t be the only one. So yes, I think dealers can be impartial.

I recognise this is a funny (peculiar) thread to have on a manufacturer forum. Fingers crossed it stays civil. And even if not maybe it keeps other threads more so :wink:

Happy bank holiday to those in the UK, happy Monday to anyone working.

Can HiFi dealers be impartial?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Probably

0 voters

Do I believe my long standing (+30 years) dealer is impartial? No. Even within the dealership he sells Naim while a colleague sells Linn. He is not keen on Linn amplifiers.

His angle if you like is that he prefers Naim, trusts the products, and believes they are the best at what they actually do, their strengths. Do I trust him? I do. I have chosen Naim after owning other brands and he has guided me to the best way of spending my money to give the biggest improvement to my system at any point in time.

I also trust him because he will always go the extra mile to provide an exemplary service. Additionally I want him to make a decent profit which keeps him in business which in turn ensures that level of service I expect in the long term. I guess we have a contract where we agree to look after each other…


I think no as well.
Everyone has a pair of ears that hear slightly differently, everyone has personal preference of music.
Each dealer chooses which brands they want to stock and sell (I assume the companies that own the franchises also make similar decisions).
Do I trust my local dealer - yes.
They have listened to my enquiries, thoughts, likes, doubts and explorations.
They have helped me in ways they did not have to.
They are always welcoming and invite me to listen to set ups other people have demoed - exploring the differences.
They have not tried to ‘sell’ me anything - their focus being on my listening pleasure, not their sales .


No one is entirely impartial about anything as we all hold views based on previous experiences. However, good hi-fi dealers will have an open mind. I have been using mine for over 30 years now and I have observed how the range of products changes as they find what they believe are the best products for the price point. I believe my dealer has integrity and works to stock and sell the products they believe in. I am sure they try to give every product a fair chance and after listening will decide whether to stock it or not. I also think from the long association they know the sort of sound I like and can usually tell which product I will go for and if wrong happily accept that I found something else better for my ear.

They have an open mind about products and try to stock the products they believe are the best-sounding. They support customers in finding the product they think sounds best even if they might disagree and to me is more important than them being impartial. This is because they have a belief that there is “no right sound” that works for everyone. Instead, they try to stock a range of products that will give the greatest number of people the best-sounding products for them.


A Dealer will want to sell what they stock - obviously. What they stock will be partly what they they like/believe it - and what commercial arrangement they can come to with the manufacturers. A Dealer ‘just down the road’ from an established Naim dealer probably cannot get to stock Naim, no matter how hard they try.

What I think counts for a lot, is honesty and trust. Being willing to tell a (potential) customer that something may not work well for them, counts for a lot. IMO.


I don’t believe a dealer can ever be truly impartial, as they have to be able to find you a solution within the range of products they sell to fit your requirements. This requires them to ignore products they don’t sell that their competitors might. That is simply good business.

Is (are) my dealer(s) trustworthy, is however a different and possibly more pertinent question.

I trust both the dealers I use to help me find the best solutions to suit both my wishes and budget. I, like most others on this forum, have chosen Naim as my primary HiFi manufacturer with ‘a side of Linn😉’ and have yet to be disappointed with either of them regarding their advice.

This hobby of ours tends to be rather expensive and with that we have to have trust in the dealer, but we also must accept that they can’t possibly be totally impartial.


A brief test of the Naim waters, via second hand entry level kit, convinced me that the signature sound presentation was for me.

A twenty five year relationship with my chosen Naim dealer has been more than satisfactory, as they have guided me carefully down the Naim upgrade path, not only by providing sensible advice at each step, but also by having an extremely creative attitude to trade in values / retail cost.

At one time, they apparently shifted more Naim boxes than any other UK dealer, so it seems that I am not alone in valuing the service they have always provided. :+1:


Not in the slightest, where we’re concerned.

They believe in Naim kit, they stock it and they know that I am a fan, so we’re all agreed then.


If I were a dealer and there were clearly customers who wanted to spend their money on accoutrements that I thought overpriced or even of dubious efficacy I wouldn’t be overly honest and send them down the road to another dealer. If I sold brand X who brought out a super expensive top of the range item that I thought was emphatically not worth the money, do I tell my customers to save their money and insulate their house instead?

It’s the same in any number of scenarios - a Skoda garage isn’t going to tell you to go and buy a Renault.

I just want my dealer to be capable, knowledgeable and facilitating. I don’t expect him to be St Francis of Assisi and to turn away sales of items stocked or send me in the direction of items he doesn’t stock.

I think within these parameters most dealers I’ve dealt with are fair and honest people with a love of hifi and music.



The degree of impartiality -and I think that there can be degrees - with kit like hifi is likely at least in part to depend on how wide a range the dealer sells. All know that a customer has a finite budget, and whilst when the limit is known there is often a tendency to see how flexible that might be, the dealer knows they are only going to make that sort of sale value (today), with a proportionate profit. Unless something has a disproportionately high profit margin it doesn’t matter what the dealer then sells, though make the customer happy and there may be a future benefit.

So yes I think a good dealer with a reasonably wide range of kit that includes multiple brands, can have a good degree of impartiality.

The poll is a bit odd, as I’m not sure where “probably” fits: yes a dealer can, or no a dealer can’t are straightforward, but probably they can? If it means the responder thinks probably they are rather than can be, does that mean all dealers or just specific ones? That leaves aside the degree of impartiality that counts as impartial to warrant a yes, otherwise no…!

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^^ thread for the discussion of dealer impartiality. With a silly, ambiguous poll.

I wrote the above when linking this post on the new classic thread.

Thanks for your thoughts, I’ve been liking every post made, as they’ve all been nicely put and well thought out. My main reason for starting the thread was to help keep the new classic thread on track after a couple of days where the posts weren’t so much.

My thought process behind the “probably” poll option was a bit mischievous I’m afraid! If any conclusions are to be drawn then I’d lump “probably” and “yes” together - pick whichever you think best. I wasn’t going to analyse the results in any case :wink:

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…though 56 responses so far, I wasn’t expecting that uptake. I’d call it a pretty even 50:50 split “yes” & “probably”:“no” - and that’s kinda interesting!

I trust my dealer. In the past, he has warned me about buying gear that would not be an improvement (gear he stocks).
I have built a relationship with my dealer for 20 years and he has never steered me wrong.

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I’m with those that believe no one is entirely impartial.

On the other had can they help you to get the right HiFi system for yourself - mostly… yes (but you need to tell them what you like / need and ask the right questions!).

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Recently I contacted a dealer who sell Ear Yoshino in Paris. As I asked him some questions about what he had and if I could come and listen, he spent quite more time saying how good the Spec class D integrated is. For him it puts all other brands, even costing twice, into dust.
Such behaviour is so often encountered here in France. I guess it responds to the thread question. :joy:

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I agree with these comments. When I moved away from NAIM and sold all of my 6 NAIM boxes, my dealer wasn’t impartial.

Whilst they are NAIM dealers, he expressed his opinion that certain other brands they sell would comfortably outperform the NAIM stuff. This was following a lengthy discussion on my musical/sound preferences.

He was right. I’ve ended up with a much better system that my old NAIM system, and I’m glad that he was impartial and expressed strong, clear opinions.

Did he say that when you were interested in Naim stuff, or only when you indicated thought/intent of going a different direction?

It’s a pretty difficult question cause as with all things in life they’re some people you can trust and some you can’t. I’m lucky to have had a dealer for over 25 years that I trust completely.

We fully discussed what I liked/didn’t like about the NAIM sound and we then looked at a range of non-NAIM alternatives. Following our discussions he steered me towards a certain outcome, based on the sound I was looking for. I guess it’s a dealers experience in knowing what all the different kit sounds like, understanding the we customers needs, and matching the two together. J

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That sounds like when you moved away from Naim. Was it the same when you first started with Naim?

It was a different process, in that I used different dealers and it was an incremental process, adding a box at a time, over quite a lengthy period.

The wholesale move away from NAIM was different and I placed a lot of reliance and trust in the dealer. I don’t mind impartiality, if it is all for the benefit of the customer. I must say that, over many years, I have generally found hifi retailers to be decent and honest, and generous with their advice. I’ve never had a poor experience. :crossed_fingers: