Is it fun or just torture?

What I am referring to is the act of turning up at the dealer to listen to a potential purchase for several hours, or packing stuff in the car to take home, set up, try for several days then take it all back after, and having to explain to the dealer why I have chosen not to buy it. Do you enjoy this or is it torture?

You may have gathered from the tone of my post, I dislike it, a lot!

Don’t get me wrong, when I find what I like all is great, but for much of the time it’s painful for me. I should add that I am a tight wad so perhaps that is part of the issue!


Tight wads R us!
When I see some of the spends on here I just have to ask… is this a sane place to be.
I’ll tweak till the cows come home, as long as it doesn’t cost ‘loadsamoney’ but sometimes I think it’s just lunacy.


Completely agree. Torture.

When I properly research what I want and why, then test, the pain abides. Maybe it’s a question of being selective through planning. I’ve found lurking here really useful as education prior to considering any new boxes.

FWIW I think my next upgrade will be a dedicated power circuit. No testing in advance possible, but I’m pretty sure eradicating a 100m of very ancient cabling can’t be a bad thing.


There is certainly a condition called audio neurosis. But it doesn’t have to be like that!

I much prefer the opposite way of doing things, whereby my trusted dealer gets in touch to inform me that I really do need to listen to his latest squeeze.

He rocks up, installs it, and bimbles off for at least a couple of weeks whilst he anxiously waits for me to call and break out my bank card … or not.

Over the years, it has worked out well for both of us, as nothing has ever been returned to the shop.

So he knows what works in my system, and also knows that if the price is right, (which it invariably has been), then I will more than likely say “yes please”.

I can’t overstate the value of having a trusted dealer, who knows his stuff, and is who is also aware that shop demoes are largely meaningless, though I appreciate that’s not always possible for many folks outside UK.


Hasn’t been around for a while then Dave as the XL10’s been out for a while now! :joy::+1:t2:


Aye, but he disnae sell yon Neat squeakers, ken. :man_shrugging:

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I should add, I don’t like auditioning stuff even if I am a guest of the customer. I find the whole listening and having to decide so painful.

I’ve never listened to any of my hifi prior to purchase…about £18k of kit.

Researched every piece online.

I don’t think going to a dealers listening room and making a decision there would have made much of a difference, with the exception of speakers.


Never returned anything where I’d heard it at the dealers first. But I was a convicted felon at Sound Org and Grahams…


I find there a certain enjoyment in the idea of buying something new (new to me, not necessarily brand new) and it sounding fantastically better than the old*. But in reality the process is tedious, so I don’t do often. I certainly dislike the effort it takes to compare things with only subtle differences, or differences that are changes in sound rather than definitely better or worse.

*Interestingly, looking back across 4 changes of speakers, essentially 5 changes of amps and essentially 6 changes of sources over the 50 years since my first home-brew budget (but punching above its weight in terms of value) system, only two changes have been ‘fantastically better’: The first was swapping my second DIY speakers for IMF TLS50 ii, and much more recently replacing Chord Hugo DAC with Dave. All other changes have been less dramatic (and two changes in source not evidently different, just replacing something that died). But each has been an incremental move towards something very special, and knowing that on each occasion made the hassle worthwhile.

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Before buying I listened to all speakers except my DIY ones (= first two), and to the two CD players, and to Dave DAC. Nothing else. The only disappointment I had was buying a PS for my first streamer (ND5XS). However in my first audition of speakers, listening to 12 or 13 pairs that around £2.5k in today’s value were mostly top of manufacturers’ ranges, and all well reviewed in magazines, I was so glad I listened because I disliked all but three instantly, and ended up with clearly the best to my ears, whereas buying on reviews and specs I could so easily have ended up with one of the hateful ones. That was what brought home to me how much every speaker has its own distinct character.


I decided many years ago that the ONLY way to know whether something was any good was to listen to it at home, AND that I was going to enjoy the process; whether I did or not!


Personally, I do not think it is possible to decide by auditioning at the dealer. My dealer really good at advising me…and he has never been wrong. But I decide by auditioning at some.

Prefer this. Otherwise, a complete waste of time. ( and avoid acting like a clown)

Not my experience sadly and this is why.

Just before I made my purchase, I contacted my local hifi shop (less than a mile from home) - apparently very well regarded and they’ve been there for years. Initially, we’d chatted over the phone and whilst I didn’t really know what I wanted, I was invited to bring in my system and we’d swap pieces in and out until I found something I liked. I was looking forward to the afternoon - chatting about music and being shown and listening to different pieces of hifi - so loaded up the car - speakers, streamer, amp, cables etc.

Long story short, I was made feel that I was utterly wasting this chaps time and from start to finish, it was awful. On the plus side, I did end up making a decision and took my custom elsewhere and a week later I spent near on £5k on my current system, which was delivered and set up for me, they could not have been more helpful. I’m now looking at spending some more cash with that same dealer - If I do (probably will) i’d have spent around £6.5k over the last six months.

I feel annoyed that there’s no relationship with my local dealer, somewhere I can pop in for a coffee and listen to the next piece on my wish list or be tempted by something new and shiny. Whilst I cannot prove it, there was a judgement made as I walked through the door and was treated accordingly, we’re not all spending £20k plus however some of us may spend little and often - for me £5k is a significant spend.

Rant over!


I don’t like it, so do it rarely. Years ago I’ve also decided to stop upgrading individual components (unless something dies etc.). You’ll always end up with an inbalance and as you get used to the sound you start looking for the next component whose upgrade would let you experience the wow factor of first hearing your new system again.

When I feel it’s time, I just assemble a whole new, balanced, system, and get that to replace the old one. Spending more also makes you feel less guilty about wasting people’s time and haggling a bit.

I’ve used five dealers over the last 35 years. Two were exceptional but no longer trade. I’m trying to build up a relationship with a dealer I last used 25 years ago in an attempt to reestablish a rapport.
The most unsatisfying experience recently was with choosing a music server, closely followed by looking for a new vinyl source. On the plus side, when I purchased a server over the internet, the advice from this forum, and from the retailer over the telephone, were decisive in my decision.

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I don’t enjoy the auditioning process at all. One of the reasons I was drawn to Naim initially was being able to trust that you could pretty much purchase without audition and knew each purchase would be a solid decision. The suggested systems/upgrade path provided a route to “more” of what you were already enjoying.

Unfortunately, thats not the case any more and expanding beyond the Naim infrastructure makes much more sense now than it used to. I do as mentioned by @mickdale and research a lot on line to narrow down candidates. Purchase without audition will then largely depend on the cost of the item. For example, I recently purchased a Powerline without audition but I am currently searching for speakers with expensive candidates so would try to audition first.

Fortunately (for me), “HiFi equipment” is not my hobby, listening to music is so hardware changes are few and far between. I bought my current speakers ex-dem (without audition) about 15 years ago and only upgrading now because they are in a much larger room.


I have loved it over the years and used to be able to tell easily if I liked an upgrade. Not so much these days though. I think it’s a combination of less good hearing, marginal gains and the dem room being relatively unfamiliar. I am blessed with a 30+ year relationship with my dealer though. My chosen upgrades always deliver more at home than in the shop.