Is your dealer OK with you bringing your own gear to demos?

Forumites: If you’ve suggested bringing in your own equipment for a demo to compare the equipment you already had with the equipment you were considering buying, how did the dealer react?

For a while now, I have been considering a major upgrade to my hi-fi system. After a certain amount of back-and-forth over email with my local dealer, we finally agreed a time for me to come in for a listen. When I asked the dealer if I could bring in my existing equipment for the purposes of comparison, I got this response:

We don’t generally support the type of comparative A/B type testing you propose except at events such as new product launches and music events. We would usually provide any equipment used in demonstrations rather than equipment brought in by customers. I hope you can understand our position as a very busy business.

I don’t understand the dealer’s position at all.

The type of comparative A/B type testing that I proposed has been pretty standard practice with all the dealers that I have dealt with in the past. Before I spend the cost of a 4-door saloon on a new piece of hi-fi equipment, I want to be sure that it’s better than what I currently have by a margin large enough to justify the expense.

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I was actively encouraged to bring in my existing equipment when I auditioned a new system last year.


I’ve often taken items of equipment I already owned, and bought elsewhere, into my Naim dealers demo room to compare with other items I’m interested in buying. He had no hesitation in letting me bring them, and he has sold me quite a few items as a result.

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Not good enough by the dealer. I would be out of the door as fast as my legs could carry me.

There’s nothing wrong with an A/B comparison. Perhaps he’s scared that what you have is better than what he is offering. Factor in the different environment of his dem room and he’s looking to isolate you so that you can’t make a proper judgement.


Buy online with a 30 day return guarantee, there’s no real substitute to audition equipment in your own system/room.


It probably depends on the amount of gear you are bringing in and how long it would take to set up. My dealer would be fine with a pair of speakers or another item, but a complete system probably not at the weekend. I think the day of the week could make a difference in how accommodating they can be, I am retired so now only go in mid-week because it is quieter.

Are you a first-time or repeat customer? If a repeat them maybe after listening to your short list they might let you have a home demo, keeping the item for a few days.


Years ago, I was positively encouraged to bring along my current gear, regardless of manufacturer, to compare.
Without doing so, I’d possibly still have my JVC amp and Celestion Ditton 22 speakers…
I went originally to listen to a Rega Planar 2. I took my own amp and speakers.
My dealer after playing the Rega suggested I try some Royd speakers, which blew away my Celestions. I bought the Royds a couple of weeks later, at which time my dealer swapped out my amp for a Naim Nait, which I bought a few weeks later… You get the picture…


I think their response is daft.

I’ve demoed a ND5 XS2 and Vertere DG-1 at a dealer. I took my existing TT and streaming setup along. They had a XS3 amp, so I used theirs, and I took my SX3 speakers along.

Listening to TTs recently I took my entire vinyl replay system along.

Neither dealer batted an eyelid.

I know you asked for trade members’ opinions. Here’s mine, I would walk gently away.

Any reason you need to go to this particular dealer?

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When I went on a road trip auditioning speakers in 2016, I took my speakers and amp, speakers to give me a reference in unknown rooms, and amp because that is what I would be powering with. Two dealers (and a private house). Neither dealer batted an eyelid, even in one case lugging two 60kg speakers upstairs to the demo room, plus the 25kg amp - they wouldn’t even let me help. Next occasion comparing sources I took my own - Mac Mini/Audirvana and Chord Hugo, trying different DACs.

So yes, in my experience it is very much acceptable by dealers - and vital for effective assessment of new gear.

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I think you’re potentially being palmed off here - one of the reasons we support dealers rather than chancing online purchases is the time they invest to allow us to compare products without pressure to buy if we’re not convinced. Yes that time/effort may add a bit to the eventual purchase price but it’s generally worth it if they stock an item you are considering and have it on demo.

I always try to home demo single items if possible, I suspect it’s trickier and more risky for a dealer to offer more than one item at a time, though they sometimes do that.

Were I maybe comparing 3 sources that is far easier at a dealership and less hassle for you to whittle options down, but I’d still want to take my own source as a baseline to compare unless they had one to save me the effort.

It would seem they are so busy they don’t really need or want your custom. I’d look elsewhere.


Not a trade member, but…

That is a weird response. Sounds like they are too busy for you.

I few decades ago, i would say that i did get similar responses from dealers from what the OP experienced. In fact, the hobby was considered to be a bit “snobbish” because of this mentality from hi-end audio stores. This I think was because there were very few good audio stores around in the area. Nowadays, due to competition, it would be quite suicidal for an audio store to exhibit that type of behavior in our area.

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I’ve never asked my dealer because they mostly let me borrow stuff to listen to at home. However, I have a 30 relationship with them and have bought quite a lot of stuff. Of course if I come in they are happy to let me bring along records to play.

I once took some records to play to another shop to listen to something, and the salesperson kept playing what he wanted me to hear. I walked out buying nothing and promising to never return.


Get a new dealer.

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I don’t actually blame the uncooperative dealers. While my dealer allows me loans for in-home demos, they stopped doing that in general awhile ago. Many asking for comparative in-store demos or in-home demos kept taking up the dealers’s time and gear, but turned around to buy online instead from other dealers at discounts.

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That’s also understandable, but a shame. A few people take advantage of a dealer and their other customers suffer as a result (they’re not really “other” customers, the people using the dealer to listen and then buying elsewhere are not customers!).

I still think plenty (ok, 2 in my experience!) manage to support customers who wish to compare their existing gear, and it is worth finding those who do?


If you have a fairly longstanding relationship with this dealer then I think it’s very poor practice by him and I would almost certainly find myself another dealer.

Of course as others have said the gold standard is home demo, especially for loudspeakers and I believe that Audio T do this for a nominal fee which is refundable if you buy. Well worth it for speakers in particular I think which are so room dependent.


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Paul, I’m not sure you’ll get much response from any dealers here, mainly due to the particular rules of the forum for trade members, who are not allowed to actively promote their business (unless Naim agree to them posting about a Naim event or similar) or solicit any other members.

As for the issue at hand, every dealer runs their business in their own particular way, so if you can’t reach an agreement that you’re happy about with your current dealer, I’m sure there are others you could approach to discuss your needs.


I have never had a issue with my dealer either me taking my equioment to thier shop for a demo or indeed them lending me equipment for home demo

Ok I have known them for 20 years, but even so I find your dealers responce not one I have experienced from any NAIM dealer to be honest


I’m not sure why you think I need to find another dealer. They have been great for me. I’m sure if I wanted to bring something in to compare they would accommodate me. I never ask, choosing to do home demo instead. They just don’t loan for home demo to non-established customers. They are the only Naim dealer here anyway, so there’s no other dealer to find.