Rocket or Swan or Axiom?? [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums

PDA

View Full Version : Rocket or Swan or Axiom??



Nich
03-01-2004, 04:06 PM
I am buying my towers in two weeks time. I've narrowed it down to Swan 5.1; Rocket RS550 or Axiom M60ti. There is no dealer where I live for any of these companies. I am just reading the reviews online; and so far Axiom has the best rep and reviews. Can anyone help me out? My budget is $1100.00

Thanks.

This Guy
03-01-2004, 04:20 PM
Did you look at any other speakers that you CAN hear? Cause if you buy speakers online, you may not like them, then you'll tell yourself to give them a chance and convince yourslef you like them and just needed to be broken in. That's how these online companies work. So all i'm saying is see what else is out there before you make your purchase.

-Joey

Woochifer
03-01-2004, 04:36 PM
I'm with TG on this. ALL of your choices are direct sellers that you can't audition without actually buying them first. The thing about these internet-only brands is that they tend to get more hyped on boards like this one than other brands, and it tends to go in cycles. Two years ago, all you heard about was the Swan Divas and nOhrs, now it's Ascend, Rocket, and Axiom that get a lot of run. Speakers are by far the most subjective purchase you can make, and often it just boils down to preference. Without hearing a lot of speakers, you can't really judge for yourself the type of sound that's available out there and what you're looking for. And never go with speakers based on reviews alone. A lot of highly rated speakers out there are not as favorable with me based on what I listen to and my personal preferences.

Ultimately, you very well might be choosing from the brands that you listed, but without a decent basis of comparison, you're going at it blind. Do yourself a favor, round up some of your favorite discs and hit up some local audio stores. Give them your price range, and see what's out there.

BTW, why do you need to buy something within two weeks? Unless you got a store credit with an expiration, you should take all the time you need for this process. It took me about two months of constant listening, comparing, and home demos before I decided on my speakers.

Nich
03-01-2004, 05:14 PM
I'm with TG on this. ALL of your choices are direct sellers that you can't audition without actually buying them first. The thing about these internet-only brands is that they tend to get more hyped on boards like this one than other brands, and it tends to go in cycles. Two years ago, all you heard about was the Swan Divas and nOhrs, now it's Ascend, Rocket, and Axiom that get a lot of run. Speakers are by far the most subjective purchase you can make, and often it just boils down to preference. Without hearing a lot of speakers, you can't really judge for yourself the type of sound that's available out there and what you're looking for. And never go with speakers based on reviews alone. A lot of highly rated speakers out there are not as favorable with me based on what I listen to and my personal preferences.

Ultimately, you very well might be choosing from the brands that you listed, but without a decent basis of comparison, you're going at it blind. Do yourself a favor, round up some of your favorite discs and hit up some local audio stores. Give them your price range, and see what's out there.

BTW, why do you need to buy something within two weeks? Unless you got a store credit with an expiration, you should take all the time you need for this process. It took me about two months of constant listening, comparing, and home demos before I decided on my speakers.

Sorry; I should went into detail about my situation. I've been looking around for the last 2 months. I looked at the Paradigm Monitors, Klipsch RF, Definitive BiPolars, Totem Staff & Hawk. I like the Totem Hawks out of all of them but way too much for me interms of price. The Klipsch horns are too bright for my liking. The Paradigm Monitors are clear but didn't like the midrange. Definitive was nice and well built but also expensive.

Jon Lane
03-01-2004, 05:19 PM
If I may jump in here, FWIW, we encounter unsatisfied buyers less than 1% of the time. Last year we took back one pair of Swan HT speakers (no free brackets in the box) and 2 prs multimedia speakers (not big enough for HT.)

Apparently the direct formula works well. This kind of success ratio is unusual even for audition-before-you-buy brands.

One of the great things about Internet-direct -- aside from the savings -- is the camaraderie: Thousands if not tens of thousands of posts and comments about personal experiences are available for anyone to research and glean useful data and perspectives from. B&M brands can't always boast these kinds of numbers. What makes the Internet brand successful -- whether Axiom, Aperion, Ascend, Rocket, or Swan and others -- is that we HAVE to perform in the most severe public eye of them all. Right here.

Thanks,

Jon Lane
The Audio Insider.com

Woochifer
03-01-2004, 05:39 PM
Sorry; I should went into detail about my situation. I've been looking around for the last 2 months. I looked at the Paradigm Monitors, Klipsch RF, Definitive BiPolars, Totem Staff & Hawk. I like the Totem Hawks out of all of them but way too much for me interms of price. The Klipsch horns are too bright for my liking. The Paradigm Monitors are clear but didn't like the midrange. Definitive was nice and well built but also expensive.

Is that $1,100 budget for a pair, or for five speakers? It seems that you're limiting yourself to floorstanders, but you should expand your list to include standmounts because floorstanders in this price range generally have issues with box resonance. I started my speaker search a few years ago the exact same way, and decided to go with standmounts after several disappointing auditions with tower speakers. And if you plan to eventually add a subwoofer and let a HT receiver handle the bass management, you're basically paying for unused capacity by going with floorstanding tower speakers.


If you're okay with a decent standmount, you should try out the Paradigm Studio 20 v.3, which lists for $800 a pair and has amazing imaging and a big sound for the price. Also, B&W has discontinued its CDM line, so you should be able to find a pair of the CDM1NTs for well under its previous $1,200 list price. Energy, Boston, PSB, and Dynaudio are other brands that you should take for a listen. Make sure that you try them out at home before buying (most dealers will let you borrow them for home audition) so you can assess how they mate with your room acoustics and if your amp can comfortably drive them.

Woochifer
03-01-2004, 07:29 PM
If I may jump in here, FWIW, we encounter unsatisfied buyers less than 1% of the time. Last year we took back one pair of Swan HT speakers (no free brackets in the box) and 2 prs multimedia speakers (not big enough for HT.)

Apparently the direct formula works well. This kind of success ratio is unusual even for audition-before-you-buy brands.

One of the great things about Internet-direct -- aside from the savings -- is the camaraderie: Thousands if not tens of thousands of posts and comments about personal experiences are available for anyone to research and glean useful data and perspectives from. B&M brands can't always boast these kinds of numbers. What makes the Internet brand successful -- whether Axiom, Aperion, Ascend, Rocket, or Swan and others -- is that we HAVE to perform in the most severe public eye of them all. Right here.

Thanks,

Jon Lane
The Audio Insider.com

With all due respect, the internet-direct model does work, but it's also got its own set of drawbacks and risks. The low return rate could also have a lot to do with the high hurdle involved in returning a pair of speakers, and the biases that crop up in the comparison process. Even with these money-back guarantees, the customer still has to pay the return shipping. And in order to try the speakers, they have to buy them up front. In direct cmparisons, this obviously puts the internet-direct model in an advantageous position. Auditioning speakers sold through a local B&M store is often as simple as borrowing a set of demo units. Comparing them against a set of internet-direct speakers that the customer already paid for and has to ship back on their own dime if they opt for the B&M speakers is hardly a level playing field or unbiased comparison.

And the comraderie that you speak of can sometimes be interpreted as just a lot of noise and hype. If anything, on this and other boards, the supporters of internet-direct speakers face a more skeptical audience precisely because those speakers cannot be auditioned in stores in a simple process of elimination prior to purchase. So, often the response is to hype up the speakers to almost obnoxiously hyperbolic levels. People who recommend B&M brands can address skeptics by directing them to a local dealer and letting the speakers speak for themselves. And from what I've seen, there is a sort of flavor-of-the-month cycle to the internet-direct brands that get touted. Two years ago, it was Swan Diva and nOhr, now it's all about Ascend, Axiom, and Rocket. I'm not trying to cast a broad brush on all of these brands and their purchasers, but I just think that there are two sides to the scenario that you're putting forth, neither of which is ideal. Keep in mind that I have bought internet-direct before, but I went into that purchase fully aware that it was a risk having never heard the unit before buying. Even though I am happy with the purchase, I'm not about to proclaim that comparable B&M options are inferior because frankly I don't have enough info to make that kind of conclusion.

Bryan
03-02-2004, 06:38 AM
Basically it comes down to if a person is or isn't comfortable ordering something over the net, be it a speaker that is available locally, such as the JBL E20, or one that isn't, such as the nOrh 4.0. For auditioning purposes, you may use Audio Envy (http://www.audioenvy.com/) or one of the forums to see if anyone in your locale has the speakers and would be willing to let you audition them. The good thing about internet only brands is they are required to put out quality products along with excellent customer service. If they don't and a person has a problem it will spread like wildfire over the net, possibly forcing the company out of business. They will not chance that happening.

Definately do your homework before purchasing the product. Take the time to get to know the people who own them and what they are like and their taste in music/HT. Get to know the owners of the company. See what problems people have experienced and how they were resolved. Remember, time is on your side.

Debbi
03-02-2004, 03:20 PM
interested as have been looking at both for bookshelves...also continue to let us know when they have sales....looked at the onix 150s a couple of mos ago at 299 and should have bought them...

Bryan
03-03-2004, 06:01 AM
TinHere has heard, I believe, both the Swans and Rockets. He preferred the Rockets. Not sure of the Axioms though they seem to be well received. If I were in the market for speakers now I'd probably go with the Rockets. (Don't be fooled by this. I am perfectly happy with my nOrhs. When I can afford to upgrade it'll probably be to VMPS.)

Jon Lane
03-23-2004, 07:10 AM
With all due respect, the internet-direct model does work, but it's also got its own set of drawbacks and risks. The low return rate could also have a lot to do with the high hurdle involved in returning a pair of speakers, and the biases that crop up in the comparison process.

The feedback we get tells us the nearly-nil return rate has to do with the extreme value, nothing more or less. Occasionally I even guarantee freight, which takes that risk out of the equation.



Auditioning speakers sold through a local B&M store is often as simple as borrowing a set of demo units. Comparing them against a set of internet-direct speakers that the customer already paid for and has to ship back on their own dime if they opt for the B&M speakers is hardly a level playing field or unbiased comparison.

I don't agree: In my couple decades experience with B&M, I found "borrowing" from the local dealer typically involves purchasing and transporting, then unboxing and setting up...with the reverse necessary when you return them. It's actually a greater task than guaranteed-via-Internet! :cool:



And the comraderie that you speak of can sometimes be interpreted as just a lot of noise and hype. If anything, on this and other boards, the supporters of internet-direct speakers face a more skeptical audience precisely because those speakers cannot be auditioned in stores in a simple process of elimination prior to purchase. So, often the response is to hype up the speakers to almost obnoxiously hyperbolic levels.

I agree that brands sold direct, despite potentially costing up to half what they would in stores, can still get mired in an almost cultish following -- but ours (since it's been named here) is a stable, long-term product, and certainly we don't engage in the sort of emotional subscription you're referring to. We like to think we're offering solid, ongoing value and solid support.



And from what I've seen, there is a sort of flavor-of-the-month cycle to the internet-direct brands that get touted. Two years ago, it was Swan Diva and nOhr, now it's all about Ascend, Axiom, and Rocket.

Well, Swan remains a value leader and we're not pounding the boards (this post excepted ;) ) It's precisely because our users are opposed to the flavor-of-the-month cycle that they keep coming back, four very succesful years later.

We're glad your own Internet-direct purchases worked out. And we respect your opinions of some of the relatively minor considerations every potential buyer should make when considering this special model.

Jon Lane
The Audio Insider.com

3db
03-23-2004, 08:19 AM
And Paradigm or B&W doesn't have a cult following?? Please!! I've read more reviews on Axiom than I care too and they are alwaysd postive with glowing remarks. The axiom Mt60's just got reviewed by the following. Besides, whats wrong with saving some hard earned money by going thru internet vs paying a middle man some dollars to demonstrate speakers for you? What about PSB? Have you tried them, as I did not see them on your list?

Here are the latest reviews on the Mt60;

http://www.goodsound.com/equipment.shtml
http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_11_1/axiom-m60ti-speakers-3-2004.html

Woochifer
03-23-2004, 06:17 PM
The feedback we get tells us the nearly-nil return rate has to do with the extreme value, nothing more or less. Occasionally I even guarantee freight, which takes that risk out of the equation.

And the operative word there is "occasionally" and the fact that the shipping charges are part of the equation most other times, then it constitutes a higher hurdle for the consumer if they decide to return something, versus the typical return policies at B&M stores. If I decided that I did not like my internet-direct subwoofer or found some reason to return it, it would have entailed $80 in shipping charges. That's irrecoverable out-of-pocket expense that I would absorbed just to get an audition.


I don't agree: In my couple decades experience with B&M, I found "borrowing" from the local dealer typically involves purchasing and transporting, then unboxing and setting up...with the reverse necessary when you return them. It's actually a greater task than guaranteed-via-Internet! :cool:

Well your decades of experience do not correspond to how the dealers in my area operate. All of the dealers where I shopped encouraged me to take the speakers home. I simply lined the trunk of my car and loaded the demo units off their showroom floor. After doing my home comparisons, I simply returned them to the dealers. No boxing, no unpacking, no upfront charges.

To me, the greater task is having to PURCHASE the speakers up front just to get a listen to them. That entails risk, and if the customer's willing to do that for potentially greater reward, then it's their choice. But, it's hardly the win-win situation that you portray.


I agree that brands sold direct, despite potentially costing up to half what they would in stores, can still get mired in an almost cultish following -- but ours (since it's been named here) is a stable, long-term product, and certainly we don't engage in the sort of emotional subscription you're referring to. We like to think we're offering solid, ongoing value and solid support.

The cultish behavior that I was referring to was actually the customers, who can get carried away at times.

But, if you're calling the Swans a "stable, long-term product" -- how long have you been distributing them? If I recall, av123.com originally distributed them, and then I did not see the Swans on the market for about a year. It's nice that your company carries them, and I'm all for more choices in the market, but even four years is not a lengthy history or legacy.

Woochifer
03-23-2004, 06:35 PM
And Paradigm or B&W doesn't have a cult following?? Please!! I've read more reviews on Axiom than I care too and they are alwaysd postive with glowing remarks. The axiom Mt60's just got reviewed by the following. Besides, whats wrong with saving some hard earned money by going thru internet vs paying a middle man some dollars to demonstrate speakers for you? What about PSB? Have you tried them, as I did not see them on your list?

Here are the latest reviews on the Mt60;

http://www.goodsound.com/equipment.shtml
http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_11_1/axiom-m60ti-speakers-3-2004.html

Yeah, but the difference is that with Paradigm or B&W, someone who wants proof that they are as good as advertised or hyped just has to go to a local dealer and listen to them. I might like the Axioms, I might not like the Axioms, the problem is that if I want to try them out, I have to either know somebody who owns them or I have to BUY them just to listen to them. And if I decide that I want to compare the Axioms, Rockets, Ascends, and Swans based on stuff that I read about them, then I'd have to buy all of them, pay shipping charges on all of them, and then pay the return shipping on the three sets that I decide to return.

And going on the basis of reviews is another area where the internet-direct brands have a built-in advantage. Why? Because nearly all of the reviews are written by people who OWN them, and owners are not exactly an unbiased source. With a Paradigm or B&W, anybody who's heard them in a store can post a review, including people who've heard them and don't like them. And it's not like reviews are going to necessarily correlate with everyone's individual tastes, since speakers preferences are so subjective.

Nothing wrong with saving money by going internet-direct, but at the same time if you're looking to try out several different models, those upfront costs can add up in a hurry. In my example, I bought an Adire Rava subwoofer. I knew going into that purchase that I was taking a risk. If I did not like it, $80 goes out the window. It's potentially rewarding, but you cannot deny that there is a higher risk with any mail order direct speaker. When I was looking for main speakers, I auditioned about 35 different models. No way I would have been able to cover that kind of territory if I had decided to go the internet-direct route.

kexodusc
03-23-2004, 06:41 PM
Gotta agree with Wooch,here. I foolishly bought some M3Ti's from Axiom (see my review from December on this site). I was only looking for a set of speakers for my dining room upstairs, but I broke the cardinal rule of audio equipment: DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE!!! Listen to them for yourself. They aren't bad, but I could have done better buying from a local retailer.

Certainly, one should expect that a confident and reliable distributor/retailer would have both the confidence and the integrity to provide a money back guarantee, without the direct deterrent that shipping costs are.
If one's budget for speakers was $500, and the on-line retail speakers didn't live up to expectations, after 60-80 dollars extra spent for return shipping, the poor person's new budget is now only $420. It's more than reasonable to think that the extra expense and reduced budget would make anyone think twice about returning speakers.

Finally, the idea of online retailers selling at huge discounts is often over embellished. Prices are set by any business to maximize revenues, and generally are a function of market demand. Eliminating the middle man, in this case local retailers, and any secondary "mark-ups" that may be applied to a product does not impact this equation at all. Rather it eliminates the need for profit sharing between the manufacturer and the distributors/retailers. Hardly an "added value" for consumers.
Though I have no doubt that some internet-direct products are full value for the money, buying internet-direct is considerably riskier.

psonic
03-24-2004, 05:55 AM
generally speaking, when you look through the online reviews of online speakers such as axiom nohr swan rocket, etc. you find great, glowing reviews, you also find that the speakers are run by a receiver 9/10 times and in a home theater setup. So everything is relative in this game, those who listen to music through a receiver may not care about listening to the best, musical speakers out there in hifi shops, they probably just want a good value. I can bet you there's very very few who are running a good $400+ cd player and $800+ separates or integrated amp with internet speakers. Why? You can't compare them next to the best...all you have to go on is online talk, mostly by entry level home theater guys who run a receiver for music, and did not audition the top speakers as a measuring stick. I could see going to another owners for an in home audition, but at these prices you can get some great standmounts and very good used or demo towers. No offense to the home theater guys, but they have different demands than a musical speaker. For example, the $995 Monitor Audio Silver 6b was just as boomy down low as a Paradigm monitor 7. It would probably be fantastic in home theater, but with my reference CDs they were untolerable after a few minutes of hearing box resonances and loose booming bass - nothing close to musical.

Nich, I also like the sound of the Totems, as I just finished extensive auditioning. If you like them you should audition Dynaudio Audience 62 and possibly Vienna acoustics bach, they are very similar to the Totems in quality of sound at around $1k new, but much less on audiogon. For less money, Kef Q5 and Energy C5 were very good as well. The C5 can be had online for less than the Axiom m60! And you can go audition it! I just bought a pair of Dynaudio 60 floorstanders for $600! There are deals out there on the "known" top speakers that have a quality of sound rivaling those Totems!

Take your time with this...

46minaudio
03-24-2004, 07:35 AM
I reckon Ill throw my 2 cents..Some may remember the Norh days 2 years ago..They were hyped to be the best speaker ever..ANything negitive said about them was countered with the word troll..The words they blow B&M speaker A away,B&M speaker a is not in the same league,and all grades of other crap..I always ?ed these coments and was acused as being a troll...So I bought a pair of 4.0s and compared them to my lowly B&M studio 20v2s.I prefered the 20s.There was none of this blown away..If one visits the internet direct formuns most of these coments that compare Internet direct speaker A to B&M speaker A are not even in the same room.Even worst I have read where they were compared months apart...When reading these reviews one really needs to ask the reviewer if they were compared in the same room at the same time driven by the same amp.Anything else should be taken with a grain of salt..FWIW I still have the 4.0s and dont plan on getting rid of them.They are a fine speaker ,sound great for the price ,and fit the decor of a room perfect.The words blownaway were all hype IMO though..The looks of some of these internet direct products look fantastic second to none for the price paid...

thepogue
03-24-2004, 12:54 PM
And Paradigm or B&W doesn't have a cult following?? Please!! I've read more reviews on Axiom than I care too and they are alwaysd postive with glowing remarks. The axiom Mt60's just got reviewed by the following. Besides, whats wrong with saving some hard earned money by going thru internet vs paying a middle man some dollars to demonstrate speakers for you? What about PSB? Have you tried them, as I did not see them on your list?

Here are the latest reviews on the Mt60;

http://www.goodsound.com/equipment.shtml
http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_11_1/axiom-m60ti-speakers-3-2004.html
the ANTI-Paradigm cult... i've seen threads here for the last 2 years blaming Paradigm for eveything from the death of Queen Elizabeth to the end of the western world....most of the time the bashing has nothing at all to do with the company or the speaker and everything to do with twisting facts to fit a personal agenda....but after a few years it becomes old hat and most take it for whats its worth.... my two cents on buying internet items is this....dont be a buffoon....know what your doing and the risks involved....find someone local who owns a set (Thanks Tin for the "Rocket" show!!!) and then proceed with caution!!! one more point....listen to as many speakers as you can and have a good feel for "what-type" of sound your looking for....the maor listening you do the better off you'll be. BTW I love my nOrh's!! good luck!!

TinHere
03-24-2004, 02:55 PM
Hey Pogue, if it wasn't for you I wouldn't have known I had a problem with the tipped up treble because of the pre-production crossover. You're due for another listen post changes. C'mon over. :) As an example of their customer service they sent me new speakers based on Pogue's comments. Pogue was right on, and the replacements do sound better.

A more common comment about the Rocket's is/was that they could use more treble energy. As a result, the Classic's which I have, have been replaced with the Signatures which add about 1.5-2 db of treble to the mix which most people think sound better.. I haven't heard the Sig's yet, but am happy enough with mine that I didn't send them back for the changes.

I can say I like the Rocket's more than the Swan's I had. It should be noted that I had Diva 5.1's [I did hear 6.1's briefly], and now have the Rocket 750's. A fairer comparison to the 5.1's price wise would be to the Rocket 550's which I haven't heard. I haven't heard the Axiom's but from what I've read, they have more foward presentation, and more treble energy. [note..neither is a bad thing if you like it.]

After all is said and done I recommend the Rocket's to anyone looking for a good bang for the buck speaker backed by exceptional customer service. I do this from personal experience. Since I'm not an audiophile, but more of a value conscious consumer, I feel that unless one has very defined personal tastes in sonic signatures, they can get a system that usually exceeds expectations and has satisfied many with discriminating tastes who did many comparisions before opting for Rocket's. I figure it's good advice to recommend a product that has been so well received by a company who is led by a man that is at the cutting edge in the industry [ie Audio Alchemy, Genesis, Perpetual Technologies etc] and still makes a point to listen to his customers and respond by coming out with new products that answer needs and also are excellent value. And that's why my recommendations may sound like a one note song. If these systems work for people that "really" care, surely they will satisfy most who simply want to set up nice system without dedicating a lot of time to the process. The point is many experienced listeners who did put the time in selected Rockets. And yes, speakers are subjective so no speaker will satisfy everyone. Might they work for you? Good chance if you want price/perfrormance and find them to your liking as many do. Internet direct does deliver.

Jon Lane
03-24-2004, 03:51 PM
And the operative word there {regarding freight charges] is "occasionally" and the fact that the shipping charges are part of the equation most other times, then it constitutes a higher hurdle for the consumer if they decide to return something, versus the typical return policies at B&M stores.

The alternative is for the Internet brand to offer free freight both ways -- an open invitation to be a speaker lending library -- and an indicator of excess margins, wouldn't you agree? Of course I offer the occasional freight guarantee, after the prospective buyer and I have taken the time to get to know one another and go over his expectations in detail. And yes, we take back nil. Even with free return freight. With our slim margins and high value, it's the only sensible route.



Well your decades of experience do not correspond to how the dealers in my area operate. All of the dealers where I shopped encouraged me to take the speakers home. I simply lined the trunk of my car and loaded the demo units off their showroom floor. After doing my home comparisons, I simply returned them to the dealers. No boxing, no unpacking, no upfront charges.

I won't challenge your experience but I'll ask how sensible it is for a B&M dealer, already stretched to the limit by expenses, to line your trunk with his property, unprotected (and probably uninsured while in your possession) in the hope you'll not leave town. ;) I've owned B&M for years and I went the extra mile then as I do now, but I would never risk my property like that...so how frequent is that policy?



To me, the greater task is having to PURCHASE the speakers up front just to get a listen to them. That entails risk, and if the customer's willing to do that for potentially greater reward, then it's their choice. But, it's hardly the win-win situation that you portray.

Not a win-win in the sense of an absolutely hassle-free demo. There is no such thing, B&M or otherwise. But our track record absolutely speaks for itself.



The cultish behavior that I was referring to was actually the customers, who can get carried away at times.

Absolutely.



But, if you're calling the Swans a "stable, long-term product" -- how long have you been distributing them? If I recall, av123.com originally distributed them, and then I did not see the Swans on the market for about a year. It's nice that your company carries them, and I'm all for more choices in the market, but even four years is not a lengthy history or legacy.

Actually Swan is a proven brand in a volatile marketplace, and one of the direct-channel pioneers. My relationship with our manufacturer (some $100M large) goes back to 1996 and I was part of the design team in 1999. Your concerns are valid but in this case, let us calm your fears. :)

Jon Lane
The Audio Insider.com

46minaudio
03-24-2004, 04:17 PM
Hey Pogue, if it wasn't for you I wouldn't have known I had a problem with the tipped up treble because of the pre-production crossover. You're due for another listen post changes. C'mon over. :) As an example of their customer service they sent me new speakers based on Pogue's comments. Pogue was right on, and the replacements do sound better.

A more common comment about the Rocket's is/was that they could use more treble energy. As a result, the Classic's which I have, have been replaced with the Signatures which add about 1.5-2 db of treble to the mix which most people think sound better.. I haven't heard the Sig's yet, but am happy enough with mine that I didn't send them back for the changes.

I can say I like the Rocket's more than the Swan's I had. It should be noted that I had Diva 5.1's [I did hear 6.1's briefly], and now have the Rocket 750's. A fairer comparison to the 5.1's price wise would be to the Rocket 550's which I haven't heard. I haven't heard the Axiom's but from what I've read, they have more foward presentation, and more treble energy. [note..neither is a bad thing if you like it.]

After all is said and done I recommend the Rocket's to anyone looking for a good bang for the buck speaker backed by exceptional customer service. I do this from personal experience. Since I'm not an audiophile, but more of a value conscious consumer, I feel that unless one has very defined personal tastes in sonic signatures, they can get a system that usually exceeds expectations and has satisfied many with discriminating tastes who did many comparisions before opting for Rocket's. I figure it's good advice to recommend a product that has been so well received by a company who is led by a man that is at the cutting edge in the industry [ie Audio Alchemy, Genesis, Perpetual Technologies etc] and still makes a point to listen to his customers and respond by coming out with new products that answer needs and also are excellent value. And that's why my recommendations may sound like a one note song. If these systems work for people that "really" care, surely they will satisfy most who simply want to set up nice system without dedicating a lot of time to the process. The point is many experienced listeners who did put the time in selected Rockets. And yes, speakers are subjective so no speaker will satisfy everyone. Might they work for you? Good chance if you want price/perfrormance and find them to your liking as many do. Internet direct does deliver.

Tin my coments in no way refer to you..You have never pushed your speakers Swan/Rocket on anyone as the best ever..That also goes for Bryan...Im enjoy for feedback on the forums on cable to speaker posts..
Jon...The problem with shipping with internet direct speakers is if one wants to try 3 pairs (and they ought to) shipping back 2 pairs can get into the pocketbook..Also My local B&M also lets me bring speakers home to try out...

TinHere
03-24-2004, 04:22 PM
Another thing to consider is if internet direct companies didn't deliver on their promises of value/performance, they would be glutted with b stock as the result of returns, and couldn't survive due to lost profit margins. It's a pretty cut and dry thing. Deliver or go out of business. Those that make it have done so by the words of satisfied customers that would be buyers can give any import they wish.

BTW it's great to see a member of the internet direct community posting here. Thanks for your input Jon, it helps class up the joint. :cool:

Jon Lane
03-24-2004, 05:25 PM
You're more than welcome, TinHear.

I see you're out on the Island. That reminds me of all the many dealerships I've visited in the greater NYC area between 1995 and 1999 -- some of the very best there are and I have fond memories.

But the irony of the Internet-direct business model is that the major online speaker brands...are all still here! On the other hand, I can't begin to count the numbers of my friends who've closed their B&M doors (I did myself in 1992, well before the carnage...)

Frankly, while so many out there are struggling, we're growing. I think there must be something to this... ;)

TinHere
03-24-2004, 05:44 PM
Tin my coments in no way refer to you..You have never pushed your speakers Swan/Rocket on anyone as the best ever...

It's all good. I guess I just haven't been making myself clear then. :eek: :D

TinHere
03-24-2004, 06:08 PM
You're more than welcome, TinHear.

I see you're out on the Island. That reminds me of all the many dealerships I've visited in the greater NYC area between 1995 and 1999 -- some of the very best there are and I have fond memories.

But the irony of the Internet-direct business model is that the major online speaker brands...are all still here! On the other hand, I can't begin to count the numbers of my friends who've closed their B&M doors (I did myself in 1992, well before the carnage...)

Frankly, while so many out there are struggling, we're growing. I think there must be something to this... ;)

It's good not to be part of the carnage. Glad to hear you made it out in time.

It's all time and numbers as more people "experience" the delta and enjoy the possibilities offered by the companies that do it right. The flow certainly seems to be headed toward the internet direct companies. It seems on the forums there are basically two groups of people, b&m users, and used to be b&m users. The used to be b&m users have made their desicion to change based on experience, and b&m users are obviously happy enough with their experience not to try another way. The growing number of satisfied end users of the "internet model" bodes well for their future.

Woochifer
03-24-2004, 06:12 PM
The alternative is for the Internet brand to offer free freight both ways -- an open invitation to be a speaker lending library -- and an indicator of excess margins, wouldn't you agree? Of course I offer the occasional freight guarantee, after the prospective buyer and I have taken the time to get to know one another and go over his expectations in detail. And yes, we take back nil. Even with free return freight. With our slim margins and high value, it's the only sensible route.

What you're illustrating is a dilemma as to who assumes the risk. Obviously, as a businessman, you would like to limit your own exposure, but by doing so, the risk with the two-way shipping charges gets transferred to the customer. In this scenario, it's up to the customer as to whether the reward is worth the upfront expense, as it is yours in determining which customers to offer the free return freight. But, given that you mention virtually zero returns, then why not extend the two-way shipping offer to all customers given that it would represent practically zero risk for your company?


I won't challenge your experience but I'll ask how sensible it is for a B&M dealer, already stretched to the limit by expenses, to line your trunk with his property, unprotected (and probably uninsured while in your possession) in the hope you'll not leave town. ;) I've owned B&M for years and I went the extra mile then as I do now, but I would never risk my property like that...so how frequent is that policy?

It's pretty easy for a B&M retailer to minimize their own risk by simply drafting a credit card preauthorization, and when the customer brings the demo unit back, the store hands back that preauthorization slip. Again, no upfront investment (with internet direct purchases, a simple demo means that the credit card is charged, sometimes before the unit even ships, and for revolving credit customers, the interest charges accrue in the meantime). EVERY specialty audio retailer in my area encourages customers to borrow their demo units, but none of them just lend equipment out without some form of collateral. The scenario that you're referring to is one that I haven't seen.


Actually Swan is a proven brand in a volatile marketplace, and one of the direct-channel pioneers. My relationship with our manufacturer (some $100M large) goes back to 1996 and I was part of the design team in 1999. Your concerns are valid but in this case, let us calm your fears. :)

Jon Lane
The Audio Insider.com

Now I'm getting confused. I thought that av123.com was the Swan distributor until, for whatever reason, they quit selling the Swans. Then I didn't see anything on boards or banner ads about the Swans for almost a year, until people started mentioning that Audio Insider was the place to go for people interested in the speakers. If Audio Insider has been distributing the Swans since 1999 (again, I don't know if you have or not, so this is not an accusation), then I'd say great to have that kind of continuity. But, if it turned out that av123 quit selling the Swans and Audio Insider picked up the brand later on, then there indeed was a transitional period where customers were in limbo. It's good that you're promoting the brand and its stability, but if that scenario's true, then it will take time to prove Swan's long-term viability to potential customers. Even a long established brand like Mission disappeared from the U.S. market when their distribution relationship with Denon ended. Even though Mission's slowly trickling back into U.S. stores, a lot of their customers were left in the dark during the transition.

TinHere
03-24-2004, 06:48 PM
Now I'm getting confused. I thought that av123.com was the Swan distributor until, for whatever reason, they quit selling the Swans. Then I didn't see anything on boards or banner ads about the Swans for almost a year, until people started mentioning that Audio Insider was the place to go for people interested in the speakers. If Audio Insider has been distributing the Swans since 1999 (again, I don't know if you have or not, so this is not an accusation), then I'd say great to have that kind of continuity. But, if it turned out that av123 quit selling the Swans and Audio Insider picked up the brand later on, then there indeed was a transitional period where customers were in limbo. .

I'm sure Jon can talk to exactly when the change happened, but I sure didn't read of any complaints about AV123 not backing up any products they sold or people left in limbo.

Nich
03-24-2004, 09:03 PM
Well my search is finally over. I finally ordered the Axiom M60ti and I won't be returning these. Next to the B&W Nautilus 803 this was the best speakers that I auditioned. Lows; Mids and Highs are very clear. Not as bright as what people said. I had a chance to auditioned the Rockets RS750's few days before I ordered the M60ti and I thought it was too laid back for my taste. I gotta admit that the Rockets had an awesome fit and finish but you wont see these at my house. Too bad Rockets only offer two finishes. At the end of the day the M60ti is the clear winner over the RS750's. I've had these M60ti for a week now and I can't stop listening to it.

It was great experience with Axiom; Great customer service and Awesome products. I will be getting more speakers from them to complete my HT.

TinHere
03-24-2004, 09:48 PM
Well my search is finally over. I finally ordered the Axiom M60ti and I won't be returning these. Next to the B&W Nautilus 803 this was the best speakers that I auditioned. Lows; Mids and Highs are very clear. Not as bright as what people said. I had a chance to auditioned the Rockets RS750's few days before I ordered the M60ti and I thought it was too laid back for my taste. I gotta admit that the Rockets had an awesome fit and finish but you wont see these at my house. Too bad Rockets only offer two finishes. At the end of the day the M60ti is the clear winner over the RS750's. I've had these M60ti for a week now and I can't stop listening to it.

It was great experience with Axiom; Great customer service and Awesome products. I will be getting more speakers from them to complete my HT.

It's always a good thing when personal preference and products get connected. I guess we can chaulk up another among the ranks of happy internet direct consumers. Enjoy your Axioms.

Jon Lane
03-25-2004, 12:38 AM
What you're illustrating is a dilemma as to who assumes the risk. Obviously, as a businessman, you would like to limit your own exposure, but by doing so, the risk with the two-way shipping charges gets transferred to the customer. In this scenario, it's up to the customer as to whether the reward is worth the upfront expense, as it is yours in determining which customers to offer the free return freight. But, given that you mention virtually zero returns, then why not extend the two-way shipping offer to all customers given that it would represent practically zero risk for your company?

Like I said, offering to cover free freight, cross-country, on hundreds of pounds of premium, low-margin products is an open invitation for abuse. We ask our customers to share in our business model, and those that do realize huge savings. Were we to change to offer free freight across the board, obviously costs would rise, with you the paying customer ponying up the costs to cover all those who "buy" something, use it (or abuse it) for 29 days, and then start the cycle all over again. Plus a free-freight scenerio is no different than a B&M that offers free unlimited demos (which in this day and age of profitable custom installation dealers who work for a living and failing boutiques who can't get by selling $1000 cables with 70% margins is uncommon.) Both methods simply invite abuse, and both methods therefore cost huge amounts. Believe me, if it made sense for our customers we'd do it. It doesn't, anymore than 50% B&M margins do, IMHO.

Let's try asking how many other industries offer free unlimited product use at the dealer's risk -- Internet or not; it doesn't matter -- without passing along those costs? Do we want to return to the days of $1000/pr satellites (1990 dollars) or do we prefer $1000/pr complete floorstanding models (2004 dollars)? More importantly, how much overhead in the B&M model is already passed along to you, the (possibly) buying customer? With our business model that overhead is a tiny fraction...and we pass along the savings.



It's pretty easy for a B&M retailer to minimize their own risk by simply drafting a credit card preauthorization, and when the customer brings the demo unit back, the store hands back that preauthorization slip. Again, no upfront investment (with internet direct purchases, a simple demo means that the credit card is charged, sometimes before the unit even ships, and for revolving credit customers, the interest charges accrue in the meantime). EVERY specialty audio retailer in my area encourages customers to borrow their demo units, but none of them just lend equipment out without some form of collateral. The scenario that you're referring to is one that I haven't seen.

Remember that they still have to pass along the wear on all those demos as an ongoing expense, whereas we offer them for sale as immediate B stock (at a rate of well under 1 in 100 sales, making the total expense contribution just about moot.) They also pass along the costs of product with an average of 50% margin, while our system has none because we sell direct.



Now I'm getting confused. I thought that av123.com was the Swan distributor until, for whatever reason, they quit selling the Swans. Then I didn't see anything on boards or banner ads about the Swans for almost a year, until people started mentioning that Audio Insider was the place to go for people interested in the speakers. If Audio Insider has been distributing the Swans since 1999 (again, I don't know if you have or not, so this is not an accusation), then I'd say great to have that kind of continuity. But, if it turned out that av123 quit selling the Swans and Audio Insider picked up the brand later on, then there indeed was a transitional period where customers were in limbo. It's good that you're promoting the brand and its stability, but if that scenario's true, then it will take time to prove Swan's long-term viability to potential customers. Even a long established brand like Mission disappeared from the U.S. market when their distribution relationship with Denon ended. Even though Mission's slowly trickling back into U.S. stores, a lot of their customers were left in the dark during the transition.

Swan has maintained a presence in the US continuously since the mid-nineties. And they too are able to switch distributorships, which they did. Put another way, not one customer has ever been left aside by Swan International, and all models are either in ongoing production, or if not, still have the complete backing of Swan to this day. It's a record we're proud of.

Jon Lane
03-25-2004, 12:45 AM
I'm sure Jon can talk to exactly when the change happened, but I sure didn't read of any complaints about AV123 not backing up any products they sold or people left in limbo.

Precisely. No Swan customers have ever been left aside, either under my watch or, to my knowledge, under AV123's. I think that's a record the rest of the industry can respect. There are literally scores of speaker brands on the market, and the costs of traditional marketing and distribution is intense. They don't all make it...

Bryan
03-25-2004, 08:05 AM
Just to clarify an earlier post: While nOrh isn't the best nor greatest out there (truth be told there is no such thing) a lot of the bashing of the company was because of where the speakers were made (Thailand) and their looks. Not because of their sound.

All internet only/factory direct companies take a risk. One unrectified complaint can mean tens of thousands of dollars of lost revenue. To most of their credit they will bend over backwards to make things right. (SVS is a prime example of this, often openly troubleshooting a problem with a customer.) They can't afford bad press. That is part of their upside. Part of their downside is you can't stop by at any old Best Buy, Circuit City, Wal-Mart, etc. and listen to them.

soonerczech
03-25-2004, 10:26 AM
Since we are talking about internet direct speaker purchasing, why hasn't anybody brought up Hsu and SVS subs? While some may want to call it cultish and insane for not auditioning a set of speakers before you buy them, you have to realize that not everybody has great B&M stores that actually treat you like a customer instead of just schmo of the street. If some people weren't so cultish about these speakers, would we have even heard of SVS or HSU? On another note, I feel like people who use speakers for home theater are being somewhat denegrated in this thread. Oh, we only use a receiver to listen the speakers. No offense, but as everyone has said "its all in how you perceive the sound coming from your speakers" . Your $3000 solid state tube amp may sound like utter crap to me. Its all about personal preference. Sometimes I prefer the sound of a good vinyl record to a digital CD. In closing, sometimes you have to take a risk to get the reward.

TinHere
03-25-2004, 10:57 AM
[QUOTE=soonerczech In closing, sometimes you have to take a risk to get the reward.[/QUOTE]

Exactly why the internet direct companies are gaining market share and some b&m stores are struggling or have gone out of business. Subwoofers are the safest on line speaker purchases, because all they have to do is perform and there isn't as much subjectivity involved. Of course some bass nuts will say otherwise, but IMHO it holds true for the "average" consumer who can get great bass at a good price in comparison to the b&m offerings.

RGA
03-25-2004, 11:33 AM
I would not say that necessarily everyone would agree on the advantages of internet sellers.

This review by an owner and the follow-up opinions at bottom seem to suggest that while they are generally initially impressive people find them less than exciting long term. Most reviewers spend very very little time with a product...it's all nice to have the pyrotechnic sound of WOW check that out - it's another thing to be able to relax with the system. IMO if a speaker exhibits that "WOW gee whiz" sound at first it will probably be the exact speaker that i won't want.

http://www.audioasylum.com/audio/speakers/messages/156829.html

Woochifer
03-25-2004, 12:04 PM
Like I said, offering to cover free freight, cross-country, on hundreds of pounds of premium, low-margin products is an open invitation for abuse. We ask our customers to share in our business model, and those that do realize huge savings. Were we to change to offer free freight across the board, obviously costs would rise, with you the paying customer ponying up the costs to cover all those who "buy" something, use it (or abuse it) for 29 days, and then start the cycle all over again.

I think you're missing my point. By not extending the two-way shipping costs to all customers, you're basically building the business model around shifting more of the upfront costs and risks to the customer. It's that simple. It allows you to lower the cost of the product, but it is a higher risk to the customer for that potential reward. This type of risk to the customer is not there with a lot of B&M stores, because the customer does not assume any upfront costs, aside from a credit preauthorization to cover the dealer against any damages or losses.

By saying that offering two-way shipping to customers is an "open invitation to abuse" basically undermines what you've asserted about the almost zero return rate on your products. If returns are not an issue, then making a two-way shipping offer would also not be an issue. It's a cost to you ONLY if the customers choose to exercise the privilege, and a near zero return rate should equate to a near zero return shipping cost. But, by saying that two-way shipping would raise business costs and create all sorts of problems, then you're basically acknowledging that the return shipping costs for customers in fact could very well represent a cost barrier that impedes customers from returning speakers that they purchased and are not completely satisfied with. This is very different than borrowing a pair of speakers from a store for evaluation purposes with no expenses directly incurred by the customer.


Plus a free-freight scenerio is no different than a B&M that offers free unlimited demos (which in this day and age of profitable custom installation dealers who work for a living and failing boutiques who can't get by selling $1000 cables with 70% margins is uncommon.) Both methods simply invite abuse, and both methods therefore cost huge amounts. Believe me, if it made sense for our customers we'd do it. It doesn't, anymore than 50% B&M margins do, IMHO.

Let's try asking how many other industries offer free unlimited product use at the dealer's risk -- Internet or not; it doesn't matter -- without passing along those costs? Do we want to return to the days of $1000/pr satellites (1990 dollars) or do we prefer $1000/pr complete floorstanding models (2004 dollars)? More importantly, how much overhead in the B&M model is already passed along to you, the (possibly) buying customer? With our business model that overhead is a tiny fraction...and we pass along the savings.

There's no such thing as a "free unlimited demo", and no store that I've visited has free unlimited demos. Whenever I borrow a demo unit from a local dealer, I have to agree to return it by a certain date. If not, then my credit preauthorization gets processed, and I've effectively bought what I borrowed. IMO, that's a fair exchange where risk is assumed by both parties, so how's this an invitation to abuse? And I still have the option of just listening to and trying out a unit at the dealer's demo room. It's nice that you're not passing along a lot of your overhead to your customers, but if they want to compare your products to others, particularly other internet-direct brands, then it's the customers that are assuming their own upfront and irrecoverable direct costs for that privilege. It would be like having to buy a car directly from the factory just for the privilege of test driving.


Remember that they still have to pass along the wear on all those demos as an ongoing expense, whereas we offer them for sale as immediate B stock (at a rate of well under 1 in 100 sales, making the total expense contribution just about moot.) They also pass along the costs of product with an average of 50% margin, while our system has none because we sell direct.

How's the wear a cost, when all they do is later discount the demos and sell them open box? And given that the demo units are rarely priced at 50% off (which is the margin that you're claiming), the store still maintains some margin on the item.

Your system has NO margins? How do you sustain a business without maintaining any margin on what you sell?

TinHere
03-25-2004, 12:23 PM
I would not say that necessarily everyone would agree on the advantages of internet sellers.

This review by an owner and the follow-up opinions at bottom seem to suggest that while they are generally initially impressive people find them less than exciting long term. Most reviewers spend very very little time with a product...it's all nice to have the pyrotechnic sound of WOW check that out - it's another thing to be able to relax with the system. IMO if a speaker exhibits that "WOW gee whiz" sound at first it will probably be the exact speaker that i won't want.

http://www.audioasylum.com/audio/speakers/messages/156829.html

We agree.

Shouldn't this response be somewhere else? I have said words to the effect elswhere that "sizzle" can be misleading and people shouldn't base desicions on a brief audition. That is why I am a proponent of in home auditions with your gear afforded by the internet direct companies. Matching preferences to sonic signatures based on what owners have to say often results in a purchase that is very satisfying. There are lots of examples posted that say that people enjoy their internet direct speakers more as time passes. From what I have read as age sets in more people tend to prefer a more "laid back" speaker that would certainly lose a contest for "sizzle." I'm still saying WOW after all this time with my speakers. YMMV

How are you enjoying the HT? I still say you should investigate the Perpetual Technologies gear for your two channel. Maybe even give the Reference 1's a try for the cost of shipping. WOW if YOU liked them. :)

Woochifer
03-25-2004, 12:39 PM
Since we are talking about internet direct speaker purchasing, why hasn't anybody brought up Hsu and SVS subs? While some may want to call it cultish and insane for not auditioning a set of speakers before you buy them, you have to realize that not everybody has great B&M stores that actually treat you like a customer instead of just schmo of the street. If some people weren't so cultish about these speakers, would we have even heard of SVS or HSU? On another note, I feel like people who use speakers for home theater are being somewhat denegrated in this thread. Oh, we only use a receiver to listen the speakers. No offense, but as everyone has said "its all in how you perceive the sound coming from your speakers" . Your $3000 solid state tube amp may sound like utter crap to me. Its all about personal preference. Sometimes I prefer the sound of a good vinyl record to a digital CD. In closing, sometimes you have to take a risk to get the reward.

I'll agree with you. I'm not denigrating internet direct speakers with my posts, after all I bought my subwoofer online. But, I think that what a lot of the cultish postings fail to acknowledge is that buying online IS a riskier proposition than going through a B&M store. The potential reward is a great product for a low price, and the risk is having to buy a product and assume some irrecoverable costs (i.e. shipping and credit card interest) just to try the product out.

My own personal decision to go with an internet direct subwoofer stemmed from the lack of retail options that met my criteria. I could only afford about $500, and I wanted a sealed box subwoofer that could go well below 35 Hz. At that time, the lowest priced retail option I could find cost $800, so I e-mailed Adire Audio and their response was very satisfactory. I ordered the Rava without having heard it before, and based on recommendations from people on this board whose advice had helped me out in the past. I knew up front that if I did not like the subwoofer and decided to return it, I was out $80. And if not for my decision to simultaneously buy a parametric equalizer and spend a lot of time calibrating the subwoofer to my room acoustics, the boomy sound of that subwoofer out of the box would have forced me to return the unit. As it stands, I'm happy with my purchase.

But, at the same time, I'm not about to say that the Adire Rava "blows away" all other retail options, or that it's by far the better deal than anything sold in stores, because frankly, I don't have enough information to make such a claim. And I would strongly question anybody else who makes such a claim with subwoofer comparisons. In order to properly compare the Rava with the SVS, Hsu, and retail units, I would have to buy the SVS and Hsu units, and borrow the retail units. PLUS, I would have to individually calibrate each unit to the room acoustics. Either way, just to listen to the comparable SVS and Hsu units would cost me probably around $150 in shipping charges.

Jon Lane
03-25-2004, 01:41 PM
None of us wish to debate a fairly simple concept so I'll try (and fail) to keep my comments brief. And huge thanks to all of you for the forum - we enjoy your company and hope you won't mind the diversion from the regularly scheduled programming. :)

Woochifer, we don't shift the costs of high margins and disposing of used product because we donít include such margins (no dealers means no dealer margins) and because we donít deal in demo units, returns, and used product. As Iíve said, our returns rate is nearly nil.

Contesting why itís nil by conjuring unsatisfied customers unwilling to incur the cost of shipping goods back to us is incorrect. We simply don't get asked to return product. Folks are enthusiastic and further, they fulfill the key component of a successful business: They feel theyíve gotten more than we promised. Pulling a Swan (or many other direct-channel brandsí speakers) from the box and firing it up is simply not a letdown; many more times than not it simply knocks people out, and our record backs that claim up absolutely.

SoÖno dealers margin, no expensive rotating demo programs, no customer returns of any consequence, and no buyerís remorse (that anyone cares to share with us, anyway ;) ). Could we conclude that the business model wasnít hugely successful?

As far as open-door free freight policies, obviously shipping 70lb speakers from the West Coast to say, NYC, and back again costs money. But factoring out the now-non-existent dealer margin and the return freight and high overhead and local sales tax nets very hefty savings. And nobody complains our stuff is awful and pleads to return it on our nickel. Ever. Rather, its the reverse, as Iíve said. I just fail to see the liability to the customerÖ

Even in this senario free two-way shipping is absolutely a problem waiting to happen because invariably a certain percentage of abusers would use us as a lending library and raise YOUR cost. Itís that simple. Meanwhile Ė and this is the point I seem to have trouble making Ė legitimate buyers simply donít return product. They love it and keep it. Would it be fair to raise prices to them say, 15% to cover the known problem of abusers? We donít think thatís a wise risk or a proper financial burden to put on our customers.

I donít claim B&M dealer demo programs are a means for abuse, I mean they inevitably cost something. As with that new car, when somebody drives it off the lot it incurs a loss and the dealer has to include that loss in his adjusted operating expenses: He raises prices elsewhere. We donít have that problem and we can keep prices even lower as a result.

Wear is a huge cost for B&Mís because, to use your new car, once itís out-of-box and used, itís got to be discounted by some 15% or more to sell. 15% off say, 20% of the dealerís normal inventory is a margin erosion that's added back into the bottom line and gets passed on. No way around itÖunless you donít sell demos. :cool:

Sure, we would love to offer comparative demos with scores of other brands. But wouldnít we then have to set up a B&M and raise prices?

Of course our system has margins. But itís our costs that can be half the alternative. And obviously we pass those savings on to you, the customer.

Lastly -- and I think this is your key concern -- we can't endulge a need to audition a dozen speakers in order to fulfill a special need. While we know that speaker science has advanced a long way since even 5 years ago, and that we can document our performance, point to reviews and to tens of thousands of posts online, we still can't have you listen easily and as conveniently as your local store, price aside for the moment. We like to think that the science has advanced so far that the wild variances in speaker sound of a decade or more ago have been engineered out and are largely minimized. Clearly speakers still have larger arguable differences in performance than amplifiers or transports, but the risk has been reduced to the point that the experiences I relate above are commonplace. And of course, even when you make a $1299/pr 70-pounder as well as we think we do, you're still not competing for the component-of-the-month slot in the $20,000 class. It's a value equation, not an all-out horse race with only one winner. Up there you'll have us at something of a disadvantage. :eek:

We appreciate the opportunity to fully explain our methods and reasoning. And we always look forward to instructive criticism and new opportunities to add value to our process.

Jon Lane
The Audio Insider.com

TinHere
03-25-2004, 03:51 PM
Wooch,

Someone has to pay for shipping. It could be built into the price charged as a fixed expense [free shipping], or the buyer can pay. If "free shipping" was offered, people would be setting up a system for their party, returning them, and the rest of us would be paying. In a world where nobody would take advantage of "free shipping" and everyone who placed an order was a serious buyer [maybe the case now] based on reported return rates it could work. The problem is it would be an invitation to people with no intention of keeping them to have them sent to their home. Probably an addicted group of persons who just "need a new listen" fix and dang, these guys deliver. It wouldn't require evil intent to want to give these products a listen at in your home at no cost. Hmmmm....sounds like a cheap hobby... and that's why it sounds like it wouldn't work for the audio industry. Gotta pay to play a home game.

Woochifer
03-26-2004, 04:42 PM
None of us wish to debate a fairly simple concept so I'll try (and fail) to keep my comments brief. And huge thanks to all of you for the forum - we enjoy your company and hope you won't mind the diversion from the regularly scheduled programming. :)

Woochifer, we don't shift the costs of high margins and disposing of used product because we donít include such margins (no dealers means no dealer margins) and because we donít deal in demo units, returns, and used product. As Iíve said, our returns rate is nearly nil.

Contesting why itís nil by conjuring unsatisfied customers unwilling to incur the cost of shipping goods back to us is incorrect. We simply don't get asked to return product. Folks are enthusiastic and further, they fulfill the key component of a successful business: They feel theyíve gotten more than we promised. Pulling a Swan (or many other direct-channel brandsí speakers) from the box and firing it up is simply not a letdown; many more times than not it simply knocks people out, and our record backs that claim up absolutely.

Like I said, if the dissatisfaction with the product is so minimal, then how would a two-way shipping offer then add to the costs, if you hardly ever encounter dissatisfied customers and your products are as great for everyone as claimed? The absence of such IS a barrier to return a product that does not exist for B&M store customers.


As far as open-door free freight policies, obviously shipping 70lb speakers from the West Coast to say, NYC, and back again costs money. But factoring out the now-non-existent dealer margin and the return freight and high overhead and local sales tax nets very hefty savings. And nobody complains our stuff is awful and pleads to return it on our nickel. Ever. Rather, its the reverse, as Iíve said. I just fail to see the liability to the customerÖ

Even in this senario free two-way shipping is absolutely a problem waiting to happen because invariably a certain percentage of abusers would use us as a lending library and raise YOUR cost. Itís that simple. Meanwhile Ė and this is the point I seem to have trouble making Ė legitimate buyers simply donít return product. They love it and keep it. Would it be fair to raise prices to them say, 15% to cover the known problem of abusers? We donít think thatís a wise risk or a proper financial burden to put on our customers.

I donít claim B&M dealer demo programs are a means for abuse, I mean they inevitably cost something. As with that new car, when somebody drives it off the lot it incurs a loss and the dealer has to include that loss in his adjusted operating expenses: He raises prices elsewhere. We donít have that problem and we can keep prices even lower as a result.

The scenario that you outline is wonderful for you because you've protected yourself against losses, but at the expense of shifting upfront costs to prospective customers. It's great for people who buy speakers without listening first, and people who are willing to believe the reviews and other hype about speakers that they have to buy first. But, for someone who's just doing comparison shopping, and wanting to try things out before putting out an up front investment, where's the benefit to them?

This ability to comparison shop before purchasing is part of the value that goes into a product. Customer service, aftersales support, warranty fulfillment, etc. are all components of value outside of the commodity itself when you're talking about retail purchases. Offering any of those things adds cost to the commodity, but for someone who values that ability to listen to something before buying, then it's a built-in cost that they willingly assume because the minimizing uncertainty is part of the value equation.


Sure, we would love to offer comparative demos with scores of other brands. But wouldnít we then have to set up a B&M and raise prices?

No, just make it so that the customer does not have to pay upwards of $80 just to listen to a speaker that they are interested in.


Of course our system has margins. But itís our costs that can be half the alternative. And obviously we pass those savings on to you, the customer.

But, what if I'm a PROSPECTIVE customer who wants to see how your product compares to other options? Those savings mean squat to me if an audition will cost me money versus retail options that don't cost me anything up front.


Lastly -- and I think this is your key concern -- we can't endulge a need to audition a dozen speakers in order to fulfill a special need. While we know that speaker science has advanced a long way since even 5 years ago, and that we can document our performance, point to reviews and to tens of thousands of posts online, we still can't have you listen easily and as conveniently as your local store, price aside for the moment. We like to think that the science has advanced so far that the wild variances in speaker sound of a decade or more ago have been engineered out and are largely minimized. Clearly speakers still have larger arguable differences in performance than amplifiers or transports, but the risk has been reduced to the point that the experiences I relate above are commonplace. And of course, even when you make a $1299/pr 70-pounder as well as we think we do, you're still not competing for the component-of-the-month slot in the $20,000 class. It's a value equation, not an all-out horse race with only one winner. Up there you'll have us at something of a disadvantage. :eek:

Sorry, but speakers are still far from perfect and the differences are very audible. Aside from room acoustics, speakers are by far the most variable part of any audio system, and definitely the most subjective. Speakers that a lot of people praise, I have found less than satisfactory, while ones that I have raved about, others think are crap. There's no such thing as a one-size-fits all solution, or a speaker that's anywhere near perfect for everybody.

I know you have a business plan to advocate, but are you really advising that people buy speakers ONLY on the basis of measurements and reviews? And that it's best to buy BEFORE trying? While I will agree with you that the differences have narrowed a lot in the past decade, there's still plenty of variability in the mix. When I shopped for speakers a couple of years ago, I auditioned at least 35 different models, and the ones that consistently fared the best through repeated listenings I borrowed from the dealers and compared to one another at home. If I had just auditioned three sets of speakers from internet vendors, I would have potentially had to lay out $200 just for the comparison, not to mention whatever interest charges accumulated.

I appreciate you standing up for the way of conducting business that you believe in, but for me there is an element of risk and uncertainty for the customer that needs to be acknowledged.

Woochifer
03-26-2004, 04:52 PM
Wooch,

Someone has to pay for shipping. It could be built into the price charged as a fixed expense [free shipping], or the buyer can pay. If "free shipping" was offered, people would be setting up a system for their party, returning them, and the rest of us would be paying. In a world where nobody would take advantage of "free shipping" and everyone who placed an order was a serious buyer [maybe the case now] based on reported return rates it could work. The problem is it would be an invitation to people with no intention of keeping them to have them sent to their home. Probably an addicted group of persons who just "need a new listen" fix and dang, these guys deliver. It wouldn't require evil intent to want to give these products a listen at in your home at no cost. Hmmmm....sounds like a cheap hobby... and that's why it sounds like it wouldn't work for the audio industry. Gotta pay to play a home game.

There are a lot of things offered by retailers that are built into the cost of the products that they sell, but guess what, all of those extras represent VALUE to their customers. The certainty of being able to listen to something before I invest a single penny is part of the value equation in my thinking. A free shipping offer would be built into the cost of the speaker, but they also add value to the product because they introduce an element of certainty and reduced risk to prospective customers. It's the same reason why some people would rather pick a product with a 2-year warranty rather than a 90-day warrranty, even if the 2-year warranted product costs more.

If free shipping was included, I very well might have put the internet-direct brands on my audition list when I was trying out speakers a couple of years ago. But, the options that I had were already more than agreeable enough for my ears and my budget. So, I didn't see the need to shell out upwards of $80 just to listen to some speakers that someone tells me is good. Well, there were several speakers that people told me were the best in their class yet I thought were subpar or mediocre. Pay to play? None of the dealers that I borrowed speakers from kept any of my money just to get a listen to them at home.

Jon Lane
03-26-2004, 06:21 PM
We're going over old ground so rephrasing again probably won't make a difference. So, let's conclude...

-"Value"-added B&M brands cost about twice as much, for which you get local demos and local stores with overhead. For many, that's a price worth paying.

-Alternately, internet direct brands succeed not because buyers are disappointed but don't return their purchase, but because they deliver more than they promise.

-Free freight raises product costs and has to come from higher margins.

Thanks for the bandwidth and good luck to all!

Jon Lane
The Audio Insider.com

Woochifer
03-26-2004, 06:55 PM
-"Value"-added B&M brands cost about twice as much, for which you get local demos and local stores with overhead. For many, that's a price worth paying.

That would be true if you were offering exactly the same product as the B&M stores, but the Swans are not sold in stores, so there is no consistent basis for saying that B&M brands cost twice as much. Even among B&M brands, there are some speakers that cost twice as much as other models that I think are inferior, so that argument is subjective.


-Alternately, internet direct brands succeed not because buyers are disappointed but don't return their purchase, but because they deliver more than they promise.

Judging by my own experience, I would say that's true to a point. But, I don't know about delivering more than they promise, since I was told that the in-room response would extend down to about 25 Hz, and that's exactly what I measured when I tested it. It's an excellent subwoofer for the price, but I had several reasons for going the internet-direct route that made the risk palatable.


-Free freight raises product costs and has to come from higher margins.

But, it also raises value for customers who like to try before they buy. And if the customers are satisfied and don't exercise the return privilege, then the costs don't rise at all.