• 06-12-2009, 07:31 AM
    jaxwired
    Audio manufacturers need to get a clue!
    In my opinion, the future of 2 channel audio sales is the internet. The vast majority of people no longer have a way to demo 2 channel audio gear at a retail shop. The shops in my medium sized city do not stock the 2 channel gear and they no longer even have any demo rooms. They sell almost entirely to people that are totally ingorant about sound quality who just want to build a home theater and let the retailer just order what they think is best. I've called around to bigger cities close to me (orlando, atlanta), and it's pretty much the same story.

    Yet many of these audio manufacturers have these antequated policies preventing internet sales or limiting them to cities without authorized dealers. This is a joke. For instance, I was considering the new 2 channel 15 series amps from Rotel, well of course the 2 rotel dealers in my town stock ZERO 2 channel amps for demo. Rotel bans internet sales, so I would have to order the amps from my local retailer with a fat cut for him even though he provides zero service in exchange. I would walk in, get no demo, know exactly what I want and then he would order it and take his cut. Sounds great! It's retarded.

    The future for 2 channel gear is online sellers that allow 30 day at home trials. This is the only solution. 2 channel audio gear still has a market, but it can no longer support the existing retail structure. There's just not enough demand for it. Rotel and many, many other manufactures need to get a clue already!
  • 06-12-2009, 10:54 AM
    atomicAdam
    do you have a newsletter I can subscribe too? :biggrin5:

    but seriously, you do have a point. It is very hard to demo the products you want when there are no stores around that carry them. But can one blame the internet for the downfall of these stores like one can blame lackluster CD sales?
  • 06-12-2009, 02:25 PM
    pixelthis
    1 Attachment(s)
    The only justification for "brick and motar " stores is the demo, and customer service.
    Let the dealer order it, and insist on a demo before you take delivery.
    Don't like it? DONT ACCEPT IT.
    Been there, done that, got the T-SHIRT.:1:
  • 06-12-2009, 04:58 PM
    02audionoob
    Everyone listens to used equipment. I figure I might as well just buy it that way.
  • 06-12-2009, 05:02 PM
    JohnMichael
    I share your pain. I went to an audio store in my states capitol and was told to have a seat and if they could find anyone who knew about two channel they would be along to help. Now I mostly read reviews and order products with a generous return policy. So far I have been lucky but now that I am ready to drop a good amount of money for an integrated amp it is a little frightening that I may have to order and try at home. Oh well it will go back if I am not happy.
  • 06-12-2009, 07:40 PM
    dean_martin
    I've visited 2 stores in the Atlanta area that carry tube gear, turntables and carts, etc. One guy swapped out carts and tubes while sitting on the floor during an audition. The folks at both shops were passionate about 2 ch. I hope they're still in business.

    But, I go to Atlanta maybe once or twice a year at most. The 2 mid-sized cities closest to me have a small selection and the shops are mostly into home theater sales and installation. OTHO, my two favorites have been in business for a long time. The owners are still into 2 ch personally and have ways of getting equipment in for audition. It's cool because it's almost like 2 ch has gone underground. They bring you to the back office or leave the gear disconnected until their "special" 2 ch customers come in. However, if you buy, you get full factory warranty, service, etc. It's kinda like a legal drug deal. But even these guys draw the line at tubes and turntables so internet shopping was mandatory for my sources and amp.
  • 06-12-2009, 07:42 PM
    dean_martin
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by JohnMichael
    I share your pain. I went to an audio store in my states capitol and was told to have a seat and if they could find anyone who knew about two channel they would be along to help. Now I mostly read reviews and order products with a generous return policy. So far I have been lucky but now that I am ready to drop a good amount of money for an integrated amp it is a little frightening that I may have to order and try at home. Oh well it will go back if I am not happy.


    JM,

    Which integrated amps are you considering?
  • 06-12-2009, 09:07 PM
    Doc Sage
    I must live in the audio nirvana. We got not one but two great "stereo" shops in town that carries Linn, Mackintosh, Audionote, Bryston, Classe, B&W, Kef, Quad, Magi's, etc and one of them who has a number of great tube gears.

    Plus we got a wonderful second hand outlet who specialize in stereo gears of all kind. At anytime you can see classic Mac's, Ampzilla's, Klipsh, JBL's, Altecs, Revox, B&O to name a few.

    Doc Sage
  • 06-13-2009, 02:24 PM
    Woochifer
    "Vast majority of people"? Who are you speaking for?

    The "vast majority of people" live in a large metro area, and I'm not aware of any of the largest metro areas that lacks an independent specialty audio store. Maybe you'll have to drive an hour, but that's sure different from "no longer having a way" to demo two channel gear. I did a Google search for "high end audio Atlanta," and there seems no shortage of two-channel analog specialty stores from what I could see.

    Your points about internet sales are not supported by the actual sales data that shows less than 10% of retail sales occurring over any remote transaction. The vast majority of retail sales still occur at B&M stores.

    The home audio component market in general is in decline. Those retailers that do not diversify into home theater do so at their own peril. What you consider "retarded" (i.e., not shelling out for two-channel demo units), the retailers likely consider a matter of survival (i.e., buying demo units on those products that their customers are likeliest to actually buy). It's not cheap to have the full product lineup available for customer demo, and in my experience, it's only the larger stores that can afford to offer this.

    The two-channel market in particular will never go to strictly internet-based distribution because customers want to try before they buy. Mail order remains a niche market, and for manufacturers, they need to weigh which market is more important to their bottomline.

    If someone like Rotel begins to offer their products over mail order, they can count on their existing dealers dropping them in droves. Dealers will carry, promote, and support Rotel, and in return, Rotel grants those dealers territorial exclusivity.

    You might make the argument that Rotel can expand their market share by going mail order, but on the flip side they will also lose market share when their dealers begin dropping their products. I've had plenty of discussions with audio store managers over the years, and their mantra is that they will not support their competition. When an audio company gets in bed with big box stores and internet distributors, the audio dealers will simply drop them and go with a different supplier. High end audio is a market that's driven by customer support and that's something very difficult to do remotely. That's precisely why so few high end audio companies authorize their products for internet sales.
  • 06-13-2009, 06:59 PM
    hifitommy
    some of us have done this to ourselves
    the ones who have gone to the brick store and taken their time to demo equip, and sometimes to send it home for the in home audition (that is actually the best method for selection) and THEN the buyer returns everything and buys on the net for cheaper.

    those are the ones who have screwed us over! getting net dealers to do a free in home trial will be like pulling teeth.

    fortunately, i live in LA where there are numerous brick store dealers. we need to nurture these guys and make our purchase through them when we have inconvenienced them by using their services.

    i too buy on the net but usually only the items that won't be likely to be in the brick stores or lent from them.
  • 06-16-2009, 03:35 PM
    jaxwired
    Woochifer,

    Oh, you'll find dealers all over the freakin place for every manufacturer out there, but actually call them, or go down to the store, and you will find no product! I have a local Dynaudio dealer. Dynaudio has many speaker lines, and each line has 3 to 5 models. This dealer has only the Dynaudio Audience 52 available for demo. So, out of possibly 20 (at least) dynaudio speakers, he carries ONE!!! for demo, and it is not even a current model!!!
    Please, the idea that I should pay him a commision to order the product when I get no demo, and no service IS RETARDED. Anyone can see that this sales model does not work.
  • 06-16-2009, 05:42 PM
    hifitommy
    "no service IS RETARDED."
    youre right. but for the dealer who DOES provide useful service, HE should be rewarded with your purchasing power. its the guy who uses the dealer and THEN buys off the net thats caused the dealers to not stock ednough product to demo.
  • 06-16-2009, 06:38 PM
    JoeE SP9
    I must put in a plug for David Lewis Audio here in Phila. They kept the store open late (over an hour) so a buddy could buy a $500 pair of speakers. Then they threw in an 8Ft. pair of Kimber speaker cables for free. They terminated them with spades while we waited. They always keep lots of TT stuff in stock.
  • 06-16-2009, 06:42 PM
    hifitommy
    thats pretty-------
    godam nice. NOBODY ever does stuff like that anymore.
  • 06-17-2009, 03:02 AM
    jaxwired
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by hifitommy
    youre right. but for the dealer who DOES provide useful service, HE should be rewarded with your purchasing power. its the guy who uses the dealer and THEN buys off the net thats caused the dealers to not stock ednough product to demo.

    I agree that using a dealer to demo and then buying off the internet is dishonest and unenthical. No argument. However, I do not believe that this is the primary cause of the lack of demo-able product in brick and mortar stores.

    In my opinion, this is caused by several factors:

    1. The Hi-Fi market has shrunk to a fraction of it's former size.
    2. Most people people that want a stereo, are happy with Best Buy rubbish.
    3. Small Hi-Fi stores can make way more money focusing almost exclusively on home theater (no 2 channel stuff).
    4. Home theater people who buy from small retail shops usually do not want product demos. They just want a sales person to create a home theater room for them using whatever products are appropriate. They are rarely hi-fi enthusiasts.

    This is my whole point. There is not enough market demand for 2 channel quality HiFi equipment to warrant brick and mortar stores. The retailers figured this out awhile ago and stopped catering to this market. But the manufacturers are still protecting the retailers from internet sales as if the retailers are still holding up their side of the bargain, which they are not.

    And, BTW, the manufacturers are zero help with this problem. I contacted both Rotel and Dynaudio asking them to direct me to any store in the south east united states that actually had the equipment to demo and I was given a form reponse with a link to their dealer locator web page. Which, as I have pointed out, is worthless since the dealers on their dealer locator web page don't have the products to demo!!

    So, what am I doing? Now I'm just buying equipment used on audiogon, totally without ever hearing the product. Then I try and sell. It's a huge hassel and expensive, but at least it allows me a long home demo.

    But, I really think that the manufacturers are not doing themselves or the public a favor with their current policies. I do think the walls will crumble eventually.
  • 06-17-2009, 04:59 AM
    02audionoob
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jaxwired
    I agree that using a dealer to demo and then buying off the internet is dishonest and unenthical. No argument.

    I would disagree with in many situations. It depends on your own judgment based on how much un-compensated service you take from the dealer. If you drop in and take a 15-minute listen to something they already have set up, you have inconvenienced them very little or even none at all. They have not now earned the rights to your next purchase of thousands of dollars.
  • 06-17-2009, 05:25 AM
    hifitommy
    "They have not now earned the rights to your next purchase of thousands of dollars"
    he probably wont be there the next time you "need" him.
  • 06-17-2009, 05:39 AM
    basite
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jaxwired
    The future for 2 channel gear is online sellers that allow 30 day at home trials. This is the only solution. 2 channel audio gear still has a market, but it can no longer support the existing retail structure. There's just not enough demand for it. Rotel and many, many other manufactures need to get a clue already!


    Different story here in Europe (well, definately here in Belgium...), it's not that the 'decent' adio stores, with demo rooms and stereo gear are on every streetcorner, but there still are some really great audio stores around here, and most of the other audio stores do at least have some stereo gear available, which you can audition.
    In fact, my dealer only has 2 demo rooms for HT gear, the other 9 are filled with stereo gear.

    I respect my dealer. I find this knowledge really helpful and I think that if we only were to rely on the 30 day at home trials, not only we would spend much much more wasted money on gear that might not be exactly what we are looking for, and a lot of smaller brands would dissapear, because no one knows them, so no one buys their gear.

    I, for one, wouldn't know where to start looking for a component. And I already know quite some brands, and I have an idea of what I would expect. Imagine yourself as the complete newbie to this hobby, where would he go? google?

    No, while the 30 day at home trial is a good idea, it is not a solution.
    Both dealers as manufacturers need to promote the value of a good stereo setup. There is a market for good stereo gear, and quite some people here are regaining belief in a good stereo. A problem these that arises from the lack of knowledge these days is that people think stereo is outdated, and only for "those old people who still play '78rpm records". Yet everyone is amazed when they hear a decent stereo setup. What we have to do is to prove that stereo gear is as accessible as HT gear, and is much better for music reproduction. They only need to have the will to look for it.

    Yes, this will take time, but what doesn't these days?

    Keep them spinning,
    Bert.
  • 06-17-2009, 06:55 AM
    Hyfi
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by JoeE SP9
    I must put in a plug for David Lewis Audio here in Phila. They kept the store open late (over an hour) so a buddy could buy a $500 pair of speakers. Then they threw in an 8Ft. pair of Kimber speaker cables for free. They terminated them with spades while we waited. They always keep lots of TT stuff in stock.

    That is very interesting. Living close to there but having Soundex, AudioLab, HiFi House, Quest For Sound all nearby I had other choices.

    David Lewis is one oddball place. You can't just walk in because the doors were always locked. You needed an appointment to look at his gear or ask questions. The one time I was able to walk past an unlocked door, I was completely ignored. (Iguess because I was young and did not have $100 bills falling out of my pockets) I walked out and never went back.

    Now, on the other hand, the VAC, Counterpoint, Clearfields, and Synergistic cables I have now were all from David Lewis and were floor models that he sold to my neighbor at close to list price at the time which I saw as a ripoff of an unsuspecting customer new to high end gear.

    Recently, before I bought the gear, I was trying to help my neighbor sell the stuff. I contacted all the manufactures who helped me to some degree with info and list prices at the time the gear was new. I called David Lewis and tried to ask him a few questions and he blew me off very quickly and gave me absolutely no help or info and hung up.

    I'm glad someone had a good experience there. If it was more recent, maybe he has changed his tune since people are not dropping the cash as easily as they did several years ago.
  • 06-17-2009, 07:57 AM
    Ajani
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by 02audionoob
    I would disagree with in many situations. It depends on your own judgment based on how much un-compensated service you take from the dealer. If you drop in and take a 15-minute listen to something they already have set up, you have inconvenienced them very little or even none at all. They have not now earned the rights to your next purchase of thousands of dollars.

    The problem with this argument is that it is essentially a question of how much should I exploit a dealer before I feel bad about it and purchase something from him... If I only spend 15 minutes and don't ask any questions then I owe him nothing... fine... what about 25 minutes or an hour? What if I can get a "B Stock" unit of the product online for a thousand dollars off (even if that unit happens to have the serial numbers scratched off)? I can argue that I don't get paid at a rate of a thousand dollars an hour, so hence I shouldn't pay the dealer the $1K difference, despite spending an hour demoing his gear and asking questions...

    The next thing comes down to the issue of how much I "inconvenienced" the dealer.... saying that the store was open and the gear was setup does not inconvenience the dealer, is not actually true... Keep in mind how many of us complain about dealers who demo/open the store by appointment only... The simple reason for doing this is because it saves the dealer a hell of a lot of money... No Need to keep on electricity and water... No need to pay a salesrep or two to man the store during the hours when the store is closed... But as consumers we get annoyed because we can't just walk in and demo items as we please... so we refuse to do business with these dealers... thus forcing them to spend the extra money to keep the store open for our casual walk in needs... then guess what... we claim that we didn't inconvenience them and buy the goods online..
  • 06-17-2009, 01:04 PM
    JoeE SP9
    Hyfi:
    It was several years ago that they were very nice. OTOH, Soundex was another story.
    I walked in there one Saturday afternoon with a couple of grand in cash in my pocket. I was totally ignored until one of the salesman saw me opening the door to my Porsche as I was leaving. He immediately put out his cigarette and approached me with a big apology.
    Admittedly it was a Saturday and the store was crowded. However I walked around for half an hour and looked in all the rooms without one salesman saying a single word to me.
    I suppose if I'd been wearing a suit I would have been treated differently. To them I appeared to be a non-white person in raggedy jeans and a t-shirt. I guess they thought I was just a tire kicker.
    I went to Ovation in Wilmington and bought an SDS and 2 cartridges for my VPI TT.
  • 06-17-2009, 02:14 PM
    Woochifer
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jaxwired
    Woochifer,

    Oh, you'll find dealers all over the freakin place for every manufacturer out there, but actually call them, or go down to the store, and you will find no product! I have a local Dynaudio dealer. Dynaudio has many speaker lines, and each line has 3 to 5 models. This dealer has only the Dynaudio Audience 52 available for demo. So, out of possibly 20 (at least) dynaudio speakers, he carries ONE!!! for demo, and it is not even a current model!!!
    Please, the idea that I should pay him a commision to order the product when I get no demo, and no service IS RETARDED. Anyone can see that this sales model does not work.

    Like it or not, the audio hobby is a small niche and always has been. It's not something that you will find on every street corner.

    If you need a product demo, then go to a Dynaudio dealer that will do the demo for you. You indicate that you live in a smaller town. You want dealers that can afford to carry the demo models that you want, you need to be willing to travel. That's part of living in a small market. It's that simple.

    If your local dealer doesn't have the Dynaudio model you're interested in, you need to look at what else they're carrying. What they have in stock as a demo unit reflects what THEIR customers are actually buying, and what they're actually trying to sell (are they getting "spiffs" from the manufacturer? are there other products they carry that have higher margins?). What's "retarded" to you is them serving their market. If they make the wrong choices in how they address their market, then they go out of business.

    If you really want them to handle Dynaudio better, then you should let Dynaudio know about your experience and maybe the company will consider opening up the territory to a different retailer. In my area, it happened with a B&W dealer who had his territory pulled in favor of a larger retailer. He wound up picking up Totem and PSB, and is at least still in business.

    Here in Cali, if you live around Fresno (by no means a small town, as its metro population is over 900,000 people), there's one Dynaudio dealer in town, but you'll need to travel at least 90 minutes to get a demo for B&W speakers.

    The online sales model that you propose simply won't work because like it or not, the vast majority of audio sales are still generated via B&M stores and this is even more so with high end brands since nearly all of them do not authorize mail order sales. Brands that authorize their products for mail order sales are generally smaller startups or mass produced brands that are already sold in big box stores. If Dynaudio starts unloading its speakers over the internet, you can count on most of its current dealers abandoning them in droves.

    In the areas I'm familiar with, that includes several prominent stores that indeed carry most of Dynaudio's lineup for demo (including at various times, the Evidence Master). For something as subjective as speakers, a big player in the high end market like Dynaudio, isn't going to do itself any favors by going the mail order route. They might pick up some new customers, but they'll also lose their existing sales. To just expect them and other high end manufacturers to shift to an entirely remote distribution model just ignores the market reality that mail order sales are miniscule compared to the volume that retail stores produce. It would be like telling record companies to discontinue selling CDs in order to promote downloads, when CDs still make up more than 70% of music sales. It's a shrinking market, but you don't reverse that by cutting off the biggest distribution channel.

    And even with a 30-day return policy, consumers are still buying something just to try it out, and that alone is a huge psychological barrier for consumers, especially if you're getting into the five-figure territory of many high end components. And we're not even on the subject of having to repack and reship (most of the time on the consumer's dime) something back to the manufacturer if they don't like it. This model only makes sense for smaller companies that don't already have a national dealer network.
  • 06-17-2009, 02:45 PM
    Woochifer
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jaxwired
    In my opinion, this is caused by several factors:

    1. The Hi-Fi market has shrunk to a fraction of it's former size.

    The audio component market as a whole is shrinking for a variety of reasons. But, it has always been a small niche market.

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jaxwired
    2. Most people people that want a stereo, are happy with Best Buy rubbish.

    Nothing new here. The mistaken assumption that many people make is that consumers choosing crappying sounding mass market audio equipment is some new phenomenon. It's not.

    Right now, most people are buying iPods and mini systems. Back in the 70s, most people were buying portable record changers and all-in-one systems. None of these are high end options, but from my experience, I can tell you that the low end systems of today sound a helluva lot better than what most consumers bought 30 years ago.

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jaxwired
    3. Small Hi-Fi stores can make way more money focusing almost exclusively on home theater (no 2 channel stuff).

    No, these small shops can survive by expanding their selections to include home theater. Most of the stores in my area that date back to the two-channel era, still sell it. They just carry it alongside the home theater equipment, which only makes big money for a retailer if they also offer installation services.

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jaxwired
    4. Home theater people who buy from small retail shops usually do not want product demos. They just want a sales person to create a home theater room for them using whatever products are appropriate. They are rarely hi-fi enthusiasts.

    Who the hell are you talking about? And what do you define as a "hi-fi enthusiast"?

    You're making presumptions about what other people's preferences are, based on your own biases. You're a two-channel guy, we get that. But, don't start presuming to know that someone who builds a multi-channel home theater setup does so without demoing the equipment first. Most of the people on this board with home theaters have done extensive and borderline excessive comparisons before they bought their equipment. Just because someone has five speakers in their rig, doesn't mean that they don't listen to or appreciate a good two-channel source. I don't know why you think this is an either-or proposition, most of the people over the years on this board seem perfectly at home with both.

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jaxwired
    This is my whole point. There is not enough market demand for 2 channel quality HiFi equipment to warrant brick and mortar stores. The retailers figured this out awhile ago and stopped catering to this market.

    And mail order is going to magically solve the market demand issue for manufacturers? Stores don't have to "cater" to the two-channel market in order to serve that market. A store that sells Dynaudio speakers does not need to stop home theater equipment in order to adequately address the needs of the two-channel market.

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jaxwired
    But the manufacturers are still protecting the retailers from internet sales as if the retailers are still holding up their side of the bargain, which they are not.

    Many retailers do not. That's why territories get revoked, and why dealer affiliations change. It's a two-way street. If a manufacturer starts selling their stuff thru mail order houses, you can count on dealers dropping them.
  • 06-17-2009, 02:50 PM
    02audionoob
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Ajani
    The problem with this argument is that it is essentially a question of how much should I exploit a dealer before I feel bad about it and purchase something from him... If I only spend 15 minutes and don't ask any questions then I owe him nothing... fine... what about 25 minutes or an hour? What if I can get a "B Stock" unit of the product online for a thousand dollars off (even if that unit happens to have the serial numbers scratched off)? I can argue that I don't get paid at a rate of a thousand dollars an hour, so hence I shouldn't pay the dealer the $1K difference, despite spending an hour demoing his gear and asking questions...

    The next thing comes down to the issue of how much I "inconvenienced" the dealer.... saying that the store was open and the gear was setup does not inconvenience the dealer, is not actually true... Keep in mind how many of us complain about dealers who demo/open the store by appointment only... The simple reason for doing this is because it saves the dealer a hell of a lot of money... No Need to keep on electricity and water... No need to pay a salesrep or two to man the store during the hours when the store is closed... But as consumers we get annoyed because we can't just walk in and demo items as we please... so we refuse to do business with these dealers... thus forcing them to spend the extra money to keep the store open for our casual walk in needs... then guess what... we claim that we didn't inconvenience them and buy the goods online..

    It's not a problem with the argument. It's just the way it is. My point is that it's a judgment call of your own. It is not reasonable to state without exception that when I listen to a store's audio equipment they are then entitled to my business. I work in a very competitive business where we spend considerable time without compensation to pursue jobs that pay. It's a competitive economy. You have to compete to get customers and compete to keep them. When the shop owner opened a business, he didn't sign up for hourly compensation, whether it be $1,000/hour or minimum wage. Look at real estate. If someone shows you a house, are they entitled to your business? Hmm...sorry. No.

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by hifitommy
    he probably wont be there the next time you "need" him.

    I'll admit I don't want "him" to not be there, but my little town of a million people is already down to only one boutique hi-fi store that I know of. It's inevitable, as far as I can tell.
  • 06-17-2009, 03:27 PM
    Ajani
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by 02audionoob
    It's not a problem with the argument. It's just the way it is. My point is that it's a judgment call of your own. It is not reasonable to state without exception that when I listen to a store's audio equipment they are then entitled to my business. I work in a very competitive business where we spend considerable time without compensation to pursue jobs that pay. It's a competitive economy. You have to compete to get customers and compete to keep them. When the shop owner opened a business, he didn't sign up for hourly compensation, whether it be $1,000/hour or minimum wage. Look at real estate. If someone shows you a house, are they entitled to your business? Hmm...sorry. No..

    I don't disagree with u on the real estate example... If u went house hunting with an agent and didn't find anything U like, then fine, no problem.... same thing if u go to audition some new gear at a hifi store and don't find anything u like... nothing wrong with that...

    If however, you use a real estate agent to find a property u really like and then do a backdoor deal with the owner to cut the agent out of the sale and his commission... that's when it becomes wrong... same thing with audio... using a dealers time and equipment, to then order the same gear for cheaper online is messed up...