Never has there been more products released all with rave reviews than there is now and never have there been less locations to listen to them, with those numbers dwindling every day.
What is the high end audio dealer to do?
Is he/she going to carry four different speaker lines, with each model so that the interested buyer can listen to them all? And if he/she does, does the interested buyer walk in, spend three hours auditioning, a reasonable time particularly if the buyer is going to spend 50K or more. The buyer says thank you Mr. Audio dealer, I like Speaker A, but you know, I can get them on the internet or from the manufacturer directly for 20% less than you are selling them. I understand you have this overhead and I really appreciate all the time you spent educating me, but money is money so screw you, I am buying it from the guy who is going to save me 20%.
Of course the audiophile is a finicky character, who wants to audition before he/she buys. Of course they should. But how do they do that? As the high end audio dealer with a storefront becomes a dinosaur, this may be possible with cables and small inexpensive components from the dealer on the NET, but who in their right mind is going to send someone 25K monoblocks or a 10K DAC or 10-50K speakers to "try them out".
Unlike computers which is a high volue low margin business, where the specs speak for themselves with little difference between the products and ordering from the NET has become the norm, the same activity with high end audio, will and is guaranteeing the demise of the shopping environment we all cherish to help us make our decisions to purchase these very expensive sources of enjoyment.
So is the future one destined to buy based on what a reviewer says is "good or great" and find the lowest price? Every reviewer here tells you let your ears do the listening before you buy anything and don't just trust the reviews. But how is that to happen going forward with all the innumerable products on the market, with almost everyone getting "the new best......" review and no place to audition them. Are the shows going to become the only forum for an audiophile to audition a product of interest? I have to laugh when I see "best in show". These systems may sound good in in a show but without an optimized room, a hotel room no less, are you really getting a true audition?
Unfortunately, we the consumer and the manufacturer, the former in our desire to place price over service and access and the latter in their desire to maximize profits, will lead to the demise of what I always enjoyed, namely the audio dealer.