It’s well-known among the audiophile cognoscenti that the most reliable place to audition a new piece of gear is at home. We get to hear how a pair of loudspeakers interfaces with our room, how an amplifier might drive our existing loudspeakers or how a DAC’s audible personality jives with the rest of the system. We also get to choose our own music, re-position loudspeakers and, in some cases, try different cables.
The next most reliable place to judge a piece of gear is the hight street dealer. It’s not our room but we still get to swap out loudspeaker A for loudspeaker B or pit amplifier X against amplifier Y. We get to choose our own music and take our time with the decision process.
But dealers are closing at quite a clip to put many audiophiles two or three hours drive from their nearest store. And that store might not stock both loudspeaker models, or amplifier X and Y or be willing to send customers home with new hardware with the option of returning it.
This puts undue pressure on our third – and arguably least reliable – location to audition hi-fi gear: the local hi-fi show exhibit. It’s not our room, we don’t have control over the music (one cut if we’re lucky) and only a tiny minority of exhibitors demonstrate the efficacy of their gear via A/B comparisons. Would you risk several grand on those odds? More on this topic here.
And yet, anecdotally, and more than once, I’ve seen comments online from hi-fi enthusiasts expressing their enthusiasm for “auditioning” numerous pieces of audio hardware at a hi-fi show.
Fortunately, the plural of anecdote isn’t data. Time to poll Darko.Audio’s social media followers. Where do you most often audition gear?
As their poll engine permits only two responses, Facebook was bypassed but a Twitter sample of 378 people returned the following results.
A whopping 90% voted for home or dealer with preferences evenly split between the two. Audio shows barely get a look in.
We know from past polls that this publication’s YouTube audience doesn’t skew as heavily as Twitter (or Facebook) towards die-hard audiophilia. Past polls tell us that the sample size is consistently larger.
A sample of 2,200 people voted thusly:
Here the dealer-/home-demo dominance pushes out to 94% with home demos taking a clear lead. Again, audio shows are not seen as the preferred placed to demo hi-fi gear.
Most odd to these eyes is the low showing for head-fi gear that doesn’t suffer the same trade show restrictions as loudspeaker-based systems.
That’s interesting, no?