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Could an "evidence based" HiFi retailer ever be commercially viable?

Inner Space

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#61
In the 9 years with 5 years of that being on straight commission when I was a salesperson retailing home audio I never assumed customers where poor and not buyers and that paid off greatly for me. I developed a following of loyal customers that brought referrals (sometimes a little weird, demanding or grinders) and I broke the all time record for average profit margin with my methodology. One never knows who he/she is talking to and all the customers should be taken care of properly. :D
Clearly you were not only gracious and kind, but also smart. In our case, though, you wouldn't have made much commission. All the old guy wanted was a 12" x 12" frame so he could send his new album cover to his daughter.
 

March Audio

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#63
But Amazon offers no curation, no active selection of a selected subset from a vast universe of stuff one could buy. One should be able to put some premium on curation.
Well I suppose the value of that curation to the customer depends on its basis.

Has the curation been based on good knowledge of equipment performance and value for money, or is it based upon commercial deals with manufacturers, profit margins etc etc.
 

JeffS7444

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#64
When I was in my late 20s / early 30s, I remember having to dress up to go to the high end audio store.
Oh yeah the good ole days when just being an accepted part of the scene felt elite (at least to my impressionable mind), and guys working in the shop wore expensive wristwatches. Thank goodness I got through the era without spending money I didn't actually have on a set of Mark Levinson ML2 space heaters or a Maserati Biturbo with body rot.
 

Wes

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#65
you could buy a Maserati Biturbo with body rot and pull the powertrain - put it in a Fiat mouse for example
 

jhm

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#68
I think it's OK for a store to stock what to me are audiophoolery products so long as they don't try to actively sell or promote them based on pseudoscience claims. Some people will really want these products. It's their money so perfectly fine and so why shouldn't the store sell them these things ?

There's also a question about whether it's even possible to have a store which sells everything based solely on measurable scientific criteria.

If that's the case, then (as I understand it as set out below but I am very happy to be corrected) the store should not stock things like:

* oxygen free copper cables as normal cables work perfectly fine

* headphone amps with balanced outputs as single ended amps with enough power do the job just as well

* hires audio products since CD quality is already beyond what is audible
 

MakeMineVinyl

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#69
There's also a question about whether it's even possible to have a store which sells everything based solely on measurable scientific criteria.
In the 1950s when no respectable bachelor pad was without a HiFi, there was little to no snake oil because building gear based on technical means was basically the only way it could be done. Looking at magazines from that period (https://worldradiohistory.com/Archive-All-Audio/High-Fidelity-Magazine.htm), there was none of the snake oil we see today. Things which seemed radical like the McIntosh unity coupled output transformer was a real, measurable thing. If there was a forum like this in the 1950s, we'd be arguing about whether triode or pentode tube output stages were better. Ironically (or maybe not) listening testing was very alive and well. On the other hand, during that time differences between amps and such were much more obvious and measurable (or maybe not - test gear wasn't nearly as sophisticated then).
 

raistlin65

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#70
I think it's OK for a store to stock what to me are audiophoolery products so long as they don't try to actively sell or promote them based on pseudoscience claims.
I would be surprised if any such animal exists. Stores don't keep the audiofoolery products hidden in the back room for special requests. Any store I've been to, the products are out there on the shelves to tempt customers.
 

watchnerd

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#71
On the other hand, during that time differences between amps and such were much more obvious and measurable (or maybe not - test gear wasn't nearly as sophisticated then).
Right...things that are 'solved problems' today were not necessarily so back then.

One of the reasons there is so much snake oil in audio is that it's a pretty mature industry in many technical aspects, especially electronics.

It's hard to create real product innovation and differentiation in a commoditized, mature space (i.e. DACs, cables) without resorting to BS.
 
OP
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Thread Starter #72
There's also a question about whether it's even possible to have a store which sells everything based solely on measurable scientific criteria.
Thats aiming too high I think. I'm fine with over-engineered products and nice design. I use XLR connectors because of the feel, not that I need balanced cables. If the dealers just dropped the purely paranormal gadgets (like CD depolarisers, low noise USB cables etc) and maybe showed some restrain in praising unaudiable differences between boxes, I'd be fine.

Bying a $100k mechanical wristwatch is fully rational if one appreciates the craftsmanship and design, even if a quartz movement is better at the actual timekeeping. But I have seen no false claims made by watch manufacturers.
 

watchnerd

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#73
Bying a $100k mechanical wristwatch is fully rational if one appreciates the craftsmanship and design, even if a quartz movement is better at the actual timekeeping. But I have seen no false claims made by watch manufacturers.
One of the things I dislike about certain elements of the objectivist camp of hi fi is the poo-pooing of audio jewelry.

It's fairly common to see a comment like:

"Haha what kind of moron pays all that extra money for a fancy case and meters when the guts are no better than an SMSL?"

My attitude is that this an entertainment hobby. If you get pleasure by spending extra money on stuff that looks cool, but offers no extra performance benefit, and you know it....go for it.
 

jhm

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#74
I would be surprised if any such animal exists. Stores don't keep the audiofoolery products hidden in the back room for special requests. Any store I've been to, the products are out there on the shelves to tempt customers.
There's nothing which can be done about not putting products on shelves or online but maybe what a shop can do is not to actively promote them. I have in mind two dealers who I recently dealt with on the phone - one tried to upsell me to silver plated cables (with nonsense about it sounding really good) and the other when I asked him about buying a new DAC, suggested I A/B test my two existing DACs and if I can't tell the difference, don't bother getting a third new DAC.
 
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Thread Starter #75
My attitude is that this an entertainment hobby. If you get pleasure by spending extra money on stuff that looks cool, but offers no extra performance benefit, and you know it....go for it.
Couldn't agree more. I personally have a soft spot for retro Audi Research-style design, stuff looking as something made for important measurements preparing for the Apollo program.
 
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watchnerd

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#76
maybe what a shop can do is not to actively promote them
Why would a shop carry something and then not promote it, given high price and high profit margins?

There is an economic reality here.

Shops don't stay in business selling low margin products unless they're extremely high volume.
 

sergeauckland

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#77
Why would a shop carry something and then not promote it, given high price and high profit margins?

There is an economic reality here.

Shops don't stay in business selling low margin products unless they're extremely high volume.
And there's the conundrum. There's very little high volume available to a physical shop, all that's gone on-line, much of it to China where they manage to ship product at £3.95 including free postage from China.

So, that means low volume, high margin amount (rather than just percent), and keeping fixed costs down, like selling from home and no staff. It's a hard life without selling Foo to pay some fixed costs.

S
 

watchnerd

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#78
And there's the conundrum. There's very little high volume available to a physical shop, all that's gone on-line, much of it to China where they manage to ship product at £3.95 including free postage from China.

So, that means low volume, high margin amount (rather than just percent), and keeping fixed costs down, like selling from home and no staff. It's a hard life without selling Foo to pay some fixed costs.

S
Right.

People keep ignoring the economics, wishing for some fantasy where a physical shop doesn't have high overhead costs to pay.

The closest hybrid of physical / virtual I can think of that works is the used record stores, which have a physical presence, but also sell a lot on Discogs. However, they're in a non-commoditized market -- records can vary in price by >10x depending on condition, collectibility, etc. So there is a high value add in curation and inventory.
 

Jimbob54

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#79
Right.

People keep ignoring the economics, wishing for some fantasy where a physical shop doesn't have high overhead costs to pay.

The closest hybrid of physical / virtual I can think of that works is the used record stores, which have a physical presence, but also sell a lot on Discogs. However, they're in a non-commoditized market -- records can vary in price by >10x depending on condition, collectibility, etc. So there is a high value add in curation and inventory.
Yup, there is really no putting the rabbit back in the hat. My employer owns a shopping centre. I wince everytime we look at footfall/ profitability/ expected rents etc.

I would have thought going forwards the only places that could sustain "good" hifi shops would be densely populated conurbations (in terms of footfall and customer base) but then the rents would cripple. Maybe as loss leaders/ ambassadors for a larger online presence perhaps, with kit shipped in for pre arranged auditions etc. But at that point, youre better off employing a half competent person with a van to drive such kit to customer property for an in situ demo period.
 
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