Back in the day, many would bring their own speakers in for comparison, so even though the rooms are different, one could get a handle on the differences between them. We also offered (in all three of my main employments) a fourteen day return/exchange if they didn't suit. Furthermore, none of my colleagues then were commission led sharks eager for punters' money* and nothing else, as we had reputations (alright, egos) to preserve and in our little country, bad dealer reps travelled between the faithful as many prospective clients trawled the dealer base, tyre-kicking as they went - * The first store-chain got a bonus which was split equally between us but it was never much more than 10% of our pay packet and the other two were fixed salary.I think the best a dealer demo will tell you is that the speaker is not a piece of junk. Or that it is a piece of junk.
I think the opposite to you, that buying totally blind is a massive gamble, buying based on a dealer demo is a big gamble, and that buying based on a full suite of Klippel measurements is actually the lowest risk approach.
- I witnessed this yesterday at a dealer event for an expensive but totally and utterly gorgeous in the flesh range of Japanese made audio gear (gold fronted with meters (plus digital readout) on the front - you can guess which). In discussion in general, I was told that a certain well known Scottish made turntable with newly introduced tonearm was bought and set up in east London, but the owner moved out here to the coast and wanted my local dealer salon to check it over after the move. The deck set-up was fine, but the (European made?) arm had a fault which apparently has affected a few of them and had to be replaced under warranty. The selling dealer should have quickly picked up on this when setting the deck up as the fault apparently is out of the box and not something that occurs later... Current tonearm examples seem fine now I was told.
So, if buying new and obviously, if we're talking passive domestic 'audiophile grade' speakers, a dealer's advice is essential I maintain! It's also part of the hobby experience, something I was patently reminded of yesterday after some time away - you do midlands and northern bakeoffs Mart, with a gaggle of like-minded older men talking and enthusing about their gear, often used if not DIY builds and sharing music nobody else has ever heard of as well as old classic albums from 'my' day. We don't have so many down this way I'm afraid!
Got to say that Erin, ASR and a few others who rigorously test speakers have been a boon to those of us interested in pro orientated speakers not always sold with dem facilities. It makes it a bit of a lonely experience though when you don't easily have face to face experience-sharing, but I'm going off the subject now. A return if the purchase doesn't work out is essential in that case.
My take is obviously from this overcrowded country's perspective of course. In the US, one may have to travel many hundreds of miles to find a dealer at all, in which case it's a totally different matter