Sage Advice

On occasion individuals come to this forum asking for advice based on owner experience. Many forum members, myself included, jump at the opportunity to provide advice. Recently an opportunity came my way regarding the more appropriate integrated amplifier for a pair of Harbeth 40.2 speakers. The requestor had narrowed the field to one of two Luxman integrated amplifiers, the 590AXii and the 509X.
I offered my thoughts and strongly recommended auditioning the speakers with both amplifiers, preferably in one’s home situation. I offered my Luxman 509X as a short term loaner to assist in the decision. Distance got in the way of that option unfortunately. I stand by the idea of live auditions with competing components, first at a local shop/salon and ultimately in one’s home. Most shops are open to a loan as long as the buyer is serious, and a sale is the likely outcome.

That said I came across this advice on the Vandersteen Forum from Richard Vandersteen, and stand by it:

Buy any of the ones you listed that you can borrow and listen to. If you like the sound your good. DO NOT BUY ANYTHING ON ANYONES SUGESTION, EVEN MINE WITHOUT LISTENING TO IT! I would not recommend our own M5-HPA without audition. Many hear differences and call them Day and Night while another will hear the same demo and call it a “small change”. Expectations that are over done or under achieved are not good for this hobby/business. A good demo removes all the mystery. The one you know is better than the best for someone else because you picked it.

Here is the referenced thread

Advice is wonderful, and Ron P, among others, has offered some excellent advice for me regarding Pass Labs equipment. Being familiar with Pass Labs gear, and their house sound I was comfortable with my choices. But their is risk with advice, and Richard’s thoughts hold true.

So when seeking peer advice the rule of thumb is trust your own ears prior to laying out some serious cash, or have an “escape plan”.


The last five or six major pieces I bought I did not listen to before purchasing. I guess I got lucky.


You did not drag a 450lb amp to your basement to try? that’s just lazy.


I’d say you are working with a credible source.




The best advice yet on this forum. If only I was so disciplined, I wouldn’t have wasted so much money on tweaks.


My curiosity still gets the best of me.


And our tastes change–or at least mine do.


I’d agree to that, having 4 systems that sound entirely different.

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I don’t see tweaks as wastes of money, I look at it as tuition. Or, I’ll always have that “what if” in my head in this already crazy hobby.


Vice just purchasing them? Realistically though, an audition should be loads of fun, just leave you wallet in the car. BTW, when are your MBL 101 Extreme Mk II due in?

Whenever they tell me my MBL Extremes are ready I am going to make them sad. No can do.

The Estelons are cheaper and do not require a second 450 pound amplifier.

I hope to not be buying a pair though. I hope he doesn’t make me an offer I can’t refuse.

Hope. Hope. Hope.

I will have my BACCH-SP adio with me when I visit the Estelon dealer.

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If I was to listen to those (either Estelon or mbl), I would not have any worry about any desire to purchase, LOL
Even though I would like them :grinning:

Watching this thread evolve, my ‘escape plan’ is easy to define. I do purchase quite a bit of hardware ear unheard. I never purchase hardware ear unheard that isn’t backed by something like a 30-day in-home audition with a no hassle return policy if it doesn’t work out. I won’t exchange a single penny with a dealer that doesn’t offer an in-home audition privilege. The industry knows how the high-end audio consumer view on this has changed, especially with so many superb brands embracing ecommerce, and has responded accordingly. That is why I haven’t stepped foot in a brick-and-mortar shop for years. In-home audition with return privilege (and I’m not talking about the silly old business of a dealer lending me a piece for, like, two days when he’s closed with pressure to have it back in his shop at opening time next day) is the way of judging a potential purchase properly.

Tha will be a special day indeed. Hopefully it all falls in place with a special deal!

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My experience is most brick and mortar dealers are rather accommodating wrt in home auditions.
The dealer experience can give me an idea of what to expect . An in home audition can further inform the decision.

Please loan me a 450 pound amplifier that is so expensive you can’t afford to stock it. And the two piece 130 pound preamp too.

Oh sure.


Your situation isn’t typical. For the average buyer, it is not asking too much for a loaner.
In situations where the components, are massive, bulky, and pricey listening appointments are typically arranged where the components may be demoed extensively. So the opportunity to hear them is provided.

My take away has become nothing bigger or heavier than a M1200 unless I can find it locally. Return shipping was taking too big a bite out of the budget.

Not in my experience. Count the hifi shops who have Gryphon gear in their showrooms. As for MBL Extremes, only three shops in the US have them. And no shops have PS Audio gear.

I find a good generalization is generalizations suck.