Re: IS THIEL Crazy Opening Crutchfield?
I don't think this is as crazy as most audiophiles do, although I'd have started with someplace like Audio Advisor, Music Direct, or Acoustic Sounds before Crutchfield if I wanted to reach people who actually can afford Thiel products. There are only a handful of high end dealers who are prepared to demonstrate Thiels properly, anyway, and even they probably are focusing more on the trendier brands, so Thiel probably has both geographic "white space" and relatively unenthusiastic dealers with which to deal.
And let me suggest something heretical here: Dealer demos are vastly overrated. Until recently, I've bought every set of speakers I've owned after listening at a dealer's place. I've gotten dogs and gems alike despite my efforts. A lot of dealer soundrooms are set up poorly or for HT rather than audio; especially if set up properly, the sound rooms never present the same issues as my room does; the sales guys need to make their quotas even if not on commission so they push what they need to push or tell you what they think you want to hear; the associated equipment all too often either is completely different than what you'd use at home (all tubes or Class A, for example, in the soundrooms when I bought my last turntable) or, even if the same sort of configuration I'd use, from the stratospheric rather than relatively modest end of the price range and thus not comparable to anything that I'd use to drive the speakers at home.
It isn't so crazy these days to buy mail order from a company with a decent return policy and see how things do at home. I bought the last speakers I owned -- Infinity Intermezzo's -- from Audio Advisor on the strength of good reviews and a great sale price, and I did not regret the purchase one bit. I had thirty days to return the speakers if I did not like them, but I drove them with my sources and amp and in my llstening room for the thirty days. While I admit it would be a pain in the arse to return speakers to Crutchfield or whoever if I were not happy with them, that isn't any greater impediment to me than woud be trying to convince a local dealer that he or she sold me something with which I could not live. With so many successful online speaker direct sellers these days, I suspect that others have started to think that the local demo can be overrated.
I used to like Thiels when I last shopped for speakers locally, but they were out of my price range then. I have heard so little about them lately that they've kind of fallen off of my radar now that I actually could pay for them. And, while I doubt that Crutchfield would have gotten my eye, the three other online companies I mentioned might have. I suspect I won't be purchasing Thiels (because of amplification and placement concerns), but I like that Thiel is reaching out to the public in ways its dealer network probably could not.