Auditioning Kit


New member
Aug 10, 2019
What are the tiny details you listen for when auditioning new kit? I, for instance, always like to hear the phone ringing about 1:40 into Led Zeppelin's The Ocean.


Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
For me it is more about the whole experience. Yes, I always find it exciting when I hear a new detail in a song and that shows one aspect of what a piece of equipment is doing, but for me it is more about how much the equipment is involving me with the music, and a general feeling of being 'right'. If I find myself enjoying the music rather than listening to the equipment I know I've found the right thing for me.

HOWEVER (in caps because it is quite a big however), I've never found auditions to be that useful when they have taken place in a dem room at the dealers. Hi-fi is far more room dependant than most people think and I've often found that kit can sound completely different when you get it home. My current amp was bought unheard based on user reviews and it has turned out to be the best amp I've ever owned. I'm not encouraging everyone to start buying hi-fi without auditioning it, but I do question the usefulness of dealer demos. Home demos are a completely different matter and I think hi-fi shops should be far more accomodating in this respect. Acknowledging the relationship between the equipment and the room in which it is actually going to be used is crucial IMO.

plastic penguin

Well-known member
For me auditioning is about the experience of hearing a system or combo. When I go I usually take a pen 'n' paper and make physical notes. Also, I normally go by 'gut' feeling. What I mean by that is: Does the sound 'feel right'? If you hear two or three different systems or set-ups you'll know exactly. It's a sound you feel most comfortable with.

Good luck, pp


The one thing I listen for is probably the strings vibrating off the frets on Nils Lofgren's live version of Keith Don't Go. though I usually listen for the entire experience of Chris Rea's Road to Hell (Pt 1 & 2)

As others mentioned though, the only real demo starts when you get the kit home. I was absolutely horrified at the demo room at my local Sevenoaks, hard wood floor, no furnishings of any sort, no wallpaper... No bass and an echo, sign me up!

As I demo everything I sell from home, I always ask what kind of room the customer has and I can choose what room to put the kit in to give as good an idea as possible for what it sounds like when they get it home.


Sep 25, 2008
I agree with mp - the listening room makes a huge difference. Your home probably won't sound like a demo room, or my home (you probably don't have the three screaming kids ;) ). Demo rooms are good for a good initial listen, to decide whteher you want to take things further. Take along three or so different bits of music, representative of your listening. Compare and contrast the three pieces on different kit and relax. Don't be hassled by the staff.

Think of it as a first date. If you get on with the kit, ask it round to your place "to take things further". I.e. Ask for a home demo. You don't want to get all that expensive stuff home permanently and find it just isn't going to work out...

... bit like the dating analogy really ;)

True Blue

New member
Oct 18, 2008
On a more serious note. I take along several CD's which are of varying quality. On those CD's I listen to certain tracks I know backwards. Black velvet Alannah Myles is one. Then listen to see which set up I prefer. then as suggested above a home dem.

My only two blind purchases have been my REGA DAC and my REGA P7 both excellent BTW.


Actually, I agree that its the whole experience rather than one detail that counts, although I've always purchased on the back of a dealer demo, rather than a home dem, but I went for years not knowing that phone was on the Led Zep track, then heard it played back on a cheap personnal cassette player, through headphones (amazing what headphones can reveal). I got home that evening and played the same song on a Marantz CD63, Arcam Alpha 6+ and NAD 801mms and although I could hear something there, was not able to identify it as a telephone. Ever since then, I've started all auditioning sessions with that song as a test of detail retrieval before moving onto other, more emotional responses with other tracks.


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