Sure, you can probably score a better price buying audio gear online, and it's certainly easier, but is it a smart way to go? I don't think so.
First, buying hi-fi without listening to it is a bad idea. Smart buyers compare one product to another, it's simply the best way to learn what your choices are. Granted, it's not the same as hearing speakers in your own room, but at least you're hearing them in comparison to each other under the same conditions.
Online reviews, including the ones I write for CNET and print magazines offer my opinions about sound. But reviews by me or anyone else can't predict about how, say a speaker, works with a receiver that's similar to yours. I have no idea about your specific needs, your room size, acoustics, taste in music, etc.
Use my reviews as a starting point and then try and listen for yourself.
User reviews? Hey, I make my living writing audio reviews and my opinions are drawn from my experiences with literally thousands of audio products. I can point you in the right direction, but at the end of the day, its your ears and your money. Buy what you like; just make sure you've heard it.
A good salesperson can offer sound advice based on your specific needs. That's a huge advantage online sales outlets can't duplicate. Yes, finding the right store or salesperson can take time, but that's true for doctors, lawyers, plumbers, and contractors, but once you've found a good one, their advice and council can be a huge asset. If you're spending $500 or more for speakers or a receiver try to make the effort to hear the thing. A successful salesperson has lots of happy customers, there's no other way to be successful. I sold audio for 16 years, I know from where I speak. … Read more