I was very skeptical at first as well. I kept asking myself how I could spend that kind of money on something without even seeing them, let alone not hear them. I read and read everything I could find and asked questions about these speakers at every forum that discussed them. Do you know I could not find a single derogatory review or comment? That in itself told me these speakers were a great value. I could have spent more but why?
Also, I went back and forth with Jim via emails concerning colors and veneers and he seemed genuinely concerned with my satisfaction (when was the last time you spoke with lets say, Mr. Polk, about his speakers?). I just bought new leather furniture and have a projector with 104" Carada screen in my new HT set up so the looks of the speakers, never a major concern before, took on new meaning and importance. The craftsmanship everyone talked about and custom colors available on these speakers were a true bonus and deal maker for me.
However, a speaker is more than a piece of furniture. My 60 year old years are not nearly what they use to be and I know I miss the subtleties that many young audies can still detect. Jim explained that as we age the "intelligibility" factor of a speaker becomes all important. In this regard, the accuracy of the mid-range (which Jim considers the cornerstone to a good speaker) becomes more and more important. It is in this area that the STs excel.
I purchased the Cambridge Soundworks Ensamble system when Henry Kloss first left Advent (I had those too) and his was a direct sale method as well. Those Ensambles have been wonderful for me for many years. Based on this previous "sight unseen" buying experience, Jim's reputation, the cabinet quality and great reviews as to sound, not to mention the excellent price value, it was worth taking a chance. BUT, I have not received them yet so until I do this is all a gamble but a I figure a good, calculated one.
If you do not feel comfortable doing this, however, my offer still stands for you to come out for an audition - when they get here that is!