Buying used vs. New

Does anyone have reservations about buying used?
I used to swear buy it until recently. I bought a preamp that arrived with a humming problem from the transformer because the delivery company dropped it. Fortunately, I had bought it new and the store was able to replace it. I was just thinking, what if this was used, I would be out of luck in terms of getting it fixed. Also, I bought a used piece of equipment on Audiogon a few years ago that is now giving me trouble. It is out of warranty and was fairly expensive, and now has issues. Now I'm seriously considering buying new, even though my money will only stretch about half as far.
I guess it all comes down to personnal economics. We take chances on buying here on AudioGon but I have so far(knocking on wood)been lucky. I would love to buy new all the time but then I would be increasing the time line of getting what I want. It's a gamble but hopefully the feedback system helps in indication. It's like buying a used car, it drives good the mechanic says it's in good shape and carfax report is good. Two weeks later the engine starts to knock. It would be nice if a third party warranty was available as an option.
For me it is still ok to buy used cables and poewer amp.I have great reservations buying used preamp and digital gears though,they are too sensitive and you might end out losing more;penny wise pound foolish as the saying goes
Tvad initiated an interesting thread regarding a third party warranty option some months ago. It seemed there was a generaly negative concensus regarding the idea though....
Go with what let's you sleep at night.
I've bought (and sold) a lot of used gear here and have been extremely lucky. But stuff can and does get damaged in shipping and sometimes gear fails before you are ready to get rid of it! These are the risks we take, and like someone said, most things can be repaired. I bought a set of Quad II Classic amps here that looked perfect when they arrived but one emitted smoke and stopped working when I plugged it in. I took it to a local Quad dealer who agreed to arrange for repair for me. He knew the amp was bought used and not even from his shop. When Quad learned of the problem they said they would fix the amp for free! It needed a new transformer (from the UK) so repairing this would not have been cheap at all. Why they decided to repair this unit gratis I have no idea but I will be everlastingly grateful to Quad and Deja Vu Audio for acting as the intermediary in this transaction. i love the amps and they have worked perfectly since the initial mishap--undoubtedly related to bumps and drops experienced in shipping.
I purchase only used equipment made by the relatively few remaining independent manufacturers that are highly supportive of buyers of used equipment. These are operations where you can talk to the principals. Atma-Sphere, Merlin, and BAT are a few examples. Also, I've been patient enough to buy locally and to audition first and carry home.
I'm starting to gravitate towards buying new and getting less, just for the peace of mind. Currently I'm considering a Mcintosh power amp, if I buy new I can get a mc402, if I buy used I can get mc501 mono blocks. The problem with buying the 501's is what if something happens during the shipping or they crap out on me a year from now? Also, I think it is a good idea to do business with companies who operate in the U.S. because if you buy a large, expensive piece of equipment and it needs repaired in Canada, it could cost a boatload of money to fix.
Buy used, but on a pick up basis only and have it demo'd before handing over the cash.
Though I, too, have been very luck, I'm with Tiger.
I buy used. However, only if I'm financially able to eat a complete loss if things don't work out. This usually means that I'd be willing to look at two lesser (but close in performance) pieces rather than one piece which will take up the full saved amount. This way if one piece gets broken upon delivery or is sent DOA w/o recourse, I'm still able to persue option #2.
There are some items that I would definitely never buy over the internet like a turntable, cartridge, tonearm, and probably speakers. I am even questioning anything else too. I think new is the way to go if you can afford it, but it is so tempting to pay half and get things wildly out of your price range....yeah, I know.
Never buy used. Ever, ever. It's way to dangerous; you are exposing yourself to sellers that are meth heads and gear that has been fenced so many times that you can't get the finger prints off of the case work.

Too many of you guys are beating me to the good stuff. Cut it out.
My preference is to buy used w/the caveat I can send it to the factory here in the states if it ever needs service.

I used to travel a lot more to pick up/deliver gear but w/time constraints & now the price of gas, I do most of my biz w/shipping. The problem is you never know how well something is going to be packed. I've had a few close calls but nothing ever catastrophic.
Some new - some store/show demo. If the piece is really expensive and/or speakers on used market that I would like to try........local pickup only. Same with sales.....if local buyer is among those interested in my offering - he wins even if I have to sell for less. No disputes or misunderstanding. Takes longer to buy or sell but worth it.
I look for bargains, most have been great. A few dissapointments, but for the 40-50% off, it is hard to justify buying new. Then again, i have never purchased anything over 2500 this way, so i consider myself a small fish. I would feel very insecure about deals with 5 figure price tags.

I have been fortunate to deal with Goners with integrity, and made a few friends. Jeff carder in new jersey ( cardersound speakers no affiliation) is agood example. I bought what may have been the first single diriver speakers he ever owned. great transaction, then he goes and starts a company that pushes my envy button.

Without audiogon i would never have developed this habit, but it probably beats hookers and coke.
Use the zipcode feature on the search listings. Good way to find items you don't want to see shipped. Of course you need patience or luck depending on your desires. That said I have few qualms about where I buy from with the exception of speakers. I've had a few problems with damage to shipped speakers.
...hookers and coke have a low WAF.
Always call the person you are buying from. Never buy from zero feedback sellers. Always get serial numbers from sellers on expensive pieces and call the maker to verify any service related issues, etc. Try to avoid buying from strange e-mail addresses that don't have any recognizable information. Never, Never, Never send money via Western Union to a seller. It is a very popular scam on audiogon and e-bay. Avoid deals that seem too good to be true!! Use paypal type services whenever possible. Do not send cash type payments... you are asking for trouble. Remember that sometimes it only takes one bad event to justify purchasing new products.
I have had excellent experience buying used on audiogon.Out of atleast ten purchases I had only one cd player that did not work out.I got fantastic amps at a very reasonable price.The one high end amp I purchased new from a dealer failed ,ie caught on fire,I had to send it to be fixed,it was gryphon Antileon signature,after more than a month it was replaced with a new amp.About half the equipment I have I purchased used and I have a lot of equipment,I will continue to purchase used and avoid the infant mortality problem.
I really can't buy locally. Period. It isn't here to be had.
So that takes care of the shipping damage question because everything-new or used-is going to be shipped.
Scams are another issue entirely and I think you can avoid a lot of that by just not buying without a phone conversation.
Then there's price.

I buy a lot of stuff used because I'd rather let someone else absorb CERTAIN DEPRECIATION while I gamble on having to pay for POSSIBLE REPAIRS.

Either way, when I sell it, it will be used.
I cannot afford new for the quality of equipment I want, so it's primarily used for me.

If I were spending a few thousand on a piece and had reservations, I'd fly to where it is and get it there, or ship it from there. A flight is worth saving a few grand (by buying used) and having peace of mind.

I buy and sell hifi and musical instruments on the side. I buy in person and sell primarily on Ebay. My experiences have all been positive, but I'm prepared for the occasional loss.
Seditious3, That sounds like a good idea... Fly to the place of sale and check it out. I'm not sure how many people would welcome a stranger into their home though???
Regarding the comment in the above post stating that only CD players and speakers present a risk of no longer being fixable due to lack of availability of parts, solid-state power amps (and unfortunately, some of the very high-end ones) sometimes cannot be fixed because the output transistors for them are no longer made.
So far I have bought a few cables used, transport and center channel speaker and shipped all the way to malaysia without much problem.With the amt of savings I thk its worth the risk. However buying from reliable sellers is important. I would encourage using paypal. If there is a problem with the purchase at least there is an avenue to go to. I have spent tonnes of money on LP the last 2years without much problem. Let's hope it stay this way for me. Happy listening
Update on this. I can't believe how foolish this is. The problem with static sounds in the amp was due to my subwoofer not being hooked up correctly. That is why only certain songs would make noise. I had the ground wire, which was supposed to be attached to the positive terminal of the right channel in the negative terminal. I put it in the right place and it is back to sounding as good as new.
Alwats second hand and I have been lucky so far. In fact I have made friends and received good advice from sellers. I even buy 2nd hand cartridges, VERY VERY risky. I used a Koetsu Rosewood Sig I bought on the Gon for 3 years and sold it on E bay, for what I bought it for. It really is down to what risks you are prepared to accept.
Actually, now that I think about it, of all the used equipment I've bought, there was only one piece that didn't give me trouble, a Scott solid-state integrated amp from the late 70's. Built like a tank it was. Sold it to a friend who still enjoys it daily.
With diligence, you can do well buying used, even on ebay.

There are risks though that limit the appeal for many. Never assume anything when buying used and always seek out reputable sellers whether buying new or used.

Like much of this hobby, its really a matter of personal preferences.
I still like to find good used deals for certain items, but the odds of problems with the used audio equipment I've encountered turns me back to new quite often. Of the two used pieces I bought last year one was good, but the other a bit of a dud.
New: If you can afford it, why not? There are many landfalls with used... shady sellers, misrepresented, don't like the product (no audition)

Used: If you can't afford new... it's your only option.
08-25-08: Goatwuss
There are many landfalls with used... shady sellers, misrepresented, don't like the product (no audition)
I've been buying and selling on Audiogon for almost six years with almost 250 transactions. Only two have been questionable. Less than 1%.

I own, and have owned, equipment that I'd never be willing to buy new because of the cost. For me, that's an incredible advantage.
Personally, I'm delighted that there are those who feel the need to buy new. They are the nice people who absorb the initial depreciation so that I can buy and sell used stuff with little or no loss. Keep up the good work, guys.
You mean the people who support the industry that you add no value to.
People who buy new add value to the retail sales industry.

People who buy used may add value to the repair and upgrade industry.

The former can exist (very nicely I might add) without the latter but the latter could not exist without the former.

Economists would prefer the former exclusively. The average guy on the street might prefer the latter or not.

Having options and freedom of choice is a good thing.

Nice ecosystem guys. Keep it going!
I cannot grasp why audiophiles have a need to constantly goad, snipe and criticize each other for choices they make.
"I cannot grasp why audiophiles have a need to constantly goad, snipe and criticize each other for choices they make."

It happens because its part of human nature. People do it all the time.

I can understand it when it comes to politics and meaningful issues of power and control, but not when it comes to what gadgets and toys people prefer.
I have a mix of used and new in my system, which is the first audiophile quality one I have put together. I have had good luck so far buying used equipment. I would say, however, that one should never pay more than half of the original retail price for a used item, the only exception to this would be if it basically hadn't actually been used. That is pretty much the rule of thumb for any type of high-end goods. And of course, you have to do your research and make sure that you know what you are getting.
08-25-08: Learsfool
... one should never pay more than half of the original retail price for a used
item, the only exception to this would be if it basically hadn't actually been
used. That is pretty much the rule of thumb for any type of high-end

That's a worthy goal, but in practice, it's not always possible. The market for
an item determines its used value. In cases where there is more demand than
supply for an item, the market value will be higher than 50% of retail.
Depending on the component, paying more than 50% can still be a good

You can see evidence of this daily in the Audiogon listings.
I agree with Tvad. Rigid policies are inappropriate in the face of inconsistent circumstances. There is no formula that can be applied universally since every situation is different. Factory direct products with strict pricing policies like Red Wine Audio maintain a very high resale in the neighborhood of 75%, whereas the Talon Khorus was dumped into the marketplace and now sells used for maybe 25% of list price.
I don't think the resale percentage of these products reflects their relative value or desirability.
Some vintage products fade into oblivion only to be rediscovered eventually and then their selling price soars due to scarcity. Certain turntables from Lenco, Garrard and Technics bear this out.
LOL, many items sell for more money used than they did when new, Quad ESL57s, Rogers LS 3/5A, EMT turntables, most vacuum tubes, better Garrard and Thorens tables, the list would take up pages.
Rigid policies are inappropriate in the face of inconsistent circumstances.


Do you work for a pharmaceutical? This statement bears resemblance to the warning "if it lasts for more than 4 hours contact your doctor"...(why a doctor, in particular, should be open to such overtures I just can't figure out)
Yes, of course, there are certain items, particularly vintage ones like the Garrard and Thorens mentioned, where you will have to pay more, and it would be worth it to do so. And there are other exceptions that don't have anything to do with the actual value of the item, as someone mentioned. However, the 50% rule I stated does hold true for the vast majority of products out there in any high end industry, whether it is audio, jewelry, cars, what have you, and many people in all of those industries will agree with that. Yes, you will see people here on audiogon paying more, but they certainly don't have to, and in the vast majority of cases shouldn't be. You also see many items not selling either here or on ebay because they are priced above this mark. Very often, the seller has to come down to near that 50% before anyone even bids. Is this a hard and fast number? No. Is it a good general rule of thumb? Yes.
Not sure I see much value for the 50% rule with used audio gear. There are too many factors that come into play.

I would be comfortable saying that the more you pay, the more you should be certain you have good reasons for paying it.
Market forces set prices and nothing else. No buyer or seller can dictate price, unless they are educated in the current market for their goods.
Value is established at the point where willing buyer and willing seller converge.
I think that Tvad hits it, and with only three transactions of record on Audiogon, I am not sure that Learsfool has the breadth of experience, or knowledge of the secondary market, to be the arbiter of apropriate pricing.
Actually Viridian, I would say that Tvad hits my point exactly when he says no buyer or seller can dictate price, "unless they are educated in the current market for their goods." I would actually go farther and say current, past, and expected future market (witness the sudden jump in price quite recently of used Thorens 124's). However, I disagree strongly with the statement that only the market sets the price, particularly in the used market, in which prices vary much more greatly than the new market. Macrojack is correct, I feel, in speaking of willing buyers and willing sellers converging. That's a very good way to put it. There are many people out there who won't buy anything above a certain price point because they are too cheap, and there are also many out there who insist on paying far more than something is worse because they can't believe that something is worth buying unless it is expensive, and many, many levels in between, combined with many levels of knowledge of what they are buying.

The comment that I don't have the breadth of experience or knowledge of the market just because I only have three transactions on this site is illogical on the face of it, and frankly is insulting. It certainly says much more about you and your assumptions than it does about me. I thought that sort of personal attack was not allowed on this site - it certainly doesn't reflect well on audiogon. I never said I was the "arbiter of appropriate pricing." I was merely pointing out a very general rule of thumb that is widely accepted in high end industries of all types. There are of course always exceptions, especially to such a general rule as that.
08-28-08: Learsfool
Macrojack is correct, I feel, in speaking of willing buyers and willing sellers

This is precisely what constitutes a market.
08-28-08: Learsfool
I disagree strongly with the statement that only the market sets the price,
particularly in the used market...

If willing buyers and sellers converging is what constitutes a market (and it
is), then it is nonsensical to disagree with the idea that the market
(willing buyers and sellers converging) sets the price.

Your post indicates more education is required on your part to understand
the market concept, because on one hand you seem to understand elements
of a market, but on the other hand you make statements that would never be
made by someone who understands the concept.

Now, there exist different paradigms for different buyers. Some buyers focus
on items that are only priced, or available, at 50% or less of their original
retail. These buyers will limit purchases to items that fit this criteria. For
these buyers, the 50% rule applies all the time.

There are other buyers who do not limit their choices to items available only
at 50% of retail, or less. These buyers have the advantage of purchasing from
a wider pool of available components, but they may pay more than 50% of
retail if the market dictates a higher price. These components will not be
available to buyers in the first category, because an offer of 50% of retail for
one of these items will fail, and a buyer willing to pay the market price will
win the item.

So, I see the possibility of both scenarios being correct, and appropriate to
their core buyers.
I try to look for items priced so that if I don't like it in my system I can resell and not lose too much. I went through three preamps this way and it didn't cost me too much as I lived with each one for a while and then sold them for a little less than I paid because I had to eat the shipping.
Tvad, I admit I am confused after reading your post. You say I need more education in what constitutes a market, and then the entire rest of your post agrees with what I have said in mine, just with different wording. You and I are saying the exact same thing really, I think. The confusion lies in how the term market is being used. Let me give a couple of examples. Say you have a rabid collector of something, it doesn't matter what, who is missing only one item from a complete set. This person will almost certainly be willing to pay a price far higher than most buyers for that missing item. Does this drive up what people call the market price for that item in general? No. To use a more specific audio example, say you have a very rich person who likes to buy the latest and greatest new product. He pays full price for each new item he buys, but turns around and almost immediately sells it for far less than he paid for it, perhaps as little as a tenth of what he originally paid, because something newer and supposedly better just came out. Does the way this person operates set a standard for the rest of the market prices? Again, no. These kinds of people are not doing their buying and selling based on the market price, and could care less about the market price, and these are extreme examples of what I mean when I say the market does not determine every price. Every buyer and every seller are different, which we certainly agree on, and on the internet you get all kinds of buyers and sellers in the same marketplace. What you are calling the market price changes on almost a daily basis for many items, and different markets have different prices. Prices on audiogon can be very different from those on ebay, for very different reasons. Every user of these sites has seen incredible prices, both good and bad, on both. In this constantly changing world of prices, which I have observed in the audio world very closely for a while now, I have found that very general 50% mark to hold up over the long term. Even here on audiogon, where buyers are normally willing to pay a little more because they know they are buying from reputable sellers, this is still very often the case. I have seen a great many used items listed on this site much higher than that, and almost all of those prices eventually come down, and many of those that don't never do get sold. On ebay, this would be even more true. Many buy it now prices are so high that they don't even get sold, unless to a buyer truly desperate for that item, and us audiophiles have probably all been that buyer at some point. I know I have, for a certain recording I couldn't find in a store for over 20 years and then it suddenly popped up on ebay. But normally, unless the item is very collectible, or a hard to find vintage item, or the seller has a reserve that is set too high, most often auctions for a used item don't go much above 50% of the original retail price on ebay. There are of course very frequent exceptions - I am talking about long term trends. In this sense, the market does set a price range - but it does not set ALL prices, and the prices it sets one week can be completely different the next, as any regular visitor to ebay knows. There are always exceptions to every rule. I may not define a market and how it operates the same way you or do, and almost certainly not as an economist would, but that is just semantics. I have watched the used high end audio market for a long time now, and I stand by what I have said about it. For most items (not all), a great many people don't usually pay more than half the original retail. You just don't have to if you do your homework and have enough knowledge about the particular item you want to buy (as I think you said yourself in one of your earlier posts), and this is true over the long term regardless of the average price range the market is setting at any given time, or of how it may temporarily fluctuate. So that is why I still advise the original poster that he doesn't have to pay above that mark for most used items if he doesn't want to, and I know many audiophiles and collectors of all sorts would agree.