Modified equipment...

I want feedback on buying/selling modified equipment. Do think mods devalue gear or add value in some cases? Don't you think you're better off leaving a piece of gear stock as it came from the factory and just upgrading to a better component altogether??
Add the price of the mod to the retail price of the unit to come up with a combined price. Depending on the specific unit and who di the work it can definately add value. At the very least you should disclose the work done so that the buyer can expect a difference in performance (hopefully a great improvement!) and no that the warranty has been voided.
Leave it stock. While they're may be a plethora of great mods out there, if you intend to resell later, trying to explain the mods to someone unfamiliar with them is imho a pretty big turn off. Individual components are voiced to work as an system, or they ought to be, that's why you're dealing with a professional designer in the first place, right?
In the same vein, manufacturers who tout their great sounding components and then simultaneously offer an upgrade package including the parts that REALLY make it sound great are kinda goofy too. Yeah I know they're trying to hit their price points, but what they really accomplish is making their "unimproved" models instantly obsolete.
As a final note, it used to be a comfort to see any manufacturer who offered just one model preamp, power amp, etc. Ostensibly this was the best he wanted to offer the public. Integrity of purpose and integrity of design, if these things are important to you, don't fix it if its not broken.
I've modified my Rega RB300 tonearm with Incognito kit spending additional $400. Original arm price is $425.
1. I can only sell this arm for $400(+-) loosing more than half of my investment(basically mods only giving arm free)
2. It's still Rega arm that doesn't give you desirable high end adjustment options. It will be still Rega even if you will thread through SME tonearm wires or any other high performance wires.
3. The imaging had been greatly improved compared to the original arm but value had been decreased.

So what's the alternative?
Sell original Rega arm for $200~225 and get used SME309 for ~$800(there are bunch of excellent arms in that range becides SME) which is price of modified Rega with all adjustment options, greater performance and certainly better value.

In any other cases such as modyfying already engineered components through the company that did not manufacture them wasn't realy a value increase or a good investment.

Am I dumb after all?
-- Yes I am, but that's the audiogon forums are here for to let us fellows tell how dumb we are!

The moral is B4 mods think about aquiring a better component to compare the final values. ...sort of playing chess where you have to think 5-10 moves ahead.

Cheers, Mara
We make it a policy not to accept non factory modified gear.
I don't think you can make one general rule.

I think that a lot of people shy from modified gear because of uncertainty about the gear. Big Companies do not spend all that advertising $$$ creating brand recognition for nothing. The sad part of this is that most of the time advertisisng is a greater cost than parts for the piece. I do not know of any studies but I believe that a modification will cause most folks to shy away and therefore limit ( not necesarily fatal) your secondary market. Just a hunch.

That being said I would not shy away from any modifieid gear if I know who did the work and can talk to them. I like to tweak myself and I think the best values are in tweaked equipment if you know what you are looking for. Just improving the caps to your crossovers to your tweeters, for example, will do wonders. You can't believe the junk that is used in very expensive stuff (7-10k range). Far more important than interconnects or wire from my listening.. at a fraction of the cost. Same is true with amps too.

I really do not agee w/ rock virgo re designers. Companies are under big pressure to cut costs and they do just that. They spend huge amounts on ads convincing us otherwise. The designers are under the bean counter's thumb. I do agree with him that a lot folks will shy away from what they do not really understand and not buy modified unless they know you.

I do not have trouble selling an occasional modified piece locally because people know me. I do not think I would want to have to sell lots of modified stuff though.

If you want to keep a piece and know the modifier - buy it. I have heard old tweaked Dynaco ST70s (that's right- the 40 year old junk coming through Audigon for 250-$400) that will compare with most anything new at 10-20 times the price. You have to put a few hundred into it of course.

Nice thing is you get something unique too!

Just an opinion.
Get the mod only if you want it. I have some gear modified by Stan Warren who is very popular on this site. If I ever sell this stuff it will probably only sell well to a person looking for stuff modded by Stan.

Manufacturers use components they can get in large enough quantities to meet estimated demand, and to meet the price point they want to set. This means it is not necessarily the best parts in sound quality. The time it takes to put the unit together also matters in the design, so a better design may be passed over to save labor cost. The modifier only needs to find parts for your unit.

The only Stan modded unit I have that is probably worth more than a stock unit is my Pioneer DVD player I use in my den/home office system. DVD player makers come out with new models every 6 months, so mine while is only over a year old, is now 2 models obsolete to Joe Consumer. It sells stock on eBay used for only $80. I should be able to do a lot better selling on Audiogon as a CD player which is what the mod if for.
You will never get your money out of mods to equipment on resale--NEVER. Unless you absolutely LOVE the piece of equipment, and are committed to keeping it long-term, paying for mods is a BAD BAD BAD idea. And if you try to do your own mods, then congratulations--you've just married that piece of kit.

I won't touch a modded piece of gear w/a ten-foot pole, UNLESS the mod is done by the manufacturer/designer himself. HelloMusic is dead-nuts correct.
I recently sold a Dan Wright modded 333es. I had 20 offers in one night. I don't believe that blanket statements really can apply here. I was able to get good value on the price paid for the mods. On the topic of mods I have found them the most cost effective way to improve the performance of certain gear. I would not mod an uktra expensive piece but to get extra perfomance out of something like a rega tonearm, Pioneer DVD player or the Sony sacd players that are being modded is really were the big benefits are. The resale value of the mods will differ greatly case by case. Exchanging parts for ones of higher quality is very simple and will do no harm to the long term operation and will have incredible results for the dollar. I would happily buy any modded equipment as long as I know specifically what was done and by whom.
well...never say never. I've gotten my money out of mods. You would never do it to some pieces just bc. of warranty. For many pieces it's not so bad and is often very efective. You will probably never sell it to a retailer like HellosimplyMusic.
i think some tried and true mod companies (stan warren; great northern audio) will not improve the resale but will allow you to sell it without a give away price. i have bought one piece of gear that was modded (by the designer himself as sf). it would not work with my equipment. he took it back (thank goodness). that was the last piece i will buy that is modded. fwiw.
Agree with Chelillingworth, it all depends on the success and reputation of the mod. For over 20 years modified DQ-10 Dahlquists(mirror-imaged, updated crossovers..etc)have been of more value than stock. It all depends on how well received the after-market mods are.

AMG Mercedes mods were so successful that Mercedes bought AMG...and what does this have to do with Audio gear...perhaps more and more as time passes and the high-end continues to shrink. We may someday be left with people doing mods to mainstream electronics for a "high-end".
What about SMC modified McCormack equipment? I think these mods would return some of their additional cost and SMC waranties their entire product.
While I agree there is no blanket rule on modded gear, I do not see a problem with modified gear from some the known people, ie Stan Warren, Steve Huntley. These people have been at the game for some time. What I would stray away from is the the hobbyist (home tweaker) who has too much time on his hands, solder, and a soldering gun. Ive been to some audiophiles homes to look into purchasing equipment, If I see a work table and lots of reisitors, caps, and parts lying around, I wouldnt touch what that person was selling.
I would had again that some part swapping is very simple work and that some of the people that work on their own equipment can be much more skilled than those at the factory that put it together especially with the case of mass market gear like the aforementioned Sony and Pioneer. Like everything you have to make an educated decision. With lower priced gear the improvement in sound can be profound and the effect on your wallet relatively light. By being overly sqeamish you can really miss out on some great value. I know for a fact that having Dan Wright, Richard Kern or Ric Shultz work on a Sony Sacd player and the value increases dramatically, just a fact.
I Agree Chelillingworth. If I was a skeptic I would even say that the industry has a real interest in folks not doing mods because, if they do not, it keeps things under their control and also keeps the whole thing so unknown and mysterious. If you stop thinking about buying and start thinking tweaking you will find that audio (for the most part) is a mature technology and state secrets are few (at all but the very highest end.) Upgrades, even on pretty good stuff, are painfully obvious and inexpensive.
I think it really depends on the gear. A mod on an inexpensive digital piece is different than a mod on a piece of classic gear say an amplifier or pre-amp.

For classic gear, folks are looking for stock, unmodified unless performed by the manufacturer. There are too many uncertainties related to mods. Unless you are doing it for yourself, don't do it and/or expect to get market value when reselling, it WON'T happen.
i find it interesting that even factory mods can diminish the perceived value of a component. for instance, when i was selling my 508.24, people were adamant about wanting an "original" 508.24 (which mine was), and not a 508.20 that had been upgraded by meridian. although an "upgraded" 508.24 is functionally identical to an "orignal 508.24, the upgraded unit would fetch a lower price for some mysterious reason. but whatever.
It's funny how these topics very so much from group to group. This forum is based at secondary retail site and maybe folks just think that way. You go some places and mods are just taken for granted, every one mods and it's almost just taken for granted. I don't know - if you want sound - and you know a qualified person, it's a no brainer if you ask me. Granted, I do not hang with folks spending 50k for their systems, but quite a few sound like they do.
You're right Clueless. It is very site dependent. First, mods are performed with the intent of increasing the enjoyment (read performance) from a particular piece of equipment. Rarely is thought given to "resale" because the hope is that the improvement will allow the component to stay in the system longer before a complete change is desired.

True, the cost of the mod parts and labor are rarely recouped, but that is secondary to the desire of improved performance. Certainly, the qualifications of the individual performing the mod is worthy of consideration, but I find it rather amazing that people seem to be under the delusion that a factory mod is performed by the designer himself. Rarely is that the case.

Not to diminish any of the accomplishments of any one audio designer, but very few have created anything "new" in terms of audio design. Most have improved previously existing circuits through better components or novel approaches, and improved marketing. Sorry, folks, but they're not gods.

For a retailer having to deal with customers that have no knowledge of electronics, I can understand the business decision to avoiding handling modified gear. Most of the dealers aren't EE, so they can't explain the mods or their intended improvement, and few customers have the luxury to really listen to stock versus modified equipment before purchasing. The same is true for many of the hobbyists at this site. This is unfortunate.

However, modified gear can be one of the best bargains on the used market. The buyer should expect improved (usually much more expensive) parts for which the manufacturer would have to charge 4 or 5 times the cost. Yes, manufacturers are concerned about getting a "sound" from their gear, but first and foremost they are in business to make a profit. Almost all products are designed to a price point, so the cost and availability of individual components is very critical. Rarely is the "best possible" component used as opposed to the "best possible component at a price". To improve profitability, the cost of the components and/or labor to assemble must go down, or the retail price goes up. This usually necessitates a "new and improved" model to justify the price increase, and the circle begins again.

There is an advantage for the industry to keep audio rather mysterious so that we must all worship at the alter of our favorite designer/manufacturer. For those who wish to follow, I hope you have the money to support the mark up (x4 or x5) for the "mods" (again, mods at a price point) that your favorite designer has incorporated into his/her latest new product which you will likely pay big bucks to acquire.

I'm sorry if I've offended anyone with my diatribe, but audio mods can be very worthwhile for all current and future owners of the gear. Get all the info you can on the mods and the qualifications/background of the installer. Then, if you determine that the mods were of quality and of value, go for it. You just may have purchased the next generation (or beyond) of your favorite manufacturer at a fraction of the cost of that "totally new" model which by the way, just went up in price by 20%.

Enjoy the music.
Jctubes I couldn't agree more with your post. The point is regardless of performance improvements most folks DON'T want a modified component performed by anyone other than the manufacturer. I have a pair of MC-60's that have been extensively modified over the years by a guy that really knew what he was doing and had extensive experience with this product, he owned a pair for 30 years. They are dramatically better than the stock version that is for sure. But a while back when I tried to sell them, when prospective buyers found out they had been modified they weren't interested.

Does this invalidate my decision to mod them in the first place and would I do it again? No and indeed I would for the pleasure derived from the improvements. You certainly hit on all the important points both pro and con.