New or used???

I'm currently building a two-channel system starting with the speakers, and of all the speakers in the $3-$6K price range I have listened to (including Joseph RM25XL, Paradigm S6, B&W 804S, Totem Forest, Thiel CS 2.4, PSB Synchrony 1) the Von Schweikert VR-4JR, Dali Helicon 400 and Sonus Faber Grand Pianos and Cremonas all stood out for me.

Here's my dilemma ... For budgetary concerns (and so my fiancée doesn't kill me), I'm trying to keep the speaker purchase near $5K. I was wondering if any of you have any advice on buying new (the VR-4JRs or Dalis) vs. used (such as picking up the Cremonas or a pair of VR-4SRs used) as well as your opinion on how these speakers compare to each other. Thanks for your help.
I just cannot get myself to purchase new anymore. I would look into used speakers. Go and see them, look at the drivers and inspect the cabinet's and listen to them and most likely you are going to save yourself a bundle. New Fiancee your going to need the money if the kiddies are on the way in the future plans.All in all good luck with your purchase.
skip the cones and consider the mg 3.6 . they are attractive with their wood frame and grill cloth.
Go used. There are many great deals here on Audiogon and many sellers are selling gear that is in mint or near mint condition. Pay attention to the feedback they have received however. I have been burned. Also, pay attention to how long they have been Audiogon members, and their posts, if any, on the discussion forum. With these cautions, I believe that you can buy with a high degree of confidence and the cost saving can be quite significant.
Someone has to buy new so there will be used for sale.
Here's my dilemma ... For budgetary concerns (and so my fiancée doesn't kill me), I'm trying to keep the speaker purchase near $5K.

Go for broke and buy what you want now. If she kills you, you die a quick, painless death with great speakers, as opposed to the long slow death that's a side effect of marriage with lesser speakers. Married men don't actually live longer, it only seems that way. :)

Seriously, buy used, but I would only buy local so that I could audition, and also make sure that they are in proper condition (and save the shipping nightmares).

Figure that you will lose 50% value the day you pick something out new or used.

Electronics has the worst depreciation of any consumer category and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

Additionally, the aftermarket is fueled by tweakers who are constantly moving on to the next best thing. Your model, used or new, will likely not be desired, as "new" or "better" product is served up as the replacement technology. Very few audiophile products have an iconic status that hold up against the test of time.

Also, audiophile space is littered by small engineering companies that are usually undercapitalized and or have limited distribution. You are paying the R & D dreams of some inventor.

The premier English and Canadian companies know value out of the box. ATC studio monitors from the UK and PSB and Paradigm from Canada make excellent product. The quality and build is excellent. With that said, most consumer oriented audiophile gear can't hold a candle to pro gear--the best pro gear from ATC, Harbeth and Tannoy will run circles around the speakers you have auditioned, and are built to be played often to professional sound engineer ears that make their living and reputation by them. Before you buy the next great audiophile product, I would seriously view pro gear as an option, especially active designs preamped that eliminate the need for amplification components and cables (and an optimal signal path).

I would try the ATC 20-2 or 16A--true honest and transparent sound.

If you want to go with separates, Almarro is a wonderful tube amp company out of Japan.RFD makes the best sounding integrated amps out of the UK. Both companies offer simplistic design sourced from solid parts. Try to match the speaker to these first.
if you have to ask...
used is green.
The good news is that, the price of used speakers except the flavor of the month depreciate from the new price considerably.
Indeed if in need of repairs shortly after after aquiring them, most speaker repairs are relatively simple, For instance new surrounds. If a driver is blown e.g. a burnt voice coil, replacements exact OEM are generally avaiable, and simple to exchange.
The bad news though is that used full range floor standing speakers are incredibly hard to ship. A true hard ship. Good luck.
Ever consider monitors? Better WAF easy to ship,don't sound like the big speakers no replacement for discplacement.
I will not buy speakers that have to be shipped.I have had two episodes that caused me to question the wisdom of using anyone other than myself to transport them-ESPECIALLY if they were expensive,and or large.Besides,I want to hear anything used that costs over $1K.
Bobgofury said: Figure that you will lose 50% value the day you pick something out new or used.

I disagree with the "used" part of this assertion. Buying used can be a very good way to get equipment. I know this from experience since I've bought quite a lot used in recent years. I just recently sold a high-end SACD player (which I bought used) for more than I paid for it 18 months ago. Also, my previous tubed preamp (bought used) was sold for only a very small loss compared to what I paid for it after having it for a couple of years. Your point about new equipment losing value the day you buy it is valid.

To the OP: buying used speakers is OK especially if you can avoid the hassles of shipping. I have a pair of Electrovoice Patrician 800's in a secondary system that are nearly 40 years old that sound fantastic (they are all original). Good luck.
Every piece I have is used and I have had no issues yet "from my mouth to Gods ears" I have in the past purchased new and to truth support from the dealers stunk.I would rather take my chance used and save and if I have a problem down the road pay for repairs. used list as of now
Classe Dr-5 Pre purchased off of Ebay love it
power amps B&K M200 and an Amber series 70 both off of Audiogon
sound dynamics 300ti off of Audiogon
tuners both Kenwood 8300&Mitsubishi DF-20 Thrift store finds
cd players and dvd Audiogon
all cables off of Audiogon
so I have no issues and will continue in the future buying used off of Audiogon.
I used to purchase everything new. Now I'm older and wiser and let someone else take the 50% plus depreciation. Some used audio equipment is better than new because it is already burned in. All you have to do is get an honest seller or audition the equipment yourself. If you have a good tech that can check the electronics out before purchasing very expensive items all the better. I've been careful and have not been burned. I've bought near mint magnepan speakers (picked them up myself) and superb electronics from innersound, PS audio,luxman, McCormack & Lector all for 25-50 cents on the dollar.
Hi Jhkear,
I noticed that you didn't mention auditioning anything from JM Lab. IMHO that is an unfortunate omission. Used speakers from the Utopia and Electra lines are frequently available for a good price on Audiogon and it's a well established company if service is needed. Personally, in your price range, I would look at the pre Beryllium Mini or Mezzo Utopias.
Always Used. That way the Hi-End becomes middle earth. Here is the formula to use. Assume when purchased new, the buyer got a 20% discount off MSRP, could have been more but let us not push it. Offer between 40 to 60% of the twenty off number, starting at the low side to discount for finish defects etc. Once a price is agreed, then the shipping, packing and paypal fees issues can be addressed. The latter should be additions to the price. Never purchase a unit if any of the drivers are not working as replacements will destroy the cost effectiveness of the deal.
More on used. Look for widows that are selling the husband's system. In most cases these widows are not very attached to the system, even if they know the value. If the dead spouse was selling the stuff, they are emotionally involved. Most widows become shocked and outraged when told what the husband paid for their stuff. In most cases the widow totally resents the system as it always came between the couple. Widows are so glad to get rid of the stuff. How do you find widows? Well, I found two and the equipment sold was top notch and a great buy. Is that taken advantage? No, I always made them aware of what the equipment cost new.
Im just curious did you offer these so called bereaved widows anything else besides cash for their dearly departed ones stereo gear?
"Look for widows that are selling the husband's system."

And just how in the world does one go about finding these outraged widows? Does one surreptitiously slither into a passing funeral procession, cozy up to the bereaved, rat him out and suggest it would serve him right if his most prized possession wound up in your hands? Good god man!
On second thought - In spite of the occasionally heated rhetoric, I've always thought of my fellow Audiogoners as family. In keeping with that sentiment in which I'm sure many of us share, I hereby call upon audiogon to post obituaries of it's deceased members and... Oh my!... this is just too sad, I'm overcome with grief, I can't go on.
Wow ... I didn't expect my question to cast us into a moral quandary. However, all this mention of surreptitious slithering and other sibilant descriptors does get me really interested in delving into the dark side of audiophilia :)

On a more serious note, thanks to everyone for responding. This is the first true high-end system I'm purchasing for myself (I'm still using the old Bose 550 receiver I bought more than 20 years ago with my paper route money - it may not be high-end, but it's served me well for a long time), and it's a bit intimidating when there are so many choices and a huge spectrum of prices.

Thanks, Tiger for the formula, and Bongofury and Phaelon for the additional suggestions. I'll see if I can find those brands locally (I'm in Denver) to listen to them.
Rather than putting $5,000 toward speakers, you may want to consider putting something like $2,500 toward a good integrated tube amp (example: used VTL integrated IT-85) and the other $2,500 toward a used pair of Sonus Faber Grand Pianos or something similar. I fear your Bose 550 receiver may not be up to making music of $5,000 speakers and for that budget there are a lot of combinations folks could recommend. IHMO of course. Jeff
Your initial post suggested, to me at least, that a speaker purchase was just your starting off point and that appropriate supporting equipment would be forthcoming. If your entire budget hovers around $5000 then Jj2468 is absolutely correct. Don't blow your entire budget on speakers. Use the audiogon classifieds and keep asking for help on these forums - there are some knowledgeable people here. IMO, the synergy between your equipment is more important than the equipment.


Tvad, this post screams for your input.
If budget for everything is $5k (though your post explicitly states speakers only to start with), by all means spread it around. If just speakers, you will get a lot more bang for buck out of used than new.

I have bought almost everything used - speakers (twice), amps (3x), CD player (2x), preamp (1x), turntables (4x), phono (1x), crossover (1x), cables (several). The only stereo equipment I've bought new in the last 25yrs are a few odd accessories, a cartridge, a tonearm, and a phono stage. That and LOTS AND LOTS OF MUSIC.

If you want to spend your hard-earned money and keep what you buy for a long time, spend some time listening before you buy. Do a search of audio clubs in your area and see if you can't get invited to some members' homes for a listen. There are very few things which show up only once (so you can afford to wait), and there are certainly lots of choices in that price range if going used. For that money, definitely listen first. One could get large Thiels, nice Magnepans, Merlins, older Soundlabs, the Shahinian Obelisks (cheaper than $5k but I'd love to listen to them), you might find some used horns in that range, some electrostats such as Innersound or MartinLogan, and the list goes on... [disclaimer: no affiliation with anyone selling anything]
I apologize for seeming to mislead everyone. My budget for a system is around $10K, and the Bose definitely won't be a part of the system. I was thinking either separate amp and preamp or going with an integrated (I've heard both the Macintosh MA6900 and the Musical Fidelity A1008, and both were great), but any input is much appreciated. I did also hear the Grand Pianos and, although they were impressive, the Cremonas were clearly a big step up.
Nice sounding gear from the UK that has great synergy is the Rega Apollo CD player, Rega P3-24 turntable, integrated amps by either RFD or Roksan (I have the Kandy), and ATC 11 or 19 speakers or B & W 803s. NAD makes great amps, the 372 and M3, both made in China, which can be interchanged for the RFD or Roksan. The whole system will set you back a few thousand.
Jhkear, that clarification will help.

You did not mention what music you like and what your listening priorities are and these would help Audiogoners help you. If your like listening to electronica quite loud, and want to have your lungs vibrate a bit like on the floor of a Moscow danceclub, the 6900 and Cremonas won't cut it (but $10k is more than fine). If you like to listen to closely-miked string quartets (with ever-so-delicate phrasings) more than anything else in the world, you might consider horns (or other efficient speakers) and a low-power single-ended amplifier. There are a range of solutions in between.

I think the MA6900 is decent too, but I would listen around to see if there is anything else which floats your boat.

I also advise searching the forum archives for "$10k" or "$10,000" to see what pops up. There may be quite a few threads asking for similar advice on systems.
I second T_bone's advice and urge you to find some local audio enthusiasts who are willing to guide you. Please take no offense, but IMO the chances of anyone new to the high end walking into a high end salon by themselves and maximizing the return on their $10,000 investment is remote. I don't care how good you think your ears are, it would be like someone unfamiliar with fine wine showing up to a blind tasting and selecting the Grand Cru Bordeaux. And you can't depend on your friendly charismatic retailer having your best interest at heart. Below if the website for the Colorado Audio Society.

Here is one for the "buy new" team. The audio gear that I buy new are my BABIES, not someone else's sloppy 2nds. I don't know what you've done with your speaker ports, and frankly, I don't want to know. I want to be the first (and only) one to get friendly with my speaker ports.

Find a good dealer (they ARE out there) and BUY NEW. It's fun. Don't be a scrooge. Buy the right components the first time, buy them new, and keep them.
Thanks Bongofury, T_bone, Phaelon and Goatwuss. A friend of mine who has more experience "shopping" for high-end has actually been showing me the ropes, so your advice has already been well-heeded, Phaelon (but great advice, nonetheless). As for listening tastes, I have quite a range, from afrobeat (Fela Kuti is god) and krautrock (Can, Neu, etc.) to jazz (lots of In a Silent Way period Miles, early Bill Evans, Tito Puente/Eddie Palmeri) and hip hop (prefer old school) to reggae (Burning Spear, Lee Scratch Perry) and all varieties of soul/funk and rock ... and, yes T_bone, even a bit of electronica/house music.

Thus far, I've spent vastly more energy (and $$$) putting together my music collection (my fiancee and I own more than 5K CDs ... her music is mostly world music), so I decided it was time I really "listen" to my collection. Anyways, I'm babbling, but I truly love music, so I'm open to any suggestions you all may have as to fitting equipment for someone with my schitzophrenic tastes.
Jhkear, with 5k CDs, it appears as if you have your priorities sorted. Next it is simply (ha!) a matter of choosing your tools.

While I applaud Goatwuss for his supporting his friendly local dealer, those of us who use horns don't have to worry too much about the speaker port business. And anyone with those ideas playing with tube electronics has a good reason for selling anyway. If I bought new, I would be more inclined to buy direct from a manufacturer but that is my own preference and people should do what makes them most comfortable. Personally, I am happy to 'recycle' good electronics (I never would have been able to buy my system new) and be slightly scrooge-y.

As for what equipment would be good, the listening part is key. If I knew then what I know now, I would have started (and I started with a budget similar to yours, maybe a bit less) with Oris horns and some bass cabinets, some tube amps (maybe using 845 tubes for the mid and treble, and KT88s for the bass?), and for CD player, I'd be doing it on a PC (Mac actually) feeding a DAC (and to get all that for $10k, you might have to go used and DIY...). But that's just me...

Best of luck, and let us know how you get on...
5k CDs, eclectic variety - nicely done. Many of the good folks here on Audiogon are well healed hobbyists who build there systems by continuously trading one piece of equipment for another; there is nothing wrong with that but it can be a very expensive way of doing things and, except for the lucky few, cost prohibitive if your always buying retail. That's not what I'm getting from you. I'm sensing you're about the music and that the equipment is simply a means to that end. Over time, high end equipment will expose you to musical insights and and nuances previously unappreciated; your listening skills and personal taste is going to evolve. All systems involve compromise and I guess what I'm wishing for you is the flexibility to make a few advances down the road without taking the financial hit you will surely take if you buy retail. I have a passion for tubes but it took time for that to develop. I'm only telling you what I wish someone told me 20 years ago.