New vs Used when buying please share thoughts

I would like to get peoples thoughts on new vs.used equipment. Is there anything you should not buy used such as speakers due to warrenty loss etc.. I am in the begining stages of setting up a system. I thought why not pose the question before I get knee deep in the buying process. I am new to the hifi world, and would like the comments from people who are in the know. If used is the way to go is Audiogon the place to buy it? Are there any pitfalls I should watch out for? I want to thank people in advance for responding to this thread. I think your responses will make my decision clearer. Again Thanks to everyone.
My entire system, except for the rack, was constructed from Audiogon. When you can buy something at 45-60% less than retail with no tax, it is hard to argue with that. There is no doubt that there is risk involved. However, I would never have this system with this risk.

There is risk in sending a stranger a cashier's check.

There is risk in shipping heavy/delicate equipment, no matter which carrier you use.

There is risk that you can get carried away and overextend yourself with all the unbelievable buys.

That said, I personally think the risk is worth it. You can pretty much find anything you want here. Speakers are the most problematic. I would suggest purchasing a demo pair from a dealer through audiogon, so that you can have the full warranty. Ask the seller to take detailed photos of all the sides of the equipment out of the box and in the box in case you need to process a claim through the shipping company. If you purchase speakers that have good customer service, ask that they be shipped first to the factory for evaluation at your cost. Look for reputable sellers with good feedback, long-time members, and those that contribute to discussion. There are plenty of dealers online who have stores you can call. Make contact by email and phone so that you can get an idea of who you are dealing with, especially for the big-ticket items.

There are some really good seller here, who are very professional and reasonable. Sometimes unfortunate things out of anyone's hands do happen. Just remember to remain reasonable and try to work it out. Also, if you are the type that expects a piece of used equipment to look and smell like brand new, then you might be set up for disappointment (although almost all the things I bought were extremely well cared for).

Good luck,
I have been building a high-end system from money saved while in the Mid East for the Iraq war. Around 90 % has come off Audiogon--and I would say I built about a 35-50K system for a bit over 20K. Buying used is the only way to go if you cannot afford to upgrade as warranty nears or as a new model is introduced; with a price that would take some people's entire years income to buy! Most of my stuff is 2-5 years old and cost twice to three times what I would have paid new.

As for turntables, arms, cartridges IMHO should be bought new (too fragile to ship and could have been damaged or abused), for speakers they should be heard first, however if you can get some good advice from fellow Audiogoners, buying a set of used speakers is a good idea, but remeber to ask for pictures and consider the shipping costs. Also are there repairs available?

I buy all my cables and tweaks of Audiogon and so far I have not had to give any neg feedbacks and I feel that msot out there are honest. Any other inputs form Audiogoners!
I'm pretty sure everyone hear is going to suggest audiogon as the place to buy used. I also think that most people here will suggest buying used instead of new. When you consider the fact that you can usually find a mint condition product for half of retail that has been lightly used for a couple months, it doesn't make sense to buy new. As far as warranty, rarely do I hold on to anything long enough to have any warranty issues.
The most important issue other than finding equipment which has "syenergy" w/each other, your tastes & the room in which these components will be going in, is the SELLER'S reputation/track record of honesty and integrity. Good communication is vitual as well. Trust your instincts. I've bought quite a few things on AudiogoN and E-bay and "knock on wood," so far not one single issue. Proper packing of the item is essential. Absolutely nothing wrong w/buying used as long as you know your seller. There are always risks involved, however. My 2 cents. Bill
Buying used audio equipment is a lot like buying a used car.
You can get a wonderful deal, or a lemon!
Buying used is a risk. A risk many feel comfortable with.
The most important part of buying used is to find sellers you can trust.
Personally, sellers who have too many sales in a short period, are not selling personal equipment, they are dealers in reality, if not openly so named. And I would avoid them.
The best sellers are selling equipment they have used, and are upgrading. It has not sat in a closet for five years, nor been just picked up at the local electronics bargain fair!
If the person you email is gruff, or annoyed by questions, I would pass on that seller too. Ask a stupid question already answered in the ad to feel out if they are jerks. I decent person WILL spend the time to answer your question! The ones who get nasty... pass.
Pay for decent shipping! FedEx 3 day is the best. Expensive but your gizmo will arrive safe. The worst are ground anything, FedEx, UPS, postal ground all suck. Find stuff that has the original box and manual! Usually the original owner will have these if they own a house. (Some folks do not have the room to save all the boxes, but if they are the original owner, I would go for it.
These ideas are specifically for the first time buyer used, and do not appy to seasoned used shoppers. (So don't crucify me 'goN'ers)
The reasons to buy used are to save money! perhaps to buy a great item that is no longer produced.
To buy new: warranty.
New OR used, the item could have problems, and so that part of the picture is not as important as it might seem. But avoid products that cannot be repaired, because no parts can be had, or because they are too expensive to repair (mid priced $400 used, CD players come to mind, too expensive to repair!, just toss and get a new one!)
Good information in the above posts about doing whatever you can to get to know the seller, preferably through asking a few questions in person.

One thing I'd like to amplify upon is the risk of shipping. I've had very good luck in finding wonderful equipment here from buyers who are honest and helpful but two of the last three items I've bought have arrived damaged because of inadequate packing.

It's important to have the original box available but that's just the start. Many original boxes were designed only to hold the gear while stacked on a palatte with other boxes, not to withstand the handling while being shipped individually. That's particularly true of some equipment that might be considered consumer-grade but even some very high-end gear comes from the manufacturer in packing that clearly was just an after-thought.

Rigid foam, styrofoam or equivalent, just doesn't work if that's the only protection the gear has. The first jolt crushes the foam and the second one damages the gear. Using a combination of resiliant material and rigid foam seems to help a lot and double boxing is good insurance.

It may be difficult to negotiate with the seller over the quality of the packing but it's worth paying attention to. Insurance is important but settling a claim satisfactorily is difficult, sometimes impossible, and it's very disappointing to find a deal on a piece of equipment you really want and then open the box to find it damaged.

This shouldn't discourage you from buying used, I've bought lots of stuff and highly recommend the process, but this is just part of the diligence in making sure you have a good experience.
I agree with the other guys..Audiogon has alot of really nice and honest audiophiles selling gear.Regardless if it's new or used. I personally only buy from someone who excepts paypal.No matter how good the product looks.If I can't go and pick it up.. paypal is my only payment option.I am also more comfortable buying from someone with at least a little feedback.But everyone has to start some where so I can give the benefit of the doubt if I talk to them on the phone.If their unwilling to give a contact number I won't bother.
My biggest gripe is communication..if the seller has poor communication I pass them by.
come on guys! you can't keep hyping the used market or nobody is gonna be buying the new stuff!!!!
You know, some of us live in very rural areas and don't even have a real opportunity to buy new. I've been buying and selling used through audiogon for a while. You get to know what kind of people you're dealing with usually after an e-mail or two. Some are serious and some are tire-kickers asking extra questions that are either already addressed in the ads or available on product websites. I've begun to have dealings internationally. Some great people in Europe. It's not a bad thing to have a blend of both new and used. As one other person said they don't keep long enough for a warranty to matter, but return policies are easier locally. Most A'goners set fair prices on their used equipment but still negotiate a bit. Then there are those, who no matter how low the price is, still offer ridiculously lower amounts. Funny how many of these items bought for next to nothing end up back for sale at twice the price paid. It's annoying and the reason you'll see some of the "don't jerk me around" specifics in some ads. I've been pretty lucky in my dealings with buyers/sellers on Audiogon, with only a very few items arriving at just a bit less than advertised ( some things suprisingly say "demo") but still acceptable. I find most fair and honest because we have multiple dealings and can't afford bad feedback. Best of luck.
OK, Geoff, I'll take the bait! If, as you say, you are new to the hi fi world, then buying used could be a long process involving a lot of trial and error and likely disappointment. My advice to my friends just starting out has always been to go to a good dealer or two that you can trust (I can recommend some in the NY tri-state and even Philadelphia areas, I'm sure others here can do the same in other towns), listen to a number of systems and buy a system that you've heard and sounds best to you. Remember that great equipment doesn't always sound its best without synergy with the rest of the system--hearing an entire system at a dealer's is a way to get around that problem. Your listening room will be a variable you can't control, but a good dealer can help you around that as well in making your choices. Then live with the system a while, find out what your tastes and biases are in the equipment and music you listen to. If ultimately you have something you'd like to change, then use the resources here, if your dealer can't help. Audiogon is a great place to get information and buy and sell equipment, but when you're starting out only you can tell yourself what sounds good to you, and not much used equipment here provides for an in-home audition before buying. My $.02.
I've used a combination of buying new & used, although most of my purchases have been used. I always make a phone call when I'm buying anything over a couple hundred & when someone wants to buy my gear, I include my phone # to encourage them to call me. The phone call gives you some insight into the person you're dealing with & although it's not about trying to psychoanalyze them, you'll get a gut feeling whether or not you should make the deal.

As others have poignantly brought up, packing is of major concern. No need to go over all the details mentioned but do make sure the seller will at least double box, unless the manufacturer is known for high quality original packing material. Offer to pay for the extra materials & the 3-day service does make a difference too.

As for payment, although I've never used escrow, that is one option. I also don't use paypal & although they have not personally burned me, I do know someone who has.

Timely responses to your inquires needs to be touched upon briefly. Lets say you found amp XYZ123 you really want & are the first to email the seller & say you want the amp, are committing to it & want to consummate the deal ASAP. You hear back from the seller 3 days later & they are wishy-washy about details, when they could ship, blah blah blah. Please quickly move on to the next seller, as this is indicative how the deal will go down, if it ever does. Most of the time when a "hot" item is listed, the emails start almost immediately & the seller is ususally ready to respond. That's not too say some excellent buys could be advertised for days w/o an inquiry, as it all depends on what you're looking for.

One more thing to add to buying used. Try & get the SN of the gear being sold & the better sellers will have them clearly visible in a photo, have it printed in the ad or will say email them for it. Stay away from those that refuse to give it. You can then check with the manufacturer to see if the SN corresponds with the description of the piece & also to get a feel about the kind of customer service you could expect if you needed service. There are some great threads in the archives about excellent customer service & also about not so great service. You can also check out the archives at Audio Asylum, as many 'philes frequent both sites.

Sorry this is getting long & although I only intended on writing a few lines... well, here's one last topic. Buying new. I bought my spkrs. new about 2 years ago from my local dealer. Unfortunately, they've developed a cosmetic problem & need to go back to the factory. My dealer came over to my house to look at them & this week the rep will come by & pick up the spkrs. to ship back. At the same time, the rep will leave me with another pair (brand unknown) so I can have some tunes. If you have a local dealer who will work with you, answer your questions & let you take gear home for demo's, they can be invaluable down the road. This is not to discourage you from buying used but only to suggest using the dealer & paying close to retail isn't always the least attractive way to go. Sometimes you have to buy from a dealer, as the factory doesn't sell direct & the item is either so good or new on the market that used ones never come up for sale. Also, there are some manufacturers that ONLY sell direct to the consumer, so all your concerns would be on a direct basis. There are some excellent dealers around but you have to figure out which ones you feel comfortable with. Again, there are past threads relating to this & many other topics.

Good luck with your search. Do let us know how your journey goes & what you wind up with, even if it's a year from now (or two).
Definitely - "USED".

I have purchased almost my entire system used here on Audiogon or on (dare I say it?!), Ebay.

I quite agree with Elizabeth regarding shipping. Be very careful which items you ship cheaply (i.e. ground shipping). I think most of us here on Audiogon have some horror story to tell about a piece shipped via ground that was lost, dinged, damaged, or just plain destroyed! Items such as turntables can be damaged fairly easily unless packaged well.

One thing I like to do is keep tabs on which sellers are local. I will usually make it quite clear to the seller that I am more than willing to pick up the unit and pay them in cash (or cashiers check if that makes them more comfortable.) You will find that most sellers, including myself, love to sell locally. It avoids all of the hassles of shipping, and the fear of getting burned.
I have purchased a good part of my system from local sellers for this reason. (Plus sometimes sellers will discount for local buers. Kind of tells you how much most of us dislike packaging up and shipping out our sold equipment, huh?!)

As far as which pieces of equipment should be purchased used?:
I suggest that almost all solid state equipment (preamps, amps, cd players, etc..) are fine.
Tube equipment can be shipped, but the tubes need to be protected.
Speakers can be shipped, however, be careful as they can be big and heavy and can cost big bucks, especially if they must go via a frieghter. (My Revel Studios cost several hundred dollars to ship.)
Regarding turntables and cartridges, agree with Mark7767. I suggest that unless you are very confident about the packaging, that turntables be bought new (or used locally).
Cartridges are the one item that probably should be bought new. Used cartridges seem to be the one item that can be damaged the easiest, and unless you are very knowledgable, a slightly damaged cartridge can be pawned off on you unsuspecting. Also, by buying a cartridge new, you can have the dealer install it for you, since installing a cartridge is not an easy thing to do if you are not experienced.

One last thing. If you buy anything in pairs (speakers, monoblock amps), beware of shipping them. I have seen several instances of shippers damaging or losing one, and then only paying half the insurance. Having one speaker or one monoblock amp does you no good. Make sure the shipper is aware that the insurance is for BOTH pieces to arrive safely or the entire insurance is to be paid.

Good Luck!
No time for too much love, so I'll just say that my best experiences and deals were buying used from dealers.
Saint2, welcome aboard!

Before buying anything on Audiogon I would suggest reading the forums extensively in order to get an idea of what you'd like to spend and which brands would appeal to you musically.

Also at the same time I would recommend visiting as many high end audio stores and listening to as much as you can in order to gain experience and form your own opinions about the equipment you've heard and how you like the music presented.

If you can listen to a friend's system that would probably be even better than visiting a store. At a friend's you can relax and spend more time trying different configurations. Also, since audio stores usually take more care to display the equipment than to set it up for maximum performance you might not get a good feel for the gear.

Unfortunately, the only reliable way to judge a component is in your own system. Auditioning equipment in a foreign acosutic environment to your home's can greatly reduce the reliability of the comparison.

That's one reason I've taken the expensive, but fun approach. I research, research, research, then buy it used on Audiogon.

I've learned far more about a piece of equipment from the give and take discussion on Audiogon than from reading any review in a magazine. I've rarely been disappointed and always enjoy hooking up a new piece of gear for the first time to see if everything I've read is true and to hear how it synergizes with the rest of my system.

I've had over 70 transactions on Audiogon and have had only one bad deal. I've bought and sold just about all types of components except large floorstanding speakers and big subwoofers. They can be a real challenge to package and ship safely.

If you're careful and do your research, I think you'll find that buying used is both satisfying and cost effective. Plus you'll make a lot of new friends.

Good luck!
How about this concept. Buying new stuff at used gear prices. That's right you can find brand new gear for 30 40 even better than 50% off. It'll take you a little time to figure it out but when you do it get's harder and harder to buy used.

I'll leave you with one little did bit of info. Anything in High end can be had brand new for 25% off retail pretty much any day of the week. and that's only the beginning!

One other thing I will recommend is bite the bullet and pay for the audiogon bluebook. It pay's for itself real quick, especially when your spending thousands of dollars on gear.

I renew my subscription every year, though my spending has slowed way down I still find it to be an invaluable reference tool.
I would like to thank everyone for there input, it is extremely helpful. I would like to say that buying used is appealing to me. Especially as the price goes up. I don't think in my life I have ever owned a new car, but I have learned that used can be nice if you do your research as Gunbei says. In that respect, I have been visiting hifi stores listening to everything, because I know from this forum that synergy is important. I also notoriously read disscussions on Audiogon to get insight on equipment.
Kurt, as far as local sellers go that would be my first choice. Everything else I buy used is local, and it is nice to see the item physically before buying it. I also agree with buying component pieces used by mail, if packed well they should be ok. Double boxing is also an excellent idea SFAR, I will keep that in mind. I never thought about getting the SN # from the equipment, but that is a good idea, Thanks Driver.
A few posts suggested to buy from sellers you can trust. Instinct will have to guide that decision because I am not familar with anyone on this site. Hopefully, my instincts will be as good as some of yours.
I do believe I will buy my speakers new from a dealer. Like Driver, I to believe in having a good relationship with a local dealer who does let me demo items at home. That type of relationship can be invauluable later.
Glen thanks for bringing up Audiogon Blue Book, I was looking at that yesterday. I will have to pursue that further. Thanks again all! From someone who is always browsing the forum.
I prefer to buy Cartridges new since they are so delicate. NOS tubes are also preferable to OOS (old old stock). Aside from those I believe used gear will give you the best value.
Anything with moving parts(like turntables), buy new. Anything without moving parts(like solid state amps), buy used.
In the past I've had problems with used cd players and transports. This is a piece you may want to buy new, and find something with a good track record.
Be very weary of "independent" sellers with tons of feedback and lots of products for sale. They are most likely working through a dealer and just whoring out the products with no warranty, or consience.

This is not a hard and fast rule, but look closely at history.
Used is fine except for cartridges. Had lots of used speakers, CD players, TTs,arms (check bearings), tuners (tube leak troughline) and tube amps (be prepared for service or new tubes). Just make sure you can hear it first or get a MBG from seller