Selling McCormack Upgraded Gear

No, I'm not selling mine - huh-uh, no way, never. Well, not unless I go to monoblocks.

Anyway, I notice most people agree McCormack's revisions make his gear comparable to stuff at much higher prices, yet I've noticed sellers on a'gon have relative difficulty selling the modded stuff at even reasonable prices (the Rev. A DNA-0.5 seems to be an exception for some reason.)

As an example, someone had monoblock rev. A DNA-1's on here, couldn't sell them at $3600 through classifieds, and I think he then auctioned them. I didn't get to see the final price, but I think the bid was about $2750 with half an hour left. There's a rev. A RLD-1 for $2600 that has been listed for over 2 months now.

Anyone have insight on why it's so difficult to sell these pieces? As a follow-up, are you losing money when you sell modded equipment across the board, or do some mods "hold their value" in resale, so to speak?
I have several pieces of McCormack gear myself and have had several people in the "audiophile" community get a good chuckle out of that, and a few have called it junk. That may have something to do with the lack of bidders and buyers here. Oh well, I've never really been trendy, but, like you, I don't have any intentions of selling my McCormack gear either.
Me either
'Anyone have insight on why it's so difficult to sell these pieces? As a follow-up, are you losing money when you sell modded equipment across the board, or do some mods "hold their value" in resale, so to speak?'

It's nothing personal against the McCormack gear, in fact McCormack's upgrades hold their value better than most. In my experiences modified gear does not recoup good re-sale value. I'm not saying any mod is not worth the price paid, but the original person who has the mods done will be lucky if they can recover more than 25% of their modification investment. I love modified equipment, especially from certain modifiers, but I'd wait and look to buy a used one already modified rather than take that hit myself.
I have a unit modded by a certain famous mod company. I basically paid what the average used price of a stock unit was, plus 25% of the initial modification price. So the guy that had the unit modified lost 75% of his mod 'investment'.

Bottom line, mods may well sound great, and hopefully they make you want to keep the unit for a long time, but they won't get you the return on your investment that you'd want them too. So it's either be happy with them, or take a bath selling them. I've been on both sides of the fence, I know.

I'm not really sure WHY the lack of return on the amount invested in mods. Maybe it has to do with some "untrust" in that the mods were ALL done by a reputable "modder" (like Steve McCormack) or an uncertainty that other things might have also been tried by the owner themselves. Maybe people feel that labor depreciates at a higher rate than the sometimes les significant cost of the parts used, I don't know.

My opinion is that one shouldn't go into a decision to mod with the specific idea of reselling but, rather, the idea of making the piece sound its best for their own pleasure. Otherwise, if your main concern is protecting some investment, maybe it is better to keep searching and replacing unmodded pieces until you find the one with which you’re happy - which, of course, could cost one even more in the long run.

With respect to my modded DNA-225, I went into it with the hope that it would sound SO good that I'd be keeping it for the VERY, VERY long-haul, but knowing that if it fell short, I'd not get back what I paid. Fortunately, but not surprisingly, I'll not be worrying about recouping my investment while I enjoy this very fine piece! :-)
4yanx, I'm sure your McCormack sounds great. Aggielaw wasn't talking about the quality of the sound of the McCormack upgrade though. He was questioning re-sale value.

FWIW, the seller of the RLD-1 is trying to recoup over 100% of his investment, that ain't gonna happen. That's why it's been sitting for over 2 months. He'd be very lucky to get $2K with the phono board, just under 50% of list. An unmodified RLD-1 sells for $980 average, just under 50% of list. He's got $1900 in upgrades and is asking for $3090. I could buy a used RLD-1 and have the latest upgrades done for less than $3090. Why pay more for his used mods?

$3600 for a pair of DNA-1 Rev A's is a bit steep too, considering I could get a pair for under $1500 w/o upgrade. So he's looking for more than twice the price of the unmodified amps. I think McCormack modified gear pulls better re-sale than any single other mod company. Still figure you'll get back about 50% of your mod money on top of the standard 50% +/- used price, if you're very lucky. So add up the list price and the mod price and cut the total in half, if you can sell it for that, count your blessings. Don't over-estimate your mod.

If priced reasonably, items will sell. The market dictates used values.

I agree with 4yanx, that anyone considering getting an upgrade, enjoy it for what it's worth. If your worried about re-sale value, then don't upgrade.

I won't pay for upgrades myself anymore, because I know myself. I know that eventually I will sell it. I get bored, and want to try something new. After losing big money on items that I had upgraded, I've decided not to be the original upgrader anymore. I still buy items that were upgraded, I just don't take the original hit. It's for this same reason that I buy used on AudiogoN. So I don't take the hit the original owner does for buying new.

It's nothing personal, just dollars and sense.:-)
Jmc, I fully understood that the poster was not talking about the quality of the Mc upgrades, though even while Aggie has Mc products, one might get the impression that the quality was in some question given the title of this thread. Or, at least Aggie perceives that others may have questions based on his/her perceived difficulty in selling the upgraded pieces. I was merely citing the quality of mine as an example of why I don't care if I'd get my money back for them, or not, as I have no desire to do so, and is what I think should be the situation you seek when upgrading anyway. If not, of course you won't get your dough back. If you go out and buy an amp new (even below retail), you won't get your money back if you don't like it, either. With an upgrade some will never ttrust that an "altered" piece will be trustworthy, regarldess of who does the mods - whether hat notion is toally off-base, or not.

You have, perhaps unintentionally, hit one yet another strong reason why upgrades may not realize a good return, though...

I still buy items that were upgraded, I just don't take the original hit.

It's the same with MANY folks who buy only used gear, used cars, used whatever - let the other guy take the depreciation. Of course, if EVERYONE were that way, there'd BE no used gear. Ha!
4yanx, I don't think it's the perception of the mods not being 'trustworthy' I think it has to do with the confusion over what exactly the mod entailed and what it cost to have the mod done. As you know there are many variations of mods. They change over the years, as does the price. Somone who gets a Rev A mod 4 years ago and tries to use todays Rev A+ price quote as for what they paid, mislead the buyer. The cost of a Rev A upgrade, and what is actually done in a Rev A upgrade probably changes over the years. Not to keep picking on McCormack, they are but one mod company, but seem to be the topic of this thread. No, not all mod sellers are like this, some can present the original receipt for the work done/cost, but it is a huge grey area for the buyer as to what was actually done and how much it really cost.
There is no such mystery around a stock unit. Remember, the stock unit still depreciates on the used market also. I think the real problem is not that the McCormack modded units don't hold their value, it's that the McCormack modded sellers have unrealistic expectations. I see many selling modded McCormack expecting 75%-110% of their mod money returned. This is unrealistic on the used market.

While I do agree that someone has to be the first to buy the mod, it doesn't have to be me anymore. I've been there done that. I paid full price for Steve's mods when he was with The Mod Squad, and I paid full price for EAD mods before they started building their own components. I'm going back 15 years or so. It's someone else's turn now. I also don't go out looking for a modded unit to buy. If I see something with a $1200 mod, and the seller is only looking for $200-300 more than a used stock unit, I'm certainly interested.

The main point I think is: If you're looking to modify your equipment, look at it as a LONG term investment. If you're worried about re-sale value of your mod, don't have the mod done.

I think the words 'mods' and 'upgraded' may be a red flag for some. Unless you know a little about the product and 'upgrades' it may be perceived that the original product was flawed if it needed modification. Factory upgrades and mods performed by known reputable companies wouldnt scare me off if I did my homework.
Also, the question arises, if the seller went to the trouble to have a unit upgraded and then sells it, did the upgrade fail to improve the product to a standard hoped for? This is especially true when the ad says something like "fresh back from manufacturer for upgrade". It does seem to me that if you invest in upgrades you shouldnt expect to get much of that money back.
Before you send a stock unit to be modded, make sure it is going to fit the needs of your system well into the future and expect to get the value from using it. You probably won't recover the cost if you decide to resell, but the real reward is from listening.

One other point about SMc mods that may have not been mentioned.
There is a three year warranty on newly modded amps that a buyer is not getting with a used unit. That may influence some to get their own gear modded rather than buy used.

The same can be said of other hobbies. Try selling a customized 1911 pistol and recovering what it cost. You can buy a stock pistol, new or used, and easily double or triple your investment with refinements and custom tuning. You end up with an awesome handgun that is like a work of art. It would be rare to find a buyer who pays anything near what you have into it.
Note to self....don't say anything to upset Eagle.......
LOL, Jmc... actually Eagle is quite a gentleman.
LOL, no worries. Now I never actually paid out the big dollars for a custom pistol, but I do appreciate the quality workmanship that goes into them. A good quality item just keeps on giving and is difficult to take for granted. I have found this to be true of products used in all the areas of life. The amp is one great example.

"William A. Foster: Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives."

"The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten."
Amen to that, Eagle.
I think Blkadr may be the closest to the issue --

Perceptions -- which alone is not the key.

It is the nature of the industry and those of us involved to trade up and build and trade up to reach that "ideal" system. The problem is that the market is not static and the ideal moves a lot faster than we do or most of us can. And, mods are not viewed as the normal route to the ideal. Nor, can or do many of us stop and just listen to the music at any given point in time, meaning accept what we have.

Mods are percevied to be personal, not mainstream. Hence, if you did it for yourself, it is not the same degree of self-satifcation for someone else as buying a new-used more expensive stock name brand piece. Buying a modded piece is not 100% satisfying, there are moments of post-purchase doubt and the need to move to the next "safer" piece.

The fact that McCormack mods carry a warratee is a signal that this is, in essence, a stock piece. But, there is still a perception/ego gap that this is not being bridged.

Finally, the current and prevalent retail philosophy and driving force behind consumerism is to buy....something new. Retailers, car, apparel, real estate, etc. do not want us to be satisfied or only satisfied for a defined period after the purchase.

Here ends, audio psychology 101.
Any loss of satisfaction for not being the one who has the mods done would likely be offset, for example, by scoring DNA-1 Rev A monoblocks for $2600 or some similar bargain.

For those who have taken a couple of minutes to actually read what is available on regarding the comparison of stock vs. modded, there should be no misconception that there is anything "flawed" with the stock gear. Stock amps are great sounding and great values, but they were built to fit a certain price point which requires a limit on the cost of components. You could also look at it another way. The DNA design is so superior, they are able to perform better, with very good components, than many more expensive amps. There are even higher levels achieved by utilizing the best components, but it comes with a price. Whether you are having the mods done or buying used, you are getting a great value.
My guess is the lack of exposure (pro reviews) and / or inability to audition first makes buying and selling modified gear, committing to have something modified more difficult.

Albeit SMc reputation as an accomplished modder and positive comments from loyal followers on Agon, SMcs’ hot rods don’t seem to get too much attention from the other BBS or pro reviews. FWIW, formal magazine reviews do help to put things in the limelight - i.e. Modwrights’ Sony.

The commercial models (std, deluxe) were built with price constraints, but the inability to audition the revisions (A, B, C, Gold, Carbon Wire) makes pulling the trigger more of a “leap of faith”. Sure, you can read about the differences, but unless you can hear it for yourself…you really don’t know what it sounds like.

I’m not questioning SMcs’ quality or value…I just think it needs more exposure. Perhaps putting the “crème de la crème” stuff on tour (hint, hint) or a directory of hot rod owners willing to demo to others would help.
The fact of the matter is that any gear on Audiogon lately is a tough sell, especially anything priced over twelve hundred dollars. You want to blame something, look at the economy. People are hanging on to their money. Gas prices are up & job security is uncertain. This does not diminish the fact that these upgrades are a superb improvement over the stock versions & well worth the money. Keep in mind that the stock versions are already well loved by many for what they do right. How many audio engineers do you know that care about the average audiophile & stay connected. I sold my McCormack amps for tube gear but when I see a McCormack amp up for sale I still drool over the ad especially the ones with the revisions.
Interestingly, an older-modded DNA-1 Rev. A was sold this week on a'gon for $1050!! I don't think the ad lasted an hour. On the other hand, the DNA-2 Rev. A+ and B amps are still on the market after quite some time, contributing to probably both PHD's theory and the previous theory that you can only expect to get about 50% of the new price and 25% of your mod investment back on resale.
Aggielaw, I seen that ad as well! It is possible that the seller might of purchased this DNA-1 Rev.A with the revision "A" already installed so maybe he did't lose too much money on this sale. I think most of us would prefer to buy this amp for only a $100.00 more than buy a Deluxe model which currently is going for $950.00. That is definately a no brainer! Anyway this may be a buyers market, for sellers I hope that changes in the near future as we all been sellers at one time or another.
The best way to reduce the risk of losing money on the sale of a modded amp is to buy it used. That way, it has already have the depreciation hit. It takes a little patience while you're waiting for that modified amp to show in the listings, but it's worth it if you have any thoughts of re-selling later. I did this myself when I wanted to try a DNA-2 modified by Steve. I picked up an A+ Platinum revision for a good price, listened to it for a couple weeks, and re-sold it for what I paid. Had I paid retail for the modification, I'd have lost a bundle.

Tvad, good idea! Did you like the McCormack DNA-2?
Phd, I liked it, but I liked my VAC Phi 110/110 tube amp better. It was a tough call. In the end, acoustic music on the VAC sounded more real...and for me, that's the test.
Tvad, I understand! I always look for solid state amps that sound tubish but there is nothing like tube gear for fleshing out all the music/details.
i agree with most of the previous posts. also you have to look at the supply /demand relationship. when no mccormack gear is available the next piece to come up will probably sell fast for a good price. when the market is loaded up with units for sale, demand is low and prices fall. the same thing happened with pass labs x gear as everyone has been dumping the x's to upgrade to x.5 gear. i also have a dilemma with a manufacturer jacking people up for mod work, i think it should have been offered as an option for about 35% of the mod pricing, but thats just a personal opinion.
Phd, please define "tubish"

I believe the reason people have trouble on the Gon selling high end equipment is that it is the wrong audience.

This is a group looking for the "good deal" rather than the good value.

It has become the online audio pawn shop.
Very profound indeed, and in my opinion, right on the mark in a growing majority of instances, Neal.
Tvad, when I refered to tubish, I was talking about solid state amps that come close to sounding like a tube amp thus sounding tubish. For example, Conrad Johnson solid state amps have a warm sound but still very detailed & are known to produce a sound, close to that of a tube amp. But as close as they are, nothing is like the real deal.
PHD, the reason I ask is because many folks comment about certain SS amps having a "tubish" sound, but not all tube amps sound the same, i.e. triode and ultralinear amps sound differently. So, it's not enough to describe a SS amp as "tubish" unless one describes the qualities one attributes to a "tubish" sound. If the VAC Phi 110/110 was heard in a blind test, I doubt a listener hearing it for the first time would describe it as "tubish". That's why I asked the question. I was looking for your description of the sonic qualities that you consider "tubish".
Nealvb, I always thought a pawn shop as selling a little of everything. Audiogon is a specialized website dealing with audio gear & related items only. There are some pretty nice people on this website but there are on occasions some bad apples. Anyhow, most everyone wants a good deal, including myself but I wouldn't want to cheat anyone. If I see two of the same amps for sale in basically the same condition, I'm buying the cheaper one as long as the seller has good feedback.
Tvad, your right there are different types of tube amps presenting different soundscapes. I was just generalizing & not being specific in regards to a tube sound. Look at the Rogue amps, they sound just like good solid state, not warm sounding but still you can tell there are tubes at work here.
Phd, the pawnshop adjective is a metaphor, which clearly at some level you understood. Of course everyone would buy the lesser expensive of two identical products from two identical sellers.

I didn't say you couldn't be a cheap bastard and a nice guy.

Many people appear to be nice guys and vote for limiting our freedoms. Many nice people that haven't got the brains to research a topic much less make an informed decision believe they know what's best for other people.

I'm sure that all the moms of the suicide terrorist think their boys were nice guys too.

Now I'm not accusing any of the gonners of being terrorist. I'm simply lambasting religious and political fanatics and people that choose only on price.

Just like tubeaphiles think tubes are the only way to go when in fact some people prefer what solid state can do to tickle those woofers. I'm pro freedom of choice.

I'm sharing my opinion that there is more to life than just being a nice guy.
Hi Nealvb, I will most definately keep an eye out for those people who make sole decisions based on price only, especially religious & political fanatics. Maybe someone can invent a spyware removal program that can eliminate them before they get to you. Anyway I use both tube & solid state.
Ss396, your right on in regards to supply & demand! Anyway wouldn't that be great if mods were offered at a lower cost initially. I don't think anyone is going to do us audiophiles that big of favor. If you look into the fact that these units have to be disassembled, newer more expensive parts installed, & the man hours to do the work, you end up paying for that expertise. The only way I could think of that would reduce the costs to the consumer, if the person/company doing the mod work had available extra circuit boards that already had the upgrades done to them & they were simply swapped out. Just my opinion.