Used vs. new

I am struggling with the decision of buying B&W 804 D4 or an older model like the 802 /803 D3 . I have the same issue with automobiles too.but  for now we can stick to the issue of speakers.


The 804D is not near as good to my ear as the 802D3. The bass output and slam is not even close. Mids are more open on the 802D3 too. The 803D3 always lacked bass to my ear however. 

now I did not really hear the port noise but the measurements of the 804d4 shows silly amounts of port noise and I am sure it will show up if played loud enough. 

I'm a big fan of used to afford something otherwise unaffordable, or if new not really better, just new thus cost more.

Features are important to me, often vintage overhauled is better than new for me.

I am not a fan of compromise, if you think the new speakers sound better, you will come to regret it and that regret will last a long time.

Cost of shipping speakers is high, so ask more questions, and for more photos. How old, i.e. woofer suspension need replacing?

Returns accepted, however, paying for shipping in and back ain't cheap.

Maybe be patient, find some local pick up.

I've and about 50% good luck buying used loudspeakers. If it's a system you are going to keep for a long time, buy a fresh pair.

you can buy better used speakers for the same $ but you knew that. If you have the money why wouldn't you just buy new?

What is your system, audio history.

Speakers from the same manufacturer at the same level in each generation sound cut from the same cloth… but better. There is no reason to release a new model without improvement.


Do you turn audio equipment… or do you expect to keep for ten or twenty years. If the later… new ones and you have listened to them correct. 

Do you have appropriate electronics to feed them.. or are you going to upgrade your electronics to support the new speakers. 

Do you swap cars a lot, of are they just transportation? 

My humble advise to you is to buy good, used equipment with a proved reference or near reference status for no more than the current used market value or less. Ask yourself the question - how many of the new/current hifi equipment would stand the time and eventually become timeless and desirable in a long run? Not many. Learn from the best and proven equipment without loosing a lot of money and don’t gamble on new equipment with no proven track record. This advise is not only about saving money, but the right and only way to learn.  Learn from the best, proven equipment, and not from the new with no track record. Just because the company has long record, it doesn't mean that the new equipment they introduce on the market will be up to par. 

Newer speakers from the same manufacturer are not always better sounding and can just be different. I would look to buy a good used pair and use any left over funds to upgrade somewhere else

@OP. If your choice is between a D4 or D2/3 802, get a used one - they are more natural sounding than the D4 (within the overall context of those speakers generally having a distinctive house sound). Make sure an second hand pair is fully tested though as spares - tweeters in particular - can be difficult to get.

B&W : you may get better speakers for less.

B&W`s are known to be bright. You may need to spend more on your electronics to tame that bright sound, and have some amp power to drive them.

I own the 804N. Great bass. It puzzles me that others have claimed lack of bass in their B&W`s. 

I don't have experience with the B&W models mentioned here but owned 2 pairs of old B&W models for more than a decade, and I agree with few comments here that new is not always better. In my case, New and more expensive sound worse than old and cheaper. I owned the B&W CDM 1 SE close to 15 years. Midway through the ownership, I tried the more expensive model, N805. To my ears, the cheaper CDM 1SE sounds better than the N805. A matter of preference. I sold the N805 after about 3 months. 

Just to add. I will only buy used if the condition of the speakers is very good, perhaps 8.5 to 9 out of 10. I wouldn’t mind paying a bit more money for a good or mint condition pair. It’s good to have some savings if buying a used pair. The downside is most used speakers out there are in fair or poor condition, cosmetically, although functionally there may not be any issue. It’s the same with other hifi equipment such as amps or DACs etc.

If you are a meticulous person and cannot accept something that looks far from perfect ie. scratches on the cabinet or nicks etc., go for new.

Buying used is too much of a crap shoot for me. The fact the person is selling the component makes you wonder why. You don't know how it's been used, or abused. Trying to get more for your dollar buying used is like trying to get something for nothing, May very well work out, but buying new eliminates that risk factor. Better to buy a new Volkswagen, than a used Mercedes at the same price. Of course my father was a used car dealer, so I learned to stay away from anything used. Your experience may be totally different.


Thank you so much, excellent feedback ! Yes I am very new at all this. I first heard the B&w speakers about 20 years ago. And haven't stopped thinking how great that sound was , .even though I have never listened to music on any other nice speaker , my heart is set on b/w.  I don't really have anywhere to go to listen and compare the different b/w speakers to see which one I like best... so I asked   here for advice . sounds like with budget of 12-15k its better to go with the D3 used vs the new 804 d4, and that's fine with me , and by reading and researching I bought the Hegel 390 integrated amp. and just hoping it will work well with the B&W's. Thanks again, and  I think I will get the 802 D3 or 803 D3. 

it's a tricky situation since I have no way of listening to either one to see what I like better.

I think I've 'topped out' on the this/that/other for the while.

A situation for a Situation has cropped up.

A space...and not of the finial front tier. *L*

I bought my first pair of speakers for my current system new. I ended up buying another pair of speakers used, which were a much better fit for my system. Now, I’ll be lucky to get 60% of retail selling the first pair, even though they’re less than 2 yrs old and have under 200hrs on them. I’ll probably never buy new again.

If you can afford to chance taking that kind of hit, more power to you. Otherwise, a good deal on a preowned pair in good nick can you find taking minimal to no loss in the event they don’t work out and you need to resell.


my 2¢. Good luck to ya.

Never bought used speakers

only components. 
best choice made


Unobtainable became affordable. 
best decision made. In years


speakers, not sure

if return policy,, get, return of dot o,e



I haven’t bought a new speaker in 15 years. I just bought a mint pair of Harbeths with stands that go for over 9 grand new and I paid less than half of the retail price. It’s a buyers market. My rule when buying used is the speaker is less than 5 years old and original boxes!

Back in the good old days, when there were hifi shops, where I could hear, see and touch, I bought both new and used.  Now I buy mostly new and that’s been a crapshoot, especially with shipping costs going up and up.

I have bought ex-dem a few times with success and a good discount.

Best was Krell KRS200s upgraded by Krell to 400 watts per side.  They were only one-third of retail around 1991.  They were about 4 years old then.  I had them re-furbed incl replacing all the caps around 2008 at a cost of £3,500.  They are going strong.

Also Martin Logan CLX Anniversaries at about one-third off retail in 2012.  Last year I had them cleaned internally by the importer, one driver and some caps replaced, £1800.  They are now like new.

And yes, I would take the 802 D3s.  I had the original 801s (bought new at inception of the model) for many years before the MLs.

Ex dem may be better than second-hand as you buy from a dealer and get a warranty.  A good way to buy high-end stuff safely and save $$$$$.

Buying used can be better than buying new. Frequently, new innovations that sound great upfront have caveats down the road. New materials that are supposed to be better turn out to be inferior in a couple of years. Premature deterioration for instance. I have a set of Polk model 10's from 1979. They have held up remarkably well and still sound good. You can't tell what the track record of anything is going to be until as least five or ten years later. If I audition a pair of ten year old speakers that sound great (and the company is still in business) AND I get them for 1/3 the price, it's a win for me. Everything I have is used. I even married a women who has three kids. Joe

It’s the same issue with automobiles, so when you can come to terms with that you can with this. 

I heard the big B&W speakers at Axpona with McIntosh gear and they sounded amazing! There is also a dealer 30 min away and they sound great there too. I think you will be happier with the larger version 802s. Good luck ! 

If buying used nothing too old under 10 years old unless fully rebuilt,

and check for condition minimum ,Excellent to Mint, and quality of brand counts 

they typically use better parts quality  ibought some very good Dynaudio  contour 

loudspeakers like new and totally rewired and rebuilt the Xovers ,it  is at least equal to any $10 speaker for a  $5k investment.

with digital I would not. For Digital has progressed many times in the last 5 years. 

"it’s a tricky situation since I have no way of listening to either one to see what I like better."

you can buy and keep them for 30 or 60 days and then return them with full refund.

once you narrow down what would match your space, amp, sources, preferences, budget, musical genre, you would be looking at about 5 brands and 10-15 models. You can stick with B&W to compare everything to, but you’d be happy to learn and appreciate what else you can get. There are high quality bookshelves that are better value than B&W, but again it all depends on everything else and the dirty S word - synergy

I bought L,C,R, Paradigm signature speakers from a vendor on the opposite side of the states. Each of the speakers had an issue with the tweeter and the center with one of the mid driver.  Before the purchase the seller sent pics of the speakers before I purchased them.  The seller paid for all new replacement drivers, tweeters.  So, buying used is challenging , but can have big rewards.

Was a big B&W fan before switching to Focal's.  In my experience if you are running musical sub(s), like Rel's, along with the mains the 803 or 4's would be great.  If they are standalone, it will be hard to beat the 802's.

I've had good luck buying used.  Most of my system since deciding to get into this hobby has been used, and in great shape.  It's allowed me to jump in at a much higher lever than I would have been able to afford.  My Hegel H390 was a good deal to start, 2 pairs of Maggies, Heresy IV, and Harbeth Super HL5, all great deals.

It’s down to selective shopping I’d say. So you buy great used then refurbish and or upgrade. Depending on the cash layout one generally ends up with a system of a quality that new few could afford ! Speak to people with older or vintage equipment outside of maintenance I’m sure complaints are few. Buy affordably Great vintage, and in most cases you will exceed performance of Very good equipment of today’s standards. So you don’t get a curb side warranty odds are you won’t need one. After a couple of years the modern good stuff depreciates by 60%, factor that into repairs and/or bad luck.



You have no way to audition?. I would think about that. These are, I think $7K speakers. It would be worth 10% of that to experience them? I am sure you can drive or fly to a city with B&W on display. Make it a weekend trip for the fun of your pursuit. Nothing wrong with confirming your love of the sound of these speakers. B&W are great rock speakers with substantial bass and a pretty hot high end. Set up auditions in advance… with a couple competitive speakers. Take your wife with you… take her out for dinner and a show. Make it fun for both of you.

The differences folks here are talking about are pretty small nuances unless you are very familiar with the sound of B&W.

Thank you everyone, really appreciate all the advice and suggestions . I definitely

have so much to learn about all the high end audio, and looking forward to it.

I have had so much fun just researching all this.

so thanks again.

one last question- Keep hearing that the b&w speakers

are hard to drive.  What exactly does that mean ?

@geosims1 The Stereophile review of the 804 d4

states that although the nominal impedance is 8ohm, the minimum impedance is 3ohm, so you’d you’d probably want to drive them with an amp that is 4ohm rated with a fair bit of current on tap, i.e. comes near to doubling it’s output when the impedance of the load is halved. 

I’ve had great success purchasing used.  I have two systems,95% of my gear is used.   I’m happy with the choices I’ve made.  

Might change weekly what my favorite system is but currently street MSRP would be 12k. I have under 2k into it. Love it! All great condition and could make money on it any day. 

I’ve never bought a piece Ive had a big issue with. Speakers are especially an easy recommend as long as the cabinets are not all beat up.


I would go for the 802s.

I have been fortunate with my used equipment purchases, especially here on A-gon where I found a power amp and blueray player in great shape for reasonable $$$. In the past I always bought new and came around slowly to the idea of used gear.

Although, my Synchrony Ones were had for nearly half of what they originally cost, they were purchased used from a local PSB dealer who promised help if I needed service or warranty assistance. Also, I’ve had some bad luck shipping turntables and would be gun-shy about shipping speakers. A vote for local pickup or local dealer.

Finally, someone mentioned Axpona. Hi-Fi shows can be a great opportunity to hear a lot of different gear and to learn about all kinds of stuff. I would highly recommend a visit to a regional audio show. Make a day of it, or even a weekend. Hearing one great system after another opens your eyes (and ears) to what is possible. Your initial experience with B&W was impactful.
Imagine repeating that a dozen or more times in an afternoon.

Buying used has saved me from losing money on speakers that didn't fit my room, or needed better power than I could afford at the time to make them sing. Now I have a very good sounding system half used half new that sounds and looks amazing, but I did end up reselling 5-6 pair of hi-end speakers b4 getting the sound I was looking for.