Why are "low hours" a consideration?

I've noticed a lot of people selling items here that have "low hours", for both speakers and amplifiers. Does the sound gradually get worse over time? I haven't noticed with mine, but if it's gradual I guess I wouldn't. If I am going to spend a lot of money on a system, I would expect that if I take good care of it it should sound just as excellent years from now, and I certainly hope I shouldn't need to keep track of how many "hours" I've played it. Am I wrong in thinking this?
I would be concerned about hours for a cartridge stylus, CD/DVD laser or tubes. Other than that, I would be more concerned about deterioration due to age or environmental conditions rather than hours of use per se.

I get a big kick out of ads that refer to a non-pet environment. My dog doesn't use my stereo so I don't see what relevance that is. And the dog is a lot cleaner than some of the unsavoury characters my kids bring into the house from time to time.
LOL, surely you're joking about the dog. Dogs love hifi!
Seriously, it's in reference to pet hair and dander, which, if you've seen some people's equipment, you'd know why people use that in an ad, like smoke-free environment.
Wouldn't you rather buy a car with 25,000 miles on it vs 150,000 miles?
And the dog is a lot cleaner than some of the unsavoury characters my kids bring into the house from time to time.

LOL! I certainly can relate to that.

03-10-09: Cyclonicman
Wouldn't you rather buy a car with 25,000 miles on it vs 150,000 miles?

Obviously the answer to this question is yes, assuming you are willing to pay for it (the one with 150,000 miles will obviously cost much less). The difference is that the mileage on a car can be proven due to the odometer. 'Low hours' on any audio gear is simply an opinion, not a fact. There is nothing to prove it.

Gotta be in the post realm of borderline moronic.Though I guess he could be from OC or Bakersfield.No offense to the cowboys or the field-workers....
John, of course you are right, but I was assuming that the low hours was in fact, the truth, as in the amp has 1,000 hours of use or these exotic matched tubes have been used for 2 months or 500 hours and they are known to have a lifespan of 10,000 hours. Remove the truth from the equation and you've got nothing but nice photos to make your purchase from. Low hours without numbers means nothing, but as a buyer, I would want a number. If you are going to buy used, there is always a certain amount of trust and you hope that the seller has some integrity. BTW, there have been many cases of sellers claiming low mileage on cars that they have tampered with the Odometers. It comes down to the principles and the integrity of the seller. Fortunately, every seller that I have dealt with on Audiogon has been truthful!
It's simply impossible to buy a used cartridge on Audiogon without low hours.

I get a kick outta this one :

"These speakers only driven with the best ancillary equipment"

Like they have a damn memory for the next owner ?
Cyclonicman, you have been very fortunate. I would say most of those that I've dealt with on AudiogoN have integrity, but not all. As Bill notes following your post, everyone selling a used phono cartridge has only used it for a few LP's. ;D

I'm aware that an odometer can be tampered with, but it is an illegal offense. There's nothing illegal about mis-guessing the hours on used tubes, phono cartridges, etc.

One can only hope to deal with someone of integrity. Most have great intentions, but their actual memory may be a bit foggy. I'm not insinuating that their is actual fraud, though I have been involved in one deal where this was the case. I just think that many 'guess' at the hour rating, and do so in a way that will help their sale.

"low hours" is a little bit better than "I'm the second owner" Are you sure? Why nobody claim 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc... owner?
My favorite is "won't last long at this price" does that mean that it's so cheap that it will fall to pieces as soon as you ship it to me?
Rx8man, Re 'memory' issues. Consider that some professional musicians and instrument makers will argue that a new instrument will, thru the break in process, take on the signature of the musician using it and which might be an impediment to future owners. So it isn't just us audiophiles who think low hours might, just might, make a difference for reasons other than the ultimate life expectancy of the product.

Ain't it fun! :-)
Good one Viridian, here's another :

"This is a low hour, original MK 427.5, not a factory upgrade"

Does this mean the factory "ripped it apart" to do the upgrade, now it ain't worth a crap ?
You guys are all wrong! "Low hours" means that the cartridge, amp, speakers, resonating bowls were only used when the the sun was at it's lowest point in the sky. The Anasazi started this practice.
As we all know, it gets hot in the southwest. The ancients NEVER played their stereos (CDs as well as LPs) in the hot sun. They only broke out the tunes when the sun went down- or at "low hours".
The ancients knew what they were doing.
And never, NEVER did they allow Lassie to change a record, clean a record, or use the yellow snow to clean a CD.
Study your history audiophiles!
Mike, that reminds me of "near mint" which means that the piece of gear next to it on the shelf is mint, but the one that you are buying is a beater.

You very rarely see someone say "The cartridge has about 300 hours on it." What is so terrible about that??

That would be like 10% of the cartridge's life span??

Still seems like low hours to me...
'One careful owner', shouldn't all owners be careful?

My dogs likes music, but do not know how to change a cd (shame), they also do not smoke, well not that I have ever noticed.
Reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw in organic, Eugene, Oygun.
Old, rusty, smoking, noisy, beat up Datsun stopped for me as I crossed the street. It was so dirty and smokey, I had to take a second look as it went down the street. Underneath the dirt, on what must have been a bumper, I could barely make out a bumper sticker: "My other car is a piece of shit, too!"

"Low hours"
"Barely used"

It's all good...
I saw this bumper sticker on the back of a pickup when I was driving thru Montana: "Don't like my driving? Call 1-800-EAT-SHIT". It passed me and I was doing 80 and the driver was an old lady.

Low hours: Puffery
Pet free: Some people have severe allergies.
Near mint: Beside a piece of candy?
Barely used: Listened to in the nude.
Divorce forces sale: Spent more on my cables than my wifes

Oopsie daisy - I should have said the life is approx 1,000 hours...
Advertising 'jingoism': Low hours, Like new, just bought and changed my mind.. Or, the truth: Just found at a rummage for $20, yours for $1,400. I think it was in a flood, but I hosed off the mud and it looks pretty good for $20. and.. I bought it used two years ago, I been using the cart since then about five hours a day.. but it still sounds good, and I think you could get a few hours out of it with only some LP damage.. at 1/2 list it is a steal.
When the truth can be altered with a simple keyboard, it pays to be wary.
I do not buy enough stuff to worry about all the hype. When I find what I was looking for, Usually I just buy it because the last time one was for sale was two years ago. I do not worry about the marketing stuff.
If you feel the need to get only the perfect deal.. (brand new, at 75% off retail, with free hand delivery.) well.. you have my sympathies!
I definitely can appreciate this thread, but you all know that we are going to continue to buy and sell on Audiogon, despite the sales rhetoric. As Elizabeth said, "be wary", but also be informed. I would think it's safe to say that everyone on this thread meets that criteria!
To my mind the Audiogon community is about sharing our enthusiasm for excellence in sound reproduction with like minded folk. Technical advice is proffered based on experience, in the hope that said advice will help move one step closer to achieving that sonic goal. Equipment is bought and sold on trust, and the vast majority of transactions are positive. That said, problems on both sides of the transaction occur. Most are resolved amicably. That's why I continue to read and learn, and buy used equipment exclusively on Audiogon. It seems to me that audio electronics drop in marketable value from "new" rather quickly, and represent great value used. By all means check the seller's feedback before buying, and engage in some kind of dialogue to get a "feel" for the person. You can learn a lot about someone and the equipment they are selling by spending 5 minutes on the phone with them. Have your questions organized and give the seller time to give you as much information as he or she wishes to impart. Your decision to buy ( or not ) may rest on a comment or something that you hadn't considered. For example, when I went to look at my current speakers, I noted the special care the seller took of all his stereo equipment. He even put on cotton gloves when he moved the speakers! Later I read from the manufacturer's blog that the speakers should perform within specs for 18 to 20 years, with good care. So I figure I got excellent speakers at half price, that will perform beautifully for many years. Much credit for that satisfaction is due to the Audiogon community. As I always say, A-goners are the best. Good luck!
assuming that the seller is not dissembling, one wonder's what the significance is of selling a component having auditioned it for a short period of time.

there may be an implication that the advertised components has some sonic deficits, although one man's "garbage" maybe another man's treasure.

also opinions vary, so the consideration of someone's dislike for a component doesn't mean you won't like it.

i think it may be a red flag to think about before buying.
Using 'low hours' as an attribute would lead me to think the seller doesn't realize that it takes some time for a component to break in. Yes, one can get a feel for something right out of the box, but it does take time to settle in.

If 'low hours' is a ruse, then buyer beware. That, or the seller has upgrade 'itis' and then its to be taken advantage of.

What gives me pause is anyone who has any experience in things audio, would know this. That leads me to believe the seller is an audio tyro or not that honest.
I can see someone stating it is only 'so many months old' or bought back in...
but 'low hours' smacks of a lack of originality and a take on 'low miles'.
When I see low hours I think of 2 things, the first that maybe if its true its a good thing and the second is that perhaps it sounds like shit and isnt worth the trouble....again if its even true.