If you can make this work... More power to you!
I doubt it feasible. There are too many variables in this equation. And when you start playing with serious money aka thousands of dollars, an amount of accountability comes into play.
Ask yourself the following questions:
1-Who decides what stuff to buy?
2-What happens if a transaction goes wrong? Such as you get ripped off, or the item you bought gets damaged (claims are so fun to file and even win) or if an item gets damaged in transit to someone in your group... Lots of stuff can happen... And litigation could destroy your club.
3-What happens if a piece of equipment is damaged in your posession? Accidents happen. Power surges happen. Amps can occilate and blow your speakers. Natural disasters happen.
4-What happens if more than one person wants to buy a piece of gear?
5-What happens if no one wants to buy a given piece of gear and you are having problems selling it?
Anyway, those are a few of the questions you really must ponder before embarking on your endeavor. I am not going to say your idea is impossible. However, I would only include people who you are good friends with AND who are local to you. I would also cap the number of people in this club to a relatively small number (less than 10).
Sounds exactly like what dealers are supposed to do rather than sell sealed boxes.....Saturday afternoon late through Tuesday Noon the gear would disappear from the dealers racks and either be purchased or returned.....
Kf, I have already addressed your concerns..I have thought this out for some time..
1. anybody can get ripped off, including individuals.
2. who decides? the club, every month, one of the members gets to purchase the piece of his choice, and right on down the line.
3. I have never nor do I know anyone whose equipment has been damaged..in their possession.
4. If one or more of the members want to buy one piece, than you would have to buy it on their own. First choice would go to the person that bought it initially.
5. As I said on the thread.. it would have to be in the same locale, as to keep problems to a minimum, but I know several people whom I have dealt with out of the area, that I would trust in a second, as do the other potential members of the club, and yes the number of members would need to be no greater than 12..for the months of the year.
This is an interesting idea. There could be a lot of advantages to it, including some non-obvious ones. For example, if you got a new piece of gear ever few months to audition just on your own, you've got constant justifications to the spouse. If it's happening because you're part of an auditioning club, you explain it (and the money) once.
Anyway, I have a couple questions as well.
1. Would the club buy used gear, or would it be new gear?
2. Who sells it when it's made the rounds and is not purchased by a club member? The last person to "touch" it, the person who picked it, or the club "seller"?
3. It would be interesting to think about segmentation of this a bit too - for instance, this probably works more efficiently for preamps than it does for floor-standing speakers. Similarly, one of the values of auditioning is comparison, so it might be most interesting to do six preamps, followed by six pairs of speaker cables, etc. or something of the sort.
4. How many pieces are in circulation at any given time?
5. How long does a member get to hang onto a piece to audition?
6. With the answers to 4 and 5, how much of the year would a member be participating vs. waiting on the "sidelines".
7. How often would money have to be "refreshed."? It would seem that over time, the group would lose money buying and selling, and that the cost of auditioning would have to be borne through yearly (?) contributions.
very good questions...that is why I posted it...
1. used gear.. as you dont have to pay the 40% up charge.
2. selling? the person who picked..so you would need to be ready to buy it yourself, which by the way, is the intent.
3. NO speakers..just electronics, keeps the BS to a minimum
4. Circulation....12 months, 12 pieces.
5.. 12 members, 12 months, one month.
6. I'm not sure what you mean...
7. I'm not sure if the money would have to be refreshed, if no ones wants one particular piece, sell it, the money goes back to the club..and if it sells for a loss... what cant always make a profit, losses goes with the territory, at least everyone got to use it...that is why it is a "club"
An important item you did not address (in your answer to my post) is an important issue. What happens if no one wants a particular gear? Who is responsible for selling the piece, and who determines how much money the piece will be sold for? All I have to say is, that lets say someone in the club bought a digital piece for $3000. They demoed it and thought it was ok but not a keeper. Everone else in the club over 6 months or so demos the piece, and no one decides to buy it. Interestingly enough in those 6 months this digital product is discontinued (or the manufacturer goes under) and is replaced by a product heralded as better and less expensive that sells for $2k new. Well, people start dumping the unit your club bought for $1500 to $2000. Who is going to make the determination as to how much money you guys are going to loose?
I have been doing deals on Audiogon since before the Feedback system was in place. If you think the above scenario does not happen... well it does. It happens much more than you would think especially the longer you hold onto a product. And to not just digital, but almost any component. One could say that whatever loss incurred becasue it is distributed over all of the members, is very little. At say $1200 loss is only costing $100/per member which may be %10 of the yearly fee; however, it is still a loss. And frankly, some members might be a little upset because they are set digitally.
My item #2, you indicate that anyone can get ripped off... Well it is one thing to rip off an individual, and completely different to rip off a group of people. And I relly am not talking about being overtly ripped off. I am mainly talking about if your club sells a product, and say it is damaged in shipping. Have you ever fought for a claim against any of the major shippers? It is not fun and many times it is not fair. Sometimes you even need to get legal representation to win. All I can say is that every shipper I have dealt with will fight tooth and nail against paying any claim unless it is 100% their fault, i.e. they totally lose a box. Even then, they are slow as snails. Who is the club is going to be responsible for claims?
My number #3, you say you have never known anyone who has had a piece of equipment break in their possession... Well you are pretty lucky ot very new to hi end audio. Accidents happen with all sorts of potential causes: deffective gear, internal damage during shipping (difficult to prove for a claim), power surges, young children, pets, tubes eventually go bad (who replaces them during the demonstration phase... especially if you need matched sets), crime, floods, earthquakes, other natural disasters. Basically, there are all sorts of things that can damage gear. And the more gear you go through, the high the chance that something will occur. I once bought a dealer demo Classe CA-100 amp. I hooked it up, and played some music. It immediately blew the right channel of my speaker. Apparently the right channel of the amp oscilated. A CDP of mine (Cary 306/200) display suddenly went out one day. I had an amp that I bought (4 years ago) which was 1 month old start smoking as soon as I plugged it in. I bought a dealer demo preamp whose left channel was 180 degrees out-of-phase. I have bought equipment that was not in the condition that it was promised per se. I have had an amp damaged by water from a leaky roof (in a new apartment which I did not know the roof leaked). I have had an amp damaged by flood water. My dogs have scratched up some pieces of gear I have owned. I once got a remote stuck under my couch and had to move my couch to get the remote; however, the remote got stuck under a steel beam under it which mest up the remote quite a bit.
Anyway, stuff happens... And a lot of it can be beyond your or anyone's control. Who's going to incur the cost of fixing the gear?
My number 4, first choice goes to the person who decided to buy it. Who gets second choice, and third choice, and so on? I guess it could go in a definite order, but I could see that some people might feel slighted by this. ESPECIALLY, if an item is procured at a very very good price.
Anyway, I hate sounding like a pessimist, but if you can get this club to work, I would be interested in how it turns out.
Personally, I think you will have problems and it will come down to money issues, personal responsibility issues, and audio decision issues. Lets say I was in your club, and my turn came up, and I wanted to get a 1M run of Nordost Valhalla pair of speaker cables (I could maybe get them for oh.... $3k new +/-). One thing though... most of the other folks in the club need more than 1 Meter of speaker cable. And the few folks who only need 1M, could not afford Nordost Valhalla or want it. While I am demoing the Valhalla, Nordost replaces the Valhalla with Valhalla II which is a little better and less expensive. People start dumping their Valhalla on the market for 30 cents on the dollar, and we can only get $2k for the Valhalla. What are the other members of the club going to think of me? I bought a speaker cable that really was not viable for anyone else (maybe I did not know this). I bought a cable that depreciated immensly after I bought it costing everyine money. This situation can happen with a lot of gear... Take low powered tube amps for example. SOme people design their systems around low powered tubes. Lets say two members of your club have this kind of tube setup. When it comes to their turn to buy a piece, they could very well buy pieces only they could viably use in their system. Additionally, these two could be really excluded from most of the pieces purchased by others in the club.
One of the underlying assumptions with this club is that any given piece can work in most of our systems. This is relaly not true unless the group has essentially the same or similiar systems. Equipment such as amps, preamps, and speakers must be matched well to get great sound out of them. Moving any of those pieces from one system to another can be problematic. Sources are a bit easier; however, digital sources fluctuate in prices quite a bit.
Anyway good luck in your endeavor. I would just be careful.
HMMMM... nothing ventured... nothing gained...
Tok20000 - you raise a lot of really good points with some excellent examples. It may not be completely realistic, and I'd want to close off as many obvious gotchas as possible, but one would have to go into such a thing assuming they weren't going to get their money back, certainly not in total. There are a lot of ways you could lose money in this type of thing, though almost all of them are possible when you do this just as an individual. So, you'd be more likely than normal to experience some financial pain, since you'd be spreading the risk over many more transactions, but you'd be less likely to experience absolute pain since on any given downside, you'd be sharing the brunt with the rest of the group.
Would it be perfect? No. Would there be hard feelings? Quite possibly. After doing it once, would those who tried it do it again? Likely not. Still, it's an intriguing idea.
Tunes4me - you answered my #6 - if you have 12 members, 12 pieces in circulation at any given time, then there is no down time. Everybody always has a "club piece" that they're using. I was wondering if there would be times during the year that your money would be on the table but you'd have nothing in your system. While it's good that the answer is no, it also makes me think that $1000 wouldn't work then. If you have $12K to work with and buy 12 pieces, you're definitely limiting yourself in terms of what types of pieces you can buy ($1000 apiece). The same money over half as many pieces (or twice as much money) would give you much greater flexibility.
As for refreshing the money - I think you would have to put more in over time if this was a "living" club. Even used gear will, over time, cost you to buy and sell, along with some of the downfalls outlined by Tok2000. A year into it, you're going to need more capital to keep buying gear. That's not necessarily a bad thing, just a fact.
I wouldn't do cables for a lot of reasons, some of which Tok20000 oulined very well.
I wouldn't do large speakers either, but I would have a great deal of interest in monitor speakers, which are not really any harder to move than an amp.
So, let me paint a somewhat different scenario. A group of 8 people all agree to put up $2K and each make a choice of CD players in the $1500-2500 (used) price range. The 8 CD players are acquired, staying within a $16K overall total price (lots to figure out on how to get this accomplished). Everybody starts and finishes with the CDP that they nominated. There is a five week audition period for each CDP, and then a week to ship to the next person.
At the end of the year, you've got the CDP in your possession that you nominated for a final comparison (you hear it first and last). At this point, everybody decides which unit they liked the best, or none at all. At this same point, a price is determined, based on current market prices (used) for each unit at the end of the year, not at the beginning. You add up the agreed current value of each of the eight and compare to the $16K originally spent. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the 8 players have a current value of $12K.
So, each person has $1500 in "credit". Note that everybody "lost" $500 over the year. I'd actually prefer to think that I spent $500 to audition a series of CDPs in a more exhaustive, but controlled, way than I would have been able to on my own. Anyway, it's not free. All units that nobody wants would be sold. If multiple people wanted the same unit, then additional units would have to be purchased. If you want a unit that costs $2300, you have to pony up another $800. If you want a unit that costs $1500, you should be even.
The mechanics of buying, selling and accounting would have to be worked out, but I'd consider each year a separate entity with a beginning and an end. You could lose your whole $2000, but more likely you'd lose only a bit. There would be a way to "cash out" people who lost interest within a reasonable time frame. If you didn't have 8 people next year, you could stop. If you did, there'd be a clear amount of money you had to put in to join. In the previous example, if you wanted none of the units, and you were doing $2k preamps next year, you'd have to put in only $500 to join for the next year, since you'd already have $1500 credit.
KT, very thorough and very enlightning, you and the others has expanded the thought,, pointed out the shortcomings, and the benefits as well.. I really think it would work..as you stated, if you "lose" $500.00, you have auditioned several pieces, for little money, and then we kick up a new mag... from real music/stereo owners/audiophiles. A workable concept? you bet...
Bye the way, KT, when do we start?? I would love to have you as a charter member...
What is ironic is I think this concept would work better with interconnect, speaker cables, and power cords as long as certain parameters were abided by as lengths go.
The advantage of cables is that they do not degrade (and actually sound better as they get burned in). They are also easy to ship and transport. They have no moving parts, and they do not have much chance of breaking or getting damaged (when compared to amps, preamps, and sources).
I think Kthomas makes some very good points, and has thought this out initially pretty well. I might be willing to join such a club that did this with cables for an initial run. Maybe start with cables for 1 year, see how it works, then perhaps move to other components. There are a lot of power cords out there I would like to try. There are a few ICs and speaker cables I am interested in that I have not tried.
The other issue that one must think about is cost of shipping. This might sound trivial, but the cost of shipping amps, preamps, and CDPs can really mount up (if members are not local). Even just shipping cables with insurance, it can amount to $10-$20 or so per shipment. Multiply this by 12 and you get $120-$240. Amps and preamps being at least two+ times as much.
Anyway, just stuff to consider.
More good points...KF, but lets be honest for a moment... this is a very expensive hobby..I am certain that many of us watch what we spend, I know I do, but when I find a piece of equiptment that I want, I go for..and I think most of us do. If this happens, all the participants will, upfront, know that there are costs involved, just as there are costs involved when you buy something..no difference..shipping, insurance etc...I know that, I have spent a small fortune on the above..but I am also aware of the benefits..thanks
I like the idea! If we could get a group of 8 or 10 people in the St Louis area, it could be a lot of fun. We could meet once a month at a members place and listen to their set-up's, have a few drinks and talk about our club products.
The only problem I see is finding 8-10 *GOOD* compatible people in STL to buy in.
Sign me up!
Yes, nothing ventured nothing gained, by that doesn't mean you should step out in front of a bus.
Please, please do it. I would love to come to one of your meetings after about a year. At that point, ear plugs might be, um, ventured.
A learning experience in the making...
You already are... lol, a charter member...
Asa, I really dont think you'll be invited..and what correlation does stepping in front of a bus and this thread? Because someone might be on to something, and you didnt think of it first? Or is it because you have never taken a risk in your entire life? so sorry...no go and cry in your milk.
Oh Tunes, I should have put a smiley face on it; I was just trying to kid ya, as a foil, don't you know. No need to flame out off of something so small. Still upset because you didn't get picked for dodge ball in the sixth grade? My, my...
If you will, here it is. As a general group - and if you've spent any time on this site at all or in this industry, such as it is - you would know that audiophiles tend to be an opinionated group, which is not a bad thing IMHO. This tendancy, however, is greatly amplified by their general need to get new equipment (which, assumably, is the motivation for your effort to hear more equipment with less expenditure). When you take both variables and mix them together your suggestion - while well-meaning, I know - is not remotely feasible.
Baisically, you'll end up with people arguing about what equipment to get after about two months and then, after the purchase, will complain about the original purchase.
Who's gonna buy it? Who's gonna keep the books? Who's gonna go through the hassle of selling the stuff when everyone has shot their audiophile wad?
I respect the egalitarian ideal - really - but, pragmatically, realistically speaking, your suggestion is... patently naive (but, as I said, in a gooood way).
Asa, my sincere apologies....I misread your intent. There are many things to be worked out no doubt, but, if the idea works, it would be something of a wunderkind, but if it dies, well....no one can say that we didnt try...