What proportion of your overall audio purchasing is used or new equipment?

Many audiophiles soften the financial shock of upgrading or expanding their systems by buying used equipment, which typically sells at 50% (or less) of the original retail price. Sometimes, used audio gems are still state-of-the-art, and brand new is not always better. Other times, new equipment is the only way keep up. What is your strategy?

What proportion of your overall audio purchasing is used or new equipment?
Always buy used
3% (9 votes)
Mostly used
19% (61 votes)
50/50 new vs. used
24% (76 votes)
Mostly new
35% (109 votes)
Always new
19% (60 votes)
Total votes: 315

John Dark's picture

Although there are some incredible values in used equipment, I find claims regarding the equipment just that, lacking credibility. I bought my Maggie 3.3s used from a well-known Los Angeles dealer who occasionally advertises used merchandise in the Recycler at half the price of new. I was told that the speakers were only a year old, but when I called Magnepan with the serial number, I found that they were 4 years old. Then I discovered a buzzing at certain frequencies, which turned out to only be a piece of paper under the grillecloth that vibrated at the right frequency. I was able to correct the problem, but am now dubious about buying used without knowing the exact source well. Besides, I have been fortunate enough to have developed a good relationship with my local dealer, GNP in Pasadena. They give me good advice, charge me a fair price, and make a small profit. Why wouldn't I want to support them by buying their new equipment?

M.  L.  McLellan's picture

I have bought demo equipment for significant discounts(10%-30%). That way I get mostly new yet I'll buy used occasionally. My pre-amp, an ARC SP-11 mk. II was bought used and I still haven't heard a better pre-amp. I may have heard its equal more now, but none better.

brian's picture

about 30% of my equip. is used. audio equip. is just too expensive for what it is.

Mike Ray's picture

Maybe it's reverse snobbery, but I think you have to be crazy NOT to buy used. But then, what would become of Stereophile if there were not obscenely priced goodies out there? Sure, reproduced music (especially in the comfort of home) brings you closer to the artist. Sometimes it even seems as if you're in on his/her dealings with the Muse. Still, paying obscene prices for self-indulgence only makes me shake my head at the crassness of this consumer age.

Dale Fellbaum's picture

Antiques are fun to look at.

Jeff Swick's picture

Warranty is very important to me, as is after-sales service. When I go into an audio store I want to be taken seriously, not as some dork who comes in, takes all the advice, and buys elsewhere. I'm more than aware of how audio people make their money, and I value their expertise. Most of all, though, it's the after-sales service. The equipment you can buy anywhere; the expertise you can't.

Anonymous's picture

Turnover for used/demo equipment offers pretty good returns for the seller and the buyers on a stretched budget. Most hi-end gear have solid built quality which lasts for decades anyways!

Jan's picture

Couldn't afford my system if I hadn't bought it used.

Mo the Sleaze's picture

I purchase my solid state devices(amp, pre-amp) used, and my mechanical devices (speakers, cd player) new. Tell me that doesn't make sense on a limited budget!

Dana Bunner's picture

I caution people to be very careful about buying used, and have been burned a couple of times on low-priced items, but overall have come away a real winner. For example, my CD front-end equipment has a combined list price of $4950, and I picked up it up in mint working condition for a total of $1400---in four separate purchases.

J.  Parrella's picture

I keep my equipment for many years and always want to start with virgin units.

Ben Smith's picture

It's really difficult to get second-hand gear of any quality here in New Zealand. This means that I have to either import it from the US or buy it new. If I buy it second-hand I must get it converted to 240V/50Hz, and this is a pain in the bum. Some dealers here charge a fair amount (what you guys pay), whereas others charge over twice US list price. Luckily, the best equipment, to my ears, goes to those dealers that don't charge the earth.

Anonymous's picture

My system is comprised of components that were "Class A" in 1989 and they still sound great today. I paid less than half what they would have cost new.

RH's picture

I want warranty and service to be as long term as possible from original dealer. Plus Im too nervous something will go wrong with used or demo equipment because of too many bumps or, forbid it, drops I dont know about.

Bill's picture

Assuming you count demo as used, most of what I have is used (amp, preamp, interconnects). In my most recent upgrade, I added almost $9300 in value (list price + tax) at a cost of under $4850 for a savings of about 48 percent. Put another way, I now have enough money to buy more than 256 new CD's (or about 700 used ones). Or better yet, a trip for two to Hawaii plus seats to the Symphony for a year.

Steve's picture

I like to change equipment, because I like to do it. I mostly do this with my second system, not my miain system. However, I would otherwise not be able to afford all new equipment while enjoying my hobby of buying and listening to all types of stuff. Besides, getting a good deal is half the fun!

Marc Phillips's picture

Demos are also a great way to save $$$. I once purchased a demo Naim Nait 2 that had been on the dealer's shelf for only a couple of weeks, yet he gave me a 40% discount!

Robert Publicover's picture

Depending on the component, you can purchase a better machine for less money used (turntables, amps, preamps, speakers). Some equipment, mostly digital, that is progressing at a rapid rate, must be purchased new (CD players, CD separates, etc.)

J.  Sifontes's picture

Getting the best sound is what matters to me . . . whether it is new or used is not relevant.

Anonymous's picture

Buying used makes this hobby affordable. Last year's favorites can be had for 1/2 price and still sound awfully good. If you buy classic gear, it holds its value and your can experiment without losing your shirt.

B.  Sell's picture

I used to buy only new because I knew no better. Since getting on-line I've realized the amount of quality used gear. But for components w/ mechanisms (I.E. cd, dvd, tape players, etc) new is probably better.

MWM's picture

When a very good deal pops up, I'm always ready.

MacGregor Rucker's picture

Most buyers probably fall into the "mostly new" category. Perceived value of used consumer electronics seems to be lower than that of, say, cars. I usually limit used/demo purchases to items with the fewest moving parts; i.e., power amps, preamps, even speakers. The logic behind this could very well be invalid, but I've had no worries of yet. I am currently awaiting arrival of a factory-reconditioned Marantz CD63. We'll see how that goes . . .

Al Marcy's picture

Turntable/phono stage used. Transport/DAC new. Amp/speakers DIY.

Jim Snyder's picture

I manage to have a much better system buying used than I could ever afford buying new. My only exception is with the CD front-end, I usually will buy new. Never for amps or speakers.

S.  Farris's picture

In the world of high-end audio there is no reason to pay some of the absurd prices asked when you know the people that purchase this kind of equipment do have respsct for it.

Larry Belisle's picture

Having web access to previous equipment reports would help in purchasing used equipment.

John Jones's picture

I always buy new because I plan on keeping each piece of equipment 7 to 10 years and I need the assurance of warranties.

florin penciu's picture


Greg Grimes's picture

You may not get state of the art digital equipment used, but virtually everything else offers significantly greater value than new products. A/V equipment is like cars. I'd take a '93 Acura Legend for $5000 less over an overpriced Pontiac any day of the week!