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    The Value Proposition In Audio: Buying And Selling Used Equipment

     

     

    THE VALUE PROPOSITION IN AUDIO:  BUYING AND SELLING USED EQUIPMENT

    MAKING TRANSACTIONS SAFE AND CHOICES SENSIBLE

     

     

    INTRODUCTION

     

    Buying used audio equipment can be fun, exciting, and rewarding if you know what you’re doing and you set reasonable goals for what you want and how much you’ll spend to get it.  Unfortunately, it can also be frustrating, scary, and (more often than we think) self-limiting for those who fail to establish the two criteria above.  Unreasonable goals are often the end of a hobbyist’s pursuits because the only way to achieve them is through bum luck.

     

    The decisions behind acquisition of audio equipment are basic and generic:

     

    • What do I want (or need)?
    • How much can (or should) I spend?
    • Do I have what I need to get the most out of the equipment I’ve chosen, e.g.  space, power, cooling, etc?
    • Can I get what I want for what I want to spend?
    • Why should I choose one product to buy over its available alternatives?
    • What knowledge do I need to make that decision?
    • Are my methods reasonable, logical, well conceived and sensible?
      • Or are they arbitrary, habitual, capricious, and driven by emotions and unfounded beliefs?

     

    The more focused you are on your wants, needs, and resources, the more likely you are to fulfill the first two within the limits of the last one.  And the more vague your goals, the less likely you are to be happy with whatever you get.  There are some red flags that suggest trouble ahead.  If you find yourself in a situation like any of these, think very carefully about what you’re trying to buy and why:

     

    • You want something “different” from what you have.
    • You want something “better” than what you have.
      • You want “better sound quality”.
      • You want more flexibility, but you have no plans or current intention to use it.
      • You want to be able to play “high res” audio.
    • A guest commented adversely on the sound of your system.
    • A friend’s recently acquired new stuff has you suddenly unsatisfied with your own, although you don’t know why.

     

    There are many settings in which to acquire stuff, from thrift shops with dirty shelves to luxury boutiques that serve you champagne while you sit on Eames chairs auditioning the state of the art.  And the people selling it vary in knowledge, experience, and helpfulness from expert and delightful to ignorant and useless.  Worse, there’s often no relationship between the kind of establishment in which you’re shopping and the utility of its staff or the quality of its offerings.

     

    There are several schools of thought about buying used.  The basics include some pretty divergent opinions and beliefs:

     

    • Never buy used.  Most people sell or trade equipment because it has a problem that they either can’t solve or are unwilling to pay to solve.  The risk of buying anything used is high.
    • A few used items are good buys.  Most used items have something wrong with them or are well into their useful life.  So you should only buy used from a top notch, reputable dealer who tests and refurbishes each used item and offers an ironclad warranty plus a reasonable, no cost return period.  The risk of buying used is high, but you can bring it down by carefully choosing what you buy and from whom.
    • Some used items are good buys, especially if they’re being sold because the owner says he or she wants to upgrade.  So buy the seller – be as rigorous in assessing the person as you are in checking the item.  The risk of buying used is moderate and you can control it as above.
    • Most used items are good buys regardless of the reason for selling.  Just make sure the item works fine before taking it, the price is appropriate for the age and condition of the item, and the seller seems reasonable. Electronics usually fail early in their lives – if they survive the first few months of use, almost all will last their full expected lives.  The risk of buying used is fairly low if you use the same approach and criteria for everything and assess the buyer as carefully as you do the goods.
    • Always buy used when you can.  Buying used is safe, simple and cost effective.  Expect a few things to be useless or not as advertised, and be ready to repair or discard them. The risk is very low, and you’ll more than cover the cost of an occasional failure or write-off with the money you saved on everything else you bought used.

     

     

    WHY IS THIS FOR SALE?

     

    There are many reasons for selling audio equipment and audio-related computer equipment that raise no red flags and have no hidden meanings if true.  Some of the most common are

     

    • new technology that has eclipsed the performance of the unit for sale
    • stepping up, e.g. from simpler to more complex, modest to fancy, mid-level to SOTA etc
    • downsizing, e.g. retirement, moving to much smaller living quarters, philosophical change etc
    • adding specific additional functionality that didn’t exist when the unit for sale was new
    • in the mood for a change, with specific purchase already made or planned

     

    For private sales, asking the reason is both reasonable and helpful.  If you get a good answer that seems to be coming from the heart or the head, it’s a point in favor of the deal.  If what you’re told makes little or no sense, it may still be fine – but most things that leave you asking “Why in the world would anybody do that?” are probably specious.

     

    If buying used from a dealer, it can be helpful to know how the dealer got the piece if that dealer is more than just a vendor.  In the old days, local dealers often took back items they sold new as trades toward upgrades.  Many of my best audio pieces over the years were bought from my long time dealer after the original owner traded them back in for “better” stuff.  But it now seems like most of the used audio and computer equipment I see for sale from a business was acquired purely for resale, with no known history and no evaluation other than plugging it in to see if it lights up and makes sound.

     

     

    BUYING THE SELLER MEANS KNOWING THE BUYER WELL

     

    The shopworn phrase “buy the seller” is still a critical factor in buying used equipment.  If you get a queasy feeling just talking to a seller, walk away unless you’re willing to put up with problems should you be able to get the item for a price that makes them manageable.    That’s not to say that you have to like or even believe him or her.  To me, it means that your impression of the buyer’s honesty, integrity, motivation, etc matches your willingness and ability to roll with the punches if and when things go south.  So you really need to “know the buyer” too:

     

    • Are you rock steady and unflappable when things don’t go as you hoped?
    • Are you willing to accept a higher probability of problems for a lower price?
    • Are you susceptible to buyer’s remorse?
    • Do you know enough to predict / anticipate the most likely problems?
    • Are you able to repair or access repair services for these problems?
    • Are you willing to bother with the cost, inconvenience, and loss of service this could entail?
    • Do you have a track record of happy outcomes from used buys or have you regretted many?
    • Do you have enough knowledge, skill and experience to know if what you think is a problem is really a problem or just an irremediable characteristic of a normally functioning item?

     

    If you’ve been unhappy with at least half of the things you’ve bought used, for any reason at all, you might reconsider buying used.  A friend of mine who’s a fabulous jazz guitarist and a mature man of means has never (to the best of my knowledge) ever bought any thing - new or used – from which he got complete satisfaction.  In the years I’ve known him, he’s returned at least a dozen guitars, amplifiers, etc with alleged flaws that he claims were not disclosed by the seller.  He’s had the same “problems” with virtually everything he’s ever bought – and he returns at least half of the things he orders at restaurants.

     

     

    THE GENERAL RISKS OF FAILURE OF ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT

     

    No matter what you buy and from whom you buy it, there’s always some risk of failure.  Even the best stuff breaks, fails, and is occasionally DOA despite having been bought new.   There are many predictive models for defining failure rates over the lifetime of a given item, and they’re used heavily to design and manufacture equipment, to develop maintenance and replacement schedules for users, and  to amortize equipment to budget for ongoing replacement and upgrading necessitated by predictable failures.

     

    This typical scientific paper describes how Nokia AT&T Bell Laboratories builds mathematical models to predict component and equipment reliability.  They use a common model (called a decreasing-failure-rate Weibull model) to define a failure rate curve over time, and it starts runs from first turn-on to long term end-of-life death.

     

    You may be surprised to learn that the most common form of electronic failure is “infant mortality” – the unit dies when first turned on or shortly thereafter.  I’ve had brand new high end equipment die on me the first time I used it, e.g. a new high end guitar amplifier went belly up on stage the first time I threw the switch, and a new iFi DAC failed on me the first week I had it.

     

    Once you’re past the infant mortality period, you enter a relatively constant failure rate (typically exponential) that’s traditionally and widely used for the long term. Formal modeling of both early-life and long-term reliability is needed to manage the development and manufacture of reliable products. The effects of temperature and electrical stress on failure rate are taken into account. There are models for every variant and condition to which a device is subject, e.g. the effect of integrated circuit dynamic burn-in on reliability.

     

     

    WON’T BURN-IN TESTING SOLVE THIS PROBLEM?

     

    The process of “burning in” electronic equipment is as old as the domestication of electricity.  Just as modeling is used to define failure rates over time, models are used to define the most effective and efficient ways to incorporate burning in as part of the manufacturing process.

     

    The benefits of burning in products before distribution to vendors or users are also commonly modeled.  But those models are aimed at deciding if the cost of doing it is justified by a predictable reduction in the infant and steady state failure rates of a product.  For example, modeling in this article uses the random statistical failure rates of the components in a product to define a function from which a threshold can be identified for introducing burn-in testing.

     

    The decision resting on such analysis is dichotomous.  Some manufacturers want to assure their customers of the lowest possible failure rate, and they price their products accordingly.  So they look only at whether burning in (or any other added step) increases the reliability of their product(s).  Others (which is probably most of the business community, in my personal opinion) use such information as part of a financial analysis.  If spending $100k per year on burn-in testing will reduce their infant failure rate from 1% to 0.1%, they calculate the probable cost of replacement and warranty claims on the marginal 0.99% and choose the course that will net them more profit.

     

    Unless you know the seller personally, you’re at increased risk for unhappy outcomes from simple problems (e.g. unintentional purchase of something that either doesn’t work right or is closer to the end of its useful first life than you were told) to worst case scenarios like nonfunctional, stolen or counterfeit items.  And counterfeiting can be as subtle as tweaks to a baseline product to make it into a version that’s upscale, optioned, custom, limited edition, or otherwise more desirable and more expensive.

     

     

    WHERE ARE THE BEST PLACES TO BUY GOOD USED AUDIO EQUIPMENT?

     

    These days, everybody sells everything everywhere – and no setting or sale is without risk to both parties.  The good old days of newspaper classifieds are long gone, and the internet has become the default shopping mall for most potential buyers.   There are still some traditional venues out there at which you can find some fine used equipment if you do your homework and have the patience to wait for the right stuff to come along.  A complete list includes

     

    • Face to face
      • Brick and mortar retail audio dealers
      • Dedicated used audio dealers
      • Pawn shops
      • Thrift shops
    • Internet commercial
      • Audio-only websites
      • Retail audio dealers on the web
      • On line pawn sites and blogs
      • Professional auctions
    • Internet private
      • Dedicated audio classified listings
      • Audio sections in general classified listings
      • Classified sections in audio forums
      • Dedicated user groups
    • Internet nonprofits
      • Certified charitable organizations (501c3)
        • Retail resales like Goodwill
        • Auctions for charitable organizations & facilities
      • Uncertified fundraisers (may be legitimate but what you pay them is not deductible)

     

    Picking the best sources for used audio equipment is a matter of balancing your wants and needs with your risk tolerance.  If you’re a risk taker, you have a lot more options but are likely to have a lot more disappointing encounters.  Fortunately, people with a high tolerance for risk seem to get an equally big thrill from a successful score.  So if you know yourself well and stick to your principles, there’s a world of fun awaiting you.

     

     

    THE PARAMETERS OF BUYING USED

     

    The table below is a general assessment based on my knowledge and experience, not a specific rating or score.  The risk ratings vary with particulars, e.g. whether a warranty is included and how comprehensive it is, whether certification of inspection or serviceability is provided, etc.  A return privilege lowers risk if it’s verifiable and offered by a reliable seller / organization.

     

    The most important factors that can raise or lower the risk of buying used are driven by the seller.  Do you know him or her (or the shop)?  Is there a significant and consistent body of reviews and reports about the seller on the web or at consumer agencies?  How much information about the proposed purchase is the seller providing up front, and how willing is he or she to offer more info on request?  How do they check and prepare used items before selling them?  Is the prior history of original purchase, maintenance, service, repair etc known or available?

     

    buying-used-hifi.png

     

     

     

    THE MAJOR RISKS OF BUYING USED MAY NOT BE EQUIPMENT RELATED AT ALL

     

    Face to face dealings with strangers has become a bad idea.  This tidbit from NBC news says it all:

     

    “Across the US., local police departments report incidents where unsuspecting consumers were placed in dangerous situations after agreeing to meet up in-person to buy or sell items like phones, video games and watches. Last month, a woman in Columbus, Ohio, attempting to sell a camera and lens was robbed at gunpoint when she went to meet the prospective buyer she interacted with on LetGo.

     

    Earlier this month, a man agreed to meet a St. Louis couple through Facebook Marketplace to purchase a $250 video game. But when Brittany Huddleston and Taylor Boyd arrived at the meeting spot in the nearby park, the man pulled a gun on them and demanded the game, according to the local ABC news affiliate.

     

    The police in the Philadelphia suburb of Chester started tracking this kind of crime in January 2017. In the first year, they logged roughly 28 online robberies, 25 of which involved a weapon, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.”

     

     

     

    INTERNET BUYING AND SELLING

     

    There are many web pages devoted to protecting yourself when engaging in internet transactions.  Most of those provided by authoritative sources say virtually the same things.  Here’s a list typical of what you’ll find form major news outlets, governmental agencies, consumer protection groups etc:

     

    • Make sure your ad or the one to which you’re responding sticks to the facts of the item you’re selling, includes evidence that the seller actually has the item, and can provide its provenance
    • Don’t respond with your personal email or phone number. Create a dedicated email address for selling online & use a temporary number app like Burner to communicate with the buyer.
    • If you can easily transport the item, always meet in a public place during daylight hours. Bring along a friend or family member for extra security. A police station or bank is an excellent place to meet up for buying and selling.
    • Cash is still one of the safest ways to receive money from a stranger. Other payment methods, like personal or cashier’s checks, could be fraudulent.
    • Get shipping insurance yourself or insist that the seller provide evidence of it with a receipt.
    • Require a signature at delivery. This helps prevent a buyer from falsely claiming they never received the item.
    • Trust your gut. If communication between you and the buyer seems strange, stop all contact.

     

    The last line is perhaps the most important.  Once you’ve said “I probably shouldn’t do this”, don’t do it!

     

    Here are some reputable sites for more advice and information about protecting yourself in online transactions (with or without face to face interaction) from

     

    LifeLock

     

    Webroot

     

    US government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

     

    ABC13

     

    CNN

     

     

     

    COMMON RED FLAGS WHEN SELLING

     

    1. Vague responses and inquiries
    • Many buying scams start with a generic inquiry asking if the item is still available or if you are the original owner. The reason for this is to quickly test to see if the seller is responsive.
    • There's generally no mention in the inquiry / response of the item you're selling or any questions specific to the item.
    • If you respond, you'll generally get a more detailed response.
    • They may also claim not to check their Craigslist messages and ask that you contact them directly via a separate email address.

     

    1. Suspicious followup response
    • If you respond to the vague inquiry, you'll generally get another response with a detailed story that generally refers to the buyer not being able to come to you but with a strong interest in the item.  It's even more obvious when they don't ask any questions or mention the actual item in the post.

     

    1. Asking price offered with no attempt at negotiation
    • Scammers want you to get excited about a buyer that's willing to pay your full asking price for the item.

     

    1. Offering more than the asking price
    • They'll offer to send a cashier's check with an extra $50 to cover the cost for you to ship the item to them, or worse, ask you for your banking information so they can "directly deposit" the amount in your account.

     

    1. Strange words, grammar, spelling etc
    • Bad grammar is always a red flag on any internet communication platform as it typically indicates someone is from a foreign country. Remember, Craigslist is a local ad platform, so having someone from a foreign country responding isn't normal.
    • When you see strange words like "advert" instead of advertisement, it's almost always a tip-off of a scammer. Make sure you thoroughly read through any inquiries and pay close attention to the actual words.

     

    Be especially wary of anyone who claims to have had difficulty sending payment to anyone via PayPal or another standard, reputable service like it.  Requests for unusual maneuvers like “test payments”, partial payments, etc are blazing red flags.

     

     

    COMMON RED FLAGS WHEN BUYING (IN ADDITION TO VARIANTS OF THE ABOVE)

     

    1. Wordy, effusive descriptions
      • This is a common scam. Be wary of sellers who use words in such a way that you can’t identify a single flaw despite multiple readings. According to the experts, such people often use very unusual words such as ‘desirable’, ‘admirable’, ‘sensational’ etc.  Statements about the item are often factually incorrect. Therefore, the buyer must cross-check the claims made by the seller. In case, if the facts are found to be incorrect, then the seller is trying to make the deal in a wrong manner. If the item seems too good to be true, then there is a very high probability of that particular deal to be fraudulent.
    2. Items that don’t exactly match images in the ad or multiple pictures that don’t match exactly
    3. A sense of urgency in the ad
      • Be wary of sellers who tell you they’re moving out of the country and will complete the transaction from elsewhere once you pay.
    4. Seller’s demand that you use nonstandard or foreign payment services
      • Be wary of a seller who offers to use unusual third-party services or encourages you to pay through a money wiring company
      • Requesting money to “secure the deal” is a deal breaker.

     

     

    COMMON INTERNET SCAMS

     

    Start with the premise that there are many frank scam artists out there whose occupations center on theft of money, goods, identities, etc through internet buying and selling of used goods.  Some of the most common include

     

    • fraudulent sales, e.g.
      • items with undisclosed defects
      • stolen items
      • items generally not as described
    • counterfeit goods, e.g.
        • stock items converted to  pass as “special”, “limited edition” etc
        • original cases / cabinets / etc with non stock or nonstandard internal components
        • frank fakes
    • payment related scams, e.g.
      • using Paypal etc to pay for an item, then filing a claim with the payment service for failure to deliver, fraudulent sale, etc and being able to get a refund after the item has been delivered
      • wanting to make a “test payment” of a fraction of the selling price to get your Paypal login name, email address etc
      • pay-by-check schemes – kiting, closed accounts, etc
      • payment through stolen identity

     

     

    REAL WORLD EXAMPLES

     

    Let’s start with two apocryphal stories.  To make it real for you, I suggest putting on a recording of “It Could Happen to You” while you go through this section.  I retired from my day job a few years ago and we downsized to an apartment from a 4000 square foot house.  I’m obviously an audiophile, and we had a large stock of audio stuff including 5 systems, a home recording studio, and sound reinforcement for my live performance needs.  I’m a professional musician, so I had a lot of musical equipment including guitars, keyboards, horns, amplifiers, powered mixers, speakers etc.  And most of it had to go.

     

    Story #1:  One of my prized possessions was the Mesa Boogie combo amplifier and separate EVM-loaded Thiele cabinet I used for decades.  But the amp weighed 65 pounds with its EVM and the closed back cab weighed about 45.  I haven’t needed a 100 watt amp like that for years, mostly because venues started using sound reinforcement long ago.  I kept them because I loved them – but the time to part had come.

     

    I sold the amp to a friend and posted the speaker cabinet on Craigslist.  The horror started with the 3rd or 4th inquiry, which came from someone who insisted in daily emails that “I can buy them all day every day for half of what you’re asking”.  I first responded that he must have missed the fact that it was an original owner piece in perfect shape, loaded with the original Boogie branded EVM driver, and priced $50 below the average asking price on Reverb and eBay for the same item in much worse condition from multiple sources.  He responded that he was an expert and could “...buy them all day every day for half of what you’re asking”.  And he continued to respond for at least 10 days after that.

     

    Of the 17 inquiries I got about it, 13 were trolling for fire sales, frankly fraudulent, or bot-generated phishing scams.  Two seemed genuinely interested but never pulled the trigger, and the guy who bought it was the only demonstrably normal human in the lot.

     

    Story “2:  This one’s an AS gem!  I sold off pretty much every piece of audio equipment I wasn’t ever going to use in the apartment, plus all the stuff I’ve picked up as research for this series of articles.  So I posted my Emotiva Stealth DC-1 in the AS classifieds and sat back, waiting for reasonable people to respond.  The first serious responded not just kicking tires agreed to buy it at $25 under my asking price, and we exchanged PayPal information.  I had it boxed and ready to ship when he responded that he wanted to send me a small payment first to make sure I’d receive it.  RED FLAG!!

     

    I explained that no one has ever had a problem getting payment to or from me through Paypal and that I wasn’t interested in anything short of full payment.  This was followed by a series of messages suggesting that he was just being cautious, that he really wanted the unit, and that he’d pay my asking price if I’d do it his way.

     

    OK – maybe I’m overly cautious.  But there are many sources of information on protecting yourself against fraud in private resales.  As I stated above, one of the first red flags cited by almost all authoritative sources is any alternative to simply paying for the item.  I finally just took Pat Nixon’s advice, said no, and removed the listing.  So I still have it and am waiting for someone I know to want it.

     

     

    THE BOTTOM LINE ON BUYING AND SELLING USED AUDIO EQUIPMENT TODAY

     

    web-portal.jpegThe basic nature of a secondary market in goods has changed almost completely in the 21st century.  The days of calling a number in a newspaper classified ad and going to the seller’s home to pick up a turntable for cash are over.  And although the basic risk of buying a used item remains that of inheriting unanticipated problems, there are now added risks that extend as far as personal safety, financial security, and even the integrity and security of your personal identity.

     

    I see the biggest change in buying and selling used equipment as being the dramatic shift in the risk-benefit ratio.  You can still get great deals on great stuff from good sellers, and you can still sell your unwanted items to reasonable people for reasonable sums.  But the overall probability of a good transaction is far lower than it used to be.  The risks of transactions with strangers are far greater and potentially far more serious than they used to be.

     

    The message in all this seems pretty simple to me.  You have to re-calibrate your value scale to factor these new risks into the price you’re willing to accept for your stuff and pay others for theirs.

     

    • Reassess how much you want or need whatever you’re considering buying used in comparison to the price of a new substitute from a reputable vendor.
      • The same money may buy you a new but “lesser” version of the same or a similar product
      • The occasional demo or holiday sale may be worth waiting for.
    • Consider the alternatives to private buying from and selling to strangers at a distance
    • Weigh any additional money you’ll get from a private sale against trading in your unwanted items for somewhat less, considering the safety of the transaction

     

     

    Protect yourself in internet use.

     

    • Set up a “disposable” email account to use only for internet transactions.
    • Use an anonymous phone number for contact.  There are many web services that will enable you to get and use “burner” phone numbers or an anonymous proxy phone number (e.g. Google Voice).
    • Never give out your mobile phone number along with any information that could lead a hacker back to your own system if that number is also your second step notification number for secure websites.
      • Use an authenticator app for secure 2 step logins
    • Do not put any personal information in ads and do not provide any when responding to them.
    • Use a VPN.   You can get good free ones like Kaspersky.  I pay for Norton because it’s seamless, works on all our devices, and seems to have a good track record.
    • Use a secure browser like Firefox, Tor, Brave Moon, Duck Duck Go etc (all highly rated for security).
    • Use and insist on safe, secure methods of shipping and document every aspect of the process
      • Insurance is mandatory for private sales of audio equipment. Do not rely on the other party to do it; include it in your correspondence and make clear both how much it will cover and which party will be paying for it. Insist on documentation up front in the quote and receipt.
    • Photograph every step of the process of packing items you’re selling and unpacking those you’ve bought.  Use contemporary documentation in the photos or make sure that your camera is correctly tagging your pictures with location, time and date of exposure.
    • Refuse to accept visibly damaged packaging from the shipper and advise your buyers to do the same.  The extent of potential internal damage caused by dropping equipment is vast, and it may not be immediately apparent.
      • You should include in your written communications with buyer or seller that you will neither accept damaged packaging nor be responsible for subsequent problems if your buyer does so.
      • Many unsigned deliveries are made these days despite a “signature required” provision -even if you pay extra for it.  Ask that a buyer photograph any package issues and not open it if unwitnessed delivery occurs despite provisions to prevent it.

     

    Protect yourself in face to face transactions.

     

    • Do not bring strangers to your home or office for buying or selling.
      • Meet in a public location at a time when other people are around
        • Police stations and banks are increasingly popular meeting places for such exchanges
      • Do not go alone.
      • Do not wave your cash around.

     

     

    HOW THIS HAS CHANGED MY LIFE AND APPROACH TO BUYING & SELLING

     

    Over my life, at least 90% of my private transactions have been with people I know either personally or by reputation.  I’ve bought and sold a lot of used audio and musical equipment over 50+ years.  But I pretty much stopped at least 20 years ago when private sales started to become more risky and new tech made equipment so much better and so much less expensive than good stuff used to be.

     

    When we decided to retire and downsize, I knew it was time to get rid of extraneous stuff and curate my collection of keepers.  I started with my audiophile musician son and moved on to friends who had expressed admiration for something once my son got what he wanted (free, of course!).  To be honest, what he really wanted was my keepers and he’ll have to wait a while for that transfer.  So along with my CDs (all of which are ripped to FLAC), an amplifier and assorted ancillaries, he got an IOU.

     

    I then sent messages to those I knew who had expressed a desire to have something I wasn’t going to take to the apartment with us.  This culled at least half of my “for sale” pile, bringing me about 80% of what I might have gotten in open public sale.  Those who got what they wanted at a very fair price were well served, and I had much less risk and aggravation than I would have had selling these things on internet forums etc.

     

    I then posted a few things on Craigslist, Jazz Guitar Online, AS etc and got about a 10% rate of reasonable inquiries to flakes, scammers, and tire kickers.  But within 6 months, I moved most of the remaining items and got very fair prices for it all.

     

    Once I got down to my keepers plus 2 or 3 things I’d be happy to sell buty not unhappy to keep, I went about acquiring the new things I needed for the apartment.  My recording studio in the house was about 10’x17’ with 8’ of 19” rack space, a pair of dedicated 20 amp lines at each end, and a gear closet.  I’d sold off my analog MIDI equipment, Crown deck, etc in the purge above as part of my plan to build a software-based MIDI studio in the apartment.  I bought several cool new items like a Douk ST-01 hybrid amplifier, a TASCAM DR40x recorder, 2 pairs of Edifier monitors etc.

     

    I bought everything I needed for the studio new, because it’s all so cheap now that the 20% or so I might have saved by buying used was not worth the risk, effort and aggravation.  I’d also sold off almost all of my guitar amplifiers, most of which were tube powered anvils I’d never use again.  So I bought a DV Mark Little Jazz amplifier ( an excellent $250, 40 watt 10” cube with an 8” speaker) and a Henriksen Blu 6.  This is the current state of the art in jazz guitar amplification – it’s a 12 pound, 9” 120W cube with a 6.5” speaker and a fluid-cooled tweeter that is so loud and sounds so good it’s eerie!

     

    times.jpegI also bought 2 new guitars, one of which replaces a 30 year old guitar I sold to a friend and is now my main working instrument.  The other is the best instrument I’ve ever owned – a hand carved jazz box that will probably never leave the apartment.  I paid for all of this with the money I got for the stuff I sold off as above.  I could have bought everything I’ve added in the last 5 years used and saved as much as 25%.  20 years ago, that’s what I would have done.

     

     

     

     

     

    INTERESTING REFERENCES

     

    https://www.cnet.com/tech/home-entertainment/before-you-buy-an-old-amplifier-receiver-speaker-or-turntable-read-this/

     

    https://www.highendaudioauctions.com/

     

    http://www.audioreview.com/reviews/how-to-find-and-buy-used-audio-equipment-guide

     

    https://www.cnet.com/tech/home-entertainment/before-you-buy-an-old-amplifier-receiver-speaker-or-turntable-read-this/

     

    https://www.gcaudio.com/tips-tricks/new-vs.-used-considerations-when-purchasing-equipment/

     

    https://www.wired.com/story/vintage-audio-gear-buying-guide/

     

    https://reverb.com/news/a-starter-guide-to-buying-a-home-stereo-system

     

    https://hometheaterreview.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-buying-and-selling-used-av-gear/

     

    https://www.gcaudio.com/tips-tricks/new-vs.-used-considerations-when-purchasing-equipment/

     

    http://www.audioreview.com/reviews/how-to-find-and-buy-used-audio-equipment-guide

     

    https://insheepsclothinghifi.com/vintage-hi-fi-buying-guide/

     

    https://hifireference.com/tips-and-tricks/how-to-buy-second-hand-hifi/

     

    https://www.whathifi.com/us/advice/how-to-buy-second-hand-and-vintage-hi-fi-speakers

     

    https://www.lifewire.com/sell-used-stereo-online-3134672

     

    https://www.welivesecurity.com/2020/04/22/buying-secondhand-device-what-keep-in-mind/

     

    https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/buy-second-hand-tech-pros-cons/

     

    https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/5-insider-secrets-of-buying-used-electronics/

     

     

     




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    3 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

     I'm continually surprised at the scammers who create accounts here and attempt to sell stuff. 

    And I'm continually surprised by the otherwise reasonable and intelligent people who succumb to scams because they just can't resist the idea that they're getting something better or for less money than anyone else could have done.  I've passed on a few things that turned out to be real and wonderful opportunities.  But if I offset those potential gains against the losses and troubles I've avoided by passing on the other 99% of deals too good to be true, I'm a lifetime winner!!

     

     

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    10 minutes ago, davide256 said:

    I'm not sure that used audio is  as good a deal as it used to be. I see a lot of folks trying to sell used for 90% of new, whereas 80% or less used to be the rule.

    For a 10 % savings used isn't worth the uncertainties to me.

    I used to buy used just to experience different things.  I resold at little or no loss with little or no effort.  These days, the effort and associated risks deter me from the practice.  
     

    So much new stuff is now so cheap that shipping costs can double its price when resold, while new items are often shipped free.  So a DAC that delivers to your door new for $200 is not such a good buy used when you add shipping, unless the asking price is half or less of its original cost.  The low marginal cost of a new one over the same item used is a major reason for the decline in great value in the resale market.

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    The best bargains and least risky to buy are equipment and speaker stands, racks etc. Actually I find it laughable why those should be and are being sold 50 % off.  

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    My tip for buying used gear is avoid components that are readily available as sometimes even a high end manufacturer releases a dud product that ought to be good but isn't.

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    These days, manufacturers such as NAD, Schiit, and some of the Chinese based companies make very good (even state of the art) electronics in the $100-$1000 range. And there are also Class D amps for well under $1000 that are excellent.  And all in one amp-DAC units for a few hundred to $2k.

     

    So little reason, IMO, to buy many of the used components around. You can get as good or better new for the same amount or even less. With a warranty. 

     

    Of course, if you find a pretty high end piece being sold by a hobbyist upgrader - and it's a clear upgrade for you - that would be a good reason to buy: Getting something you'd never be able to afford otherwise. Or if a used piece has the looks you really like, or a certain feature you can't get elsewhere, that's a reason to buy used. 

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    Some of my best used buys have been from locals who list their equipment on audio oriented marketplaces such as Canuck Audio Mart and have reliable, positive feedback. There is no substitute from meeting the seller in person. Even better if he/she is willing to bring the item over and allow you to hear it in your own system. And purchases from locals virtually eliminates shipping cost. It may take patience to find what you want but, in my experience, the wait is usually worth it both in terms of price and avoidance of risk. Of course, the availability of such opportunities is often limited to those who live in relatively large urban centres.

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    As someone who moves around a lot and does a lot of online buying I’ve only had one bad experience buying/selling used and that was from a friend that stiffed me for $150. Other than that I’ve had a couple of annoying interactions, mainly stemming from someone lowballing me and then asking me to explain to them what the product does. 

    As far as product risk buying when buying a used item goes, I’ve had 1 audio product arrive and fail shortly there after within the last decade of transactions. The original owner accepted the product back, warranty claimed it and I ended up with a a completely new unit at the used price which was 1/3 off of new. 
     

    As pointed out in the article, most used items don’t fail past the first few months until the end of their service life. The item in the anecdote above only had approximately 50 hours on it when it was used so basically it was a new product failure. 

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    4 minutes ago, bluesman said:

    Friends don’t stiff friends.

    Truer words were never spoken. 

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    There seems to be a lot of pushback lately from sellers on sites like agon or usam against accepting PayPal or other payment methods that allow you a way to dispute a charge if something goes wrong regardless of who pays the service fee.  The sellers have established records with good feedback. They are usually selling more expensive items, but they state upfront in their ad that anything other than PayPal friends family, Venmo, or wire is not accepted as payment for the sale.  The sellers don't seem to be scammers and are often frequent and well-known contributors on the sites, but it still gives me great pause.
     

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    14 minutes ago, tubes59 said:

    The sellers don't seem to be scammers and are often frequent and well-known contributors on the sites, but it still gives me great pause.

    ….as it does me!

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    18 hours ago, tubes59 said:

    There seems to be a lot of pushback lately from sellers on sites like agon or usam against accepting PayPal or other payment methods that allow you a way to dispute a charge if something goes wrong regardless of who pays the service fee.  The sellers have established records with good feedback. They are usually selling more expensive items, but they state upfront in their ad that anything other than PayPal friends family, Venmo, or wire is not accepted as payment for the sale.  T

     

    I don't get it. These same people will add $20 to a $100 restaurant tab for a tip and think nothing of it, but ask them to spend $30 for the convenience and protection that PayPal gives them on a $1000 sale and they freak out, or worse they use F&F to cheat PayPal out the fee they agreed to pay when they opened an account

     

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    On 6/27/2022 at 1:00 PM, bbosler said:

    I don't get it. These same people will add $20 to a $100 restaurant tab for a tip and think nothing of it, but ask them to spend $30 for the convenience and protection that PayPal gives them on a $1000 sale and they freak out, or worse they use F&F to cheat PayPal out the fee they agreed to pay when they opened an account

    I think there are two factors driving that.  First, if you do 100+transactions a year, the 20% adds up to thousands.  They're making the decision to risk a few bad transactions for the additional money.  And the IRS now monitors PayPal etc to tax anyone who receives more than $600 /year through such transactions.  The F&F tier is not (yet) monitored.

     

    Save your receipts to show the IRS that you paid more for an item that you received when you sold it.  If you're selling for profit, gains are taxable.  I think the IRS eliminated the hobby provisions this year, so you can no longer deduct hobby expenses up to the amount of money you made from your hobby.

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    A few observations from my own limited experience:
     

    • I feel much safer buying "nerdy" items than standard items used, and I have found no scammers I couldn't flush out using "nerdy talk". Higher end PRO audio and audiophile gear tends to fall in this category.
    • I totally prefer picking the equipment up in person after a good "nerdy" exchange. But I'm Scandinavian, and I suppose we trust each other more. Deal is usually by instant bank transfer with item in hand (yes, we have that).
    • Genuine sellers will offer original purchase documents on serious €/$ gear, giving some track and trace and validation.
    • B-stock audio items are usually discounted enough to take the appeal out of buying used.
      I do this from Thomann in EU (Sweetwater equivalent) - never any problems.


    That said - I do take the (unrelated) precaution of not posting pictures of my main rig online. Not even on AS.
    I suppose few people would even know how to get sound out of my AES/EBU monitors, if they actually managed to take off with it all (250kg equipment way up in an apartment building).

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    For me, it is the big-ticket items that usually seemed to be scammed more. Example, just look at that AUCTION SITE and look at the number of Vintage Receivers, for example, that are being sold for insane amounts of money. So many of them using the same pictures too. I have had pictures, I took for selling items, stolen and reused by scammers.

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