It’s the time of year for saving money!
Ok, let’s play pretend…let’s say you have $75K to $150K US burning a hole in your pocket that you want to spend on a pair of the best speakers you’ve ever owned. Of course, you already own a pair of $30K US loudspeakers ensconced in your listening room that will have to go elsewhere before you can install the new ones. So, what do you do?
If you are fortunate enough to have a dealer who carries the super-speakers that are the object of your affections, he could offer a trade-in deal where he takes the old speakers off your hands, gives you some discount off the new ones, does all the heavy lifting and viola! New, flagship loudspeakers making merry…
So, that’s a fine conclusion. And yes, it will very likely cost more than selling your loudspeakers yourself, but you will end up with new loudspeakers arriving in a timely manner supported by a dealer, so the vast majority of the hassle in upgrading has been eliminated. But what about the dealer? He now has a used pair of $30K loudspeakers to unload…
Ok, audiophile, how much would you pay for a used pair of $30K US loudspeakers? What would be the magic number that would encourage you to open your wallet? $15K? $10K? Even less? Other determining factors would be the condition of the used loudspeakers, how old they are, and what their manufacturer replaced them with. Sometimes the new model’s allure overshadows the previous model in substantial ways (according to the marketing folk) that makes the older model even less attractive on the second-hand market. Almost nobody wants to dump a boatload of money into a component that has already been bettered by a newer model. Audiophiles, by definition, want the newest, most high-performance alternative available.
So, what can a dealer who takes trade-ins do? Well, if the dealer and manufacturer are working together the dealer could have a number of options – one is manufacturer refurbishment and/or upgrading. Some companies will help out dealers by having a trade-in policy that supports the dealers with “back-stop” buy-back prices, so there is a bottom dollar that they can expect to receive from a trade-in. Certified manufacturer refurbishment programs can also substantially help move older traded-in products from dealer’s inventories. A manufacturer-refurb proffered at 45% of original retail can be extremely enticing…
Many audiophiles may not have a hometown dealer any more. But if you are in the market for flagship-level high-end loudspeakers almost any dealer will be willing and able to pretend that they ARE your hometown dealer. The good ones can even deliver service that makes you think they are situated in your home town. There are also sites like The Music Room, which specialize in late-model used gear where you can consign gear or sell it to them outright. But unless you’re in the Denver metro area packing and shipping will be involved…
It’s a given that anyone buying a pair of flagship loudspeakers will already own a pair of loudspeakers that will need to go elsewhere. Getting from point A (old speakers) to point B (new speakers) can be easy (but you will pay for the convenience) or hard (but you spend the least money while expending maximum effort and time).
As my father used to say to me, on multiple occasions (probably because it was so universally applicable), “You pays your money and you take your choice…” And in the case of flagship high-end loudspeakers, somebody, somewhere is going to be doing some heavy lifting, monetarily and physically. Depending on your choice, it might or might not be you.
I had a dealer offer to sell me a pair of (almost assuredly broken or close to dead) MartinLogan CLS II (not Zs) – the worst vintage for $7,000.
That’s a 1980’s impossible to drive pair of speakers that can’t be driven with a 300 watt $75,000 pair of mono blocks because the Mylar is not charging. And he wants many times more than retail when they are barely working and possibly impossible to fix.
And he told me he recently took them in for trade for $1,200 and that “he couldn’t live without a pair of electrostatic speakers in his house/”store”. I offered for him to become a MartinLogan deal with a great deal on a pair of CLX (a product that is current) but the temptation to sell impossible-to-find, impossible-to-buy-new, impossible-to-repair speakers like old CLS IIs was just too tempting for him.
No, I wouldn’t buy older MLs from anyone unless they were dirt cheap. I see so many used ones listed for sale at overly high prices lately, and hate to think of the suckers buying them. I got into a used pair almost free, so it was worth my time to refurbish them myself as a project. (More as a learning experience for me–it was interesting!) But, they are easily repaired “officially”–new panels are still available for many (or most?) ML models. They are not inexpensive though, and at that point, I would rather put that money towards a newer model that at least has the X-Stat technology. A used Summit is a sweet deal–I’ve seen a handful sell at $2,800 to $3,000 in the past year. (Missed out on a pair locally, but Uncle Sam needed a tax payment more than I needed speakers, alas…)
>> Audiophiles, by definition, want the newest, most high-performance alternative available.
I know quite a few audiophiles, and many of them are buying used equipment, not new. Granted, they still may buy a new phono cartridge, but there are so many good deals out there, it’s almost foolish to buy new anymore. I figure, let someone else take the depreciation, and the rest of us will spend a fraction of the original price. The price on high-end componentry has gone insane in the past dozen years or so, likely more, and I wouldn’t have the system I do today if I had tried to buy anything new.
rudy, i am right there w/ya. but… tmr is right – used stuff doesn’t exist unless someone is buying new. i love those guys who are buying the stuff new! (cars and motorcycles as well!) :>) now, i am just waiting for one of ’em to sell me his/her horning agalme mkii speakers for $6k. ;~)
Wow! We love the shout-out here!
There is a staggering amount of gear out there, and dozens of different choices on how to acquire it. We have a rigorous testing process, and make sure that all of our equipment has been well vetted. We also offer a 30 day return policy on all of our pre-owned gear, just to make sure it’s exactly what you wanted, and is in perfect synergy with your current system.
Our business models is specifically built on this premise. Perhaps you’ve been playing the audio game for a long time now. You purchase $20k speakers at the same rate you purchase gallons of milk. Maybe you’re just looking at something different to change the sound. We offer a fantastic way to trade your old or new gear in for something you’ve always wanted to try, but couldn’t get to the normal price of entry. Reach out to us! We can help!
Audio purchases are like car purchases. Other than the obvious expense involved for some people, many people can’t wrap their brain around a new car. They’ll let somebody else drive it off the lot, and lose the value immediately. Others buy or lease a new car every few years. They want the newest and greatest model available, and have no problem shelling out their money on it. Neither of these solutions are wrong, just different preferences and experiences for the buyer.
Used cars don’t exist unless someone is buying new cars. This is the same with audio components. There are brick and mortar retailers out there, with the goal of getting you the newest, best system you can afford. We all need these stores, and should support them whenever we can. This is why The Music Room works with retailers all over the country. It’s not always the best solution for a brick and mortar location to have a glut of preowned gear in their inventory, which is where we step in and help.
At the end of the day, this hobby should be about enjoyment. If buying a $30,000 preamplifier gives you that magic, then by all means get it. However, if you’d rather buy a gently used version, don’t hesitate to look us up! We’ve got something for everybody!
The Music Room
I bought Right, Left and Center Martin Logan ESL used and could not be happier…driven by Pioneer Elite HT new receiver…
Second hand speakers can be the best deal around. I prefer speakers from well known US manufacturers. I purchase Aerial Acoustics for a few reasons, they sound great, and are a better value because they are less well known than some of the super brands like B&W Focal and Wilson Audio. Michael Kelly has been making speakers I like in the USA for over 30 years starting at a/d/s.
I purchased the then flagship 10T for $ 2,500.00 used them for 10 years and sold them for $ 2,000.00. My next pair was the “used” Model 9’s with a MSRP of about $11,000.00 which I drove up to Boston to pickup. The speakers look like they had never been used, not even a hairline scratch. I think it was a WAF issue, as they are kinda large.
He even had the boxes, and due to the trapezoid shape they are very difficult to get them into the boxes. Luckily my audiophile pal since grade school was there to lend a hand( for a lobster roll lunch). Now saving up for one of the newer Sasha models, It will take a long time as they still are quite expensive. If you can take a model or two or more back there are great deals to be had in every price range. If you locate your dream speakers and the owner discarded the shipping boxes or crates that makes the sellers options limited and great deals can be had. Bring a hand truck with moving blankets. I recommend you search by zip code on audiogon and ebay etc.
If offered by an official dealer for that brand, its a no Brainer if the price is right. How big a discount depends on the brand. A new or small brand is less likely to stock parts or even be in business 5-10 years down the road. A well established brand most likely will, so a current model loudspeaker, used (No warranty), should sell for 25-35% off New msrp. A discontinued model from any brand, or current model from an “Off-brand, should sell for $50% off New msrp. There’s always exceptions depending on market demand.