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PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:21 pm 
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Hi All,

I've been buying and selling used high-end gear for about 20 years now. Back in the '80s I sold hifi out of a couple retail shops. Those were the days; high margins when the high end was SAE, Phase Linear, McIntosh, JBL, Klipsh, ESS... ahhhhh...

Well, here are a couple recent transactions that have me scratching my head. First, I was looking for a couple albums, Nautilus Superdiscs, and found a couple online at various prices. One of the people selling was an individual on A-gon, the other, a dealer on Amazon. The dealer's prices were significantly lower for what seemed to be the same quality used albums. I asked the a-gon person if he was willing to match prices, as I like supporting the used market. He said that I was asking for a price that "was 35% below market", and he accused me of low-balling. I replied, "How am I lowballing when the identical item is listed for a lower price, online, by a reputable dealer?" (That's a rhetorical question.)

Here's the point. I'm sure we've all "watched" gear being sold online to see what the market will be for that item. Items will sit for months, even years, at their asking price -- on ebay, agon, USAM, CL. Listings that say, "Make an offer" won't be responded to. Owners just seem to over-value their gear and don't seem to be willing to let the market decide what the price is for a piece of gear.

I recently spoke with a dealer who stated, "The high end is dead. I can't sell anything anymore." Bummer for him, as he's a good guy with great gear, but he's trying to sell online for full MSRP. I just don't get why anyone would pay full msrp for gear that's perfectly good when it's a couple years old and is selling for less than half price -- sometimes 30% of msrp.

I keep 3 systems in two homes. I've "turned" those systems roughly 4X each over the past 5 years -- it's a hobby. A sickness. A weakness. Call it what you will, it's fun. Of all that gear, maybe 20 pieces altogether, I'm "sitting" on one AV processor and 1 turntable -- and I'll move those quickly enough. I've sold 500w/ch Mac monoblocks and 12w/ch handmade SET amps -- and speakers and preamps to match; turntables for $400 (Thorens) and for $2500 (Acoustic Signature) and lot's in between. The trick for me has always been to either start an auction low and let the market decide the price -- and accept the loss, if there is one, or accept that in this hobby, we don't buy gear, we rent it, and the nicer the gear, the higher the rental cost.

I know it's a bit of a rant, but I guess the question is, what can be done to keep the hobby thriving; to get gear to move rather than sit online for months on end; to educate buyers and sellers to the realities of the market?

That's my rant. I'm sure this topic has been beaten into the ground a dozen times over, but I wanted to get a conversation going, and this was on my mind. Thanks!


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:04 am 
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Jbomber

It’s interesting to see that time-to-time threads with depth and some thought like this come up here on cam. The strange thing is how few replies they get? I can see the spectrum of audio you have. 500 watt ss, to 12 watt sets shows that you realize the potential for both have with certain set-ups.

From what I’ve seen over the years is a lack of interest for high end audio, more and more as time goes on. There are exceptions. I have a few Asian friends that LOVE audio. But most of my friends just want a good system. Thank you for attempting to spark more of a basic thread here on cam.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:24 am 
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What you are describing are the symptoms of a mature market. Most of those in the market already have the necessary equipment for their needs. Now they search for "trade-up" items or items that enhance their systems. The days where people were lined up to purchase items is long gone. Dead. Never again. The only growth is small and incremental.

Then there is the internet. I have my customers (many of whom are retired) shopping the world over to find what they need. There is always somebody who is willing to sell off their stuff at a discounted rate...if you are willing to wait for the deals to come to you. Whether the items are still in good condition is a matter of opinion; and often the sellers opinion will not match the purchasers. Buyer beware.

There is no way to stimulate growth in new customers when the new customers (under thirties) are not interested in what is for sale. This new generation are buying condos not houses. They are minimalist in their furnishings, and cannot afford much else after mortgage payments etc. I see this in my own kids.

Then there is the Ebay phenomena. Where you see a similar amp to yours "selling" for ten times what you feel it is worth. Does this mean your component is really worth ten times what you thought? Usually not. In the vintage car business we call this the "Barratt Jackson Affect".....viewers see a vintage car of a specific year/make sell for half a million bucks and immeditely feel their old-tired out wreck (of similar age and manufacture) is now worth half a mil.....ya right.

All any of us can do is look for value in the market. Let the "invisible hand" determine who stays in business and who dies off. We have already seen much of this. That is why a Carver 1.0T sells for more now than when it was new. Often the quality stuff is either obscenely expensive or is available in the used/renovated market. That is what I have had to do in order to build up 5 systems in my shops/home. Strategic purchases over time. I also realize I am one of two guys on my whole street who is a "stereo guy"....we are a dying breed. When the next generations feel that cell-phone music reproduction through $1 ear-buds is "sounding good"....

Now I just sound like a grumpy old man.... 8)


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:26 am 
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RoyHifi wrote:

From what I’ve seen over the years is a lack of interest for high end audio, more and more as time goes on. There are exceptions. I have a few Asian friends that LOVE audio. But most of my friends just want a good system. Thank you for attempting to spark more of a basic thread here on cam.


We see very few "future of HiFi" threads anymore. I took my fair share of abuse over the past handful of years for saying our hobby is headed for the la brea tar pits. The theory was that once mellenials and neXers had some coin and taste our hobby would regain its footing and all would be well......alas...


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:26 am 
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I find this interesting. I am fairly young. 31 years. I've always liked music since I was about 12. And, I started collecting LPs at around 20. With a crappy turntable, and the realization that potential for LPs to sound better was out there, I've been upgrading ever since. I started new, and thought things were great, until I discovered I could have spent less on better equipment. So, I've been buying used ever since with no regrets and only a few bumps in the road.

I certainly hope that things don't disappear over the course of time, as I love the CAM community and all it has to offer.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:54 am 
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therealco wrote:
I find this interesting. I am fairly young. 31 years. I've always liked music since I was about 12. And, I started collecting LPs at around 20. With a crappy turntable, and the realization that potential for LPs to sound better was out there, I've been upgrading ever since. I started new, and thought things were great, until I discovered I could have spent less on better equipment. So, I've been buying used ever since with no regrets and only a few bumps in the road.

I certainly hope that things don't disappear over the course of time, as I love the CAM community and all it has to offer.

Tell all your friends ( same age group ) and get them all addicted to good audio and you might have a chance of keeping this going after all us old guys bite the dust. :D

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 11:08 am 
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Hi,

Interesting comments. I have another hobby, motorcycles. I started riding a moped when I was 15 in 1961, and except for a ten year period when my kids were very small and I didn't want to have a serious accident, I have always had a bike or two around. For 50 years the boomers have shaped the market. It started with the little Honda 350s and the US Indians and Harleys and British Triumphs and Nortons and then it snowballed. Many companies went under and were reborn as 'vintage'. Japanese superbikes got faster and faster. Harleys became ultra-customized so each rider had their 'own personalized bike'.

Prices rose, size and weight and displacement and horsepower accelerated upwards, insurance premium soared, until about the year 2000, when the industry realized it was out of gas, out of boomers really. Women were targeted next, and then 'new riders' were being marketed heavily with smaller bikes that were more insurance friendly. Big iron was gradually dying.

Is the industry dead? No, but it is recovering. The really good news is that some of the 'smaller bikes' designed to lure in new riders are really exceptional. I know, because I own one, a Kawasaki Ninja 400. Out of dozens of bikes I have owned this is the best bike I have ever garaged. It is light, quick and maneoverable, supremely balanced, has excellent seating, good wind-protection, and I can ride it for an hour or more and get off and walk normally. This is at my age of 71. It is a brilliant piece of design and engineering and it will be the last bike I ever own.

I see hi-end audio as having followed a parallel development and marketing path. Big monster hi-fi systems are just out of sync with the next generations of users, whether GenXers or millenials. Smaller and more 'jewelry-like' are the things that appeal to young people.

I was in Portland Oregon a decade ago. I planned the trip so I could visit a specific store - 32 Ohm Audio - which was getting lots of buzz on the west coast. It was a boutique really. A wall of headphones to try out. Glass racks of shelving with DACs and headphone amps and boutique cables and connectors and computer ancillaries. Not a box speaker in sight and no analog gear. A couple of young female sales staff were around who could answer every esoteric question. I was impressed. I am not sure they made it. The rent, in a loft conversion building may have killed them, but you get the idea. I came away thinking; this is it, the future of audio retailing, but then Internet shopping and free shipping started to ascend and bricks and mortar was looking like just too much overhead.

Music will always be there for us but the means to enjoy it seems to vary widely by era.

Cheers,
David Neice

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:01 pm 
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I'd say that the people who found vintage analog 2-channel gear relevant are either too old to care or quite possibly dead. Some pieces will always be cool, but the market for it is shrinking fast. On the upside, there's always going to be people that don't have a financial barrier and I've seen interests in collectables or whatever come in 20 year cycles, so the next generation would be about 35-ish and find this really old crap interesting.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:06 pm 
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oops, I meant to say, “thank you for attempting to start a thread other than a basic thread here on cam”

-- 07 Oct 2017 20:21 --

Therealco

Yes! That’s true... there is a growing LP market that seems to be driven by 25-35 year old hipsters. I think that’s great! I work in a large plant, and seem to be the go to guy for audio questions lol. One thing I noticed, most are not too finicky. Most are happy with there systems and simply listen to music.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:37 pm 
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buybye88 wrote:
Hi,

Interesting comments. I have another hobby, motorcycles. I started riding a moped when I was 15 in 1961, and except for a ten year period when my kids were very small and I didn't want to have a serious accident, I have always had a bike or two around. For 50 years the boomers have shaped the market. It started with the little Honda 350s and the US Indians and Harleys and British Triumphs and Nortons and then it snowballed. Many companies went under and were reborn as 'vintage'. Japanese superbikes got faster and faster. Harleys became ultra-customized so each rider had their 'own personalized bike'.

Prices rose, size and weight and displacement and horsepower accelerated upwards, insurance premium soared, until about the year 2000, when the industry realized it was out of gas, out of boomers really. Women were targeted next, and then 'new riders' were being marketed heavily with smaller bikes that were more insurance friendly. Big iron was gradually dying.

Is the industry dead? No, but it is recovering. The really good news is that some of the 'smaller bikes' designed to lure in new riders are really exceptional. I know, because I own one, a Kawasaki Ninja 400. Out of dozens of bikes I have owned this is the best bike I have ever garaged. It is light, quick and maneoverable, supremely balanced, has excellent seating, good wind-protection, and I can ride it for an hour or more and get off and walk normally. This is at my age of 71. It is a brilliant piece of design and engineering and it will be the last bike I ever own.

I see hi-end audio as having followed a parallel development and marketing path. Big monster hi-fi systems are just out of sync with the next generations of users, whether GenXers or millenials. Smaller and more 'jewelry-like' are the things that appeal to young people.

I was in Portland Oregon a decade ago. I planned the trip so I could visit a specific store - 32 Ohm Audio - which was getting lots of buzz on the west coast. It was a boutique really. A wall of headphones to try out. Glass racks of shelving with DACs and headphone amps and boutique cables and connectors and computer ancillaries. Not a box speaker in sight and no analog gear. A couple of young female sales staff were around who could answer every esoteric question. I was impressed. I am not sure they made it. The rent, in a loft conversion building may have killed them, but you get the idea. I came away thinking; this is it, the future of audio retailing, but then Internet shopping and free shipping started to ascend and bricks and mortar was looking like just too much overhead.

Music will always be there for us but the means to enjoy it seems to vary widely by era.

Cheers,
David Neice


Love your post David.... Pin point on... Very interesting.

Another point... Technology has changed audio as well. Where I had to own 5 Naim components as a source some 7-8 years ago - and I did, now I have one (and its not a Naim) and the sound is.... mmmm.... at least as good if not better. And for considerably less peso$$$ even new. Less is now more. At least in the digital world.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:47 pm 
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The hobby is dying for a few of reasons despite the general awesomeness of CAM.

The retailing model sucks. High end products that are often sold by arrogant boorish dealers. You get better service buying a $200 trinket from Tiffany or a $1000 purse from LV than many dealers. My own experiences range from the aforementioned idiots to outstanding dealers like Better Music, Audio Eden, Audio One and others. I only buy from those places that get high end retail.

Secondly, Hifi was one of the first good things you bought when I was younger but no one I know has a stereo. I did get my best friend to buy a good NAD and Paradigm system. For non audiophiles, it not only sounds great but is durable enough to not need replacing for a long time.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:59 pm 
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...for me...it's an essence thing...at its core Hifi is about quality...its disappearance or diminishing relevance is a reflection of the culture...when it comes to music playback...quality falls well short of convenience and portability...

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:04 pm 
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Yippedidou wrote:
Stone wrote:
when it comes to music playback...quality falls well short of convenience and portability...

Question: does this mean that audio quality is automatically less if something is convenient?

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Last edited by Yippedidou on Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:05 pm 
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Yippedidou wrote:
Stone wrote:
when it comes to music playback...quality falls well short of convenience and portability...

Question: does this mean that audio quality is automatically less if something is convenient?


theoretically...of course not...

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:15 pm 
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I think you are right... I work in the media business and ask me if things have changed in the past years... Where were Facebook and Twitter 10 years ago? Audio is no exception and yes, its the reflection of a culture... Totally agree.

Looking at how my audio habits have evolved in the past ten years and I think I'm now at the point where convenience becomes a bit more important than the 5% quality I get with the extra component (s) or the extra $ invested. Not that I dont want good sound - I can't live without it - but I'm ready to make a certain compromise for the sake of convenience and less $$$ invested.

And I have a couple friends that think the same way... Where we had 5 units for 20K, we now have one or 2 for half the price. Maybe a bit less sound quality (maybe, I'm not really sure...) but we are ready to live with it. This also affected the industry: where 5 units where sold at high price, only one or two are now sold for much less.

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Last edited by Yippedidou on Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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