Buying Used Speakers

Want to get the group's thoughts on buying used speakers.  The value proposition in many cases is compelling.  However, there is a pretty good element of risk as well, even from reputable Audiogon sellers.  What exactly does, "completely tested mean?"  Or "performs flawlessly?"  You don't in most cases get a warranty for starters and you're at the complete mercy of the adds and pics.  Some of the sellers are broker dealers (with stellar reputations), so do they even know how they were treated?  Prob not.   Let's face it - the vast majority of condition ratings are based on the cosmetics IMHO.  

Has anybody bought expensive speakers on AG or elsewhere?  What questions did you ask the seller to help ensure they're as sonically good as cosmetically?  Did you test them yourselves once you received them?  Any good lessons learned would be much appreciated as well.  I know for starters to get a complete  description of how they're going to ship them.  Thanks in advance!   


You're not the right mental makeup to buy used speakers. Stick with new.  You'll create used speakers for someone else.


I’ve bought and sold used stereo gear, cameras, and telescopes online for years without any issues. If you deal with the classifieds from a user forum, or sites such as Agon or usaudiomart, and from long standing members with good feedback then I feel you’re pretty safe. If buying big ticket items I always use PayPal goods and services. For less expensive items I’ll Zelle or pay via PayPal friends and family if I have complete confidence in the seller, or I’d be ok with a loss should something go awry. Just be a smart shopper, if it sounds too good to be true it usually is a red flag.

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I am more conservative than some. If I purchased used I would purchase from a company like Echo ( I personally know these guys… the are upfront and would never sell anything that was not up to specs) or a local audio dealer. You will still save a lot of money and have no worries about what you receive.

No problem buying used speakers or other equipment used, purchased Magnepan 1.7, 1.7i and 3.7i also Parasound, Pass, Ayer and VPI electronics as well as Soundsmith Cartridge everything has bern as advertised and worked fine. I couldn't afford the equipment I have if purchased new.

I ask the age, condition and if there has ever been a problem.

If possible I try to buy within a drivable distance.



@ghdprentice: you are right about Echo...Nothing wrong with places like TMR but Echo beats them hands down..IMO.

Just as an example… if you were looking at speakers on USAM from a seller who has numerous positive ratings and has sold speakers… you can be pretty confident you are dealing with a seller who will do everything possible to give a fair rating and deal with you properly because they want another good rating … but no one can guarantee that ups or FedEx won’t drop them…but a well packed speaker in a coffin of styrofoam and double wall cardboard is probably going to be ok. 

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Shipping speakers is different.   Just because they have the factory packaging doesn’t mean they will survive FedEx or UPS.   I bought a pair of Dali Helican 800’s that UPS destroyed the bases.  Good scratch and dent deal for me after I restored the base plinths.   

Once they get above 60 pounds I wouldn’t trust UPS or FedEx.  If they can pack them and drop them off for freight shipment is the way to go if they are large.   

Independence of events, @cubbiesman - any conclusion you base on input here or other fora / threads (about used/shipping) could easily land on the flip side of your coin.

When deciding on buying used, if you couldn’t really afford - emotionally and/or financially - to shrug off and have fixed any damage(s) or future defect(s) that might arise, it’s a heavy tally in the don’t-buy-used column.

If buying used speakers, I’ve made long drives to verify all drivers operate and inspect before loading and transporting myself. If site unseen, there’s risk but stick with places like TMR and you’re pretty safe. 

Remember, there’s risk for the seller too. I sold a set of tubes and the buyer wanted money back claiming one of the tubes was bad.  I offered full refund for return of all tubes. After several weeks he returned them and I found all tested and worked perfectly. Coincidentally he was selling a tube amp and I suspect he needed my good tubes for demo.  There’s risk on both sides. 

Light speakers, no problem. Heavy speakers, personal pickup only is my recommendation. My latest weigh well over 200 lbs each. I live near Austin, bought them used in Fort Worth. Saved me 13 k. Ad was posted both on audiogon and USAM. Seller had a handful of good reviews. Have been buying multiple used pieces of audio online for years without any issues. Selling can actually cause more headaches. Just dive in if saving money matters to you.

@roxy54 Silly to say the least. I’m just an average joe with no used speaker buying experience who is contemplating the pro/cons of such a purchase. I think anybody, whether experienced or not, needs to be a smart consumer when laying out $10K+ for the first time. A lot of the good posters have provided me valuable insights and tips in helping me assess said pros and cons. Not sure from where and how you’re drawing your conclusions but your remarks added zero value. Again, looking for good feedback vs. an amateur psych evaluation.

@cubbiesman Great loudspeakers have become stupidly expensive, but they are terrible investments. High end audiophiles are forever getting the next best speaker. Let them take the hit buying new. The only real problem is reliability. Except for ESLs, loudspeakers age and dynamic drivers will eventually fail. Thus, you do not want to buy a speaker that is over 10 years old. The newer the better. You can count on 25 years with good speakers, double that for ESLs. Good speakers are 95% of a great system and you want the best you can afford. Buying used from reputable sellers is a great way to get a better system on a limited budget. 

My last 3 sets of speakers came from a dealer either as trade ins or demo's.  $ Savings is significant and you have the security of a well established vendor to stand behind the sale.  In the case of the demos, you even get warranty.  I know this method doesn't work for everyone, but it has worked great for me.  

1. try to find something near enough to go, inspect, listen, which saves shipping cost and shipping risk. Patience, wait, or, rare new listing, jump on it.

2. ask questions in writing, thru the system they are listed in i.e. reverb; us audio mart; eBay .... ask for additional photos, i.e. remove dust covers, close up of driver cones, .... not only do they help you decide, the trail of answers is in writing in their system.

3. shipping, I agree, original packaging is a big plus, not only safer, tells you something about the seller that he saved the packaging.

4. PayPal: get an invoice for the specific item, i.e. buying goods or services, which are covered. Friends and family is not covered. PayPal fees can be negotiated, I offer to split or pay all the fees in writing when deciding to make an offer. IOW, seller’s reason to use F&F is to avoid the fees, but you need protection, pay for your protection.

5. insurance: you pay the cost of it, however the insurance is purchased by the seller, and any claim must be made by seller.

If a problem, ... (destroyed plinth/tonearm, dust cover): I forget all the specifics, it went something like this: You need to document the damage (take photos of box as it arrived; take photos when unpacking, .... UPS will pick it up, or I had to take the unit to UPS (location with claims capability) for them to document the damage. Next seller had to make the claim at his local UPS where he bought the insurance. His local UPS receives the package from my local UPS, they inspect, agree?

Seller get’s damaged goods back. Seller receives the money due from the claim if any. Not double boxed, improper packaging, claim denied. Seller gives you a refund, thru the system you bought it from. You wait for this whole process, then hope seller will give you a refund.

6. This is why you fund your PayPal account with your best credit card, so that their ’fraud’ protection covers you. I called my CC Co. before buying the tonearm from Russia, yes, I would be covered.

7. CC Co. holds the payment from your bill, you will not have to pay. They start a 7 day countdown, time for it to be resolved by PayPal, etc, then they make a fraud claim to PayPal, and they told me PayPal would close the seller’s account. That is what prompted the seller to send me a full refund. Whew.


Speakers specifically: I have only bought 2 pairs of AR-2ax that I knew I would refurb myself.

8. UPS Pack and Ship. Seller said Local Pickup ONLY! You WANT it. (I used it 3 times) You get size of item(s), and weight of item(s). You call UPS, get an estimate for them to Pack and Ship (guaranteed). Give them your CC info.

UPS Pack and Ship

You find P&S location near seller. All seller has to do is drop off the item, unpackaged, in your name (local UPS expects it). UPS calls you with an exact price (my case a bit less than the estimate). Agree, they pack it knowing they are responsible for any damage. It will be double boxed.


btw: I buy used primarily. Several Teac Reel to Reel Decks; CD Player; Pre-Amp/Tuner; Integrated Amp, Luxman Integrated Amp; Yamaha Receiver; Technics TT; Sony TT; TT plinth, dust cover, TT81; 2 of my 3 tonearms; Chase RLC-1 remote line controller; Fisher 500C Receiver; 1 Sumiko Talisman S cartridge (happily turned out well). Two pairs of AR-2ax speakers, ....

I posted a similar question a few months back and received good advice. I ended up buying some used speakers from TMR and the results were very good. You can lower your risk by purchasing only from dealers or Audiogon type entities as opposed to individuals. 

I have had great experience buying used and usually pretty large speakers. I only look at items within my driving range as shipping is simply risky. I always check sellers feedback and listen/inspect on site. Pretty straightforward for me at least.

I buy used from The Music Room tmraudio . com. You can return them.

Vandersteen Treo CT and Moon 700i

No issues.



It depends on the price bracket.

If it is high end 50k or above. I will most definitely buy used, i.e at cut even prices for when I sell it. 

I used to be associated with private listservs (trustworthy guys) where guys just rotate gear in that manner. Unfortunately, when I moved from the coast to a less high end-ish part of the country, it became less practical.

Used is the way to go, let someone else pay the inflated and or kerbside warranty prices. Have many plywood on pallet large heavy successful shipments under my belt. Pick up, pack, crate, ensured, by a local credited company is the way to go. Largest for me was a successful 4000 mile IRS Beta shipment. Of course shipping today like everything else…a cash grab. But I’d rather that to paying 10,000 for crappy speakers only to see the 50% devaluation in a year. 


Bought all my speakers used. EPI for got number two drivers firing on 45*angle, two firing forward total 4 in each cabnet early 1970ies, then my favorite  Snell C2 then canton 9k reference.

My practice read reviews of what's up for sale locally ( within driving distance) so  I can pre purchase listen and visually inspect and discuss with seller the  price and what if they prove defective options. Generally, I look for minimum 50% off new purchase price (depends on age however how much above below 50%). Never had a problem gear was as advertised. Only issue was with wife on the beautiful oak Snells she though they were too big and loud, so I only kept them two decades replaced them with the canton stand mounted and 2 svs sb 1000 subs all in black which had a bigger footprint then the Snell's. lol lesson learned for her domestic tranquility is a two-way street.

I would never buy used speakers without hearing them first. My current speakers were purchased as used, but only after listening at seller's home. My previous speakers were used as demos, which I purchased after hearing them at the dealer's establishment. Both transactions turned out as amazing deals, and loved both pairs for a long time.

Dear @cubbiesman  : Buy a speakeofless than 5 years old has almost no risk from a wellknow seller/good feedback customers and like with new cars that after the first  year his price is 50% down the new price.

With usedspeakers you can buy away better speakers that what you can afford for a new ones.


Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,


I would not trust FedEx,UPS to ship floorstanding  speakers no matter how nice the box is.

Light monitors have a better chance in a soft foam skeleton double boxed, dense foam can lead to issues. Heavy dense small boxes are prone to damage, heavy monitors or subwoofers are bad risky. If you can ask the seller to send pictures of packing process or boxes to be used might give a little reassurance.


Ive been buying on Audiogon for over 15 years and have never been ripped off. Knock on wood. Way back when no one was using PayPal it was all USPS money order. PayPal was used on eBay.


I find most people with good feedback are honest good people that will go out of there way to have a smooth transaction.

Buying any used hifi generally has more risk than buying new unless there is an ironclad money back return policy..

One exception might be buying new from shady foreign dealers...

@paulcreed I watched the UNITED PULVERIZING SERVICE guy free drop my brand new Wharfedale 12.4 speakers off the truck onto the driveway, then flip them end-over-end up my second floor stairs...

Lucky all that was broken was one of the floor stands.  Crutchfield was great about replacement for the broken part but they did send the wrong replacement first try, so still a big hassle for me.


I would not buy used toilet paper from the Russkies.  You can't be serious.  

@carlsbad2 1+    I buy 2 year old lease return Volvos and do not expect perfection.  The lack of perfection perfectly fits my bank account.

I purchased my last few pairs of speakers new but have bought a number of speakers used over the years.   Paradigm Studio 100,  Klipsch CF 4 , KEF Ref 3, B&W cdm 1nt, Sonus Faber  Concertino...   All of them had one thing in common, I could not afford them when new.   

I purchased a pair of Klipsch Heresy II for my brother  a little while back. Time capsule for $500.   Some great speaker deals out there. Even better if they are big and hard to move!!!  

I prefer to buy speakers locally for the obvious reasons, confirming they work and avoiding shipping .

I have dealt with TMR on several occasions and they are good to deal with. 

In my 3 years getting back into this hobby I have purchased 3 pairs of used speakers without listening to them prior. I did spend many hours doing research reading reviews, forums, magazines and word of mouth. Fritz Rev 5 SE, Goldenear Triton 2 and Ohm Walsh Tall 2000 all on Audiogon from sellers with good reviews. Why used? All of my speakers were below 50%+ off msrp, less than 5 years old, stated in very good condition. If I didn’t like them or didn’t stick with the hobby (unlikely) I could resell them without much financial loss. You do have to be risk adverse and accepting of some imperfections and in some cases do some minor fixes/ mods. My Goldenear Triton’s had one of its built in subwoofer amps stop working. Goldenear has superb customer service and swapped my amp out. I had to do the install but took an easy 10 minutes. My Ohm’s arrived with veneer peeling back at the seams and black paint wearing through exposing high wood grain. Glue, clamps and some dye and they look great. Fritz were mint. Love all 3 and none had driver or cabinet issues and sound excellent. But it is a risk you have to be comfortable with.

Pretty much every speaker besides a few when I was in my teens early 20s were bought used. Out of 20+ shipments received and shipped I’ve not had a single issue. I always buy the insurance also. If money was no object yeah I’d buy new, why not. if it’s within a 2 or so hour drive I’ll just go get it. 

I've bought all my speakers used. Shipping just gets expensive and being able to listen to them and evaluate their condition is crucial. Once you narrow down what you are looking for I would search locally on FB marketplace, Audiogon, US Audio Mart and used hifi dealers or maybe even Craigslist. Take your time finding what you want. The last set of speakers I bought used were 3k less than current retail and only 2 years old. I drove 2.5 hours each way to demo and then buy.   I recently bought a sub and saved over $ 700 vs new and that included shipping. Both in excellent condition. Well worth the savings to me. 


Definitely talk to the seller by phone if you can. Research their location and if not comfortable arrange a public meet up or wait for something else.  I have found most people selling high end gear are great to work with and can provide valuable insight as well. 

One nice thing about buying speakers used is you don't have to wait weeks or months for them to break in and sound like they should. But I would only buy used ones if they were delivered to me. 

I wouldn't buy used speakers unless I could listen to them first. If they check out, I would absolutely prefer used to new. 

As with anything used, buyer beware always.  If you can see it visually and hear it, buy locally as the first option.  I've never had issues buying used, the speakers worked as they are suppose to.  Used is a good place to save money for sure.  If you are buying speakers that are 5 years old, should not have an issue.  If you are buying speakers 20+ years old, you should definately review them.

Echo and TMR are great people. Have done many transactions with echo for over 29 years, I’ve done more with TMR in the last 5 years. Echo does have their biases toward there new products, TMR is more neutral. 
I always go listen to the speakers if buying used, if new, I can go into a dealer or order online.

As for age, 10 years isn’t that old with newer speakers. I’ve even had 20 year old cheaper speakers that sounded very good and would last many more years. For example, I would not hesitate on buying a pair of Revel salon 1’s or studio 1’s today, and they are 20 years old. The more reputable manufacturers have rebuild services which could be much cheaper than buying a new pair.

I’ve owned 35+ pairs of speakers over the last 11 years. About half were either pre-owned or dealer demos.

I’ve had both positive and negative experiences buying used, but also a couple bad experiences with new speakers as well.

One thing I’ve come to conclude is that one seller’s “7/10” condition speaker might be a 9/10 (allegedly) in the eyes of other sellers. This seems to be ever more prevalent in the post-Covid era. I can’t count how many times I’ve see a pre-owned speaker listed as a “9/10” when it’s obvious to me that the drivers were abused, such as tweeter domes with ripples or dimples (very common with Dynaudio tweeters for example).


@cubbiesman  I've been buying and selling used speakers and all things high end audio on Audiogon for over 20 years with very positive results.  Now, there's several on-line outlets where used high end audio can be bought and sold.  I couldn't afford my own audio system if I had to buy it retail and not pre-owned as I did. Most online used websites like audiogon have it to where you can give feedback on a buyer or seller.  Usually, online sellers are very carful not to sell bad items because the buyers can leave negative feedback on them for all to see.  The ability to leave feedback on a buyer or seller is a great safeguard against negative or fraudulent transactions.  But, of course, there's always some kind of a risk factor in just about everything we do in life.  You decide.      

I practically only buy used gear. There are not may high end stores where I live, their selection is narrow and they charge exorbitant prices. I never bought speakers used, but I did buy a number of headphones. It is very difficult to find a place that would let you listen to headphones (Japan has no issues with that... but US does). But used or demo units provide great opportunity for evaluation. If you don't like them, you won't lose much.

Exception is when technology is new and there are no used units yet. For example, I purchased R2R DAC new - Denafrips makes really good ones and you rarely can find them used (I guess people keep them). 

Otherwise I bought and sold Pass, BAT, Sonic Frontiers, Adcom, Rotel, Marantz, Auralic, Rega, VPI, you name it.

@helomech That really resonates with me.  The dealer I'm considering has a hifi store and deals almost 50/50 between new and used sales.  His feedback is plenty and at 100%.  Still, it's definitely wise to verify exactly what you're describing and better yet to travel to the store to verify in person if possible.  Like you're saying, I wouldn't be able to afford what I want new but could in the used market.  

The other element is to verify his past sales.  Are they high end items similar to what I'm considering?  I can't tell you the number of times I went to verify a seller only to find the high rating was based on selling nickel/dime items.  It's also good to see how cooperative they are in doing up front things like taking your calls, taking more photos, entertaining a visit to audition, etc.    

As a seller, speakers are by far the worst item to sell.  When we say things like fully tested and performs flawlessly, I can tell you at least what I mean.  I connect them to my system and put them through their paces.  I listen to tracks and check if I hear static or distortion.  If everything checks is fine.  These are speakers.  They are not that complex to test.  Incidentally, I do the same thing when I test gear.  Need to test all inputs and outputs and make sure everything works.  DACs and servers are most annoying things to test.  

That said, speakers are hardest item to ship.  I have had two issues in 5 years which is higher than on any other product type.  In one case, FedEx beat the hell out of the box and the base of the speaker was damage.  This was $150 item that was easily removed and replaced.  The other, FedEx beat the hell out of the box and a glued piece of wood came loose inside and knocked a wire loose on the crossover.  In that case, it was an inexpensive repair.  Both cases, I covered it. Clarify what happens with your seller if something goes wrong.  

Other notes.  I would want to see them in original packaging and depending on the type of speaker, might insist that it ships freight rather than UPS/FedEx.  I would flex on this if you were buying from a very reputable seller that has purchased packaging materials from someone like ULine or has it professionally packaged by FedEx.  Then if anything happens you have a checkmate on the people at FedEx and they have to pay the claim.  


I have absolutely no problem driving from New York City to, say, Ohio to pick up speakers I want. I know more often than not people generally don’t have a problem with FedEx or UPS, but if you’ve ever had a problem trying to collect on an insured audio shipment, you know how vulnerable to mumbo-jumbo fkery are. I don’t want to be a lawyer to get my money back on a lost or destroyed shipment. They don’t like to pay.

Buy speakers in your region of the country and...

A) You get your item on your timetable

B) If you’re going to pick up in, say, Pittsburgh, take your lovely spouse with you and spend a day doing whatever it is you do in Pittsburgh.

C) A $79 hotel stay, some gas & a day or two out with your friend, kid, S.O., etc still beats a fingers crossed 8 day $500 delivery fee- and you’re still on your schedule to hear those speakers you really wanted.

D) I’m not a believer in shipping speakers. You want them shipped right? Common carriers do a fine job with big, heavy, well packed fragile items, but thats a prohibitive expense.

I don’t feel this way about buying modern components via shipment. USPS has been absolutely 1000% spectacular over my entire time as an audio enthusiast. In terms price, time, value, tracking and safe arrival- I can’t ever say the same for audio shipments with UPS or even worse, FedEx.

I bought mine from a store that I'd been going to for decades with a strong reputation that given your s/n you probably know. The last pair of 2.4s they had were first sold months before I came in and found them, in the finish I wanted, no less.  Some high powered attorney with more money than time wanted the latest in speakers so I picked up his 3month old trade for less than half price. I think they wanted the space as home theater had become their main focus. I'm not a big believer in divine intervention, particularly in audio but this still seems pretty miraculous to me.

I have bought speakers and audio equipment from different people on the site .Sometimes things don't last,sometimes they do.Your buying used so beware.Also if possible pick up the speakers can get to hear ,them and check them out ,first hand.When ever audio equipment is shipped it can get damaged. I worked in the old PO and saw first hand how packages are handled. I unload trucks.I also worked for UPS in the claims dept ,so i know about damaged equipment, first hand.

Every speaker I’ve purchased the past 35 years has been used. Never had a problem and purchased much more expensive speakers than my budget could afford because I bought them used. I didn’t have $10k, what they sold for new, but I had 3k, and the seller ended up taking my ESL’s for an $1800 credit, so $1200 out of pocket for a $10k ESL was a no brainer. But no ESL I know of lasts 50 years! You’re lucky to get 20 years out of an ESL.

And word to the wise: I’d only ship speakers via ground freight.  Shipped and secured on their own pallet. Will cost you a bit more than FedEx or UPS, but worth the peace of mind not being destroyed in transit!

I have repeatedly purchased used speakers in my life. The biggest was the first: a pair of Vandersteen’s then-TOTL, the Model 4. I bought them from a west coast seller via an intermediary firm that handled the money (kind of a broker, ensuring the deal was satisfactory to both parties and arranging return/refund if not). They were shipped to my house in upstate NY on a semi-trailer. It was quite a scene getting them off that trailer and down the 250 ft driveway. It was a perfect transaction ... I loved those speaker to pieces.

35+ years later I’ve purchased 4 or 5 big 2-ways for the home office. All transactions were flawless, including the most recent--a pair of Harbeth 30.1s purchased from the UK. I've never been burned.

So you could say I’m wide open to purchasing used speakers. But this is a case where there really is no substitute for Paypal’s Goods & Services payment mechanism. In the case of the Harbeths, had the deal gone wrong, I would’ve had 3 parties to back up my claim: Paypal, eBay, and the credit card company. I would never buy something costing $3K or more without multiple layers of protection.

And naturally, when I sell speakers, I accept G&S payments. There's no other way to safely do this.