Home Theater on a Budget: Buying Used Speakers
I think it is safe to say that audio tends to be one of the more expensive hobbies. Even an entry-level budget home theater setup that consists of a TV, AVR, and 5.1 speaker setup can present a significant barrier to entry. The costs can discourage newcomers from becoming HT enthusiasts. Good news! Our particular hobby suffers from a healthy dose of upgraditis! So chances are that with a little patience, and some research, you can score a great set of used speakers. Used speakers will often be as cost-effective as budget speakers, but far better in terms of quality. So let’s talk about buying used home theater speakers to stretch your budget!
Buying used home theater speakers can be scary for the budding enthusiast who has a small budget and can’t afford to waste a cent on a bad purchase. But worry not! This article is aimed directly at the timid buyer. The one who has never purchased used and wants to know the pro’s and con’s. That way, they can make an informed decision. Still onboard? Let’s jump in!
- Speaker technology and design hasn’t changed at the same pace as electronics. That’s means that a good speaker from 10 years ago can still sound good today. Most speakers made in the last 10-15 years use synthetic materials that are less likely to degrade, meaning your used speaker will still have a lot of life left in them! And if you find one with a problem, we have some solutions.
- Used speakers cost significantly less! Let’s face it, this is the biggest pro to used speakers. Look on any buy and sell site and you will see speakers being sold for a fraction of their original MSRP. I was able to get a matching 3.0 setup for 1/3 the cost of new. That allowed me to increase the budget for my subwoofer and get a much better sub than I originally had planned.
- You can often haggle on price. I know some people shudder at the thought of haggling with a stranger over the internet, but I find that is part of the fun. I will never “low ball” someone, but I will always explore if they are willing to negotiate their price a bit. Every dollar I save on one part of the setup means I can spend more on something else.
- There is more variety in used. Big box retailers often only carry the most poplar brands of speakers, so if you want something specific you may need to find a specialty HiFi shop! The used market often has many different brands for sale, so that means you can really dial in on what you want and often get a set of speakers that wouldn’t normally be available in your area. Variety is the spice of life!
- Making new connections. Now this may not be a pro for some people, but for me, connecting with people with the same interests as me can be fun. I will often get a text from someone I bought from before saying “I am selling X…interested?” So I get first dibs on some great gear. I also have been able to send the same text and sell my stuff without even posting it.
- Used gear offers no warranty. Strictly speaking, buying used offers the buyers no warranty. It’s up to the buyer to do their due diligence to make sure that the speakers are in good condition prior to purchase. That being said, some manufacturers such as SVS will support their gear well after the warranty has expired. But don’t expect that from everyone.
- Replacement parts can be hard to come across. If the speaker is discontinued, there is a good chance that if sometime breaks on your speaker, you may not be able to contact the manufacturer and get a replacement. However, there are good aftermarket parts you can but that will get you up and running should you have a malfunction.
- Buying used is a long game! In my experience most sellers don’t sell entire systems, rather parts they upgraded. This means that you will have to piece your system together part by part. This also means you might not have a matching system right away. It took me about 1 year to find matching speakers from the same line and there is no guarantee that you will will be able to do that with discontinued lines.
Still with us? Good. The “too long, didn’t read” version is that buying used home theater speakers offers some significant budget advantages without a ton of downsides. It allows you to get a solid starting point on your HT / AV adventure without a huge outlay of cash. With a little prep work, and a lot of patience, it will really pay off!
Up next…How to shop for used home theater speakers! Have you shopped used speakers? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments!
During a electrical outage I had woofers that blew on SVS bookshelf spkrs which I owned for a few months. They were purchased on closeout. They did not have anymore replacement woofers. They sent me older woofers from the earlier model speaker. They did not sound good in the speaker. The result was the crossover and the tweeter needed to be changed but they had none. The speakers are now used in my garage. An outage rarely does this damage. But be careful in buying closeout speakers or used. Make sure speaker manufacturers have spare parts if needed. Not putting blame on SVS, but disappointing knowing the positive press they receive.