Previous Ownership...does it matter to you?

I'm curious as to how others feel about knowing the previous ownership history when purchasing used audio equipment. Not necessarily who specifically owned as that's usually not possible but how many owners.

It might give you a glimpse into whether the item has been shipped back and forth from coast to coast in the US, Canada, or another country and if there's something not as advertised with the item since it continues to change hands too frequently.

I recently exchanged messages with a seller of a previous set of very nice speakers I previously owned. I knew the complete history, the buyer listed himself as the third owner when in fact he was the fifth owner. When I shared the details, his response was "could care less about ownership and how many times it's changed hands....".

I was surprised by the response. The obvious reason to understand ownership it's one of the listing rules from both Audiogon and US Audiomart in regards to the rating scale. Both Audiogon and US Audiomart are specific that anything a 9 or above must be single owner. In the case I reference above, the seller lists as a 9 even knowing he's the fifth owner. 

What is your approach to knowing ownership history? Does it matter or not to you?


Simply put:


- it is driving contributing factor two ways;

(A) it impacts my decision tree on whether I move forward on the deal, and

(B) then it impacts on how I formulate a fair offer.

- Liars are a recipe for a shite-show in the making. Gear Flippers and flippant arrogant Sellers in general are a must-to-avoid. The forum audio preowned market is predicated solely on a member honor code trust, which in turn is predicated on Seller AND unit past history…full stop.

- ya hafta wonder and be highly skeptical in the extreme , as to why would a piece be changing hands many times before? Is it defective / damaged and being overstated for its condition, or is it a harbinger that its audio performance is a POS?

would anybody buy a car without its CARFAX true history disclosing its complete history? No diff here IMO.

- Original owner from new is where 99% of my pre-owned purchases are made, it provides some anecdotal assurance that what is now assessed and reported is a fair and accurate summary of its true condition . These Sellers have a very high probability of being extreme care stewards of the piece and forthright of listing it’s strengths AND disclosing its warts,

- Lying about its history is a hard line litmus test for me to bid the unit adieu as I quote to Seller the profane slang pejorative embodied in GENESIS 9:7. The only reason to hide it is to lie about its state. Unfortunately, these bottom feeders do walk among us.

- Simply put, a 5+ sold history is going to trigger a large haircut off a FMV asking price when compared to a single-owner history unit.

- Prior positive feedback follows in lockstep. If they don’t have a solid 100% positive feedback…. Fuhgeddaboudit.


Sometimes when you buy used you don’t ask if there was a previous owner, therefore, when you go to sell, you simply don’t know. 

Lying is not right, but I’m far more concerned about the merits of the piece itself, condition, function, price, and availability.


Hmmm …. Okay, ….BUT ……this simple and basic exercise is generally expected and presumed as a key binary choice question to every Seller upfront for 99+% of AGON / CAM / USAM fellow members; “are you the original owner , Yay or Nay? If not, please explain,”

IMO: Any current SELLER now listing his pre-owned piece, and alleging that he doesn’t know about its past history in an admission that it was never asked for, …predicates:

- (a) the unit is immediately slotted into a “fast pass” for me on the unit, and

- (b) Seller’s surprising and disappointing prior cavalier attitude about ignoring basic tenets to establish a unit’s provenance, now pushes them into my “must-to-avoid” list and blocked . Sayonara.

I guess I don't really care about the equipment's past.

I'm much more concerned with its' current condition.

You can usually tell if it has been taken care of or beaten on pretty quickly...

@knotscott  , @coralkong


Absolutely , without quarrel, sir.

but rhetorically, how much trust are you going to develop on its condition and functionality on a potential blind purchase now saddled by a purposeful (emphasis added) provenance/ history omission that was called out to be a lie ( and not an error) and casually shrugged off now as “who cares”.?. For me that is an insulting arrogance on a fatal event that terminates the discussion .

for me : nada, zippo, zilch, NFW.

the only thing we have to rely on the unit reported condition properly and rely on the credibility of Seller is his prior feedback, AND current conduct

What is your criteria for getting to the condition 'quickly' for an online sale of a used item?

Photos, description, feedback? Any of these can be gamed/faked/lied about as I have referenced in the original post.

You can usually tell if it has been taken care of or beaten on pretty quickly...

I always buy components from a dealer, not an individual. I want to know someone will stand behind my purchase regardless of the history. That said… they are usually demonstration units. 

Given it is a piece I am interested in I consider:

        Age, current condition, past ownership, if original box is avail,  item to be double boxed, feedback for seller. All are good to know.



The seller’s reputation and the details and answers provided are more important than the component’s provenance.  In large metro areas components are often traded locally without shipping. 

Bought most of my system used with the only exceptions being the speakers, DAC, and cables. 


I always make sure to ask for detailed pictures beyond the ones included in the ad, because condition gives the biggest indication of how it was cared for and who the previous owner was. Finally, the way the seller communicates (i.e. good grammar, well spoken, responsive, etc.) is the final litmus test for me. Original boxes are a big plus too.


So far I've had only good outcomes.

@akg_ca ,

Well, I’d never purchase something where I knew the seller was lying.

I’ve bought many a piece of gear that was used, mostly from private parties, some from dealers.

Some experiences have been better than others, but overall, I’ve done OK.

I think most people (and companies) are inherently "good" people, and aren’t intentionally trying to deceive anyone.

I’m sure there are a few snakes out there, but overall, I’ve been fortunate. I’ve actually made some "audiophile friends" along the way, too.

Nobody likes being lied to. Especially not when we’re talking about the kind of money in play that we’re probably talking about. Again, hasn’t really been a problem for me. Every issue I’ve ever run into, the seller has handled professionally and promptly (well, pretty promptly, lol. I have a piece of gear back at a dealer’s repair shop currently, and it has sat there since the end of that’s another conversation all together. I know they were waiting on parts....).

Used gear. Stuff happens. If you suspect something’s fishy, or too good to be true, just hold off or pay a little more and go through a dealer who warrants their products. JM2CW.

Any seller, I always write with questions, just to see the nature of the responses. I prefer buying used from prior owner if possible.


I have bought a few items online and have also sold a few.  Some in the $10,000 range.  I have always spend a fair amount of time of the the phone in all transactions.  I have asked for and sent video clips to see/show every side and surface.  Buying from the original owner is nice, but not always imprortant.  If the gear we're buying should last 20+ years, I not too concerned if a couple people have enjoyed it first, so long as it's still in "like new" condition.  When dealing through AudioMart, I can see the buy/sell history of the person I'm dealing with.  It's always a red flag for me when I see a person has made 65 purchases and 80 sales.  I want the number of transactions to reflect someone who is building thier system, not just flipping equipment for profit.  Wrong?  I don't know. 

If there were a high-end dealer on this island I'd probably pay a visit and check out their used stuff, but all told I'm not into buying used stereo gear. The technology relentlessly moves forward. If an item tempted me enough I'd still insist on both a money back guarantee and an in-home trial...though I will agree to paying for return shipping if it comes to it. Just as it is with a musical instrument, the choice of stereo components is an intensely personal, subjective decision.

I think it's hugely important you never know what's gone on in the past really. Repairs, modifications, etc. Also I am usually at least a bit suspicious when I see a relatively newly released product with 4-5 owners in a year. Tells me likely it doesn't sound very good!

I prefer buying gear from the original owner but it’s not a dealbreaker. I’ve seen 1 owner gear that looked atrocious and other pieces that were in perfect condition and had several owners. 🤷‍♂️

Yes, it matters, cause one owner could not even use the equipment at all and another could done lots of different things to their equipment including good or bad modifications like recap, rewiring, PS change etc. 

I avoid used equipment for the most part. Unless I'm looking for something vintage, like some of the many tuners I own. I buy new 99%....

I really don’t care how many people played with it, but if I catch you lying, I will not buy. No if ands or buts!

I don’t really care how many times it has switched hands because I have one easy to follow rule. I only buy brand new sealed box from authorized dealers and never ever used equipment.

Just like a used car, as long as it works well ,and as described  ,why not 

you save over 50% then if buying new .

An item that’s traded numerous times can indicate there’s something wrong with it.

For instance, there’s a Bedini amp that’s been repeatedly bought and sold, same serial number; it’s been bouncing around for a few years now.

Otherwise, the number of owners isn’t as important as whether it has been recapped or repaired.

Any indication of lying, or even of glossing over the truth, I’m gone.

I find with used equipment, in general, if it’s in fine condition and the seller describes it in detail as from one audiophile to another, it has not fallen into the hands of an owner or owners who don’t know what it is, and don’t respect it.

Also, never allow hope, or wishful thinking, or a good deal, or a rare opportunity, cloud your intuition.

The few times I’ve been disappointed in a used purchase have always in the final analysis come down to my going against my intuition.

Prndlus, you said it. You use your intuition. 
if I get an odd feeling about the equipment or the seller, I stop looking.

I think this is the heart of the question. It’s about integrity and trust. we each have our ways of evaluating a potential seller/buyer. I just prefer intuition. And then I follow up with dialogue and request for more pictures. If someone were to balk, or have an attitude, I would move on.

you can’t make a good deal with someone who isn’t acting in good faith.

If you want higher SQ for the $ then  buy used. Assuming there is a limit to your budget of course otherwise you can spend away!

Most of the time once you have zeroed in on your desired item

you can find one used, with a transferable warranty, 2-3 months old, 25-30% off 

MSRP. Requires some patience so if you have to have it yesterday you are 

a "new" buyer. 

Some people sell items before they have even been burned in. 

In which case the seller never heard his item at its optimum.


-Check the Shark, eBay, Craigslist in certain markets. Sometimes The Music Room.

-Ask the seller to see his purchase receipt.

-Call the factory with the serial# and see when it was made.

-Ship by Fed Ex Ground. Open an account to save a little. 

-Insure the purchase for at least 1/2 the value. 

-Only buy if the original boxing is available.

If you follow these rules you can usually resell

an item within the 1st year for what you paid,




I have purchased a number of used pieces and the only thing I care about is condition and age. I will only buy something that looks new, yes I am thinking about resale should I choose to sell someday . I baby my gear, I am the guy you want to buy used from. But I rarely sell , I am more apt to trade toward new .

I have had a a major upgrade of most components in the past year. All new , speakers have a ten year warranty , DAC has a five year warranty , amp and preamp have a lifetime warranty. I’m 55 , this is probably my last major upgrade so warranty is an important factor .

“Previous Ownership...does it matter to you?”

Warranty wise? Absolutely!

Otherwise, sort of. A solid back story is nice. 

This is something that drives me nuts! I like to try different gear. I have purchased numerous pieces of equipment to try them out simply because I have heard excellent things about them and I may keep them 6 months or so. A Coda CSIB Integrated is just one example. I only buy gear that is in excellent shape (I don't care how many owners it has had) and I sell it in the same condition if not better. So somehow my ownership of the item has tainted it in some manner? I don't give a hoot if ten people have owned it. What matters to me is the condition. How is a piece any better if only one person has owned it or worse if three people have if it's in excellent condition? It's used gear and you are saving a ton of money (usually) over new.

I have a Plinius integrated for sale right now that is a current model that is less than half the original price and people act like since someone owned it prior to me It is somehow tainted and to be avoided. It's an excellent amp! It's in like new's less than half price! I don't get this obsession with "Are you the original owner?" or "how old is it?" Who cares! If I had held equipment I have tried to the same standard, I wouldn't have tried so many different pieces of gear. Geez, get over it folks. You're buying something used in "X" condition at a price much lower than new. What more do you want? As you can tell this obsession with ownership drives me crazy!

As far as Carfax goes, it's not always accurate.  My father in law backed into someone in his corvette.    He didn't want a repair / accident record so he paid for both repairs and neither car had adverse Carfax Data. 

I have a friend who is a bodyman and it happens occasionally with collector cars.   Its not 100% accurate 



There are several retailers, in my area, that specialize in used equipment. They generally have service departments and only sell equipment that would be rated a 7/10 or better. Their prices are also somewhat higher than online or private sale. I have had excellent luck. I have no idea of how many previous owners.

I have also had excellent luck buying demo units from reputable retailers (Music Direct, Audio Advisor, etc.) and factory refurbs from Cambridge Audio which are probably customer returns.


Yes I’d like to know if it’s the original owner, or how many owners the piece had. If it was a demo. Absolutely. I have bought used gear and demos in the past without issues but full disclosure is always the best policy. 

About half the gear I’ve bought over the last 5 years is used. I’ve haven’t yet (knock on wood) had a bad experience. I have walked away from a few deals when my intuition told me something was fishy.

To me the first thing I look for is a sense of integrity from the seller. If I know a seller has lied to me or skirted the truth, I’m out. No matter how little the lie, without confidence in a buyer’s word, I’m gone.

An example, there was a guy selling an item some distance away for a very good price, third-hand. I asked for pictures. Pictures were great. However, I know the pictures had been modified to cover up some cosmetic blemishes. I passed. If the supplied pictures had been un-modified (showing the blemishes), I would have gladly completed the deal. 

After that, it’s condition (both cosmetic and functional). Pluses are original packing materials. Modifications are red flags (unless a vintage item where a refurbishment is appropriate).

I have never sold something that I bought used.  That is about to change.  I will be selling my perfect Denafrips Ares II to upgrade to another Denafrips probably a Pontus II but not sure.  My question is how do I know how many owners there were before me.  I bought it from a younger guy but the deal was perfect, we even split shipping costs.  It was as described and works flawlessly.  If someone asks me how many owners I am not sure because I did not ask.  I would say two?

I have only purchased used equipment 4 or 5 times, in each case my 1st and foremost concern was checking out the seller's sales feedback , and couple that  with the nature/tone of our back and forth get a gauge on the person I might be dealing with . (I do the same 1st when selling gear. ). Then I focus on condition, age, location of the item (shipping handling consideration) , and whether or not the original packaging is available and it's condition.



Ideally i like to purchase from original owner who has all the original packaging material and manuals.

i find most people in this hobby are fairly honest and  want to change their systems  occasionly as they get the upgrade bug,  I have not had a bad experience yet ( knock wood)

i have been upgrading my YBA electronics  form the entry level up to the top of their line  and have not taken a huge hit yet on resale every purchase i have made sure that all original packaging is in place then when i go to resell  it makes a difference.

if you talk to the seller off line  and even by tel  if you are purchasing a large ticket item it will give you a sense of the person and their sincerity, but i have found  nothing but great feedbackbuying & selling.


Plus if on audiogon or audiomart  the feddback process is very good in weeding out scammers.


I have never purchased off of Ebay though so i cant comment  on that service, i am  leary of buying on Ebay  so i stay away form that buying option




I’ve bought two systems cores used. My first adcom gear and snell speakers from a friend of a friend. The second system bought on Audiogon a technics sug700 and canton reference speakers all from local sellers. I used local sellers just in case there was an issue, the seller is close at hand. I would love to afford new.


If it is in good shape and sounds the way it should why would I care if it had been owned by one owner or many?

We have a large Asian community here and most of the audiophiles in it change their gear every year or two when the latest and greatest new thing shows up. 

Audiophiles that don't agree with this can either pay retail when they buy new, or buy Bryston and get a copy of the original invoice from the dealer that sold it (they warranty for 20 years)

@alerrico You just made my point perfectly. Nearly all of my equipment has been bought used. If we all (as a community) respect the equipment and are honest in our dealings then I don't see an issue with how many times something has been sold. Just like your DAC, I bought an amp from a guy that was in excellent shape. I take it out of the box, put it in my rack plug it in and enjoy it. I don't beat it up, I take care of my gear and when I sell it, I take it out of the rack, put it back in the box and it's in the same condition as when I bought it. How do I know if the guy that sold it to me is telling me the truth about how many owners it has had? Why would he necessarily even know? It's "X" piece of gear in "X" condition for "X" price Take it or leave it!

@alerrico BTW, If I were in the market for your DAC I would buy it without concern. I don't care about its history.

I try to get as much information about the type of pet hair all over it, and what tobacco was smoked in the presence of the unit in question. Purebreeds and Cohiba smoke are an added bonus I'll pay a premium for. If the seller can provide a receipt from the thrift store where he found it for less than 400x what he's asking, I'll even shell out for the paypal fees and shipping costs. Cheers.

All of the comments on here has merit

Buying used is perfectly fine if you do your due diligence. Buyer beware is a good mantra. Audiophiles are for the most part  good, hard working intelligent people. We all have income levels we have and what we can afford, and want for our systems. Ebay has less quality equipment, and is so cost prohibitive. I just dont use it, If I dont have to. If it doesn't have the original packing, I am skeptical, there are exceptions. Giving a honest trail of ownership is a way of promoting trust. Just be honest about your shape and cost of what you are selling. I have a rule of thumb of %50  of new. So, most of my equipment, I have is used and I have had some experience with this topic.Good pictures with good customer service, and realistic expectations, and you will be successful and maybe gain a new audiophile friend to promote this hobby.

Years ago I worked in some high-end audio shops and seeing how many hours the demo equipment was powered up and being used, I've stayed away from purchasing any of that sort of equipment.

I also tend to stay away from pre-owned speakers, even from individuals, as it's difficult to audition them and determine if they've been abused.  Having said that, I've been successful in purchasing pre-owned electronics, when the models are in current production and are available for purchase as new, as it seems that it's more difficult to abuse electronics compared to abusing speakers.

I only have a power amp that I purchased used, from a seller who provided me the original purchase receipt, about four months after he made the original purchase from an authorized dealer.