What to ask when buying used speakers?

I have purchased used components in the past and I can do this with confidence their functionality is well defined and easily verified. I am starting to look for a new set of speakers and will consider buying used. Assuming that I am doing this over distance and will not be able to inspect or demo the speakers in person, what are some good questions to ask to determine the real state of the speakers? Any red flags? Can used speakers have incurred subtle damages or wear that will affect the sound? For the sake of discussion, let's assume that they are less than five years old so we can rule out decaying surrounds and old caps, etc.




Excellent. Good to hear. I have purchased speaker without hearing them, but I was very familiar with their sound and knew exactly what to expect. A trip to weed through them is exactly the right thing to do.

I’ve bought 5 pairs of speakers used, 2 Monitor Audio (1 Gold/1 Silver), 1 Zu Audio, 1 Vintage Cerwin Vega, 1 Vintage Sony, no problems whatsoever.  Asked if there were ANY imperfections in the cabinets or drivers, ANY issues with the sound, ANY problems with being driven hard.  Everyone said they were never driven hard except for the Cerwin Vega guy, he said never any problems at all, had just put new surrounds on the woofers, told me the speakers were made to be played loud with no problems.  He was right, they were perfect and actually sound much better than I expected.  The non-vintage speaker values were checked in the Audio Bluebook so I was sure I was getting fair deals on them.  I would buy used again in a heartbeat.  Oh, and all the non-vintage speakers were purchased through US Audio Mart’s website.

I prefer sealed enclosure speakers because of possible insect or rodent damage through the speaker port.     Also, more common brands where it is possible to get replacement parts.

You hit the main issues right on the head.... age for decaying caps and speaker foam.... both of those issues can be addressed though if the price is right and you know what you are doing. High end speakers around 15 years old may start having issues but not necessarily. Ask about cosmetics, distortion, and If they are the original owners. I've bought several used sets of speakers and had to refoam one pair after a short period of time but the seller wouldn't have known it would happen. Some people want to know if the seller was a smoker or not.

Here's my list of questions:

- Have you ever played the album The Big Sound of the Drags at over 110 SPL?

- Have you ever tried to troubleshoot a "no sound" condition by maxing out the volume control on the preamp, then switching sources until something made noise?

- Ever left your system unattended for hours with someone under 25 at home?

- Ever made a water/smoke/vandilism claim on anything in the room were the speakers reside?

- Ever use this room for the kitty potty area, or to housebreak a dog, skunk, or Tasmanian Devil?

There's more, but thought this would be a good start.