advice on buying used: what to look for when auditioning and what questions to ask

Discussion in 'Solid State' started by Da He Hua, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. Da He Hua

    Da He Hua Active Member

    I have decided to buy a used amplifier or receiver (either vintage silver face or more modern used). I know the number one advice is that I must do an audition. What should I be paying attention to when doing the audition? I listen exclusively to classical music.

    Also, what are the questions that I should ask? Note that I do not have deep knowledge of stereo gears. Thank you for the help!


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  2. captouch

    captouch AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Bay Area, CA
    Ask about the history of the unit - whether it's been serviced/worked on, if they're the original owner, any problems they're aware of. Ask if the unit has been in regular use or sitting idle for a long time. They may not know, but it doesn't hurt to ask and it can be some light conversation while you're checking out the function of the unit.

    Turn the volume up and down and see if the left and right channels are balanced and both sound clear even at higher volumes. Listen for any distortion or anything that doesn't sound right/good. See if you get drop outs or static (this can just be dirty controls, but good to know how bad before you buy).

    Basically, test what's important to you and what you'll use, function wise. If you listen to the radio, test the tuner. If you want to listen to records, test the phono input. Flip the various switches and turn the knobs and see if they do what they're supposed to do. If there are exposed heat sinks, see how hot they are and if on both sides, if they're fairly equal in temperature.

    If you're buying vintage units, expect something to come up at some point if the unit hasn't been restored. It's just the nature of older units. When that happens, you'll need to try and DIY to fix it, or build into your budget some $ to have a tech work on it. It may be years, months, or days down the road, but it'll usually happen at some point.

    Also, keep in mind that cosmetics can be hard to fix, so buy something that's in as good a shape as you require.

    There are still quite a lot of old units out there to be had, so don't rush to buy something that seems iffy - use be patient and you'll find something at a reasonable price.
    bhunter likes this.
  3. Binkman

    Binkman Addicted Member

    Raleigh, NC
    I try to gather info online from service & user manuals and glean opinions on AK if in doubt. IMO classical is a great genre and you need something more tuned to the frequencies of the instruments including speaker choice so a lot has to do with your budget, do you run lps? cd's? radio?

    So I recommend to make some ideas of choices and post on AK for opinions. Many many do the same.
  4. rdka

    rdka Active Member

    Myrtle Beach
    If possible, bring your other equipment with you to audition the piece you are thinking about. Simple to do with a cd player or box speakers, etc.

    See how it interfaces with your existing gear--not just the seller's setup.

    Next thing would be to bring test lp's/cd's or whatever reference material you have. Then play those that you are highly familiar with on that system & perhaps you can determine where the weak links are. It's a fair amount of work to do and time consuming as well. There is also the possibility of the seller not complying with your wishes.

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