Buying a recommended hi-fi system

Buying hi-fi

We all love a good deal don’t we?  Open box, ex-display, 2nd hand or reconditioned items can offer outstanding value for money.  Quite often this brings hi-fi gear within your budget when otherwise you may not be able to afford it.

Here at Dynamic Headroom we love a good bargain.  There is no shame in buying second hand, ex-display or open box.  I’m not trying to sell you anything so I am happy to say that.

There are risks with buying second hand gear such as having no manufacturer guarantee, hidden issues with the item that you didn’t spot or buying “blind” due to distance.  Its true there are risks, but there are some guidelines to follow so please read on.

How the recommended systems work

The products that are chosen are picked because they compliment the other components in the system.  It is very important to have good synergy in a hi-fi system.  Some hi-fi brands are like chalk and cheese, they just don’t go together.  Recommendations here on Dynamic Headroom take synergy into account.

In an ideal world you would always demo before you buy because you might just not like what you hear.  However this is not always possible so quite often we have to rely on what other people tell us.

The recommendations here on Dynamic Headroom also try to get the best possible value for money.  So the recommendations here will change based on what is going for a good price at this point in time.

Where to buy

If you are buying new or ex-display / open-box, then the usual suspects will be more than happy to serve you.  However if you are buying second hand you need to look in other places.


The obvious choice is eBay.  The most famous auction site in the world has a LOT of products for sale.  You will find more choice on eBay than anywhere else with products sold by private individuals as well as hi-fi shops and manufacturers.

Trying to win an auction on eBay can be a frustrating experience when somebody beats your bid at the last minute.  When bidding an auction, set yourself a budget and stick to it – don’t be tempted to up the ante and end up paying over the odds.  There are plenty of hi-fi products available and more come up all the time.  Look out for fixed price sales that also have the “Make An Offer” option – good deal can be had here with a bit of negotiating.

Another good point in favour of eBay is the Buyer Protection scheme.  If you buy through eBay and pay using PayPal then, as a buyer, you have protection.  You will get your money back if the item you purchased turns out to be broken, fake or not as advertised.  This makes eBay less of a minefield and a safer place to buy.

Hi-Fi Shark

You can’t actually buy direct from Hi-Fi Shark because what this site does is aggregate a bunch of other sites together (including eBay).  This is a time saver as the Shark will do a lot of the leg work for you.  The Shark searches eBay, 2nd-hand-hi-fi, Pink Fish Media, Pre-Loved and many more (including many hi-fi retailers).  The site covers websites globally so you might happen upon a bargain abroad, but remember to factor in the cost of postage.

You can save your favourite searches and get the site to email you when new items come in.  This is an essential tool for any bargain hunter!

Hi-Fi Forums

There are a number of Hi-Fi Forums which also provide a classifieds area such as AVForums, Pink Fish Media and Hi-Fi Wigwam.  In order to trade on these you first must become a member and begin contributing to the forum.  For instance, Pink Fish asks that you have made 50 posts first.  They do this to stop time-wasters which I think is fair enough.

When buying through a forum, remember that you have no buyers protection so you must be more careful.  Only buy from users who have a good profile on the forum – long time members, successful previous trades, etc.  Try to meet the person face to face to carry out the transaction, but do it somewhere public and/or don’t go alone.  Use your common sense.  Most folk trading hi-fi are good people, but there is always some element of risk in life.

If you don’t meet in person then you will have to deposit money directly into the seller’s account.  I have done this a few times without problems but it always makes me nervous.  This is where you should only go with a trusted seller.  Most forums will allow you to see their past transactions, the posts they have made, etc. so do you research before you go ahead.

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