Your Guide to Trading in HiFi

Your Guide to Trading in HiFi
  • Well preserved hifi from reputable manufacturers will retain value over time.
  • Trading in your hifi can be an enjoyable and affordable way to improve your system over time.
  • Just like cars, considering the future value of your hifi should factor into your buying decision. Buying something that is on sale today will likely cost you a lot more in the future.
It's a Journey...
There are few people who can go out tomorrow and purchase a $150,000 car as your first time purchase, and if you're one of those people, congratulations! The reality is that the majority of people might start of with a $20,000 car, then trade it in after 4-5 years for a $50,000 car, and so forth, before the inherit value of their existing car and their circumstances afford them the car of their dreams.
Hifi is very similar in that regard. We'll be honest in saying that we can count on one hand the number of people that have purchased a $100,000 pair of Wilson Audio loudspeakers as their first time purchase after graduating from university. The majority of fortunate owners who own such a pair of speakers worked their way up over time. Well-preserved hifi components from reputable manufacturers that have been well represented in the industry by reputable distributors and dealers will retain value over time.
...and an Enjoyable One
We'd actually argue this is a more enjoyable way of being able to work your way up the hifi food chain. Like most things, if you enter the market in a position that is already nearing the top of the sector, its harder to appreciate. If all you've ever known is poor quality rump steak, the first time you taste A5 grade Wagyu, you're really going to appreciate it. However, if you've been fortunate enough to only ever eat the finest cuts of imported Wagyu steak from Kobe, Japan, then well, good for you - but some of the appreciation is perhaps lost.
Moving your way up the hifi food chain is a very enjoyable process. By taking steps, you not only learn a lot more, but you are able to truly enjoy what each new product brings.
Future Value of your Hifi
Another thing to consider in your buying decision is the future value of your new hifi purchase. If the pair of speakers you're planning to buy is $20,000, but the brand has a history of preserving its value, and it'll be worth, say, $10,000 in 7 years, then it's only really cost you $10,000 to own that pair of speakers.
Case in point - Wilson Audio. As recently as November 2022, we sold a pair of Alexia 1 loudspeakers for $40,000, as the market dictated that price. Brand new, more than ten years ago, it sold for $80,000. Not a lot of products on the market retain that sort of brand value.
On the other hand, we recently were discussing a potential trade in with a customer, who had a very well known brand of speakers to offer as a trade in. When they were launched only three years ago, the asking price was $119,995. However, upon looking at what the market showed, people were selling them for $30,000. That's a shocking level of depreciation, particularly on a well known brand and only after three years. 
Why is this the case? Well, perhaps the speakers were overpriced to begin with. But given the nature of the manufacturer in question, this is less likely the case. We know their products well and their performance does command that sort of price.
What we quickly found out with just a bit of Googling was that this particular model was almost always on sale, so while it might present an attractive offer at the time, the fact that everyone has that same offer means that the brand equity and thus resell value is eroded. Simply supply and demand economics.
We'd suggest that before looking to purchase something new, do a quick Google of the speaker, followed by "used". You'll quickly see what's available on the market, and you'll be able to judge for yourself what it's actually going to cost you in the future. It makes far greater fiscal sense to approach buying hifi this way, as especially when you sell or trade the product in future.
Maximise Your Return
What can you do to maximise your return on your future trade in value?
  • Purchase products from well known manufacturers with reputable retailers. If it's always on sale, it's likely not going to be worth much in the future, as either (a) there's too much stock in the country or (b) the products aren't worth it. While the offer of a discount now might seem appealing, you're likely going to lose a lot more in the future. 
  • Take care of your hifi - regularly clean it, maintain it, service it if required. Some of our customers even leave the original wrapping on the speakers!
  • Keep all the accessories, boxes and manuals. 

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