Funding Your Audiophile Hobby (Discussion and Q&A)

This hobby can be expensive, thrice such if your get addicted, I’m not even going to mention how much more so if you, like me, are a drunken sailor with your cash. I laugh but if I’ve got $20 dollars in my pocket, I’m pricing things out that are $30 dollars. So how do you deal with this hobby?

Well, it helps that my previous all consuming hobby had been restoring an old Porsche, and in the Porsche community there’s a running joke called the Porsche tax. Meaning that Bosch will sell you a fuel injector for your Porsche that costs $220 dollars, and laugh at you because the same fuel injector for a BMW or a Jaguar, literally the same part but with a different manufacturer SKU will cost you $85 dollars. No such shenanigans in the audio world but (as obscene) but you get the point.

So other than my wife handling ALL of our finances (you know, I’m a drunken sailor) and giving me an allowance per month to use for my hobby. I’ve learned to deal with the audio hobby by applying some common sense business practices that will help you to “move up” easier through the various equipment levels and allow you to do it for the least amount of cash outlay.

Obviously this is a foundational hobby that you MUST have an understanding of your likes, dislikes and preferences to be able to grow into higher end gear so you don’t blow cash chasing dead ends or taking a hit on equipment you just didn’t like at all.

Since I want to keep this conversational, I may come back and edit this thread over time as I add rules or guidelines but for now I’ll start with what I believe is the most important. These recommendations/rules/guidelines whatever we decide to call them, apply to every budget. $200, $2000, $20,000 they don’t change and are just as applicable. More so even the deeper you go.

What I mean by research is don’t just do the usual watching a couple of YouTube videos and throw money at something. I mean follow it on eBay and USA Mart and Audiogon and Reddit. Look at how many watchers an item has. Zero watchers means the item may not have a large following. A lot of watchers mean (very important here) that the item will be easier to resell if you don’t like it, or if you did like it, you’ll be able to sell it in 3 or 4 months for the same amount of money you paid for it… sometimes even more money than you paid for it. Like I said, you have to treat is as a business with a P&L sheet and be willing to inert that into every purchase you make.

Granted, we’re emotional beings and it’s a hobby based on emotion so there are times when you won’t follow this first rule, just know that you’re exposing yourself and if you made a mistake these types of emotional purchases are going to hit your wallet hard. How many high end DACs do you see for sale that retailed for $18,000 two years ago but someone is selling it now for $9,000. That money came out of someone’s wallet. Make sure it’s not yours.

So when you’re going to buy something, research it, know the market of who is buying it, how much it’s sold in the past for and how its value has held up over the years if it’s an older piece of hardware. Look at negative feedback on the item, don’t just fall for the confirmation bias, sometimes there’s good information in critical reviews or comments.

It’s easy to say, I mean sounds like… DUH. Everybody wants a good deal but if you did your homework on the first rule, getting a good deal becomes much easier. You know what you’re paying for the item so you know your cost, but you’ll also know its value, you’ll also know what the market demand for that item is and most importantly, getting a good deal will mean that it will be MUCH easier for you to flip that component should you outgrow it, or should you not enjoy it, or it just simply didn’t have the right synergy well within your ecosystem.

When you buy something, ask yourself how much would I be able to resell this for? If you bought something at auction and there were 8 or 10 people bidding on it and 30 or 40 watchers, you know that item will resell easily. Supply and demand… but if you are the guy that buys something that’s been sitting on the shelf for four months or goes unsold at auction three times without a single bid… you know you’re going to have a hard time flipping that. I’m not saying that’s a bad move to buy that item. It may be a very niche product that would be perfect in your system. What I’m saying is that if it didn’t work for you and you wanted to sell it, you’re going to have a brick on your hands for a long while, or worse… have to drop the price considerably in order to move it.

Back in the NYC area there was a clothing retailer selling suits, Syms. Well, Sy Syms would get on TV and say… “an education consumer is our best customer”. Be that education consumer in the hobby and that means having to walk away from a deal sometimes despite how much you’d like to have that piece of gear right now.

3) Have Money On Hand
This one is kind of obvious but it’s one of the biggest hurdles in the hobby. We’re looking for the stuff we’re looking for and we want it now. But what happens when you find the stuff you’re looking for and your bank account is saying no while your bid or purchase now finger is saying yes?

If you don’t have the money, you can’t buy your shit. How can you buy your shit if you don’t have any money?

Well let’s look at some of the reasons we sometimes find ourselves without any money. I keep a separate account (see drunken sailor in rule number 1) and so if there’s money there, I can use it. If there isn’t money there I can’t buy anything. It’s that simple. One of the biggest there isn’t money there is because I spent that money buying shit I didn’t need or just shit to tie me over or just… because this might hurt, the hobby is an addiction, compounded by the normal retail therapy addiction, you have wasting money on shit squared. So don’t buy things unless you absolutely need it or you absolutely love it. You’re going to need discipline if you’re going to buy that $800 DAC to upgrade from your $200 DAC but it’s going to take you 3 months to come up with the cash. That’s okay, it’s just that without the discipline you’re going to find yourself in this situation a lot. That $800 dollar DAC is going to show up for sale somewhere for $650 and you won’t have the money to buy it because you bought 2 other things you didn’t need or were hyped as the next best thing and you absolutely had to have.

Moral of the story; Don’t take your eye off your long term goal!

4) Supplement your funds
Take a look around you. I guarantee you that you’ll have “stuff” it could be cables, it could be a DAC or and amp you don’t use any more, it could be a nice vintage piece that you don’t use but keep on hand for sentimental reasons. SELL IT, SELL IT, SELL IT. if you’re not using it, get rid of it. It will supplement your account to further fund your purchases and it will allow someone else to get into the hobby and try things that are new to them so you’re doing a double benefit. One for your bank account and one for a new hobbyists.

When you sell your stuff, don’t be emotional and don’t be afraid to give a good price on your stuff, and don’t be inflexible with negotiations (negotiation will be its own rule). If you’re looking to get $180 dollars on your $200 DAC its never going to sell. You gotta be truthful to yourself and the reality is that your bank account will fill up quicker if you sell stuff than it will if you have ten things for sale and haven’t sold a single one of them.

These rules are cumulative in nature, that’s why I say look for a good deal, because when you find a good deal, if you don’t like it, you’ll be able to sell it quicker and fill your bank account back up so that the money is there when you need it next. See what I mean? The circle of life for the audiophile. :slight_smile:

So if you haven’t already, get up right now, rummage through your closet full of shit you no longer use and ask yourself how much did I pay for this, how much did I need it when I bought it and why do I no longer use it now; Based on those question you’ll come up with a price (that price may sometimes be very low, it hurts I know but that’s because you didn’t follow the rules) and put that ship up for sale. Someone will buy it because there are a lot of someones out there in the same boat that you were in when you bout it two years ago and the one year it’s spend sitting unused in your shit close.

5) Talk to your buyer/seller
May seem simple or perhaps even trite, but talk to people. If you’re buying something, especially if it’s a step up from where you are. Explain to the person you’re buying from why you want their item, why they bought it and what they liked about it. Tell them about your system and what you expect to gain by integrating (insert component here) what you’re trying to buy from them. This goes in part with being an educated consumer. This is in the end, a hobby and as such people like the chit chat, the song and dance and if they happen to be sold on your enthusiasm, charisma, eagerness to continue to grow in the hobby… they may just fall for your low ball offer.

Try it, it works… even as a seller, if you reverse the suggestion. :slight_smile:



working and buying second hand :kissing_heart:
For real tho, i agree on alot of things you’ve mentioned…
It’s worth checking for good deals and the ability to resell without loosing alot of money.
Was able to check headphones, have fun with them, upgrade to better or different ones
and sell them again. Gotta be patient sometimes and not give in to impulse decisions.
And know your budget limits lol…
You can get great sound for <100$ already


They wont care at the estate sale. Still better thank collecting cars. :grin:

Jokes aside if you can afford the $2000 stuff and thinking about the depreciation when letting stuff go, the guy picking it up might be a $200 guy and gets a chance to enjoy the hobby.

Also good for the earth and world peace.


I work on a small budget and I like to learn on my own. So I use ebay and craigslist to find good deals. I also go to goodwill to see what I can grab for cheap and either use it or flip it to finance my next purchase.
To me this way I learn more about the brands and get my system better slowly.


There is joy in finding one’s own path.


Haven’t read but I buy some extra stuff and resell them here in my country


That’s definitely a good middle man tactic, provide a service. I see a lot of people buying domestically in the US and then reselling it abroad for a decent profit. You take it where you can get it.


I sell my body to the night.


You don’t have to put on the red light.


I got married and suddenly my disposable income evaporated and now I’m always in the red. :frowning:

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Lately, I fund my audio purchases with the coronavirus stimulus money I get from the government.


Bumping cause I edited in some additional content.

This right here; the most important mothafooking thread in the entire forum.

But i cant let go, it completes me.

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I scour the classifieds section constantly to watch what moves and to see relative pricing levels. Probably 90% of my purchases are used and I have yet to be burned once.


I have all my savings & stuff auto deducted from my payroll, by the time the cash hits my account it’s purely for paying bills & expenses, and fun…So I usually have a p good sense of how much I’m working with.