We have talked about Sound Investments in audio. There are those who collect audio products the way others collect antique automobiles, does it make sense? That is, are audio components likely to significantly appreciate in value over time? Well, some are probably more likely than others, picking anything to be more valuable over time is a risky business.
You can only drive one car at a time. You can only listen to one audio system at a time. For many years, I owned a 1954 Corvette. It was all-original with less than ten thousand miles on the odometer. Now, this is the first Corvette with great styling, but it got little performance from its six cylinder engine and 2-speed automatic transmission. Each summer I would drive it for under a thousand miles, change all the fluids and store it for another eight months. That car gave me great pleasure; but not performance. I resold the Corvette for about what I had paid. My profit for “collecting” the classic was the pleasure I got from owning and driving the car.
Not all collecting experiences are like mine. I know a man who bought a Ferrari pretty much the way I brought the Corvette. His experience was that the car appreciated in value so far and so fast that it became too valuable to drive and too expensive to insure. So, he sold it – for enough to by a then current new one, a luxury family sedan – and bank a considerable amount of money,
I suspect that my experience is the best results most collectors can count on. Audio gear can be similar; choose the right product, enjoy it, and its value may increase. McIntosh gear and Ohm As have increased in value. The Marantz 10B tuner is another component that has been successfully collected. With most other equipment, your profit will be the pleasure they give to you.
In terms of evaluating “collectability,” of audio gear – like many other items – the factors include quality, rarity, condition and “provenance” (which is ownership or chain of ownership). For instance, Marconi’s radio, Ray Dolby’s tape recorder and Ben Franklin’s kite have value beyond what they would have if you or I owned them.
So, if you love audio gear and want to collect, by all means do so. Remember that technology moves forward and what is the “best” today will not be that forever. Collect, use, cherish – and enjoy. The profit is more likely to be in the pleasure it provides rather than in the cash it promises at the end of the line.
Enjoy & Good Listening!
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John Strohbeen Author
John Strohbeen is the president of Ohm Speakers.