Rich Warren: A few options for unloading electronics, music

Recently, a few of you contacted me about finding a good home for no longer needed, but otherwise good equipment and music collections.

While I urge people to recycle used, obsolete electronics or gadgets that no longer work, nothing pains me more than seeing perfectly good gear pile up at recycling events.

Popular brands of mass-market audio/video gear retain very little cash value after a few years. Audiophile gear, especially amplifiers and preamplifiers, retain considerable worth.

Mechanical components such as tape decks, CD players and turntables sadly have little or no value after few years, unless they were exceptional quality when new. A 20-year-old Linn Sondeck turntable still would be worth a pretty penny, although you might have to replace the belt and the phonograph cartridge.

A Sony, Pioneer or Denon stereo receiver that cost you $500 in 1995 might be worth about $50, or less, in good condition. A receiver that cost $250 might be worth about $10, assuming you can find a buyer. A 1995 Sony cassette deck would be worthless, but a Nakamichi in perfect condition would retain about 10 percent to 25 percent of its original value. A few gems, like the Revox cassette deck, might fetch 40 percent of their original prices.

Garage sales might move your old gear to a new home. Classified ads in the newspaper also work. These days classifieds carry a bit more credibility than online sales methods.

A few retail audio/video dealers accept used equipment in trade, or in the case of audiophile equipment, outright purchase. You won't receive top dollar because the dealer must resell the gear, but it will be a safe, honest transaction.

Otherwise, consider eBay. It pays to work with an eBay consolidator/specialist who runs online auctions as a profession for a commission. He/she handles the intricacies and angst of the eBay process. The other do-it-yourself method of selling or giving away good, working gear is Craigslist. Sadly, the scum of the Earth often abuse Craigslist and you have to be very careful when arranging meetings. Always choose a busy public location and insist on cash if selling rather than giving away your gear. If someone makes you an offer too good to be true, it's probably a scam.

Working at a radio station, listeners frequently contact me with offers of tapes, LPs and CDs from large collections. Sadly, these offers often come with the death of the family member who collected them and/or downsizing a household. Most collections consist of common recordings without archival value. Many open reel tapes suffer from improper storage or tape deterioration.

Libraries might be interested in certain musical genres of CDs in good condition. Major universities, including the University of Illinois, might consider rare tapes and 78 rpm recordings of certain performances or pieces of music. You would need good documentation of what you have, since archivists rarely have time to listen to poorly documented recordings to ascertain their content and value. If you or a loved one truly collected a goldmine of unique, fully documented classical, jazz, folk or ethnic recordings, the Smithsonian or the Library of Congress might lend an ear.

My radio show celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, of which I've hosted for 30 years. Our radio station kept very few recordings of the program's early years. Listeners who were ahead of the times often recorded the program off-the-air back in the 1950s and frequently offer us their recordings when they no longer have space for them.

As much as I would love to hear these recordings, our station lacks the storage space for them, and I don't have the time to listen and properly archive them. We hired a digital archivist to convert our huge library of taped live folk recordings to CD, DVD and hard drive. It cost $70,000 to preserve all the analog tapes. That explains the conundrum of music collections.

Rich Warren, who lives in the Champaign area, is a longtime reviewer of consumer electronics. He can be emailed at hifiguy@mchsi.com.

Topics (2):Music, Technology

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