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Buy once, buy quality?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Since I was a teenager, I watched my parents buy cheap quality household products that would invariably need replacing in a very short time frame when they either broke or blew up...which made an impression on me, wondering why they didn't just buy better ( they had enough cash to do so).

Now I have always tended to save up if needs be and spend more and get a quality item. For instance, I bought a biking suit that's waterproof for £2,000 in 2007 and a biking friend of mine thought it was a crazy amount to pay. Having had a chat with him when he called to wish me a happy new year, we got talking about it. It turns out he's bought five suits since then at around £400 each, but they've either started to leak within a year (one within three months) or they've been badly made and uncomfortable. So he's paid out about the same, yet he's never been happy with his choices, whereas I'm confident mine will last for a few more years yet and it feels like a second skin.

Getting onto electronics, I've always had the same mindset and wonder what you chaps think. I've been saving up for a set of HD800's for a few months now rather than compromise and buy something cheaper.

I see a lot of folk on head-fi looking for high performance cans, but at a very low price, whilst price is not always an indicator of high performance, it generally does hold true in most cases.

Would it not be best to hold off, save up a while and then buy or is that impractical for many folk?
post #2 of 9
Cheap and inexpensive are different things, and understanding that difference is a pretty crucial skill when you go shopping. Just as expensive and quality don't correlate (especially in fields that are "hip" where the Veblen Wonderkids show up to party).

On a more direct note, I'm going to tell you that "HD 800 is quality and anything cheaper is a compromise in reliability or quality" is kind of insane and represents a lack of knowledge or experience. But that's exactly what the marketeers at Sennheiser are counting on; the price is set so high for a reason (and it has almost nothing to do with unit-cost). There are plenty of very well made, and very inexpensive, headphones and other CE devices out there - and usually the more expensive stuff is expensive just for the sake of being expensive. The biggest criteria I'd personally look at are how the manufacturer stands behind and markets the product, what the manufacturer's own history is like, and the product itself (everyone shoots craps sometimes). If that doesn't work for you, and you can't get around "I need to spend as much as possible or I will have a bad time" - then spend as much as possible, but I'm going to tell you that isn't vetted.

This isn't meant as a condemnation of your choices, just a reflection. I certainly understand the fall-apart plastic junk genre of home goods, but in recent years we've seen marketeers exploit that to a disgusting level, and start selling very expensive products that are still junk.
Edited by obobskivich - 1/3/13 at 6:15pm
post #3 of 9

Up to me, I would say that the Audeze LCD-2 would actually cost more than the HD800 to manufacture. I don't know this for a fact but despite the fact that the HD800 has a superior fit and finish, it is pretty obvious that the actual value of the plastic, the microfiber and the meshes are less than that of the wood, metal and leather on the Audeze cans.


That being said however, I've personally seen people upgrading to the flagships, then subsequently downgrading again just because they could not justify the cost of the headphone. I would say that a well amped hd650 (e.g. bottlehead crack) or a HE-400/schitt lyr will last you a very long time and represents great value for money. It would definitely make it difficult for you to justify the HD800+3k amp even after auditioning unless you're an heir to some oil conglomerate :)

post #4 of 9

I'm bad for this. The worst part is I hate inferior quality and I know it, yet I always do it to save money. Prime example... wanted a tablet, so I bought a cheapy doo 7" for $100 bucks. Used it a few times and bored with it, but I still want to get a good tablet, so now I'm trying to sell it, at a loss, so I can help fund a Nexus 10 with the proceeds.

post #5 of 9
I am either too cheap or I buy way more than I need - and I usually do both, the first followed by the second. What's worse is that I will research myself into paralysis, *then* cheap out and buy something I am dissatisfied with, *then* buy way over my requirements. So, I have lost both time AND money. redface.gif

That being said, sure I'm ultimately happy with the final product - but it usually makes me hang-on to it for longer than I should. I think there is a middle ground where you can buy the best value and also refresh your purchases at regular intervals to keep yourself in that value sweet spot over time. Buying the highest end laptop, and then hanging on to it for 7 years is not as efficient or productive as buying a high value (performance/price) laptop every 3 years. Of course, this only works for products that generally get higher performing and lower priced over time (eg electronics). I just wish I had the discipline to follow my own advice!
post #6 of 9


I tend to buy quality stuff and keep things a long time. 

When I bought my first "High End" system in 94 after my first big bonus, I spend a lot of time selecting and more money than I had wanted to. So far it also has been my last system...biggrin.gif

BUT, while I did have to have all the gear serviced in the years since, I still feel no need to upgrade. some of my friends have gone through more complete systems than years in that time, always buy some cheap stuff sold as the latest, keep it a few month, then sell of at a big loss to buy another one. So I think I well got my moneys worth and then some.

Same with other stuff.

My main Headphones I bought in 2006, they still feel like new with a little bit of care. The other set I bought a year later in Tokyo, they also are like new.

I listened to the HD-800 recently and liked them, but not enough to spend that much coin, even though I can. Let's see if I find something better. If not, maybe I'll get them for my Birthday, but I really want HD-800 that sound like HiFiman Stat's or even better Stax.

Cheers Rich.

Edited by bedlam inside - 1/16/13 at 2:46am
post #7 of 9
I've had gone through many different hobbies over the years, and I generally agree with the philosophy of "buy once, buy quality". It is also interesting how the mantra almost universally applies to all these different hobbies. At the same time, I definitely see the raison d'etre for cheaper and inferior goods.
Case in point for the OP: say both the OP and his friend have only started biking, and the OP bought his £2000 suit while his friend bought the £400 one. And let's say 3 months later both of you found out that biking really wasn't your thing. So who is gonna be crying foul now? Even if you extend the duration of the hobby to 2 years, your friend is likely still coming out ahead in terms of money.
Another thing that I have only come to realize in the last few years is how fast our lives are always changing. Back in my mid 20's, I would never have imagined how I could possibly give up badminton. But as the injuries came and go, as life priorities change, and as my level of phsyical fitness drops because of age, sometimes these changes come up on you real fast.
Lastly and most importantly, I kind of view the level of equipment we use as part of the maturation process in our hobby's journey as well. For me at least, if I haven't really tried the crappy stuff before, I really wouldn't know how to appreciate the good stuff when I finally accquire them. Putting it back into a Head-Fi perspective, had we taken the plunge into an SR-009 as a first headphone and kept listening to it for 5 years, I doubt we'd be able to appreciate all of its fine qualities nearly as much as someone who have gone through the various upgrade paths and tried out different cans. To immerse ourselves in a hobby, I think it is equally important to have both breadth and depth, and unfortunately, you don't get that with the buy once, buy quality approach.
post #8 of 9

Something worth noting is that headphones have an aftermarket - you can sell headphones you don't enjoy to other people.


I started with $50 headphones, probably worked my way through personally owning ~10 $100-$500 headphones and listening to a whole lot more as I tried to figure out what I enjoyed. For those I was interested enough to purchase, I tried to buy used whenever the price was right. Overall, I was probably able to recapture about 80% of what I spent as I learned about my preferences.


I eventually did work my way up to HD 800s and custom IEMs; the 800s I bought new after hearing them for myself and knowing I would enjoy them. Great purchase, don't regret it at all. And in my experience, it was a (relatively) inexpensive trip up. I've listened to the 800s out of incredible DACs/amps/sources, but while they were a rather significant improvement I couldn't justify shelling out the thousands of dollars I would have to spend at this particular point in my life. I'm fairly content with what I have.


I can understand how damaging it would be to the wallet if I was a more impulsive buyer that bought every new whatzit headphone when it came out though, so it's not hard to see where you're coming from. There's nothing wrong with saving up to buy the 800s and skip all of the hooplah. Just make sure you can justify the cost in terms of your use and value of the headphones. Try them before you buy them if at all possible.

Edited by HideousPride - 1/16/13 at 2:35pm
post #9 of 9


Originally Posted by Traum View Post

Lastly and most importantly, I kind of view the level of equipment we use as part of the maturation process in our hobby's journey as well.

Sure. Before my current setup, I had other HiFi.

I got most of it used and at good prices, though again, I bought quality over cheap though. It also helped me get much of me money back when I moved stuff on later.

Cheers Rich

Edited by bedlam inside - 1/17/13 at 2:34am
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