Buying MP3 and audio equipment

Please note that these guides do not constitute legal advice and any information provided in the guides should not be construed as legal advice or legal interpretation. We do not accept any liability for any loss caused by your reliance on this guide.

The DoneDeal guide to buying MP3 and audio equipment

MP3 types

  • Before buying an MP3 player, think about what type you want.
  • Joggers will want something lighter. Flash-memory MP3 players are light and therefore have less memory.
  • Hard-drive MP3s are heavier and can carry more tunes. But if you jog, remember hard drives don’t like to bounce about.
  • Hard-drive players are easier to damage.
  • iPods range from 2GB of memory to 64GB. Check the size of the memory.


  • If you like radio, check if your new device has an FM tuner.
  • Firewire connections are needed on PCs for early model iPods. Many PCs only have USB these days. Firewire to USB adapter cables are expensive and hard to find.
  • If buying Apple products check in advance that you can easily get compatible software for your device.

Exterior checks

  • Before paying you’ll need to see it working to assess whether the screen is big enough for you. Turn it on.
  • Scratches on a small screen can completely ruin your iPod or MP3.
  • Remember, if you want to view video on your player, you will need a decent screen.
  • Before buying, turn on the iPod. If you hear a clicking sound, or a sad face pops onto the screen, the hard drive has issues.

Age of device

  • As with all electronics, the older the item the harder it may be to get accessories and software that are compatible.
  • Ask the seller if the item has changed hands before, or if it was bought new? The older it is, the greater the likelihood that the battery may be faulty in the future.
  • Batteries can’t be replaced in an iPod Touch. So if the one you are buying is more than a year old, you may possibly be facing some repairs down the line.
  • Many people sell iPods, whether the Classic, Nano, Shuffle or Touch, because it’s a hassle to change the battery.


  • When purchasing an MP3 player or iPod ensure all required cables and software are supplied.
  • You will need headphones to listen to your device. For hygiene reasons you may wish to use your own.
  • Does it have a carry case or cover?

Basic questions

  • Ask the seller how long  the iPod or MP3 player holds its charge.
  • Ask if the item is still in warranty.
  • Ask the seller for proof of purchase in case you want to use the warranty.

Docking stations

  • Docking stations charge your MP3’s battery, while allowing you to play music at home through bigger speakers. Check the sound is clear.
  • Make sure you are supplied with all the connection cords needed to use it.
  • Ask for the CD or instruction booklet which came with the docking station when bought new.
  • Make sure the USB ports or USB plug is working.
  • The best way to know if it works is to try it out. Turn it on.

Headphones, earphones and buds

  • Don’t be afraid to test headphones. Try them on, see how snugly they fit. Are they comfortable?
  • Earphones and earbuds have been intimate with the previous owner. For hygiene reasons you may want to supply your own.
  • Leave the headphones on for a bit. If they are comfortable to start with, your opinion may change after wearing them a while.
  • Assess how well they cancel out or isolate external sound, if they say they do.
  • Big-name brands exude quality. If headphones feel cheap, they probably are.

Stereo systems

  • Does it have a built-in and working AM/FM tuner? Try it out.
  • Ensure that the CD/DVD player, tape deck and/or turntable are working.
  • Can you easily get needles for the arm of the turntable?
  • Are the speakers working and the sound clear?
  • Be positive that all components work together. Try it out. Turn it on.

Karaoke machines

  • Kids and adults love karaoke, and a karaoke machine can liven up a party. But before you buy, check the machine's capabilities.
  • See if it only plays karaoke tapes, or regular CDs and DVDs too.
  • Does it have its own built-in display screen? Is it working?
  • Are you supplied with cables to connect to your TV?
  • Can two microphones be plugged in? You may want to duet.
  • Turn it on. Check it out by giving the seller a song.

Other audio

  • Other used audio equipment needs close checks and inspection before purchase.
  • Best advice is to turn on all electronics.
  • Try before you buy.