NB: This post is all opinion. Feel free to disagree/challenge or share your own; but let’s be civil ok?
If it was me and I had any kind of budget restraints, I’d buy used. Both my sets of monitors (not counting a set of desktop speakers for added reference) were used and cost far less than buying new. So why, in my very humble opinion, should you buy used?
Here’s the low-down: low-end monitors are, sadly, like a lot of other commodity gear: faddish. People are constantly buying and upgrading within the same low-price range to search for that magic bullet.
What’s hot one minute (because some person claimed brand “X” budget-monitors sounds like a pair of Barefoots or Griffons or ATCs or PMCs or whatever) is often trashed as pure junk 6 months from now for the next consumable item – I realize this is nothing new. Bare with me – there is a point or two in here somewhere.
One point is that most (but not all!) manufacturers are actually trying their hardest to get you the best they can at those price points. If they don’t, someone else gets the dollars they want for their product. It doesn’t mean every budget product avoids being complete garbage, there is a lot of super-cheap (and often knock-off) gear trying to take advantage of hapless consumers, but you’ll also find tools we couldn’t have at these price points even ten years ago.
So, where does that leave us? The conscientious consumer lost in a sea of plastic and marketing rhetoric? Actually, no.
Because if this constant buying and selling you can find some pretty amazing deals from people trying to sell perfectly good equipment in order stay in-tune with the latest fads. The net result is that with a little searching, you get your hands on some nearly new product that will far exceed current needs and be much better than you could have hoped for buying new.
Remember that monitors are just one piece of the puzzle and worrying too much about any one single piece forgoes the bigger picture. Save some money, visit your favourite used-gear classifieds (Craigslist, Gearslutz, your favourite forum) and find something remarkable on the cheap; then blow the balance of your budget on room treatment or microphones or whatever else you might need (monitor controller) to get the most of our your loudspeakers.
Yes, there are occasions where only new will do, but they are few an far between when it comes to near and midfield monitors.
Quick case study
I purchased a set of mid-field (or large near fields) monitors for about 1/4 of their price new. To be fair, they were well used and had also been discontinued, but they were also well maintained.
Four years later one of the monitors suffered a catastrophic power amp failure. Indeed, the magic blue smoke was released. It cost nearly $700 to get the monitor repaired. It was a worst case scenario. The amp was no longer being supplied and so the specialist had to rebuild the whole unit.
The decision was relatively easy, after four or five years, even a brand new monitor could blow. Sure, it wouldn’t cost anywhere near that much to fix (one would hope) but even after the repair, and some extra investment in insuring the sister monitor was also fine (it was checked and parts were re-soldered as well) – the money ensured I had a working set of monitors for (hopefully) many more years and was still at a monetary figure that was dramatically less than the cost of a single monitor of equivalent value!