Today we’re going to tackle a serious hot-button issue for audiophiles, which is the storage of packaging. It’s bad enough that we ask our domestic partners to allow us to dominate a room visually with big speakers and a bunch of wires and heavy metal boxes with knobs and lights.


But to also use precious storage space for … shudder … EMPTY BOXES??? That, my friend, may be a bridge too far.

Especially in a place where housing is expensive, like Boulder, the thought of storing the empty shipping containers for all of the stereo stuff, indefinitely, can be mind-blowing to those not invested in the hobby. It easy to understand the resistance to this, and not as easy to explain why keeping those boxes is necessary.

Audio is unlike most other high-tech fields these days in that for some products, extra weight — including unbalanced or unevenly-distributed weight — can be essential to the electrical makeup or functionality of the device. Also, audio products are often are made to look good, with sensitive, glossy finishes or ornamental elements which are delicate by nature.

Another unique quality of good audio is that it has a much more active second hand market than does anything but brand spanking new tech in other fields. Audio holds its value — some brands more than others, as we discussed about a month ago — but the value plummets as cosmetic flaws and minor functionality issues rise.

My day job is in the second-hand-audio business, and I see the effects of DIY packaging of audio products every day. In half, if not most cases, the results are not pretty. Even the top shipping companies in the world get packaging of audio equipment wrong on a regular basis, when customers trust them to package their gear correctly.

Conversely, I can name one sole instance in my memory where a manufacturer’s own packaging was insufficient to protect their gear in shipping. In every other case, the foam inserts and the exact box dimensions of a piece of audio gear were carefully designed by real engineers.

There is not only one right way to ship a product, but given the choice between saving custom foam inserts that you know will work, versus undertaking a massive project to craft something that may work … the choice should be easy. Here’s the only tip I can offer for preserving your domestic tranquility: Keep the foam inserts in a bag, and flatten the box. That’s the smallest you’ll be able to stow the precious packaging, and if you’re up for it, make the sales pitch focus around saving money in the future.

For those that would rather not fight that battle, here’s my advice for shipping that audio product to its next owner. Thick foam. Thick foam, like 2 inches or more, is a packaging dream. Never use peanuts. Don’t use paper. Don’t use bubble wrap. All of those were invented for lighter items than your 1970s Dynaco tube amp. Build up a boundary of thick foam around all sides of the item, and then choose the box size — not before.

Which ever you chose, just remember. Audio gear is just for fun, and relationships are what really matter in life.

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