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Don’t Buy an Expensive Doorstop

Thinking of buying used equipment? Comrex Corp. offers some tips

The authors are with Comrex Corp.

Comrex has been making equipment for the broadcasting and professional audio industry since 1961. Since that time, we have sent tens of thousands of various pieces of Comrex gear out into the world to be used for a variety of applications.

As our 50th anniversary approaches, it is gratifying to know that many of our earliest products are still in regular use.

Our popular Comrex Buddy, for example, was (and still is) such a hit with customers that we still get regular inquiries from customers wanting to buy one. But while it is a great piece of gear, it certainly doesn’t have the portability of our new Access Portable IP codec.

So, as many Comrex owners desire to upgrade to the latest in technological advances, it is no surprise to us that many used Comrex products regularly turn up on dealers’ shelves and in online auctions.

Look up the number

One of the main things we pride ourselves on is our commitment to customer service. That isn’t limited to customers who bought a piece of our equipment shiny and new in the box. We are always happy to help people using our gear, and Comrex support and repair services don’t depend on whether you are the original owner.

So, whether you are considering plunking down some cash on a Hotline that you found on eBay or you found a used Nexus on a dealer’s website, we do have some tips for those thinking of purchasing used Comrex equipment. These may also be helpful for anyone who is pondering the purchase of used gear, regardless of manufacturer.

  • •All Comrex products, with the exception of some of our older telephone voice couplers, have serial numbers. If you are considering purchasing a unit that does not have a serial number, or if the seller is unwilling to provide that information, be very cautious.

    This may indicate that a present or past owner of the gear did not obtain it legitimately and may be trying to cover their tracks. Whenever a customer calls us to let us know about a lost or stolen unit, it’s logged in our database. (Another lesson here: Log the serial numbers of products you already own.)

  • •If you can obtain the serial number of a Comrex product, contact our Tech Support Department and they will gladly check our records on the unit. We may have information on the identity of the last known owner, and we will certainly have a record of any repairs or upgrades that were done by Comrex. Equipment that has been declared “non-repairable” following severe lightning (or similar) damage occasionally reaches the second-hand market. A call to the manufacturer might save you from buying an expensive doorstop.
  • •We will provide updates and evaluations of current Comrex products for free. Updates and checkups of discontinued products are subject to a small charge; contact Tech Support for information. Our warranty and repair policies don’t depend on original ownership.

    When shopping for any used gear, you may wish to ask the original manufacturer about its policies for updates, checkups and transference of warranty.

  • •Comrex has an excellent record of being able to repair our older products, but there are limitations. Parts do get discontinued, and if our stock is exhausted, the gear may be non-repairable.

    It’s generally worth a try to have us look at the item, however, as we have some creative minds who may be able to work around the problem. It’s highly recommended that you give us a call to make sure what options are available for your particular piece of Comrex gear. Most responsible manufacturers will echo this advice.

  • •Comrex Corp. never made computer printers. There was an Asian company that used that name for a while, but they are long gone, having been purchased by Epson. We don’t make pneumatic staplers or nail guns, either! So, unless you need to literally “nail up” a circuit, these Comrex products from a Taiwanese company won’t provide you with high-quality audio transmission. Similarly, make sure the product you are considering buying really is from the company you think it is from.
  • •Comrex purchased the marketing and support for several Gentner/ClearOne products in 2002. Comrex did not purchase Gentner but simply a few specific products, and as such the only Gentner equipment we support or repair is the DH20, DH22 and DH30 telephone hybrids. We did provide support for the Gentner TS612 talk show system but are no longer able to repair any TS612s that were sold prior to our acquisition of the line in 2002.

    Our Tech Support department can discuss repair options prior to you sending in the unit. If you are considering purchasing any other second-hand Gentner product other than those listed above, please be aware that Comrex does not have parts, manuals or support information available for any other Gentner product and is unable to repair or support those units.

    Many manufacturers have acquired product lines in this way. The lesson is to call the factory and to ask good questions. The company should be happy to help you.

  • •Over the past several years, broadcasters have turned to equipment vendors and consignment “shops” to help sell their Comrex equipment to help offset the cost of upgrading to the latest Comrex technology. Recently, we’ve seen many of our customers offering their Hotline, Nexus and Vector codecs through various sources that include eBay, Craig’s List, Kitmondo and some Comrex dealers that take Comrex gear on trade-in.

Here is a list of some places where you might find used our equipment from a trusted (and vetted) source. Companies that buy and sell used Comrex gear include Pressman Engineering & Technology, Bay Country Broadcast, S.C.M.S. Inc., Tucker Broadcast Surplus, Big “D” Broadcast Exchange and The Broadcast Store.

Roy Pressman of Pressman Engineering Technology offers used Comrex gear but takes on the extra added expensive of shipping it back to Comrex to be “factory re-certified” prior to posting it on his website. As mentioned, this is a service that we provide to all Comrex customers either at no cost (for current products) or for a nominal fee for legacy products. But please keep in mind, if you send us a unit that has been reported to us as stolen, you might not get the unit back right away until we verify ownership.

The above is not a comprehensive listing of used equipment vendors and it should be noted that their product offerings change on a daily basis.

The tip here is that your manufacturer may be able to provide a list of trusted, vetted sources of used equipment.

Our overall goal is to make sure you have a great experience with your Comrex equipment. If you have any questions or if we can provide any assistance, feel free to contact us at the factory. We think that’s a good policy to follow when buying used gear, regardless of manufacturer.

Contact information for Comrex can be found at

RW welcomes other points of view.