When it comes to shopping for your office or home media products, Parts Express has been making waves in the audio-visual industry.
Time is money. So, when it comes to shopping for your office or home media products, the last thing you need is an exhausting trip to a big box store. Parts Express has been making waves in the audio-visual industry.
They seem to carry everything you’ll ever need for your home theater or office conference room for high-quality video and audio presentations. What’s more, they have all the parts, brackets, and cables you’ll need to do the job, or you could opt for professional installation.
Thanks to e-commerce, shopping online has become a breeze. Anything you could want for your home office is yours at the click of a button, delivered to your door in just a few days. The internet has undoubtedly had a leveling effect on business. However, with so many stores available online, and so many vendors seemingly of dubious origin, it pays to perform due diligence by checking out reviews before you order.
Behind Parts Express
Headquartered in Springboro, Ohio, Parts Express boasts an inventory of over 18,000 different audio components. They specialize in professional and “prosumer” audio gear, both popular and rare. They work from a 120,000 square foot facility outside of Cincinnati, which is open to the public Mondays through Saturdays.
Established in Dayton, Ohio, in the mid-1980s, Parts Express has only grown thanks to e-commerce and a staff of trained specialists. The company isn't shy about showing their support for some local children’s charities and public schools.
Parts Express Policies
Parts Express offers several customer service bonuses, including same-day shipping for orders made before 4 p.m. ET. They also boast a no-hassle return up to 45 days, which is quite generous for the industry. U.S. and Canadian customers can pay with major credit cards, like Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and Amex. They also take PayPal.
International orders are welcome by those paying with PayPal or wire transfer. Although they don’t accept COD orders, they do accept checks upon receipt.
Professionals, such as technicians, installers, and resellers, can open a trade account with NET 30 terms upon approval. Institutional customers, such as hospitals, schools, and government agencies are also welcome to apply for line-of-credit accounts.
Parts Express return policies
Although Parts Express offers a 45-day no-hassle return, all products over a $250 list price require a return authorization (RMA).
One point of contention with some customers is the controversy surrounding their “burnt voice coil” policy. Although they will accept these speakers for evaluation, there is no refund on speakers with blown voice coils.
The company states that this condition can only be the result of overpowering, which they say falls within the realm of misuse.
Parts Express provides some resources to help their customers make the most of their audio equipment. Their Tech-Talk Forum offers tips on how to set up and wire equipment. Audio professionals share tips and recommendations on a variety of amps, mics, and mixing consoles. It provides an excellent resource for Q&As on a wide range of equipment problems.
Parts Express also offers a host of how-to instructional articles on their website. Learn to build your own speakers or install a home theater system with a subwoofer array for heart-pounding bass. If you find yourself less than confident in some of the finer points of audio equipment, check out their FAQ section for a professional walkthrough that covers understanding crossover or soldering electronics.
Parts Express YouTube Tutorials
Are you looking for something a bit more visual? Check out the Parts Express YouTube channel for a range of how-to videos. Their channel features videos on building speakers, converting an old speaker to Bluetooth, cable management, and much more.
You’ll also get a better look at some of their new inventory acquisitions, which comes in handy when you’re buying sight-unseen from your laptop. More than just commercials for some of the more exciting equipment they carry, you’ll also get advice on how to choose and then apply the products.
Parts Express offers a wide range of small repair and replacement parts for audio and visual equipment. But the real stars of their show are the stereo components for home, business, and vehicle applications. Featuring their own proprietary brand – Dayton Audio – they also sell equipment from well-known brands like Pioneer, Yamaha, and TEAC.
Their inventory is too massive to detail within the confines of this article but includes home theater components, multi-room audio-visual distribution systems, speaker systems, and a range of vehicle and marine stereo components.
Parts Express Reputation
Accredited by the Better Business Bureau in 1999, Parts Express has been in business for 31 years. They have an A+ rating from the agency, which has recorded a total of two complaints from customers over the last three years.
Although Parts Express seems to have a great reputation with customers, controversy about removing negative online reviews has occasionally popped over the last 10 years. Upon these occasions, however, other customers have come to their defense.
This says a lot about the Parts Express's ability to earn consumer loyalty. And this same loyalty also comes up in a variety of audiophile forums along with glowing recommendations.
What Customers Have to Say
With most of their business transactions happening via their website rather than their retail store, Yelp reviews for Parts Express are minimal, with only five reviews since 2008 and an average of 4 out of 5 stars. Parts Express also features customer reviews and testimonials on their website. And as expected, these reviews are all positive in nature.
On Facebook, where users rarely hold back criticism, Parts Express enjoys a 4.6 out of 5-star rating from over 1,000 customers. High points include the vast number of parts on offer, including hard-to-find components. Customers state that the staff is both helpful and knowledgeable.
However, the few complaints seem to center on shipping issues, rather than the quality of the parts and products on offer. Missing, late, or incorrect orders make up the majority of 1-star reviews.
This trend implies that if purchasing from Parts Express, one better order well in advance of any tight deadlines. And social media management for the company is not particularly responsive, with only occasional attempts to do damage control with unhappy customers.
For convenience, Parts Express also distributes their products via Amazon. With thousands of products listed as of the date of this writing, it appears the majority of their small repair and replacement parts inventory is available on that platform. You’ll find an enormous selection of connectors, soldering and wiring supplies, tubes, couplers, and switches.
As Amazon reviews focus on the products rather than the retailers themselves, it can seem difficult to get a feel for how well Parts Express delivers and meets customer expectations.
That said, most reviews were positive and indicated that the customer appreciated that they could find some of the more obscure parts at all. So, if you’re looking for switches, fuses, and connectors for vintage audio equipment, Parts Express may be your new go-to.
Parts Express also sells their Dayton Audio line of equipment on Amazon, under that brand name. Although the company doesn’t engage much with Q&As, reviews for their series of amplifiers, microphones, and speakers overwhelming receive 4 or 5 stars from Amazon buyers.
That said, Part Express / Dayton Audio again doesn’t engage much with customers. Q&A’s on the massive retail distributor are generally addressed by other customers. While not uncommon, it indicates that Parts Express focuses more on their own website and inventory there. Also, the few negative reviews revealed the company delivered the wrong parts, or they didn't match the listing information.
Parts Express Against the Competition
Parts Express competes in a crowded market, competing with giants like Crutchfield and Newegg. By featuring their own proprietary brand, however, Parts Express stands out and can offer more bang for the buck as long as they keep tight control on their house brand’s quality.
Crutchfield is the gold standard for audio-visual retailers, particularly in the catalog sales arena. Established in 1974, we can’t remember a time when there wasn’t a Crutchfield catalog lying around. And we’re willing to bet many other audiophiles feel the same way.
Crutchfield’s reputation and reviews
Crutchfield also enjoys an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, but with 44 years in business, it seems to have garnered a broader array of complaints, clocking in at 21 filed with the bureau in the last three years.
Crutchfield averages 4.2 of 5 stars on Facebook out of over 4,800 reviews. Here, we have to give the advantage to Crutchfield, whose customer service department responds to every negative review in an attempt to rectify the problem. So, Crutchfield’s social media game is on point.
On Yelp, Crutchfield rated 4.0 out of 5 stars, similar to Parts Express. Here again, Crutchfield launched immediate damage control by contacting dissatisfied customers.
Crutchfield also sells on Amazon, mainly installation parts and wiring kits for their stereo components. While only listing a handful of products on the retail site, the prices remain consistent with those on their company website.
Crutchfield offers a 60-day return policy but requires a return authorization (RMA). You can request one online at their site, or call customer service for large freight or defective items. Crutchfield provides a shipping label, and you can drop off the packaged product at UPS or call for a pickup.
Confirmation of return is delivered by email, and a refund or replacement dispatched within two business days. If damaged, incomplete, or heavily used items are returned, Crutchfield may charge a stocking fee.
Known mainly as a computer components online retailer, Newegg has been around since 2001. To some technically minded consumers, Newegg seems to have created the electronics e-commerce industry single-handedly.
Newegg’s reputation and reviews
The Better Business Bureau rates the accredited Newegg an A+ rating. However, they’ve also logged over 880 complaints over the last three years. The majority of claims, over 560 of them, center on problems with Newegg’s products. Many complained they received defective or refurbished products with no refund or replacements offered or delivered.
This reflects many of Newegg’s bad reviews on Yelp, where the company averages 1.5 stars out of 5 with 90 reviews in total. Many complaints focus on incorrectly described products and shipping glitches. Most concerning, numerous customers state that Newegg shipped them used and refurbished products instead of the new products ordered.
On Facebook, Newegg rates 4.3 out of 5 stars, with over 12,600 reviews. However, nearly every review posted in 2018 is a 1-star review. Again, we see reports of broken and used products received by customers. Even worse, Newegg has apparently been selling products that aren’t even in stock.
Changes at Newegg
The demise of Newegg’s previously excellent reputation seems to stem from their decision to take on third-party vendors. These vendors are selling broken, used, and even non-existent products on Newegg's massively popular retail portal.
This seems to be Newegg's answer to retail behemoth Amazon. It's worth noting that this business model didn’t save Sears or Kmart, and it seems to be sinking Newegg as well.
Newegg has a complicated return system that varies from product to product. For most items in their inventory, Newegg requires a return authorization (RMA) for returns unless the product packaging was never opened. This means contacting customer service to get a number before they accept your return for a refund.
Their return policy generally covers only 30 days, except for an extended return period over the holiday season. They do offer a 45-day return for some products, however. And to add further madness to this mayhem, individual third-party vendors have and enforce their own return policies when selling through Newegg.
Most concerning is that they retain the option to repair or refurbish specific products, such as computers, at their own discretion. Their return policy on big-screen TVs is too convoluted to mention, and seems to be based on the size of the screen, with buyers required to report damaged TVs within 48 hours of delivery.
Also worrisome is that Newegg charges a 15 percent restocking fee for most opened items returned within the allowed period, and a 25 percent restocking fee for opened computers, tablets, and televisions.
Parts Express Pricing and Inventory vs. the Competition
To provide a clear price comparison between Crutchfield, Newegg, and Parts Express, we examined their inventory to compare the same make and models sold by all three retail outlets. To make a fair comparison, we focused on major brands like Pioneer, Pyle, Yamaha, and JBL.
Prices were similar across all three vendors, with the occasional special discount. These three retailers mainly varied by inventory.
While Parts Express features their entire range of Dayton Audio products, their inventory of some of the more popular brands seemed rather narrow. For example, while they don’t carry many Pioneer speakers, their range of Pioneer speaker components is impressive.
The Bottom Line
For the DIY audio enthusiast, Parts Express far outshines other online audio retailers. Their inventory for brand name stereo equipment is somewhat uninspiring. But their vast supply of brand name and OEM parts for that equipment is nothing less than stellar.
Their seemingly small inventory of brand name equipment also makes sense when you consider that they sell their own high-quality house brand at a fraction of the cost of the better-known manufacturers.
Compliments from grateful pros and hobbyists for their vast array of rare parts for vintage audio equipment may be enough to recommend them. With everything from analog guitar pedals to vacuum tubes to old-school speaker grill cloth, Parts Express is sure to tempt any hardcore audiophile.