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Old 16th January 2011, 12:28 AM   #1
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Question Is high-end audio just lots of gimmicks and high price tags ??

I was just perusing the latest CES report on Home Page | Stereophile.com and I couldn't help but notice that there was a pattern emerging. Lots of gear with very fancy cases and finishes as well as high price tags to go with it, but very little under the bonnet in terms of major advances in audio technology compared to the mass market gear that it was trying to upstage.

It seems that all you have to do these days to be classed as high-end is to employ current technology and then use an artist to design your case and finish as well as a marketing crew to promote it as such. Then add the high price tag and there you have it, a piece of high end audio equipment !!

Is this the future of high-end audio where the consumer can expect little in the way of major technological advances ? Shouldn't the high-end audio fraternity be leading the way in technological advances and not the mass market ??

Is it a case of who can come up with the nicest looking and stylish presentation wins the customer ?? In the future will major advances in audio reproduction come from the mass market sector whilst the high-end audio sector will continue to drag its feet and try to exploit and capitalize on it using gimmicks and lots of unsubstantiated and exaggerated claims ??

Your thoughts please ?

regards
Trevor

Last edited by Trevor White; 16th January 2011 at 12:35 AM.
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Old 16th January 2011, 12:40 AM   #2
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"Your thoughts please ?"

I don't think that any small company can compete in the market place with the big brand names that have economies of scale and cheap manufacturing cost in their favor. If the lo-fi and mid-fi markets are full of cutthroat competition that leaves the high-end market to go after and to do that it takes a bit of "spin" on why the equipment is worth (x) amount of money. Stroke some ego's - impress with a cost that shows your knowledge and deep pockets - SOLD!!! Hey - the same market is the one that can afford private jets - estates - expensive auto's etc. and they do like their toys too. If they can afford them then more power to them. In the end we all benefit from the technology advances that trickle down to the rest of us mere mortals.

Plus - when I finally design my super amp, TT, speaker line, cables, interconnects, wah-wah do-dad tweaks, and mo-joe magic upgrades I'm gonna need someone to sell 'em to - and I won't find that crowd hanging around at the big box stores.

Note to self - warning to all others - advice from SHMBO. I'm so full of "it" that I need two bags to carry it in!!!!

BTW - did you get a look at these "little" beauties??? I think they go for "only" $150,000 or so....
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Last edited by c2cthomas; 16th January 2011 at 12:57 AM.
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Old 16th January 2011, 02:08 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by c2cthomas View Post
BTW - did you get a look at these "little" beauties??? I think they go for "only" $150,000 or so....
If it was those vs a Ferrari, I suppose I'd have to think
about it.

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Old 16th January 2011, 02:16 AM   #4
a.wayne is offline a.wayne  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by c2cthomas View Post
"Your thoughts please ?"

I don't think that any small company can compete in the market place with the big brand names that have economies of scale and cheap manufacturing cost in their favor. If the lo-fi and mid-fi markets are full of cutthroat competition that leaves the high-end market to go after and to do that it takes a bit of "spin" on why the equipment is worth (x) amount of money. Stroke some ego's - impress with a cost that shows your knowledge and deep pockets - SOLD!!! Hey - the same market is the one that can afford private jets - estates - expensive auto's etc. and they do like their toys too. If they can afford them then more power to them. In the end we all benefit from the technology advances that trickle down to the rest of us mere mortals.

Plus - when I finally design my super amp, TT, speaker line, cables, interconnects, wah-wah do-dad tweaks, and mo-joe magic upgrades I'm gonna need someone to sell 'em to - and I won't find that crowd hanging around at the big box stores.

Note to self - warning to all others - advice from SHMBO. I'm so full of "it" that I need two bags to carry it in!!!!

BTW - did you get a look at these "little" beauties??? I think they go for "only" $150,000 or so....

Quick hide those from Pano, he is 2 old now u know ...

Quote:
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If it was those vs a Ferrari, I suppose I'd have to think
about it.


Me 2 .. Tinks , 1,2,3............... Ferrari ... yahhhhhh .............
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Old 16th January 2011, 02:45 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nelson Pass View Post
If it was those vs a Ferrari, I suppose I'd have to think
about it.

Welllllll - it seems ya gotta pretty good hand on amp and speaker design - soooo I'm guessing - Nah - nevermind..... I juz don't see ya zooming around in a little red sports car that cost $150K. Heck - You seem ta like spending your spare loot on bunches of special made to spec xsistors and rare tubie thingies!!!

AND BTW - We are all still waiting ta see what is behind the curtain dis time!!
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Old 16th January 2011, 03:07 AM   #6
jcx is online now jcx  United States
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an interesting question might be wether there is an obvious time that the current "high end" was invented
say a decade where at the start a "cost no object" system from a dealer in New York, London, ect. would have cost a fraction of the national median family income and at the end of the decade such a system would only be affordable by the top income quintile

possibly the 1970's - with Mark Levinson Audio starting up in 1972?
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Old 16th January 2011, 03:08 AM   #7
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Ya don't hafta go to CES to obtain wild unsubstantiated claims and strange gizmo's! I've brought plenty, only problem with them is that they are free, if you have two brain cells to rub together. If you have three I can't help ya.

Bud
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Old 16th January 2011, 03:13 AM   #8
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it is sad but, most the time it is true!. these days we see a lot of these kind of gadgets that some companies do to "attract" customers...it is just the outside, as soon as you open the chassis... voila! Nothing especial inside. but most people are not going to open an amp and see what is inside or know if what is inside is good or bad quality. But, We can still find very good commercial amps, Right now I have a Bryston integrated amp that is quality inside and outside!
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Old 16th January 2011, 03:39 AM   #9
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As much as a lot of the basic designs "under the hood" have remained similar, components and materials change which can make them appreciably better than their older counterparts. There is a lot of room in this business to put a pretty face on a product to lure the unsuspecting, therefore it's up to the consumer to do their homework just as when you'd buy anything.
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Old 16th January 2011, 03:53 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BudP View Post
Ya don't hafta go to CES to obtain wild unsubstantiated claims and strange gizmo's! I've brought plenty, only problem with them is that they are free, if you have two brain cells to rub together. If you have three I can't help ya.

Bud
Hi Bud!!!! Da 1st time we started talking resulted in your EnABL thread and lotsa kids playing around with pens and paint brushes - only to be followed up with those little dangle thingies you had people tying knots with.

Hmmmmmm.......... what else could be cooking in that brain of yours that is looking for a way to get out?

And can we sell it for a couple hundred zillion dollars at the next CES?
BTW - we need to keep the manufacturing cost below $5 bucks per unit @ 1K pieces.

Eh - nevermind. I don't wanna get back on that horse of doing the day to day "business" thing. Ahhhhhh - retirement - how sweet it is!!!!
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