should there be less brands in audio?


2004-09-15 6:55 pm
I was thinking, so many amps, so many speakers out there...
price are crazy because everyone wants to recoup the efforts of their "unique?" designs. Should there be some consolidation in the audio industry, cut down dramtically the number of companies, this way less duplicate efforts and products, distribution and false "regional exclusivity" at the point of sales.
I would do a serious clean-up but without going too far or you have prices going up again. But I think that some consolidation would reduce costs and reduce prices.
I'm taking about non-DIY companies that put adds in stereophile and other large mags.

maybe I'm naive and don't know what I;m talking about here so be nice.



diyAudio Moderator Emeritus
2001-09-18 2:33 am
Connecticut, The Nutmeg State
When you talk about an economic thing, especially a non-essential economic thing, (no flames please-I know we all think we can't live without our music system), it's hard to know what "should" means.

Companies compete, and presumably there are as many companies surviving as can make a profit. Hard to understand what "should" has to do with it.

Should we cut down on the number of TV stations? The number of clothing companies? The number of styles of painting?

As for duplication, well, if you sell X number of hi fidelity speakers per year in a place, does it matter that number is divided between 5 companies or 50? Isn't it better to have 50 designers trying to find a way to sound better than just 5? Yes, I know everyone trumpets every little change as "a new era of audio clarity" and such, but bit by bit things move forward. I am not sure cutting down on the numbers of companies will move them forward any faster.
More the merrier as competition brings the price down on most occasions and gives a greater choice. As soon as you lose players (no pun intended), the price goes up. Just look what is happening with CD player prices now that only a few are still in the game.

Once you get only a few manufacturers then you run the risk of take over bids and the winner becomes a monopoly. Remember what happened to Micro$oft prices once they bought the opposition and had most of the market.
I understand that, I'm not talking about going down to 1 player like Microsoft or walmart. I'm talking of going from 500+ down to say 50.

I'm seeing more me too products than before and the prices I would argue are increasing despite less people buying hifi (atleast in North America).

Go back to the HIFI golden years of 70s when there was less brands and more innovation and competition. Now there is a niche for each of the 500 out there.

The Soviet Union tried a controlled economy. Are you old enough to remember them? Older people used to refer to them generically as "Commies." it didn't work. The government decided who would produce and sell what.

Having 500 people making something instead of 50 doesn't make it more expensive, it makes it cost less. It is the classic open market. Supply and demand. If there is a market for their wares, they will sell them. If someone comes out with a better or cheaper alternative, folks will buy that.

DOn't look at the stupidly overpriced stuff in STereophile as representative of the audio marketplace, it is not. Go to Best Buy and look at what they sell. THAT is the audio marketplace. Oh, don't tell me how your Bazoing 3000 sounds so much better even though it costs a million dollars. The general consuming public is happy as clams with their TEAC or SOny or whatever.

Consumer audio sounds pretty darn good these days, and you get a lot more for your dollar than you did thirty years ago. The stuff in the high end market is not sold as a commodity like consumer goods. The price is often determined more by the market segment they want to appeal to rather than as a reflection of actual costs.

When you are shopping for high end, and you find the WHizBang X-1 for $10,000 and the GollyG-100 for $11,000, chances are the extra hundred bucks is not what decides it for you. The "serious" audiophile will not have a Pioneer anything in his system no matter how good it sounds, and any component that costs less than $1000 is also unlikely.

Look at it this way, if another pizza joint opens up in your town, does the price of pizza go up? If you have ever been to a college town you will know that there are so many pizza places you can't keep track of them. Do you think that if somehow the government stepped in and told all but 5 of them to close down, that the price of pizza would go down? Would we get better pizza? WOUld there be more choices on the menus? Not likely.
sorry folks,
wrong forum. I'm dropping off the thread.

I wasn't talking about the government making choices like in the old USSR, I was talking about inter company acquisitions,
I wasn't talking about the other extreme of too much consolidation with too few players leading to pricing collution either.

I was simply looking at other high-tech dependant industries that have heavy R&D investments and patent and IP assets. For an industry that fits this definition to grow you need less players that's all, read some macro economics books. Unless we don't think audio is one such industry and that it belongs in another category where manufacturing and distribution efficiency is the key to grow and not the underlying product/technology.

again, sorry , I stick to questions that relate to soldering irons and boutique caps and other mods, that's the true value of this baord anyway.

Audio at present is not in my opinion a single market place.

You have the "mass market" on one hand, Sony, Pioneer, Harman, Bose, Yamaha etc. This one is pretty much domiated by a few large players. It's customer base makes decisions that are highly utilitatian (price vs features/bebefits).

On the other hand you have the hobby and enthusiast (audiphile?) market. This group discerns (or wishes to discern) very small nuances and characteristics of reproduced sound that the market place above finds of little interest. Other motives besides sound quality play a big role such as visual style, workmanship, uniqueness, technical novelty, fashion, conspicuous expense and so on. These values promote a boutique industry.

DIY may be somewhat associated with the later category, but I think it is a third market and the smallest of the three.


2004-11-26 3:15 am
More brands or companies is only effiecient to a point. Look at a economics book. A free market place like audio in americas is inherently not the most efficient production. Also note that not all companies are independent.
Eg from car audio
Rockford wholy owns MB Quart, Lightning ect. Check out Rockford Corp

Mitek owns MTX, Xant, Streetwires and more.

Recoton is Jensen, Audiovox Rampage, Stinger ect