You are here

Log in or register to post comments
RobertSlavin
RobertSlavin's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 months 1 hour ago
Joined: Mar 25 2007 - 8:01am
Art Dudley on the price of audio

I was happy to read Art Dudley's "As We See It," this month, titled "Skin deep." To recall, Dudley complained about the ridiculous prices becoming increasingly common in the world of audio. He concluded, "We are crippled not so much by fraud as by a bit of greed, a bit of sloppy, cost-ineffective engineering, and a lack of willingness on the part of us all to speak up and say, I'm sorry, but an interconnect is not, under any conditions, worth as much as a new car. For me, that lack of willingness ends today."

Earlier in this piece Dudley wrote, "it's time to call bullshit on some of this stuff."

Great! I hope many other Stereophile writers follow suit. I also think that Stereophile should do a story on why prices have been increasing.

However, I was also disappointed to read Dudley's review of the Oswalds Mill Audio Mini speaker in this same month's Listener column. He gives a positive review to this $18,000 speaker that according to its officially given specifications is down by 3db at 60Hz.

I say that all $18,000 speakers that start to roll off around 60Hz do NOT deserve a recommendation. Loosing the bass below 60Hz is too big a problem to warrant a recommendation at this very high price point. Indeed, Revel, PSB, and Monitor and I imagine other brands all have great sounding speakers that have bass well below this level and sell below $1,800! That is $1,800 and not $18,000.

Perhaps Dudley wrote his column before he wrote the "As We See It" piece.

However this may be, I hope all the Stereophile writers start questioning many of the ridiculous component prices out there.

Robert

John Atkinson
John Atkinson's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 hours 50 min ago
Joined: Nov 7 2010 - 3:31pm
Product Pricing

RobertSlavin wrote:
I also think that Stereophile should do a story on why prices have been increasing.

I wrote about this in 2011 at http://www.stereophile.com/content/upward-price-spiral. This article was linked in Art's essay; perhaps you didn't see the link.

Quote:
However, I was also disappointed to read Dudley's review of the Oswalds Mill Audio Mini speaker in this same month's Listener column. He gives a positive review to this $18,000 speaker that according to its officially given specifications is down by 3db at 60Hz.

You're missing the point. While Art was saying out that _some_ products are over-priced, he was _not_ saying that _all_ expensive products are over-priced just becasue they are expensive. You personally do not want an expensive speaker that cuts off below 60Hz; others do not regard that as a fatal flaw if the speaker is superb in other, to them more important ways. That's why there are so many speakers in our "Recommended Components" listing - taste in sound quality is not an aboslute value.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

RobertSlavin
RobertSlavin's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 months 1 hour ago
Joined: Mar 25 2007 - 8:01am
Article on audio prices
John Atkinson wrote:
RobertSlavin wrote:

I also think that Stereophile should do a story on why prices have been increasing.

I wrote about this in 2011 at http://www.stereophile.com/content/upward-price-spiral. This article was linked in Art's essay; perhaps you didn't see the link.

Mr. Atkinson's piece in the April 2011 was good. However, I was thinking of something more systematic. I was thinking of an article based on interviews with long-time manufacturers, new manufacturers, wholesalers, dealers, economists, and, if they exist, analysts who keep an eye on the high-end audio sector. The article could also include some statistics to clarify how much prices have increased over the years, after inflation. I believe back in the '90s Stereophile did an article on the gray market in audio gear. So there is a precedent for doing this sort of article on the industry. I still think such an article would be a good idea.

Robert

JIMV
JIMV's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: Jan 31 2008 - 1:46pm
There is a difference between

There is a difference between 'expensive' and silly...If the company (or anyone else) making $50K speakers could get the same performance for half the price, then the item is overpriced!

I have heard some scary expensive gear properly set up and the sound is amazing...does that mean the price charged is reasonable or unavoidable? Also, misquoting Art, some items, both expensive and cheap, are priced WAY above their performance. It is good to see the magazine actually note it.

JoeE SP9
JoeE SP9's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
Joined: Oct 31 2005 - 6:02pm
Cost

While I don't believe that every expensive speaker or piece of electronics is overpriced, some certainly is.

A 60Hz roll off in a $18,000 speaker is a fatal flaw as far as I and most ordinary people are concerned. For $18,000 the open E string on an electric bass should be easily audible. If it isn't, that is overpriced to me. IMO for that kind of money you should expect some semblance of full range response. Giving a positive review to an $18,000 speaker with no bass only reinforces the argument that reviewers don't live in the real world.

Yes, IMO those speakers are unbelievably over priced. For $18,000, I or anyone else shouldn't be asking "Where's the bass?".

Lamont Sanford
Lamont Sanford's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: Mar 31 2006 - 8:32pm
WTF

"You're missing the point. While Art was saying out that _some_ products are over-priced, he was _not_ saying that _all_ expensive products are over-priced just becasue they are expensive."

Typically NYC perception of the world.  Classic Catch-22 mentality, "Not all expensive products are over-priced just because they are expensive [There is no disappointment so numbing...as someone no better than you achieving more.]"    He plainly suggests there is a benchmark on price points and doesn't seem to be a correlation that the price meets the qaulity.  That the market is glutted with over priced merchandise. 

jweiss
jweiss's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: Sep 19 2012 - 5:43pm
OMA Mini

Art Dudley wrote about the OMA Mini because he loved the sound of the speaker, and he did it in an issue decrying the lack of value in audio writ large. Which leads to a question:

Do you value a speaker by how it sounds, or by whether it goes to 60hz and below flat?

 

My company (OMA) makes the Mini, and it is called the Mini because it is relatively small (8" woofer). We only make high efficiency speakers, unlike virtually all of the rest of the industry. We only use professional drivers, unlike virtually all of the rest of the industry.

 

If you want to have low frequency extension (below 60hz) high efficiency, and SPL, you need a large driver and a large box, which is not the speaker in question.  This is just basic physics, by the way.

 

The rest of the industry gets a little tiny woofer to go to 30hz by using low efficiency woofers made to work in little boxes, and which sound horrible. We don't use that kind of driver. 

 

Instead of compromising and making a speaker which does nothing well, we make the Mini and forego low bass, but we do now produce a bass satellite speaker which you can add to the Mini (15" woofer, powered by solid state amp.) That brings the price to $30,000. Still less than a pair of Magico Mini's, by the way. 

 

Judge value in a product by sound, design, and quality, not by specs.

Jonathan Weiss

OMA

tmsorosk
tmsorosk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 weeks 5 days ago
Joined: Dec 5 2010 - 12:34pm
Mini

Good point Jonathan. I don't think any seasoned phile expects a mini monitor to extend to the lower regions and when you do hear a small speaker with deep bass it's almost always lacking any resolving qualities.

I rarely look at specs or pay much attention to grafts and charts, although when I'm considering a component I do have more confidence if J.A. says a given component tests well. 

Lamont Sanford
Lamont Sanford's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: Mar 31 2006 - 8:32pm
Yeah, right

If he told you to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge would you do it? 

JoeE SP9
JoeE SP9's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
Joined: Oct 31 2005 - 6:02pm
Cost

Having been involved in this "passion" for more than 40 years I believe I qualify as "seasoned". I'm not a cheapskate or a dumpster diver and have no problem with high priced gear.

While I usually defend the cost of "high end" gear, I'm entitled to my opinion on what is and isn't good value for the money. In this instance IMO the cost is excessive for the product. To respond to that by mentioning you also make a woofer that costs an additional $12,000 doesn't justify the cost of the "mini monitor".

There's no doubt the product in question sounds good to Mr. Dudley. He has frequently expressed his interest and fondness for HE designs. I would be surprised if he heard one he didn't like.

I'm fully aware of the limitations inherent in small monitors. So, the lack of low frequency extension is a given. Sorry, two drivers, one in a simple (maybe well braced) box the other in a (aesthetically challenged) horn assembly doesn't say $18,000 to me. Saying you use "professional" drivers gets a big "Whoop T Doo" from me. A large percentage of the "professional" drivers I've heard have only one thing going for them and it's not sound quality. Granted, the ones in the speakers in question may sound very good. Even so, I can think of any number of speakers I'd consider before spending $18000 on a speaker with no bass.  

FWIW: I wouldn't consider buying Magico Mini's either.

No offense to Art Dudley but is is rather incongruous to write an editorial agains't "insanely" high prices and in the same issue favorably review an $18,000 mini monitor with no bass.

  • X
    Enter your Stereophile.com username.
    Enter the password that accompanies your username.
    Loading