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Stephen Scharf
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Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES

I thought Alex's Calvin and Hobbes cartoon was great; pretty much in his camp on his premise in that thread. Seeing the prices for gear that are coming out of the blogs from CES makes me think his points are all the more well-taken.

$8000 for a CD transport, amps for $100,000, power amps for $15,000, decoding computers for $33,000, speakers for $45,000....I don't know who's more out of touch here; the manufacturers that set these ridiculous prices for this stuff (you know that the margin has got be close to astronomical for this stuff, given that the vast majority of it is made in China), or editors who think that these kinds of prices for audio equipment are no big deal. Next time I read that some editor thinks that $5,000 for a CD player is moderately priced, I think I'm gonna scream.

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


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I don't know whose more out of touch here; the manufacturers that set these ridiculous prices for this stuff....or editors who think that these kinds of prices for audio equipment are no big deal.

You forgot the people who must/might be buying this stuff and the readers who enjoy reading about it!

Stephen Scharf
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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES

Well, Buddha, I grant you people enjoy reading about this stuff, but my guess the nos. of people actually buying these overpriced and low-value products are quite low, hence the ridiculous margins being charged for it. The high-end industry is in for an agonizing reappraisal in this economy if they think that this level of pricing can continue to exist. My point, and Alex's, in his post with the wonderful C&H cartoon is that the value-proposition is just not there with these way over-priced products. The folks that first spring to mind in "high-end" that seems to really understand VALUE is Signal Path Int'l, with their excellent line of Era Design speakers and Peachtree Audio electronics components. There are others, to be sure like Rega, who have always been very big on providing great value, NAD, Cambridge, JoLida, but I think the "high-end" of high-end is, well....smokin' crack. But I think Signal Path really gets it.

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES

You agree with Alex, good for you. This is pretty much the same thread why open a new one?

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


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my guess the nos. of people actually buying these overpriced and low-value products are quite low


That's what I always assumed too. I'd love to know how many people actually buy expensive tweaks, or really expensive gear like those $10k CD transports that don't even include the D/A. Yes, I see a lot of "mid-level" high-end stuff (oxymoron?) in forum member gallery photos. And once I saw the most expensive Wilson speakers at the home of a rich customer. Ironically the guy's first name is Rich.

But it seems to me most of the really expensive gear, and "silly" tweak products like magic bowls and $5k+ wires, are stimulus for mental masturbation and few units are ever actually sold.

--Ethan

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


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You agree with Alex, good for you. This is pretty much the same thread why open a new one?


The point of this thread was to discuss the products being covered at CES; and whether or not they comprise anything resembling value; while tangentially related to Alex's thread, it is basically a different subject (the price of stuff at CES) than Alex's post. I just read about a DAC that was part of the CES coverage that costs $16,000 and that's only ONE channel. Give me a frickin' break.

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES

There will be some come along to remind of us the R&D cost associated with these products, thus their justified prices. I say bullbutter! Everyone knows it

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES

We should start a new forum for all the price complainers.

We can call it the " I live in a cheap house with a cheap car, i goto work in a crappy job and come home to my ugly wife and listen to my cheap hifi because i have no ambition in life and im totally jealous and resent anyone who has ambition and can afford things i resent because im such a negative complainer with no ambition" forum.

Alan

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


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We should start a new forum for all the price complainers.

We can call it the " I live in a cheap house with a cheap car, i goto work in a crappy job and come home to my ugly wife and listen to my cheap hifi because i have no ambition in life and im totally jealous and resent anyone who has ambition and can afford things i resent because im such a negative complainer with no ambition" forum.

The most recent Stereophile reports from CES must have you wanting to jump on a plane with your shiny platinum card. You could buy some Nordost Odin speaker wire -- only $32,000 for a 4' length. Mock the "little people" while you're at it.

Buddha
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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES

Haters.

Welshsox
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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES

The point being that i also think its overpriced overhyped, i just dont resent it the way a lot of people seem to.

Im secure enough to search out good value equipment, this is generally in the mainstream. The exception being Synergistic speaker cables that cost me $1000 for a 8 ft pair. The fact is though to my ears this improved the sound be far more than a $1000 worth of hardware.

Start talking about what you can afford not what you cant.

If you want to hate something hate, hate the demagnetizer thats worth hating

Alan

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


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Next time I read that some editor thinks that $5,000 for a CD player is moderately priced, I think I'm gonna scream.

It's not when they call it 'moderately' priced but 'Budget' that gets me...The overwhelming majority of readers do not have 6 figure budgets...

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES

I would bet the number of $100K items built much less sold, are measured in 'dozens' not thousands.

With such small numbers in existence, why pretend they are consumer products.

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


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I would bet the number of $100K items built much less sold, are measured in 'dozens' not thousands.

With such small numbers in existence, why pretend they are consumer products.

Then would someone please explain to me why uber-expensive gear and accessories appear to capture all the attention of the audio media at a Consumer electronics show? If these products represent a small proportion of what is being displayed, then a major distortion is taking place. The public perception of boys with expensive toys gets reinforced.

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


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With such small numbers in existence, why pretend they are consumer products.

When I think of the term "consumer products" i think of mass market stuff made in the thousands on assembly lines. Almost none of this stuff is "consumer products" in that sense. These are products crafted by artisans, not banged out on an assembly line.

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


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We should start a new forum for all the price complainers.

We can call it the " I live in a cheap house with a cheap car, i goto work in a crappy job and come home to my ugly wife and listen to my cheap hifi because i have no ambition in life and im totally jealous and resent anyone who has ambition and can afford things i resent because im such a negative complainer with no ambition" forum.

Alan

Whoa! Dude, don't you think you're projecting here a bit?

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


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Quote:
With such small numbers in existence, why pretend they are consumer products.

When I think of the term "consumer products" i think of mass market stuff made in the thousands on assembly lines. Almost none of this stuff is "consumer products" in that sense. These are products crafted by artisans, not banged out on an assembly line.

You're implying that just because something is banged out on the assembly line that it's by definition poor in quality. I disagree with that. Furthermore, just because something is hand made doesn't mean that it's a good quality product.

Most high end products use off the shelf parts and assemble them together. For example, most DACs use either Burr-Brown, Crystal Logic or Wolfson chips. Most CD players and transports use DVD drives, and most speakers use SEAS or Focal or DynAudio drivers. So, when we talk about craftsmanship and artisans and something that's hand made, etc, that justifies a certain price increase over the mass produced, consumer grade equipment. For example, a CD player costing $500 or $1000 can be justified in this way.

However, this justification starts to fall short once you start getting much beyond that. There's very little R&D in implementing an off the shelf chipset in a DAC or an off the shelf DVD drive in a transport.

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES

Most of the really pricey stuff is NOT from China, but whatever- it's still boutique items for those who are far above mere mortals. But as for who can buy them? Well- it's a big country we have and there are more folks out there that have money to burn than we think.

Example: I live just North of Boston, and while it's a nice area, some parts very upscale, how many Lamborghini's do you think the dealership down the road could actually sell? How about 9 or 10 a month? That's around $356,600 per vehicle to you and me, and they don't offer 30 year mortgages for those babies. That means you need mostly cash for somehting like that. It's another world.

I don't really get worked up about it, especially for high-end shows. That's the whole point- show what you can do, sky's the limit. Often they apply that same thinking to lower priced products and we all end up benefiting.

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


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I don't really get worked up about it, especially for high-end shows. That's the whole point- show what you can do, sky's the limit. Often they apply that same thinking to lower priced products and we all end up benefiting.

I don't quite agree with that. How many full range speakers can you name under $5000? How many under $10k? How many under $20k?

Speakers are a good example how manufacturers relegate a whole range of speakers into a stratospheric category. That didn't use to be the case. There were plenty of full range, affordable speakers in the 70's and 80's. So, to say that manufacturers use whatever voodoo for their flagship products in more affordable lines is not necessarily true. Many times the stratospheric category exists for its own sake, with artificial boundaries clearly drawn.

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES

I've been reading through this thread with a growing sense of irritation that I'll try to suppress. At various stages in the snakes and ladders saga of my life on this planet I've been both poor and rich. When poor I managed somehow to stitch together audio systems from home made and second hand bits and pieces that often made me happy.
Now I'm able to splurge big money on audio toys and believe me, the sound ( read enjoyment) I'm getting is way better than budget or middle market gear and to my ears provides value for my money.
Having said that I'll repeat what I've said here before. You can spend a fortune on audio gear and end up with overpriced, hideous sounding crap just as you can spend a lot less money and still enjoy the music. What those who argue that ALL high priced audio gear is a joke don't understand is that to achieve the best possible in music reproduction requires careful engineering and often very expensive research and development. Later on the dribble down effect and amortization resulting from larger scale manufacture can bring some of those benefits to the lower end of the market. However, there's a limit to how far you can go trying to cheat the laws of physics.

There's one other aspect that doesn't appear to have been mentioned on this thread . If there were fewer boutique audio manufacturers a smaller number of large scale producers would probably be able to bring us the joys of the high-end for less money. However, those who gain a peculiar kind of self-esteem from having the one and only Pizzledunk & Steinberg Undersampling 357 X SE for miles around are going to miss out. Now let's face it, if there wasn't a significant demand for overpriced, 'life style' esoteric audio jewellery there simply wouldn't be the amazing number of boutique audio companies out there. Think about it kiddies, it's the irrational demand for such toys that's responsible , not some conspiracy by manufacturers.
For now I'm avoiding the power of advertising - that's another, if related, subject.

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


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If you want to hate something hate, hate the demagnetizer thats worth hating


You're halfway there Alan! Now if you can just explain why it's okay to pay 1,000 times more than needed for wire, but not for a demagnetizer.

--Ethan

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


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Quote:
I would bet the number of $100K items built much less sold, are measured in 'dozens' not thousands.

With such small numbers in existence, why pretend they are consumer products.

Then would someone please explain to me why uber-expensive gear and accessories appear to capture all the attention of the audio media at a Consumer electronics show? If these products represent a small proportion of what is being displayed, then a major distortion is taking place. The public perception of boys with expensive toys gets reinforced.

I view the $100K toys on display as similar to concept cars at an auto show..they demonstrate what the maker can do and might eventually let trickle down to gear that real folk can buy.

Calling 4 digit gear 'budget' and 5 digit gear 'moderate' is simply fantasy on the part of the writers.

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


Quote:

Quote:

Quote:
I would bet the number of $100K items built much less sold, are measured in 'dozens' not thousands.

With such small numbers in existence, why pretend they are consumer products.

Then would someone please explain to me why uber-expensive gear and accessories appear to capture all the attention of the audio media at a Consumer electronics show? If these products represent a small proportion of what is being displayed, then a major distortion is taking place. The public perception of boys with expensive toys gets reinforced.

I view the $100K toys on display as similar to concept cars at an auto show..they demonstrate what the maker can do and might eventually let trickle down to gear that real folk can buy.

Calling 4 digit gear 'budget' and 5 digit gear 'moderate' is simply fantasy on the part of the writers.

Right there with you, Jim. It's clear to me that there is a removal from reality that is prevalent. Along these lines, read the comments from readers to the editor's blogs from CES posting about extremely-highly priced componentry from CES. The vast majority of posts reflect the view that the prices for the components and products being covered are ridiculous and represent poor, or in many cases, very poor value propositions (that, is, the engineeing specification one receives for the price paid; or in simpler terms, what you are getting for what you are paying). Nobody's buyin' it....what the editors and manufacturers are saying, that is. I'm sure not many are buying it for real, either.

I can't help but liken these high-end manufacturers charging ridiculous prices, e.g. $100,000 for 20 watt tube amps and $23,000 for a CD transport to the executives running Big Three Auto companies....completely clueless and divorced from reality.

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES

I believe the writers would be better served separating the language of the fantasy uber-expensive, only 10 ever built items from real product real folk will buy or at least hear. Speak of value for money in that $10K set of speakers or $5K amp but stop the pretending with fantasy gear and instead, write about how the thing stretches the boundary of what is possible, speculate on how the best of the thing might trickle down to real folk, and give up the pretense that anyone we actually know will ever see such a thing for real. Never, ever tell anyone that a $100K anything in audio is worth the cost to any real consumer. If you own your own jet, homes in NYC, Paris and Gstad, and are not being indicted by the feds as part of a ponzi scheme, you might actually own such a toy, but would you really appreciate it as a music producer or simply as a work of art to impress folk with like the Matisse on the wall?

Like the concept car...the $200K slippery, electric powered, hand rubbed finish flash bang will never be seen outside of shows but the battery pack might find its way into $20K box like ugly coaches like our neighbors own.

The technology of the $50K amp might someday soon be found in the $5K amp we CAN actually hear and own.

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


Quote:
I believe the writers would be better served separating the language of the fantasy uber-expensive, only 10 ever built items from real product real folk will buy or at least hear. Speak of value for money in that $10K set of speakers or $5K amp but stop the pretending with fantasy gear and instead, write about how the thing stretches the boundary of what is possible, speculate on how the best of the thing might trickle down to real folk, and give up the pretense that anyone we actually know will ever see such a thing for real. Never, ever tell anyone that a $100K anything in audio is worth the cost to any real consumer. If you own your own jet, homes in NYC, Paris and Gstad, and are not being indicted by the feds as part of a ponzi scheme, you might actually own such a toy, but would you really appreciate it as a music producer or simply as a work of art to impress folk with like the Matisse on the wall?

Like the concept car...the $200K slippery, electric powered, hand rubbed finish flash bang will never be seen outside of shows but the battery pack might find its way into $20K box like ugly coaches like our neighbors own.

The technology of the $50K amp might someday soon be found in the $5K amp we CAN actually hear and own.

Very well-spoken, Jim, and I am complete alignment on with you on this.

At the end of the show, I am going to do a data analysis of the percentage of coverage of the "ridiculously" priced stuff relative to the "real-world" stuff that is affordable, reasonably priced and represents real value. If I recall correctly, only three value-driven products have been covered, the $249 Bel Canto USB Link, the Music Streamers at $89 and $249, and the Peachtree Nova at $1199.

There are some other possible candidates, like Triode's $2800 amp and Bel Canto's $2500 DAC. These prices ALMOST make Audio Research's products at $9995 each (the Ref 3 preamp and Ref 110 amp) seem like screamin' deals-almost, but not quite.

I've seen very, very little coverage from the value-leaders like PSB, NAD, PrimaLuna, JoLida, Audioquest, Cambridge, Audio by Van Alstine. There was a token mention to Rega. What about Blue Jean's cables new products, guys? Or Polk? Era Design? Dyanudio?

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES

"I don't quite agree with that. How many full range speakers can you name under $5000? How many under $10k? How many under $20k?"

Well, I'm not sure your definition of full-range, but for me if it's around 35hz to 20khz, it's full range. You can go lower or highrer, but for most practical applications, you'd be good to go. Now for that spec. you could find quite a few great speakers for under 10K- like Pro-Ac or Vandersteen, just to name two off the top of my head. The 30k models- well, whatever is all I can say. It's like boohooing that you can't find any 450 horsepower automobiles for under $150k.

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES

I for one could give a rat's behind about the affordable stuff, at least when I go to the show. I want to see the balls-to the-wall expensive stuff, you know, the stuff that dreams are made of, that noone can afford. Best to gaze upon these things as an assault on what's possible. They demo'd a Million Dollar system put together by the Adreneline Rush speakers guy at an auditorium in Vegas some years ago, pretty sure he wasn't expecting any sales. He did it because he could.

Along the same lines, I don't pick up the latest Road & Track with all the cool photos & Test Report of the Ferrari Scaglietti because I'm considering buying one. I just want the rush. Sorry, never felt inclined to pick up Road & Track with a photo of the latest Toyota on the cover.

Cheerio

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


Quote:
I for one could give a rat's behind about the affordable stuff, at least when I go to the show. I want to see the balls-to the-wall expensive stuff, you know, the stuff that dreams are made of, that noone can afford. Best to gaze upon these things as an assault on what's possible. They demo'd a Million Dollar system put together by the Adreneline Rush speakers guy at an auditorium in Vegas some years ago, pretty sure he wasn't expecting any sales. He did it because he could.

Along the same lines, I don't pick up the latest Road & Track with all the cool photos & Test Report of the Ferrari Scaglietti because I'm considering buying one. I just want the rush. Sorry, never felt inclined to pick up Road & Track with a photo of the latest Toyota on the cover.

Cheerio

Yes, but the Ferrari represents a much greater value proposition than the high-end stuff. Nordost 4' speaker cables for $32,000....that's just about the price of a Lexus IS250...which do you think presents a greater level engineering specification and value for that amount of money?

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES

My problem has been slightly different. It is in reviewers and writers treating these ultra expensive items as if they were real consumer goods, like the $5K amp. I believe the writers should treat these things as they are, fantasy efforts by the makers designed to wow and not to be really sold. The technology in the thing, when it reaches the real world, THAT is when it should be treated as a real product for sale.

Tone, not coverage, is my issue. Recognize no one will ever own that $100K toy but thousands might own a 3rd generation of the technology. Don't treat it as product and never, ever insult the reader with the pretense that it is worth the money. Heck, I wouldn't mention price at all. If someone was to want to buy the thing, let them call and ask.

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES

"Yes, but the Ferrari represents a much greater value proposition than the high-end stuff. Nordost 4' speaker cables for $32,000....that's just about the price of a Lexus IS250...which do you think presents a greater level engineering specification and value for that amount of money?"

Methinks you're being a little too analytical. If one has the jing he gets what he wants to satisfy his craving. The rest get to drool over the pictures or the exhibit at the show. Now, I realize that some modest systems can sound very good, but when I'm at the show I only go see and hear the really big expensive systems. Is that wrong? :-)

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES

Maybe a little !!!

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


Quote:

Quote:
If you want to hate something hate, hate the demagnetizer thats worth hating


You're halfway there Alan! Now if you can just explain why it's okay to pay 1,000 times more than needed for wire, but not for a demagnetizer.

--Ethan

Its very simple Ethan

I can hear the improvement and to me it was significant emough to justify the money.

Alan

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


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"I don't quite agree with that. How many full range speakers can you name under $5000? How many under $10k? How many under $20k?"

Well, I'm not sure your definition of full-range, but for me if it's around 35hz to 20khz, it's full range. You can go lower or highrer, but for most practical applications, you'd be good to go. Now for that spec. you could find quite a few great speakers for under 10K- like Pro-Ac or Vandersteen, just to name two off the top of my head. The 30k models- well, whatever is all I can say. It's like boohooing that you can't find any 450 horsepower automobiles for under $150k.

Sorry dude,

That doesn't quite jive. A full range speakers means a speaker capable of reproducing the full range of human hearing: 20-20,000hz. I'll give a bit and I'll even include 25-20000hz as full range speakers. A speaker that only goes down to 35hz and loses the entire bottom octave doesn't constitute "full range".

As far as getting 450 horsepower for under 150k, that's certainly possible and had been done in the 60's and 70's with muscle cars, but that's irrelevant. There's no way you can tell me that it's impossible to produce a full range speaker for under $5k

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


Quote:

Quote:
"I don't quite agree with that. How many full range speakers can you name under $5000? How many under $10k? How many under $20k?"

Well, I'm not sure your definition of full-range, but for me if it's around 35hz to 20khz, it's full range. You can go lower or highrer, but for most practical applications, you'd be good to go. Now for that spec. you could find quite a few great speakers for under 10K- like Pro-Ac or Vandersteen, just to name two off the top of my head. The 30k models- well, whatever is all I can say. It's like boohooing that you can't find any 450 horsepower automobiles for under $150k.

Sorry dude,

That doesn't quite jive. A full range speakers means a speaker capable of reproducing the full range of human hearing: 20-20,000hz. I'll give a bit and I'll even include 25-20000hz as full range speakers. A speaker that only goes down to 35hz and loses the entire bottom octave doesn't constitute "full range".

As far as getting 450 horsepower for under 150k, that's certainly possible and had been done in the 60's and 70's with muscle cars, but that's irrelevant. There's no way you can tell me that it's impossible to produce a full range speaker for under $5k

I agree...and I think Henry Kloss accomplished this (or something darn near it) in 1973 with something called The Advent Loudspeaker. I think they sold for about $300 a pair.

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


Quote:

Quote:
"I don't quite agree with that. How many full range speakers can you name under $5000? How many under $10k? How many under $20k?"

Well, I'm not sure your definition of full-range, but for me if it's around 35hz to 20khz, it's full range. You can go lower or highrer, but for most practical applications, you'd be good to go. Now for that spec. you could find quite a few great speakers for under 10K- like Pro-Ac or Vandersteen, just to name two off the top of my head. The 30k models- well, whatever is all I can say. It's like boohooing that you can't find any 450 horsepower automobiles for under $150k.

Sorry dude,

That doesn't quite jive. A full range speakers means a speaker capable of reproducing the full range of human hearing: 20-20,000hz. I'll give a bit and I'll even include 25-20000hz as full range speakers. A speaker that only goes down to 35hz and loses the entire bottom octave doesn't constitute "full range".

As far as getting 450 horsepower for under 150k, that's certainly possible and had been done in the 60's and 70's with muscle cars, but that's irrelevant. There's no way you can tell me that it's impossible to produce a full range speaker for under $5k

Are you talking down to 20Hz or FLAT down to 20Hz because those are two entirely different games. Depending on what kind of music one listens to there really isn't much below 35Hz. Spending big money on getting that "bottom octave" if it isn't a big part of the musical genres that light your fire is a big waste of cash. One of the quickest and most effective ways to reduce the cost of a system is to be willing to give up bass. True, deep, authoritative bass has always been expensive and until they change the laws of physics it all ways will be.

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


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Are you talking down to 20Hz or FLAT down to 20Hz because those are two entirely different games. Depending on what kind of music one listens to there really isn't much below 35Hz. Spending big money on getting that "bottom octave" if it isn't a big part of the musical genres that light your fire is a big waste of cash. One of the quickest and most effective ways to reduce the cost of a system is to be willing to give up bass. True, deep, authoritative bass has always been expensive and until they change the laws of physics it all ways will be.

I'm talking down to 20hz, not flat, but within -3db or so. Whether the musical genre demands that sort of frequency response is irrelevant for this discussion. I don't agree that good bass has always been expensive. In fact, this is a relatively new phenomenon. That's the point that I was making. The manufacturers are using bass response to artificially differentiate their mega buck models from the less expensive offerings. Besides, $5k IS a lot of money and for that kind of money, one can certainly produce a speaker with deep, authoritative bass.

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


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It's clear to me that there is a removal from reality that is prevalent. Along these lines, read the comments from readers to the editor's blogs from CES posting about extremely-highly priced componentry from CES. The vast majority of posts reflect the view that the prices for the components and products being covered are ridiculous and represent poor, or in many cases, very poor value propositions...

It appears from a check of email addresses that many of these "readers" commenting are actually a very small number real people posting under multiple names. So please do not read too much into these comments.

And please remember that "value" is a subjective value; it cannot be transported from one person to another. A reader at the SHow who bought the KEF R207/2s at $20k following my review told me that they are a terrific value while someone else in this thread said that $5000/pair is a lot of money to pay for speakers. Both are correct - for themselves only.

And in response to another poster, the original Advent speaker did not have flat response to 20Hz, to the best of my memory.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES

Point taken, John, and in one my posts to one of the show blog entries, I said effectively the same thing, that everyone has a their own "window" of what comprises value. But, IMHO, the coverage presented was, on the whole, for very, very expensive products. The general sentiment from readers was for a more balanced coverage of products that represent "real world" prices, and Jim's comments about coverage of products whose functionalities would trickle down to the more realistic and "value-driven" prices, I thought, were quite apt.

On another note, I don't think anyone would think that the Advent Loudspeaker, a speaker that is still famous for its bass response, was NOT a full-range loudspeaker, irrespective of whether it was flat flat to 20 Hz or not. Alex's point was there was virtually no reason why someone couldn't build a speaker for less than $5K that was full-range, and I completely agree. All we're talking about here is a box with some drivers and a crossover. This isn't rocket science and there's no proprietary technology involved in accomplishing this. In fact, proving that that type of reproduction was possible and very affordable was Henry Kloss' raison d'etre all those years in the industry.

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES

On several ocassions Kloss demonstrated why the Original Advent's tweeter was intentionally rolled off beginning at 12kHz. If the source material and playback equipment had been capable of better response in 1966, the rolled paper dome Advent tweeter could have managed another few thousand Hertz extension but given the limitations of the source, Kloss made the decision his speaker would be more musical rather than more transparent. It's doubtful Kloss would have used the same tweeter had he desired those extra few thousand Hertz response since the O.E.M. tweeter and its above the baffle placement doesn't hold up well when you force its extension upward.

Given the different measuring techniques used in 1966 vs. today and the broad latitude manufacturers had in advertising their wares in the mid '60's, it's stretching the point to say a speaker that, by today's standards, would have measured somewhere in the neighborhood of 45-14kHz would be considered "full range". Remember the 45Hz resonance of The Original Advent was due to an acoustic suspension enclosure which gave the 10" Advent woofer a less drastic low frequency roll out than today's more common vented designs. Manufacturers have shifted their priorities over the years, a shift I do not totally agree with but one that exists none the less. (Advent's listed frequency response provides 15kHz as the -5dB point.)

What the Advent did, it did very well and Kloss remains one of my audio heroes due to his insight into the workings of consumer audio. However, Kloss's genius was his ability to understand what was required of his speaker to sound good. That ability easily surpassed Vilchur's pedigreed knowledge of design as demonstrated by Kloss's capacity to design speakers that consistently outsold his former partner's products.

With all due respect to the numerous contributions Kloss made to consumer audio, his original intentions and true advancements of the art were made in video and tuners. There would be a different market today if the NovaBeam had not existed in 1976 and the Tivoli table radio had not been introduced based on the design of Kloss's Advent Receiver from the late '70's.

With everything at his back in speaker design, it is wise to note Kloss never recaptured the success of his early years once he left Advent. Today few people even remember the name Cambridge SoundWorks or associate Tivoli with Henry Kloss.

In all, SS, I believe you are confusing what Kloss actually managed. Kloss designed everyman products that challenged the higher priced products - which weren't that much higher priced in 1967 - by smart design, not by producing full range speakers at bargain basement prices. Kloss's designs did what they needed to do and no more. That market has been taken over by numerous inheritants of Kloss's target. Even by the standards of 1967 The Original Advent was not a transparent speaker in either the highest or the lowest octaves, it merely had prodigious bass response when positioned well within a room. Its bass response was, however, not very tight nor well controlled when used as a single pair with the solid state amplifiers of the day (amplifiers that by the way continually destroyed the inefficient and difficult to drive O.E.M. tweeter). The Original Advent (and the Kloss designed spawn of Small Advent, Advent Three, etc.) got the midrange right which was it's best virtue and one often overlooked by those seeking numbers rather than music. (That midrange was, according to legend, arrived at by ear in one weekend when Kloss took home a box of parts and a few bottles of wine. That method of design would be laughed out of the market today - unfortunately.) The greatest virtue of the Original Advent line was their ability to sound quite similar to each other and to music as you descended in price. The Original Advent drew you into the music not by its transparency which was limited or by its frequency response which was intentionally curtailed but by its balance of virtues that said "music", a balance that has been adopted by numerous successful speakers in the years since Kloss's famous design hit the market.

IMO there are more good to exceptional speakers today in a price range that by far is lower than the adjusted price of The Original Advent, speakers that get the music right and not necessarily the numbers.

But judging a product by numbers is pure dupian in the extreme and that shadow will hang over this forum for far too long. Ignoring numbers in favor of sound quality is what Kloss cleverly did well. Too bad his lesson has been distorted into something he never meant it to be.

(As a footnote to the Original Advent story, keep in mind Advent produced its own demonstration material to be used by Advent dealers. The equalized and dynamically enhanced material on the tape was clearly not what you would find on a 1975 LP of the same material and it was meant to demonstrate exactly what the Advent did well and what other speakers did not. This "baised" sales technique would hardly be tolerated by today's clientelle.

Additionally, as far as price is concerned the 1976 Stereo Review Buyer's Guide lists the West of the Mississippi sales price for the Large Advent at $132 each. The contemporary Dahlquist DQ10 was sold at $395, a Magneplanar sold for $625, the Hartley Concertmaster VI for $885, the Klipschorn for $1040 and the Bozak Concert Grand started at $1110.50. Only the JBL Paragon would have been considered the "Wilson" of its day priced at an astounding $3210 with no frequency response listed in the magazine.)

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES

I find this thread very interesting. I have a number of blogs left to write, so my comments shall be brief.

First of all, Stereophile is focusing on new products that are debuting at CES. That leads us into some rooms over others. Then, we can only hear what's hooked up. In many cases, manufacturers choose to dem their top-of-the-line. That's something we can't change, and a factor that helps determine what we cover.

In my case, my assignment was cables, tweaks, power products, and low-cost amplification. As I've said several times in my blog entries, a single room or exhibit can consume 30-45 minutes of my time. Add in the need to eat, drink, and the equally human need to say hello to friends, etc... and you discover that, at the end of day four, your long list of "must covers" is still long.

Stephen asked for PrimaLuna. It's coming on Tuesday, when JA gets back to NYC. I visited both their rooms. I also visited at least two more lower cost cable lines. If Blue Jeans cable was at the show, I didn't see their display. And frankly, I could only get to two floors at the Venetian plus some of the showrooms in the Sands. There was just too much to cover. My time at T.H.E. Show was limited to one afternoon, and my visit to the LVCC, which necessitated calling a taxi and hunting for Sennheiser for a good half hour, limited to three booths.

That I cannot be all things for all people, and write only what some people on this forum want me to write, is something that I do not regret. I'm pretty happy being who I am, and writing as I do. I do have my preferences, and make no bones about them. But I think my coverage is fair. Yes, there was the room with a sign for cables from a company I'd never heard of, so I walked in and reported on what was there. I had no idea I was going to encounter someone who hand-assembles cables tailored to people's individual components, and whose top-of-the-line cables cost $60,000. But there I was. So I asked what I thought were pertinent questions, and reported what I learned. I'm not writing an expos

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES

In 2007 dollars a pair of the Advents would have been about $950. Are the 2007 speakers for $950 better? Yes, in just about every way. People always forget to adjust for inflation, especially the "stuff is overpriced now" crowd.

I also agree with Jan that manufacturers priorities have changed and they are more concerned with the purity of the mid range, extension in the high frequencies, and the elimination of cabinet resonance. When dealing the a finite retail these goals quickly come into conflict with authoritative, deep bass extension. In my opinion manufacturers have been wise to abandon bass as the Holy Grail and to focus on other aspects. The clarity of mid range and high frequencies has progressed faster than bass because those improvements are largely based on better designed drivers, crossovers, and cabinets (largely due to computer modeling.) Bass, however can only be reproduced by brute force (moving lots of air) and as previously stated is hindered by the laws of physics.

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES

I don't disagree with anything you've said, but I still agree with Alex that there is virtually no reason it is not possible to design, build, and make a reasonable profit selling a full-range speaker that costs less than $5000.

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


Quote:
I don't disagree with anything you've said, but I still agree with Alex that there is virtually no reason it is not possible to design, build, and make a reasonable profit selling a full-range speaker that costs less than $5000.

Check out the full-range speakers from Sonics, one of which was just reviewed in Stereophile. I'll be commenting on one of their monitors in my blog.

Also check out AV123. Please tell Mark Schifter that I sent you. I believe that Stereophile just reviewed one of their speakers. I was going to review the top-of-the-line LS9, but realized that between their weight (335 or 350 lbs. each) and their size (6'10" on supports, I believe, which was unacceptable to the spouse), I simply could not handle them. How could I possibly shift them around for optimal positioning, let alone move them aside to review other speakers?

Now, whether Mark makes much money on each pair of speakers, I have no idea. I doubt it. One of his secrets is that speakers are only sold online.

It's one thing to build a full-range speaker. It's another thing to build a full-range speaker that is transparent, balanced, and neutral throughout the frequency range. But, then again, what is considered musical is in the ear of the listener.

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


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Point taken, John, and in one my posts to one of the show blog entries, I said effectively the same thing, that everyone has a their own "window" of what comprises value.

Indeed. It is subjective in the pure sense of the world. My "bargain" is your "insanely expensive." And it is a matter of priorities: I drive a 25-year old Mercedes but have a system that costs me 4x what that car cost me when I bought it in 1998.


Quote:
But, IMHO, the coverage presented was, on the whole, for very, very expensive products.

Yes. CES is where companies concentrate on showing off their flagships. But there were several more affordable products that impressed me and I will be writing about them in the next couple of days.


Quote:
The general sentiment from readers was for a more balanced coverage of products that represent "real world" prices...

As I said, many of those comments were from just one or two people. Extrapolating from those to assume this was the "general" sentiment is misleading, I feel.


Quote:
I don't think anyone would think that the Advent Loudspeaker, a speaker that is still famous for its bass response, was NOT a full-range loudspeaker, irrespective of whether it was flat flat to 20 Hz or not.

It could not deliver 20Hz, even at low levels, ergo it was not a full-range speaker. Period.


Quote:
Alex's point was there was virtually no reason why someone couldn't build a speaker for less than $5K that was full-range, and I completely agree.

With respect for yours and Alex-O's opinion, this just isn't correct. If it were, speaker companies, which are always looking for a competitive advantage, would be doing it. That they are not, that if you want a speaker with low distortion and coloration that delivers 20Hz at high levels without compression costs upwards of $15k/pair, is the way it is, I am afraid.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


Quote:
I don't disagree with anything you've said, but I still agree with Alex that there is virtually no reason it is not possible to design, build, and make a reasonable profit selling a full-range speaker that costs less than $5000.

I don't know of a combined full-range speaker that will do this, but if you get one each left and right of these, and two each of these you will reach the goal that Alex specified. Those Mackie subs are -3dB at 19 Hz and contain their own amps and active crossover. Total cost is $4800.

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES *DELETED*

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES

Ted or John,
What about the Sonus-Faber Cremona M's? They are on sale right now for $9998....having auditioned them my guess is that they are full-range...

I thought quite a bit about buying a pair of these.

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


Quote:

Quote:
Point taken, John, and in one my posts to one of the show blog entries, I said effectively the same thing, that everyone has a their own "window" of what comprises value.

Indeed. It is subjective in the pure sense of the world. My "bargain" is your "insanely expensive." And it is a matter of priorities: I drive a 25-year old Mercedes but have a system that costs me 4x what that car cost me when I bought it in 1998.


Quote:
But, IMHO, the coverage presented was, on the whole, for very, very expensive products.

Yes. CES is where companies concentrate on showing off their flagships. But there were several more affordable products that impressed me and I will be writing about them in the next couple of days.


Quote:
The general sentiment from readers was for a more balanced coverage of products that represent "real world" prices...

As I said, many of those comments were from just one or two people. Extrapolating from those to assume this was the "general" sentiment is misleading, I feel.


Quote:
I don't think anyone would think that the Advent Loudspeaker, a speaker that is still famous for its bass response, was NOT a full-range loudspeaker, irrespective of whether it was flat flat to 20 Hz or not.

It could not deliver 20Hz, even at low levels, ergo it was not a full-range speaker. Period.


Quote:
Alex's point was there was virtually no reason why someone couldn't build a speaker for less than $5K that was full-range, and I completely agree.

With respect for yours and Alex-O's opinion, this just isn't correct. If it were, speaker companies, which are always looking for a competitive advantage, would be doing it. That they are not, that if you want a speaker with low distortion and coloration that delivers 20Hz at high levels without compression costs upwards of $15k/pair, is the way it is, I am afraid.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

John

Im not into bashing the high end at all but i do take offence at a statement that its impossible to build a good full range speaker for less than $15k.

It is absolutely possible to build a full range speaker, companies like VMPS offer their VR40 model for $3k ( special offer ) and it is by any standards full range.

Their is a difference between the over priced high end mainstream and intrinsic costs. I have no problem at all with people charging whatever they can get but dont confuse putting a few drivers in a MDF box as being $15,000 worth of hardware.

Alan

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


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That I report on something doesn't mean that I have the funds to buy it. If you think a full-time freelance writer with far less in the bank than most of those criticizing him has the money to buy $60,000 cables, you're out of your mind.

Refreshing honesty! Thank you very much. It's great to hear someone's genuine views on the subject, as opposed to the disingenuous and tired old canard of "value depends on the individual". If Stereophile had to buy the components they review, you can bet your bottom dollar that old rhetorical warhorse would be put out to pasture in short order.

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


Quote:

Quote:
That I report on something doesn't mean that I have the funds to buy it. If you think a full-time freelance writer with far less in the bank than most of those criticizing him has the money to buy $60,000 cables, you're out of your mind.

Refreshing honesty! Thank you very much. It's great to hear someone's genuine views on the subject, as opposed to the disingenuous and tired old canard of "value depends on the individual". If Stereophile had to buy the components they review, you can bet your bottom dollar that old rhetorical warhorse would be put out to pasture in short order.

The rest of my refreshingly honest, genuine view is that value truly depends upon the individual.

jason victor serinus

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Re: Alex's Cartoon and Prices at CES


Quote:

With respect for yours and Alex-O's opinion, this just isn't correct. If it were, speaker companies, which are always looking for a competitive advantage, would be doing it. That they are not, that if you want a speaker with low distortion and coloration that delivers 20Hz at high levels without compression costs upwards of $15k/pair, is the way it is, I am afraid.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

John,

Legacy Focus, which Stereophile reviewed goes for $6,400 - far less than the $15k you site. As someone else mentioned VMPS offers full range speakers under $5k. So, obviously, it's not impossible to produce a full range, good sounding speaker for under $5k or even slightly over. I think that most manufacturers relegate full range speakers to the stratospheric segment of the market, thus making clear differentiations within their product lines.

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