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bifcake
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Audio Industry is evil

Yes, you read this correctly. Audio industry is indeed evil. There are some exceptions, which are few and far between.

Let me explain:

The manufacturers

The manufacturers are evil because they're involved in price fixing. Everyone rants about competition in the high end business, but I tend to differ. The big name manufacturers such as Krell, Madrigal and others have divided the regions and the market into exclusivity zones. That's price fixing. I do not wish to get into an argument over the legality of it, that's a different topic of discussion. What I'm talking about is not whether the behavior they engage in is legal, but whether it's evil (in my definition of course). Not only do they carve up the market to ensure that you cannot get their equipment for 50 miles, but they also make sure that the dealer who carries their equipment does not carry the competitors. Hence, there is no high end dealer that I'm aware of that is capable of demonstrating to you a Krell and a Levinson amp and allow you to compare them side by side. Additionally, they do not transfer warranty, so that drives the resale value down and a second owner cannot get warranty repair even if the equipment is within the warranty period. That's also part of price fixing since driving the price down of used equipment discourages owners from selling their equipment too soon, thus keeping their stuff off the used market for as long as possible (at least for the duration of the warranty period)

The dealers

The dealers are evil at worst and are just plain poopie fissures at best. Most of them are rude, condescending, unhelpful liars. In fact, used car dealers are boy scouts in comparison. "Competition" is a four letter word to them. They are absolutely petrified of the concept. Somehow, they feel as though they have a God given right to exist on this earth. Politeness, customer service, and support are inconveniences that these poor souls have to endure. "Ah, if only these filthy customers would just go away and only leave their cash behind, life would be so wonderful and we could bask in the glory that are we". This Louis XIV attitude exacerbates the way they treat the people who walk through their doors. It is as though they grant you this favor by allowing you to drop a measely $20k on a CD player at their premises. Every time I visit a high end dealer, I don't know whether to bow or to try to stick their heads on a chopping block the way they did in Paris in the 1790's.

The reviewers

The reviewers are evil too. Yes, they are. They are evil because you would be hard pressed to find a negative review of any piece of equipment in the media. The reviewers fail their mission because they do not act like a consumer advocate, which is what I think their function should be. They justify their behavior with such phrases as "We provide entertainment" or "We only provide an opinion". Well, if all that reviewers do is provide an opinion, then there's no such thing as a crappy component because everyone has different tastes and everyone has different opinions. Hence, no opinion is invalid and no sound reproduction can be bad. "Gee, TO ME, this poop smells like roses! How dare you object? It is MY opinion. MY opinion is just as valid as yours. You don't have to agree with me, but that's what my opinion is."

On the other hand, if all the reviewers do is provide entertainment, then it really doesn't matter what they say about a piece of equipment as long as the reading is fun. "At 5% THD, my Russian wife said in her very thick accent that the amplifier sounded just like Siberian balalaika that hung over front door of her log cabin when she was growing up." I don't know about you, but I'm certainly entertained.

Furthermore, the absence of negative reviews makes it impossible to gauge whether a piece of equipment hasn't been reviewed because it was never gotten to or because it's bad and didn't make the "cherry picking" process. Of course, the pushback is "you always have to listen for yourself". Whereas that's certainly true, it's not always feasible. Those who live in the boondocks of Midwest, Alabama or Montana may not have access to a dealer or a show where they can sample the equipment for themselves. Many of these guys have to buy blindly and the only thing they have to go by is a review.

The reviewers are also pretty chummy with the dealers and the manufacturers (I'm not even talking about the advertising revenues), which speaks for itself.

So, in the end, the entire high end audio industry is downright evil. As music lovers who would like to listen to quality reproduction, we are forced to pay OUTRAGEOUS amounts of money for components AND in addition we have to put up with such indignities as rude dealers, few and inconvenient dealer locations, entertainingly opinionated positive reviews, as well as the nerve of some to suggest that somehow the consumers of high end audio are responsible for the low number of enthusiasts that frequent the high end audio shops.

Some of you may say that of all the things that are wrong in this world, I'm getting my panties in a bunch over very silly things. That is very true. In the grand scheme of things, everything I've said is so far down the ladder of importance as to be a non-issue. However, in THIS, our little microcosm of audiophilia, there's nothing more important and everything takes a back seat.

gkc
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Re: Audio Industry is evil

Hi, Alex O,

Wow. You sound pretty bitter. "Evil"? I wouldn't be surprised if all these people you blanket-label beat their wives, children, and dogs, too. You bring up too many points for me to comment on, because I am not gifted with your omniscience, but I have selected a couple. Manufacturers will do whatever they can to bring their products to market and make profits. The warranty issue you mention is common sense, even if it is a bit defensive in some cases. I wouldn't be too anxious to guarantee a product that has been passed around into different system configurations, either: you can be pretty confident that the original buyer will get proper instructions on how to avoid abusing the gear, but after that?...instruction booklets get lost, original packing materials get thrown away, and before you know it, all the care you took to make sure your product got properly installed is out the window. I sympathize with the manufacturer, here. Collusion to fix prices? Vote with your feet. If they're too high, walk. There is plenty of competition out there, and consumers still have plenty of clout if they buy smart.

Many dealers are, indeed, assholes. However, the most egregious of them just don't compete very well with the good guys and often don't survive. In my experience (40 years) there are more of the good guys than the "evil" sort, even though a few rotten apples tend to stink up the barrel disproportionately -- if you look around a bit, I am certain you will be able to find MANY honest, helpful, cooperative, customer-oriented businessmen out there. If that sounds vague, remember you are the one who brought in the blanket label of "evil," with no qualifying details. Again, though, in a market economy the consumer ultimately calls the shots, and if you have been victimized by "evil," there are plenty of avenues for legal recourse.

Most of the reviewers I have encountered over the last 25 or so years (they weren't around that much in the early years of this hobby) have been pretty straight up. If there aren't enough negative reviews for you to deem them truly discriminating, it is simply because none of them actively seek out bad products. The industry has progressed tremendously over my lifetime, and the worst-sounding "audiophile" components of today would have been among the very best 20 years ago. If there are so many excellent products out there, why should a reviewer waste his/her time soliciting crap? I feel confident on this one, from being around so long: so many great products, so little time. Just what is your hidden agenda? Nobody NEEDS a reviewer to survive: after all, you have your own concert tickets and your own ears for doing your own evaluations. Why should we who are more positive even listen to this unsubstantiated drivel? Nobody's talking about food, fuel, and housing, here...this is a consumer luxury, even though it is a necessary one for me. How have you been damaged by a reviewer of preamps and speaker wire? Evil. Say, you're not one of these preacher fellas are you?? You know, repent ye sinners and all that crap?? Anyway, cheers and happy tunes. Clifton

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Re: Audio Industry is evil

Nice rebuttal Clifton.

And just for the record, I am not, nor have I ever been, AlexO, enough though he may at times do a great imitation of one my rants.

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Re: Audio Industry is evil

I read this last night and there were too many points to address. It made my head spin. I believe Clifton has covered some very good ones. While refusing to let a seller carry a line unless it doesn't carry another may be a form of extortion against a potential retailer, I'm not sure that really qualifies as "price fixing"... anyhow, the line that leapt out at me was "we are forced to pay OUTRAGEOUS amounts of money for components" - I don't think anyone is forcing us to pay anything. Some gear might bear a hefty price tag, but, I haven't had my family taken hostage over it to make me buy it.

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Re: Audio Industry is evil

I guess then, that is safe to assume that the customer is the most evil of all of these, since the customer is the one who allows all of this to take place. Very good indictment of yourself ALexO!

You have been found guilty, but what about the punishment...

CECE
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Re: Audio Industry is evil

Into the BLOSE demo room at Circuit City.!!!!

bifcake
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Re: Audio Industry is evil

When I say that we're "forced to pay outrageous prices", I don't mean to be taken literally. What I am saying is that compared to let's say 30 years ago, the best of the best gear today is CONSIDERABLY more expensive than it was then in REAL dollars (meaning adjusted for inflation). I'm talking about 5-10 times as expensive. Frankly, I don't think it costs any more to manufacture state of the art today than it was then. In fact, it's probably less. So, most of the price inflation is pure profit for the manufacturers. Are we FORCED to pay these prices? If we want the best of the best, then we are. There is a way around it and that's to buy on Audiogon, but then we're guilted by the manufacturers, by fellow users and by reviewers that we somehow steal from someone or other by sampling the equipment at a store and then buy it used on Audiogon.

As far as warranty transfers, I don't agree at all with Clifton. There is no justification what so ever not to transfer the warranty. Either you guarantee your products for a time or you don't. It doesn't matter whether the product has changed hands unless you're trying to keep it off the used market. The argument that boxes and manuals my have been lost, etc doesn't hold water because the original owner might move and then the same issues of equipment transfer apply.

Regarding dealers, I've met quite a few. I know of at least 3 just in NY that are assholes of the top sort. The others are just unpleasant. Can I vote with my feet? Yes and no. I can walk, but due to exclusivity deals, I can't get the component I want from another dealer because they don't carry it and out of state dealers won't ship it to me due to the same territorial carvings. Once again, my remedy is Audiogon, but the warranty won't be transfered and I'll be accused of being an [censored] for wasting the dealer's time.

As far as reviewers, there have been multiple occasions by which I made a special trip to audition ravely reviewed components that were IMO absolute and total crap. That annoyed the hell out of me. I figured that perhaps it was just me, that I couldn't hear what they heard, so I brought a few of my fellow audiophile friends with me for a second audition. They agreed with my assessment. This happened with various reviewers, so I can't even say that I'll just ignore reviewer A and trust reviewer B. It's so bad, you have to keep an excel spreadsheet to keep track of the reviewers because they're not consistent on top of it all.

BTW, I have no hidden agenda. There's nothing for me to try and accomplish here. I'm just ranting.

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Re: Audio Industry is evil

Wow; what a blast...lol!!

As I look back at my dealers I have done business with over the years...gee, let's see:

From 1978 to 1985, there was Neil Sinclair at Absolute Audio in Santa Ana, CA (now owns part Of Theta); always helpful and nice...seemed honest and fair to me.

From the early 1980's to the early 1990s there were the guys at Havens and Hardesty in Huntington Beach: wonderful people who bent over backwards to be helpful and spent uncounted hours doing demos of all kinds for me; got great equipment at fair prices there (sadly, they went out of business for a complex set of reasons).

From the early 1990s to present, Randy at Optimal Enchantment in Santa Monica has been helpful and easy to do business with; he is someone I rely on for good advice and honesty in all things.

I guess I have had a hard time, so far, finding all of these cretins and sons-of-bitches you have rooted out; bad karma at work??? What does your shrink say about all of this pent-up hostility, lol?

(did you say New York...?..my daddy told me it's a lot easier to find arseholes in New York than in California...maybe part of this problem is geographic...lol)

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Re: Audio Industry is evil

As far as transferrable warranties go, many high-end companies do transfer them for the length of the warranty -- CJ, Bryston, and B&K immediately come to mind. It's another point to consider when buying.

As to rival lines not co-existing in the same store, the last time I bought a car, I couldn't test drive a VW at the Suburu dealer. While you may think that's collusion, it's usually a matter of real estate, inventory costs, and belief. A dealer has to decide which lines to carry because it's impossible to carry them all -- he just couldn't afford to have one to show and one to go on Mark Levinson, Krell, and Classe (that's a million dollar inventory, right there). So he probably chooses the marque he knows he can sell, based on -- yes -- competition, his personal sonic preferences, service records, and even friendship with his area sales representative.

Things have changed over the years, so I won't name names, but I worked for a dealer once who sold two competing tube lines, both wonderfully reviewed and quite popular. One line was stable, had transferrable warranties, and never blew up; the other went through revision after revision, burned through tubes, and made customers send in their sales receipts to get service even when we vouched for them as the original customer within their warranty period. When we dropped one popular line to focus on the other, were we trying to "fix" our demoes or were we looking out for our customers?

Are there predatory manufacturers and dealers? Probably, but given the low (really!) margins and work involved, most con artists opt for an easier line of work.

bifcake
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Re: Audio Industry is evil

Hi Wes,

The analogy of test driving a car does not apply when listening to various hi-fi components. When you test drive a car, you're sampling the entire package. That car is it. Hence, you don't need to be able (although it would be nice) to test it at the same dealership. In order to be able to sample the differences of components, they have to be listened to in the same configuration. So, if I want to check out a Krell vs Levinson pre-amp, it would have to be with the same speakers, with the same wires, amps, sources. That's not possible to do unless it's done at the same dealer. One of the dealers once I asked me whether it really made a difference when given a choice between a number one or a number two Sports Illustrated models. The answer to that is: not if it's a gift. However, if I have to plop down $50-$100k for one, then HELL YEAH! For that kind of money, I want what I want. The current sales/marketing/reviewing paradigm makes it impossible for me to choose the best of the best for an enormous amount of money.

As far as the tube lines you mentioned, here's another example of reviewer's untrustworthiness. How does one recommend components that burn through tubes, that's unstable and has so many problems? That instability alone should have generated negative reviews in the press. Yet as you mentioned, the unstable line was as positively reviewed as the stable line.

Everything is so stacked against a consumer that it seems that the machinery of separating people from their money is what high end audio is really all about.

BTW, my gripes concern primarily what I consider tier 1 components and manufacturers such as Krell, Levinson, Burmester, Halcro, etc. By tier 1, I mean the mega-priced manufacturers. As you go down the line into tier 2 and 3 components such as CJ, Bryston, Adcom, Arcam, etc, there's less and less of the nonsense that I described in my original post. The dealers seem nicer, the manufacturers compete on price AND performance and there is no partitioning of the market. I probably should have made that qualification in my original post.

gkc
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Re: Audio Industry is evil

Yes, I knew Neil at Absolute Audio -- I had an apartment 3 blocks from the store. I had just finished graduate school, divorced, and didn't have 2 nickles to rub together, and Neil knew it. Yet he used to cheerfully allow me to haunt the premises and listen to anything, anytime, no strings attached. When I started seeing real paychecks, I couldn't wait to buy a pair of Gales (remember them?) and a Threshold amp from him. I bought my first B&W's from Havens and Hardesty in 1981. Another great dealer, as you say. It's easy to find the few assholes -- they are conspicuous. But I, like you, recall a flood of the best memories when I think back to all the great dealers who let me spend all the time I wanted, with no pressure, no strings attached. On the few rare occasions when something went wrong with the gear, I was always treated fairly and graciously. And, like you, I have been to MANY stores over the past 40 years. Currently, I should mention Dave at Ambrosia Audio in Brentwood, a snobby neighborhood, to say the least. Yet, Dave always was anxious to make me feel at home and help me set up new gear when I decided to buy. You can't contaminate the MANY wonderful people who (as Wes notes) struggle through interest rate cycles and all the other vicissitudes of ANY retail business by focusing on a few jerks. These folks DO struggle with thin margins and high rents just to break even and remain in a labor of love. I have met very few audio retailers who weren't in the business to satisfy a basic love of music. I can't imagine anyone enduring such a tough business without first having been someone else's customer, and thus without having a strong sense of empathy for the audio consumer. Clifton.

gkc
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Re: Audio Industry is evil

Okay, DUP. Good one. This one is funny. I guess I gotta hand it to you. And you got "the" right!! We're gonna get you grammatical yet! But, dammit, it's BOSE, not BLOSE! Still, there are merits to your transmogrification -- it's a nice portmanteau for "Bose," "Blow," and "Lose." Now, don't tell me you did that on purpose. Cheers and happy tunes, Clifton.

gkc
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Re: Audio Industry is evil

Alex, you're talking to a 30-year trader/speculator here, in everything from pig-tits to hairy legumes, sweet crude to gold. Today's gear is NOT expensive in real dollars. Cutting-edge designs that are R-and-D intensive, not to mention the cost of exotic materials and custom engineering, have ALWAYS been ridiculously expensive, compared to the excellent norm. But it is the excellent norm that feeds the manufacturer's family, and if there's no trickle down to middle-of-the-line components, there's no payday. Again, as Wes noted, margins are THIN. Those Advents reviewed in this month's nostalgia section would cost you over $600 in today's dollars -- and are barely competitive with today's best $200-$400 designs. You just have no IDEA how much purchasing power today's dollar has lost --over 95% since we left the gold standard (actually, the Bretton Woods agreement, a sort of "dirty float" with forex convertibility at the US gold window -- US citizens were barred from holding gold). Today's stuff is CHEAP for the quality. Believe it. Audiophiles/music lovers have NEVER had it so good as RIGHT NOW. You are talking to somebody who had to choose from among AR-3's, Altecs, JBL's, Bozaks, KLH's, and the Acoustat, Janszen, and KLH electrostatics -- all of which were seriously flawed, compared to today's mid-priced high-end, and all of which were ridiculously expensive and almost IMPOSSIBLE to find in the same state. Today, you have REAL choices, easy to find and listen to, and available for ANY budget. And the Adcoms and their ilk you so casually dismiss as somehow less than top gear?? Hell, 30 to 40 years ago, you couldn't even BUY stuff of this quality. It didn't exist yet. Clifton

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Re: Audio Industry is evil


Quote:
In order to be able to sample the differences of components, they have to be listened to in the same configuration. So, if I want to check out a Krell vs Levinson pre-amp, it would have to be with the same speakers, with the same wires, amps, sources. That's not possible to do unless it's done at the same dealer.

I agree, but it doesn't mean dealers or manufacturers are "fixing" the market, just that, as Wes explained to you, harsh economic reality works against that being universally possible. This was one reason why we started doing shows: to gather together in one place as many as possible of the "hot" products for readers to audition.


Quote:
As far as the tube lines you mentioned, here's another example of reviewer's untrustworthiness. How does one recommend components that burn through tubes, that's unstable and has so many problems? That instability alone should have generated negative reviews in the press.

Except that components generally spend little enough time in a reviewer's system that longer-term problems don't raise their heads. Nevertheless, if you read Stereophile reviews, you will note that we always report on every reliability or inconsistency problem that we do uncover with our review samples. I believe your accusations of "untrustworthiness" are not supported by the facts. Are you a Stereophile reader?

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Re: Audio Industry is evil


Quote:
Today's gear is NOT expensive in real dollars...Those Advents reviewed in this month's nostalgia section would cost you over $600 in today's dollars -- and are barely competitive with today's best $200-$400 designs.

At least $600. Some time back I worked out that a typical entry-level system from the late 1960s would cost at least $4000 in 21st-century dollars, without cables or speaker stands. Yet you can put together a system today for $1000-$1500, made by Alex's evil manufacturers and sold by Alex's evil dealers, that will outperform that "Golden Age" system in every way.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Re: Audio Industry is evil

Having grown up at the same time and the same area as Jesse Jackson, you'll surely understand that I have heard the cream of the crop of "victimization" rhetoric, but yours, Mr. AlexO, takes the cake. Your next step, if you follow Jesse"s model and if you are seeking more than just an audience for your carefully constructed rant, is to develop an effective shakedown. (Jesse lives very well, and hasn't had an honest job in his lifetime.) Given that there are fewer than 1500 of us reading these forum postings and not all of us find the victim label attractive, I doubt you'll be able to reach here the kind of power base needed to support effective boycotts etc.

Perhaps you might drop back a step or two from your current argument, and work first to establish the inalienable right of all citizens to acquire top line audio equipment, fully supported by both manufacturers and dealers, at rock bottom prices. You know how it goes from there -- government intervention to deal with those depriving you of your rights, etc. etc. If you can combine that approach with the direct shakedown of individual manufacturers and dealers, so much the better.

Good Luck with your campaign. Gotta sign off now, time to change the record. I realize I've given no attention to those evil reviewers who are making you so miserable, but the music calls.

bifcake
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Re: Audio Industry is evil

I absolutely agree that today's Tier 2 and 3 components will blow away the state of the art of yore. This is true and it is as it should be. The point that I'm making is that the state of the art of yore was less expensive in real dollars than it is today. I also think that the profit margins are not thin when you're talking about Tier 1 components. Again, I must stress that I'm talking STRICTLY of Tier 1 components and dealers. This is something that I should have mentioned in my initial post to avoid confusion. A friend of mine told me that in the late 60's, he put together what was considered then a state of the art system for $5000, which was a LOT of money then. At the time, it was the absolute best you could do at any price. We looked at the inflation index and it turned out that inflation has gone up 8 fold from that time. That means that he spent $40,000 in today's dollars at the absolute state of the art system. In today's market, $40,000 will barely buy you a single state of the art component. A Halcro or Lamm amp is about $30k. State of the art speakers are around $80k, preamps are about $15k and CD/SACD players are about $20-$45k. So, in today's dollars, a state of the art system will run 80k+30k+45k+15k = $170k NOT INCLUDING CABLES, which will run another $10k for a mere $190k. Again, I'm talking about state of the art today vs state of the art of yesteryear. I'm not saying that a $10k system won't be better than a $40k system of the late 60's, I'm simply comparing state of the art then and now. As such, I deduce that the extra $150k amounts to pure profit. I'll be even more generous by allowing an extra $25k for material costs, which I think is EXTREMELY generous. That still gives me a $125k delta that's unaccounted for.

I don't mean to suggest that you can't put together a KICK ASS system for $5000. You certainly can and I did. I don't dispute that entry level today is cheaper than entry level 30-40 years ago. But when it comes to state of the art, I think the delta is huge.

BTW, I am a Stereophile reader and I do enjoy the magazine with all its flaws and its evil reviewers. I understand that there are certain economic realities that necessitate certain things to be the way they are. I don't like it, but I understand it.

CECE
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Re: Audio Industry is evil

No highs, no lows must be BLOSE, I've called it BLOSE for a long time, really, was not a slip, was an on purpose....I have the Acoustic Wave system upstairs, I gave my daughter the wave radio. I run the Sirius now through the acoustic wave machine upstairs in the mornings for........Howard Stern, been listening to him since NBC AM days!!!! WU...nnnnnnnnnn B C. Pig Vomit. great movie too.

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Re: Audio Industry is evil


Quote:
Hi Wes,
<snip>
As far as the tube lines you mentioned, here's another example of reviewer's untrustworthiness. How does one recommend components that burn through tubes, that's unstable and has so many problems? That instability alone should have generated negative reviews in the press. Yet as you mentioned, the unstable line was as positively reviewed as the stable line.
<snip>

Many reviewers, having monthly deadlines, may not have experienced the tube churn I mentioned. However, customers and retailers who used the products for, say, six months did. If the reviewer didn't exprience the problem, he couldn't write about it. Not evil, just too small a smaple -- and another reason why a reliable dealer earns his nut. (And I should also mention that a reviewer who spends six months reviewing a product and then looks at a three month lead-time for publication will probably be accused by the readers of being too slow off the mark rather than thorough.)

However, I also have to say that, as a retail salesperson, I would run into customers who were so sure that my hard-earned and well-meaning advice was simply a ploy to "separate them from their money" that they talked themselves into products I thought completely unsuitable for them. Not bad products, but not solutions to their problems either. Was it dishonest of me to sell them what they "wanted" even if I knew they were going to take a hit when they later sold it used (or back to me for credit)?

We sold what we believed in -- to have stocked a line merely to sell against it would have been hypocritical and unfair to both the manufacturer and the customers who chose our "lesser" line. In what way is it dishonest to say "This is what we believe in and what we recommend?" That is what most first tier stores do -- and you did say that was what we are talking about isn't it?

CECE
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Re: Audio Industry is evil

I beleive VanAlstine transfers warranty to a 2nd owner, if ya let him know and stuff www.avahifi.com But then again, in over 10 years, I have NEVER had a warranty issue, all my AVA stuff has (knock on WHISPER WOOD) been flawless. Plus AVA has I think a 3 year wrranty on his new stuff, pretty good, considering he ain't over charging ya,he's selling $10,000 pre amps at mortal prices of a few thousand. Price, performance, warranty, that's why ya need AVA stuff. Years and years ago Advent got in trobule for price fixing at the selected dealers, they would not allow discounters to sell their stuff, only stores liek Sam Goody, selling at full sticker. I got lotsa lotsa stuff at Sound Reproduction in E. Orange N.J Back in the 70's, Was a great place, a warehouse, no frills best prices on Dyna, AR, SoundCraftsmen, KLH, etc...no Advents though, I had to pay full price at Sam Goody, no one wants to pay sticker, never.

CECE
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Re: Audio Industry is evil

Opt for an easy line of work...yupper, not selling the actual componet that needs design and engineering, sell.......W I R E..all it needs is some slick nonsensical made up BS advertising copy, and of course a "white paper" of "facts"....12,24,36,72 hike, yes just how high can that "bias" voltage go? As high as the easily DUPped will let it.

CECE
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Re: Audio Industry is evil

Have you "auditioned, or "test drove" any Sports Illustrated models lately? Coooooool. Did you test all "inputs"?

CECE
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Re: Audio Industry is evil

Did you use FEDEX? No....It doesn't exist yet...cool ad....STOMP!!!

CECE
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Re: Audio Industry is evil

His SHRINK told him years ago, take it easy, listen to some music at home...turns out, his SHRINK didn't know the source of his issues was MUSIC DELIVERY SYSTEMS/DEALERS!!! every time he turns on the stero, he becomes like The HULK, it infuirates him, he wants to destroy. He can't relax, for everything else there is Xanax, Paxil, Zoloft. Fa la la la la, happy happy happy, now wher eis my damn CD remote?

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Re: Audio Industry is evil


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Having grown up at the same time and the same area as Jesse Jackson, you'll surely understand that I have heard the cream of the crop of "victimization" rhetoric, but yours, Mr. AlexO, takes the cake. Your next step, if you follow Jesse"s model and if you are seeking more than just an audience for your carefully constructed rant, is to develop an effective shakedown. (Jesse lives very well, and hasn't had an honest job in his lifetime.) Given that there are fewer than 1500 of us reading these forum postings and not all of us find the victim label attractive, I doubt you'll be able to reach here the kind of power base needed to support effective boycotts etc.

Perhaps you might drop back a step or two from your current argument, and work first to establish the inalienable right of all citizens to acquire top line audio equipment, fully supported by both manufacturers and dealers, at rock bottom prices. You know how it goes from there -- government intervention to deal with those depriving you of your rights, etc. etc. If you can combine that approach with the direct shakedown of individual manufacturers and dealers, so much the better.

Good Luck with your campaign. Gotta sign off now, time to change the record. I realize I've given no attention to those evil reviewers who are making you so miserable, but the music calls.

Politics not withstanding, if I could create an arrangement where I would get paid for doing nothing, I would be the first one in line. Alas, that's not how things work and this forum is certainly not a vehicle for that.

My vantage point is that of a consumer. As a consumer, I demand the best quality for the lowest price with great service and support. As a consumer, I am perfectly aware of market forces and the tension of supply and demand as it pertains to product pricing. What I object to is the manufacturer's attempts to negate market forces with market partitioning, price fixing and collusion. I don't think my gripes are unreasonable.

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Re: Audio Industry is evil

Hi Wes,

Your choice to pick a product line and roll with it is fundamentally unfair to the consumers (I think) in that you've taken it upon yourself to make a choice for them, rather than allowing your customers to make a choice for themselves. Of course, there's a certain allowance for products that sell vs products that don't and products that don't sell will not be stocked by the stores. However, my point pertains more to making a choice of a particular line not because another line doesn't sell, but because the manufacturer of line A states in the contract that you're allowed to carry his line only if you don't carry competitive products from manufacturers B, C and D.

Of course, manufacturers B, C and D have the same provisions in their contracts as well. It is no coincidence why there is not a single dealer that carries Krell and Levinson lines.

As far as customers who didn't listen to your advice, that's their loss. They're entitled to make their own mistakes and you can only do the best that you can. As an honest retailer, you have fulfilled your feduciary duty. That's really all anyone can ask for.

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Re: Audio Industry is evil

Hi,AlexO,
Focusing on "tier 1" components to buttress your argument that today's high-end gear is overpriced is silly AND moot. In the '60's and '70's, the technology (R&D, materials analysis, acoustical analysis of the listening environment, computer modeling of every design parameter, lab space and equipment, and competent engineers to run the show, just to name a few of the elements of the quest to extend "state of the art") did not exist. That's almost like saying that the cost of a modern jetliner is a rip-off compared to a WW-1 biplane, or comparing the cost of a new Lexus to something Barney Oldfield drove. These costs of extending the state of the art are aimed at the state of the art CONSUMER, who in ANY era will underwrite ANY ultimate quest just for the pride of ownership. They don't get ripped off...they can AFFORD it. I know. I am one. When I splurged, I smiled when I wrote the checks. Nobody ripped me off. We are all bifurcated in this regard -- we'll fight you tooth and snarl for $10 worth of execution slide on a $500,000 market order, and go out that very evening and order a $900 Pomerol with dinner, drink half of it, leave it on the table, and piss the rest out the next morning (the '78 Petreus, by the way, is worth every cent, IF you can find one). It is PRECISELY in what you call "tier 2 and 3" that EVERYONE looks for value. That's the market norm. It is one bad synecdoche you use, here, to represent market norms with the LEAST representative sector of the market. "Value" always resides in a market context (check out the debate over Helen's value, between Priam, Hector, Paris, and Helenus in Act II, Scene ii of "Troilus and Cressida" if you want to see the issue exposed by a genius). I am a hundred times more proud of spending less than 15 grand on a system I couldn't even have DREAMED about 30 years ago at ANY cost, than I am of plunking down 100 large just to see what the state of the art would look and sound like in my new living room. The REAL market for today's best sound is ridiculously cheap when compared to
the REAL market of 1970, both arithmetically (i.e. measured against today's debased currency), and in terms of subjective value per unit of quality. Choosing a $200 thousand system of today as REPRESENTATIVE, in the overall high-end market, of dealer/reviewer/importer/manufacturer gouging across the board is patently ludicrous. Now, have a toddy, listen to some Haydn, settle in for some sweet(ahem)dreams, and by tomorrow morning you'll have forgotten you ever initiated this foray into the world of audiophile evil. Cheers, Clifton

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Re: Audio Industry is evil

Clifton,

Let me see if I understand you correctly: Are you saying that spending more for something you should have gotten for less for the sake of "pride of ownership" aka "bragging about overpayment" makes you happy? If that's so, to each his own. There is nothing that I can say to that. It seems that not only are you able to afford the stuff, but you relish in knowing that you're overpaying for it. That defies logic as I know it and the laws of this known universe.

Putting the price issue aside, are you just as happy about not being able to sample different lines of tier 1 products in the same store or are you just happy about buying anything as long as it has a certain marquee on it for the sake of status?

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Re: Audio Industry is evil

No, AlexO, you didn't understand correctly. Read it again. Test Friday. You don't slide "pride of ownership" into "bragging about overpayment." They are not the same. Pride of ownership, in this context, is being able and willing to afford the advanced forays into extending the state of the art, with all their inherent risks, and living with the tangible and intangible results. Nobody is bragging. If that is what you get, you don't read well. Or are you simply projecting? I don't "relish" overpaying, but accept the cost of going beyond the envelope (would you enjoy my putting words into your CPU?). Actually, I was disappointed, but the disappointment has nothing to do with the cash spent, as I have posted elsewhere. I'd do it again (and perhaps shall, if something different strikes my fancy). I have no regrets. That's one of the large differences between you and me. You would have whined and insisted on a refund, blaming the salesmen, the reviewers, and the evil manufacturer who tempted you. I knew the risks before I took the plunge, accepted the deal, and reflected on the outcome, much as I would have done with a losing trade in the markets. If you can't take risks and walk away when the results don't pan out, a)put your money in bank CD's, and b)never, ever consider going into the audio business. Clifton

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Re: Audio Industry is evil

What risks are you referring to? The way I see it, there shouldn't be any risks, or at least very minimal. As far as performance risks are concerned, the only risks are those of room acoustics. There's very little to be done about it unless you're able to demo the whole rig at your house prior to purchase. There shouldn't be any reliability issues because if there are, the product isn't ready for prime time and shouldn't have been brought to market.
What other risks are there?

You're right in that I would have demanded some sort of a remedy if I hadn't been satisfied with the performance of the rig. That's where buying from a dealer comes into play. This is the type of support that I expect for that kind of money. The remedy does not necessarily involve a refund, but it may involve swapping components, cables, room treatments, whatever it takes to make the thing sound the way it did in the showroom. BTW, I don't blame people who tempt me, I blame people who lie to me. So, if a salesman made claims that weren't true, then I would be off on a rampage. However, if I had been tempted into buying something and no one lied to me, then I have no one to blame but myself and I wouldn't blame anyone except myself.

I don't see purchasing a product equivalent to losing money on the market. Market investment is speculation, gambling of sorts. Buying a product, in a store, with an extensive audition does not have the element of speculation and risk. It's simply getting whatever you can for the least you can get it. Applying the market forces to a business deal. I have no problem with that. IT's the manipulation of these forces that get my goat.

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Re: Audio Industry is evil

Hi Clifton;

This topic really turned hot in a hurry, didn't it?

Small world re Absolute Audio; I had just started teaching electronics at Santa Ana College down at the other end of 17th street in 1978, and had just spent $800 for a Yamaha 125W integrated amp at Federated Group, when I wandered into Absolute Audio for the first time. I browsed and talked to Neil, and he said, "you don't really want that thing; I have a 25W unit for $200 that I guarantee will blow it away. After a home comparison, I bought that $200 unit (a NAD 3020), and got a full refund on the Yamaha.

I wonder how many people the NAD 3020 started on the road to audiophilia?

That was a start of a long relationship with them; I bought the Polk RTA 12 speakers from them shortly after the next CES when they were introduced (before that I had had the old Wharfedale W70 with the sand-filled 2-inch-thick back panels for 10 years or so...lol).

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Re: Audio Industry is evil

Hey, Alex; you just don't get it!
When a dealer sets up shop, he had to decide what product lines to carry; no way can he carry them all.
So, if he has any integrity (and good sense) he will try to pick the ones that offer good value for the money, so that his customers will be happy and come back for more business. If he doesn't make this "choice for the consumer" about what manufacturers offer the best products and/or value, he is doing his business no great service, and the customers even less.
How can an intelligent store owner operate any differently (unless, like some dealers, he just decides to carry the most expensive lines regardless of quality to pull in the suckers with more money than sense)?

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Re: Audio Industry is evil

AlexO,
Time for a recap, as you apparently want to drift the argument away from its original premises. You asserted that the high-end industry is "evil" because of manipulative and coercive practices among its main elements -- manufacturers, dealers, and reviewers. You used unnecessarily high pricing as one of the linchpins of your argument. When confronted with the obvious truth that the mainstream market for high-end components has actually become LESS expensive than it used to be, you divided the products into 3 "tiers," calling state-of-the-art "tier 1" and the rest "tier 2" and "tier 3." You then admitted that "tier 2" and "tier 3" components were, indeed, bargains when compared to decades-old products, when confronted on this point by JA. Then, in danger of being hoisted on your own petard, you tried to shift "tier 1" components to the forefront, suggesting THAT was where the "evil" lies, making "tier 1" somehow representative of the entire industry, when, in reality, the exact OPPOSITE is true. The rank and file that represent the majority of high end products ARE what you call "tier 2" and "tier 3," and no amount of chop-logic will ever make it otherwise. Dealers have to make a living selling components in the, say, $500-$3,000 range, systems in the $3,000-$20,000 range. It is a HUGE category (JA, correct me if I am wrong, but didn't you guys do a poll that discovered the majority of Stereophile readers own systems in the $15,000 range?). There is currently a thread running, in this section, where forum members are kicking around ideas for the ultimate $1,000 system, and some of these systems sound pretty damned good, from what I have personally heard of them in dealer showrooms. My point was that the no-holds-barred custormer was exceptional and unique: do any kind of marketing survey you want, but you will quickly find out that $200,000 systems don't go out the door once a week or even once a month. The customer in search of ultimate, cutting edge components IS unique. He IS a speculator, in a sense, and not an investor, a venture capitalist who, yes, is willing to accept extraordinary risk to be the first one there. Most of these types of components start out as prototypes, showcase products that weren't necessarily designed to be breadwinners. There are NO economies of scale, which is one reason why they are so hideously expensive. And, yes, if they fail to satisfy, there is a loss on the part of the customer, but not necessarily a TOTAL loss, as you seem so desperate to assert. If the effort fails, the manufacturer risks going out of business. When there is dissatisfaction, compromises ARE arranged and customers DO receive partial recompense. There is no "evil" at work here -- it's just the risks of the game. The industry benefits from this process because economies of scale set in when these "statement" products succeed, even if only PARTIALLY (some are, of course, wildly successful): new methods and technologies are discovered, and yesterday's state of the art becomes today's "tier 2" and "tier 3" product. Rank and file customers benefit because they get to own affordable products that were once thought out of reach. Alex, you sound terribly naive... or are you just pulling our chains? Every retail business goes through this process in broad outline, not just the "evil" high-end audio business. No amount of chop-logic and broad synecdochical reasoning can skew this one. This is a healthy, thriving industry that is competitive as all hell, and only the best business models survive. The high-end industry, with all its "evil" machinations (from the perspective of the naive or paranoid few), provides a UNIQUE and, yes, necessary service to all of us music lovers. Many of us dream of getting just a skosh closer to "live" sound in our living rooms this year than we could last year. And I think the industry as a whole does a pretty damned good job, manufacturer to reviewer to importer to dealer to consumer. It is not a perfect process, but it works, at ALL levels of the industry, and no amount of exaggerated labelling and flawed logic can twist it otherwise. This obsession with evil can only lead to ulcers and a bad headache, Alex -- play something soothing on your tunes machine, and be thankful to the industry that you have one. Find another crusade. Try religion, politics, or the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee, if you are so bent on excercising your powers of discerning "evil" at work behind the gears that move the universe. Cheers, Clifton

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Audio Industry is evil

I am very sorry, but if you want to talk about evil business models the audio industry is not even in the top 10.

You can start with big oil, then natural gas providers, the medical profession, (What doctor did you ever "negotiate" with for a better fee? Most people are lucky enough to have their employer partially subsidize their health care costs. A similar plan is not available for audio.). I think this is how we decided something for nothing is acceptable.

I would then next add your local grocer, unless you argue with the check out person and tell them that unless you get 10% off they can just go put it all back on the shelf. How about your clothing retailer? You argue with him as well for a discount? I doubt that now that gas is at $3/gal people are going to be "price shopping" like they once did.

This whole argument of just because you think you deserve a discount, or find some dealer who is a poor business man and does not even value his inventory or demo abilities, and you want to make everything in life a commodity, is so tiresome. I do not think that Class A or B Stereophile rated products are commodities. A Sony STR-DE197 receiver for $150, is. That is why it is a Best Buy.

Was it not John Marks who once remarked that in life you can love things or love people, but it is very hard to do both.

Buying site unseen is what the internet is all about, not wasting a dealer's time and talent demoing what you know you are going to buy elsewhere. If you feel good about this then we agree to disagree about relationships, business or otherwise.

It is amazing to me that many who claim to be audiophiles think this hobby is nothing more than "commodity trading". I have always gotten much more enjoyment out of every piece of audio gear at any price that I have owned, by far. I have never had buyer's remorse.

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Re: Audio Industry is evil

What Jim said. If you don't place any value on what a dealer offers, don't insult him by asking him to compete with non-dealer prices and don't expect him to furnish you the gear for your buying decisions.

I've met a fair amount of very good and very bad salesmen in every profession. But, I can honestly say I've never bought anything from anybody that wasn't able to make me like them first.

It can be really, really hard to like most salesmen. Selling is one of the easiest things in the World to do if you have the right motivation and one of the most unenjoyable professions if you don't.

What could be more fun than helping people figure out what they need and want and then getting paid for it? Yes, I've been in Sales for most of my adult life and I dig the [censored] out of it.

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Re: Audio Industry is evil


Quote:
Most of the high-end manufacturers I've visited are proud of their products and intensely loyal to their workers. I've never seen a minimum-wage line-slave at a high-end facility. Workers tend to be well-compensated and I'd bet that health insurance and penison plans there tend to be better than in most fields.

This is an interesting point you make, Wes. (Sorry the system logged you out.)

I try to visit as many audio manufacturers as possible. When I last visited Wilson Audio in Utah, for example, I was impressed by how well Dave and Sheryl Lee Wilson treat their employees. Of course, the generous benefits package enjoyed by Wilson employees contributes to the retail price of every Wilson speaker, and I would be interested in hearing AlexO's thoughts on this.

Does, for example, he appreciate the respect the Wilsons pay their employees? Or would he rather the Wilsons slash employee salaries and benefits in order to pass the cost savings on to their customers? If the latter, of course, then it is probable that the quality of the Wilson products would also suffer, but does AlexO feel that would be worth the reduction in price?

AlexO casually throws out words like "evil" and "price gouging," and "excessive profits," but I am not sure he appreciates the realities of manufacturing or retailing.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Re: Audio Industry is evil

Hello all,

This has been and hopefully will continue to be one heck of an entertaining discussion.

However, there is one voice which has not yet been heard and I believe may have some interesting things to say on this subject. I'm referring to Stereophile's own Michael Fremer, who has written extensively about the relationship of high end audio with regard to other "high end" lifestyle pursuits such as fine automobiles, watches, art or wine. Perhaps others would be so kind as to post some links to these musings in the Stereophile website's archives?

By the way, Clifton, your prose is most excellent. I don't quite understand how Alex keeps on coming back for more but it's great fun to follow along.

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Re: Audio Industry is evil

It is clear, that you don't think your gripes are unreasonable. My problem is that at a time when audio equipment, at all price levels, is infinitely better than it ever has been you can't engage in celebration instead of joining in the current trend of whining about everything. Constant whining is disgusting. Do you also believe that some evil forces are at work to put Bentleys out of your price range?

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Re: Audio Industry is evil

Hi, Jazzfan,
Thank you for the wonderful compliment. Because the internet seems to encourage bad writing (fragments, confusing sytax, strange abbreviations, etc.) in its quest for information compression, I was somewhat surprised when I discovered so much good writing when I first tuned in to this forum. I enjoy the prose of just about everyone who contributes here, including your own. Most of the forum denizens are obviously thoughtful and extremely well-educated. I enjoy reading them all! I just scored a Pablo 3-record box set at Rockaway Records ("Return to Happiness": Jazz At The Philharmonic -- Yoyogi National Stadium, Tokyo, 1983. Pablo 2620-117) and your handle reminded me to grab a cold one and see how she runs! Happy listening, Clifton.

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Re: Audio Industry is evil

Hi, Commsysman,
The NAD 3020 and the original Polks. Wow. I talked a friend of mine into buying that very system. Many savvy veterans of the hobby (including a few reviewers) bought more expensive power amplifiers and used the 3020 as a preamp, in what were otherwise very expensive systems. I can remember Neil running the 3020 with a top-of-the line Audio Research power amplifier (forget which one...but I remember the little NAD humpin' away, directing the traffic to a couple of Beveridge speakers that were priced into the outer ether -- ain't THAT a hoot!). The combo sounded better than it did with a very expensive Threshold preamp, as I recall. I remember the first Brystons there, too. Remember the Martin-Logan electrostatic hybrids at Havens and Hardesty? We must be gettin' old...but it sure as hell beats the alternative, eh? When I was working for Paine-Webber, I taught part-time at Santa Ana College. Those were very good times. Thanks for rooting out the memories! Cheers, Clifton.

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Re: Audio Industry is evil

To whomsoever it may concern;

Cars. I love cars. As well as motorcycles, trucks, buses, semi-tractors, and damn near anything else you can propel across land or water with a an internal combustion propulsion source. And because I love them so, I couldn't let one hell of a bad analogy go. I tried, I waited, I mused, I walked the dog, but it's just so bad, that to me, it is indicative of all the flaws in all of AlexO's reasoning.


Quote:
The analogy of test driving a car does not apply when listening to various hi-fi components. When you test drive a car, you're sampling the entire package. That car is it. Hence, you don't need to be able (although it would be nice) to test it at the same dealership. In order to be able to sample the differences of components,

Bull. Pure ignorance. Bad debate. When you test drive a car you are testing a package picked out from an untold number of options that the manufacturer made to meet price, performance and market factors. Is the tire set that you get with a brand new Ford Focus the best tire in the world? Could changing it completely transform the experience of driving that Ford Focus? You better believe it. And that's just one of a thousand components you will find auto enthusiasts arguing about and upgrading on their cars.

And that's just the

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To whomsoever it may concern;

I change crap on my cars all the time. I like to think of Dell as my personal

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Re: Audio Industry is evil


Quote:
I just have to know, how does one tweak a dog?

Your dog is the same as when you brought it home? Yeesh. If you give them treats when they do things that you want them to, they tend to repeat those behaviors. Plus, it's fun to chase them around the house with a shop-vac during shedding season.

For the more extreme dog tweekers, I recommend "Bark" for the ads in the back. The number of times that magazine has tempted me to buy a settee for my hound is ridiculous.

Or, in anecdotal form, Once a couple were visiting and my dog wouldn't quit harassing the husband. When he said I needed to keep working with the dog, his wife replied,

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Re: Audio Industry is evil

Wonko,

Perhaps I didn't make myself clear. Having owned and trained several dogs, I know full well about "software" tweaks, but I was referring to "hardware" tweaking, e.g. something like new ears or a different tail.

The image just of you (although I've never met you) standing over your dog (who I've also never met) with a wrench in hand, bolting on a new body part somehow just cracks me up.

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Re: Audio Industry is evil

Gol-ding it, that was me. Sorry.

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Re: Audio Industry is evil

Clifton,

I have indeed made a mistake in my original post by not specifying Tier 1 products and companies as the target of my rant. I tried to rectify that in subsequent posts, but apparently, my qualifiers have fallen on deaf ears.

There are a number of issues that seem to have fallen through the cracks. Namely:

1. Partitioning of the market. Exclusivity agreements prevent dealers from carrying the same manufacturer in a 50 mile radius.

2. Wes' example of a dealer carrying the Krell and Levinson lines is the only example I've ever encountered. I had been told by a dealer that exclusivity agreements prohibit this. Perhaps these agreements have changed within the last 5 years.

3. Non-transferable warranties. As I've previously stated, there is no good argument for this except to discourage quick sale of the components.

4. Agreements prohibiting dealers from selling certain lines to customers outside their "region". My bet is that I would be unable to contact Wes' reference dealer and ask him to sell me a Krell component due to contractual restrictions.

5. Your argument of a risk involved in purchasing a top tier component makes absolutely no sense to me.

6. If we take JM Lab's Utopia line for example, there is absolutely no reason that I can see why their Grand Utopia should run $85k while their Nova Utopia should run $35k where the difference between the two is the extra woofer on the Grand Utopia. The cabinet is the same as the speaker configuration, etc or why their next model down the line should be half the price of the Nova Utopia. The whole pricing structure smells. Furthermore, consider this: What type of materials, labor or R&D can possibly go into a speaker design to make it cost more than an average car or even an average expensive car? Unless they get their wood from Mars, there's NO justification for it. Not in the least bit.

Wes,

Have you worked for stores that sold Tier 1 product lines? I've yet to meet a Tier 1 dealer that I thought was worth anything as a human being, much less as someone worthy of my business. If you know of any in NY area, please let me know. I'd love to meet one.

Jim,

As I've stated in my original post, I agree that in the grand scheme of things, the audio industry is a non-issue when it comes to all things evil. Please take everything that I say within the context of the microcosm of audiophilia.

Your analogies don't quite apply. Grocery stores all stock the same items. Hence, if I don't like the price of one, there's no contractual agreement that says that I can't buy my cornflakes within a 50 mile radius. Furthermore, my investment in cornflakes does not constitute a substantive cash outlay, which makes me much more immuned to machinations within that industry.

Regarding commodities, high end audio is a commodity like any other. Yes, it stands head and shoulders above "consumer" grade equipment. It is also head and shoulders more expensive than consumer grade equipment. Even Tier 2 and 3 products. However, just because high end audio is better and more expensive, doesn't mean it's not a commodity. It's the same commodity with a narrower appeal. It's a niche market.

Re: John Mark's article, John Marks is evil. Seriously though, I completely disagree with John's sentiment in that article. I was very tempted to write a letter to the editor replying to that specific article, but I never got around to it. As far as loving people vs loving things, I love people just fine. I simply draw the line at loving people who are trying to put the screws to me.

John,

You bring up a very good point regarding treating one's workers well vs cheaper products. Frankly, I'm very torn when it comes to that. It is very important to me that the products are not manufacturered in sweat shops and that the people who work there are treated well and are well compensated. It is also very important to me that products are reasonably priced. I have difficulty reconciling the two opposing paradigms. Perhaps if the products were more reasonably priced, more of them would sell and the economy of scale would kick in and the two paradigms would get reconciled.

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Re: Audio Industry is evil

I miss DUP.

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ROFLMAO!

RG

gkc
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Re: Audio Industry is evil

This issue has been equivocated to the point of exhaustion. On to the music! Clifton

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Ah, the nature of good and evil.

Hi-Fi cannot contain evil - it is too trivial a pursuit.

Hi-Fi is a luxury, like fine wine, fine art, fine womens, etc...

As such, things that are "fine" carry price tags that are as close to "pure" as anything in the capitalist marketplace.

Oil companies are evil. They control a necessary item and collude to guarantee each other's profit margins.

Red voters are evil - sorry to state such an obvious example - they collude to try and take control of your body and bedroom.

Tiffany, Wilson Audio, Fendi, Lamborghini, Cardas, Maybach, Gucci, Continuum, Prada, Ferrari, all those makers of luxury items - not evil. They only affect your life if you allow them to. How much less obtrusive could they be? Definitely not evil.

Vile, maybe. Aloof, self absorbed, self congratulatory, self indulgent, cliquish, all that stuff, but not evil.

Tier 1 products are Paris Hilton - useless to society at large, given more credit than they deserve, unable to function effectively outside of a narrow performance range, lusted after purely because they are expensive (but available to any yay-hoo with the scratch to want one... ...), covered with enough cosmetic trickery to insinuate themselves into the category of "elite" despite having glaring flaws that would not be tolerated in the non-luxury market, etc...

Wavac and Audio Note are not evil. Like Paris, they are just well placed in the luxury market.

The high end is incapable of being evil, it is way too expendable, frivolous, socially irrelevant, and lacking in both narrow and broad impact to qualify as evil.

Complaining about Tier 1 products in the marketplace is akin to caring about how Tiffany prices a diamond ring or the mark-up on a Rolex - about as important, good, evil, or significant as who Angelina Jolie is screwing this week or whether some starlet is eating anything except some producer's seed.

Butwait (butt weight) there's more...

Tier 1 products in any marketplace are fascinating: Could it actually be the Tier 1 buyer is the one who is "evil?"

If Donald Trump walks into a gallery and says, "Where are your five most expensive paintings? I'll take all five, sight unseen. Well, the five most expensive that go with my Louis XIV furniture. Please deliver them to my condo..."

Is The Donald now an art collector?

Is the drunken trust fund idiot who's learned the word "Petrus" and demands it while playing high limit Baccarat a wine connoisseur?

Nope.

Is someone whose first experience in Hi-Fi a trip into an audio "salon" for a Tier 1 million dollar system an audiophile?

I would say, "No."

The average Tier 1 system is most likely sold to someone with more money than ears who only knows how to ask which item is the most expensive.

Tier 1 is more a Paris Hilton thing than a Harvey Rosenberg thing.

Perhaps the evil lies within consumers who buy for the wrong reason.

But that's a little too obtuse.

How about we just say that Tier 1 products are "accessories" and relax.

Don't get mad at Tier 1, it keeps Hi-Fi entertained in the way Eva Longoria keeps people waiting in grocery lines informed about current events and fitness.

Tier 1 is a lifestyle, an affectation, form over substance.

Tier 1 is too insignificant in the broader world (or even our little Hi-Fi world) to qualify as evil.

It's Tier 6 that's evil - rack systems were evil. Walls of crap gear at every major electronic retailer are evil. Someone being fooled into buying WalMart branded gear as "Hi-Fi" is evil.

Evil is available to everyman, and leads him down the path to complacency instead of striving to listen and learn.

Taking money from the poor stupid man and fooling him into thinking he received value is evil. Doing the same thing to a stupid rich man is a public service.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Audio Industry is evil

Quote:
Regarding commodities, high end audio is a commodity like any other. Yes, it stands head and shoulders above "consumer" grade equipment. It is also head and shoulders more expensive than consumer grade equipment.
Even Tier 2 and 3 products. However, just because high end audio is better and more expensive, doesn't mean it's not a commodity. It's the same commodity with a narrower appeal. It's a niche market.

Definition:

1 : an economic good: as a : a product of agriculture or mining b : an article of commerce especially when delivered for shipment <commodities futures> c : a mass-produced unspecialized product <commodity chemicals> <commodity memory chips>

I believe that "commodity" is something mass produced which, I believe, most if not all of the Class A and B Stereophile gear would NOT be included in. If you bought a Bose Wave Radio is that a commodity or something else? I know what I think it is. At $600 most other audiophiles do as well.

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