How do you feel when high-end audio manufacturers use mass-market components as the basis for their own products?

How do you feel when high-end audio manufacturers use mass-market components as the basis for their own products?
I like it because . . .
14% (48 votes)
I don't like it because . . .
78% (274 votes)
I have no idea
9% (31 votes)
Total votes: 353

Recently, there has been a on-line furor over an audio manufacturer having supposedly re-badged another manufacturer's component as its own (with a sweeping price increase). This <A HREF="http://forum.stereophile.com/forum/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=80790">prac... has been going on for years: Some high-end audio manufacturers have always taken mass-market components and used them as the basis for their own products. How do you feel about this?

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COMMENTS
Nathan Daniels's picture

It shows that there isn't always a direct correlation of price and performance, and that sometimes buying a product because of the name-badge isn't worth it.

Mark's picture

Qualifying response: Just as in almost all industries these days, there are only a handful of actual manufacturers. If a company uses another company's product as a base (through an agreement) to benefit from economies of scale, than I don't see a problem. Otherwise it would be like saying, because several A/V processor manufacturers that use the same scaler chip-set all are clones. However, if a company does nothing more than re-badge, without adding any value, than I think that could potentially be misrepresenting their product. At the end of the day, it's up to the buyer to determine what is of value to him/her individually. Otherwise, we might as well just have the government tell us what is okay for us to have and just make one product.

Jussi's picture

Any ambitious company should try to excel by making the designs themselves. This re-badging stinks so much of just making money, it hurts.

Larry's picture

What exactly would I be paying for? Can you say rip-off?

AJSchmidt at mac dot com's picture

Okay, so top dollar is the game, but the bottom basement is the product? If people only knew that LG made 98% of all LCD panels on the planet. And that B&O is only a Philips in a dress. And HK is JBL. And, well, digital is digital, and there is no better digital.

Rahul Lobo's picture

It's cheating. Absurd, lazy, greedy, being pig-headed, and it is plagiarism.

StellanH's picture

It is a healthy sign if a manufacturer is competitive in several price ranges. Then they probably know what they are doing. However, re-badging other products and selling by badge hype is a sign of the opposite: very sick business.

F.  Donker Duyvis's picture

You have to have a good feeling about your investment. The company should show that they put some effort in at least improving the equipment and care about the customer.

Julien Goodwin's picture

When there are no actual changes (which is the claim in this case), then it's very close to fraud.

Nathan Rader's picture

If the manufacturer can save by using mass-market products, they can invest more elsewhere.

Erik S's picture

It really depends on the mark-up and the benefit. If it's just a faceplate, no. If it's custom electronics, maybe, but this new world is extremely value conscious and information savvy. You can't expect to put in $5 worth of parts and make it a $20k piece of kit unless your only customers are employees of JP Morgan

Steve R's picture

More often than not, the sound of the product doesn't hold up the the quality of what you would expect from a high-end audio manufacturer.

David's picture

I'm being ripped off! No R&D overhead, no R&D even!

Nodaker's picture

It's BS. Why should we pay another manufacturer to put their badge on it. That's akin to plagiarism. Or better yet, why not take a Beatles album, put a new band label on it and call it your own? Wouldn't get far, would you?

Mike's picture

I feel that many manufacturers of at least the amplifiers do just that anyway: use the same cheap, uninspired circuits like everybody else, add a thick metal case and sell it for premium prices. Re-badged components are the ultimate expression of this idea. Scam!

Austin's picture

When I buy a piece of gear, it's nice to think that some creative thinking went into it, not just creative marketing. As the owner of a company that makes audiophile footers, turntable mats, etc, I do believe that the tweaks some manufacturers make a difference. But one can get similar improvements in a much more cost-effective way by experimenting with different footers and power conditioners—not to mention simply optimizing speaker positioning. But if the brand is all important, then yes, I can see why some people would pay more just to avoid an Oppo component with their "high-end" gear.

C.  Healthgut, M.D., FACS's picture

Unfortunately, completely propriety high-end audio design is a rare commodity; however, there are a handful of companies that play to their own beats. Proprietary and original ideas/designs ought to be rewarded in the marketplace.

DavePage's picture

It's fraud.

Ricky's picture

It blurs the line between what is considered high-end (exclusive) and mass-market (readily available). It also diminishes the value of those high-end components.

Jimbo's picture

Snake oil.

luke's picture

It is a not so subtle sign of how good often derided "mass-market products" really are, and how little boutique brands have to offer on their own, beyond marketing gimmicks and sky-high prices. That said, it's the consumer who is willing to pay up who's really taken for a ride here.

Ron's picture

It's fine as long they add some value and is not a simple repackaging.

Larry's picture

It sucks, like buying a Pinto disguised as Yugo.

RonTaylor's picture

Brand names have value. If a brand chooses to incorporate another manufacturer's product(s) into their device, it should be noted by the brand, that the addition(s) and any improvements that may be implemented is to increase the performance, hence an increase in value. We all have seen other brands boast of using other brand components in their A/V devices. I won't list because most A/V folk know what I am writing about. When a brand chooses to take another manufacturers brand and simply "re-names, re-brands, re-jackets" that manufacturer's device without stating any factual improvements, other than pure cosmetics, that simply is wrong from a true value philosophy. Although it is not wrong legally, it totally violates the value of the brand. And the trust of which is has earned, is now very much in need of repair. This really comes to down to caveat emptor. Most of my purchases have been made by researching websites, blogs, and reviews. When paying any amount of money, (we're talking principle here) the buyer should always be aware of where he is putting his money. Not every purchase is perfect, but if you spend a little time looking, you can reduce your risk.

JCL's picture

It compromises the integrity of the product as well as the justification for the price.

fourD's picture

It looks like a fraud in the sense that the company does not state the pedigree of the device. Yet the mark-up is steep! We actually count on magazines to reveal the story behind claims. Audio journalists have a big role to play here!

DustyC's picture

It might have been going on for years, but this particular example of "cribbing" was pretty outrageous. Maybe Stereophile should start publishing interior shots of the item under review so we can determine.

Tim's picture

If it is done with honorable intentions, a healthy dose of knowledge, and true advancement, then it can work out very well, especially for digital disc spinners. Example; most early high-end CD-players were based upon standard Philips models (Meridian, Cambridge, etc). Some of those players were really only harvested for their drive and display/logics parts, with all else new. The best examples were the Cambridge players; extremely musical machines! Others added clocks, etc, to good commercial players from Pioneer, also to good effect. Re-badging and bumping price, however, has nothing to do with the goal of supplying honest products.

Lionel's picture

When a manufacturer takes a product and actually improves it (or at least actually changes it), that's one thing. The Lexicon/Oppo thing is another. So is some of the cable nonsense.

Hans's picture

Usually the value upgrade is not in line with the increase in price.

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