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

Stereophile's picture
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 practice 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?
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
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Comments
cazz's picture

As long as it is disclosed like the re-badging of Oppo's universal player.

Jason Sallies's picture

An integrated or systems approach is almost always better than trying to adapt a design to do something it wasn't made for.

Richard's picture

It's just a con of the public.

Roscoe Coltrain's picture

It's just fraud, plain and simple. They increase the price and the gullible jump at the chance to buy it. Sad!

Casey's picture

Strikes me as fraudulent.

Michael's picture

It adds to the perception that we who love this "hobby" are complete morons.

Alex The Droog's picture

Much of what is being debated here are cases where "manufacturers" are basically re-skinning (or "badge-engineering") mass-market products without appreciable attempts to raise performance, yet charge a massive premium for basic cosmetic work. This practice is most deplorable. It is like buying a Ferrari and finding it is a Yugo in drag! There are some high-end manufacturers who also use commercial mass-market products but drastically alter them in electronic and performance terms as well as optics. If what was done is sufficiently disclosed, I think that practice is perfectly legit and often necessary. So, as long as the basis relates to the final product in the same way as is the case with custom motor bikes and cars, I may not like it, but accept it. If it is just sticking a "Dominator X" badge on the front and charging seven times more, I would suggest that the result borders on outright fraud and deserves a swift noga in the yarbles.

CEO in another industry's picture

Not to rain on the "calling 'em out parade" but all transports are OEM'ed as are the DACs as well. I knew a DAC company where the chip manufacturer provided the whole circuit and all the boards. Even PS suggestions. When there were failures in the field, the company couldn't troubleshoot because they didn't do the engineering, they just replaced the whole board. In the current situation, the accused, IMO, blundered. They certainly have the means to at least order from the OEM a re-engineered layout. I would hold the product manager responsible and would treat this as a serious situation, if I were the CEO. If high-end companies didn't rely on OEM engineering we would have no "better-sounding" DACs or transports.

Paul Lester's picture

Class A without the stigma of low cost.

Reed Hellmann's picture

It really makes no difference. Audio engineers have been doing this anyway throughout the years, consulting to several companies. How is this different than the same design with a different "skin"?

Salman Kazim's picture

While it's fine-tuned and gives good performance, the huge mark-up in price is astronomical and, really, tyrannical

KRB's picture

All it does is cheapen your brand. I can bet you Lexicon won't be on the top of my shopping list any time soon.

richard's picture

It is a cheap idea for high-end products.

Nidri's picture

At the kind of prices we're charged for high-end equipment, it's perfectly fair to expect some original/proprietary engineering solutions. If all they're going to do is a little tweaking/modding (& aluminum-faceplate-adding of course), then we may as well turn to modding expert a la Modwright, who are at least open about what it is that they do.

Dimitris Gogas's picture

The price hike is rarely relevant to the "improvements" made by the second manufacturer.

johjima's picture

It is cheating!

Anonymous's picture

It verges on fraud.

Juan Hitters's picture

They are cheating the consumer.

Anonymous's picture

It is an obvious rip-off!

Paul's picture

It does not say a lot about the hi-fi industry, does it? It does not say a lot about the consumers and reviewers who believe they can hear differences with the high-end products, either.

Ben's picture

It makes us all look like a bunch of idiots when we say how much better they sound.

CharlyD's picture

Mass market products are often feature-rich and very reliable. I have no difficulty with high-end vendors utilizing these products as the core of their own offerings. The pricing, however, needs to be commensurate with the real value added. Multiples of 2-3 over the pricing for the mass-market price should be the max.

Wes's picture

I seem to recall that my Optimus (Radio Shack) 10-cd changer from the early 90s was the exact same as the Carver unit for a fourth the price. But Carver cartridges were half the price of the Radio Shack ones.

Brian Bush's picture

I approve ONLY if the secondary manufacturer is completely honest about the nature of the upgrade, e.g., documentation of reasoning and methods, and makes specific claims of enhanced performance which can then be reasonably evaluated by the audiophile community.

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