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="">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?

Larry Solom's picture

The manufacturer in question charged a huge, huge increase of many tiimes over the original cost, without making any improvements, while implying significant improvements had been made.

not funny's picture

It proves the power of online communities. Other than that, I feel bad for the poor, stupid exec at Lexicon who gave the green light for what became devastating backspatter. Let's face it, Lexicon did so because they couldn't sell enough of their own to justify development costs. I doubt they will sell more of any products. I'd like to have the opinion of some Lexicon dealers, though.

totalaudio's picture

It's almost a crime to all high-end customers who want to invest real money in real high-end equipment.

Poor Audiophile's picture

Somehow it seems cheesy to me. I'm not ready to say that those who do this are running a scam. Then again, maybe they are!

David L.  Wyatt jr.'s picture

How do you know what standards of construction were employed? While is true that not all mass-market gear is junk, I don't want to waste time auditioning a component just because of the name on it. Re-badging that way simply cheapens the brand name.

John Doe's picture

I don't like it because most of the high-end manufacturers don't add much except a nice milled aluminum front, but don't really know or have much control over the bits they resell. The Pioneer-based, so-called high-end DVD players are a good example, because the kits all had the chroma bug to one degree or another, but Pioneer used to be the only company that sold customizable kits.

Ryan's picture

Without a clear explanation of any improvements made over the original product, the only result is the consumer is misled.

ACF's picture

It's roughly similar to purchasing a Shelby Cobra instead of a Mustang. A nice-enough car, which is lots of fun and in no danger of giving a Porsche or a Ferrari a run for the money. Why not?

Lee M.'s picture

It seems that high-end audio companies have no expertise on the digital side when it comes to decoding chips. So to play in the digital world (computer-stored music), high-end audio has no choice but to catch-up with mass-market digital chips by using them as a platform. Mass-market digital has come so far in recent years, it's scary!

Pete's picture

It's a rip-off when there is no change other than the front cover. But there is nothing wrong when another manufacturer's unit is modified and sold under another name. How is this any different than millions of CD/DVD transports that manufacturers have outsourced for years to put in their own players?

George Hook's picture

I'm not too crazy about lying.

Mark Hughes.'s picture

The name on the outside of the component should automatically convey that the thing was made by that company, in the country where they are based. Anything else is deception.

David H's picture

I have bought Lexicon equipment thinking that it was an elite product, only to see it cheapen its appeal and probably its residual value. No one will take it seriously anymore.

Chris L, NYC's picture

I like it because a product is more than one part, it's the sum of the parts, ie, how they are used and implemented. Some manufacturers may use the component(s) more intelligently and successfully. If a component is already in use, there is proof of concept and real-world testing built in—this will save more in R&D costs, even if there is a mark-up by the borrowing manufacturer. Saturating the market with the best technology will raise benchmark standards and drive prices lower. In the long run, it increases competition and benefits the consumer. Consistently cutting-edge manufacturers will continue to be rewarded with more market share.

FB's picture

I feel I'm being ripped off. No added value except the appearance.

Jim's picture

It depends. I would be very upset to have a brew-pub re-badge a McDonald's Hamburger as their own, but if I ordered a coffee, I wouldn't mind even if I paid $1 more than what it would cost at Starbucks. It's okay for manufacturers to share raw parts (caps, resisters, ICs, tubes, etc) but if they are using the same implementation of the raw components, then the joke is on us.

Jim Tavegia's picture

A customer can have a brand loyalty and get scammed into spending thousands more the the original product from the main supplier. I know that the circuit board for a low-cost phono preamp ended up in a number of different cases with different names, but because they were all under $200 who would really want to pitch a fit? If one laid claim that one was better than the other, now we have an issue.

Mark Miller's picture

Since this is news to me, I really can't comment on it; however, if this is really happening, it should be illegal.

Andy T's picture

That's what one normally calls a subterfuge or deceit.

Angry Old Man's picture

I like getting angry at issues I don't completely understand.

G.  Wilburn's picture

If the price is increased out of proportion to value added, it's a bad deal, and, it could be argued, the manufacturer is misrepresenting his product.

Rique's picture

The mass-market components are good enough for them to use. When word comes out, you can locate the cheaper source and benefit. Let the manufacturers do the testing.

-S-'s picture

I have no problem if there are real upgrades, but a simple re-badging is ridiculous.

Jon's picture

It seems like my entry ticket to a class-action lawsuit.

B Weiss's picture

Lost a lot of respect for Lexicon this past week—and gained a ton for Oppo.

MrBlues's picture

It is a total rip-off and a shame: Not only are "high-end" companies now assembling their products abroad, but they are using the most critical parts/components from other companies, basically using nicer looking casing, maybe better internal cabling, fancy-named bogus proprietary DAC technology, etc. (Let's not forget the infamous hypnotic glowing blue light) And then raising the price several fold while only offering a one or two year warranty. What a joke. Despite being aware of Veblen's (1899) "conspicuous consumption" concept, I am still surprised that people with a brain (and ears on each side) can accept this and pay that much for so little (more). Now that the $499 Oppo is listed as Stereophile Class A+ (is a new category A++ coming up for the 83SE?), I don't see what's left for Ayre, Lexicon, Theta, etc.

Steve's picture

You can leverage certain aspects of a large company's engineering qualities, such as disc drives.

Mike Johnson's picture

If sincere changes have been made to significantly improve the product—say by adding tubes to an already fine CD player—fantastic. Just admit to as much, instead of placing the whole chassis of the old product in your nice billet aluminum case. A disc transport alone is fine without credit. But not the entire product.

Jack McCulugh's picture


Jerry's picture

The practice constitutes fraud and is a classic example of the conceited arrogance of the industry.