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?

Pete's picture

Just as with all aspects of perfectionist audio, the devil is in the details. There are many component parts that small manufacturers simply cannot create from scratch, not to mention the licensing fees that can be required that are prohibitive unless thousands upon thousands of units are being produced. To take a third-party component, use the 15-20% that is required, and then rebuild the entirety based upon high-performance principles are fine. To drop a nearly unchanged component into a fancy box and charge a premium price is not. To get a glimpse at the comprehensive rebuilt/improvement a high-performance company can bring to the table, check out this thread:

Steve (ex buyer of high end)'s picture

Why not just come out and say, "We based our SuperDuper XX special, on the lowly Walmart every day ... but we had it blessed by Tibetan Monks, who live only on organic greens harvested by blind eunuchs." To me it's fraud, pure and simple. As P. T. Barnum said, "There's a sucker born every minute."

Mike Agee's picture

I checked "have no idea", it being closest to my honest answer which would be "it depends." If it is done like the AH! Njoe Tjoebe unit that Upscale markets, an openly modded Marantz (I believe), then it's great. If they do nothing but change the faceplate and/or do no mods and do not make real and potential buyers aware of it, it is fraud. Please give us more names, if it has been done for years. I was aware of companies openly modding mass-market units, I was unaware of outright fraud.

Scott Aronian's picture

It puts a greater burden on the consumer to decipher true value, as pricing becomes arbitrary.

Glenn Bennett's picture

They make claims that are hard to believe, but there will always be a few people dumb enough to lay out their money. Looks like there is still a sucker born every minute.

Emilio's picture

What are you supposed to be paying for?

Sammy's picture

It reeks of a scam.

Olivier's picture

Customer deception of this sort should be prosecuted.

Vinh's picture

It makes me look like an idiot for spending more money than I should. If you're gonna cheat, at least put some effort and make the product a little different.

Geoff's picture

I have no idea because I'm still in shock over the massive fraud and/or negligence perpetrated upon us by investment firms, banks, insurers, government regulators, auto companies, credit card companies,etc. Many of these institutions even had the gall to take government funds in times of massive deficit spending to keep the larceny and compensation bonuses going. Since the super-rich are growing even more super rich on the backs of the shrinking American worker, is it any surprise they need more bling-y audio toys to satisfy their never-ending needs for more, more, more?

ian's picture

Unless the upgrades are substantial, I might as well buy the lower-end piece anyway. Better value and you're not getting a fake.

ScrewULexicon!'s picture

It really shows how hi-fi prices can be boosted due to manufacturers overstating the performance of their products. I was a skeptic before this, and I'm even more of a skeptic now.

Michael's picture

It wasn't the "basis" for anything other than a con by Lexicon, which calls the entire High End into question.

OvenMaster's picture

General Motors pulled the same stunt 20 years ago, putting Cadillac Cimarron badges on Chevy Cavaliers. That blew up in their faces because buyers were too smart to fall for the BS. Audio should be no different.

david's picture

It's dishonest. And if the review world has turned a blind eye or ear to this practice, then shame on you.

Kevin's picture

It just feels like a rip-off. In many cases, the high-end manufacturer simply changes some caps and/or adds an analog output-stage board, and raises the price from say $500 to $5000. Insane.

TW's picture

With the expensive price, it is a disgusting practice of management.

Paul Jeffery's picture

Manufacturers do not pass the cost-savings on to customers.

Fed Up's picture

You mean, like Abarth, who take a Fiat 500 and make a sports car out of it? Or Lexicon, who take an Oppo player and make an Oppo player out of it? Or Virtual Dynamics who turned a garden hose into a garden hose with wires in it—and still manages to get good reviews out of the concoction?

Adi's picture

These sort of practices debase the very essence of the design and innovation that goes in to the making of high-performance gear. It just shows how some brands try to capitalize on their once-begotten brand-value alone.

Average Joe's picture

It's short-changing a paying customer.

Robert Klute's picture

It's fraudulent! And if it has been "going on for years," it is the responsibility of the special interest publications like Home Theater and Stereophile to identify these manufacturers. And audio cosumers also need to better educate themselves technically and be on the lookout for this sort of fraud.

pete's picture

It is a dishonest practice.

rvance's picture

It can be a cost-effective way of building a better performing product. Like a Shelby Mustang or a Callaway Corvette (maybe those aren't such good examples of cost-effective). But it must produce results and not just be a "trailer queen." Manufacturers run the risk of jeopardizing their rep if it's done cosmeticlly or without recognizable improvement.

rastanearian's picture

I think they should have just kept their mouths shut about it. I mean, all they did was beef up the power supply, put a different faceplate on it, and increase the price by a factor of six! They couldn't even see fit to change the manual. Maybe they think their honesty will win us over, but it just confirms for me that the original unit was a spectacular value.

Bob Pridmore's picture

This sounds bad. I have no idea why it may be bad. The high-end audio manufacturers should have value added that justifies the price.

Jim's picture

The problem is the pricing. If a company thinks they can take a $300 Behringer pro amp and mod it into a viable high-end product, then that's great. But if they're going to jack the price to $3500, then either those are some extraordinary mods or they're taking egregious advantage of their loyal customers.

tom collins's picture

As John explained, due to the costs for licensing, it allows makers who would not otherwise be able to bring a product to market to do so. Would we really only want to be able to choose from between two or three brands?

Knotty's picture

The manner in which it seems to have come to light suggests subterfuge and price-fixing rather than quality enhancement. If it's upfront that a company is modifying a solid platform to meet its own standards, then be clear about it and let the resulting quality improvements drive the price. Works for the modders, so why not the majors?

Hector Munro's picture

Where this is hidden from the buyer, this is dishonest.