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Tremendous article on High-End Audio Industry


joelha
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Supplementary Thread from within CA, New Sonus Faber Sf16 Unveiled in Sardinia, Italy :

This thing looks amazing in person!

 

[ATTACH]27334[/ATTACH]

 

better quality photos / video coming soon.

 

[video=youtube_share;YWw6NXCt1gs]

 

 

[ATTACH]27335[/ATTACH]

 

«

an accurate picture

Sono pessimista con l'intelligenza,

 

ma ottimista per la volontà.

severe loudspeaker alignment »

 

 

 

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Putting aside the political sentiments expressed, this article should be required reading for anyone doing business in the high-end industry.

 

I think it's that good.

 

Joel

 

SoundStage! Hi-Fi | SoundStageHiFi.com - High-End Hi-Fi's Glimmer of Hope

 

Interesting article.

 

Shouldn't such products be called "Luxury Audio" ? More accurate term.

Let every eye ear negotiate for itself and trust no agent. (Shakespeare)

The things that we love tell us what we are. (Aquinas)

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I read this a couple of days ago and the argument didn't impress me. Trickle down economics again? I would agree that in some ways a majority of the audio industry is clueless when it comes to marketing, on the other hand, using something like the auto or watch industry as a comparison is really stretching for a point. The bottom line is that audio equipment is not equated by the vast population, let alone high income types, as a status symbol item like cars, watches, travel, real estate, or even home theater. I don't see how you can force a market if the vast majority of people don't care about audio to begin with! There are too many companies chasing too few customers. There needs to be some consolidation in the audio industry or, at the market levels that exist, bespoke only products at the high end, which is almost where the highest end is at already.

 

Maybe an article to read as a form of opposite opinion of sorts would be the the current one in the NY Times about the Low Growth World.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/07/upshot/were-in-a-low-growth-world-how-did-we-get-here.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Jim

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I too will link readers further articles, later.

 

For now, of watches, recalling a quick couple of vignettes to amuse your Sunday :

« Baselworld is the most important marketplace and trendsetting show for the world's watch industry. It attracts everyone from retailers to collectors, the global press to those consumers who wish to feel the pulse of this fascinating world. Monocle [magazine] was there; here are our highlights. »

 

« Dan Spitz, who played lead guitar for the metal band Anthrax, left the group in the '90s to pursue an unexpected path: master watchmaking. Now, he's one of the top watchmakers in the world, but can still shred a guitar like it's 1983. »

 

«

an accurate picture

Sono pessimista con l'intelligenza,

 

ma ottimista per la volontà.

severe loudspeaker alignment »

 

 

 

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I thought KK's article was spot on. I noted in an email to KEN K that some of the pushback re "luxury prices" came from the same folks who think music is free, and, therefore the equipment should be - if not free - then a lot less expensive.

We have all seen the comparisons between luxury watches, cars and whatnot to high end audio. I do not know how valid these comparisons are, in the case of a watch for example, I get more joy from my stereo than I do from my expensive watch.

Also the auto blogs are full of stories of the "hardship" of owning an exotic car.

In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake ~ Sayre's Law

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I read this a couple of days ago and the argument didn't impress me. Trickle down economics again? I would agree that in some ways a majority of the audio industry is clueless when it comes to marketing, on the other hand, using something like the auto or watch industry as a comparison is really stretching for a point. The bottom line is that audio equipment is not equated by the vast population, let alone high income types, as a status symbol item like cars, watches, travel, real estate, or even home theater. I don't see how you can force a market if the vast majority of people don't care about audio to begin with! There are too many companies chasing too few customers. There needs to be some consolidation in the audio industry or, at the market levels that exist, bespoke only products at the high end, which is almost where the highest end is at already.

 

Maybe an article to read as a form of opposite opinion of sorts would be the the current one in the NY Times about the Low Growth World.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/07/upshot/were-in-a-low-growth-world-how-did-we-get-here.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

 

Actually, I thought the author of the article made a good point: vendors who seek to sell into the high-end market should stop thinking about selling "high-end audio" but view it as selling a luxury item. How to make millionaires feel special :-)

 

This applies to high-end anything (cars, boats, washing machines, barbecue grills, golf clubs, shoes, etc. etc.)

 

Its about selling (self) image, not about "truth in (audio) engineering" ;-)

Let every eye ear negotiate for itself and trust no agent. (Shakespeare)

The things that we love tell us what we are. (Aquinas)

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Actually, I thought the author of the article made a good point: vendors who seek to sell into the high-end market should stop thinking about selling "high-end audio" but view it as selling a luxury item. How to make millionaires feel special :-)

 

This applies to high-end anything (cars, boats, washing machines, barbecue grills, golf clubs, shoes, etc. etc.)

 

Its about selling (self) image, not about "truth in (audio) engineering" ;-)

 

+ 1. Well said, the point of the article exactly.

In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake ~ Sayre's Law

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I expect that he is right, while there are obviously legit audiophile 1%'ers buying ultra-high-end gear after careful research, I don't expect that the high-end luxury goods crowd is binge reading TAS to figure out what gear is going to make the most definitive statement at their next dinner party.

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Actually, I thought the author of the article made a good point: vendors who seek to sell into the high-end market should stop thinking about selling "high-end audio" but view it as selling a luxury item. How to make millionaires feel special :-)

 

This applies to high-end anything (cars, boats, washing machines, barbecue grills, golf clubs, shoes, etc. etc.)

 

Its about selling (self) image, not about "truth in (audio) engineering" ;-)

 

Except that "millionaires" are not stupid. They often spend a lot of time on product research before buying that high-end product. I am willing to bet that the owner of that Porsche 911R parked in front of the Starbucks knows everything there is to know about the vehicle. The same, normally, goes for expensive watches too, with the exception of Rolex; many, not all, Rolex owners are clueless. Add to that that many Rolex owners are just middle class wannabees, i.e. not millionaires.

mQa is dead!

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Thanks for the link @joelha

 

I hope people don't read that editorial and get caught up in the politics. The much more interesting discussion is how can the high end sector increase sales and find new customers.

 

I agree with Ken on some of his points. One interesting point is also one that OP Joel mentioned to me several years ago at an audio show. The point is that the people selling this gear (or said another way, the people selling this luxury music experience) need to look like professionals who sell luxury goods. Not slobs, not engineers, not hobbyists. Regardless of those who sell this stuff are slobs, engineers, or hobbyists, they can step up their game once in a while.

 

I also think high end audio shows need to be at locations similar to the Munich show. In the US too many shows are in terrible hotels that not only sound terrible, but look terrible as well. A real Kobe beef steak just won't taste as good if eaten in a dirty convenient store while your chair is getting bumped by a kid filling his soda container with a little bit of every flavor.

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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Thanks for the link @joelha

 

I hope people don't read that editorial and get caught up in the politics. The much more interesting discussion is how can the high end sector increase sales and find new customers.

 

I agree with Ken on some of his points. One interesting point is also one that OP Joel mentioned to me several years ago at an audio show. The point is that the people selling this gear (or said another way, the people selling this luxury music experience) need to look like professionals who sell luxury goods. Not slobs, not engineers, not hobbyists. Regardless of those who sell this stuff are slobs, engineers, or hobbyists, they can step up their game once in a while.

 

I also think high end audio shows need to be at locations similar to the Munich show. In the US too many shows are in terrible hotels that not only sound terrible, but look terrible as well. A real Kobe beef steak just won't taste as good if eaten in a dirty convenient store while your chair is getting bumped by a kid filling his soda container with a little bit of every flavor.

 

Thanks a lot, Chris.

 

I completely agree about not wanting this thread to go political. If I want to get depressed, I’ll watch CNN. I come to your site to have fun and hopefully get ideas for improving my system.

 

And thanks also for remembering our conversation regarding the way too many people are trying to sell expensive audio gear.

 

Imagine walking into a Ferrari or Rolls Royce dealership and seeing the salesmen walking around in sneakers, jeans, and a t-shirt. The cars displayed in a sloppy or haphazard manner. Assuming you had the money to drop on a purchase like that, is this the kind of dealer in which you’d want to spend your hard earned cash?

 

I root for this industry and hobby in a big way. Great music, accurately reproduced, is a gift. We can enjoy it any hour of the day with almost limitless musical choices. We want this industry to be strong so we can all benefit from the ongoing developments that come as a result.

 

Here’s to a high-end industry that increasingly presents itself as a true high-end industry.

 

Joel

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What a piece of shit that author is as a human being...

 

Furthermore, it is not my concern how HiFi companies choose to run their business. I simply don't care.

 

There is nothing I can do about it anyway as it is purely up to them.

 

Audiodoctor,

 

It's likely only a matter of time before your post is deleted.

 

In the meantime, comments like yours, even if absolutely true (and I don't know Ken that well), should never be posted publicly.

 

You should know better.

 

Joel

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Thanks for the link @joelha

 

I hope people don't read that editorial and get caught up in the politics. The much more interesting discussion is how can the high end sector increase sales and find new customers.

 

I agree with Ken on some of his points. One interesting point is also one that OP Joel mentioned to me several years ago at an audio show. The point is that the people selling this gear (or said another way, the people selling this luxury music experience) need to look like professionals who sell luxury goods. Not slobs, not engineers, not hobbyists. Regardless of those who sell this stuff are slobs, engineers, or hobbyists, they can step up their game once in a while.

 

I also think high end audio shows need to be at locations similar to the Munich show. In the US too many shows are in terrible hotels that not only sound terrible, but look terrible as well. A real Kobe beef steak just won't taste as good if eaten in a dirty convenient store while your chair is getting bumped by a kid filling his soda container with a little bit of every flavor.

High-end audio is indeed a luxury item.

 

It is my experience that there are very diminishing returns from a well executed system at $20k vs one at $200k+. Of the (few) people spending $200k+ on audio, a very small fraction will do so with full knowledge of what they are doing and with the intention to truly enjoy their systems. I bet that many mega-buck systems rarely get turned on!

 

On the dealer bit - yes they have to look decent but I wouldn't stress this point much. However what they really need to do is be knowledgeable about setup. The likes of Jim Smith (of Get Better Sound fame) are rare to non-existent. I would gladly pay extra for a dealer that truly knows setup and helps me with it.

 

Finally, one more comment: I am not sure how much money dealers selling megabuck systems actually make, since they sell such systems very rarely. I live in NYC and I could not find one person who would be able to play Avantgarde's for me!

mini+Roon > dCS Rossini DAC + Rossini Master Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo G2

system pics

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Thanks a lot, Chris.

 

I completely agree about not wanting this thread to go political. If I want to get depressed, I’ll watch CNN. I come to your site to have fun and hopefully get ideas for improving my system.

 

And thanks also for remembering our conversation regarding the way too many people are trying to sell expensive audio gear.

 

Imagine walking into a Ferrari or Rolls Royce dealership and seeing the salesmen walking around in sneakers, jeans, and a t-shirt. The cars displayed in a sloppy or haphazard manner. Assuming you had the money to drop on a purchase like that, is this the kind of dealer in which you’d want to spend your hard earned cash?

 

I root for this industry and hobby in a big way. Great music, accurately reproduced, is a gift. We can enjoy it any hour of the day with almost limitless musical choices. We want this industry to be strong so we can all benefit from the ongoing developments that come as a result.

 

Here’s to a high-end industry that increasingly presents itself as a true high-end industry.

 

Joel

 

I actually do tend to agree with almost everything you say here, except at the end. The 'high end' industry does not represent most of us, just as most of us do not drive a Ferrari or a Rolls Royce.

 

I think the heart of our hobby and the industry built around it is tied far tighter to the Toyota's and Jeeps of the audio world than the 'high end.' I even find it likely that the 'high end' sound is quite findable at the audio equivalent of a Toyota dealer.

 

It is utterly ludicrous to base the health and heart of of our hobby industry on the Rolls Royce or Ferrari customers.

 

-Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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High-end audio is indeed a luxury item.

 

It is my experience that there are very diminishing returns from a well executed system at $20k vs one at $200k+. Of the (few) people spending $200k+ on audio, a very small fraction will do so with full knowledge of what they are doing and with the intention to truly enjoy their systems. I bet that many mega-buck systems rarely get turned on!

 

On the dealer bit - yes they have to look decent but I wouldn't stress this point much. However what they really need to do is be knowledgeable about setup. The likes of Jim Smith (of Get Better Sound fame) are rare to non-existent. I would gladly pay extra for a dealer that truly knows setup and helps me with it.

 

Finally, one more comment: I am not sure how much money dealers selling megabuck systems actually make, since they sell such systems very rarely. I live in NYC and I could not find one person who would be able to play Avantgarde's for me!

I will add that there's a lot of strong words and opinions in the article that, although might be sometimes true in some context, really do not help make the authors point but instead undermines it.

mini+Roon > dCS Rossini DAC + Rossini Master Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo G2

system pics

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I actually do tend to agree with almost everything you say here, except at the end. The 'high end' industry does not represent most of us, just as most of us do not drive a Ferrari or a Rolls Royce.

 

I think the heart of our hobby and the industry built around it is tied far tighter to the Toyota's and Jeeps of the audio world than the 'high end.' I even find it likely that the 'high end' sound is quite findable at the audio equivalent of a Toyota dealer.

 

It is utterly ludicrous to base the health and heart of of our hobby industry on the Rolls Royce or Ferrari customers.

 

-Paul

Interesting point. Are there manufacturers that make both "reasonably priced" products plus megabuck products? Something like say a DAC for $2k and a $30k+ one? My thinking is that maybe it is the $30k DAC research that moves the technology for the $2k DAC forward. I don't really know but you have to admit this is possibly part of the equation.

mini+Roon > dCS Rossini DAC + Rossini Master Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo G2

system pics

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What a piece of shit that author is as a human being...

 

Furthermore, it is not my concern how HiFi companies choose to run their business. I simply don't care.

 

There is nothing I can do about it anyway as it is purely up to them.

Wow, suggesting Ken is a PoS as a human being because of a piece of entertainment journalism he wrote, may say much more about you than him.

 

M if you don't care about something, why write that you don't care? Do you go on knitting forums and write that you don't care? The editorial clearly wasn't written for you if you don't care about the topic.

 

As a consumer you actually can do something about it. You can communicate with companies and other consumers her on CA or elsewhere and you can vote with your dollars. Based on your comments it simply seems that you don't care. That's OK too.

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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I actually do tend to agree with almost everything you say here, except at the end. The 'high end' industry does not represent most of us, just as most of us do not drive a Ferrari or a Rolls Royce.

 

I think the heart of our hobby and the industry built around it is tied far tighter to the Toyota's and Jeeps of the audio world than the 'high end.' I even find it likely that the 'high end' sound is quite findable at the audio equivalent of a Toyota dealer.

 

It is utterly ludicrous to base the health and heart of of our hobby industry on the Rolls Royce or Ferrari customers.

 

-Paul

 

Paul,

 

Believe me it's more fun to have a high end audio system and a Ferrari in the garage than an average system with a Toyota in the garage. :)

 


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Interesting point. Are there manufacturers that make both "reasonably priced" products plus megabuck products? Something like say a DAC for $2k and a $30k+ one? My thinking is that maybe it is the $30k DAC research that moves the technology for the $2k DAC forward. I don't really know but you have to admit this is possibly part of the equation.

 

Meridian is a good example of what you are alluding to - I just purchased their Explorer 2 on a recent trip to London for the equivalent of $US250 as it was a demo model and the VAT was refunded. It's currently available from Amazon at US$299. Amazing sound for the price.

 

They also make a range of active speakers with built in DACs. Extract from an article in March 2014 in The Absolute Sound

 

"Confirmed Recommended Retail Pricing for the new Special Edition Loudspeaker models is;

 

DSP5200 SE $20,000.00

DSP5200HC/VC SE $10,000.00

DSP7200 SE $46,000.00

DSP7200HC/VC SE $23,000.00

DSP8000 SE $80,000.00

DSP8000VC SE $40,000.00"

 

I'm sure there are many more manufacturers that have a wide price range and "trickle down" technology - e.g. Marantz.

 

All the best,

 

 

Ajax

LOUNGE: Mac Mini - Audirvana - Devialet 200 - ATOHM GT1 Speakers

OFFICE : Mac Mini - Audirvana - Benchmark DAC1HDR - ADAM A7 Active Monitors

TRAVEL : MacBook Air - Dragonfly V1.2 DAC - Sennheiser HD 650

BEACH : iPhone 6 - HRT iStreamer DAC - Akimate Micro + powered speakers

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I will add that there's a lot of strong words and opinions in the article that, although might be sometimes true in some context, really do not help make the authors point but instead undermines it.

 

You have to know the author, "strong" is his style. Some like, some don't. He does have a point of view, which is sometimes lacking in audio journalism.

so be it.

In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake ~ Sayre's Law

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You have to know the author, "strong" is his style. Some like, some don't. He does have a point of view, which is sometimes lacking in audio journalism.

so be it.

He should take to twitter! He'd be in "good" company.

mini+Roon > dCS Rossini DAC + Rossini Master Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo G2

system pics

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High-end audio is indeed a luxury item.

 

It is my experience that there are very diminishing returns from a well executed system at $20k vs one at $200k+. Of the (few) people spending $200k+ on audio, a very small fraction will do so with full knowledge of what they are doing and with the intention to truly enjoy their systems. I bet that many mega-buck systems rarely get turned on!

 

On the dealer bit - yes they have to look decent but I wouldn't stress this point much. However what they really need to do is be knowledgeable about setup. The likes of Jim Smith (of Get Better Sound fame) are rare to non-existent. I would gladly pay extra for a dealer that truly knows setup and helps me with it.

 

Finally, one more comment: I am not sure how much money dealers selling megabuck systems actually make, since they sell such systems very rarely. I live in NYC and I could not find one person who would be able to play Avantgarde's for me!

 

How can you claim what you do in your first paragraph regarding "hardly get turned on". Nonsense. WBF is filled with people with megabuck systems that get turned on plenty.

 

As to law of diminishing returns per $ spent show me what isn't. I don't understand that point either. If anything I could understand the point that more $ doesn't necessarily equate to better sound.

 

As to setup etc that has nothing to do with $ but desire and room. I have seen many systems both "cheap" and "expensive" that by picture alone are setup like crap.

 

Time to get over the $ issue.

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Thanks a lot, Chris.

 

I completely agree about not wanting this thread to go political. If I want to get depressed, I’ll watch CNN. I come to your site to have fun and hopefully get ideas for improving my system.

 

And thanks also for remembering our conversation regarding the way too many people are trying to sell expensive audio gear.

 

Imagine walking into a Ferrari or Rolls Royce dealership and seeing the salesmen walking around in sneakers, jeans, and a t-shirt. The cars displayed in a sloppy or haphazard manner. Assuming you had the money to drop on a purchase like that, is this the kind of dealer in which you’d want to spend your hard earned cash?

 

I root for this industry and hobby in a big way. Great music, accurately reproduced, is a gift. We can enjoy it any hour of the day with almost limitless musical choices. We want this industry to be strong so we can all benefit from the ongoing developments that come as a result.

 

Here’s to a high-end industry that increasingly presents itself as a true high-end industry.

 

Joel

 

Joel

 

You have a habit of posting things that have a certain "slant" or "evocative perspective" and then claim you don't want it to degenerate down the path you post.

 

I think it's pretty clever on your part and like it. Hard not to read the article you post and NOT get caught up in "the politics" as most of the article is pretty "political" hitting on some of the big social issues of that divide us.

 

Having said that I really liked the article and agree with KK despite Audiodoctor's comment to the contrary.

 

Howie

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