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It Costs How Much? Another look at the Tone Tot by Thomas J. Norton

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35 minutes ago, JDRodrigues said:

A recurring theme I see in audio is the old world "5 times+ the cost of parts" pricing as though it is normal.
That pricing model has been dead in other markets for many years.
 

Partially.

In luxury markets of various kinds it isn't dead (yet) because in those markets people want service, and are willing to pay for it.

High end audio dealers typically still give very good service - everything ranging from auditioning/comparing equipment in house, home setup, and even trade ups at favorable rates . A good dealer will also steer you towards the right equipment for you or away from stuff he knows aren't for you - even stuff he sells. You often can't get any of that stuff from an online dealer. 


Main listening (small home office):

Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS>Kii Control>Audiolense DRC>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: CAPS Pipeline>IFi iOne DAC>Schiit Freya>Kii Three . Also an SBT and a RB Pi 3B+ running piCorePlayer as an SBT emulator. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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On 5/24/2018 at 12:44 PM, Mordikai said:

I see your point I may have over stated. This is what I was referring to:

"My first thought when seeing them was Wilson decided to make a play on getting their brand in one of these obscene corporate party penthouses.  The only natural environment I can see these existing in is designer wall shelving in a highrise apartment listening room perhaps as large as our erstwhile reviewers third bathroom."

 

 

There was heated overstatement on my part yesterday that didn't need to reflect on the CA reviewer or members/owner.  Overthinking the design and marketing of this speaker for the tastes of some has truth.  A copy of Graphis 83/84 Advertising Annual on my nightstand makes disputing this quite hard.

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On 5/25/2018 at 11:56 AM, firedog said:

A good dealer will also steer you towards the right equipment for you or away from stuff he knows aren't for you - even stuff he sells.

A good dealer will, yes.
...and yet, after visiting more than 300 high end audio stores all over the country, I have never seen a single dealer suggest to go buy from another shop. (Heard lots of closely mic'd female vocals though.)


 


The important image in audio is the one you hear.
                                 Forget the others.
 

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actually, dealers will often steer customers to the competition...

 

 

if they think they are tire-kickers or want cheaper systems, or to negotiate on price...


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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Had a listen this past week of the Tune Tots at a local dealer.  They are surprisingly musical for their size.  Sure they don't go as low as the Duette's but damn they filled the main showroom with effortless power and finesse.  Compared to the other oversized speakers that are usually on display in this particular area, the Tune Tots were able to provide a very large sweet spot while maintaining clarity and depth that just amazed me when I look at their size.  I was really surprised how much I could imagine these speakers in so many different setups as your main listening system, just add a sub for lowest few frequencies if you're into that.  

 

The size is bigger than I thought.  This is definitely a bookshelf speaker which changes my thought about the price point that was given for this product.  Could it be used for a computer desk setup? Sure, but when listening to these on stands with there dedicated platforms attached, they really did sing.  I just listened in amazement to the sound verses the size and how big the soundstage came from these tiny speakers.  It's kind of funny almost any quality stand you choose for these speakers will dominate the visual foreground.  I think that's what made me enjoy and sometimes laugh while I listened to the Tune Tots being played.  Of course these could be used on the counter, a table, bookshelf and a computer desk.  Unlike their older brother the Duette's, the Tune Tots need some room to breath so having them a few feet out in the room. 

 

Here's a very loose comparison of some specs compared to the popular B&W 800 series line of speakers.  The  805 D3 is the only stand mount is this series.

                                       Tune Tot                              805 D3

 

Height (inches)             14.8                                      16.9

Width                               8.6                                        8.4

Depth                              10.1                                      13.5

Weight                            29 lbs                                   28 lbs

Price (U.S.)                    $9,800 (options extra)       $6,000 (varies)

 

Side note - I also listened to the new Audio Research Reference 160M amplifier with Wilson's Alexandria XLF's, WOW!  That's for another conversation but both pieces are absolutely beautiful.  Listened to Beck's Morning Phase in that room, the day just seemed to slip away.  A plus was there were no other customers present during my 2 hour listening sessions, rare.  That's what makes going to dealers on weekdays great.  Although I'd rather see the dealers showrooms packed with customers, as to increase this hobby's customer base.

 


PC/NAS/JRiver/Roon - PS Audio P5 Regenerator - KEF LS50 Nocturne - Rel 328 subwoofer - PS Audio AC5 Power cables 

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35 minutes ago, ShawnC said:

Had a listen this past week of the Tune Tots at a local dealer.  They are surprisingly musical for their size.  Sure they don't go as low as the Duette's but damn they filled the main showroom with effortless power and finesse.  Compared to the other oversized speakers that are usually on display in this particular area, the Tune Tots were able to provide a very large sweet spot while maintaining clarity and depth that just amazed me when I look at their size.  I was really surprised how much I could imagine these speakers in so many different setups as your main listening system, just add a sub for lowest few frequencies if you're into that.  

 

The size is bigger than I thought.  This is definitely a bookshelf speaker which changes my thought about the price point that was given for this product.  Could it be used for a computer desk setup? Sure, but when listening to these on stands with there dedicated platforms attached, they really did sing.  I just listened in amazement to the sound verses the size and how big the soundstage came from these tiny speakers.  It's kind of funny almost any quality stand you choose for these speakers will dominate the visual foreground.  I think that's what made me enjoy and sometimes laugh while I listened to the Tune Tots being played.  Of course these could be used on the counter, a table, bookshelf and a computer desk.  Unlike their older brother the Duette's, the Tune Tots need some room to breath so having them a few feet out in the room. 

 

Here's a very loose comparison of some specs compared to the popular B&W 800 series line of speakers.  The  805 D3 is the only stand mount is this series.

                                       Tune Tot                              805 D3

 

Height (inches)             14.8                                      16.9

Width                               8.6                                        8.4

Depth                              10.1                                      13.5

Weight                            29 lbs                                   28 lbs

Price (U.S.)                    $9,800 (options extra)       $6,000 (varies)

 

Side note - I also listened to the new Audio Research Reference 160M amplifier with Wilson's Alexandria XLF's, WOW!  That's for another conversation but both pieces are absolutely beautiful.  Listened to Beck's Morning Phase in that room, the day just seemed to slip away.  A plus was there were no other customers present during my 2 hour listening sessions, rare.  That's what makes going to dealers on weekdays great.  Although I'd rather see the dealers showrooms packed with customers, as to increase this hobby's customer base.

 

 

Wow--thanks for the very thoughtful post.  As a B&W 805 D3 owner who took a close look at Sabrinas, I'm keenly interested in the comparison, and your post has persuaded me that the big issue here is foolish marketing on Wilson's part.  

 

First, with respect to size, I am looking at my 805s on their stands as I type--it would never occur to anyone that these speakers could actually reside on a bookshelf or computer desk, and that's before you pull them out from the wall.  They are less imposing than floor standers, but they are not "tots" in any sense of the word.  Yet the Wilson Tune Tot pictures and name all serve to message small size.  This causes people to conclude they are overpriced. 

 

Worse, the tininess is just not true.  On an earlier post in this thread I wrote Tune Tots were a good value if they sound as good as $5K floor standers.  But I was fooled by the marketing focus on tiny, so I eat my earlier words.  At this size, the Tune Tots really need to compete on sound with speakers in the $10-15K range, especially since they'll need a sub..

 

Which brings me to the critical question--did you get a listen vs the B&Ws?

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6 minutes ago, PeterG said:

Which brings me to the critical question--did you get a listen vs the B&Ws?

I had listened to the B&W's a while ago at another dealer.  So not side by side.  The B&W's I feel are appropriately priced and competitive in that product range.  I do like the 800 series, they have a particular sound signature like McIntosh Amps do, which many like.   It's a tough call on which one I would choose.  The 800 series to me is to the warm side, and a little bass heavy which I like.  Where as Wilson's seem more neutral throughout the frequency spectrum.  But you can change that sound signature with a variety of amplifiers that are out there, yet another quest.  I'm also looking for new speakers and amplifiers.  I'm also considering all in one packages like the Kii's.   

 

And like you said, after listening to the Tots I'm eating my words too.  Good luck


PC/NAS/JRiver/Roon - PS Audio P5 Regenerator - KEF LS50 Nocturne - Rel 328 subwoofer - PS Audio AC5 Power cables 

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13 hours ago, ShawnC said:

had listened to the B&W's a while ago at another dealer.  So not side by side.  The B&W's I feel are appropriately priced and competitive in that product range.  I do like the 800 series, they have a particular sound signature like McIntosh Amps do, which many like.   It's a tough call on which one I would choose.  The 800 series to me is to the warm side, and a little bass heavy which I like.  Where as Wilson's seem more neutral throughout the frequency spectrum.  But you can change that sound signature with a variety of amplifiers that are out there, yet another quest.  I'm also looking for new speakers and amplifiers.  I'm also considering all in one packages like the Kii's.   

 

And like you said, after listening to the Tots I'm eating my words too.  Good luck

 

We have similar perceptions on all 3 brands.  My B&Ws are powered by McIntosh C22/MC275 VI.  The resolving power of the 800 series complements the warmth of the tubes very nicely.  I loved hearing Wilson Sabrinas in the store, especially on female vocals--you can practically see their voices rising to the ceiling.  But the Sabrinas were lifeless on the low end, at least without a sub.  I would expect the Tune Tots with an appropriate subwoofer to be super.

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let us remember history.  dave wilson did not intend his line of work would be speaker manufacturer, he was a recording engineer with his own record company who made his own monitoring speakers, the WATT (wilson audio tiny tot).  visitors to the studio requested him to make them a pair repeatedly and they paid the price because of their quality and robustness.

 

the WATT needed the bass to be full range so the PUPPY became the woofer section and a great number of those systems (WATT/PUPPY) sold in ever increasing updates and sounded best with Jadis tube electronics.  they would play back live levels of music producing a VERY pleasing sound.  

 

dave paid Americans on American soil decent wages including health insurance and personally installed the speakers for a large number of customers.  his products went all the way up to ~ $225k and now even higher with the newest WAMM.  they aren't easy to make sound good but when they arrive at that point (with careful placement and selection of ancillaries), they are nothing short of delightful.  

 

they are worth the money for those that afford them and the accompanying lifestyle is usually commensurate with their cost.  

 

i live at the opposite end of the food chain and yet i can still have a more than relevant sounding system.  magneplanar MMGs, Freid Model RIIs from 1975, and Spendor S3/5s with a Rythmik sub suffice to fill my bill.  ELAC speakers would do nicely if i didn't own the others.  would i buy wilson audio speakers?  YUP.

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20 hours ago, hifitommy said:

let us remember history

 

That was a nice story.

 

Please allow me an alternative view.

 

David Wilson was a very effective businessman. His products had qualities but were not without flaws. The value for money of those products was ridiculously low but the target audience were the rich (though not famous). He spent many years selling slightly different iterations of the same speaker models and yet the price of each new version increased exponentially. He probably sold as many new versions of each model to new customers as he did to customers who already owned an older version of that same model. He was a master at marketing and made very good use of the audio press (the words shilling and hype come to mind); he was probably one of the manufacturers most responsible for changing the meaning of High-End (from performance equipement to luxury items). For a record engineer he didn't make many recordings, and hardly anyone has ever listened to them. But he sure knew how to sell speakers.

 

"Dave knew what 'e wan'ed his new midrange driver to do after hearing a Mohler Symphony in Vienna's famed Musikverein Concert Hall." ?

 

 


"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira de Pascoaes

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20 hours ago, hifitommy said:

let us remember history.  dave wilson did not intend his line of work would be speaker manufacturer, he was a recording engineer with his own record company who made his own monitoring speakers, the WATT (wilson audio tiny tot).  visitors to the studio requested him to make them a pair repeatedly and they paid the price because of their quality and robustness.

 

the WATT needed the bass to be full range so the PUPPY became the woofer section and a great number of those systems (WATT/PUPPY) sold in ever increasing updates and sounded best with Jadis tube electronics.  they would play back live levels of music producing a VERY pleasing sound.  

 

dave paid Americans on American soil decent wages including health insurance and personally installed the speakers for a large number of customers.  his products went all the way up to ~ $225k and now even higher with the newest WAMM.  they aren't easy to make sound good but when they arrive at that point (with careful placement and selection of ancillaries), they are nothing short of delightful.  

 

they are worth the money for those that afford them and the accompanying lifestyle is usually commensurate with their cost.  

 

i live at the opposite end of the food chain and yet i can still have a more than relevant sounding system.  magneplanar MMGs, Freid Model RIIs from 1975, and Spendor S3/5s with a Rythmik sub suffice to fill my bill.  ELAC speakers would do nicely if i didn't own the others.  would i buy wilson audio speakers?  YUP.

 

11 minutes ago, semente said:

 

That was a nice story.

 

Please allow me an alternative view.

 

David Wilson was a very effective businessman. His products had qualities but were not without flaws. The value for money of those products was ridiculously low but the target audience were the rich (though not famous). He spent many years selling slightly different iterations of the same speaker models and yet the price of each new version increased exponentially. He probably sold as many new versions of each model to new customers as he did to customers who already owned an older version of that same model. He was a master at marketing and made very good use of the audio press (the words shilling and hype come to mind); he was probably one of the manufacturers most responsible for changing the meaning of High-End (from performance equipement to luxury items). For a record engineer he didn't make many recordings, and hardly anyone has ever listened to them. But he sure knew how to sell speakers.

 

"Dave knew what 'e wan'ed his new midrange driver to do after hearing a Mohler Symphony in Vienna's famed Musikverein Concert Hall." ?

 

 

 

One reason why I love you guys. Two completely different opinions, written without vitriol and very valid. 

 

Live and let listen.

 


Founder of Audiophile Style

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yes, let's listen blind to a Wilson system and something 1/3 as much


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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5 minutes ago, Ralf11 said:

yes, let's listen blind to a Wilson system and something 1/3 as much

But that's something in which many happy Wilson customers have no interest because it excludes all other factors that go into purchasing something. 

 

If I could get a speaker that costs 1/3 and sounds better, but was made by children in a third world country, I'd have zero interest. Granted this isn't the choice being presented here, but it's illustrative of my point about all the other factors that go into a purchase.


Founder of Audiophile Style

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I agree other factors count.  I tolerate giant black monoliths* in my listening room, but don't think I want robotic velociraptors leering at me

 

 

* made in a 3rd world state (?)


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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On 7/30/2018 at 10:12 AM, semente said:

 

That was a nice story.

 

Please allow me an alternative view.

 

David Wilson was a very effective businessman. His products had qualities but were not without flaws. The value for money of those products was ridiculously low but the target audience were the rich (though not famous). He spent many years selling slightly different iterations of the same speaker models and yet the price of each new version increased exponentially. He probably sold as many new versions of each model to new customers as he did to customers who already owned an older version of that same model. He was a master at marketing and made very good use of the audio press (the words shilling and hype come to mind); he was probably one of the manufacturers most responsible for changing the meaning of High-End (from performance equipement to luxury items). For a record engineer he didn't make many recordings, and hardly anyone has ever listened to them. But he sure knew how to sell speakers.

 

"Dave knew what 'e wan'ed his new midrange driver to do after hearing a Mohler Symphony in Vienna's famed Musikverein Concert Hall." ?

 

 

 

Ouch!  But to this professional investor, your take does not ring true.  I don't think he was a "very" effective businessman or "master" at marketing.  He led a very good very small company that produced excellent esoteric products for a small number of people.  But judged as a  person who was aiming to transition high end to luxury products, as you assert, he was either not interested or not effective--as evidenced by the small size and presence of his company compared to dozens of other stereo and luxury product manufacturers.  A "master" marketer who was aiming primarily for profit would have made much more handsome components (to pass the wife test), lowered his prices to something that could be said with a straight face, and shifted his retail away from traditional stereo stores. 

 

I do not have sufficient bandwidth to play the video, but just the first 20 seconds illustrates a key aspect of my point--beautiful high end living room apparently decorated by a wealthy woman, with speakers that appear to be a science fair exposition.  C'mon!  Do you know any rich middle-aged woman who would sign off on those in her living room?  No--if you're lucky she'll sign off on B&W 805s (ask me how I know.)

 

He made speakers that he loved and he charged what he could and/or had to.  I hope he made a comfortable living.

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10 minutes ago, PeterG said:

 

Ouch!  But to this professional investor, your take does not ring true.  I don't think he was a "very" effective businessman or "master" at marketing.  He led a very good very small company that produced excellent esoteric products for a small number of people.  But judged as a  person who was aiming to transition high end to luxury products, as you assert, he was either not interested or not effective--as evidenced by the small size and presence of his company compared to dozens of other stereo and luxury product manufacturers.  A "master" marketer who was aiming primarily for profit would have made much more handsome components (to pass the wife test), lowered his prices to something that could be said with a straight face, and shifted his retail away from traditional stereo stores. 

 

I do not have sufficient bandwidth to play the video, but just the first 20 seconds illustrates a key aspect of my point--beautiful high end living room apparently decorated by a wealthy woman, with speakers that appear to be a science fair exposition.  C'mon!  Do you know any rich middle-aged woman who would sign off on those in her living room?  No--if you're lucky she'll sign off on B&W 805s (ask me how I know.)

 

He made speakers that he loved and he charged what he could and/or had to.  I hope he made a comfortable living.

 

Audiophiles are nerds. Even the wealthy ones. All my friends think I'm a bit of a nutter. Nerds have more accomodation wifes. And, more importantly, nerdy audiophiles are far more sensitive to things like "secret cabinet material", the custom built Scan-Speaks drivers, the WBT gold-plated solid-silver binding posts or a "revelation" at the Musikverein. I wonder if he'll be canonized for it.

 

gregos.thumb.png.178f1d7673bb7716685da69c55ccd4b0.png

 

If you haven't watched this now is a good time:

 

 


"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira de Pascoaes

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11 minutes ago, PeterG said:

just the first 20 seconds illustrates a key aspect of my point--beautiful high end living room apparently decorated by a wealthy woman, with speakers that appear to be a science fair exposition.  C'mon!  Do you know any rich middle-aged woman who would sign off on those 

 

I nearly spit out my nonexistent coffee laughing. Very true for most people, but that’s ok. 


Founder of Audiophile Style

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On 5/23/2018 at 6:43 AM, The Computer Audiophile said:

As I usually say about topics like this, I couldn’t care less what something costs. If I want it and I can afford it, great. If I want it and can’t afford it, I move on. 

 

I’ve never understood complaining about the price of something that isn’t forced upon us by the government. I understand complaining about taxes and what we get for the money because there’s no way around it. But complaining about the price of a luxury item, when there are plenty of alternatives, makes no sense to me. 

 

An item has to justify it's price with performance. Surely you aren't arguing that?

 

Only a complete fool would pay £XXXXX for something that costs £XXX to make. If people want to piss their money away just give it to charity where it'll do some good.

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58 minutes ago, George Hincapie said:

 

An item has to justify it's price with performance. Surely you aren't arguing that?

 

Only a complete fool would pay £XXXXX for something that costs £XXX to make. If people want to piss their money away just give it to charity where it'll do some good.

 

I don’t understand your comment. 

 

An item doesn’t have to justify anything. Some people like stuff made by adults in their own country rather than kids in terrible conditions in a third world territory. 

 

Diamonds in jewelry only have value because people pay for them. I don’t care if someone pays $100,000 for $10 worth of diamonds. It doesn’t effect me. 

 

Same with HiFi. I don’t judge or care what people spend money on. 


Founder of Audiophile Style

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On 5/22/2018 at 4:08 AM, firedog said:

If parts materials cost is at the level of $2k, then when you add in labor, overhead,  profit for Wilson, and at least 2 100% markups on the way to the retail price as you go through the distributor and dealer chain, you get to that kind of price. In that kind of traditional electronics distribution chain, price to consumer is often 5-7 times the parts cost. 

 

Those aren't the real costs, those are the retail costs of the drivers. Speaker builders negotiate significantly lower rates. A good example is Tekton Lore vs Lore Be, the upcharge is $300/pair for the Be Satori tweeter, a tweeter which has a price of $770/pr on Madisound. The regular Audax Gold tweeter is $200/pr, so they are only charging you $300 for something that "costs" $570 more. They aren't a charity, so obviously their volume pricing is significantly lower than retail.

 

If the drivers cost $800 retail, in reality Wilson is only paying a fraction for that.

 

My main issue with the Tune Tot is it seems to underwhelming. I mean the Tune Tot would be underwhelming at $4000, at $12000 it's basically like an Ultrasone product. It's not particularly small at 1400 in3, there's plenty of small bookshelf speakers in the 400-1000 in3 range (that even even sealed or front ported to boot), and doesn't seem to be of particularly good design for the price. There's no directivity control (no waveguide or acoustic lens), and it's rear ported?

 

I mean you could buy 5 Genelec 8331s for that money AND have money left over for a sub. And the Genelec 8331 is a far superior speaker that's self powered.

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There are sites that compare Honda/Acura and Toyota/Lexus and come to the conclusion it is the same car and you just pay for some nice wood plates and some aluminum here and there and a few stick-on bitumen pads. To all those guys I say go buy the Toyota and make it a Lexus.

 

Same with speakers - go buy the drivers and make yourselves a Wilson speaker, I have been DIYing speakers for 25 years and I still do but I listen to a pair of speakers that I bought and that is not cheap. The drivers cost 400USD if I buy them now new, the enclosure about the same and probably the XO parts as well, I paid 4000euro for it and honestly, I have never been happier in my life, there are certain things that the truly talented designers of speakers achieve, any number of drivers in an enclosure will make music and the designer will tell you this is the way it has to be, the only good speaker on the planet. Every designer has a great ego, especially the stupid ones, check Dunning-Kruger. Very few are special indeed. Same with DACs, same with amps, same with anything in audio, in life.

 

So if it takes a certain amount of money to make someone happy and listen to music all day,man, that 12K is well spent. A good sales person can trick you into buying anything, there is whole science behind it and every body wants to change the market as Steve Jobs did. I only hope that I am still critical on what I am doing and spend some more time thinking of the other options so when I hear the Genelec later I don't go:"Sheit, I could have bought 5 of these..."

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easy to make the older Toyota Avalon into a Lexus - not that anyone would want either


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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On 5/17/2019 at 5:51 PM, pippenainteasy said:

.

My main issue with the Tune Tot is it seems to underwhelming. I mean the Tune Tot would be underwhelming at $4000, at $12000 it's basically like an Ultrasone product.

 

As a long time, satisfied owner of Sophia ll’s I’m a little surprised you found the Tune Tots lacking when you auditioned them. Were you expecting more bass, bigger soundstage, something else?

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On 7/29/2018 at 1:24 PM, hifitommy said:

i live at the opposite end of the food chain and yet i can still have a more than relevant sounding system.  magneplanar MMGs, Freid Model RIIs from 1975, and Spendor S3/5s with a Rythmik sub suffice to fill my bill.

 

That's not just remembering history, it's keeping the spirit alive!  I remember Bud Fried very well - I was never a huge fan of his speakers, but he was a pretty cool and very smart man.  He was a well educated Philadelphian who truly loved music and its reproduction. His inspiration for the pursuit of musical fidelity was hearing Leopold Stokowski conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra. Although he passed away about 15 years ago, I think the company is still in business and I seem to recall a few reviews of Fried speakers within the last few years in Stereophile &/or TAS.

 

Assuming you've maintained it well & dealt with aging components, you do indeed have what you describe as a "relevant sounding system".  I know this because I still enjoy and treasure the Rogers LS3/5as I bought new the year your Frieds came into the world, along with other pieces I acquired before they became classics but were obvious keepers when new.   But our relics, as enjoyable as they are today, have limitations that remain even in current production versions with "updated" parts & specs.  Today's prices for LS3/5as (both new and vintage) are not exactly entry level - $3860 for the Rogers 70th anniversary version, $3k for Stirlings, etc.  The closest Frieds to yours also sell for about $3k new today. But unlike Buicks, these are still our fathers' speakers and they're far from the state of the art today.

 

I haven't yet been able to hear the Tune Tots, but you know they're a serious improvement on my Rogers (and your Frieds and Maggies too).  TTs are only a hair more sensitive than LS3/5as (86 db/watt vs 82) and just a bit more extended at the "bottom" (3 db down at 65 Hz vs 80).  But I bet they'll pump out serious music at 88-90 db all day without banging a voice coil against its stop, and sound significantly better than our old speakers on almost any program material while doing it.  I stopped expecting to be overwhelmed years ago - improvement is almost always incremental.

 

Then there's the physical factor - our old speakers were and still are just plain plain looking, and they feel like nicely made wooden boxes.  Wilsons and almost every other current high end speaker exude quality in their designs, construction, materials, finishes etc that goes far beyond baseline.  We all differ in our tastes, as do our SOs / life partners etc.  But many of us do enjoy looking at our stuff in addition to listening - some of us even enjoy the physical feel of high quality stuff.  My wife's been pretty accommodating over 47 years and only rejected one pair - Infinity Reference Standards that lasted about a year before she gently evicted them and facilitated the return of the Rogers to that room (with a brand new 12" Yamaha servo-powered sub to sweeten the deal).  She's thrilled with the Focal towers that flank our grand piano, at least as much because they're gorgeous as because they sound so good.

 

The marginal cost of sound quality goes up rapidly above the inflection point.  But that inflection point has moved far to the right over the last few decades, so we can get 90+% of the best available sound  for about 10% of its cost by making a few compromises. The last 10% is audible to many and "good value" to those who can and will appreciate it and pay for it.  But the rest of the package at that level includes everything from physical beauty to belief that the team behind it deserves support - and this adds a surprising amount to retail pricing.

 

Ya pays your money and ya takes your choice.

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7 hours ago, bluesman said:

 

The marginal cost of sound quality goes up rapidly above the inflection point.  But that inflection point has moved far to the right over the last few decades, so we can get 90+% of the best available sound  for about 10% of its cost by making a few compromises. The last 10% is audible to many and "good value" to those who can and will appreciate it and pay for it.  But the rest of the package at that level includes everything from physical beauty to belief that the team behind it deserves support - and this adds a surprising amount to retail pricing.

 

This is really well put on a couple of levels.  If Tune Tots sound like Wilsons (say, almost Sabrinas), they are priced fairly.  Frankly, I'm bewildered by posts that suggest there is any test of value beyond sound, appearance, and room placement flexibility.  But whether or not you think they are priced fairly, if they are too rich for your blood, there are plenty of great speakers that cost less.  

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