Jump to content
crenca

Value, lack there of, and "High End"

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

As I sit working procrastinating at my computer waiting for FedEx to deliver a $1,500 pair of ZMF headphones, I contemplate the place of "value" in this hobby.  Casualty perusing the show reports, I click on Stereophile's (I know, I know, crenca the hypocrite ;) ) report on Devore's recent $90k creation:

 

https://www.stereophile.com/content/devore-fidelity-orangutan-reference

 

Nothing surprises me about this overpriced bling, nor the Audiophile trade publication obsession with this stuff.  No matter how it sounds, it is simply irrelevant to 99.999% of even "Audiophiles"...or is it? I am pleased however that the commentary is almost uniformly negative.  No one believes that there is anything intrinsically rational to this pricing - it's a unique luxury market.  $90k, $180k, 1 million - it's all the same in that none of it makes sense.

 

On the other hand, are not my HP's just as irrational?  Maybe, but I don't think so.  Given the small boutique company that ZMF is, literally hand making each HP out of real wood, they are going to be expensive.  $1.5k is expensive, but is it irrational?  If they were $15k, ok.  There not, they are "only" $1.5k.  Is the delta between them and say, a $300 HD650 justifiable?  There are some irrational prices out there in the "personal audio" space - Sennheiser's Orpheus 2 for example.

 

What say you?  Has this hobby lost all sense of value?  Do the trade publications and webzines focus too much on "halo" products such as the Orangutan Reference?  What would Audiophile 'reporting' look like if they took seriously the reality of value?


Hey MQA, if it is not all $voodoo$, show us the math!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've let my Stereophile subscription lapse for the same reason I have stopped buying automotive magazines. The Internet is a better place to find information on products that are within my budget than the trade publications.

 

I make a comfortable enough living, but I've grown less interested in reading about things that are realistically out of my price range.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Two comments on the above Bluesy post:

 

unlike driving a high buck exotic car, over-spending on an audio system won't kill you or others

 

also, I prefer ego-diatonic thoughts and feelings as they scale much better with respect to monetary input


"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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will respond to Bluesman's and others excellent thoughts but I just wanted to say my $1.5k HP's (ZMF Eikon) arrived and I am enjoying them.  Sweet sweet tone, if a half a step behind my goto's Focal Clear's in low level detail/resolution - but their closed back!  It just so happens a pair the pair of HiFiMan Edition XX I ordered from Massdrop 23 years ago arrived today as well.  Luckily I am not an obsessive audiophile so I only have two high quality amp's - I can enjoy them both without even unplugging anything, but you know, I have to take a pair off my head and put another on... 😋

 

 

Looking at my desk and adding up the cost of my DAC's, amp's, HP's, cables...yea I'm a freaking hypocrite talking about value 😂


Hey MQA, if it is not all $voodoo$, show us the math!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, Ralf11 said:

Two comments on the above Bluesy post:

 

unlike driving a high buck exotic car, over-spending on an audio system won't kill you or others

 

also, I prefer ego-diatonic thoughts and feelings as they scale much better with respect to monetary input

I wonder if more people die form exotic cars or electrocution working on their electronic gear?  I don't think either is a big deal. 


To paraphrase Rick James, "sighted listening is a helluva drug".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
24 minutes ago, esldude said:

 So did he drive his McLaren 100,000 miles because he's rich enough not to care and he owns dozens of other much more rare automobiles?  Nope he had driven it 17,000 miles over several years.  And he has a huge piece of property with his own private paved roads where much of the mileage was accumulated.  I also think they said he had more than twice the miles of the next most driven McLaren.  

 

A buddy owned a Ferrari 550 Maranello for a few years. It was his daily driver, plus he took it to the track every chance he got. I think he put close to 100K miles on the car before he sold it. I got to drive that car a few times, and can't say I'd be comfortable driving it in daily traffic. But he did. His philosophy has always been that a car is meant to be driven. Different strokes for different folks :)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
57 minutes ago, Ralf11 said:

unlike driving a high buck exotic car, over-spending on an audio system won't kill you or others

I understand your point. But I have many friends and colleagues who spend so much on frivolity and luxury that they really do compromise their health and safety and that of their families.  For example,  I’ve had many patients from my neighborhood who turned out to have poor or no health insurance despite appearances suggesting they should. One complained to me about having billed him for his $500 deductible. I pointed out that he drove to my office in his new 911 and was wearing an 18k DayDate, so it seemed a bit inconsistent to me.  He did not understand.

 

This behavior is common, in my experience. And it can pose serious risk.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
54 minutes ago, esldude said:

I wonder if more people die form exotic cars or electrocution working on their electronic gear?  I don't think either is a big deal. 

 

It is if you are dead.  

 

But then if you are, it is not.

 

:o

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, esldude said:

I wonder if more people die form exotic cars or electrocution working on their electronic gear?  I don't think either is a big deal. 

 

I know of several deaths of exotic car owners from their poor driving skills.  No idea if it's a biased sample due to me being interested in cars...


"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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, bluesman said:

I understand your point. But I have many friends and colleagues who spend so much on frivolity and luxury that they really do compromise their health and safety and that of their families.  For example,  I’ve had many patients from my neighborhood who turned out to have poor or no health insurance despite appearances suggesting they should. One complained to me about having billed him for his $500 deductible. I pointed out that he drove to my office in his new 911 and was wearing an 18k DayDate, so it seemed a bit inconsistent to me.  He did not understand.

 

This behavior is common, in my experience. And it can pose serious risk.

 

Many people aren't able to be happy w/out possessions, then find they aren't that happy with them.  It's to some extent a psychological problem, or may there is a "collector" drive in many animals (pack rats, bower birds) that has gone a bit haywire in modern humans.

 

Maybe the solution is to acquire skills and projects, etc.  OTOH, maybe you then have too many carpentry and car tools...


"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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, crenca said:

What say you?  Has this hobby lost all sense of value?  Do the trade publications and webzines focus too much on "halo" products such as the Orangutan Reference?  What would Audiophile 'reporting' look like if they took seriously the reality of value?

 

Interest in audio is a bizarro world because nearly everyone has a poor sense of what can be achieved. Most want their gear to make their recordings "sound better!" with little understanding what that actually means - if your vision of the goal is terribly blurred any sort of spectacles which change the look of it can seem like magic - until the novelty of the new "blurriness" wears off. In those circumstances playing with pricier and pricier items can assuage the thirst for satisfaction, makes up for the lack of sense of direction to some degree.

 

Personally, all the worthwhile value is in the "miserable" :P recordings - and you get value from kit that gets out of the way; the true "high end" is that which offers up purely what's been captured in front of the microphones, and nothing of itself. If it's too tied up in being a trophy hobby then the game of the costlier it is, the better it is, will dominate.


Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Ahhh, Mankind ... Porsche intellect, Trabant emotions ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, crenca said:

On the other hand, are not my HP's just as irrational?  Maybe, but I don't think so.  Given the small boutique company that ZMF is, literally hand making each HP out of real wood, they are going to be expensive.  $1.5k is expensive, but is it irrational?  If they were $15k, ok.  There not, they are "only" $1.5k.  Is the delta between them and say, a $300 HD650 justifiable? 

Perhaps ?

For many years, until one capsule went o/c,  I used a pair of ATH W1000 headphones with Bubinga wood cups .

 It was recommended to me by a well experienced headphone guy that I use a small layer of Butyl inside the cups which doesn't harden. This removed most of the small amount of " boxy"  sound due to the wooden cups.

 Although my present much cheaper ATH M70x have similar extended frequency specifications they are far more microphonic due to the plastic type of construction. Even rubbing a finger across the headband results in a loud roar.

 


"If you can't hear the difference between an original CD and a copy of your CD,

you might as well give up your career as a tester. The difference between a reconstituted FLAC and full size WAV is much less than that, but it does exist. - Cookie Marenco"

 

PROFILE UPDATED 31-10-2018

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, sandyk said:

Perhaps ?

For many years, until one capsule went o/c,  I used a pair of ATH W1000 headphones with Bubinga wood cups .

 It was recommended to me by a well experienced headphone guy that I use a small layer of Butyl inside the cups which doesn't harden. This removed most of the small amount of " boxy"  sound due to the wooden cups.

 Although my present much cheaper ATH M70x have similar extended frequency specifications they are far more microphonic due to the plastic type of construction. Even rubbing a finger across the headband results in a loud roar.

 

 

With closed back design cup resonances are a major design hurdle/compromise no matter what the cup material.   ZMF (and others) market the wood cups as having particular pleasing resonances/interactions similar to wooden instruments.  I don't know if I buy this.  Like so many things, it's all in the implementation.  Interesting about the butyl recommendation.  I think ZMF sticks with wool and foam.

 

This ZMF defiantly has a nice sound signature.  Much better than my AudioQuest Nightowl (which you simply can not EQ enough) and has significantly better technicalities than my two other closed backs, the Oppo PM-3 and NAD HP50.  The question is, will I want to travel with it at this price level....probably 😋


Hey MQA, if it is not all $voodoo$, show us the math!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Ralf11 said:

I know of several deaths of exotic car owners from their poor driving skills.  No idea if it's a biased sample due to me being interested in cars...

It's not a biased sample.  In addition to being a competitor for decades, I was the race physician for Philly Region SCCA for about 20 years and for VSCCA and SVRA at multiple events from 1984 to 2000 - and I fished many a wealthy dilettante out of the wrecked exotic he had no business buying let alone driving in competition.  I pulled the same lawyer out of the same ex-Gurney GT-40 at Summit Point in '87 or '88 and the Grand Bahama Vintage grand Prix in '86. We had guys driving Allard J2Xs who couldn't handle a 948 bugeye.  One of my friends wrecked a gorgeous Turner in an end-over-end at Summit Point and his 944 on a local road - so he bought an E-type.  My wife's former dentist totalled his 944S in a "track event" at Watkins Glen.  And so forth and so on.

 

These guys also have great audio systems.......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, gmgraves said:

I have to wonder how much of the cost of high end components is tied up in the "bling" of the fancy CNC aluminum casework in components like the dCS Vivaldi DAC. I recently saw damn good evidence that this is largely the case. Lumin sells a "Network Transport" (a music streamer sans DAC) called the U1. This puppy comes in two separate and very fancy cabinets. one for the unit itself and another for the separate power supply. It's about $6000. They also sell a U1"mini".  The only difference I can see between the two is that the "Mini" doesn't have the power supply in a separate cabinet (it is the same circuit board however!) and the case that the power supply and main circuit board share is much simpler and less fancy than the full size U1. The list price of the U1 "mini"? $2000! That means that at the retail pricing level, the two separate enclosures account for FOUR thousand of the U1's $6000 price tag! That's pretty good (if a more than a little blatant) evidence of my suspicions RE High-End audio. 

 

The internal SMPS in U1 MINI and the external LPS in the more expensive U1 are different.

 

The casework is indeed really expensive to manufacture.


Peter Lie

LUMIN Firmware Lead

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, bluesman said:

It's not a biased sample.  In addition to being a competitor for decades, I was the race physician for Philly Region SCCA for about 20 years and for VSCCA and SVRA at multiple events from 1984 to 2000 - and I fished many a wealthy dilettante out of the wrecked exotic he had no business buying let alone driving in competition.  I pulled the same lawyer out of the same ex-Gurney GT-40 at Summit Point in '87 or '88 and the Grand Bahama Vintage grand Prix in '86. We had guys driving Allard J2Xs who couldn't handle a 948 bugeye.  One of my friends wrecked a gorgeous Turner in an end-over-end at Summit Point and his 944 on a local road - so he bought an E-type.  My wife's former dentist totalled his 944S in a "track event" at Watkins Glen.  And so forth and so on.

 

These guys also have great audio systems.......

 

You'd think the ultra-rich would start universities or endow libraries or (more recently) cure childhood diseases, solve the world's energy and transportation problems, create their own National Parks, or just build carbon fiber racing yachts more often...

 

I once tried to get a guy who worked for Foundation for Deep Ecology to convince his.. ah.. "keepers" to take the concours concept from cars and apply it to whole ecosystems.  Could never tell if it caught on...


"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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, bluesman said:

It's not a biased sample.  In addition to being a competitor for decades, I was the race physician for Philly Region SCCA for about 20 years and for VSCCA and SVRA at multiple events from 1984 to 2000 - and I fished many a wealthy dilettante out of the wrecked exotic he had no business buying let alone driving in competition.  I pulled the same lawyer out of the same ex-Gurney GT-40 at Summit Point in '87 or '88 and the Grand Bahama Vintage grand Prix in '86. We had guys driving Allard J2Xs who couldn't handle a 948 bugeye.  One of my friends wrecked a gorgeous Turner in an end-over-end at Summit Point and his 944 on a local road - so he bought an E-type.  My wife's former dentist totalled his 944S in a "track event" at Watkins Glen.  And so forth and so on.

 

These guys also have great audio systems.......

Allard J2X.....now there's an easy car to drive..........hahahahha!

 

There is the thing a few years back about doctors and twin engine airplanes.  (Not a dig at you bluesman).  A flight instructor explained quite logically how mostly doctors had the money for them.  But those can be hard to fly especially if you have trouble.  And doctors are pressed for time and don't have time to become proficient.  So it was a cliche whenever a twin Beechcraft crashed to ask, " so which doctor was it?"


To paraphrase Rick James, "sighted listening is a helluva drug".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Its how nature works......like attracts like....things evolve and (sometimes) get better. Let me give you an example.

 

Money attracts money.  People with serious amounts of money are given special investment opportunities,  hotel, airline and rental car platinum cards (big discounts),  free casino hotel rooms and drinks,  special purchase rights for collector cars like Porsche  (which appreciate like crazy). They make money on vintage cars, real estate etc where they put money for safe keeping.  Money attracts money.  Manufacturers then make special products to serve this ‘unlimited wealth’ niche market....based on rare materials, complex manufacturing processes etc.  This attraction of like to like is what fuels evolution. 

At the purely genetic level good genes (looks, intelligence etc) attracts other good genes, so we get increased intelligence, faster, more adept athletes etc.

 

For a lot of hi-fi companies these exotic products represent their R&D spend, which they usually finds ways to trickle down the improvements into lesser products. So its not about value per se. Its about evolving capability

 

Politicians often rail against inequality in society...how the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer.  This is almost never true. Most times, the rich are getting a LOT richer and the poor, slightly better off.  There’s almost always the trickledown effect.  Unfortunately, poverty very often equals misery so the slight increase in wealth often manifests in things like increased alcohol and drug use amongst the poor....but its all the same mechanism at work....~Like attracts like.

 

Gravity is what we call it when its mass related. For the rest, we haven’t coined a term  yet....what its means for hi-fi evolution is that its funded first and foremost funded by the mega rich who can easily afford to pay huge sums for small increases in capability 

   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...