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crenca

Value, lack there of, and "High End"

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22 minutes ago, Blackmorec said:

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 

   

 

What about consumption of alcohol and drugs amongst wealthy people? Like attracts like?

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At a certain point, all those extra thousands of dollars would be better spent on supporting local symphony orchestras and the like. Buy some actual 'life-like' experiences with all that buck. With 12000 dollar, instead of buying 10 foot speaker cables, you could buy the best seats in the house for 50 concerts. Make a few school classes happy. Or you could just donate it and keep one part time orchestra member at work. Whatever.

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Talking about value: my HD580's are still going strong, after twenty-one years.

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17 hours ago, crenca said:

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?

 

Crenca-

I don't really get posts like these. Value is totally subjective. Think how many millions see no "value" in any speaker other than a BT speaker for $40. In addition, the subjective concept of value is often tied to your amount of disposable income. The more you have, the more you tend to see value in pricey items. 
 

More to your specific point: I'm not sure the Devore setup (two speakers and two large sub units powered by internal (not class D) amps) is any more overpriced that your $1500 headphones. I'm not being snarky. But we all know really good sounding full range headphones start at about $100; after that you get improvements on a steep sloped curve of diminishing returns. Your headphones may have "value", but I seriously doubt they give 15X the performance of some of the $100 ones I know of. 

 

And Devore is also a small boutique company. The speakers are also basically hand made, and if you are familiar with them, they have beautiful wood finishes that definitely don't come cheap. Go back to your article link and read the comment from Mr. Devore himself on the price: the parts are almost all custom parts designed and produced just for this model . Devore says the O Reference will never make a profit on it's own: It's a money loser.  He can only recoup the 6 years of R&D cost if there is trickle down of the technology to other future less expensive models, which his intent. He also says it was an exercise in a cost no object realization of his design ideas; he says he could have just made an "improvement" to his existing O model, sold it for $20-30K a pair,  and made much larger sales and a tidy profit. 


Clearly they exist next to his many more affordable models. No one's forced to buy these. 
 

What's the "value" of these? I don't know. I'd like to hear a set. My guess is they are pretty amazing sounding. It's also obvious you can get full range speakers with quite good sound for say $2k or $3k. But if I won the lottery there's a good chance I'd think they are a good value compared to competing $100k or $200k speakers. 


Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS>RPi4 (dietpi)>Kii Control>Audiolense DRC>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: (1) CAPS Pipeline>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)>Schiit Freya>Kii Three .(2) CAPS>ifi iDAC SPDIF>Kii Control.

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup. Living Room/Kitchen: RB Pi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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9 hours 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.

Lots of it. Anthony Michelson (formerly of Musical Fidelity) said that in a traditional dealer pipeline, as much as 70% of the retail price was due to cosmetics. Those fancy specially designed  machined knobs cost over  $100 each at the wholesale level for the manufacturer....

Fortunately or unfortunately, the looks also sell. Most of the people in the market for 5 and 6 figure components also want them to look like they are very expensive. They may care about the sound, but not just. 
 

A few years ago there was a post somewhere by the high end speaker maker who debuted an $80k pair at Munich. Very  good, but conventional looking model.
He got little interest and they didn't sell well. The next year he did a minor redesign, made a much more expensive looking cabinet, priced them at $200k and they were already selling well at the show. Sound wise basically the same speaker; cosmetics wise - not. People wanted their high end speaker to look the part. Apparently the lesson is that at a certain price level you have to have an expensive look and people are willing to pay for it. 


Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS>RPi4 (dietpi)>Kii Control>Audiolense DRC>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: (1) CAPS Pipeline>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)>Schiit Freya>Kii Three .(2) CAPS>ifi iDAC SPDIF>Kii Control.

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup. Living Room/Kitchen: RB Pi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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I've heard that on next RMAF there will be room with affordable stuff 🙂

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, Teresa said:

 

I'm sure you could guess my feelings on this. Most audio equipment is not only out of my price range but IMHO overpriced based on the increases in sound quality as one goes further and further up the ladder to astronomical amounts.

 

Right now I'm listening to music on my Sennheiser HD 518 headphones which I bought at Amazon for $65 (retail $130). They sound excellent to me and are extremely comfortable. The most I ever paid for a pair of headphones is $150 (retail $300). My father taught me to never pay retail.

 

Teresa,

 

Perhaps my only defense is the value of these on the used market.  $1500 is actually the used price I paid (they are not new - new with features/cables they were just over $2k).  Barring any change in the fundamentals of the market, a year or two down the road I should be able to sell them for $1,500 or close to it.  So they will end up costing me a "rental" fee of 1, 2, perhaps $300 for my time with them.  Still, I might be rationalizing my hypocrisy 😉


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

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5 hours ago, firedog said:

 

Crenca-

I don't really get posts like these. Value is totally subjective. Think how many millions see no "value" in any speaker other than a BT speaker for $40. In addition, the subjective concept of value is often tied to your amount of disposable income. The more you have, the more you tend to see value in pricey items. 
 

More to your specific point: I'm not sure the Devore setup (two speakers and two large sub units powered by internal (not class D) amps) is any more overpriced that your $1500 headphones. I'm not being snarky. But we all know really good sounding full range headphones start at about $100; after that you get improvements on a steep sloped curve of diminishing returns. Your headphones may have "value", but I seriously doubt they give 15X the performance of some of the $100 ones I know of. 

 

 

 

I hear ya and I am willing to admit a significant amount of hypocrisy/inconsistency!  Still, I wonder.  Is value really "totally subjective"?  What is the relationship between cost and High Fidelity?  Why do the trade publication focus so heavily on the highest priced products?  Perennial questions I know.

 

Also, is there an value equivalency between "reasonably" priced Devore's (the ones around $10k) and these $1.5 ZMF's the $90K ones, and say a $300 HD 650 & these $1.5k ZMF's?  I want to say no...but perhaps I am a big fat hypocrite.  

 

I suppose I am looking for some correlation between cost and high fidelity that is not pure subjectivity.


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

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While there is no electronic device boutique store - they all purchase from existing suppliers that everyone has access to, there is a substantial cost increment from testing many caps or resistors (not to mention tubes) selecting, and matching that some manfs. do.  Audio Research has a video showing this with comments on the cost of it.

 

Then there is R&D - which must be amortized over only a few units for more expensive gear.

 

I DO agree that a lot of the cost is going to dealers, and cosmetics.  I tend to buy speakers with minimal wood (Vandies, maggies) and a lot of R&D and SQ for the price.  I am a value shopper and often buy used - not just for audio either.  I do it even tho I don't need to - it is just satisfying.

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10 hours ago, Blackmorec said:

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

 

 

Thanks for the laugh!

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9 minutes ago, Ralf11 said:

While there is no electronic device boutique store - they all purchase from existing suppliers that everyone has access to, there is a substantial cost increment from testing many caps or resistors (not to mention tubes) selecting, and matching that some manfs. do.  Audio Research has a video showing this with comments on the cost of it.

Or just use decent high tolerence parts, 1% resistors are pretty standard these days... As for IC's most of the basic implementation is covered in data sheets, app notes and examples. The digital side is pretty mundane these days, the real "art" is in the analogue, its implementation, circuitry and layout, especially on mixed signal boards (that are very common in the instrumentation/control world.

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12 hours ago, esldude said:

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?"

No car that has a chassis that flexes as much as the Allard’s is easy to drive. 

Fun car though!


George

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30 minutes ago, gmgraves said:

...You want dCS bling along with your dCS sound? Fine. You pay for it. I just want the performance and the sound and don’t give a whit about the looks. Why should I have to pay for “bling” that I don’t care about, and which makes up as much as 70 - 80% of the unit’s retail price when all I care about is what the component can do?

 

Good point, but I wonder if it is just the casework/bling that is really 70-80%?  I wonder if it's not just "high end" markup that is expected and a part of the whole (dealer/show/publication) "high end" sales network?  So wild guess, of that 70%, half is actual casework 'bling' and half is just markup.  That seems to be the case with these new Devore's.  


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

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On 5/15/2019 at 1:21 PM, 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 almost got run over a few months ago by a McLaren executing a close-pass while on my (over-priced, boutique) bike.  I think the question should be how many other people die from exotic cars driven by people with more money than brains.

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9 hours ago, danadam said:

I've heard that on next RMAF there will be room with affordable stuff 🙂

 

 

 

  That was how RMAF was when it began. Lots of high value gear for people to hear and see. 

  Pricing just escalated.


 

2012 Mac Mini, i5 - 2.5 GHz, 16 GB RAM. SSD,  PM/PV software, Focusrite Clarett 4Pre 4 channel interface. Daysequerra M4.0X Broadcast monitor., My_Ref Evolution rev a , Klipsch La Scala II, Blue Sky Sub 12

Clarett used as ADC for vinyl rips.

Corning Optical Thunderbolt cable used to connect computer to 4Pre. Dac fed by iFi iPower and Noise Trapper isolation transformer. 

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1 hour ago, crenca said:

 

Good point, but I wonder if it is just the casework/bling that is really 70-80%?  I wonder if it's not just "high end" markup that is expected and a part of the whole (dealer/show/publication) "high end" sales network?  So wild guess, of that 70%, half is actual casework 'bling' and half is just markup.  That seems to be the case with these new Devore's.  

One of my hobbies (personality?) is to strive for the best possible deal I can get no matter what the situation. 

 

e.g. Living in Australia it is very time consuming, exhausting and expensive to travel anywhere. A few years ago my son did a ski racing course just outside Turin (Italy). It is 24 hours from Sydney to Milan (9 + 3 + 12). I'm a big fellow (6'2" and 220lbs) so I would spend a lot of time checking out flights, plane types and availability to get the bet possible deal AND comfort. The best I found was to catch a fight out of Sydney so that we could make the 1am flight out of Asia (any asian carrier via Bangkok, Singapore, HK, KL etc) as at that time of the morning the Asia - Europe flights were never full. We would get on this second flight last so that we could see where the empty seats were. Often I would get 4 seats across in the middle at the back and my son (then a small 13) would get 3 on the side. I would take 2 sleeping pills (he got a half) and after 8 hour sleep on a 12 hour flight arrive in good shape. Business class was about US$5k return and economy US$1k, however, as long as we got a sleep that was all that mattered to us.


With Audio I am always on the look out for such deals, which usually come in the shape of used gear, but not always.

 

The opposite to bling has to be the Benchmark Media range. Their engineering is superb, however, their appearance is at best bland. In stereophile over the years JA has raved about the measurements of their range of DACs and in particular the performance of their AHB2 power amp. In a "normal" domestic situation a DAC 3 / AHB2 combination would drive just about any speaker to say 90db with sonic excellence. That front end would only cost you $5k new ($8k if you needed more power and bridged 2 x AHB2s). If you shop around you can get a very similar "sound quality" by purchasing the older DAC2 with the AHB2 (used) for about US$4k. Just add source and speakers. Using the DAC3 with its remote (as a pre amp) you could hide these two pieces of gear out of site if you were hung up on appearances.

 

I know US$10k is a lot of money to some people for a hifi system, however, I still have my beloved 10 year old Benchmark DAC 1 as part of my home office system. I just turn it on each day and it does it's thing, unbelievably reliable and still sounds great. That's value. It acts as a preamp for a Nord Hypex Ncore power amp driving a pair of ATC SCM 19 speakers.

 

There are plenty of other examples of high quality manufacturers available at "reasonable" prices to those who have the knowledge. Knowledge is the difference between paying silly money, $50K +, and reasonable money <$10k.

 

My 3 cents.

 

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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Bring Back The Audio Cheapskate

 

 

also, if we are going to talk about obesity, we should include specific nutritional hungers*

 

 

 

* to loop back on topic, many have a hunger for polished Bubinga wood

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10 hours ago, Shadders said:

Hi,

I can see how the latest IC will find its way into the higher end first, but the technology in high end gear is not any different to the general hifi available. There is no electronic device boutique store - they all purchase from existing suppliers that everyone has access to. Exotic resistors - 0.1% thin film resistors are very cheap.

 

I disagree with this. The reason the rich are rich, and getting richer is because they don't really spend it, so they remain affluent. The trickle down effect is a myth. There are too few rich people to spend money to support the remaining population through permanent/secure jobs.

 

In the UK, the use of foodbanks is growing - not reducing - so the poor are definitely not slightly better off, in fact they are quite a bit worse off. The "gig" economy means no secure work, and people at the bottom end of society are a commodity, to be used by companies as they see fit. Again, the trickledown effect is a myth, to justify obscene amounts of wealth, and to fool the general public that it is acceptable that people cannot afford to eat, whilst people at the top can live conscience free.

 

Regards,

Shadders.

Wow, we disagree fairly comprehensively it seems. 

First lets look at components that’ll find their way into truly high end gear........heavy copper or milled aluminium chassis, special internal silver or 7N copper cables, high-end plugs and sockets, Mundorf and other speciality capacitors,  multi-rail linear power supplies, NOS vacuum tubes,  specially formed and wound transformers, double regulators, premium, selected and matched components, anti-vibration footers etc. Take a look at the cross-over from a YG or Magico speaker and compare it to the regular mass market components. Totally different ball park. Look at the driver materials like graphene, high intensity neodymium magnets, beryllium diamond coated tweeters,  carbon fibre, aluminium or composite enclosures, constrained layer damping technologies etc. Very different technology 

 

As for trickle down, all you need do is look at the tax take for various categories and you’ll find that ever more people are being hit with high rate tax, inheritance tax etc. As wealth trickles down people earn more (wage growth) and therefore pay more tax. A fact

Take a look at where most of the fastest growing economies are located. Africa. Take a look at the rate of growth in India, Pakistan, Vietnam....the poorest countries have the fastest growth......trickle down 

 

 

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11 hours ago, bluesman said:

 

I don't fault your logic or your goals, and I agree that our global society might well distribute its collective resources with more of an eye toward doing good than feeling good.  But a free society empowers each of us to do as we wish with what we have, short of violating generally agreed upon societal taboos (e.g. laws).  It's far easier to define "value" (i.e. worth / cost) than it is to define "good", "better spent", etc.  We have neither the ability nor the right to reallocate the wealth of others, except in specific circumstances and through societal systems and processes.  Sometimes I wish it were otherwise, but I'm generally more laissez faire than utilitarian.

 

 

I'm not arguing in favor of redistribution of wealth. People are free to do what they want with their money. I just hope some of the folks that buy 12000 dollar speaker cables will support the classical music scene, so it will stay affordable, and thus alive.

(Seriously, what will happen when the current popularity of Mahler/Bruckner/Shostakovich wanes, and even those names won't be sufficient any more to ensure a full house? Where is your audience in 20-30 years, if you don't draw young people to the concert hall now? Off topic, but I think about that stuff a lot)

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