Affordable vs. ultra expensive speakers - what's the difference?

Candidate 1: Affordable at about 3K


Candidate 2: Ultra expensive at 50K.


So what's the difference?


Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  That’s the answer you’re phishing for, right?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. That’s the answer you’re phishing for, right?


I think there is a difference but not sure if 50K difference.

well ,these monitor audio speaker are intensionally made sound not the best,just ok for ok amps

yg acoustics is on a higher enginering level,more expensive parts are used which probably cost more than monitor audio speakers itself

extravaganza wrote:

well ,these monitor audio speaker are intensionally made sound not the best,just ok for ok amps

Exactly what are you referring to?  What design or engineering features are evidence of that?  Please exclude any reference to those constraints imposed by the price.

Post removed 

I think this is somewhat like asking the difference between a Volkswagen and a Porsche (name your sports car. It sounds many times better.

I think there is a difference but not sure if 50K difference.

Engineering and materials mostly. 50K may be a lot to the average person but perhaps for some it's not that much. If the expensive loudspeaker is not in your budget, does it really matter?

For your next two cars, buy $30k cars instead of $50k cars and you've got an endgame speaker with the savings.

Ok, that's a bit of a dumb comment, but given what people spend on cars, Starbucks, etc. the money spent on things that last a lifetime and used everyday are truly valuable. No one second guesses their purchase of a good kitchen knife, right? Same principle.

Put the less costly speaker in the best acoustical possible room for it and put the costly one in an ordinary room..

You will have your answer...

For sure the high  probability that the costlier one is better because best designed  with more qualified component  is there...The price margin is huge here...

But no speaker at any price can beat the room anyway say a famous acoustician....

i will trust acoustic over any difference in price .... Save if this low cost speakers are really bad...



So what's the difference?

Measurements would be a way to know what the differences are.

Flowery words like the Crutchfield quote, “…have it in spades…” sounds a lot like the gardening section review at Home Depot.

I’ll say this, at about $7k/pr I bet the Joseph Audio Profiles blow your $3200/pr speakers way outta the water. Whole different level at relatively not much more $. Or, look at LSA-20 Statement here at $2500/pr and get comparable/better sound for even less. When you start talking about much higher-dollar speakers, you’re usually getting much higher quality parts and cabinet, and if the designer knows what he’s doing that usually leads to more magical performance if it matches well with your tastes and system. At that level, it becomes more of an art that requires more effort but much more potential. Listen to a pair of Joseph Audio Pearl 3s for $35k, for example, and they’ll just blow your $3k speakers into the weeds. If you don’t understand that concept, you haven’t heard high-end audio, which is why I suspect you asked this question in the first place.

The way you ask your question, it’s kinda like asking what’s the difference between a $10 bottle of wine and a $300 bottle of wine   It takes some time to appreciate the difference  

But, the previous auto comparison applies. Buy a Honda Accord, but at the same price differential you you applied you could have a top Ferrari or Porsche. I think it’s an apt and accurate comparison, assuming you like the sound of the more expensive speakers — but technically, they do most things better. Same with cars.

50K - it looks nice, kinda sexy.

87dB @2.83V/m is low. Correct method of specifying dB.

Frequency response, while specified looks good, ambiguous despite saying +/- 1dB "ïn the audible band"- the audible band could be anything between 20 and 20,000 hz. Anything.. I don’t like ambiguity, where a question needs to be asked or clarification required.

4 ohm is not unusual in expensive speakers..Not "most amplifiers"as in the speil - most retail amps are nominal 8ohm, sometimes have 4ohm capabilities if specified, otherwise don’t assume.. Rule of thumb - don’t mix n match.

No cigar for those.

$1,600 (each?  who buys single speakers I wonder) - looks good, nothing fancy.  Fine.

Better sensitivity,at 90.5dB, BUT could be 87 because not specified if it is W/m or V/m. A marketing trick to be aware of.

Fairly OK frequency response - 27-35,000, except at -6dB! Seek -3dB.

Can’t comment on actual drivers. 50K one mentions phase characteristics, and that’s important.

From just a few moments looking and summary appraisal (some may be horrified) I’d pass on both, irrespective of price. Keep lookin’ . Look at another 20.


Expensive speakers like Tidal the tweeter alone I hear are $10.000.00 add the additional drivers, crossover parts which are Dueland , the cabinets are furniture grade, labor I’d say a high end speaker company is making 200% maybe 300% but hey that’s what a top end company needs to make to stay in business and on the cutting edge.


$50000 to them is nothing compared to $3200 for us. So in effect, what you perceive as expensive is actually a bargain.

So this is kind of interesting.

I bought a pair of QLN Sonoras and just absolutely loved them. Very minimal simplistic design. Engineered with the less is more philosophy and they worked extremely well in my setup with the Audio Hungary Qualiton X200.

I was in Mexico San Jose visiting one of our plants, went to dinner at our plant managers home and he has a X200 with the QLN Prestige 5 in his much larger listening room. They sounded fantastic. Open, dynamic, detailed, everything my Sonoras are but more. Same design cues a bit harder to drive for lower powered amps.

I bit went from what was a perfect $5500 pair of speaker and spent $12500.00 more for the 5’s and well regretted it. They just did not work in my room. 

The lesson I learned in my situation is that less is more. The 5’s went back and the Sonoras are back.


It is true that speakers must be commensurate and synergetically linked to the room...

But is is not enough at all...

A room must be treated materially but this  is not enough also...

A room must be mechanically controlled...

After a rightful acoustic embeddings the price of speakers dont means much pass a certain price of the basic components...

Acoustic rule not the box....

An acoustically  dedicated room beat any piece of gear in improvement at any price...


I bit went from what was a perfect $5500 pair of speaker and spent $12500.00 more for the 5’s and well regretted it. They just did not work in my room.

Higher price is no guarantee of better sound, which is subjective anyway, but higher cost from the builder’s perspective allows for more expensive, higher quality, more resolving, and hopefully better sounding parts. It’s still a huge challenge to synergize all the parts into a coherent, balanced, and satisfying speaker. Then there’s the critical element of finding components that will reveal the better parts of the more expensive speaker. Throwing Magico, Wilson, or Focal speakers on an generic 50 watt receiver isn’t likely to impress anyone.

What’s the difference? Just in terms of manufacturing and parts quality there’s a huge difference. Aluminum enclosure, drivers made from billet aluminum, substantially better crossover components. Is it “worth” a $47,000 difference, or does it “sound” $47,000 better? I have absolutely no clue but there is big money in making the expensive example you reference.

@hilde45 ,  I think (at least for me and my logic), you nailed it.  

I don't have $50k speakers, but today I have $6500 speakers and I never thought I'd get here.  I can now fathom maybe a $20k set of speakers if I could use them and enjoy them thoroughly for 20 years. 

I tell a neighbor friend I bought an amp for $4k and their eyes pop out of the sockets.  Someone on the street buys a $70k car and no one's eyes pop out.  The amp plays on, while the car moves one more step toward the junkyard each day. 

there are some inexpensive speakers I like a lot, and some expensive one's I do not like, but all my favorites are expensive...not sure if those who do not hear a difference are lucky or unlucky...they save money but miss out on so much

No speakers at any cost will beat by his upgrading power,

These 6 aspects of acoustic control parameters in a room:

-Balance between absorbing surfaces,

-Reflecting one,

-Diffusive one....

-control over reverberation time and timing of the wavefronts

- control over the distribution of the pressure zones

- fine layering and tuning of the laminar flow

These 3 last aspects could be  controlled with Helmhotz mechanical  method NOT by electronical equalization...



Dont upgrade good speakers with costly one BEFORE studying and experimenting with acoustic...

@jbhiller i couldn’t agree with you more, each upgrade makes me believe I can now reach the next echelon of component, something I never thought I’d get to 10 years ago. The same goes for the spending habits people have that are socially understood, music, despite it being almost vital to life, seems like an afterthought for many. I use my system basically everyday and enjoy it for hours, what else is getting that kind of use except my work laptop!

@jbhiller Well said.

For me: “I don't have $50k speakers, but today I have $32K speakers and I never thought I'd get here.  I can now fathom maybe a $70K set of speakers if I could use them and enjoy them thoroughly for 20 years. 


However, when I retired I had $13K speakers which I thought I would have forever, and was able to upgrade to these $34K speakers… wow, I am so lucky… and enjoy them every day. They are so much more than I thought speakers could be.

I'd tell the O.P. that 'diminishing returns' are part of the difference between a 2k and a 50k loudspeaker, assuming he'd understand that the 50k can sound better.

By the 'tone' of his question I think he may be just irritated with folks who can appreciate and afford better models. He might enjoy some high-end speaker bashing, don't know.

Accept diminishing returns and buy only what you can hear. If it's a tin ear then the $2k may satisfy for a lifetime. Some are so well-designed they can. Still, I'll enjoy a Tidal Audio or Rockport or MBL, etc, far more than a cheaper pair.

For me  @jhiller  has is exactly right. Don't own a boat or snowmobile, don't need fancy new depreciating cars (some good used ones can be fun, eg Miata). Putting money into a hobby I enjoy every day makes a lot more sense.

Perhaps the O.P. should venture out and hear some world-class designed loudspeaker and he'll get it figured out.





I have a pair that retailed for 5k and another that were about 1500 new. I listen to the $1500 pair.

I agree with the don’t own a boat or snowmobile (unless those are your passions)… one of the real keys to enjoying life is to feed your passions and starve to other stuff… cars were never important to me, nor the quality of TP (to the horror of my partner). But you can’t have everything, if you were not born rich. Those of us that made a living must choose between work, how we live and our passions. If you concentrate on what really makes you happy, you can really enjoy life.

@mahgister you clearly do not know my room. It is treated with GIK panels and these speakers did not work. Now I do not have all the crazy stuff you do, and if I did my wife would have me committed.

Have a great night.

Yes i dont know your room for sure...

And sometimes speakers dont work well...

Dont take my post against you...I know very well that a dedicated audio room is not possible for all of us...

I apologize if my post was oblivious of that... you know these speakers and i dont...

My deepest respect to you...




P.S. yes my audio room is a crazy acoustic laboratory but it is because of that i has been able to figure out acoustic 6 rules for myself :

Here are these 6 aspects of acoustic control parameters in a room i experimented with :

1 -Balance between absorbing surfaces,

2 -Reflecting one,

3 -Diffusive one....

This was "classical" passive material treatment of a room, now these 3 new other factors are related to my concept of the mechanical active control of a room ( what i called a mechanical equalizer):

4-control over reverberation time and timing of the wavefronts

5- control over the distribution of the pressure zones

6- fine layering and tuning of the laminar flow

These 3 last aspects could be controlled with Helmhotz mechanical method NOT by electronical equalization...

Then the piano will not sound the same from the same pair of speakers in a non controlled room and in a controlled one...Not even close...

@mahgister you clearly do not know my room. It is treated with GIK panels and these speakers did not work. Now I do not have all the crazy stuff you do, and if I did my wife would have me committed.

Have a great night.


This question is kind of like explaining driving a high performance car or drinking a good scotch or seeing a beautiful woman. If you don’t have the perspective, your priority should be to get it. Refinement, engagement, energy, synergy, dimension, cohesion, dynamics, etc. all better.

Affordable is kind of a silly word. I can afford much more than my daughter can, a good friend of mine can afford much more than I can. Therefore it’s actually ALL affordable. The notion of value is an entirely different thing. If a 3000.00 speaker works for you, fine. Or 500.00 or 25.00 or 100,000.00. It really doesn’t matter. Value is in the eye of the beholder. Cost is ultimately irrelevant. 

Using the car analogy, all cars have 4 wheels, a body, an engine, a gas tank and various other bits. Some just do it better than others.

close your eyes, let them play it at whichever San Diego dealer and your ears will tell you. Not us, not the price tag, but wherever the sound will take you

Several things come to mind.

Firstly, where is anything made. Germany, for instance, has the highest employee wages in the world. Things coming from China (a la your first example) not so much.

Secondly, what is th cabinetry construction? Certain speaker cabinets are hand finished using exotic wood veneers. They are "formed" and "contoured" which adds considerably to cost. Others may be "wood like" using vinyl replication.

Thirdly, what is the distribution mark up? I have dealt with distributors that have virtually doubled the price of the component especially from products we stocked that came over seas.

Fourthly, Does the product price point reflect advantageous positioning? In other words, if we msrp something at a higher price point, does this imbue a more desirable and prestigious aspect to the product and thus increase sales to those who hold importance of such? For some, most certainly so.

In short, beyond the build material quality as it relates to speaker voicing, there is a plethora of other aspects that lend to the eventual price of the product.That is why the most important aspect, as previously stated by some, are the ears of the buyer as opposed to the price of the product.



a Ferrarri is a car 


so is a yugo


is aferrari a better car is it worth the difference?

 I am so impressed by the build quality/performance of some manufacturers out there. Once in a while, I build a project for myself or for sale. I have to make decisions about what I am aiming for, or the extent of performance that a product has by it's design to begin with.

 This all seems to be similar to racing cars. Say a fast car costs $50K. A Slightly faster car will cost $75K. Diminishing returns happen after that.

Take your $1500 speakers and swap the $25 tweeter with a $500 Be or AMT and suddenly you hear a major disconnect so then you gotta upgrade the midrange and xover to retain the coherence and on it goes until you’re listening to diamond drivers in a cast marble inclosure that for all their mass completely disappear when playing. Ducati or honda?

That depends upon you and where you are in your audiophile journey.  $50,000 speakers are an endpoint you build your system around think long term investment.

3k speakers could be an endpoint if you are satisfied with the sound but will be a limiting factor in the future if start improving the supporting equipment and will probably be replaced, maybe several times with the possibility of spending much more than the $50,000 depending on where you end up.

The difference is the importance of sound /  music to you now and in the future.

I still miss the robot references.

This is a very silly question. Listen to them and let your ears be the judge.

For the $ for a Ferrari...which are really nice....'cop bait', though....

I can buy a modest house.

Plus a Lotus. (Most cops don't know what they are.....👍)

And a nice Yamaha sport bike. (If I'd want to draw attention from the PD...)

Currently I DIY my speakers....not the 'box', the driver itself.

As is said: Priceless.

At least, to my ears and my predilections....;)

Pick your path....

Precision costs more money, but does not always guarantee better performance. Exotic materials cost more money, but do not guarantee better performance. There are also costs associated with R&D that are defrayed over the total expected run of a product. A lot of high dollar items sell fewer units, but have a lot more R&D costs. The scrap costs may also be higher because the finish standards are more stringent and the materials scrapped cast more. Not everything that makes that product more expensive may be important to you, but you’ll still have to pay for it as part of the package. You can arrive at any conclusion of relative worth simply by weighting the selection criteria a certain way. As a value proposition the more expensive item is rarely preferable. This falls in with diminishing returns. However, sometimes the performance aspired to is not a logistical problem that can be optimized economically, but a conceptual problem instead. “Can this be done?” rather than “What’s the most efficient method to reach a specific result?” Most of our systems are well within the realm of logistics and compromises or trade offs based on economics. But those systems unconstrained by conventional limitations are fascinating to read about.  

Whats affordable for you may be cheapy stuff for someone who earns allot more. whats affordable for that guy maybe too expensive for you.


Regards, I would still say focus on a Good Room first as this will make allot of the diffrence.



Affordable (anything) vs Ultra expensive (anything)

Whats the difference?

Competing at the Olympics vs Winning a Gold Medal.

Whats the difference?

Acceptable vs Excellence 

Whats the difference?

The difference is everything, and the only thing.