Pulsars and the Mythical Armchair Speaker Maker

There’s another thread going about Joseph Audio Pulsar speakers which I did not want to derail, but it is showing up some common logical fallacies and dead ends I wanted to talk about.

As anyone who has read my posts knows, I’m a huge proponent of DIY for speakers and cables especially. Not that I think you should only go with DIY but because the more audiophiles who can build their own we have in the community the less snake oil gets spread around as fact and there’s less worshipping of the price tag as the almighty determiner of speaker performance.

The myth I want to talk about is kind of related. It is the idea that we should value speakers based purely on driver cost. JA’s Pulsars suffer from this because they seem to use off the shelf components, in very nice cabinets, with perfectly executed crossovers. The thing that I don’t understand are buyers who look at driver cost, and say "well, these speakers should cost no more than x amount, so I’m not buying them... "

I call hogwash. Speakers are more than a collection of parts. They are curated components brought together by a designer and manufacturer. Those same people who are likely to engage in this behavior:

  • Can’t actually design a speaker themselves
  • Would NEVER build a DIY speaker even as a complete kit because it doesn’t have a brand, nor would they buy an assembled DIY speaker.
  • Would probably go with a speaker with in-house drivers which have an even higher markup
  • May not have very good ears anyway

My point is, knowing the price of the parts does not make you at all qualified to judge what the final price should be. That is, fairly, in the hands of the market, and it doesn’t actually make you a better listener or more informed buyer. I would argue you end up buying speakers for brands with even more of a markup and more likely to have questionable performance.

It’s perfectly reasonable for a manufacturer to charge for parts, and skill. So, yes, talking tech and drivers and crossover components is always fun, but please stop evaluating the price of finished goods until you’ve attempted at least designing one pair yourself.

And again, DIY is a lot of fun, and if you want to go that way, you should, but let’s not denigrate high value, high quality manufacturers and delers by reducing them to part assemblers any more than you'd judge a restaurant based on the cost per pound of chicken.

Thank you,

@chrshanl37 As someone who makes a living selling wine to restaurants I know exactly what you mean. The overall cost of doing business is lost on people who just focus on one thing as kenjit is doing.
For instance, one could go to a butcher shop and buy a prime grade cut of steak, go home and fire up the grill,

I’ll just stop you there. I went to a respected butcher and bought some beautiful prime rib eyes, fired up the grill and still ended up with mediocre steaks. In the end, no matter whether it’s food or cars or anything else, it’s all about knowing what the hell what you’re doing in the end -- and the all-important final result. If I want a transcendant cuilinary experience, I’m paying a premium because I am NOT going to create that myself. Some things are just worth paying for!

Here’s another apt analogy. If you’re going skydiving and some guy offers you a half-price deal because he’s only charging you for parts plus a small premium but has never gone skydiving before, would you do that or would you pay more and go with an outfit that’s experienced and has done hundreds of successful drops with no fatalities? Yeah, I know I bowed out of this thread, but I had some downtime as my bolognese sauce is now simmering for a couple hours.

Soix thats why I said “one could” vs “anyone can”. That was assuming no formal culinary training but had a basic grasp on how to cook a steak you “could” pull off a meal you would get at a “decent” steakhouse I didnt say the best. Not sure what happened in your situation but it sounds like you made a huge mistake somewhere along the way. Hopefully you fair better with your Bolognese which is much more difficult :)

kenjits proposal is similar....if one had a basic grasp of using tools....they could buy everything they needed from Madisound including cabinet and crossovers and with no skills at designing a speaker whatsoever, build one. Not the best but decent.

But that really wasn’t the crux of my point, I was making a statement about determining the value of a product based solely on the cost of the raw materials alone while ignoring the hidden costs and the skill involved to make something better than decent which has to be priced accordingly.

I don’t personally want to wade into the DIY vs Pulsars camp, but I do object to some people in some of the older Pulsar threads who having been hyping the Pulsars as if no other company can do the same thing with off-the shelf drivers as if JA had used actual voodoo or magic on these speakers. These aren’t even the top of the line Seas drivers, and yet some think the Pulsars are uniquely special. For those that believe that, Ascend Acoustics sells a 2-way monitor with the Seas flagship diamond tweeter and Excel woofer and sells it for less than the retail price of the Pulsars. I guarantee you the Pulsars aren’t going to win a head-to-head between these two speakers as I’ve heard both.

The best analogy I could come up with this type of reasoning is people believing their company had created something so amazing with Seas Prestige drivers that another company couldn’t do better even with Seas Excel drivers.
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