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,

Kenjit if a speaker retails for $8k how much should a designer have wrapped up in parts cost to make it a value in your opinion?

If you consider the cost of buying the drivers, paying somebody to do the box and the cost of dsp amps, thats an indication of the approximate cost. 
I ask because I had a pair of Ryan Audio R610’s that were great...actually they were better than great and very well reviewed. Ryan Audio makes all of their own drivers in house and I believe they also make their cabinets and binding posts. Amazing build quality. I believe they retail for around 2k a pair. 

But as much as I liked them I also have a pair of speakers that were designed with off the shelf drivers and cabinets. They retailed for about $2500 a pair and they are immensely better than the Ryans (to me) and cost a a bit more. I have compared them to many other 2-way speakers including one of my all time favorites Proac Response 2.5’s and they are better, especially the bass. They are the speakers I have always judged other speakers by within that price range. In fact I would spend twice as much on a pair if I had to. The secret sauce is the crossover. The question is am I a sucker? Am I getting ripped off because the designer spent less on parts?

I have become very good friends with the speaker designer through the years and he is now retired. I recall a conversation we had where he told me that even though he kept his costs low and sold his speakers at a relatively low price, the best year he ever had making speakers netted him a measly profit of around $30k. 
“If you consider the cost of buying the drivers, paying somebody to do the box and the cost of dsp amps, thats an indication of the approximate cost.”

I’m aware of all of that but you still didnt answer my question. What’s the number? I’ll even settle for a %.
youre asking the wrong person. Running a business whether its selling steak or speakers is about profit however my goal is not profit its perfect sound. 
I don't see your goal in evidence, Kenjit.  

You state parts alone determine sound quality, and measurements trump experience.

So, what box of parts have you landed on??