Stratospheric audio gear prices

The more time I have under my belt pursuing quality audio, the more I realize that high audio gear prices have some basis in their quality. Yet there is a limit. When you buy a Ferrari the cost is high, but you can see the money involved in the design and parts. Many would argue that high quality audio gear is similar to the quality and design of a hyper-car. But when you look a the sheer quantity an complexity of this kind of car, there is no piece of audio gear that compares. To me, a piece of audio gear that costs as much as even an inexpensive car is just a manufacturer cashing in because they can. Can you imagine what audio manufacturers would want to charge for a piece of audio gear that was the size and weight of a car? Like $100 million.  I believe it just drives the whole market up and we end up getting a little bit suckered. This is all perhaps a little overstated. I guess I just want to shame audio manufacturers. I do understand that they are not charities, or here for the betterment of mankind. If you are not frustrated by this, good for you.  Here is a quote from a book about marketing. The reference is a victim of link rot. Nevertheless it has common information. 

"Premium Pricing

Premium pricing is the practice of keeping the price of a product or service artificially high in order to encourage favorable perceptions among buyers, based solely on the price. The practice is intended to exploit the (not necessarily justifiable) tendency for buyers to assume that expensive items enjoy an exceptional reputation or represent exceptional quality and distinction . A premium pricing strategy involves setting the price of a product higher than similar products . This strategy is sometimes also called skim pricing because it is an attempt to "skim the cream" off the top of the market. It is used to maximize profit in areas where customers are happy to pay more, where there are no substitutes for the product, where there are barriers to entering the market, or when the seller cannot save on costs by producing at a high volume. It is also called image pricing or prestige pricing.


Luxury has a psychological association with price premium pricing. The implication for marketing is that consumers are willing to pay more for certain goods and not for others. To the marketer, it means creating a brand equity or value for which the consumer is willing to pay extra. Marketers view luxury as the main factor differentiating a brand in a product category."

Source: Boundless. “Market Share.” Boundless Business Boundless, 26 May. 2016. Retrieved 07 Feb. 2017 from

One benefit of high prices is to keep the time wasters away from showrooms.  My local Audio/Video installation specialist is a Linn dealer, with a Plain Jane $25000 turntable that looks like its predecessor Ariston. The sticker shock will keep anyone who cannot afford it from being invited back to see the effects of the incredible $65000 projector.  When the prices quit justifying the sound, which might be now, the Chinese, etc, can fill in the gaps in the pricing/value equation.  There used to be several companies which provided exceptional value for extremely good products, including, but not only, B&K, Adcom (They tell me), Audire, Phase Linear (Amps at least), GAS and Hafler (If you could put up with products haphazardlty assembled by the lowest bidder), and many more.  I Have a set of Bryston, which is good, but not as good as my Audire, etc.  My B&K tuner sounds at least as good as my Kenwood KT-917, but is an ugly black box Yugo looking thing, instead of a beautiful, function laden work of art.  I have owned NAD and Phase Linear, and could easily live with them if necessary.  Much perceived value is simply marketing, e.g. diamonds.
I see your point, but the reality is, these products are not being targeted necessarily for the audiophile, they are going after the affluent egos...the ones that have to have the most expensive show cased in their multi million dollar mansions...higher priced is not better...there are plenty of manufacturers that build high fidelity gear that is kind of obtainable...NAD, ROTEL, ARCAM, ANTHEM, Parasound, Primare, etc. Though I would say even this equipment has become unobtainable to most people...they are expensive, because they rely on internal computers, software and for home theater applications, expensive licensing from the various codecs...I see the prices not unreasonable for new current gear, though not so value driven as they have become increasingly user’s in the old used stereo receiver’s I see a total price gouging for equipment that went obsolete in 1982 with the invention of the CD player. I never found that gear particularly special and the sound stage is often narrow and blah...but getting back to the esoteric gear and creating a false exclusivity... you are educated into the practice...just don’t buy into it...
the current used market has great gear at the most affordable prices, it may not have all the current bells and whistles, but the amps and design is superior to a lot of the gear that costs more. But to be glad it a lot of the more expensive pieces have the best of power supply, capacitors, the design of the carriage and efficient amps..
Thanks for bringing attention to this strange world we live in, I get it, I see it all the time...The branding has replaced the importance of sound quality...Brand Recognition is king in today’s crowded audio industry...This is why Denon/Marantz is so popular...Sound United has created the best brand recognition in home audio...they were known pretty well to people who loved audio, but know they target the newb to sell them mediocre gear.

The consolidation will only make things worse and more expensive.

it is the used 
If the money wasn't out there, these over-priced products would not exist. Huge disparities in disposable income causes us to perceive them as being in that category. One analogy that comes to mind is the salaries of professional athletes.....most people probably think those are also ridiculous, but considering the money generated by professional sports (billions for the NFL alone), they're not. I quit chasing the rabbit long ago and am perfectly satisfied with my lower and mid-level gear. I still spend time actually listening to music, not so much about what weak link needs to be jettisoned so more cash can be shoveled out the door.
How much do you need-to spend .
having owned a audio store before and having a audio system over $100 k
it does sound much better then a $30 k system 
Thst being said ,for-example digital has had the biggest sonic advancements 
in the last$5 years ,now for $6k or less a reference dac , electronics 
for  under $10 k you can get agreat integrated amp or. Separates  in many ways a well executed integrated can beat separates of even more money better synergy 
less powercords,less interconnects , loudspeakers if sold direct $10 k or less
for system cables  not including powercords $3500 should get you verygood cables . Today a $30 k system will get you what was $50k a few years back if you 
know how to purchase for best value . Myself sometimes will buy used and have it modded. My speakers I always upgrade the ❤️ of the speaker the critical Xover
on the vast majority the Xovers are very lacking and average or below at best.