Why is the high end stratospheric?

I think this article has at least part of the answer:


To your own ears and wallet be true, but I will always fight against seeing prices as the way we determine quality.
a trolling we will go 
a trolling we will go 
hi ho the dairy o
a trolling we will go
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I see it a little differently and think Erik is showing us something important here. Maybe some of you aren't aware of the price gouging because you haven't sat at the dinner tables while the pricings were being discussed. But I was at those tables in the 90's and heard how HEA was planning to jump into mega pricing, both reviewer and brand. Specifically raising these prices so HEA buyers would think they were getting better sound.

There's what the buyer saw, and there was the behind the scenes.


My point was just that there is a market for those with a lot more money than sense, and this can certainly drive prices up for everything in Audio.
Why is the high end stratospheric? It's my understanding that many in the audio industry believe that some audiophiles don't/won't take a component seriously unless it's at a certain price point. When we routinely talk about $30-$40K speakers, amplifiers that are $20-$40K, digital components consistently above $10K, I submit something is wrong.  

Ever go to a place to do something or buy something and you've over heard the salesman say to the other or give them that look (what a sucker), well you'd be surprised how often this has happened after the mid 90's in HEA.

I'm not knocking spending money (ever seen my yacht), what I am saying is audio works a certain way and when you throw this technology in an ultra expensive chassis chances are it will not out perform it's more simple competitor or even an amp without a chassis. The perception that HEA created about buying up is bogus, especially with box speakers and amplifiers and of course DACs. A little common sense can go a long way in this lifestyle.


Fleecing the Rich has long been prevalent in Capitalist society. Bring on the Bling!
It’s always been stratospheric. $100,000 speakers, $15,000 cartridges, $100,000 turntables, $20,000 tonearms, $50,000 amps, $5,000 power cords have been around since Jesus was a Boy Scout. Wake up and smell the coffee? On the other hand “the high end” is not defined by cost. So, who cares? 
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I cut my nose on a CD last night...

I was trying to read the control markings on the top of my Sharp SD-EX111 mini system (my good eye was less than an inch from the top) and I pushed "eject" not noticing that a CD had been loaded.

The CD (top loaded vertically) ejected and cut the end of my nose.

Be careful out there.

Q  How do you stop an audiophile from smelling? 

A  Cut off his nose.
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To top it off...

My wife said - "My God how much did you have to drink?"

I said - "Just a martini before dinner, why do you ask?"

She answered - "Because your nose is all RED."

The "perfect sound forever" is starting to fight back now. It’s probably just irritated it’s not getting the attention it deserves. As dekay said... Be careful out there. (there are millions of them)
I've seen interviews where a manufacturer would say that his dealers in Asia told him he didn't have product that was sufficiently expensive, and urged him to introduce a new model to fill that demand...
I do believe some high end audio brands also scam their rich fanboys but scare to mention any specific name 😎

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I've seen interviews where a manufacturer would say that his dealers in Asia told him he didn't have product that was sufficiently expensive, and urged him to introduce a new model to fill that demand...

Its a fact. I got a whole bunch of stuff cheap when I learned there are "blems" that exist only because Crazy Rich Asians willing to pay through the nose for perfection won't spend a dime if they see so much as a dust speck.

Its not just planes and audio either. A friend one time gifted me a box of Granny Smith Apples. He worked for a produce distributor. The box was for export to Japan. Laser scanned for shape, size, and blems, they were an entire box of identical, perfect apples. Fresh from the tree and immediately stored at 33.5 degrees in a nitrogen atmosphere they were the juiciest, crispest, tastiest apples ever. You do not even want to know what they sell them for. Let alone what people pay for them in Japan.

Once we started printing "money" by the trillions from nothing, well what did you think was gonna happen?
There are two ways of looking at this yes, we have seen certain products that were artificially over priced to generate interest the original Kharma loudspeakers were priced at $10k retail and the importer jumped the price to $20k a pair to make them seem special and outlandish, and there are other products which are generally expensive to make with custom parts in limited quantities.

We used to sell a loudspeaker from a company called Polymer Audio Research this company's loudspeakers sold for $68k, when you looked at the parts quality and cost these speakers were under priced:

2 Accuton Diamond tweeters          which are $3k each *2          $ 6k
2 Accuton Diamond midrange drivers which are $10k each * 2 =$20k
2 Custom Midbass drivers  estimated cost $500 each *2 =          $ 1k
4 Custom Woofers              estimated cost $500 each*4=            $ 2k

 So just in parts not including all metal composite baffle
all metal cabinets, all silver wire, custom inductors                      $29k

if you take those parts at 50% off for wholesale you still have     $14.5
add in all of the metal cabinets, wiring, caps ect                          $10K

so all in you have a projected cost of manufacture of $25k at least
add in margin for the company which was ridiculously low at $10-15k
you had a purchase price of $35-40k to the dealer with a sales price of $68k you had a tiny margin compared to the price of the loudspeaker.

There are other products that are priced very fairly considering the cost to build. So not every expensive audio product is overly inflated.

What people here fail to realize is that there are $30k Hermes bags, which are really nice leather bags, how difficult is it to produce a leather bag? 

Compare that with the huge costs to build a custom set of loudspeakers or amplifiers that do not use off the shelf amplifier modules in a prettier case. 

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ


This exactly.

Only the other day the wife showed me an advert in one of the crazy magazines she gets for free with her Allstate insurance points ( yes seriously).

14k for a dog bed.

I mean really?

How much do you think ANY dog bed could really cost to make?

Makes my Ayre EX8 seem like a bargain at $8900......
I think we need to recognize that there's a happy coexistence of performance and fleecing going on at the high end.

It is also a shame to me that we don't have more audio mags dedicated to the everything below that.


"Good sound is not rocket science. Bling is a big factor."

Bingo and Bingo

I have no problem with someone selling Bling, and that’s exactly what it is "way overbuilt Bling", but when someone says it’s better sounding than a simply designed music system that has adjustability there’s no comparison sound wise. A well designed system, allowing the signal to pass as freely as possible with adjustments for taste, is an audiophile stereo. Once someone goes past this they’re getting into trophy products and not performance.

Michael Green

Good sound is not rocket science. But great sound is. If you want to settle it’s no skin off my nose. I did not create reality. As Bob Dylan says at the end of all his songs, good luck to you.