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  • One To Ponder

    How do you determine if a high-end audio product represents a good value? Does money have anything to do with perceived value? For instance, could a $50K speaker be considered a good value?
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
    ________________________________________

    -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
    -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
    -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
    -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
    -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
    -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
    -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
    -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
    -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
    -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

  • #2
    An alternative to value is choice. Think "guns or butter".
    Speakers/Amps: Genesis G2.2 Jr with Powered Servo-Sub Bass, Genesis GR1440 Mono Amps, 5,000 watts total power
    Preamp: SMc Audio VRE-1C Preamp (fully balanced inputs and output)
    Phono 1: VPI Signature 21 Belt-Drive Turntable with 10” 3D Printed Fatboy Gimbal Arm and Ortofon MC Windfeld Ti Phono Cartridge driving Lehmann Decade Phono Preamp
    Phono 2: VPI HW-40 Direct-Drive Turntable with 12” 3D Printed Fatboy Gimbal Arm and Ortofon MC Anna Diamond Phono Cartridge driving Genesis Gold Phono Preamp
    R2R Tape: Studer A810 with Bridge Console
    Digital: Lumin Network Player with Lumin NAS
    Cables: Genesis Advanced Technologies/Absolute Fidelity Interface Interconnects, Speaker, Phono and Power
    Power: Audio-Ultra Power System, IsoTek Super Titan Passive Power Conditioning for Amplifiers
    Accessories: Custom Acrylic Equipment Stands, Klaudio Ultrasonic RCM

    Comment


    • #3
      I find the best of high end vintage, i.e. 1980's & earlier, speakers & tts including arms & cartridges exceptional value. Not only do they sound better to me than all their current counterparts I've heard while costing considerably less, they tend to retain or increase in value.

      In many ways Lamm electronics are what I find of extreme value, I have everything they ever made and never sold my demos. Still using the Lamm amps I bought back in the 90's daily, not because I have to but because I still find them better sounding and more musical than any other non Lamm electronics. I know many other Lamm customers who feel the same. I guess longevity of design & overall satisfaction is where I see the value.

      david
      Manufacturer: American Sound Turntables and The Nothing Rack
      Distribution: NEODIO

      Special Sales: van den Hul
      Industry Representation: Lamm, Kharma OLS Speakers, Ortofon, ZYX, Keith Monks, Audio Desk, Jensen Transformer, Venta Airwasher

      Unique Items: Vintage Horn Speakers
      http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...stening-room-1
      http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...earfield-setup

      Comment


      • Guest's Avatar
        Guest commented
        Editing a comment
        Lamm gear is built on 'rules of human hearing' that VL codified from hundreds of blind listening tests he did in Russia. Human hearing hasn't changed since then.

        I agree, long term satisfaction is a pretty good indicator of value.

    • #4
      It's entirely user dependent and it doesn't matter what the price level is. So yes, a $50,000 speaker can represent good value.
      Dynavector DV20x2L MC cartridge - Genesis G7.1f speakers - Marantz Reference PM-KI-Pearl Int. Amp. - Oracle Audio Paris MkV turntable - Various Morrow & Valab/King cables

      Comment


      • #5
        We all have different budgets, and so everyone has a practical limit, cost-wise. A 50K speaker is "worth it" if it fits the budget of the buyer, and if it takes the listener where that listener wants to go.

        Having said that, the best "value" for many will be a discounted (used, demo) product that is perhaps costly but not full retail. A list priced 100K speaker depreciated to 50K speaker (at least the ones I'm thinking of) would represent excellent value. It's just how food chains work, you know?
        Lyra Kleos SL, Dynavector XX-2MKII, VPI JMW 10.5i, VPI Aries, VPI SDS, ModWright PH-150 Reference Phono, Sony HAP-Z1ES server, McIntosh MR80, McIntosh C2300, McIntosh MC352, Vandersteen 5A, PS Audio P10, Bright Star Audio Rack of Gibraltar. Cables: Shunyata Cobra Ztron IC, PS Audio Statement AC, Synergistic Research AC, Harmonic Tech Silver Phono, Cable Research Labs Silver IC, Audioquest Gibraltar bi-wire.

        Comment


        • #6
          I believe "value" can only be determined buy the end buyer. Someone looking at $100,000 speakers might find a $50,000 speaker to be a bargain and great value. To someone looking at $1000 speakers, neither of them would be seen as having any real value at all. Just like the term "affordable." All items are "affordable" to the person that bought them.

          Example, people who bought and loved the 47 Labs Gaincard found it both affordable and based on its sound quality, to have real value too. I found it to be one of the nicest sounding amps I ever tried in my system, but at nearly $5,000 in the configuration I reviewed to have little value. These days a $600 gainclone offers similar sound and real value.
          Steve Lefkowicz
          Senior Associate Editor at Positive Feedback
          -
          Analog 1: Linn LP12 (MOSE/Hercules II), Ittok, Dynavector 10X5 MK.II Low, iPhono2/iPowerX; Analog 2: Pro-Ject RPM-1 Carbon, Talisman S, iFi iPhono.
          Digital: Samsung 300E5C notebook, JRiver Media Center 28, Tidal HiFi, Qobuz Studio), iFi NEO iDSD, iFi iUSB3, iPurifier2, Audioquest Jitterbug.
          Electronics: DIY passive line-stage, Antique Sound Labs MG-SI15DT-S, Burson Timekeeper Virtuoso
          Speakers: Tekton Lore, Magneplaner .7
          Interconnects: Morrow Audio MA1, Vermouth Audio Black Pearl, Audioquest Evergreen
          Speaker cables: Morrow Audio SP4, Vermouth Audio Red Velvet, Audioquest Type 5
          Digital cables: Aural Symphonics USB, iFi Gemini twin-head USB.
          Accessories: Sound Organization turntable shelf, Mondo racks, Pangea Audio Vulcan rack, Pi Audio Group Über BUSS, Monster HTS2000 power conditioner, Kinetronics anti-static brush, Pro-Ject VC-S record cleaner, Spin Clean record cleaner.
          Headphones: Schiit Valhalla amp, Burson Conductor Virtuoso Amp, Meze Audio 99 Classic and 99 Neo, Beyerdynamic DT770Pro 600 ohm, DT770 Studio 80 ohm, 1More Triple Driver Over Ear, 1More Triple Driver IEM

          Comment


          • #7
            A $50K loudspeaker might well be considered an excellent value if deployed in some kind of professional environment. For my personal use, not so much. Even if somehow I could afford to acquire the speakers, I cannot manage to create a listening environment with proper electrical service that would do the speakers justice.
            Analog: Holbo Turntable, Transfiguration Proteus; Forsell Air Reference, Transfiguration Phoenix S; Rega RP-8, VdH Crimson XGW; VPI Prime Signature, VAS Nova Mono, VAS Nova Signature, Symphonic Line RG-8
            Digital: Mac mini 6,2 with YFS PS-12M LPS; Exogal Comet Plus, Exogal Ion PowerDAC
            Electronics: Aurorasound Vida, Channel D Lino C; Merrill Cara, Gryphon M-100 Mkii (pair)
            Cables: Morrow, Gryphon interconnects; YFS USB cable; Morrow, XLO, Channel D phono cables; Morrow, Gryphon, Goertz speaker cables

            Comment


            • #8
              Anytime you buy something and you feel like you got more than you paid for in terms of quality of build, sound quality, and how it fits into your system and increases your enjoyment of listening to music, it should represent good value to you.
              Micro Seiki SX-8000 table with flywheel, SME 3012R arm, SME 312S arm, Lyra Etna SL and Dynavector XV-1S cartridges, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers, and Def Tech Ref subs.

              Comment


              • #9
                "Price is what you pay; value is what you receive." Value is therefore, necessarily subjective.

                Comment


                • #10
                  Value may come in different packages but one thing I was thinking about was the price/actual cost ratio. Do the parts, etc. justify the cost? Certainly the markup on products can vary from the normally quoted 4:1 to as high as 10:1.
                  Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                  Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                  ________________________________________

                  -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
                  -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
                  -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                  -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
                  -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                  -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                  -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                  -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                  -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                  -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Value and price. Value vs. price. I suppose perceived value is determined pretty much by one personal financial situation. Let's take the Magico S5 MK II which most consider to be an excellent performer at its price point. My current speakers, with which I am well pleased cost 1/20th the price of the Magicos. I do not believe the Magicos, however good are twenty times better than my speakers.

                    This does not make the Magicos a poor performer, they are excellent. But from my perspective they have no value at all since there is no possibility I could ever own them. The same holds true for any product, the new Bugatti may be a great car but at a couple of million what does it matter to me?

                    Basically determining "value" is up to the individual, it's an opinion, and opinions don't always coincide.

                    Comment


                    • #12
                      Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
                      Value may come in different packages but one thing I was thinking about was the price/actual cost ratio. Do the parts, etc. justify the cost? Certainly the markup on products can vary from the normally quoted 4:1 to as high as 10:1.
                      scarcity and low production numbers for the majority of high-end audio components will have a poor perceived value because the economies of scale aren't there. i've been smitten once or twice by a component simply because it wasn't mainstream or easy to acquire and it wasn't "good value" for that reason and may even qualify as poor value.
                      TechDAS | Graham Eng | ZYX | B.M.C. | Boulder | Magico

                      "Listening to Analogue music is an act of rebellion in a digital gulag" - Simon Yorke

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        Also, I think "Value" coincides with longevity. Spending $xxx on a piece of gear that you keep and use for years has a very high value, while the same price for something you end up swapping out or feeling a need to upgrade in a year or two not quite so much.
                        Steve Lefkowicz
                        Senior Associate Editor at Positive Feedback
                        -
                        Analog 1: Linn LP12 (MOSE/Hercules II), Ittok, Dynavector 10X5 MK.II Low, iPhono2/iPowerX; Analog 2: Pro-Ject RPM-1 Carbon, Talisman S, iFi iPhono.
                        Digital: Samsung 300E5C notebook, JRiver Media Center 28, Tidal HiFi, Qobuz Studio), iFi NEO iDSD, iFi iUSB3, iPurifier2, Audioquest Jitterbug.
                        Electronics: DIY passive line-stage, Antique Sound Labs MG-SI15DT-S, Burson Timekeeper Virtuoso
                        Speakers: Tekton Lore, Magneplaner .7
                        Interconnects: Morrow Audio MA1, Vermouth Audio Black Pearl, Audioquest Evergreen
                        Speaker cables: Morrow Audio SP4, Vermouth Audio Red Velvet, Audioquest Type 5
                        Digital cables: Aural Symphonics USB, iFi Gemini twin-head USB.
                        Accessories: Sound Organization turntable shelf, Mondo racks, Pangea Audio Vulcan rack, Pi Audio Group Über BUSS, Monster HTS2000 power conditioner, Kinetronics anti-static brush, Pro-Ject VC-S record cleaner, Spin Clean record cleaner.
                        Headphones: Schiit Valhalla amp, Burson Conductor Virtuoso Amp, Meze Audio 99 Classic and 99 Neo, Beyerdynamic DT770Pro 600 ohm, DT770 Studio 80 ohm, 1More Triple Driver Over Ear, 1More Triple Driver IEM

                        Comment


                        • #14
                          Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
                          Value may come in different packages but one thing I was thinking about was the price/actual cost ratio. Do the parts, etc. justify the cost? Certainly the markup on products can vary from the normally quoted 4:1 to as high as 10:1.
                          What's the value of design and everything it took to arrive at a good one?

                          What's the value of the points built-in to MSRP so a dealer can give a 'nice' discount. Thinking mostly here of the cable industry.

                          I suspect getting into this topic - price vs cost - will take us down a rabbit hole whose end will be something other than a warm fuzzy. But hey - it's your can opener.

                          Comment


                          • #15
                            Originally posted by tima View Post

                            What's the value of design and everything it took to arrive at a good one?

                            What's the value of the points built-in to MSRP so a dealer can give a 'nice' discount. Thinking mostly here of the cable industry.

                            I suspect getting into this topic - price vs cost - will take us down a rabbit hole whose end will be something other than a warm fuzzy. But hey - it's your can opener.
                            I think these points are very important. There are very few items in the high end that are based on marginal cost. Fixed or sunk costs are the major drivers to determining price - since there is such a small volume. Also firms are poorly capitalized so they cannot afford to price based on potential long term gain in sales volume and a long term amortization of sunk costs.

                            There are few items that I can think of that have reached a reasonably good pricing model where people are not concerned that the price is not a fair or good one. The one that comes to mind is Oppo, which is priced significantly higher than equipment which basically does the same thing ($99 bluray players at Costco). Yet it is perceived as bargain priced and great value for the money.

                            There is one general category of high end items that appear to be based on a marginal cost basis, where there is little or no price variation and little competition. That is in the media we buy. Newly reissued records, particularly 180g pressings are all priced about the same, driven mostly by the cost of production. That is the same for new SACD's and newly issued R2R tapes, with few exceptions. One interesting exception is the Electric Recording Company, whose pricing model (at well over ten times the pricing of other new reissues), is based on very limited production, perceived quality and, most important, comparison not to other reissues, but to rare, ultra expensive original copies.

                            Lastly, the diminished presence of bricks and mortar stores in the high end seems to me to be very much related to a decrease in the perceived value of these stores. They have many of the same issues as small production high end companies - high fixed costs and low volume, in an environment where the major value they bring to the customer, that of knowledge, is undervalued or found elsewhere (e.g. on the internet).

                            Larry


                            Analog- VPIClassic3-3DArm,SoundsmithZephyrII+MiyajimaZeroMono, 2xAmpex ATR-102,Doshi3.0,Merrill Trident Master Tape Pre,Herron VTPH-2A
                            Dig Rip-Pyramix,IzotopeRX3Adv,Mykerinos,PacMicroModel2
                            Dig Play-mchNADAC, LampiPac, Roon, HQP, Oppo105
                            Electronics-Doshi Pre,CJ MET1mchPre, Cary2A3monoamps
                            Speakers-AvantgardeDuosLR,3SolosC,LR,RR
                            Other-2x512Engineer/Marutani Symmetrical Power, AudioDiskVinylCleaner,AirTightRecordFlat, Scott Rust Interconnects,
                            Music-15KRecs(90%classical),1.3KR2Rtapes,50TBrips

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