Considering starting a Speaker Cable company - thoughts? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 154 Old 05-29-2012, 01:56 PM - Thread Starter
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While I offer this idea with tongue planted firmly in cheek, I am curious to know whether this is a viable business concept?

I am of the opinion that all speaker cables sound alike. ..Yet it's clear that there are many who are willing to shell out considerable amounts of money because they believe the differences to be real AND significant. So here's my idea…

Buy a heavy-duty black extension cord from home depot and then borrow (from a friend) a pair of $3500 speaker cables found on Stereophile's Recommended list. Then, conduct honest carefully constructed double-blind trials using music students from Univ. of Pennsylvania to determine if they can hear ANY difference b/w them. I would carefully document the data, and record all details including equipment used, etc.. When they don't hear a difference (which I know will be the case ), I start an internet-direct company and run banner ads on all the favorite websites that goes something like….

NuanceTones speaker cables offer Class A performance at Class E prices!

Then, in the body of the ad, I'll cite the specifics of the test, including the equipment used, maybe some background on the students, etc.. ..I won't make any grandiose metallurgy claims, etc... Nor will I misrepresent any of the facts as I wouldn't want to invite any lawsuits. I'll simply point out that this group of highly skilled musicians were unable identify, to a statistically significant degree, audible difference b/w the Class A cables and my NuancedTones. ..I'll buy the cables in bulk, add connectors, then sell them for, say, $150. Which could give me perhaps a $50 operating profit on each pair (taking material costs, inc. connectors into account, etc..).

Thoughts?
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post #2 of 154 Old 05-29-2012, 03:20 PM
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First, if you run a test where you are sure of the outcome, then the test is flawed.

Second, the cable believers will not believe your tests are done properly.
The other equipment used will not be good enough, or the listeners good enough, or for a variety of other reasons.

Your target audience will be people who want a pretty looking speaker cable but don't want to build it themselves. There are already people making and selling cables like this. Maybe there is room for another, or maybe you'll do it better.

On the other hand, if your startup costs are minimal, then what the heck - go for it.

Everything I say here is my opinion. It is not my employers opinion, it is not my wife's opinion, it is not my neighbors opinion, it is My Opinion.
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post #3 of 154 Old 05-29-2012, 04:43 PM
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First, if you run a test where you are sure of the outcome, then the test is flawed.

So if I test the boiling point of water, it's automatically flawed?

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #4 of 154 Old 05-29-2012, 04:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by dknightd View Post

First, if you run a test where you are sure of the outcome, then the test is flawed.

..Second, the cable believers will not believe your tests are done properly.

...Your target audience will be people who want a pretty looking speaker cable but don't want to build it themselves. There are already people making and selling cables like this...

Being essentially sure of the outcome doesn't compromise the study so long as this "certainty" doesn't creep into the study process. As I said, I would make sure the study is as honest and thorough as possible. And while this wouldn't convince every golden ear, it might convince a great many who are swayed by ads with pseudo-scientific jargon about metallurgy, etc.. ..but you're right, not everyone would be convinced.

There are several budget cable companies, but NONE (to my knowledge) has has ever cited double blind trials as evidence that their cables are sonically indistinguishable from the uber-expensive exotic brands. This is really the crux of this business idea.

And you're probably right about it having to be attractive. ..Ahh! .. but what if I made their ugliness part of their appeal. ...Kinda like NAD when the launched their amps in the 80's. Something like,

NuanceTones Cables aren't much to look at, but 'oh do they sound fabulous!
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post #5 of 154 Old 05-29-2012, 04:45 PM
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I'll buy the cables in bulk, add connectors, then sell them for, say, $150. Which could give me perhaps a $50 operating profit on each pair (taking material costs, inc. connectors into account, etc..).

I think you're forgetting the not inconsiderable expense of marketing/advertising

You're also ignoring the possibility that audiophiles value cables more because they are expensive. It's why not everyone buys their Rolex on a NYC street corner.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #6 of 154 Old 05-29-2012, 05:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

I think you're forgetting the not inconsiderable expense of marketing/advertising

..I know those costs are significant. ..I wouldn't forget them

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Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

You're also ignoring the possibility that audiophiles value cables more because they are expensive. It's why not everyone buys their Rolex on a NYC street corner.

I disagree with the analogy. ..Amost NO ONE one buys a Rolex because they think it keeps better time. ..They buy it because they believe it to have superior craftsmanship, longevity, resale, timeless beauty, etc.. Rolex does not use puffed up science to sell their product, so they're not at risk of having their science debunked.

By contrast, the vast majority of those who buy expensive cables DO so because they believe (because they've been told) they perform better. If a well-crafted ad offers compelling evidence - in terms the layman can understand - that they can get the very same performance at a tiny fraction of the price, there will be converts I think!
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post #7 of 154 Old 05-29-2012, 05:56 PM
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By contrast, the vast majority of those who buy expensive cables DO so because they believe (because they've been told) they perform better.

And to what extent is that belief based on the notion that, because these cables cost more, they must be better? And to what extent are bragging rights a factor here? I think you're ignoring a lot of very relevant psychology.

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If a well-crafted ad offers compelling evidence - in terms the layman can understand - that they can get the very same performance at a tiny fraction of the price, there will be converts I think!

I think you don't know the first thing about the typical consumer.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #8 of 154 Old 05-29-2012, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by syd123 View Post


And you're probably right about it having to be attractive. ..Ahh! .. but what if I made their ugliness part of their appeal. ...Kinda like NAD when the launched their amps in the 80's. Something like,

NuanceTones Cables aren't much to look at, but 'oh do they sound fabulous!



Yes, turn their nondescript utilitarian appearance into a positive, i.e., "We packed so much cutting-edge design quality into our cables that in order to meet our extremely competitive pricing goals, we opted to minimize costs in the area which matters least. Once you hear our cables, we are confident you will agree with our decision!"

I like your idea of doing a DBT too, for a number of reasons. I think you're on to something here. I will be your first investor. Or, your first employee.

It wouldn't matter that you don't think the cables actually sound any better or worse than any other. As we constantly read in audio forums, "as long as the consumer is happy and finds their purchase to be a good value, no matter what the price.. why is it anybody else's business what they buy or not buy, what they believe or what they don't believe?".

Mourning the disappearing usage of the -ly suffix. Words being cut-off before they've had a chance to fully form, left incomplete, with their shoelaces untied and their zippers undone. If I quote your post (or post in your thread) without comment, please check your zipper.
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post #9 of 154 Old 05-29-2012, 08:46 PM
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I was recently considering buying some Audioquest cables for my home theater. I was going to do so only because they're more cosmetically appealing than straight wire. However, I reconsidered because I'd feel stupid paying big money for nothing. I'm now running 12 gauge marine wire, as a sort of reverse snobbery.

If you're going to make cables, you might consider using using this instead of Home Depot wire:

http://www.performanceaudio.com/buy/...227_Roll/11125

At $0.43/ft, your wire cost for an 8' pair is under $5.00
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post #10 of 154 Old 05-29-2012, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Jon Middleton View Post

I was recently considering buying some Audioquest cables for my home theater. I was going to do so only because they're more cosmetically appealing than straight wire. However, I reconsidered because I'd feel stupid paying big money for nothing. I'm now running 12 gauge marine wire, as a sort of reverse snobbery.

If you're going to make cables, you might consider using using this instead of Home Depot wire:

http://www.performanceaudio.com/buy/...227_Roll/11125

At $0.43/ft, your wire cost for an 8' pair is under $5.00

I really like Audioquest. I have some uber(to me-maybe not to some) cables in my living room but we won't go there but I bought a couple of small monitors for my bedroom over the weekend. I bought a cheap roll of BB brand is it Dynamax? What crap and perhaps they do the job but fine. I had to get a magnifying glass out and go under a bright light and still could not find the positive for the life of me. Did a google and folks were saying the same thing. TINY little pluses somewhere on the jacket that I couldn't see for the life of me. Using stripers to take the jacket off and the cheap strands come off as well.

Picked up a 30 foot strand of Audioquest in a box for $65. Yeah I know but the positive wire jacket runs red all the way down. The stripper took the jacket off like butter and the strands were great. The Audioquest banana plugs slipped right on and attached beautifully. I don't think you have to be a scientist to be able to tell the difference in quality when working with both examples and prepping for banana plugs. You could see and feel the difference and I don't care if they do sound the same. I have my own thoughts here!

I know what you will say but the jacket, the wire, the clearly marked positive side. Say what you will but the quality of wire/product was superior over that cheap ass BB Dynamax brand that feels like it will melt away in a year.

The $65 was totally worth it to me over the spool of crap I bought the night before. There is certainly a quality difference in wire and we are not even talking sonics here.

To me quality is quality weather it's speaker wire, speakers or electronics. They are not all the same even if in this case they sound the same.

Good luck in your endeavor. I most likely would stick with what is proven to me in my own set-up. Others that buy above average cable would probably do the same despite what your marketing may be...

Rick

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post #11 of 154 Old 05-29-2012, 11:20 PM
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Originally Posted by syd123 View Post

While I offer this idea with tongue planted firmly in cheek, I am curious to know whether this is a viable business concept?

No.

People who buy speaker cables which cost over about $0.40/foot plus $4 ($1 per end) for termination (with exceptions for special situations - Speakons cost more than banana plugs and 8 conductor cable for your active tri-amp setup costs more than 2-conductor) don't believe in double blind tests because if they did they wouldn't be spending that much on cables.

You'd do better with something that feels intuitively correct that doesn't bring up anything which conflicts with their beliefs.

I'd sell cables that came broken in and ready to listen to so audiophiles could trust their impressions from auditions and get on with enjoying music.

With some measurements and extrapolation I arrive at 2.8V RMS for an average listening level with nice jazz tracks. By breaking in cables at their insulation rating of 600V peak using 600V RMS square waves (or 1000/1000) I could rack up volt * seconds 214 (or 357) times faster than the end user could.

Using 1000V rated wires I'd running an hour of break-in with value added every 10 seconds.

I'd apply that to my various lines :

Bronze (1 year of break-in in a day and 30 minutes)
Silver (5 years)
Gold (10 years)
Platinum (25 years, with less than a month sitting in my cable cooker)

I'll license this technology for just 10% of sales if you're interested.
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post #12 of 154 Old 05-29-2012, 11:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post

No.

People who buy speaker cables which cost over about $0.40/foot plus $4 for termination (with exceptions for special situations - Speakons cost more than banana plugs and 8 conductor cable for your active tri-amp setup costs more than 2-conductor) don't believe in double blind tests because if they did they wouldn't be spending that much on cables.

You'd do better with something that feels intuitively correct that doesn't bring up anything which conflicts with their beliefs.

I'd sell cables that came broken in and ready to listen to so audiophiles could trust their impressions from auditions and get on with enjoying music.

With some measurements and extrapolation I arrive at 2.8V RMS for an average listening level with nice jazz tracks. By breaking in cables at their insulation rating of 600V peak using 600V RMS square waves (or 1000/1000) I could rack up volt * seconds 214 (or 357) times faster than the end user could.

Using 1000V rated wires I'd running an hour of break-in with value added every 10 seconds.

I'd apply that to my various lines :

Bronze (1 year of break-in in a day and 30 minutes)
Silver (5 years)
Gold (10 years)
Platinum (25 years, with less than a month sitting in my cable cooker)

I'll license this technology for just 10% of sales if you're interested.

But will they be Tested in America using Solar powered Amplifiers? Maybe also advertise "distressed" cable jackets?
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post #13 of 154 Old 05-30-2012, 02:37 AM
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I'd go upscale instead of class e.

Liquid helium cooled superconducting niobium wire. Vacuum pump and liquid helium not included.
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post #14 of 154 Old 05-30-2012, 07:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post

No.

People who buy speaker cables which cost over about $0.40/foot plus $4 for termination...don't believe in double blind tests because if they did they wouldn't be spending that much on cables.

You'd do better with something that feels intuitively correct that doesn't bring up anything which conflicts with their beliefs.

An interesting point, but I'm not convinced. ..If these people aren't persuaded by DBT's it could be, in part, because they've never seen a manufacturer actually mention them in their ads and on their website. Sure, you can read about DBT's on a few web forums like this, but if you go to AudioAsylum or AudioKarma, DBT seldom comes up. Those in search of quality advice on cables go to those websites and quickly accept that DBT's as something brought up by trolls, and ignored by real audiophiles.

However, if in my NuanceTone Cables advertisement I offer statistical proof - and do so in terms than anyone with high school diploma can understand - that my NuanceTone cables were found to be utterly indistinguishable from $3500 Class "A" cables by actual musicians, I think it would fairly persuasive.

And of course, I wouldn't stop with speaker cables. ..Power cords, and interconnects would be next!!
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post #15 of 154 Old 05-30-2012, 08:02 AM
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Your ideal customer would be someone who is:

1) irrational enough to think cables matter, and

2) rational enough to believe a DBT showing that two particular cables sound the same.

I think you're gonna need a bigger customer base.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #16 of 154 Old 05-30-2012, 08:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

Your ideal customer would be someone who is:

1) irrational enough to think cables matter, and

2) rational enough to believe a DBT showing that two particular cables sound the same.

I think you're gonna need a bigger customer base.

Not everyone who believes cables makes a difference is irrational. What they are is misinformed. And that is because, in many cases, they don't have the experience (i.e., they've never made their own side-by-side comparisons), or they aren't technically inclined enough for the B.S. alarm to go off when they read the puffery from an expensive cable company. ..I think my approach addresses both. Besides, since I'm basically just taking home depot extension cords, and adding connectors, it's not like my break-even (to cover fixed costs like heat gun, small tools, etc..) is so great that I'd need to sell more than a dozen or two before I begin pocketing most of my operating profit.
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Originally Posted by syd123 View Post

Thoughts?

Start its own forum that bolsters all the audiophile myth it can carry. amirm's own forum as a precedent. Also, go around other forums and start shilling for the cables. Keep in mind, to do so, one has to have very thick skin.
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post #18 of 154 Old 05-30-2012, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by dknightd View Post

Second, the cable believers will not believe your tests are done properly.
The other equipment used will not be good enough, or the listeners good enough, or for a variety of other reasons.

If memory serves, the first DBT related to fancy cables happened in the late 1970s or early 80s. It was done in the context of a really high end system.

What happened in the next 30+ years exactly matches your prognostications!

Quote:


Your target audience will be people who want a pretty looking speaker cable but don't want to build it themselves. There are already people making and selling cables like this. Maybe there is room for another, or maybe you'll do it better.

I disagree. I think that many people believe that the fancy cables do in fact have some secret sauce that either makes things better or at least avoids some audible flaw that both commodity and competitive products all have.

They are yielding to the authority of the person selling the cable which makes a lot of people more comfortable.

Do I sometime feel a little bad when I try to slip out of some sales guy's pitch for what I know to be snake oil? YES.
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post #19 of 154 Old 05-30-2012, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr.SoftDome View Post

I really like Audioquest. I have some uber(to me-maybe not to some) cables in my living room but we won't go there but I bought a couple of small monitors for my bedroom over the weekend. I bought a cheap roll of BB brand is it Dynamax? What crap and perhaps they do the job but fine. I had to get a magnifying glass out and go under a bright light and still could not find the positive for the life of me. Did a google and folks were saying the same thing. TINY little pluses somewhere on the jacket that I couldn't see for the life of me. Using stripers to take the jacket off and the cheap strands come off as well.

Picked up a 30 foot strand of Audioquest in a box for $65. Yeah I know but the positive wire jacket runs red all the way down. The stripper took the jacket off like butter and the strands were great. The Audioquest banana plugs slipped right on and attached beautifully. I don't think you have to be a scientist to be able to tell the difference in quality when working with both examples and prepping for banana plugs. You could see and feel the difference and I don't care if they do sound the same. I have my own thoughts here!

I know what you will say but the jacket, the wire, the clearly marked positive side. Say what you will but the quality of wire/product was superior over that cheap ass BB Dynamax brand that feels like it will melt away in a year.

The $65 was totally worth it to me over the spool of crap I bought the night before. There is certainly a quality difference in wire and we are not even talking sonics here.

To me quality is quality weather it's speaker wire, speakers or electronics. They are not all the same even if in this case they sound the same.

Good luck in your endeavor. I most likely would stick with what is proven to me in my own set-up. Others that buy above average cable would probably do the same despite what your marketing may be...

Rick

Were the Dyna Max and AudioQuest cables the same gauge? I know that there is a link to a website floating somewhere around here that shows the differences in wire gauge and cable diameter with/without covers. The link was to an article about snake oil and speaker wires. In the article they used a Monster Cable example from quite a few years ago where Monster had customers compare Monsters speaker wire to brand X, and how Monster's were soo much better. But they did not mention that the gauges were different and lengths were different.

Now, I'm not saying Dynamax is any good, I would probably not use them, unless they were given to me, and all of my other speaker wires were stolen by Speaker wire thieves..Gnomes with bad temperament...but if the gauges between the Dynamax and Audioquest were 20 gauge and 12 gauge, then yeah, you would be able to tell a h&ll of a difference.

For the record, I love Monoprice for their price and I have no complaints about their quality.

OTOH, most would consider my setup Sh!t, so I'm not out to make myself look like I know the End all/Be all.
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post #20 of 154 Old 05-30-2012, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Do I sometime feel a little bad when I try to slip out of some sales guy's pitch for what I know to be snake oil? YES.

Hey, I respect that some people have a job to do, but as a consumer, I will let a sales person know when they are wrong, and I don't feel bad about it either.

H&ll I walked out of the showroom three times the last time I bought a new vehicle, If you don't give me what I want for the price I want, I will find someone who will. That is what the free market system is all about.

I just wish we(as consumers) had more options, in regards to haggling and bargaining.

Now, with that said, if I was in sales, I am sure that I would have a different outlook. But I never wanted to be sales, 'cause i can't shrill someone else BS lines, if I don't believe them myself.
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post #21 of 154 Old 05-30-2012, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by syd123 View Post

in the body of the ad, I'll cite the specifics of the test, including the equipment used, maybe some background on the students, etc.. ..I won't make any grandiose metallurgy claims, etc...

FAIL.

Seriously, people that are willing to pay more for speaker wire than the cost of suitable gauge lamp cord are not interested in test results. And many of them distrust tests and "science" in general. The correct way to market to them is with flowery prose, photos of fat old men dancing, and possibly even ad copy such as "there's no way to measure why our wires sound better, but your ears will surely agree" and other such nonsense.

I considered starting such a business a few times, but I'd rather be able to look at myself in the mirror.

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post #22 of 154 Old 05-30-2012, 09:50 AM
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Considering starting a Speaker Cable company - thoughts?

One thought: do NOT do it!

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post #23 of 154 Old 05-30-2012, 10:03 AM
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FAIL.

Seriously, people that are willing to pay more for speaker wire than the cost of suitable gauge lamp cord are not interested in test results. And many of them distrust tests and "science" in general. The correct way to market to them is with flowery prose, photos of fat old men dancing, and possibly even ad copy such as "there's no way to measure why our wires sound better, but your ears will surely agree" and other such nonsense.

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post #24 of 154 Old 05-30-2012, 10:29 AM
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I would change the marketing pitch to - "designed to sound like a $3500 cable, without the frills."

Which would strictly-speaking be true, just as it would be true to say "designed to sound like lamp cord."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post

I'd sell cables that came broken in and ready to listen to so audiophiles could trust their impressions from auditions and get on with enjoying music.

What a horrible idea, denying audiophools a time period in which to fool themselves by thinking that their wires "break in."

The break-in period should be stated as somewhat beyond the return period!

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post #25 of 154 Old 05-30-2012, 10:47 AM - Thread Starter
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I would change the marketing pitch to - "designed to sound like a $3500 cable, without the frills."

Which would strictly-speaking be true, just as it would be true to say "designed to sound like lamp cord."

exactly! ..And that's the dirty little secret I won't mention (of course) in my ads. That while it is true (as evidenced by my DBT's) that my cables sound exactly like $3500 Stereophile Class A cables, it is also true that they are nothing but rebadged $25 heavy-duty extension cord bought from home depot! So who would be the bigger thief; me for charging 3x what they could buy themselves at Home Depot or StatusBrandX for charging 140x?
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post #26 of 154 Old 05-30-2012, 10:59 AM - Thread Starter
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underminded999, nice first pass at branding!! ..But I think something like this is closer to the image I'm going for!
LL
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post #27 of 154 Old 05-30-2012, 11:11 AM
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Rock On!

Nevermind, it seems to have been my image viewer adding lines...pixelizing.
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post #28 of 154 Old 05-30-2012, 12:28 PM
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I bought a cheap roll of BB brand is it Dynamax? What crap and perhaps they do the job but fine. I had to get a magnifying glass out and go under a bright light and still could not find the positive for the life of me. Did a google and folks were saying the same thing. TINY little pluses somewhere on the jacket that I couldn't see for the life of me.

Digging deep to rationalise paying more for the AQ; 10 secs with a $10 DVM would have determined which conductor was which easily enough. And the DVM is a useful tool to have around the home/car anyway if you don't have one.

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Using stripers to take the jacket off and the cheap strands come off as well.

Operator error.

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Say what you will but the quality of wire/product was superior over that cheap ass BB Dynamax brand that feels like it will melt away in a year.

But I bet it won't. Even low cost mains cable will last half a century or more and will be under (often considerably) higher loads than any speaker cable will.
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post #29 of 154 Old 05-30-2012, 01:12 PM
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Thoughts?

I generally agree with the other comments that you are looking to work in a market between the rational and audiophool la-la land. Believers will not buy because you have no 'special sauce' ingredient that makes you cables better. rational people will see no reason to pay more than BJC can supply for, if they cannot DIY.

I see it as; "NuanceHomoeopathy - we know it's only water, but hey it's only $10, not $50."
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post #30 of 154 Old 05-30-2012, 02:09 PM
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we know it's only water, but hey it's only $10, not $50."



@underminded999: Exactly.

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