Originally Posted by Glimmie
... I am also willing to bet there are not published schematics, perhaps not even to big OEMs. I just can't see where they would put in a sub standard front end circuit or use cheap capacitors in any area of the design that would be compromised. The component cost is nil against the module cost and intended market.
well we'll never know what the agreements look like. but pretty much any good designer could reverse engineer a board design easily. if people can reverse-engineer complex processor designs, you better bet they can reverse engineer a board module design. and with the proper intellectual property agreement in place, it's done very often, whether in hardware or software. it happens all the time - a good engineer looks at something, deconstructs it in his/her mind, and goes "eureka, look at this biot, i bet i could apply some of my expertise there".
as to their pricing strategy... speculation is fun, but just that. but let us assume for a moment you and i have this ground breaking idea, put a system together that performs in a way that we think disrupts a billion dollar market. everybody else is hopelessly behind. and yet we make the decision to not open a high end audio company ourselves, and sell gear at $50k a pop with a 99% margin. guess we decide we're not into buying our own tropical islands. :-) so we decide to license our technology, which is a very nice approach too. but to do that requires flexibility and the ability to collaborate. there'll be companies that surely just slap a chassis around the stuff . but would a passionate designer, someone who has a long life in designing audio do that? or would they want to tailor the design to their very own preference, using all their experience in targeting their very own and very established market? i for one think most passionate designers will proudly declare they can "improve" elements of the original design.
i don't get into speculation, but i think few companies get IP without trying to slap their own differentiators on top. what we can safely assume is that the OEM agreement tells said other designers what they can and can not do, provides them with a hell of a lot more information on the original design than anyone else has access to, and perhaps even consulting design services (there's always very good money in that). in turn, the original company actually has little clue of what the recipient did or didn't do -as long as they don't find out it breaks the OEM agreement, and even if they did by law they wouldn't be allowed to disclose anything. look at car manufacturing - a lot of the stuff you see in BMWs or Mercedes or Audi is provided by external expert engineering companies in Germany. companies like ZF (zf.com) are to a large degree German car success is built upon. but you think for a second that BMW or Mercedes don't innovate on top of the stuff they license from the experts? they know a thing or two about car design themselves. :-) and despite the shared engineering ancestry, a BMW gearbox will feel *nothing* like Mercs.