Are expensive speakers a rip off? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 276 Old 07-26-2008, 09:02 PM - Thread Starter
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I've been thinking about this. I see some speakers that cost 10k plus, cones no less, just one 5-1/4 -6-1/2 mid and tweet with a couple woofers or one big woofer. It just seems ridiculous imo. Don't people realize with the advent of subwoofers you don't need refridgerator looking speakers to get great dynamics?

I also see some systems with lots of woofers in the tower design, but then also subwoofers, this don't make sense to me as i imagine the subwoofers dominating the tower woofers sound. How does it blend in?

I imagine a pretty high profit margin as the speaker themselves probably cost under a grand. Thoughts?
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post #2 of 276 Old 07-26-2008, 09:29 PM
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Yes, anything more than $10K ($200 according to Pulliamm) is a rip off.
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post #3 of 276 Old 07-26-2008, 09:33 PM
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It depends on what particular model are you talking about. If you take something like this, it costs $14k but the parts cost is way over half of that.
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post #4 of 276 Old 07-26-2008, 09:40 PM
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I have heard some great sounding speakers at that price and wondered why looking
at the build and parts why someone can not build and sell these at half that and still
turn a healthy profit. Before i get flamed if you deal with components as i do and add
up the parts list and figure cabinet and labor it starts to look like jewelry at 400%
markup.
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post #5 of 276 Old 07-26-2008, 09:41 PM
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Zues, you're definitely onto something. And Cadobhuk, he was definitely referring to expensive speakers that just have a single, unimpressive looking driver. It doesn't surprise me that it costs a large amount of $$$$ to build a line array like you linked to.

What it comes down to is that once you get into the higher end of speaker pricing, more money is going to A) profit and B) making it look like a fancy piece of furniture, and less money is going towards improving the sound quality.

I bet for the vast majority of home theaters, it would hard to top five Mackie HR824s plus 2 or 3 ACI Titan subwoofers. That pairing of equipment won't be cheap, but it'll cost you less than a mere pair of B&W 802s... AND you get in the vicinity of 2,000 watts of high quality amplification. (Each speaker has a 150 watt woofer amp and a 100 watt tweeter amp, plus 250W in each subwoofer). Note that I don't even own this system per se, I'm just imagining that it would have to sound good.
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post #6 of 276 Old 07-26-2008, 09:46 PM
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The problem is, great drivers themselves are a rip off. If i could sell a diamond tweeter for $2K, i would certainly do so.
Turn off the lights, and it becomes a $50 tweeter.
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post #7 of 276 Old 07-26-2008, 09:48 PM
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Seems you're asking at least 2 separate questions, no? The price does not correlate with the number or size of the drivers.

If you think a speaker is a ripoff, then I guess it's a ripoff.............. to you. But I don't think it's a ripoff unless you feel ripped off. Otherwise it's just an expensive pair of speakers. Maybe there is a better term than "ripoff". How about "too expensive"? Or "extravagant"? Or "overpriced"? Each of these being relative.

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post #8 of 276 Old 07-26-2008, 10:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sivadselim View Post

Seems you're asking at least 2 separate questions, no?

Yes, one is those with expensive speakers like watt puppies or 802d's or similar, how do subwoofers blend in? To me it just seems like these are old designs for those who are anti subwoofer.

Two, how would lesser expensive bookshelves, towers, with subwoofers, compare to just the expensive towers. I would imagine bass wise the subwoofers would blow away something like watt puppies design or any tower. The point being all the money paid for that big cabinet and those big woofers is not needed. Depends on the towers design i guess.
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post #9 of 276 Old 07-26-2008, 10:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kitsum View Post

The problem is, great drivers themselves are a rip off. If i could sell a diamond tweeter for $2K, i would certainly do so.
Turn off the lights, and it becomes a $50 tweeter.

I disagree with that. Take ANY speaker design utilizing premium parts like seas excel cones, and you'll find people saying it sounds fantastic and outperforming many folds more expensive speakers. Coincidence? Of course they also need to be properly implemented, but why wouldnt that be the case? People like to say "the end sound is all that matters"...well how big of a genius a speaker designer has to be to take a $25 woofer and a $15 tweeter and create a 2-way with the "end sound" better than that accuarray?
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post #10 of 276 Old 07-26-2008, 10:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pitot Static View Post

What it comes down to is that once you get into the higher end of speaker pricing, more money is going to A) profit and B) making it look like a fancy piece of furniture, and less money is going towards improving the sound quality.


Fancy looking for sure will cost you
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post #11 of 276 Old 07-26-2008, 11:46 PM
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Zeus, towers still have an advantage over average bookshelves in mid and upper bass, even when both are used with a sub. You cant cross a sub over at 200hz, its big driver will sound muddy, the amp will be stressed and the sound will become localizable.
And if you want to get what you pay for, in quality and quantity of parts used (which does make a difference in my humble opinion), look at speakers from Selah, Salk, EllisAudio, Zaphaudio, Madisound etc. Out of which Selah appears to have the lowest prices for what you get.
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post #12 of 276 Old 07-27-2008, 12:18 AM
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I don't see it any different than buying a pair of loafers for $1000. Or a car for $400,000. From looking at the specs and materials you could certainly make the case that you can get similar performance for 10% or 50% of the price. But if you have the money to spend on extravagant things, why not?
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post #13 of 276 Old 07-27-2008, 01:31 AM
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In the upper end of the price spectrum it seems that, "snob appeal" takes over the price structure. At that point, you generally really are not getting any thing for your money except bragging rights as to how much you paid. If you're rich and enjoy bragging to your friends that your speakers cost $10,000 or $100,000 (implication being they must be really good) then go for it. If you are more practical and want the very best in sound and don't care if it is expensive or inexpensive then you will probably end up spending less. Most of those super expensive systems at least the ones that specifically target the snob market put far less attention into real sound quality than less expensive options. So it's not that these have a quality improvement that is in diminishing returns but rather many of them are actually not as good as less expensive options.

There are of course exceptions. As mentioned in another post, systems like line sources that use a lot of hardware are expensive to build and thus must carry an expensive price. This is a different situation and should not be confused with the simpler systems that are priced only for the sake of snob appeal.

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post #14 of 276 Old 07-27-2008, 01:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CADOBHuK View Post

. Out of which Selah appears to have the lowest prices for what you get.

Could not resist could resist could you .
Kinda like the Brady Bunch
Marsha Marsha Marsha
Selah Selah Selah

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Just make sure your toys are over 18.


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post #15 of 276 Old 07-27-2008, 03:01 AM
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Why exactly do I need to "resist"? If you think I was wrong, please explain what makes you think so. Did you compare the product price/parts cost of the brands I listed?
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post #16 of 276 Old 07-27-2008, 03:42 AM
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In some cases, "expensive" speakers are the result of limited production runs, recouping R&D expenses, use of real wood enclosures, use of exotic drivers or technology as well as the others mentioned: high profit margin or Name Brand appeal.

As passionate discussions on brands of speakers have shown, there are differences (real or prerceived) among the various speaker brands. However, "ripoff" is a rather strong term.

You can buy a Honda for less than a BMW. Both will get you from point A to point B. However, some people don't mind spending more for the BMW for a variety of reasons.
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post #17 of 276 Old 07-27-2008, 05:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oztech View Post

I have heard some great sounding speakers at that price and wondered why looking
at the build and parts why someone can not build and sell these at half that and still
turn a healthy profit.

No flames. If you think you can trounce the competition with your business model, have at it and report back.

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post #18 of 276 Old 07-27-2008, 05:46 AM
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IMO, using your 10k number for HT purposes, I would consider it overkill.

However, for critical two channel listening I don't believe 10k for a pair of full range towers is overkill (provided one has a good room, and the pre, amp(s) and source work well with the speakers).

When watching a film, I always use a sub.

When listening to two channel, I never, ever use a sub.

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post #19 of 276 Old 07-27-2008, 05:54 AM
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The term rip off is a typically inaccurate and inappropriate term when looking at loud speakers. No one is twisting your arm to spend $10k on speakers and I suspect no one who has commented favorably on this thread has owned any speaker that cost more than $2K per pair. There is a plethora of models and brands available so that you can hardly whine that you were "ripped off" if you take any time to listen to what is available for the money, including big time money. Do comparative listening and decide with sound quality being the most important quality for purchase. Another factor on price is the plummeting dollar that makes brands like Dynaudio and B&W much more expensive than they were just a couple of years ago.
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post #20 of 276 Old 07-27-2008, 06:04 AM
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It is definitely not a ripoff, as long as exotica cables and audiophile cotton wool are selling in the market.

http://www.acoustic-revive.com/engli...psa100_01.html

Joking man...

Seriously, there are some which are ripoff, but seriously it isn't that bad as speakers are the most dominant in the final sounding. Of course there are always better valued speakers.
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post #21 of 276 Old 07-27-2008, 06:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zues View Post

I've been thinking about this. I see some speakers that cost 10k plus, cones no less, just one 5-1/4 -6-1/2 mid and tweet with a couple woofers or one big woofer. It just seems ridiculous imo. Don't people realize with the advent of subwoofers you don't need refridgerator looking speakers to get great dynamics?

I also see some systems with lots of woofers in the tower design, but then also subwoofers, this don't make sense to me as i imagine the subwoofers dominating the tower woofers sound. How does it blend in?

I imagine a pretty high profit margin as the speaker themselves probably cost under a grand. Thoughts?


Well, I agree with you on some, but not all. Many speakers (and other high-priced hifi) is a rip-off. Bad sound that sells because of the brand, the looks or just because its expensive! But there are some that truly are worth it. Brands that DO try their best for best sound and maybe works years on the same model that will not sell 100K copies because it is to expensive. That will drive the price up, but that is not a rip-off IMO.

I do agree that it would be better if more brands are producing better system, that are made to work together. Like top system that use a a couple of subs with a low crossover filter fixed. That would be smarter than produce a speaker that maybe can do 28 hz, and you still need a couple of subs for low bass. I would argue that it is better to produce a speaker that falls around 50 hz and it must be partned with a couple of subs that will work perfectly with it that produce 80 hz down to the lower bass.

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post #22 of 276 Old 07-27-2008, 06:26 AM
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I think there are more speakers in the under $500 range that are a rip of than those over $10k. (ripoff defined (by me) as paying money for something and it not being acceptable for use for its intended purpose)

I have listened to Revel Ultimas and the sound was not at all what I enjoy listening to. For 16k (or there bouts) they would have been a poor choice for me. (not a rip-off, but a bad purchase on my part) I also listened to some Watt Puppies at the same store and they sounded fantastic. If I had the coin - I would absolutely purchase them.

It all comes down to the sound you want. If you can get that for under $1,000 and appriciate better sound without feeling the need to upgrade - congrats. Get your speakers and be happy.

Most speakers over $2k-$3k are not ripoffs. That is not a guarantee you will like the sound though. Get your listen on and decide for yourself. Once you get over $2k (imo) you start paying alot of money for marginal increases. (that being said, the watt puppies blew my Polk LSi's away -then again, at 13 times the price that should be expected)

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post #23 of 276 Old 07-27-2008, 06:51 AM
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People are building speakers that sound better then 10K speakers to themselves at a fraction of the cost (ignore 100K speakers, that is a rarity thing and not even a discussion). Finish and build quality the same? Some people are really good at doing this stuff.

Some people budget X dollars and spend X dollars to be 100% happy so its ALL a personal choice. That same person could have choose to buy quality drivers and build their own speaker at somtimes 1/5th the cost of the comercial options.

Actually Im shocked that those who spend so much money do have a clue about active crossovers vs passive crossovers and so on but then again, people spend money to use products and not become experts on them so I dont think we can judge those who just enjoy. The people we can judge are the ones that throw subjective opinion around of what they own and what they think is better sound even though their rooms are not treated, they do not maximize their sound potential with active crossover designs, etc.

Im spending about $2500 on drivers this August to build me 3 front speakers. I will build them and use an active crossover so I have no need to worry about the tricky nature passive crossover designs. When done, you will not be able to find a speaker that sounds better then these at any $$$ range because they will be built specific and 100% perfect to my hearing. The only subjective arguement will be the finish quality, the build will be overdone and very heaving and solid but I still do not have that expertise in the finish so they will not look that expensive! Of course I do not care they are behind GOM anyways.


Since people are building speakers daily and finding out that SQ of those builds are better then speakers 5x the price then obviously those comercial speakers are a rip off.

Heck, way before I learned about speaker building high price speakers are more about spending money to have something no one else has then about SQ. You just need to hear enough speakers to know that $$$ has never really predicted performance in the audio world. More people should realize that they can have the top end SQ without spending the $$$, if they really, really wanted it!!


btw, someone can still spend any amount of $$$ they want, I do not care one bit because its their money and we all waste money on something. Of course those people are not throwing opinion around too much online because most know it was never just about SQ.

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post #24 of 276 Old 07-27-2008, 07:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tonygeno View Post

No flames. If you think you can trounce the competition with your business model, have at it and report back.

That was in reference to replacement of drivers and crossovers I am an
installer not a speaker builder but I am not blind as to the cost of expensive
cabinetry even at that there is an extreme markup that more than covers
labor,r&d and marketing.
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post #25 of 276 Old 07-27-2008, 07:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by penngray View Post

People are building speakers that sound better then 10K speakers to themselves at a fraction of the cost

Penngray is right. Especially these days I find it difficult to understand how commercial speaker companies stay in business. I guess there just must be a lot of people out there that do not have the time or inclination to build their own despite how easy it has become these days.

For example...

http://www.fesb.hr/~mateljan/arta/download.htm A 79 Euro (about $125) measurement system that out performs both the Praxis system I paid $850 for and the MLSSA system I paid $3,750 for before that.

http://www.behringer.com/dcx2496/index.cfm?lang=ENG A digital crossover for less than $300 that can create most transfer functions any DIY speaker builder would require. Active cross-overs are better for numerous reasons. You will not be able to use your receiver's amplifiers however, this does require external amplifiers. Thing is, you should do this anyway if you truly want the best sound quality. The Behringer is a bit noisy for my taste but it otherwise works well and it's affordable.

With these tools combined with a good measurement microphone which you can build... http://www.linkwitzlab.com/sys_test.htm just about anyone can design a decent speaker.

Combine the above tools with the Dayton Reference line of drivers which includes everything from 15" woofers to 1" dome tweeters that equal or exceed the performance of high-end drivers like Seas and Scanspeak for about 1/4 the price and you have everything you need with the exception of custom cabinets. If however your design goals happen to match with a number of pre-fab cabinets offered by both Parts Express and Madisound then you don't even have to worry about that.

I started building speakers in the early~mid 1970's and never looked back. We didn't have all the box modeling software back then or the measurement equipment etc and yet somehow it still seemed an easy matter to build something to outperform many commercial options for a fraction of the price. These days it seems difficult to make something that sounds as bad as most commercial systems. You have to wait for Parts Express to come across the right buy out deal to get drivers as cheap as the ones in most mass market systems to have any chance of building something down to that low quality level.

At least the higher end companies use decent drivers so you do need to at least know something to exceed the performance of many of these but if you are planning to buy speakers at Best Buy, Circuit City, Fry's etc then I would say get the tools mentioned above and build instead. You would have to mess up pretty bad to not outperform any of that stuff.

Monte
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post #26 of 276 Old 07-27-2008, 07:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CADOBHuK View Post

I disagree with that. Take ANY speaker design utilizing premium parts like seas excel cones, and you'll find people saying it sounds fantastic and outperforming many folds more expensive speakers. Coincidence? Of course they also need to be properly implemented, but why wouldnt that be the case? People like to say "the end sound is all that matters"...well how big of a genius a speaker designer has to be to take a $25 woofer and a $15 tweeter and create a 2-way with the "end sound" better than that accuarray?

Bull crap. Good drivers do not a good speaker make; many, many other variables involved. In fact, in most cases the crossover is more important than the drivers used. I've heard speakers with top notch drivers that were very unimpressive, and I've heard others that used average and/or cheap drivers that sounded terrific. Implementation is key and is far more important than the actual driver material, not to mention the ability to prevent cabinet resonance, reverb, distortion, get a rather flat FR, create a large soundstage, get the speaker to image well, etc.

To say that seas excel drivers will automatically make people say that the speakers sounds fantastic just proves how ignorant and uniformed you are. No matter how good you think the speaker is, there will be other who do not like it, not to mention it's characteristics will change when placed in different listening environments.

If you don't even know the first thing about speaker design you shouldn't be helping recommend a "well designed speaker" on a public forum. Your inexperience overwhelms you and is impossible to hide; you're oozing of it. Please, get a clue, and try to recommend something else other than Selah speakers and the drivers Selah uses, Selah fanboy.

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post #27 of 276 Old 07-27-2008, 08:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CADOBHuK View Post

And if you want to get what you pay for, in quality and quantity of parts used (which does make a difference in my humble opinion), look at speakers from Selah, Salk, EllisAudio, Zaphaudio, Madisound etc. Out of which Selah appears to have the lowest prices for what you get.

There you go again, whoring Selah Audio. Honestly dude, you're not helping their business at all. In fact, your hindering it. Wise up, man; you look like a fool.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CADOBHuK View Post

Why exactly do I need to "resist"? If you think I was wrong, please explain what makes you think so. Did you compare the product price/parts cost of the brands I listed?

Did you compare them? If so, to what speakers? Why did you pick Selah over the other speakers? What gear did you use to run them when you made the comparisons? Can anyone else vouch for your proclaimed Selah Audio superiority and prove that you actually made these comparison, besides your mom? You are nothing more than a troll to me and many others. Please back up what you preach.

Zues, in most cases you are paying for exotic cabinetry and the man-hours that went into designing a new driver or researching materials that have low distortion or resonance.

As far as towers and the subwoofer, many towers are easier to crossover to a subwoofer because of the extra bass depth headroom. They also don't have as bad of an issue with phase reversal and distortion at the crossover point. Finally, the location that is best for imaging and soundstaging is generally not the ideal location for bass reproduction. That's why many people crossover to a subwoofer even if they own "full range" speakers. It is generally easier to move a subwoofer around and find the ideal location for in-room response than it is to lug around two 100+ pound towers. If blended properly, the tower subwoofer combo should fill a larger room easier and will have more midbass punch.

I used to think the really expensive speakers were a ripoff too, but when I added up the cost of materials, manhours and then the markup for retail, most brands are right on the money. However, there are exceptions, of which I will not mention in order to prevent getting flammed. One simply needs to find a speaker that fits his budget and also allows him/her to be blown away by their musical presentation abilities.

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post #28 of 276 Old 07-27-2008, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Nuance View Post

Bull crap.

To say that seas excel drivers will automatically make people say that the speakers sounds fantastic just proves how ignorant and uniformed you are.

Hey Nuance...Actually Cadobhuk did mention in the quote that the drivers must be implemented properly.

You're right though, implementation is everything. I once heard some commercial speakers using those highly acclaimed Seas Millenium Excel drivers and they were not impressive at all.

Monte
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post #29 of 276 Old 07-27-2008, 08:24 AM
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In the end I would add there is a market point for everyones income bracket some
choose to shop wisely.
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post #30 of 276 Old 07-27-2008, 08:45 AM
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...some choose to shop wisely.

Where's the fun in that

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