Why pay $5000+ for speakers? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 438 Old 05-27-2012, 09:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Knowing you're mostly paying for the cabinet and dealer mark up, is there really a point? The drivers and crossovers in some of these brands cost nowhere near as much. And price does't equal peformance. l've heard some $2000 speakers that sound way better than more exspensive ones.

Basically as i learn more about speakers i decided that i don't think i'll ever spend 5 to 10k on them.

Or there always used.

Am i alone (or wrong) in this thinking?

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post #2 of 438 Old 05-27-2012, 09:49 PM
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5-20k is still a reasonable price. Most things above 20K aren't gaining much though.

There are a lot of 10k speakers that perform better than anything lower. However the gain is still minimal, and some people like that.

Take a look at salk's lineup.

 

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post #3 of 438 Old 05-27-2012, 10:12 PM
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You are pretty much spot on with your assessment, and many people would agree. But naturally some people would disagree. Just like some people believe in spending thousands on wires/cables, amps, preamps, DAC, and Vinyl players.
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post #4 of 438 Old 05-27-2012, 10:17 PM
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Why spend $80k on a car?

Why spend $1K on a bike?

$5K on a camera?

$100 on blue jeans?

$10K on a couch?

Answer: some people have a lot of money, and it's gonna get spent on something.
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post #5 of 438 Old 05-27-2012, 10:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AcuDefTechGuy View Post

You are pretty much spot on with your assessment, and many people would agree. But naturally some people would disagree. Just like some people believe in spending thousands on wires/cables, amps, preamps, DAC, and Vinyl players.

I agree with you

$10K for a pair of speaker cables is crazy expensive.
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post #6 of 438 Old 05-28-2012, 08:06 AM
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Knowing several high-end speaker designer/manufacturers, it is my understanding that the bulk of the cost in manufacturing speakers, is in the cost of the cabinet work. Some manufacturers farm the work out, to help hold down costs. Some do everything in house. So it's not really a fair point when pointing out only the cost of the driver and crossover components, when talking about the overall prices.

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post #7 of 438 Old 05-28-2012, 08:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Horstkotte View Post

Why spend $80k on a car?

Why spend $1K on a bike?

$5K on a camera?

$100 on blue jeans?

$10K on a couch?

Answer: some people have a lot of money, and it's gonna get spent on something.

True.

Damn rich people.

I wish I were one.

But excluding damn rich people, some speakers (like Philharmonic 2, Ascend Sierra, Salk ST) for $2K do sound almost as good as $20K speakers. Point of diminishing returns for sure.
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post #8 of 438 Old 05-28-2012, 08:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saprano View Post

Knowing you're mostly paying for the cabinet and dealer mark up, is there really a point? The drivers and crossovers in some of these brands cost nowhere near as much. And price does't equal peformance. l've heard some $2000 speakers that sound way better than more exspensive ones.

Basically as i learn more about speakers i decided that i don't think i'll ever spend 5 to 10k on them.

Or there always used.

Am i alone (or wrong) in this thinking?

I have a ~2K speaker (Von Schweikert VR2) and have had it for years and love the way it sounds. Recently switched to a more expensive speaker a VR5/7 upgraded speaker which is about ~4K used and claimed to be in par with >~10K speakers. I had the very same question as your, so I wanted to give it a try. I am selling the VR2, not because it is not good, it is just that the bigger speaker is better. Is it better at double the price, well for me yes . Some things that were readily apparent is a) Bigger Sound and b) Deeper extension. I will refrain from using other audiophile terms
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post #9 of 438 Old 05-28-2012, 08:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saprano View Post

Knowing you're mostly paying for the cabinet and dealer mark up, is there really a point? *** Am i alone (or wrong) in this thinking?

Cabinets matter. A cabinet's shape, finish, etc. can add substantially to the cost, yes. But they can also add substantially to a speaker's acceptability in a room. Perhaps not for an audiophile bachelor, but for everyone else who doesn't fit that description.

Let me give you two examples of two corporate-sibling speakers that sound way more similar than different. (Both are standout loudspeakers in every possible way.)

First, the JBL LSR 6332, which costs maybe $3k the pair:


Second, the Revel Ultima Studio2, which is a lot more expensive:


The JBL "studio monitors" are in well-built cabinets, with attention to detail that serious audio buffs will notice, such as the edge roundovers to reduce diffraction. But they are finished to be hidden or used in a work environment: no veneer, no high gloss finishes, for that matter no grilles available. The Revels clearly have a lot more going on both in the shape of the cabinet, and in the quality of materials and labor used to finish them. They, simply speaking, look expensive.

I suspect that most people would rather look at the Revels. Most people who are not into audio would certainly prefer to look at the Revels!

Now, if you're putting them behind a screen, or otherwise hiding them, and are choosing between these two speakers, it makes a lot more sense to get the JBL's than the Revels. In that case, the cabinet aesthetic is of de minimis importance. So why pay for it?

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post #10 of 438 Old 05-28-2012, 08:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DS-21 View Post

Cabinets matter. A cabinet's shape, finish, etc. can add substantially to the cost, yes. But they can also add substantially to a speaker's acceptability in a room. Let me give you two examples of two corporate-sibling speakers that sound way more similar than different. (Both are standout loudspeakers in every possible way.)

First, the JBL LSR 6332, which costs maybe $3k the pair:


Second, the Revel Ultima Studio2, which is a lot more expensive:


The JBL "studio monitors" are in well-built cabinets, with attention to detail that serious audio buffs will notice, such as the edge roundovers to reduce diffraction. But they are finished to be hidden or used in a work environment: no veneer, no high gloss finishes, for that matter no grilles available. The Revels clearly have a lot more going on both in the shape of the cabinet, and in the quality of materials and labor used to finish them. They, simply speaking, look expensive.

I suspect that most people would rather look at the Revels. Most people who are not into audio would certainly prefer to look at the Revels!

Now, if you're putting them behind a screen, or otherwise hiding them, and are choosing between these two speakers, it makes a lot more sense to get the JBL's than the Revels. In that case, the cabinet aesthetic is of de minimis importance. So why pay for it?

Why can't they make freaking grills for those JBL?

At least optional magnetic grills.
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post #11 of 438 Old 05-28-2012, 08:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AcuDefTechGuy View Post

Why can't they make freaking grills for those JBL?

At least optional magnetic grills.

In many cases, grills muck up the sound.

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post #12 of 438 Old 05-28-2012, 08:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AcuDefTechGuy View Post

Why can't they make freaking grills for those JBL?

At least optional magnetic grills.

Usually in a control room you dont have to worry about curious fingers finding their way to the dust cap or tweeter. Grills also distort the speakers response, which isnt exactly a selling point for a sound engineer.

If that speaker was all dolled up for hifi they could probably get away selling it for twice as much.
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post #13 of 438 Old 05-28-2012, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Rutgar View Post

In many cases, grills muck up the sound.

Then make acoustically transparent grills - like some acoustically transparent screens or cabinets or grills on Revel Ultima2, etc.
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post #14 of 438 Old 05-28-2012, 08:57 AM
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Usually in a control room you dont have to worry about curious fingers finding their way to the dust cap or tweeter. Grills also distort the speakers response, which isnt exactly a selling point for a sound engineer.

If that speaker was all dolled up for hifi they could probably get away selling it for twice as much.

Why not make it Optional for folks who are willing to pay extra?

A simple acoustically transparent magnetically attached grill.

100% optional.

Isn't that a win-win situation?
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post #15 of 438 Old 05-28-2012, 09:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AcuDefTechGuy View Post

Why not make it Optional for folks who are willing to pay extra?

A simple acoustically transparent magnetically attached grill.

100% optional.

Isn't that a win-win situation?

It's not a consideration at all for a studio.
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post #16 of 438 Old 05-28-2012, 09:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AcuDefTechGuy View Post

Then make acoustically transparent grills - like some acoustically transparent screens or cabinets or grills on Revel Ultima2, etc.

Yes, and most speakers come with those. But unfortunately, when in place, many still muck up the sound. And the problem isn't always with the material used for the covering. Sometimes it is a problem with the frame or support system for the covering.

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post #17 of 438 Old 05-28-2012, 09:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Horstkotte View Post

Why spend $80k on a car?

Why spend $1K on a bike?

$5K on a camera?

$100 on blue jeans?

$10K on a couch?

Answer: some people have a lot of money, and it's gonna get spent on something.

Or, there are real differences between products, but those differences are more meaningful to some people than to others.

The bike I ride every day cost $2000 when I bought it 10 years ago. It was worth every penny; I can tell the difference between it and lesser bikes immediately (and the differences aren't subtle); and when you ride for transportation, reliability and performance matter. I paid $500 for a pair of hand-built wheels -- but I haven't had a wheel or spoke failure in over 50,000 miles.

On the other hand, my car is a 2005 Scion xB. I'm 60 years old and have yet to break the $18k barrier on the price of a new car, because everything I want and need from one is available for less.

Value is always subjective; "the worth of a thing is the price it will bring." My opinion about speakers tends to be fairly pragmatic -- the cost of that last 1% improvement in performance isn't worth it -- but then, I'm not using them as furniture, as a fashion statement, as a tool for enhancing my status with my bosses or co-workers, or as decor for when I give interviews to home decorating or society magazines.

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post #18 of 438 Old 05-28-2012, 09:40 AM
 
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And if you look at studio monitors most are active speakers that have an active crossover and each driver is powered by a separate amplifier. An active speaker has many advantages over a passive one. But as stated most will not pass the aesthetics wanted for the home but you get a lot of bang for the buck performance.
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post #19 of 438 Old 05-28-2012, 09:49 AM
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Basically once you get to about $20k the inprovement rapidly diminishes. But $3k to $20k is reasonable.
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post #20 of 438 Old 05-28-2012, 10:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by echen1024 View Post

Basically once you get to about $20k the inprovement rapidly diminishes. But $3k to $20k is reasonable.

I think the cut off is under $6-7k for speakers that hit the 95% level

http://www.salksound.com/ht3%20-%20home.htm

http://www.psbspeakers.com/products/.../Synchrony-One

http://www.wharfedale.co.uk/Products...lt.aspx#detail

http://www.klipsch.com/la-scala-ii-f...anding-speaker

http://www.pispeakers.com/catalog/pr...roducts_id/105

JBL's discussed earlier fall in here as well

What could you really get for more money other then possibly larger more efficient speakers that go lower?
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post #21 of 438 Old 05-28-2012, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Jay1 View Post

What could you really get for more money other then possibly larger more efficient speakers that go lower?

I would say imaging, depth (X-Y-Z plane) and larger sweet spot and sound stage.
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post #22 of 438 Old 05-28-2012, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by jmcomp124 View Post

I would say imaging, depth (X-Y-Z plane) and larger sweet spot and sound stage.

How do you figure that?
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post #23 of 438 Old 05-28-2012, 11:16 AM
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Quote:
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How do you figure that?

Not sure I understand your question. I compared them side by side by ear. Picture attached just to give an idea of the difference in size between the VR2 vs VR4->VR5/7.
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post #24 of 438 Old 05-28-2012, 11:21 AM
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Not sure I understand your question. I compared them side by side by ear. Picture attached just to give an idea of the difference in size between the VR2 vs VR4->VR5/7.

Personally I dont consider the VR2 a "95%" speaker, it's a small TMW. The speakers I linked are what I would expect a comparison to.
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post #25 of 438 Old 05-28-2012, 11:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay1 View Post

Personally I dont consider the VR2 a "95%" speaker, it's a small TMW. The speakers I linked are what I would expect a comparison to.

I personally don't put a number to speakers because it assumes a baseline and what is that baseline...but your 95% reference does convey the intent. A statistical measure for taxonomy I better relate to is quintiles or quartiles. One thing that sets the VR2 apart in that price range is the rear ambient design that gives a depth to the music.
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post #26 of 438 Old 05-28-2012, 11:36 AM
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The center channel is arguably the most important speaker in a HT set-up. Once I heard this center with blu-ray concerts I was floored. I think a lot of folks don't take in center channel quality when looking at L/R (if shopping for a combined HT/stereo set-up).

I couldn't afford the towers and the center from the line so I settled for the monitors to get both. My original towers and center were great but the move up changed everything.

I am not sure where a cut-off would be from a $$ perspective but for L/C/R I do not think $16k is out of range. I know a lot of this stuff is overpriced and my center has an MSRP of $8K (not what I paid. Incredible deal when buying monitors at same time) but a lesser center and L/R wouldn't give me what I was looking for.

So who knows where the deminishing returns begin? For me it's where I'm at as I can't afford more but I could totally understand why someone could and would spend $100K on speakers and electronics..

My center that gives me great pleasure and not available from the lower lines within my preferred brand. The monitors are pretty good sounding too!

Don't forget to audition your center when shopping!

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post #27 of 438 Old 05-28-2012, 11:43 AM
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All of those speakers are top notch from top to bottom, with the only real design compromises being either sensitivity (salk, psb, wharfedale), or low end extension (klipsch, pi, jbl). Most can be had for under $6k, so that is the baseline in my mind, because of the numerous designs available. I'm sure there are others as well, but these came to mind immediately.
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post #28 of 438 Old 05-28-2012, 11:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by echen1024 View Post

Basically once you get to about $20k the inprovement rapidly diminishes. But $3k to $20k is reasonable.

??? Really? I think it is safe to say that you need to hear more speakers costing over the $20K range.

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post #29 of 438 Old 05-28-2012, 11:52 AM
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I use Legacy Audio Whispers and the Marquis for the L/R/C and can unequivocally say there are substantial differences in the stratospheric price ranges. Price/performance is not only objective, but also subjective, hence the crazy price ranges
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post #30 of 438 Old 05-28-2012, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay1 View Post

All of those speakers are top notch from top to bottom, with the only real design compromises being either sensitivity (salk, psb, wharfedale), or low end extension (klipsch, pi, jbl). Most can be had for under $6k, so that is the baseline in my mind, because of the numerous designs available. I'm sure there are others as well, but these came to mind immediately.

Got it. I hope to get a chance someday to compare some Wilson Sophias and the VR5-SE/Anniversary.
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