Originally Posted by umr
While I greatly respect Toole and others in the field they are constrained by their business model with the quality of product they can sell at a given price in a retail store. Manufacturers like Salk who bypass this overhead can put higher quality components in their products at a given price point. It is a fact that driver, cabinet and crossover quality are a significant component of quality sound. Small manufacturers can also do things that the big boys may not be willing to do like sell something much more expensive with much higher quality or use drivers that they do not want to manufacture.
While I do agree with many of the points brought up: driver, cabinet, and crossover making up a large part of the resulting sound quality, it is also a fact that an equally large and arguably larger component is implementation, as we are talking about a "system" or parts working in harmony with one another. In it of themselves each part does not do anything until its integrated in a system.
This same parts logic is applied to CD players and digital source components all the time where people associate a better DAC chip with better quality source component (many threads on AVS with these exact debates), when in fact it has little to do with it. Great for companies like Denon that uses the latest Burr-Brown DAC thats newer than what Bryston uses. But at the end of the day, the Bryston is a better player because the implementation is superior.
Also in terms of quality, most people are talking about driver quality only as it applies to a set retail price. Example: I buy a Scanspeak Revelator Ring Radiator and their new sandwich-cone woofer to build a bookshelf. I spend $650 on the drivers and $400 on the crossovers. Using the quality and price of parts logic, $1000 in raw parts mean that Im getting a better speaker than a company who makes its own stuff and markets a speaker for $3000 because they couldnt possibly be using that expensive of parts.
Problem is that companies like Revel arent in the business of selling parts so you cant exactly compare speakers based on the parts quality alone logic. And if they were to sell their parts as a business they would cost similar to other parts in their class, except with they would have pretty chromed magnets because the visual element is only applicable in OEM drivers (Dynaudio sells its old Esotar tweeter for $1000 whereas the most expensive Scanspeak is only $400).
My original argument does not suggest "small" manufacturers cant be competitive. On the contrary much innovation through various industries is spawned from small companies. Also as I pointed out in terms of sheer volume, most speaker manufacturers would be considered small. But, I do contest the validity of ONLY small manufacturers can make good products, or all the big manufacturers are ripping people off with expensive prices because their parts dont have a tangible expensive retail price.