Originally Posted by syd123
I can't help but interject here and do a bit of devil's advocacy. ..It seems like the ID proponents have run wild with this thread and no one has spoken up for the maligned big brands.
Now I don't know the Philharmonic or the Salk speaker folks so I mean them no disrespect when I suggest that it should not be accepted as uncontested fact that buying direct from a manufacturer guarantees that one is getting better performance for their money. Building speakers involves quite a bit of raw material, and sophisticated machinery (unless building simple slab-sided box speakers). As such, larger speaker companies such as Revel, Dynaudio, Vandersteen, PSB, B&W, Paradigm, etc... have a huge cost advantage over small guy-in-a-garage type outfits. And what about R&D? These larger brands have full-time engineers with sophisticated research tools and facilities at their disposal.
Yes, larger brands do rely on a intermediary retailer. ..But this is not necessarily a bad thing. ..Because of area retailers I was able to spend many hours listening to various brands of speakers before making a decision. ..Also, these larger speakers companies have been around for awhile and seem likely to be around for many years to come, which is helpful should your speakers ever need servicing or should you need to order a driver, etc... ..As for marketing expensive... Well, NONE of these brands spend much at all on marketing. An ad in Stereophile is not terribly expensive and does NOT add much of anything to the cost of a pair of speakers.
To counter your devil's advocacy with devil's advocacy...
You have to house those R&D departments and pay the employees. At least a few ID companies that I know of have the same type of R&D tools. Also, don't forget the need for support(internal and external) and administrative staffing as well as the B&M company gets larger. Also, some of these ID companies have been around 10+ years.
R&D brands have sale reps to pay...these are the guys that sell to the retailers, or try to get the retailers to carry their lines. While the ad in Stereophile may not cost much (I would think it is not exactly cheap, or else the magazine will not stay in business), that marketing material needs to be developed as well as training/marketing materials for the retailer.
Then the retailer's markup is somewhere in the 40-60% range. If there is a possible need for a distributor, don't forget their own cost/markup).