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That's a good question. On one hand the end price on retail brands has to get marked up much more due to the middle men. But do they have greater purchasing power and lower manufacturing costs? On the other hand do boutique or ID speakers have to make more profit per speaker because they don't sell as many?

Let's look at some models. Ascend CBM-170 is $348/pair. HSU HB1 is $380. Do they sound, not arguably, but definitively better than Wharfedale 220 for $350? Or Polk S15/S20 for $230/$300? Or Elac B5/B6 S1 or 2 for $300? And let's be honest the aesthetics of the CBM-170 is well...eek! It looks more like a sub I'd want stuck in the corner out of sight than something on my speaker stands.

How about the Sierra 2? I haven't heard it but I'm sure it sounds fantastic. But at $1500 is it definitively better than the Revel Performa M105 for $1500? Or the Kef LS50 for $1300? Or Focal Aria 906 for $1500? Or Dynaudio Excite X18? What else? Axiom Audio M3 for $550? I've owned the previous incarnation and they were good but nothing stood out against any other $500 speaker I've had from Paradigm, PSB, etc.

It's an interesting discussion. Has anyone owned an ID brand speaker that was without a doubt better than a similar priced retail brand they had on hand? Maybe the Sierra 2 is better than those I listed but I bet it would be arguable. Perhaps the RAAL tweeter is more expensive so it alone drives up the costs, so maybe that's not the best comparison. Here's another - SVS ultra bookshelf vs Dynaudio Emit 20. Both $1000.
you make some great points ,imo, it's all about the listeners ears in most cases.. there would probably be a few exceptions, the phil bmr comes to mind (as an above price point value , pretty much universally accepted as such)
 
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For $290 ($330 total capped shipping) the Phil AA+ cannot be rivaled, IMHO. Likewise, as was already mentioned, The Phil BMRs at $1350 ($1450 total capped shipping) is untouched as well. Strictly my own biased opinion.

For reference, My Dynaudio X18 2-ways were about the same price (roughly) as the BMRs.

What we really need is a Revel M105 vs Phil BMR shootout!! Someone get on that, LOL.

EDIT: And to really shake things up, and make it even more interesting, we should add some active studio monitors to the list from the likes of Neumann, Genelec, Adam, Dynaudio, JBL, etc. at the same price points.
 

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For $290 ($330 total capped shipping) the Phil AA+ cannot be rivaled, IMHO. Likewise, as was already mentioned, The Phil BMRs at $1350 ($1450 total capped shipping) is untouched as well. Strictly my own biased opinion.

For reference, My Dynaudio X18 2-ways were about the same price (roughly) as the BMRs.

What we really need is a Revel M105 vs Phil BMR shootout!! Someone get on that, LOL.

EDIT: And to really shake things up, and make it even more interesting, we should add some active studio monitors to the list from the likes of Neumann, Genelec, Adam, Dynaudio, JBL, etc. at the same price points.
i am starting to think i will be settling for the aa+'s:) (poor me:rolleyes:))
 

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For $290 ($330 total capped shipping) the Phil AA+ cannot be rivaled, IMHO. Likewise, as was already mentioned, The Phil BMRs at $1350 ($1450 total capped shipping) is untouched as well. Strictly my own biased opinion.



For reference, My Dynaudio X18 2-ways were about the same price (roughly) as the BMRs.



What we really need is a Revel M105 vs Phil BMR shootout!! Someone get on that, LOL.



EDIT: And to really shake things up, and make it even more interesting, we should add some active studio monitors to the list from the likes of Neumann, Genelec, Adam, Dynaudio, JBL, etc. at the same price points.

What about an Ascend CBM170 vs Phil AA+? I think that would be pretty nice for us on the lower end of the spectrum :)
 

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If we are purely looking for Bang-for-the-Buck, then Internet Direct sellers give you the most for the least.

Though it depends on how many BUCKS you have to create the BANG.

I think at a certain level, high priced speaker stand in a class on their own, and there are few competitors. The more Boutique Brands, as you call them, can produce some stunning speakers, but expect to pay dearly for them.

The Big Boys, common international brands, still produce very good speakers, and are widely available. They have huge engineering and manufacturing staff, and they have the advantage of economics of scale, though how much of the economics of scale they pass on to you is unclear. Plus you can likely audition them in any major city in the world.

I think this is hard to generalize on because it greatly hinges on the available budget, and your risk aversion level. Internet Direct Companies are huge bargains, and may offer liberal return policies, but it is going to cost you time and money if you get the speakers and don't like them. And, you are not likely to be able to hear them in advance, so you are at the mercy of the opinions of others. Bearing in mind that professional reviews are just the opinions of others.

So ... how much money are we talking about. If you got a big pile of cash, Boutique can return stunning speakers, but you risk the boutique company going out of business on you. At a more modest budget, Internet Direct are huge bargains, and can produce stunning speakers for the money. Common International Name Brands come with an element of trust and security that you don't necessarily get with less common brands.

Steve/bluewizard
 

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For $290 ($330 total capped shipping) the Phil AA+ cannot be rivaled, IMHO. Likewise, as was already mentioned, The Phil BMRs at $1350 ($1450 total capped shipping) is untouched as well. Strictly my own biased opinion.

For reference, My Dynaudio X18 2-ways were about the same price (roughly) as the BMRs.

What we really need is a Revel M105 vs Phil BMR shootout!! Someone get on that, LOL.

EDIT: And to really shake things up, and make it even more interesting, we should add some active studio monitors to the list from the likes of Neumann, Genelec, Adam, Dynaudio, JBL, etc. at the same price points.
i am starting to think i will be settling for the aa+'s/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif (poor me/forum/images/smilies/rolleyes.gif))
Poor significant other you mean 😉 The AA+s are fantastic.
 
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What about an Ascend CBM170 vs Phil AA+? I think that would be pretty nice for us on the lower end of the spectrum /forum/images/smilies/smile.gif
I've had both (well, not the + version). I preferred the AA's. There is a recent thread comparing the Ascend 170s and the Phil AA+'s. I'll try to dig up a link. Both are great speakers, no doubt.

EDIT: Here it is: https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-speakers/3022558-affordable-accuracy-monitor-ascend-170se-review.html

@IrishHT
Agree completely. Both are great speakers but for my ears, the AA+ comes out on top as the "budget" king. One friend has a 2.1 Bose and another had a complete Andrew Jones 5.1 with the Dayton Audio 15. I'd take the AA+s easily.
 

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I think ID brands can provide more value for money as compared to big speaker manufacturer but only to a certain extent/level. If you are looking a product that is above a certain level than you wont find it from the ID brands. They are limited by budget and manpower when it comes to R&D, design and testing facilities. They mostly use off the shelf parts but there is no innovation when it comes to the parts itself. eg. FOcal makes it own drivers and they innovate when it comes to their drivers, KEF is currently using 12th gen of their UniQ design but you wont see that sort of thing when it comes to a ID brand and tbh they are not pretending to do that either.
 

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I think ID brands can provide more value for money as compared to big speaker manufacturer but only to a certain extent/level. If you are looking a product that is above a certain level than you wont find it from the ID brands. They are limited by budget and manpower when it comes to R&D, design and testing facilities. They mostly use off the shelf parts but there is no innovation when it comes to the parts itself. eg. FOcal makes it own drivers and they innovate when it comes to their drivers, KEF is currently using 12th gen of their UniQ design but you wont see that sort of thing when it comes to a ID brand and tbh they are not pretending to do that either.
Fair enough, although it's not like the resale driver manufacturers aren't engaging in extensive R&D. Seas, ScanSpeak, SB Acoustics, etc are always bringing out new, and in some cases cutting edge, drivers.
 

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Fair enough, although it's not like the resale driver manufacturers aren't engaging in extensive R&D. Seas, ScanSpeak, SB Acoustics, etc are always bringing out new, and in some cases cutting edge, drivers.
i agree with this 100%.. i would be willing to bet , if properly motivated a seasoned Id seller ( like Mr. Murphy ) could produce higher quality speakers at lower prices using retail available hardware.. oh wait .. he already does? oh yeah , musta slipped my mind:rolleyes:
 

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I think ID brands can provide more value for money as compared to big speaker manufacturer but only to a certain extent/level. If you are looking a product that is above a certain level than you wont find it from the ID brands. They are limited by budget and manpower when it comes to R&D, design and testing facilities. They mostly use off the shelf parts but there is no innovation when it comes to the parts itself. eg. FOcal makes it own drivers and they innovate when it comes to their drivers, KEF is currently using 12th gen of their UniQ design but you wont see that sort of thing when it comes to a ID brand and tbh they are not pretending to do that either.

What is the exact “level” where ID does not achieve better value than big brands? I’m just a little confused because I don’t know of a certain price point where big brand takes the lead over ID in terms of value. No attacks here, I’m just asking why and where you think that level is.
 

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What is the exact “level” where ID does not achieve better value than big brands? I’m just a little confused because I don’t know of a certain price point where big brand takes the lead over ID in terms of value. No attacks here, I’m just asking why and where you think that level is.
there are great retail values offered by big "name "companies.. but i too would argue there is no set level at which this occurs with great frequency...
 

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What is the exact “level” where ID does not achieve better value than big brands? I’m just a little confused because I don’t know of a certain price point where big brand takes the lead over ID in terms of value. No attacks here, I’m just asking why and where you think that level is.
I am not talking about value above certain price point. I am saying that once you rise above basic bread and butter products, ID brands don't and cannot offer any reasonable competition. Lets take KEF LS50W for example. All ID brands have access to individual components like drivers, cabinets, DSP, amps but none offers a comparable competitive package at same price.
 

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I am not talking about value above certain price point. I am saying that once you rise above basic bread and butter products, ID brands don't and cannot offer any reasonable competition. Lets take KEF LS50W for example. All ID brands have access to individual components like drivers, cabinets, DSP, amps but none offers a comparable competitive package at same price.
look no further than philharmonic audio monitors... all day every day..as a matter of fact i would go so far as to say the ls50 is no comp for the bmr...
 

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I think ID brands can provide more value for money as compared to big speaker manufacturer but only to a certain extent/level. If you are looking a product that is above a certain level than you wont find it from the ID brands. They are limited by budget and manpower when it comes to R&D, design and testing facilities. They mostly use off the shelf parts but there is no innovation when it comes to the parts itself. eg. FOcal makes it own drivers and they innovate when it comes to their drivers, KEF is currently using 12th gen of their UniQ design but you wont see that sort of thing when it comes to a ID brand and tbh they are not pretending to do that either.
I agree with some of what you are saying but for me I think after a certain price point you are just paying for a pretty box. I'm not a big fan of off the shelf vs make your own drivers. I would think a driver company would do a lot of R&D and make innovations that work. I can see speakers companies playing more marketing games and making things look nice and have a great name. "Hey, people like diamonds so lets make a diamond driver". We are not speaker designers and we do not test the hell out of drivers so speaker companies can get away with crap if they are just selling an end product to us. Driver companies are selling to speaker designers are speakers companies with speaker designers, if they make crap someone will notice and it will not sell. They have more reasons to make good products.

KEF on the 12 gen just reminds me of Paradigm and the version system. Every year a new version. It's called up-sell/upgrading to get more money not a new break through in driver tech. If it was, it would not be every year on schedule, as the longer you make something the cheaper it becomes.

I see ID brands like Chane and Philharmonic coming out with new versions when it matters (not yearly on a schedule)and/or if parts are not available and/or you can get the same performance in a smaller or less expensive package. Also both ID and major brands will sometimes spec a driver to be made for a speaker as the off the shelf product will be close but not perfect.
 

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I agree with some of what you are saying but for me I think after a certain price point you are just paying for a pretty box. I'm not a big fan of off the shelf vs make your own drivers. I would think a driver company would do a lot of R&D and make innovations that work. I can see speakers companies playing more marketing games and making things look nice and have a great name. "Hey, people like diamonds so lets make a diamond driver". We are not speaker designers and we do not test the hell out of drivers so speaker companies can get away with crap if they are just selling an end product to us. Driver companies are selling to speaker designers are speakers companies with speaker designers, if they make crap someone will notice and it will not sell. They have more reasons to make good products.

KEF on the 12 gen just reminds me of Paradigm and the version system. Every year a new version. It's called up-sell/upgrading to get more money not a new break through in driver tech. If it was, it would not be every year on schedule, as the longer you make something the cheaper it becomes.

I see ID brands like Chane and Philharmonic coming out with new versions when it matters (not yearly on a schedule)and/or if parts are not available and/or you can get the same performance in a smaller or less expensive package. Also both ID and major brands will sometimes spec a driver to be made for a speaker as the off the shelf product will be close but not perfect.
look no further than philharmonic audio monitors... all day every day..as a matter of fact i would go so far as to say the ls50 is no comp for the bmr...
This argument is just like argument between Pre-C7 corvettes and Porsche 911s. Corvettes were cheaper, had bigger engines, more bhp and in some cases put down better numbers than 911s but latter were a better complete package. From handling, fit and finish to minor details they were better engineered overall. Porsche charged premium for their cars and some saw that price difference worth the minor improvements and looks while others didn't.
 
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This argument is just like argument between Pre-C7 corvettes and Porsche 911s. Corvettes were cheaper, had bigger engines, more bhp and in some cases put down better numbers than 911s but latter were a better complete package. From handling, fit and finish to minor details they were better engineered overall. Porsche charged premium for their cars and some saw that price difference worth the minor improvements and looks while others didn't.
You do realize some of the most sought after Porsches are vintage ones re imagined by Singer Vehicle Designs in California, right?

They are better than the originals.

http://singervehicledesign.com/

http://www.thedrive.com/video/5143/driving-a-500-000-singer-customized-porsche-911-ruins-every-other-car

But unlike boutique speaker manufacturers who use the latest drivers from some of the best companies out there, you pay MORE than for a brand new one! :p
 
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