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Where does the Money go in High End Monitors? Studio Monitors
Old 23rd May 2015
  #1
Gear Head
 

Where does the Money go in High End Monitors?

With a pair of $4000 or $8000usd monitors like PMC or Dynaudio for example.

Are you just paying for the parts or alot of man hours to set them up correctly & test them in expensive facilities?

I don't know much, but I beat low end monitors they just chuck the stuff in the monitor housing & ship it off.


Thanks all.
Old 23rd May 2015
  #2
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Avast!'s Avatar
Away.
Old 23rd May 2015
  #3
R&D, Stock of parts, stock of finished products, high salaries to high-end engineers, machinery, etc, etc.
Normally these company's do not sell enough quantity's to come down in price... I bet Yamaha sells 1000 monitors where Pmc sells 10....
Old 23rd May 2015
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lindell View Post
R&D, Stock of parts, stock of finished products, high salaries to high-end engineers, machinery, etc, etc.
Normally these company's do not sell enough quantity's to come down in price... I bet Yamaha sells 1000 monitors where Pmc sells 10....
That's it. I wondered once why Jaguar parts are so expensive, then I talked to someone who worked for them and found out they buy only 50-100 set of brakes at a time, while large manufacturers like Ford are buying 100,000 at a time. The price difference is crazy. In any manufacturing business, making a few of something per month by hand is very expensive.

When I look at a Ford Mustang, how they can actually build a CAR with 100,000's parts in it- it works and doesn't squeak, its reliable, it runs for 100,000 miles-for US$25K? Seriously? That is a modern miracle. Its the amazing power of high volume that delivers that kind of value and spoils us. A super low volume build Aston Martin can be US$250,000.

Brad
Old 24th May 2015
  #5
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lindell View Post
R&D, Stock of parts, stock of finished products, high salaries to high-end engineers, machinery, etc, etc.
Normally these company's do not sell enough quantity's to come down in price... I bet Yamaha sells 1000 monitors where Pmc sells 10....
Hi, does this mean one can spend far less than 4 grand on some Yamaha monitors & almost get the same ballpark sound quality as the 4 grand PMC?



thanks
Old 24th May 2015
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MonitorGuy. View Post
Hi, does this mean one can spend far less than 4 grand on some Yamaha monitors & almost get the same ballpark sound quality as the 4 grand PMC?
I think it means that if Yamaha mass produced monitors that were the exact same build as PMC, they would be able to dramatically reduce the price through economies of scale. PMC Monitors may still be better than Yamaha monitors however.

Typically, there are two different design and build goals between a company that is making a mass market product vs one that is making a specialty item for big spenders.

Last edited by Tangible; 24th May 2015 at 09:40 AM..
Old 24th May 2015
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Lunde View Post
That's it. I wondered once why Jaguar parts are so expensive, then I talked to someone who worked for them and found out they buy only 50-100 set of brakes at a time, while large manufacturers like Ford are buying 100,000 at a time. The price difference is crazy. In any manufacturing business, making a few of something per month by hand is very expensive.

When I look at a Ford Mustang, how they can actually build a CAR with 100,000's parts in it- it works and doesn't squeak, its reliable, it runs for 100,000 miles-for US$25K? Seriously? That is a modern miracle. Its the amazing power of high volume that delivers that kind of value and spoils us. A super low volume build Aston Martin can be US$250,000.

Brad
I don't know if it's a miracle. Another way to look at it is how exceedingly poor price discovery is reflected in our current fiat economy (cheap money, too bloated to collapse etc.). I see this in the studio monitor market, I'm convinced the ONLY selling point for some studio monitors is the price point, whether it be low or high.
Old 24th May 2015
  #8
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Arksun's Avatar
Don't forget calibration as well. Cheaper monitors have rudimentary or automated checks before shipping. High end monitors are placed individually in an anechoic room chamber and have their freq, phase and distortion response tested against the master unit and each one goes through a full manual inspection before shipping.
Even the circuit boards in high end monitors can require a lot of man hours. Like the ones PSI make are put together in-house manually, hand selecting each individual component which all get tested.
Old 25th May 2015
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timesaver800W View Post
I don't know if it's a miracle. Another way to look at it is how exceedingly poor price discovery is reflected in our current fiat economy (cheap money, too bloated to collapse etc.). I see this in the studio monitor market, I'm convinced the ONLY selling point for some studio monitors is the price point, whether it be low or high.
Well you lost me on your narrative there. Price discovery? Too bloated? Give us more info on that if you want us to understand you.

In high end consumer I'd agree with you (folks buy on price alone) but in pro, working folks will NOT buy stuff unless it really helps them. There is very little glamour or exotica in high end studio monitors from my observations. I think most of the customers who buy ATC for example are just buying a tool, not a badge of success. If it doesn't actually make their work easier, faster or better they ain't buying. Few of the customers for 25s, 45s, or higher are rich. They are experienced pros who need to grow their incomes.

What is true is that the market is pushed low and high, like a U. Most of the sales are at the bottom of the market (cheap stuff), very little in the middle and some at the top end of the market (the high end stuff).
Brad
Old 25th May 2015
  #10
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@ Brad

Price discovery = the ability of the market to determine value.

I was merely thinking out loud regarding your comments about car part prices, which led me to think about pricing of commodities in general. Here the other day I was shopping for a utility for my kitchen, I found the exact same product at two places in my local community, the only difference being a whopping 18x price difference, thats 1800 percent! Still people buy the product at 18x. There is NO price discovery anymore that makes any sense.

I've heard many speakers that easily cost twice and upwards of other speakers again, totally underperforming, yet they DO sell. I can only speculate that people often don't know what they're buying.

I'm obviously not speaking about ATCs here, because they're NICE speakers!
Old 26th May 2015
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timesaver800W View Post
@ Brad

<SNIP>

I've heard many speakers that easily cost twice and upwards of other speakers again, totally underperforming, yet they DO sell. I can only speculate that people often don't know what they're buying.

<SNIP>
Yes Timersaver- I agree with your statements about value.
Brad
Old 8th June 2015
  #12
I'm sure there are many that buy high end expensive monitors for bragging rights not unlike those that purchase a Mercedes Benz or Rolls Royce. At some point these cars can be deemed "better" automobiles but better than what. For instance, what would be the difference bettie and 10k pair of speakers and a 40k pair assuming the sizes of the drivers are about the same. would you hear 30k worth of difference? Probably not. But, when someone walks into your studio or looks at your website and sees that you have ultra high end monitors that automatically translate that to success and therefore quality. It is n to so much how the speakers sound as it is what they say about you in general.
Old 8th June 2015
  #13
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Again, in high end studio, it sells only if it pays a dividend that generates revenue.

In High End Hi Fi, there is a significant portion of the EXOTIC hi end market that is buying status- price is no object. But the high end hi fi market we most often see is about hobbyists who love music and love gear; they enjoy buying selling and changing gear around.

Brad
Old 8th June 2015
  #14
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Where there's mystery, there's margin.
Old 8th June 2015
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Spearritt View Post
Where there's mystery, there's margin.
I suppose, but only for people unable to assess the value of the item. I wouldn't know the first thing about motocross racing and equipment- the high end all looks WAY too expensive to me.

Brad
Old 8th June 2015
  #16
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Dpro's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bullseye View Post
I'm sure there are many that buy high end expensive monitors for bragging rights not unlike those that purchase a Mercedes Benz or Rolls Royce. At some point these cars can be deemed "better" automobiles but better than what. For instance, what would be the difference bettie and 10k pair of speakers and a 40k pair assuming the sizes of the drivers are about the same. would you hear 30k worth of difference? Probably not. But, when someone walks into your studio or looks at your website and sees that you have ultra high end monitors that automatically translate that to success and therefore quality. It is n to so much how the speakers sound as it is what they say about you in general.
I really don't think many engineers buy monitors based on status. Unless they are completely green newbies to the industry. Most engineers I know and have been around buy them based on performance.

Indeed you are right about certain people buying a BMW or Mercedes for status. At the same time having been around Mercedes since I was about 13 due my fathers love of them, I did learn that while expensive to maintain they were indeed really good cars. From a drivers perspective as well as passengers, I might add. Same goes for a BMW and those are almost strange words coming out of my mouth because I started out with a Datsun 510 which was a BMW 2002 killer.
I progressed to 240z's. I now own 2 BMW M3's and quite honestly cantell you they do live up to BMW's catch phrase "the ultimate driving machine".

I am a Nissan guy and have been all my life. I bought the M3's because they drove so good, rode so nice for how well they handle.
A true enthusiast will always select the item for its qualities and abilities. Especially in engineering.
Even the namesake Mics that clients are more likely to know about than monitors got their namesake by delivering the experience and performance.
Even if a person buys a product for its namesake, if they are any good at using the product properly? They
will recognize and come to appreciate the quality or ability delivered.

There was just a guy in the Amphon thread today questioning the costs of Amphions. He was trying to base it what he felt were the sum of the parts. No taking into account R&D time and costs, manufacturing time, size of company and amount of products produced to make it cost effective.

Small business's have to operate on higher profit margins due to Economy of size. It's a given that gets lost on a lot of lay people .
It's unusual and unique when a small company delivers a great product at a large scale production price point.
Warm Audio is just such a company and Bryces philosophy and production reflects that. His margins are not as high as most because he figured a few things out on the manufacturing side to streamline his production. So he could deliver an amazing price point product that could sell for more. He chose to try and go for larger production and distribution to make the difference. Large company thinking on a small company scale. His assembly of product still happens in the U.S. I might add.

Not easy to do, and monitors would be harder unless assembled in China.
In a sense look no further than to where a monitor is manufactured and you will get a sense of why it costs what it does.

Plus in regards to Amphion they really are well assembled and very accurate monitors. They are actually astounding IMO. The only people really questioning are the people that are shocked at the way they are being adopted by the Industry and are credulous and quit skeptical.

Last edited by Dpro; 8th June 2015 at 11:52 PM..
Old 9th June 2015
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dpro View Post
I really don't think many engineers buy monitors based on status. Unless they are completely green newbies to the industry. Most engineers I know and have been around buy them based on performance.

Indeed you are right about certain people buying a BMW or Mercedes for status. At the same time having been around Mercedes since I was about 13 due my fathers love of them, I did learn that while expensive to maintain they were indeed really good cars. From a drivers perspective as well as passengers, I might add. Same goes for a BMW and those are almost strange words coming out of my mouth because I started out with a Datsun 510 which was a BMW 2002 killer.
I progressed to 240z's. I now own 2 BMW M3's and quite honestly cantell you they do live up to BMW's catch phrase "the ultimate driving machine".

I am a Nissan guy and have been all my life. I bought the M3's because they drove so good, rode so nice for how well they handle.
A true enthusiast will always select the item for its qualities and abilities. Especially in engineering.
Even the namesake Mics that clients are more likely to know about than monitors got their namesake by delivering the experience and performance.
Even if a person buys a product for its namesake, if they are any good at using the product properly? They
will recognize and come to appreciate the quality or ability delivered.

There was just a guy in the Amphon thread today questioning the costs of Amphions. He was trying to base it what he felt were the sum of the parts. No taking into account R&D time and costs, manufacturing time, size of company and amount of products produced to make it cost effective.

Small business's have to operate on higher profit margins due to Economy of size. It's a given that gets lost on a lot of lay people .
It's unusual and unique when a small company delivers a great product at a large scale production price point.
Warm Audio is just such a company and Bryces philosophy and production reflects that. His margins are not as high as most because he figured a few things out on the manufacturing side to streamline his production. So he could deliver an amazing price point product that could sell for more. He chose to try and go for larger production and distribution to make the difference. Large company thinking on a small company scale. His assembly of product still happens in the U.S. I might add.

Not easy to do, and monitors would be harder unless assembled in China.
In a sense look no further than to where a monitor is manufactured and you will get a sense of why it costs what it does.

Plus in regards to Amphion they really are well assembled and very accurate monitors. They are actually astounding IMO. The only people really questioning are the people that are shocked at the way they are being adopted by the Industry and are credulous and quit skeptical.
I think you are agreeing with me. Anyway, if you can't make a good recording on inexpensive speakers, hight cost speakers won't help.
Old 9th June 2015
  #18
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Dpro's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bullseye View Post
I think you are agreeing with me. Anyway, if you can't make a good recording on inexpensive speakers, hight cost speakers won't help.
Well yes and no, on some points we agree and I think we have slightly different takes on others. I do agree if you can't mix on cheaper speakers you won't be able to mix on expensive ones.
Though besides a few exceptions, for the most part more expesnive monitors do deliver a better picture. Though it becomes a coat vs percentage situation. At a certain point the difference is measured in smaller increments rather than large.

I mixed for years on KRK V8's, mixes that translated. I can hear so much more on my Amphion One18's though, its night and day. I also find mix decisions come quicker and easier with the Amphions. To me that translates to being worth what I paid for them.
Old 9th June 2015
  #19
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Lunde View Post
That's it. I wondered once why Jaguar parts are so expensive, then I talked to someone who worked for them and found out they buy only 50-100 set of brakes at a time, while large manufacturers like Ford are buying 100,000 at a time. The price difference is crazy. In any manufacturing business, making a few of something per month by hand is very expensive.

When I look at a Ford Mustang, how they can actually build a CAR with 100,000's parts in it- it works and doesn't squeak, its reliable, it runs for 100,000 miles-for US$25K? Seriously? That is a modern miracle. Its the amazing power of high volume that delivers that kind of value and spoils us. A super low volume build Aston Martin can be US$250,000.

Brad
Another modern "miracle" are the often (very) low wages too... this leads to low Prices and sometimes (most times) to poverty...
(The production-costs of an Apple-Watch is around 10 Dollars per Piece.
So the buyer spends most of the Money on Yachts and huge Mansions for the Management ).

I think it's also wise when you buy something to consider to whom you will give your Money and what you like to achieve with the purchase, as well as the Quality you will receive and how Long it will statisfy your needs. For a professional Studio a pair of Monitors are an Investment, so they should calculate it like that.

A buying decision only on a low Price makes no sense to me. maybe because i work as a purchaser
Old 9th June 2015
  #20
Usually not in the passive crossovers. Lots of junk is still found in high end speakers where you can't see it.
Old 9th June 2015
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arksun View Post
High end monitors are placed individually in an anechoic room chamber and have their freq, phase and distortion response tested against the master unit
Do you have any citations or specific company examples for this claim? I have a hard time believing that boutique monitor companies built an anechoic chamber on site for calibration...

I think that kind of stuff is what we all would like to believe. But the reality is most of the extra cost for boutique gear is due to economy of scale. Because of that, a lot of the high price goes toward effectively overpaying for parts... Okay, an argument could be made that small scale production leads to higher quality control - maybe that's true, maybe not. I think you'd have to judge that on a case by case basis per manufacturer.

Last edited by rcb4t2; 9th June 2015 at 05:32 PM..
Old 9th June 2015
  #22
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John Willett's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rcb4t2 View Post
Do you have any citations or specific company examples for this claim? I have a hard time believing that boutique monitor companies built an anechoic chamber on site for calibration...
Most quality loudspeaker manufacturers have an anechoic chamber and test each individual unit against the master.

ME-Geithain certainly do (I have been inside it), as do Harbeth (been inside that one too), ATC (and been in this one) Neumann K+H, PMC, and I would be surprised if the other top manufacturers don't also have their own anechoic chamber.

Even Sennheiser UK have a small anechoic chamber for repairing the KH range of monitors.
Old 9th June 2015
  #23
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I'm very happy with my Dynaudio and has been for 3 Years.
Old 9th June 2015
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bullseye View Post
I think you are agreeing with me. Anyway, if you can't make a good recording on inexpensive speakers, hight cost speakers won't help.
I support this rational. Just other day here, I was told the popular JBL 305' were not suitable for even semi-professional mixing; that something more expensive (in this case, Neumann KH 120) was necessary/preferred. I'm skeptical, particularly since I've seen people make pretty decent mixes using laptop speakers and cheap monitors like the Av40'.

Although some speakers may make things somewhat easier, I believe it's really just learning the mannerisms of the speaker.
Old 9th June 2015
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by heflys20 View Post
I support this rational. Just other day here, I was told the popular JBL 305' were not suitable for even semi-professional mixing; that something more expensive (in this case, Neumann KH 120) was necessary/preferred. I'm skeptical, particularly since I've people make pretty decent mixes using laptop speakers and cheap monitors like Av40'.

Although some speakers may make thing somewhat easier, I believe it's really just learning the mannerisms of the speaker.
That is funny. It just so happens that I have a pair of JBL 305 Speakers. Most of the music made by gear snobs is unlistenable though there are exceptions. For example, the multitude of synth collectors with rooms full of great synthesizers that can barely play them recording the same one note dirges over and over with various assortments of bleeps, bloops and buzzes. And yet they insist that only vintage analogue gear will do. You want to listen to them talk (and worse play) - not you personally, you collectively - then be my guest. I'll use what works for me within my budget.

One thing I have learned in this life is there is never a shortage of credulous people. And for this example I cite the hordes of people that purchase endless reams of lottery tickets at the store across the street from me. They have $20.00 and a dream and soon all they have is a dream since they have been scrupulously parted of their $20.00. Gear manufacturers use the same psychology by convincing the credulous that for them to be stars in the music business they must have the "right" (read expensive) gear".

And on and on and on it goes.
Old 9th June 2015
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
Most quality loudspeaker manufacturers have an anechoic chamber and test each individual unit against the master.

ME-Geithain certainly do (I have been inside it), as do Harbeth (been inside that one too), ATC (and been in this one) Neumann K+H, PMC, and I would be surprised if the other top manufacturers don't also have their own anechoic chamber.

Even Sennheiser UK have a small anechoic chamber for repairing the KH range of monitors.
Assume this is so. It may eliminate the effect of sound reflections, echoes and outside noise but it does not eliminate the effect of economies of scale. It does not explain a thing since presumably a company charging 30k for a pair of speakers has the proper tools to build such a device. The question is rather cost of manufacturing vs. market price. In other words - profit margin. Just because a company makes a speaker that is shrouded in hyperbole and presented as high class does not mean that the extra cost is not in the profit margin.

Take for instance the building of a Ferrari. In this case, the sheer number of parts that must work within small tolerances may well justify the cost. How many parts are in a speaker? I think it is also fair to say that less complex widgets, even those made from the best components, should cost less than more complex widgets made from the best components.

My take on this has always been that as the price goes up, the increase in quality begins to level off until there are diminishing returns because the company is spending too much time and effort creating expense rather than function. For this I offer the example of 10 of the world's most expensive loudspeakers | What Hi-Fi?

The above list includes a 5 million dollar pair of speakers. They are made out of 24 carat solid gold. Think this translates into the best speakers ever heard or speakers for very wealthy people that like to show off. I'm going with the latter.
Old 9th June 2015
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bullseye View Post
I Assume its bull**** ,for fools with more money than sense(s)
No................ I know its BS
Old 9th June 2015
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
Most quality loudspeaker manufacturers have an anechoic chamber and test each individual unit against the master.

ME-Geithain certainly do (I have been inside it), as do Harbeth (been inside that one too), ATC (and been in this one) Neumann K+H, PMC, and I would be surprised if the other top manufacturers don't also have their own anechoic chamber.

Even Sennheiser UK have a small anechoic chamber for repairing the KH range of monitors.
I stand gladly corrected; I didn't think it would be feasible for them to afford it.
Old 10th June 2015
  #29
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Hi
An anechoic chamber does not have to be silly expensive to build. Granted a bit more than a properly designed 'control room' but it does not have to be excessively large.
Calrec had a small chamber for testing microphones in Hebden Bridge.
Matt S
Old 10th June 2015
  #30
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The extra cost of properly higher quality monitors goes into, among other things, higher quality crossover components, bigger magnets, stronger spiders, better cabinet wall bracing and tighter tolerances. In the case of a transmission line design like PMC, a lot of extra time goes into hand tweaking the transmission line. It is nowhere near a simple as adjusting a reflex port.
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