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The cost of decent analogue products


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Not sure anyone is with me but I am starting to loose my interest to listen analog daily with continuous price increasing from premium and highend cartridge segments. Material cost and labour hours are no longer reflecting real value for music lovers or even highly interested audiophiles.


I am not shy to tell a true but I think this is at tipping point that majority of enthusiasts will feel a huge rip off in this hobby with current mainstream business models , considering our salary rise and business conditions are not that great.




*** Notes:
My personal opinions mean to reflect overall market, not a particular brand or any targeted models, just an overall feedback, please disregard my opinion  if I did not express correctly


 


 

 

 

 

Edited by ikhuong
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4 hours ago, ikhuong said:

Not sure anyone is with me but I am starting to loose my interest to listen analog daily with continuous price increasing from premium and highend cartridge segments. Material cost and labour hours are no longer reflecting real value for music lovers or even highly interested audiophiles.


I am not shy to tell a true but I think this is at tipping point that majority of enthusiasts will feel a huge rip off in this hobby with current mainstream business models , considering our salary rise and business conditions are not that great.

 

for example: a X-quisite XT is $21,300 or Lyra Atlas 18,695 while they were around 15k a year ago or so.

 
 


 

 

 

 

Absolutely.  I could never realistically afford 'premium and highend' cartridges- $21000 is 24 months rent for me.  Even from my working class perspective, the burden of increasing costs has fast increased to levels not known for many decades. I weave in and out of participating in a love for vinyl, but over the last year or two it seems evermore difficult to find the funds. Best not to go into explanations for the worldwide tectonic shifts occuring economically and politically  because I don't want to start arguments. But suffice it to say that Western economies are not immune from consequences of effective deindustrialisation in sectors other than the militiary industrial complex. Increasing costs aren't going anywhere. Add to this the current pitiful AUS$ exchange rate and no wonder we are fealing the pinch. But I still love playing vinyl, allbeit in concert with a new digital library I've started to offset ongoing costs from turntable spinning. Luckily there are still some wonderful less expensive cartridges available and there are also Australians in the hifi industry that help to make great analogue playback obtainable for those who want that. 

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AUD is low only against USD.  Many good carts are made in Japan and yen is at an all time low.  So just poor excuse from aus retailers for their exorbitant prices! 

Generally so call high end audio prices have gone up significantly but unfortunately often inversely proportional to quality and musicality esp when it comes to vinyl.  Story for a different thread I think.

 

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3D805A53-0C8C-42FF-843F-E12419B02EDC.jpeg.aa732ca0536105afa4bde8494dc10e45.jpeg

 

Koetsu coral stone diamond cantilever, managed to find in Japan.  Certainly didn’t pay insane aus retail.

 

unfortunately rumour is that Koetsu is closing altogether?  Is that true?

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6 hours ago, ikhuong said:

Not sure anyone is with me but I am starting to loose my interest to listen analog daily with continuous price increasing from premium and highend cartridge segments. Material cost and labour hours are no longer reflecting real value for music lovers or even highly interested audiophiles.


I am not shy to tell a true but I think this is at tipping point that majority of enthusiasts will feel a huge rip off in this hobby with current mainstream business models , considering our salary rise and business conditions are not that great.

 

for example: a X-quisite XT is $21,300 or Lyra Atlas 18,695 while they were around 15k a year ago or so.

 

 

First world problems🙄......stop buying stuff. Just be happy with what you've got.

Edited by stevoz
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7 hours ago, ikhuong said:

Material cost and labour hours are no longer reflecting real value for music lovers or even highly interested audiophiles.

 

7 hours ago, ikhuong said:

for example: a X-quisite XT is $21,300 or Lyra Atlas 18,695 while they were around 15k a year ago or so.

 

Those prices NEVER reflected costs.  They were always set quite artificially.

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1 hour ago, denimhunter said:

3D805A53-0C8C-42FF-843F-E12419B02EDC.jpeg.aa732ca0536105afa4bde8494dc10e45.jpeg

 

Koetsu coral stone diamond cantilever, managed to find in Japan.  Certainly didn’t pay insane aus retail.

 

unfortunately rumour is that Koetsu is closing altogether?  Is that true?

I must admit Ive been more seriously thinking about Japan as an option. Eg.  Im keen to buy some transformers for a valve power amp  and Hashimoto are looking promising. 

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1 hour ago, denimhunter said:

unfortunately rumour is that Koetsu is closing altogether?  Is that true?


yes i read some share on Facebook groups from distributor about this,  I appreciate founders/designers  in their skills and talents and they called themselves as artisans but I am not incline in their thinking in not making their designs, skills or secret  to be sustainable and transfer-able to next generations or younger technicians. This is a dead end for high quality vinyl playback, just like Reel to reel.

 

streaming is catching up with latest generation of dac design. If the best-spoke designers and founders do not think they should make high quality playback of vinyl accessible to more working-class people and younger audiophiles,  this is a dead end for vinyl with continuous improvement from streaming.

 

one day when engineers can design dacs and streamers that sound very close to best vinyl systems at any budget, I have no reason to pay for non-sense cartridge price with no-ability to retip  (50-70% rrp for re-tip/rebuild is the norm)

 

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3 minutes ago, ikhuong said:


yes i read some share on Facebook groups from distributor about this,  I appreciate founders/designers  in their skills and talents and they called themselves as artisans but I am not incline in their thinking in not making their designs, skills or secret  to be sustainable and transfer-able to next generations or younger technicians. This is a dead end for high quality vinyl playback, just like Reel to reel.

 

streaming is catching up with latest generation of dac design. If the best-spoke designers and founders do not think they should make high quality playback of vinyl accessible to more working-class people and younger audiophiles,  this is a dead end for vinyl with continuous improvement from streaming.

 

one day when engineers can design dacs and streamers that sound very close to best vinyl systems at any budget, I have no reason to pay for non-sense cartridge price with no-ability to retip  (50-70% rrp for re-tip/rebuild is the norm)

 

Prices for LPs are over the top now. And digital music is getting really good. Maybe I love playing vinyl so much because I grew up with it. Also in my mind, music that was recorded in and for analogue can sound really great on LP. There is a lot of 50s to 70s stuff I love.  

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25 minutes ago, ikhuong said:


yes i read some share on Facebook groups from distributor about this,  I appreciate founders/designers  in their skills and talents and they called themselves as artisans but I am not incline in their thinking in not making their designs, skills or secret  to be sustainable and transfer-able to next generations or younger technicians. This is a dead end for high quality vinyl playback, just like Reel to reel.

 

streaming is catching up with latest generation of dac design. If the best-spoke designers and founders do not think they should make high quality playback of vinyl accessible to more working-class people and younger audiophiles,  this is a dead end for vinyl with continuous improvement from streaming.

 

one day when engineers can design dacs and streamers that sound very close to best vinyl systems at any budget, I have no reason to pay for non-sense cartridge price with no-ability to retip  (50-70% rrp for re-tip/rebuild is the norm)

 

Kevin,

I think that you have touched on some good points. Perhaps this is worthy of its own thread and the mods could help. 
 

Cheers,

Peter

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Unfortunately good sounding vinyl system are few and far between.  Many who grew up on digital front end and later years ss amps would hardly have heard what vinyl is capable of (far more than just a fad).  Vinyl is not just the cartridge..

 

To have a digital system as good as a good vinyl system cost is still very substantial and require a lot of effort…

Yes topic for another time..

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2 hours ago, PKay said:

Kevin,

I think that you have touched on some good points. Perhaps this is worthy of its own thread and the mods could help. 
 

Cheers,

Peter

 

+1

There are a number of threads that already cover these different themes. It would be great if we could stick to this thread- showing Phono Stages and Phono Cartridges.

 

Edited by Dystoria
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11 minutes ago, Dystoria said:

 

+1

There are a number of threads that already cover these different themes. It would be great if we could stick to this thread- showing Phono Stages and Phono Cartridges.

 

@Marcare you able to start a new thread and move a few of these posts? 

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2 hours ago, denimhunter said:

Unfortunately good sounding vinyl system are few and far between.  Many who grew up on digital front end and later years ss amps would hardly have heard what vinyl is capable of (far more than just a fad).  Vinyl is not just the cartridge..

 

To have a digital system as good as a good vinyl system cost is still very substantial and require a lot of effort…

Yes topic for another time..

110% agree with this statement! 

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Posted (edited)
On 29/03/2024 at 3:33 PM, denimhunter said:

Vinyl is not just the cartridge..

 

 

to this point, cartridge is the most pain point to make a decent sounding system. Plus we need new cartridge or a rebuild after more 1500-2000 hours of playing. top designers/makers in vinyl cartridge are making things harder in keeping their secret and skills not accessible  to next generations.

 

Most know this and this is where they apply price  gouging at a ruthless  and reckless level. a top of line vs third-top of line price is nearly 3 times difference and as I provided examples, above 20k for a cartridge nowsaday
 

The justification does not make sense in term of a few hours more work or better material used like a titan body. it is just old school thinking leading to a dead end of a beautiful media playback human could invent, just like reel to reel.

 

I see most audiophiles at my age (U40-50) go full digital after they venture to analog a bit in midfi level (many systems are at 100-200k cash  investment level). Still, many think I am stupid to paid for a 10k cartridge that can only play more 1500 hours on it. The older ones think it is okie to accept this practice because they are statement piece and made by unique artisans. 

 

From my end, I can think this is

a dead-end for bestspokes analog playback once the current generation of audiophile U60 or above retire from hiend.  the younger audiophiles is comparing and see the price gouging in high-quality vinyl playback that is hard to justify, especially in the cartridge world. Come on, HP printer not sell 10k ink cartridge to let people to print most beautiful photos in the world in the world. But DSLR camera industry is collapsing because many manufacturers want user to pay 20k for better lens to take great photos, modern mobile phones with apps changed this.

 

analog playback is coming back but will not be for long with the escalation in cartridge and record price, and the disappear of reputation brands like Koetsu or Transfiguration Orpheus time by time.

 

 

Edited by ikhuong
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I have not upgraded anything on the TT side of things for many years "Thank God".🙏

It took me 3 different TT's, 3 different cartridge's & 2 different phono stages to get a level of SQ I wanted and was happy with, is there better sounding TTs out there without doubt & then some, there's also way less desirable ones too.

 

As discussed nothing is cheap, it all comes at a cost, including the vinyl and the way things are going it only seems to be more expensive to do anything, will it stop some from venturing down the Vinyl path "probably" hence the majority of people will go digital as it seems a better bang for buck solution, especially if you have a limited budget.... some of todays streamers are pretty good in SQ, and some will go back to or stay with their high quality CD players. Interesting times ahead for sure, hopefully we all can enjoy our music in the end, regardless of format🎼

 

 

 

 

Edited by Bass13
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After having borrowed a ZYX cart which was the older boron cantilever - Airy 3 version I couldn’t imagine the need to spend more. That was around $4k in today’s price range. Sadly they have changed the cantilever to carbon.  That was the best my vinyl has sounded. 
 

Having tried an Audial S4 Dac it sounded as good and I have ordered the newer S5b which should arrive in a few weeks. 
 

IMO the price of vinyl and carts is getting to the point where digital is becoming a lot more attractive. 
 

 

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3 hours ago, PKay said:

After having borrowed a ZYX cart which was the older boron cantilever - Airy 3 version I couldn’t imagine the need to spend more. That was around $4k in today’s price range. Sadly they have changed the cantilever to carbon.  That was the best my vinyl has sounded. 
 

Having tried an Audial S4 Dac it sounded as good and I have ordered the newer S5b which should arrive in a few weeks. 
 

IMO the price of vinyl and carts is getting to the point where digital is becoming a lot more attractive. 
 

 

I've owned 9 different Koetsu's from their entry level Black to the very top of tree Blue Lace. And I can attest, the more money you spend the better the performance. In EVERY important and conceivable parameter. 

 

I have to agree that the disparity in RRP between digital and analogue is more than a little uncomfortable. But, however you swing it, you need to spend substantial dollars to get digital to even remotely approach the level of truly well executed and achieved analogue (as touched on by @denimhunter above). 

My gear is a classic example. My CEC TL0 transport (new retail is over $70K) paired with my Zanden 5000 LE (approx. retail of $20K new) sounds superb. But, my analogue is always better.

I've heard in shootouts analogue rigs costing 20% of that of the digital rigs and again, analogue comes out trumps. 

 

Be happy with your digital, absolutely. No arguments there. Just don't compare it to a competently curated analogue set-up if you wish to remain blissfully happy. 

Edited by Be Quiet...Listen
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13 minutes ago, Be Quiet...Listen said:

I've owned 9 different Koetsu's from their entry level Black to the very top of tree Blue Lace. And I can attest, the more money you spend the better the performance. In EVERY important and conceivable parameter. 

 

I have to agree that the disparity in RRP between digital and analogue is more than a little uncomfortable. But, however you swing it, you need to spend substantial dollars to get digital to even remotely approach the level of truly well executed and achieved analogue (as touched on by @denimhunter above). 

My gear is a classic example. My CEC TL0 transport (new retail is over $70K) paired with my Zanden 5000 LE (approx. retail of $20K new) sounds superb. But, my analogy is always better.

I've heard in shootouts analogue rigs costing 20% of that of the digital rigs and again, analogue comes out trumps. 

 

Be happy with your digital, absolutely. No arguments there. Just don't compare it to a competently curated analogue set-up if you wish to remain blissfully happy. 

It sounds like you have some impressive carts there. 
 

In reference to cost if one of your carts is $20k and you get a 1000 hours of top performance you’re looking at $20 per hour.  Even if you get 1500 hours that’s a tad under $15 per hour. Which gets back to Kevin’s point where he has an expensive Lyra cart and the cost of refurb has gone up a lot. 
 

At least at the level I spend I am  happy to send my Benz up to Chris for a retip. 
 

Vinyl is a lot of fun but it can get really expensive. 

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45 minutes ago, PKay said:

It sounds like you have some impressive carts there. 
 

In reference to cost if one of your carts is $20k and you get a 1000 hours of top performance you’re looking at $20 per hour.  Even if you get 1500 hours that’s a tad under $15 per hour. Which gets back to Kevin’s point where he has an expensive Lyra cart and the cost of refurb has gone up a lot. 
 

At least at the level I spend I am  happy to send my Benz up to Chris for a retip. 
 

Vinyl is a lot of fun but it can get really expensive. 

There’s always more than one way to skin a cat. 
Nirvana Sounds RRP for the Koetsu Blue Lace was $23.5K. I went a different route and bought new for $7.5K. You do your homework, you save money. That’s all I’m going to say on that seemingly charged conversation. 
 

Kevin has touched on an element of the realities of high end. By no means is it limited to Analogue. 

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12 minutes ago, Be Quiet...Listen said:

Kevin has touched on an element of the realities of high end. By no means is it limited to Analogue. 

Agreed- Occasionally there is some great value in the digital domain.  Gieseler in Aust and Audial in Serbia. Pedja from Audial has spent the last 20 years developing a dac with the TDA1541 chip.  When you look at his Dac I haven’t found or heard anything at his price point. 

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On 29/03/2024 at 6:32 AM, ikhuong said:

Not sure anyone is with me but I am starting to loose my interest to listen analog daily with continuous price increasing from premium and highend cartridge segments. Material cost and labour hours are no longer reflecting real value for music lovers or even highly interested audiophiles.


I am not shy to tell a true but I think this is at tipping point that majority of enthusiasts will feel a huge rip off in this hobby with current mainstream business models , considering our salary rise and business conditions are not that great.

 


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Are expensive cartridges expensive - Yes.    plenty of good sounding reasonably priced cartridges - Ortofon, Phasemations, Hana, Lyra Delos.

 

   Lyra for example for their top of range cart's are extremely expensive. However Lyra do give you a 50% trade in for any cart you have bought, so it certainly lessens the pain.

 

  You mention 1500 hours cartridge use before you have to rebuild.  For a line contact if you look after it you will get 3000 - 3500 hours use.  I get this from my Lyra and Dynavector carts.  despite what the vested interest retippers say, it is factual and Lyra agree.

 

  Hi end everything is expensive so it is certainly a first world problem.

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Posted (edited)

hi all,
My personal opinions mean to reflect overall market, not a particular brand or targeted "high-end" model, cartridge is a bit sensitive because that is a recurring fee every 1-2k hours of usage. So just an overall feedback, please disregard my opinions if I did not express correctly.

Just to update, I received well support from my Lyra cartridge distributor relating to my questions and concerns and they also offer very reasonable "re-tipped" which is better than expectation  for returned Lyra owner. I was a bit heated and freaking out to see my burn rate of a cartridge in 2 years and think about "new price" to pay out but it is not that bad.

Honestly, Covid era  and new user experience might cause cartridges to be used more or change than expected but I should change my habit to add streaming back to my setup.

 

Edited by ikhuong
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