For those with the cojones...and chequebook to match!

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
7,790
598
113
E. England
#1
Well, as gear gets crazy big, overperforming, and stellar performing, we have a collection of gear that could only have been dreamed about, just 5 years ago.

Just released Air Force Zero, hundreds of kilos and $hundreds. Let's add four tonearms btwn $25k-50k, the new SATs and Thales Statement LT.

In digital, the new $25k SGM Extreme w MSB Select 2, throw in an MSB Reference transport, $175k total.

Amps? Four monos Dagostino Relentless to cover Wilson Chronosonics and Thors Hammers, $1.5mill, 2000 kilos plus.

What's planned as cost no object, beyond measure phono and preamp, all that's left for the system beyond systems? Cartridges? Need 4 of 'em.

Throw in MasterBuilt cables, Tripoint NRG grounding, the costs are boggling. Will there be another level seriously beyond all this?
 

thedudeabides

Well-Known Member
Jan 16, 2011
1,260
30
48
Alto, NM
#2
As long as someone is willing to pay for it, the answer is unfortunately yes. This is beyond conspicuous consumption when one considers what that money could do to make the world a better place to be.
 
Likes: sefischer1

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
5,400
329
83
North Shore of Boston
#3
Well, as gear gets crazy big, overperforming, and stellar performing, we have a collection of gear that could only have been dreamed about, just 5 years ago.
Marc, what does "overperforming" mean?
 
Likes: Ron Resnick

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
7,790
598
113
E. England
#4
Peter, by definition a $450k tt, $700k amps, $150k server & dac, $800k spkrs and subs, better outperform, because the pricetags demand it.
AF0, biamped Relentless monos, SGM Xtreme and MSB Select 3 box, Chronosonics and Thors Hammers.

The Buggati Veyron outperforms, yes, for the same outlay, and grand declaration of intent, as these pieces of gear also suggest.
 

Bodhi

Active Member
Apr 20, 2014
578
142
43
Melbourne, Australia
#5
I"m really only interested in sound, and getting good value out of my system. I recognize in some areas you need to spend a bit of money to do that, in others less so. The numbers mentioned by the OP are silly to me. Even if I had the money, I wouldn't spend anything like that on my system/room because I know you can get better vfm if you're smart and do your homework.
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
7,434
448
83
#6
highest price has more hifi cultural implications than any broad based recognition that that investment of that type is necessary to reach the pinnacle of performance. so while crazy prices do intimidate, they should be viewed for what they are;

a statement of some sort.

and a bit of entertainment and forum fodder......

system building is a synergy and detail execution issue, and that is where performance is found. there are levels of gear for sure that do somewhat follow price, but only somewhat.

and the 800 pound gorilla in the room........is always the room.
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
7,790
598
113
E. England
#7
I guess my point is, is this an apogee in pricing/bling factor/OTT engineering/aesthetic overload/humungous size-weight form?
Will amps seriously go beyond the Wattage and fact 4 people are needed to simply lift the Relentless out of it's box? And you need four of them for the Chronosonics and Thors Hammers that the ultimate audiophile might demand.
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
7,790
598
113
E. England
#8
Extrapolate to all other items that seriously profess to be SOTA on so many levels.
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
7,790
598
113
E. England
#9
Bodhi, we have zero disagreement on this.
 
Likes: Bodhi

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
5,400
329
83
North Shore of Boston
#10
Peter, by definition a $450k tt, $700k amps, $150k server & dac, $800k spkrs and subs, better outperform, because the pricetags demand it.
AF0, biamped Relentless monos, SGM Xtreme and MSB Select 3 box, Chronosonics and Thors Hammers.

The Buggati Veyron outperforms, yes, for the same outlay, and grand declaration of intent, as these pieces of gear also suggest.
Marc, I understand what outperform or outperforming means. I'm asking you what you mean by your term "overperforming". The term is usually used by investors to describe the performance of a stock which exceeds expectations or predictions. Used in the context of high end audio in a thread about "uber" cost components which come with "uber" expectations, I find the concept of "overperforming" a bit confusing. I am just wondering what you mean by it. Do the components you list seem to perform at a level not expected by people? I would assume just the opposite. Expectations must be incredible for such uber priced components, so "overperforming" does not seem possible.
 

DaveC

Industry Expert
Nov 16, 2014
2,430
255
83
#11
IMO there are pros and cons...

It's nice that the boundaries of what's possible can be pushed, but to be honest it's not always done with integrity, it's often done for show and simply to have an impressive pricetag. The market has created monsters made by folks who may not even want to make them but have a market that demands it, if you want to be seen as competing in the big leagues. Not necessarily by an inventor who has a grand vision of something that can outperform.

I also see it as a rush and a competition to enter and/or push the prices even higher in this super high end market because the products sell. In the more regular market sales are greatly effected by the financial situation of the buyers and the stock market... this isn't the case anymore when you get to the top tier of the market, so there is a lot of financial incentive to continuously make more and more expensive products, you get paid for doing so. People remember 2008 when many audio businesses went under, offering products in the ultra-high-end provides some security against all of your business drying up overnight.

The cultural and social implications of this phenomenon are troubling though, it's a whole new class of consumer that is separated from the rest of the market by having almost no limit on what's possible to spend. A few million may be pocket change, and this distorts the market. I'm not sure it's healthy when a handful of people own a majority of the world's wealth. Like Henry Ford said when he famously raised his workers wages, It's better to have a hundred people who can afford to buy a car than one person who can afford to buy 100 cars. Just something to consider...
 

Elliot G.

Industry Expert
Jul 22, 2010
861
108
43
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
#12
In an Industry that requires extremely high quality with very explicit tolerances and extremely low volume prices are going to be high. It is very difficult to get precision items made in very small quantities and most vendors do not want this work. Having visited two Super High Manufacturers facilities it is easy to understand the high prices. Now as far as the race to infinity that is another matter. The prices of many objects are based on factors that are not proportionate to their value and performance. In these cases the market will determine if they succeed or if they fail. Audio has a very flawed system in how this is done since their are as many opinions and reviewers as there are products. With the growth of forums like this were anyone can put their opinion and defend it whether it is valid or not it is very difficult IMHO to see an end to the price escalation. After attending many shows and especially MOC it is hard to comprehend where all of this product is sold. I have spent my entire life in the Audio Industry and know of many huge audio systems however these are by far the exception and not the rule. Having a lot of money is not an indicator that someone has a high end audio system or even an audio system at all.
In all this warfare of technology, and opinions, and to be honest in Audio all the neg selling its hard to see what lies ahead in a positive light particularly when the younger generations don't seem to want to absorb music in the same ways as the previous listeners.
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
7,790
598
113
E. England
#13
Peter, no way can AF0, latest SAT arms, Relentless amps, TOTL Wilsons, bleeding edge MSB w SGM Extreme, be allowed to be merely "overperforming". They must "outperform".

In the same way Bugatti Veyron or La Ferrari, or the McLaren from the mid 90s represented.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#15

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
7,790
598
113
E. England
#16

cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,235
53
48
Pleasanton, CA
#17
Veblens vs. sound quality? Veblens are veblens, it's pretty much self explanatory. I doubt anybody who has been around for a while actually believes you need veblens for sound quality. If you don't have much experience, you might be bedazzled from the peanut gallery and believe the hype.

If you need audio sculpture, audio furniture, exclusivity, bragging rights and heavy stuff where it gratifies you that 300 pound Tongans carry it around and arrange it for you, there are lots of options. Those are edifice audiophiles. If you need to flash wealth and status, there are lots of options. Audio blood sport for show is less fun than NASCAR, but still maybe fun to watch.

I really like many of these pieces myself because they can represent a high order of artisan participation, or an ultimate reflection of an audio philosophy, and I find them exotic and beautiful. I have indulged in a couple myself. I appreciate art over function sometimes.

I suppose the wealthy guys who may or may not know are providing scholarships for this kind of creativity. There does seem to be pressure for audio brands to compete in this arena to establish their lines, but I suppose that's their marketing cross to bear.

There are also the itchy nervosa types who just have to sample every new shiny toy that is disgorged from the high end press. They also seem to believe relentlessly that the Mark II, III, IV, V, VI etc. are ALWAYS big improvements rather than just marketing sideway movement.

I think some high end purchasers are naive about audio and would make true audiophiles wince. I have always wondered how many million dollar installations wind up playing background music or the occasional 'girl with guitar' elevator music.

I was invited to a house warming of a new mansion a few years ago where the guy literally was asking for the most expensive stuff to buy so he was suited up for fashion when he opened up his AV room. He didn't even say anything about sound quality.

I like to listen, so beyond a certain point, I allocate limited time to the nervosa part. I'm a beatnik, not a neatnik, and my audio mess reflects that. I don't relish being a custodian, a collector, or a museum provost with velvet ropes, but unfortunately I have wound up being a bit of each in spite of spite.
 
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cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,235
53
48
Pleasanton, CA
#18
Maybe WBF should promote a "Tongan Audio Component Power Lifting" championship. Sponsor winners will get audio brand tattoos of their choice on any part of their anatomy they choose, and the lifters will get a year of free anabolic steroids. Special achievement awards for grandiosity and envy inducing majesty?

A separate beauty/content competition for audio cable girth, weight, diameter, and precious metal content could also be included.
 
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spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
7,790
598
113
E. England
#19
Well, Ked hoists his GG to every demo, he gets an honorary medal to start.
 
Aug 10, 2018
90
34
18
Southern California
#20
Well, as gear gets crazy big, overperforming, and stellar performing, we have a collection of gear that could only have been dreamed about, just 5 years ago.

Just released Air Force Zero, hundreds of kilos and $hundreds. Let's add four tonearms btwn $25k-50k, the new SATs and Thales Statement LT.

In digital, the new $25k SGM Extreme w MSB Select 2, throw in an MSB Reference transport, $175k total.

Amps? Four monos Dagostino Relentless to cover Wilson Chronosonics and Thors Hammers, $1.5mill, 2000 kilos plus.

What's planned as cost no object, beyond measure phono and preamp, all that's left for the system beyond systems? Cartridges? Need 4 of 'em.

Throw in MasterBuilt cables, Tripoint NRG grounding, the costs are boggling. Will there be another level seriously beyond all this?
If you're willing to pay for it there will be.
 

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