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In the last 2 issues of Stereophile I give a lot of credit to the captain John Atkinson for mentioning high prices. Check out the latest review on the Aerial Acoustics 5T speaker system.
Right off he points to the small price of 3,795. In the same issue is the Wharfdale Diamond 225 speaker system reviewed by Herb Reichert a whopping 449.00 a pair.
Read both reviews, their almost side by side. Can you tell me which one performs better? Then compare the prices.
Some might point out the cost of drivers and cabinetry. Look in the Parts Express catalog and see if you can find a cabinet that is akin to the Aerial 5T.
You might now know the cabinet cost. Add in state of the art drivers, Scanspeak,Seas,ect.,what ever is used. A little more for wire, crossover, and jacks and I think you can stay well under 795 dollars. I have no clue about New Zealand wool. Those must be some fancy sheep.
Not withstanding labor and advertising that leaves a 3.000 dollar profit margin!
I tip my hat to John Atkinson. He did not lie about the speaker sounding good but did hoist a red flag right off about the cost.
I say a real interesting next article might be a (Sound-Off) between the 2 speaker systems using different amps like Herb R. does. Whats wrong with some good old competition in the high end as Consumer Reports does with mid hi-fi?....Mark Korda
Here's my DIY project. $2,000 in materials.
The Shindo Petite speakers are $35,000(I think... maybe more!).
Yes... the Shindo's have tuned cabinets, and a crossover designed by a master-son. And my xovers are stuffed into a cigar box and I'm using 2x4's as legs (experimenting w various feet). I can custom tune my speakers to my room and choose caps, resisters and coils to fine tune the tone I want. The best speakers I have ever heard in my home.
And, I have $33,000 left over to buy music. Anyone have a collection to sell?
With the exception of Kondo and a few others, paying 10's of thousand of dollars per component in the search for better sound is a fools errand.
This perception is not something the audio industry (especially the press) can making a living from.
Awesome int amp for less than $500. I was pleasantly surprised by the smooth, natural sound of this 30 year old Yamaha CA-1010.
Hi Hifi Tommy,
Thanks for being kind. I appreciate this. I'm sorry for opening up such a ruckus but;
Aerial's site on the computer does not mention the drivers makers only size and features. With a little Columbo work again I can almost prove they use Satori drivers for the woofer and tweeter. These are high end and designed in Denmark but made in Indonesia.When I built speakers in the 80's I could buy Dynaudio drivers which at the time were made in Denmark but now have moved to China. At the time Dynaudio and Scanspeak drivers were the tops.
I have not heard from anyone checking the Parts Express catalog for the cabinet I mentioned but I don't want to keep beating a dead horse.
I love DIY speakers and Lokie you did a fantastic job on your speeks....Mark Korda
Regarding the PE cabinet, what exactly are you interested in knowing about them? They're inexpensive, made in China, and work reasonably well. You get what you pay for. As for the Aerial drivers, from what I see, the woofer is an SB acoustics (not Satori, which is a high end SB driver). Knowing Mike Kelly, it is likely modified from the standard unit. The tweeter appears to be a ScanSpeak ring radiator, not an SB tweeter. As for Aerial and Hornslet cabinets, this was their original supplier, but Hornslet is now out of business. I assume Aerial gets their cabinets from the Far East, like just about everyone else.
Hi Seas, I know SB and Satori are connected. I checked that tweeter out with both pictures side by side. If it is a Scanspeak Satori duplicated it perfectly...take anther look.
I think I was right all along about the cabinets. You may have destroyed the hopes of many for great Danish or Nordic craftsmanship when talking cabinetry. My favorite speakers have always lied in the classic Dynacos not just because of the sound..Seas driven, but of the beautiful cabinets for a very low cost. I don't know how the Danes did it.
Seas, if your from Seas I proudly have many of your drivers working flawlessly and giving great sound in my shack, my favorites as I said. I hope you still make them in Norway.
I made a pair of Weems pipes this summer. They use Vifa co-ax,s I got for 15 dollars each. My grandmother was Danish, I'm a house painter, so with a little Frog Tape and a little buzz I painted the flag on them also hoping the Vifas are still made in Denmark. Don't tell me if they aren't....Mark Korda
I am from SEAS..USA division..now retired but still doing some work for the company. Just to clarify...are we still talking about the Aerial 5T? If so, that certainly is a ScanSpeak tweeter, not an SB. It has the metal bullet in the front. SB doesn't have that design, as it's patented. The Dynaco speakers were from a time when the Dollar was extremely strong against the Danish Krone. That's what made it possible to bring in the A25 at such a low price. Unfortunately, that situation changed radically in the later 70's, killing off all the Danish made Dynacos. Vifa is basically dead as a driver company. Tymphany in China bought it and Peerless, and basically killed the Vifa brand. ScanSpeak is still making some of the classic Vifa designs under the ScanSpeak "Discovery Line"
Sad about VIFA and Peerless, that whole deal sound senseless , BTW , what ever happened To Audax .... ?
Vifa Ambiance Tweeter ...
Hi Seas, sorry I don't know your name. This Satori tweeter looks identical to Stereophiles picture of the Aerial. I could not see the silver bullet on what you said is the Scanspeak tweeter. It looked like light reflected from the photograph to me. The screws and cocentric rings look exact. Maybe Clayton Moore could of spotted it. Thanks Seas.
While I got ya on the Asylum could I ask you what makes the Seas co-ax 8 inch with what looks like a paper whizzer cone worth over 800 dollars. Are there different magnets of some sort?.....take care.... Mark Korda
Take a look at the tweeter above. Change the color of the bullet in the middle to silver and compare it to the tweeter in the Aerial. Not a reflection. The Aerial has the (patented) bullet on it.
The full range 8" you refer to is part of the Exotic Line. Papyrus cone, Alnico ring magnet, acoustically transparent spider, fully hand made, hand lathed and finished wood bullet, very limited production. Compare it to Feastrex, Lowther, etc.
To pay for cabinets, development, dealers, insurance, boxes, shipping, phone/interned advertising, warranty, lawyers and taxes, and have someone to do work for free in open space that you do not pay, you are right on the mark.
If you pay all of that, price is about right; at least 3, up to 5, times material cost.
Are they that good, have not idea, but that is different story. If you think that you can commercially produce something similar for less be my guest.
It is not surprising how many people have no idea what is involved to do certain type of work, and then complain about the price. What is surprising is that they do not even try to find that out.
"One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane."
paying a living wage for skilled workers and their health insurance (such as Eveanna Manley does, check the prices of Manley Labs) and you will get a better understanding.
Well, did not intend to give the complete list. Just to get the point of cost of running a busines.
"One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane."
Stale is right, it is very expensive to run a business, stay in business and make a living or profit. There are speakers and all the other audio gear at all price points available, I don't understand why people get so worked up about expensive gear. Like everything else produced in the world, buy what you want and can afford.
There are many answers here from you all but one. How does Wharfedale do it? And a speaker system that uses a very high priced tweeter, and I know there are some real costly units most always will advertise that fact. Also it wouldn't hurt to boast Danish cabinetry as thats what I would want. I'm just wondering guys why things like that are not pointed out by Aerial. If they did I would not have reacted so about the price.
In all fairness check out Parts Express cabinets. Maybe it's a knock-off but you might see something that you might question yourself. Take it easy...Mark Korda
Five times cost is about the breakeven point for a manufacturer to stay in business. Even then, what a terrible business in which to invest. The failure rate is astronomical.
" How does Wharfedale do it?"
Simple. They have everything made in a third world country where they pay people a fraction of what they would receive in our respective western countries and do not have to bother with impediments like safety regulations etc.
As far as I am aware Aerial assemble their products by Americans in the USA and have their cabinets (thanks John Marks) and drive units made over here in expensive Europe.
Of course most jobs can be exported and thereby goods made cheaper. This is a great thing to do until the manufacturers discover that they have little market left as their customers have been made redundant and have no income.
This is exactly the issue - if they take all the decent paying jobs and move them to China the company's eventually stand around wondering why they can't sell anything in the west. So they have to focus on the rich - but the rich don't buy enough units to make up the differences.
It's a vicious circle and to be fair some of these companies don't have much choice if they want to stay in business for the long haul. I mean if seven companies selling $1k speakers and are already making pretty much as good as it gets speakers for around $1k all move to China and now retail the speakers for $450 - then speaker maker number 8 making the same or slightly worse sounding speakers is going to be in serious trouble. So they are forced to move to China or go out of business.
On the one hand people want "Made In America" or "Made in Europe" but then they see the prices and either won't pay triple or can't pay triple.
Sorry guys, the answer was right in the review by Herb Reichert. They are made in China now. I guess I skipped to fast over the history given to get to the listening part of the review.
Before I re read the review I went on Wharfedales web site to see where they were made and you had to do a Columbo search to find that out.When they said it was a certain economic zone with a Chinese name I got the picture.
I stand corrected and stand by American Made products.
On my coffee table beside Stereophile is a 2015 copy of the Parts Express catalog. I still need someone out there to check out the curved cabinets page, should be on the net, before the big guys in white suits take me away.
I'm sorry for creating such a stir because I was not up to snuff on the subject.....sincerely...Mark Korda
mark, many times i open up without knowing the whole story. we all do it.
Well I am pretty sure the standards are pretty low. Since no one wants to pay taxes it's not like there is any money to actually hire government officials to actually regulate and make sure that a company that sticks a "Made in the USA" label on something is making sure it's actually made in the USA. It's basically up to the honest and integrity of the company - see Theta Data Universal. They added SPDIF and upcharged it 10 times. And according to the guy that found this out - the Philips actually sounded better - so Theta Data made it sound WORSE and charged 10 times for the privilege. http://www.lampizator.eu/LAMPIZATOR/REFERENCES/THETA%20Universal/theta.html
Companies try to imply stuff is made in Europe - I have seen words like "designed in Italy" well maybe but that doesn't mean much other than the guy who runs the company was born in Italy - happened to BE in Italy when he phone up Shengya or Jungson or Spark in China and said "Hey can you send me 1000 CD players and stick my company label on the front and maybe paint Red instead of silver. Woohoo - that R&D is why you pay double over the Spark models.
I have nothing against Chinese made stuff owning Line Magnetic and Antique Sound Labs etc. There is good stuff being made there. I just wish companies would be upfront about it. Or if you copy or emulate something. Line Magnetic says when something is a Western Electric copy. Fair enough you can buy the original Western Electric or you can buy the LM copy at 1/5th price. And you can decide which is better or how it stacks up etc. Same with buying a fake Rolex in China - hey some of those look almost identical to the real ones for $50. It may even tell time properly too. But you might be irritated if you paid $5,000 and found out later that it is using cheap parts. Just like I would be irritated paying 10 times the price for a Theta Data when I could get the same thing (99.99% designed) from Philips Laser Disc Player for a small fraction of the price.
Words like "based on" means something different than "we took the ENTIRE machine case and all added one $20 part and charged 10 times more"
Don't mistake the brand with the model. Driver makers make a LOT of tweeters - it doesn't mean they are ALL expensive tweeters. You can buy a tweeter from a big name tweeter maker for $15 or $400+ - they both may say Scanspeak but the two are not created equal.
A long time dealer I know noted that you can pretty much take any product from any maker and divide the cost by 10. In other words if the product retails for $1500 it has $150 worth of actual parts in total. Pull apart the Wharfedale and it might have a total of $40. Add in the previously mentioned expenses on top of the importer and dealer cuts and Wharfedale may not be doing all that great - Since back in the day when I owned Wharfedale (when it was actually Wharfedale) they have been bought and sold at least twice/three times.
Also, don't forget that the price a driver may retail for at a Parts Express or direct from Manufacturer isn't the same price a Bigger outfit like Wharfedale pays when they order 500 tweeters. Wharfedale may build in China - another company may not want that image so they pay more to have them made in Europe.
Lastly I try and take these external issues out. Take the two and listen to the two and decide what is better for yourself. I would say a good 3/4 of everything that get rave recommendations by the industry to me is rather poor when I factor in factors that are important to my listening sessions. Although I agree with you in principal that the MORE money you pay the more expectations you should have. But also remember that while a $500 product may get you 80% the anal audiophile hobby is largely about people who are striving for 100%. And it may be a doubling to achieve the next 5% and a quadrupling to get the next 5%.
I just came back from several hours listening to two identically designed pre-amplifiers. The only difference was the parts quality inside the amp - the topology is identical.
I felt there was a rather substantial sonic improvement in the pricier model. But it's not like the lower model was a slouch - it did everything you'd hope and did it better than most but the upgraded model was just simply more "breath of life" into the presentation. But you're going from basically a $9k preamp to a $22k preamp. Sure they can tell me about silver transformers but it's kind of hard to see $22k in parts and they clearly make more money on the $22k preamp. So logic dictates that if you buy the latter they make more margin - then again because of the price they will sell less so they have to cover that somehow. OTOH the sound says it's a lot better and no one holds a gun to your head to buy it.
So is the pricier speaker better than the Wharfedale to you? Then only you can determine if the price is worth that difference - some people are willing to pay 10 times the price for a relatively nominal improvement.
Dynaudio Esotar or Scanspeak Revelator tweeters alone have a retail price that exceeds $1,000 per pair. The 5 and 6" drivers are pretty spendy as well. Crossovers may cost quite a bit of money in SOTA speakers with each capacitor costing over $100, spendy inductors and esoteric wire.
As far as cabinets go, the quality is on the inside moreso than the outside, so I am not sure how a comparison can be made between a Parts Express crafted cabinet and one from the shop of Aerial Acoustics. My car has four wheels and an engine and the same length and width as a Ferrari, but a Ferrari it is not.
I would challenge you to make a two-way compact speaker using SOTA parts for less than $3800. No doubt, you could make quite a nice speaker for $800, but I don't think that it would be challenging the big boys, IMHO.
As far as I know, for many years Aerial has outsourced its cabinets from (sorry, can't do the proper foreign letter character) Hornslet in Denmark.
Where the 5T cabinet comes from I don't know, but, I doubt that it is made in-house, for a lot of reasons. But two major reasons are the capital expense of CNC machines and custom heated molds, and, the environmental compliance costs of painting/spray booth operations.
I have been a loudspeaker DIY enthusiast for decades, and I can assure everyone that there is no way there is $3000 profit, even gross profit, in the 5T. There are costs to be paid, all the way down the foodchain. E.g., has the OP costed out how much it costs to exhibit at an audio show?
Audio dealers are increasingly like fur salons and piano galleries--the natural audience gets smaller and smaller, so, the sales costs are spread over fewer and fewer units. So the retailer needs at least 50 points gross margin, so he or she can pay the rent and the staff.
Just a fact of modern life.
> I say a real interesting next article might be a (Sound-Off) between the 2
> speaker systems...
I did listen to the Wharfedales. They are superb for $450/pair. The Aerials
are superb, period.
Speaking of High prices, the Boulder amplifier recently tested in SP, has achieved an extraordinary level of engineering to obtain the level of performance stated, to achieve such low THD and drive into practically any low-Z load is really an amazing performance , care to elaborate more on their bias scheme and level of performance obtained ...
I didn't see the usual confetti fanfare required in my issue :)
> I did listen to the Wharfedales.
Meant to add that I took the speakers round to Ken Micallef for him to
write a follow-up review.
I've never heard a pair of Aerials that didn't sound great.
They have relatively low penetration into the high-end arena, but - IMO - they ought to be acknowledged much more.
I've seen you post here before, and that you're an "Industry Professional", but you don't have an Audio Asylum profile, and I've never heard of you in "the industry". Is there a website where we can see something about you?
and found it very useful.
"Once this was all Black Plasma and Imagination" -Michael McClure
My work has been covered by Stereophile, TAS, HiFi+, 6moons, Positive Feedback, Computer Audiophile, Tone Audio, Enjoy the Music, TNT, Jeff Day's blog, and many others.
My Facebook page has more info.
I don't recall if I actually met him in person at my first Vegas CES, but he was a rep for Avant Guarde horn speakers at the time. Unless there's another Jim Smith :-)
Just gonna say... Always liked the 10T. Was always just a bit outside my price range, but often considered it on the used market. STILL a huge fan of the B&W and KEF models with a mid/tweet module atop a woofer cabinet.
Today? Nothing Aerial makes that it close to my budget interests me at all.
at 3-4 nominal Ohms impedance, they must be hard to drive. The Warfdale's are rated at 8 Ohms.
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