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The secret scam of cheap earbuds

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

http://gizmodo.com/5617200/the-secret-scam-of-cheap-earbuds

post #2 of 11

I was just going to put up a thread about this. Darn..

post #3 of 11

While I agree wholeheartedly w/ the article, I have to point out there are great sounding IEMs out there at budget prices that do not fall into this articles focus.  Thanks to Joker for helping many out here by sifting through the chaff.   

post #4 of 11

The author has some valid points, but you certainly don't need to spend $100 for a decent earphones if you know where to do your research. Then again, not everyone a head-fi'er or care to read our forum.

post #5 of 11

"But the law of diminishing returns is in your favor. Make the jump from a $20 earphone to a $100 one from a reputable company and you'll hear what you've been missing.


And if you don't believe that, well, I urge you check out my new line of Cranium Crackers™ this fall. They'll come in tons of hot colors and have sick bass too"

 

post #6 of 11

Seems to be a bit of a rehash of their article from last year, that you should only buy Shure earphones.

 

It would be very interesting to hear Skullcandy's side of it. Just because you take an off-the-shelf housing and put your logo on it, doesn't make you an ODM. There's still a lot involved with driver selection (which may or may not be off-the-shelf), tuning, etc. Which means that 2 similar-looking earphones can be night & day, performance-wise.

 

Or they expect that a $40 earphone has to be built entirely from the ground up to be valid? And if it's not, it can''t be any good?

post #7 of 11

I don't know if this is a huge secret, but I know it's something that most people don't think about.  Really, almost no company out there can or will produce their own products from scratch.  Most companies for most products will buy and piece together a package for the end consumer that is made up of a variety of raw parts.  This isn't just head-fi.  It's everything. Even your cars are a mishmash of various brands and model years of parts.  I had an old Ford Ranger with a Toyota motor and a Mazda transmission.  My Subaru's power switches are all Mazda parts.  The company will tweak hardware to suit their goals though.  Most drivers are purchased pieces, BA or dynamic.  The housings, wiring, filters can be bulk parts.  This should be little surprise.  However in the end, we do want a decent product at a decent price.  These bulk products are not bad things.  Using well made bulk items makes good products.  Good implementation of bulk items makes good products.  Manufacturers will go to some degree to develop their own molds and casings.  Manufacturers will spec out the hardware to higher tolerances and use better materials.  Being made in China and using mass produced parts is of little relevance as long as the company uses the better parts, better materials, and keeps the manufacturing process speced to tighter tolerances.  You will get really good items.

post #8 of 11

I think the scam is that you think you are dealing with one group of people selling a product, based on the brand, and you are really dealing with a completely different set of folks, and an inconsistent product they aren't very involved in.

 

For example...

V-Moda Vibes were designed and manufactured by OVC, until OVC started selling the same phones for much less. V-moda switched vendors and now you have a many different versions of the V-Moda Vibe, all kinds of QC problems, etc... and V-Moda charges $80+ for copies of copies of what was a 'tuned' OVC earphone in the first place. By 'tuned' I mean "moar bass plz!" 

 

V-Moda's influence on the product consisted of getting really particular about the color on the package, and demand 100% quality from OVC, and then flipped out when OVC decided to sell the product they designed and sold anyway. So knock off of a cheap headphone is Rev. 2 of the Vibe. That fell apart regularly, so Rev 3 was a knock off of a knock off... and so on...

 

And paying $100 doesn't mean its gonna sound good, or be designed by anyone involved with the brand. 

post #9 of 11
post #10 of 11

Ho-hum. I would gladly let the Gizmodo writer listen to the Cyclone PR1 Pros or PR300s (have both) and tell me they are a ripoff (both cost me $50 or under). Same with the pair of Earsquake SHA ($20) I got recently as a review sample. It sounds perfectly fine for what it is, hardly a ripoff. And no doubt it's made just like the rest of the sausages, uh in-ear phones, using the nefarious process Gizmodo has so graciously unearthed.

 

Typical over-generalized article, turning what is a common business practice into a scandal. I like some of the comments at the end, especially the one that rhetorically asks: "Why do we buy them? Because they cost $20."

 

post #11 of 11

In the headphone OEM business, you can ask the OEM for just [1] rebranded (off-the-shall, no tuning), [2] rebranded and retuned, [3] rebrand, retuned, and customized, [4] buy off an existing / post-development model (a.k.a. rebrand, retuned, and copyrighted), or [5] whole new R&D. It become much more expensive with each level up.

 

Cheap companies usually just do 1. Most compaies will do 2, 3, or 4. Usually only really big company will choose 5. It is unpractical to setup an new factory on your own so there is nothing wrong with asking OEM to manufacture for you. Some of the biggest name in the headphone as regular client of OEM. I believe the problem with V-moda is they were doing 3 when they should have done 4. OVC still retains the right of the design and thus is in their right to make the same model for other client or market. It is the same situation between Foster and Sennheiser for the MX500 back in the days, which Foster also sold to other brands and Sennheiser.was not too happy about it. Nowadays well known headphone companies are much more careful and usually choose 4 when they are dealing with OEM. A little more money goes a long way, I guess.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grimloki View Post

I think the scam is that you think you are dealing with one group of people selling a product, based on the brand, and you are really dealing with a completely different set of folks, and an inconsistent product they aren't very involved in.

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