Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › Are headphones like washing powder?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Are headphones like washing powder?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

You just know that Arial or Dax, percil etc have their best formula sitting in a vault, they have no financial motive for ever releasing it.

Is it the same with headphones?

I cant believe that it is not possible to model headphones in a similar manner to speakers and come up with the optimil design?

Are headphones priced based on performance in advance of making them or do they build , listen then price them?

Are there conversations like this ?

 

Exec "Hi Mr Sony Designer"

 

Brain "Hi, we have finished project X to cost but we have a problem!"

 

Exec "What problem"

 

Brain "they're supposed to cost $50 but they sound better than our $400 flagships"

 

Exec "Oh Great, cant you guys stick to a brief !, you have two choices.."

 

Brain "what"

 

Exec "charge $450 for them or start again....."

 

Brain "Cant we just charge $50 for them?"

 

Exec "LOL"

 

 

 


Edited by astroid - 8/23/11 at 4:06am
post #2 of 27

Heya,

 

I think it has to do a lot with "can it be mass produced and be profitable?" Or basically, will it simply keep your reputation in the market, while the rest of your products on the low end keep your financial flow up. I mean honestly, how many flagship headphones get sold compared to garbage ear buds that they produce en masse and have packaged with every single media playing device out there. They probably make more off the junk.

 

Plus, you have to have a secret weapon tucked away. Should a contender hit the market and take it by storm, you've got to be able to launch something better and at a price that competes. Imagine if Hifiman came out and dropped his flagships onto the market for like $300.

 

Very best,


Edited by MalVeauX - 8/23/11 at 4:23am
post #3 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by MalVeauX View Post

Heya,

 

I think it has to do a lot with "can it be mass produced and be profitable?" Or basically, will it simply keep your reputation in the market, while the rest of your products on the low end keep your financial flow up. I mean honestly, how many flagship headphones get sold compared to garbage ear buds that they produce en masse and have packaged with every single media playing device out there. They probably make more off the junk.

 

Plus, you have to have a secret weapon tucked away. Should a contender hit the market and take it by storm, you've got to be able to launch something better and at a price that competes. Imagine if Hifiman came out and dropped his flagships onto the market for like $300.

 

Very best,


im agree with malveaux :)

 

 

post #4 of 27

I think most of the time, they start with a price, and then work ways to justify it 

post #5 of 27

I would agree with you. This approach seems more logical. But I still keep imagining situations like what OP suggesting occurring :P

post #6 of 27

I truly believe some brands charge what they think it's fair considering the manufacture cost and the profit they need/want. Koss still charges 20$ or whatever for the Portapros. Fiio sells the E7, which everyone agrees to be worth more in today's amp market, for about 80$. HiFiman sells the RE-0 which competes with balanced armature +200$ models, for a mere 80$.

 

Those price-quality ratio-blowing companies are really worth investing in. They create standards for profit in the market which are great from the consumer's point, since it forces other companies to drop their own prices in order to stay competitive. Of course, sometimes those cheaper companies can do that since they use cheap labor, thus making it unfair for companies which charge more because they have more expensive assembly/quality-testing processes. I for one love HiFiman's small-and-honest-business aura.

post #7 of 27

I imagine lots of conversations like that hahaha but in reality they probably don't happen...

 

I also think another aspect that plays into prices is what happens in the art world and similar markets, where price is equated with value, e.g., a $100 painting is looked at as inferior to a $1,000 painting, even though the paintings are both just paint on a canvass. Granted, in the analogy I just gave there are a ton of other aspects to consider (quality of the painting, popularity, limited production number, etc) but I think it still applies in some sense. Would flagships still be so coveted or looked at as being so special if they simply cost what they cost to manufacture? Interesting question...I would wager to say, no...(this also doesn't consider R + D or marketing, but whatever its just a hypothetical smily_headphones1.gif )


Edited by Ikelmonster - 8/23/11 at 12:09pm
post #8 of 27

Yes good point. I doubt an HD800 costs much less to make than a HD650, however the HD800 costs about the double of what the hD650 costs. It's not so much "how much did this cost to make", but more "how much are people willing to pay for this, given some consensual price-quality ratio".

 

Art is completely subjective. I mean, when you make a painting, I don't think there are many objective variables, like the quality of the canvas, or the durability of the paint. I'm not an artist and I understand very little of plastic arts, but it all seems completely subjective to me. However, with headphones, you get subjectivity and objectivity. How much you like a sound signature will make you decide how much a pair of headphones are worth to you; if you hate colored signatures, you probably wouldn't pay over 50$ Grados. However there's definitely some kind of objectivity to it - how well does it reproduce sound, in relating to the original recording - and that I think dictates the price.

post #9 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by LizardKing1 View Post
 However there's definitely some kind of objectivity to it - how well does it reproduce sound, in relating to the original recording - and that I think dictates the price.


I  don't think we could "objectively" decide the price of a headphone, just by listening to it.  I'm sure there are a lot of "underpriced" headphone are considered inferior just because of their price (the "snob" effect). Also  you have to consider the build quality, a headphone might sound great for its price, but if it breaks easily, that's an other story. I'm wondering by the way if my ksc75, were not conceived in a way to reduce its life span.

 

 

post #10 of 27

I thought the Ksc75 had great build quality. I mean it's plastic, but still...

And yes I had forgotten about build quality. However, I still believe you can, to some degree, measure sound quality objectively. For example through a frequency response graph. Not only, since a colored headphone can still reproduce sound accurately, but that's just one way.

post #11 of 27

I find it interesting that some respected companies with admirable flagship and 2nd tier high end models

still produce a tonne of sub-par, mediocre headphones that are hardly worth a mention on Head-Fi.

 

Example?

 

(Ducks for cover in advance)

 

The Sennheiser HD 515, HD 518, HD 201 and RS 110 are abominably bad. I simply cannot

understand how anyone could justify them as being anything but poor quality. And yet, the

HD 598, HD 600, HD 650 and HD 800 are highly respectable headphone models, the 598

650 especially I found to be quite impressive. (Yet to sample the others personally)

 

Sony play this market approach too and to a lesser extent Audio Technica perhaps.

 

Thoughts?

post #12 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwarmi View Post

I find it interesting that some respected companies with admirable flagship and 2nd tier high end models

still produce a tonne of sub-par, mediocre headphones that are hardly worth a mention on Head-Fi.

 

Example?

 

(Ducks for cover in advance)

 

The Sennheiser HD 515, HD 518, HD 201 and RS 110 are abominably bad. I simply cannot

understand how anyone could justify them as being anything but poor quality. And yet, the

HD 598, HD 600, HD 650 and HD 800 are highly respectable headphone models, the 598

650 especially I found to be quite impressive. (Yet to sample the others personally)

 

Sony play this market approach too and to a lesser extent Audio Technica perhaps.

 

Thoughts?


Heya,

 

More than that, include the HD4xx series too, they're absolute junk. But, they have to try to cover the entire market, including the crappy cheap side, because if they don't, someone else is, and they're losing money. Sometimes, selling mass junk is what keeps their finances in a position to even be able to make a bunch of HD800's for example that are on shelves and not selling. Because how many hundreds of people will buy those cheap $20 headphones at a store, compared to the one person who orders an HD800. I'm sure it will equal out to have a lot more money made off the cheap headphones. Plus it will be a steady income, not a sporadic purchase like the HD800 where someone buys it once in a while. I'd be willing to bet my lunch they don't make money, profit I should say, off their flagships. For every HD800 sold, I'd love to see how many hundreds or the lower end models sell. More than covering the cost of an HD800.

 

Then look at a group like Hifiman. Try and find those $20 cheapies or some other garbage with their name on it. There are a few headphone brands that are just good with no cheap mass produced trash circulating the market.


End of the day, I don't care who makes them, so long as they sound good.

 

But it is disappointing to see lines of headphones from Sennheiser like they are, there's only a few headphones in their line up that I'd say are worth their price tags. The rest are literally mass produced junk and it just looks bad. But, it makes money, and they are a company, so can't fault it I guess.

 

Very best,

 


Edited by MalVeauX - 8/24/11 at 4:25am
post #13 of 27

As everyone has already stated, there's a lot of factors that go into headphone pricing.

 

-cost of labor/production

-drivers

-build quality of everything around those drivers

-desired profit margins

-brand (some companies know they can charge more for a given level of sound quality because of brand recognition)

-quality assurance (It may have great sound quality tested the first time, but how long will it last?)

 

Exotic designs may also have something to do with it. Most full-size headphones on the market are still based on dynamic drivers. Orthodynamics and electrostatics, on the other hand...well, you could buy Fostex T50RPs on the cheap for orthos, but everyone here talks about the Audez'e LCD-2s and HiFiman HE500s, which are firmly in electrostatic territory price-wise (by which I mean you could get both a set of headphones and the required driver unit for the price). On the other hand, maybe Stax gets away with such high prices because it's still regarded as great value by their fans who find the sound quality to be unmatched by dynamics or orthos at any price.

post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by MalVeauX View Post

 

But it is disappointing to see lines of headphones from Sennheiser like they are, there's only a few headphones in their line up that I'd say are worth their price tags. The rest are literally mass produced junk and it just looks bad. But, it makes money, and they are a company, so can't fault it I guess.

 

Very best,

 



Guess it's just two very different business models. Sennheiser as you stated have the market covered

- there is a Sennheiser for every one at every price point.

 

I just can't help but look into their PR and branding, on one hand they produce quality fare and on the other,

it's just cheap junk labelled with a name that should deliver on good sound. I for one was burned badly starting

off in this hobby with the cheapy-cheap models mentioned above, I started to really doubt whether

I'd find a decent can. Eventually through friends I did get around to listening to a 598 & 650 and realised that

they're a quality product, but if I had not then perhaps I would have remained close minded and a tad confused

in relation to forming an opinion towards them as a manufacturer.

 

Then you have the boutique manufacturers like HiFiMan (although rapidly expanding) and Grado, individual subjective

opinions aside there is enough objective critical praise out there to confirm they are highly valued manufacturers in the

industry for both pros and amateurs. No model in their line-up could be branded as being objectively - cheap and nasty.

But I bet overall, their profit margins look nothing like Sennheiser's headphone division.

 

Lastly, Beyer Dynamics are an interesting player. I have limited experience with them but just off the cuff - they don't appear

to make any entry level disposable cans. The DT235 is a sensational can for $70, which in some ways goes a long way

to question other manufacturers like Senn' who fail to deliver at this price point.

 

 


Edited by Gwarmi - 8/24/11 at 5:46am
post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post
 On the other hand, maybe Stax gets away with such high prices because it's still regarded as great value by their fans who find the sound quality to be unmatched by dynamics or orthos at any price.


Sound quality aside, being a premium crafted item made in Japan for such a small slice of the headphone market - they would have to put a decent margin on it.

 

I'd be surprised if they were a highly profitable company which in some way makes their existence all the more admirable.

 

 

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphones (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › Are headphones like washing powder?