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Why are IEMs expensive?

post #1 of 140
Thread Starter 

Hello!

I am looking to buy an IEM for Christmas but the prices seem very high for just a small piece of plastic and a bit of metal, so can anyone please explain to me why?

 

Basically an IEM consists of (from what I see):

1) Housing (plastic)

2) Armature Driver(s)

3) Crossover

4) Wiring & Cables

5) In-ear tips (foam, plastic etc.)

6) Packaging (box & accessories)

 

Now from the six parts which I've mentioned how can you possibly get something to cost 200 EURO? I imagine the housing costs like 1 euro to make, the cables and wires aren't that expensive too, the tips cost like 5 euros, the packaging another 5 euros, and the work like another 5 euros, therefore around 25-50 Euros for the IEM. I agree that some engineering went into making it, but so did into a computer and for 200 Euro I can buy myself a good PC.

***I can't find how much an armature driver costs and if anyone can please tell me.***

 

So from what I can see the maximum price should be 100 Euro, can someone prove me wrong why an IEM like Westone 2 costs twice that (even with the two drivers)?

post #2 of 140

Because the companies want money and we are willing to pay them that money.

post #3 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coq de Combat View Post

Because the companies want money and we are willing to pay them that money.



So, where does that leave Beats by  Dr Dre?

 

bigsmile_face.gif

post #4 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by djvkool View Post



So, where does that leave Beats by  Dr Dre?

 

bigsmile_face.gif



That would leave Monster somewhere near a pretty big fat bank account. emot-clint.gif

post #5 of 140

In my point of view, I think that for high end IEM, the materials used may be rare and the machine needed to reach the high micro precision can be very expensive. That the case for balanced armatures. After that we have to know how many factory in the world can do that. Also this is a small market where the quantity produced is not enough to lower the price.

 

But Dr Dre he have to know biggrin.gif

post #6 of 140
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Migou67 View Post

In my point of view, I think that for high end IEM, the materials used may be rare and the machine needed to reach the high micro precision can be very expensive. That the case for balanced armatures. After that we have to know how many factory in the world can do that. Also this is a small market where the quantity produced is not enough to lower the price.

 

But Dr Dre he have to know biggrin.gif


The material used for the housing as far as I can tell is glossy plastic which is nowhere near rear. Also the high micro precision of what, the housing? If the housing then there is no precision, plastic is simply moulded which is relatively accurate and fast. The only thing that might be hard to make is/are the armature driver(s), but I can't find there prices anywhere...

 

I don't understand why are you all laughing at Dr. Dre? Is it because he does too much advertisement and his headphones are terrible sounding and way-overpriced?

post #7 of 140
post #8 of 140

A lot of research goes into creating and fine-tuning of IEMs. It's not just a matter of putting together a bunch of plastic and metal and calling it an IEM - probably that's what you get when you pay $5 for one.

 

If the manufacturer is serious about sound, they would experiment with different technology (armature, dynamic, etc), different materials (for drivers, casing, wiring), assembly methods, different sound configurations, orientation of drivers, tuning and testing  - all that takes a huge amount of effort and time - all of which put together costs money. They also put in a lot of effort into innovation and new technology.

 

On top of that these micro-machines have to be engineered to produce so many different frequencies with their limited size/space, which as Migou67 rightly put involves a huge cost in itself.

 

There is an element of demand and supply here as well - bulk of the consumer grade IEMs will certainly get cheaper in the future as demand grows, but the high end audiophile models - which are always at the forefront of technology - would always be expensive.

 

To be honest if I compare my CK10 with a cheap $5 IEM, I can easily see and hear where all that money went. The premium quality of materials used for the cables, the plug, the titanium casings, the soft rubbery plastic, the strain reliefs, the carry case and most importantly the sound. You can feel the amount of research and innovation that went into the creation of these little gems - and all of that effort costs money.

 

Would I call the CK10 expensive - yes, but are they worth every single penny - MOST DEFINITELY!! I'm sure the same is the case with most (but unfortunately not all) high-end IEMs.
 

EDIT: Just to clarify, I'm not saying that all IEM manufacturer's follow this model - and a number of them out there simply put together the innovation of other companies and produce their own versions, while still pricing them at the same level - they possibly use the money for other things like marketing and advertising.


Edited by kingpintps - 12/8/11 at 2:48am
post #9 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by iXpertMan View Post

Hello!

I am looking to buy an IEM for Christmas but the prices seem very high for just a small piece of plastic and a bit of metal, so can anyone please explain to me why?

 

Basically an IEM consists of (from what I see):

1) Housing (plastic)

2) Armature Driver(s)

3) Crossover

4) Wiring & Cables

5) In-ear tips (foam, plastic etc.)

6) Packaging (box & accessories)

 

Now from the six parts which I've mentioned how can you possibly get something to cost 200 EURO? I imagine the housing costs like 1 euro to make, the cables and wires aren't that expensive too, the tips cost like 5 euros, the packaging another 5 euros, and the work like another 5 euros, therefore around 25-50 Euros for the IEM. I agree that some engineering went into making it, but so did into a computer and for 200 Euro I can buy myself a good PC.

***I can't find how much an armature driver costs and if anyone can please tell me.***

 

So from what I can see the maximum price should be 100 Euro, can someone prove me wrong why an IEM like Westone 2 costs twice that (even with the two drivers)?


 

What about the research and development, staff costs, rent, and especially marketing? and then there is the profit margin, of both the manufacturer and the retailer.

 

 

The prices you have listed look like you are describing Chinese IEM's, that use housing that already exists, and don't put any effort into design or sound or quality, and have quite small profit margins, they usually don't get very far because they don't sound very good or break. :P You can buy the Yuin OK3 if you want to try such a Chinese IEM, or perhaps the Vsonic GR06, look on ebay.

 

The balanced armature driver in the Etymotic ER-4 costs about $17, however I'm sure they order them in the thousands so they only cost $5 or less is my guess, they are made by a company in Illinois called Knowles.

 

Not all IEM's are expensive niche products, have a look at the JVC FXC51, TDK BA100, Ultimate Ears UE700, etc.

 

UE700 is a good example, because the driver is expensive in that one, it will cost you $57 for only the metal BA driver alone, that's the most expensive BA driver I know actually, the same driver is used in the Audio Technica CK10, but there is titanium in the nozzle in that one and much better cable quality and overall design, the UE700 will break faster but sounds 90% the same as the ATH-CK10.

 

post #10 of 140

Sorry to be not enough precis , I'm only talking about the DRIVER !
 

Yes Dr Dre have to be payed for his name.

 

From the Wiki : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headphones#Balanced_armature

As shown schematically in the first diagram, it consists of a moving magnetic armature that is pivoted so it can move in the field of the permanent magnet. When precisely centered in the magnetic field there is no net force on the armature, hence the term 'balanced.'

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by iXpertMan View Post


The material used for the housing as far as I can tell is glossy plastic which is nowhere near rear. Also the high micro precision of what, the housing? If the housing then there is no precision, plastic is simply moulded which is relatively accurate and fast. The only thing that might be hard to make is/are the armature driver(s), but I can't find there prices anywhere...

 

I don't understand why are you all laughing at Dr. Dre? Is it because he does too much advertisement and his headphones are terrible sounding and way-overpriced?


 And also as kingpintps and kiteki say, all the engineering behind the process !

 


Edited by Migou67 - 12/8/11 at 3:22am
post #11 of 140
Quote:

Originally Posted by iXpertMan View Post

 

I don't understand why are you all laughing at Dr. Dre? Is it because he does too much advertisement and his headphones are terrible sounding and way-overpriced?


If you buy a Dr. Dre 50% of your money is paying for advertising, 40% to their pockets and 10% is paying for sound quality. (just approximate random figures)

 

Similiar story with Apple, Bose, Skullcandy, etc., they are usually all jokes of sound quality compared to brands like Audio Technica, Sony, Denon, Fostex, AKG, Shure, Beyerdynamic, Final Audio.

 

 


Edited by kiteki - 12/8/11 at 3:13am
post #12 of 140

Because of demand and supply, and because people have families to feed.

post #13 of 140

Yeah, supply & demand, and competition too.

 

I mean why is a house so expensive? It's only bricks and some wood. :P

 

A house in Detroit that costs $10,000 might cost $1,000,000 in California, such is life.

 

post #14 of 140

Exactly. Also, my boss should only pay me based on the amount of electricity and air-conditioning I use.

post #15 of 140

IMO  I don't think the drivers or the shell is that expensive. I think it's about the special machines and techniques on how the crossover the drivers and etc.which takes most of the money. Since one of my JH16 failed, they just made a new one for me and still sent me the failed ones with all the drivers in it. So I assume they don't care.

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