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Are bel canto and Emotiva considered 'high-end' ? Peachtree Audio ? - Page 6

post #76 of 98
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post

 

 

What is a stereo receiver? It's just an integrated amp with a tuner and sometimes a DAC. Who really needs that? How many audiophiles today are listening to the radio? The integrated amplifier market is stronger than it's ever been. Integrateds used to be the little runts of the amp world, suitable only for entry level systems until one could afford separates. Now there are 75lb+ integrated amps capable of several hundred watts per channel, and they definitely blur some lines and make one wonder whether two boxes and two extra cables are really necessary.

 

 

 

Dave, I agree with you re integrated amps, but you miss my point on receivers. If you look at the specs on Yamaha's website for their dedicated stereo amp range - that A-S* series - and their stereo receivers, you are getting (nominally, at any rate) a more powerful amp in each receiver compared to the equivalent dedicated amp. None of this is high-end, but for those of us who dont have a problem with mid-fi its attractive.

 

The 90wpc A-S700 amp, at 1K:

http://usa.yamaha.com/products/audio-visual/hifi-components/amps/a-s700_black__u/?mode=model

 

The 100wpc R-S700 receiver at $550:

http://usa.yamaha.com/products/audio-visual/hifi-components/stereo-receivers/r-s700/?mode=model

 

Of course, as an audiophile you know that the amp has more to offer sonically than the receiver (fair enough - its a purpose built device), but which one do you think would be the gateway drug for the iPod generation ? Even if they never turn on the tuner, saving $450 makes a lot of sense. That money could go towards a nice set of speakers or a better source - real world stuff. 

 

You would probably avoid a mass marketed brand like Yamaha entirely, but that puts the ball back in grev's court. Consider the following for inclusion in my sig:

 

KEF Q300 loudspeakers 

or

Sjofn (the clue) loudspeakers

 

Which one looks sexier to the audiophile, assuming they had never heard either speaker ?  Both are similarly priced, both have rave reviews, but I'm betting that the more obscure gear would pique the interest of people who care about such things. Said people know you can walk into a KEF dealer almost anywhere in the world and ask about the Q300 - not so simple with a boutique manufacturer who sells direct and lists 4 or 5 email contacts for the US market. One can only assume you meet these folk in a Starbucks, exchange the secret handshake and a thousand bucks and they retrieve your prize from a white van in a nearby alleyway ..... 

 

I also think you underestimate the value of radio as a source of music you don't have to pay for. Commercial radio may be dross, but there are still a few FM stations out there worthy of a background listen. Even subscription services via the Net are a lot cheaper than buying the physical media and finding you only like one or two tracks. 

 

As always, this is just my two cents worth, and I admit that arguing the case for mid-fi in a forum dedicated to high-end components may be asking for trouble. I just know that most of the hardcore didnt get their first taste of good sound with a Levinson gadget costing 30K+. 

 

 

post #77 of 98

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grev View Post

I don't think you understand.  The act of listening to music (or playing golf) isn't bad, but when you start listening/playing the equipment instead of the intended doesn't bode well with me.  I know some people will pay for extremely high prices for such things which there will always be a market, but the ultimate motive for listening to music is to enjoy the music, not to get that extra 1% of performance while the other people are content and moved on already.

 

There are different kinds of audiophiles. As Jon Valin of TAS described it: "the “absolute sound” listeners (who prefer music played by acoustical instruments recorded in a real space, and gear that makes those instruments—no matter how well or poorly they were recorded—sound more like “the real thing”); the “fidelity to mastertapes” listeners (who want their music, acoustical or electronic, to sound exactly as good or as bad, as lifelike or as phony as the recording, engineering, and mastering allow); and the “as you like it” listeners (who care less about the absolute sound of acoustical instruments in a real space or about fidelity to mastertapes and simply want their music to sound some form of “good,” which is to say exciting, beautiful, forgiving, non-fatiguing). Though I think these groupings are valid, I also think that no listener is purely one type or another, i.e., the fidelity to mastertapes listener also wants his music to sound like the real thing, when the recording allows; the absolute sound listener wants his music to sound beautiful, when the music or orchestration allows; the “as you like it” listener puts excitement and beauty ahead of fidelity to sources, but is not at all unhappy when those sources also sound like the real thing as he defines it."

 

I'd say I have some elements of all three. I'm not a classical listener, but I have some live jazz recordings that I really love, and I seek out equipment that makes those recordings sound more lifelike. I don't like systems with lots of euphonic coloration or ones that are heavily tilted to favor one genre or another, but at the same time I don't necessarily look for brutal honesty or absolute neutrality either. I tend to gravitate towards slightly warm over cool, slightly foward mids vs. recessed, and (these days) a slightly softened treble, although if treble detail is completely crushed then I get bored.

 

The important thing is to understand the limitations of your room and (or, in the case of headphones) equipment, and work to get the best performance value you can within those limitations.

post #78 of 98
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by project86 View Post

Part of the problem is that the high priced side of the market was a very poor seller for a while there. Probably still is compared to the late 90s or so. So companies like Musical Fidelity who once started their range with multi thousand dollar stuff and went up from there, are now also selling V series components for a few hundred bucks a pop. This surely increases their profits while somehow diminishing their high endedness in the eyes of onlookers. It's a very tough thing to be able to capture both ends of the market without tarnishing your reputation in the higher end portion.

 

Great point, P86, and its interesting that companies like Meridian have held on to their 'cost no object' mantra, even at the so-called entry level (9K for a source and DSP-enabled active speakers which will only work with Meridian kit) while so many others have been forced to accede to commercial realities. Meridian seem to have a foot in both camps - the hardcore audiophile and the 'luxury lifestyle' brigade - a feat that B&O havent managed. Its a shame that the industry doesn't publish sales figures. 

post #79 of 98

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by project86 View Post

Part of the problem is that the high priced side of the market was a very poor seller for a while there. Probably still is compared to the late 90s or so. So companies like Musical Fidelity who once started their range with multi thousand dollar stuff and went up from there, are now also selling V series components for a few hundred bucks a pop. This surely increases their profits while somehow diminishing their high endedness in the eyes of onlookers. It's a very tough thing to be able to capture both ends of the market without tarnishing your reputation in the higher end portion.

 

I don't really see it that way. I was never all that crazy about MF, so the $299 V-Dac doesn't really have an impact on me. A company that has diminished in my eyes is Mark Levinson. In the pre H/K days, ML stuff was comparable to products made by companies like Boulder and Gryphon today. I don't think that's true anymore. After the buyout, the company moved HQs about 14 times and both design and build quality took a nose dive. For example, the No. 512 SACD player had some sort of grounding issue, and eventually one of the channels would short out. You'd think somebody would've caught that.

 

The fact that NOLA sells the $1500/pr Boxer monitors doesn't change my impression of their Grand Reference series speakers at all. They are still some of my absolute favorites, matched only by the big Rockports and a select few others and they are unquestionably high-end.

 

P1013344.jpg

 

post #80 of 98

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by estreeter View Post

 

 

Great point, P86, and its interesting that companies like Meridian have held on to their 'cost no object' mantra, even at the so-called entry level (9K for a source and DSP-enabled active speakers which will only work with Meridian kit) while so many others have been forced to accede to commercial realities. Meridian seem to have a foot in both camps - the hardcore audiophile and the 'luxury lifestyle' brigade - a feat that B&O havent managed. Its a shame that the industry doesn't publish sales figures. 

 

I read an article recently that mentioned B&O as having roughly a $1 billion year last year. I had to re-read it several times to ensure that I had not misunderstood. One BILLION as in $1,000,000,000. I can't find the article but here is one from a few years back where they were more than half way there. I find myself wondering who the hell is buying all this B&O stuff.... but then I remember that they do all kinds of work for luxury car companies, yachts, airplanes, and other fancy-pants type stuff (yes that's the technical term for that market). I can't imagine any of the big audiophile brands having anywhere near that much revenue. But I was wrong about B&O so who knows. 

 

The problem with moving to the lower end of the market like Musical Fidelity has - you get the initial massive boost of "hey, this is a really high end company, but they are designing stuff we can actually afford!", as well as the implication of trickle-down technology and performance from their nicer gear. But after a few years of selling $200 products, I wonder how that hinders their reputation with respect to the upper-tier models. Are people willing to spend 5 digits on their AMS and Titan products, knowing that some punk kid down the street has an all MF setup for under $1k?

post #81 of 98

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post

 

 

I don't really see it that way. I was never all that crazy about MF, so the $299 V-Dac doesn't really have an impact on me. A company that has diminished in my eyes is Mark Levinson. In the pre H/K days, ML stuff was comparable to products made by companies like Boulder and Gryphon today. I don't think that's true anymore. After the buyout, the company moved HQs about 14 times and both design and build quality took a nose dive. For example, the No. 512 SACD player had some sort of grounding issue, and eventually one of the channels would short out. You'd think somebody would've caught that.

 

The fact that NOLA sells the $1500/pr Boxer monitors doesn't change my impression of their Grand Reference series speakers at all. They are still some of my absolute favorites, matched only by the big Rockports and a select few others and they are unquestionably high-end.

 

P1013344.jpg

 

 

Oh I don't mean to pick on MF specifically. It was just an example that came to mind readily. I agree about Levinson, and that seems to apply almost universally whenever a line is acquired by H/K, though perhaps not always to the same degree. Oddly, people seem to have more consistent respect for Revel which is a line they created rather than acquired. 

 

I see your point about NOLA - but would it be any different if they started dipping down into the market of $400 active desktop monitors? And what if that started becoming their core product line? At some point I think the general audiophile opinion of them would diminish, even if the top tier products remained as good as ever. 

post #82 of 98

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by estreeter View Post

Of course, as an audiophile you know that the amp has more to offer sonically than the receiver (fair enough - its a purpose built device), but which one do you think would be the gateway drug for the iPod generation ? Even if they never turn on the tuner, saving $450 makes a lot of sense. That money could go towards a nice set of speakers or a better source - real world stuff. 

 

You would probably avoid a mass marketed brand like Yamaha entirely, but that puts the ball back in grev's court. Consider the following for inclusion in my sig:

 

KEF Q300 loudspeakers 

or

Sjofn (the clue) loudspeakers

 

Which one looks sexier to the audiophile, assuming they had never heard either speaker ?  Both are similarly priced, both have rave reviews, but I'm betting that the more obscure gear would pique the interest of people who care about such things. Said people know you can walk into a KEF dealer almost anywhere in the world and ask about the Q300 - not so simple with a boutique manufacturer who sells direct and lists 4 or 5 email contacts for the US market. One can only assume you meet these folk in a Starbucks, exchange the secret handshake and a thousand bucks and they retrieve your prize from a white van in a nearby alleyway ..... 

 

I also think you underestimate the value of radio as a source of music you don't have to pay for. Commercial radio may be dross, but there are still a few FM stations out there worthy of a background listen. Even subscription services via the Net are a lot cheaper than buying the physical media and finding you only like one or two tracks.

 

I think deciding that anything not made by mass market Japanese brands sold at Best Buy is for "elitist snobs" is putting yourself in a bit of a trap. That leaves what, 4 brands that are "OK" to buy? If somebody asked me what kind of stereo amp they should buy for around $500, I wouldn't tell them to get a Yamaha, I'd point them to Myryad, NAD, Music Hall, and yes, Musical Fidelity on Audiogon. That's not being a snob, it's getting a better performance value from a company a little more focused than a monstrous conglomo like Yamaha.

 

There's nothing embarrassing about the Q300 just because it's available. Who knows anything about the Sjofn? Obscure doesn't equal good. From what I can tell the cabinet looks like something sold on Parts Express. That's probably what it is.

 

You mentioned the iPod generation, are they listening to FM radio? Really? Does mass market corporate Clear Channel garbage really appeal to anyone anymore? Why wouldn't they just plug their iPod into a Wadia iTransport and fire up Pandora, Spotify, MOG, etc? Terrestrial radio is about as old fashioned as Morse code, and just as exciting.

post #83 of 98

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by project86 View Post

Oh I don't mean to pick on MF specifically. It was just an example that came to mind readily. I agree about Levinson, and that seems to apply almost universally whenever a line is acquired by H/K, though perhaps not always to the same degree. Oddly, people seem to have more consistent respect for Revel which is a line they created rather than acquired. 

 

I see your point about NOLA - but would it be any different if they started dipping down into the market of $400 active desktop monitors? And what if that started becoming their core product line? At some point I think the general audiophile opinion of them would diminish, even if the top tier products remained as good as ever. 

 

That's true about Revel, although I've seen grumbling about the cheap Chinese cabinets used for the Salon2 and Studio2 vs. the exquisite looking originals.

 

I don't think it would really change my opinion about NOLA if they chose to go further down market. While discontinued, they used to sell the $695/pr Mini monitor, while also selling the four tower, SOTA $200K Grand Reference. I don't know how many Boxers or Contenders NOLA sells vs. their Reference series, and honestly I don't really care. Carl Marchisotto is a brilliant designer, but when you're talking about a $695/pr speaker, there's only so much even the best minds can do. The Micro Grand Reference is the best monitor I've heard. If the guy next door has the Boxer, that doesn't diminish that. What makes the Reference series what they are are the open baffle midrange and tweeter design, the midrange drivers with Alnico magnets, and the custom Raven tweeters. The Boxer doesn't get any of that. It's a very nice two-way, but that's all it is.

 


Edited by DaveBSC - 4/30/12 at 6:15pm
post #84 of 98
Yeah but you seem like a much more reasonable/sensible fellow than the average "audiophile". Browse the Audiogon forums to see what I'm talking about. For many people it seems to be a rule that the more obscure, difficult to obtain, expensive, the better. Being "untainted" by low end budget offerings is probably important as well.

Though I've never considered them high end myself, nuForce is an interesting example. For a time they only made gear with price tags in the 1.5 to 8 thousand dollar range (maybe more, I'm no expert), and they seemed fairly highly regarded among most circles. Then they come out with cheap little toy DACs and desktop stuff, and suddenly they aren't so well respected any longer. At least that's the vibe I get - I'm not saying it is right, but that seems to be how things work in a nutshell.

But hey, I bet they are making far more profit from the iDo and uDac and HDP than they ever did from their expensive stuff, due to volume of sales. So maybe it doesn't matter to them what us audio snobs think of the company.
post #85 of 98
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by project86 View Post

Yeah but you seem like a much more reasonable/sensible fellow than the average "audiophile". Browse the Audiogon forums to see what I'm talking about. For many people it seems to be a rule that the more obscure, difficult to obtain, expensive, the better. Being "untainted" by low end budget offerings is probably important as well.
Though I've never considered them high end myself, nuForce is an interesting example. For a time they only made gear with price tags in the 1.5 to 8 thousand dollar range (maybe more, I'm no expert), and they seemed fairly highly regarded among most circles. Then they come out with cheap little toy DACs and desktop stuff, and suddenly they aren't so well respected any longer. At least that's the vibe I get - I'm not saying it is right, but that seems to be how things work in a nutshell.
But hey, I bet they are making far more profit from the iDo and uDac and HDP than they ever did from their expensive stuff, due to volume of sales. So maybe it doesn't matter to them what us audio snobs think of the company.

 

When you read the in-depth reviews of the Nuforce 'Reference' kit, it seems that Nuforce contract out the design of those components. I'm not saying that's the case with all their gear, but it goes a long way to explaining why those products seem to get more respect than their cheaper stuff. That, and the woeful QC reputation the Nuforce cheapies have accrued. I think Jason made a big mistake pricing kit so low  that it didnt make sense for the factory (factories ?) to test newly assembled units. 

 

post #86 of 98
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post

 

 

I think deciding that anything not made by mass market Japanese brands sold at Best Buy is for "elitist snobs" is putting yourself in a bit of a trap. That leaves what, 4 brands that are "OK" to buy? If somebody asked me what kind of stereo amp they should buy for around $500, I wouldn't tell them to get a Yamaha, I'd point them to Myryad, NAD, Music Hall, and yes, Musical Fidelity on Audiogon. That's not being a snob, it's getting a better performance value from a company a little more focused than a monstrous conglomo like Yamaha.

 

 

I take your point about the 'monstrous conglomerate' aspect, but I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that they don't have a building filled with guys who design motorcycles in the morning, pianos at lunchtime and audio kit at 3pm. I'm sure they all feel the weight of the bean counters' pencils hanging over them, but how many businesses aren't in the same boat ? At the $500 price point, a lot of it will come down to how cheaply they can get components like transformers - assuming Yamaha don't make their own, I'm confident that they can get them more cheaply than NAD. Ultimately, we would need to DBT both, but I doubt that the outcome would be of particular interest to high-end folk. Having auditoned several NAD CDP/amp combos up to 1500 AUD, I  cant say that they stood out from the CA gear I also listened to - the warmth and weight of a Marantz SR5023 receiver was the only thing that rocked my world that day - sadly, the Marantz distributor in Australia seems to think he can charge 20-30% over the US price. I'll give NAD that much - they deliver a lot of grey box for your dollars. Having owned several CA components, I also think they are great value for money but a tad brighter than I'd like. 

 

I guess I just have commoner tastes. Bring on the conglomerate-made receivers, I say.  biggrin.gif

post #87 of 98

Part of the reason Meridian can stay "cost no object" is due to similar licencing arrangements; ever heard of Dolby TrueHD?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meridian_Lossless_Packing

 

Most of the bigger high-end companies have some killer app patent that they can milk for cash, or they're part of a larger whole (like Levinson with Harman, and McIntosh with Bain) which allows them access to capital and distribution they may not otherwise have. For example there was an article about STAX and the SR-009 not too long ago, and how the development of the SR-009 by itself represented their entire R&D budget for like three straight years; nothing else was on the table. Now sure, that's tens of millions of dollars, but if you're part of Sony or Harman, that's just a reality of daily life. It's available. The article was talking about the Edifier buy out, and the "pro" was that Edifier has huge resources, but the "con" was that audiophiles might be offended by STAX being owned by a company with huge resources. 

 

Regarding the "Yamaha is a big conglomo" and then the list of companies that came off as alternatives - most of those are made in China and designed by an outsourced ODM team (usually in China or Korea) (and I should point out that Yamaha does most of it's R&D in-house and runs/oversees its own manufacturing operations - they may be porting their software onto commodity DSPs, but it's still proprietary logic); NAD is a great example of this. Almost all of their front-ends are rebadged (their current AVRs for example are just re-badges of Taiwanese or Korean ODM designs running third-party software that appear under a variety of different trade names - NAD takes them, changes the front panel a bit, de-rates their outputs (so they can pimp their "NAD watts" nonsense) and tacks 50% or more onto the price), and their amplifiers are done out-of-house for the most part as well, usually based on cookie cutter designs (in other words, you pick an amp stage, a power section, a housing, and then it gets validated and built). They don't even deny this; just like Parasound and Emotiva they state that as their business model. Music Hall is the same way. CI Audio is the same way. They take ODM/reference designs, place a minimum order with a third-party manufacturer, and voila, you've got yourself an "audiophile high fidelity company" - the same thing goes on with cable manufacturers (what, you thought they had engineers working for them?) - you get enough money to place a minimum order for X feet of a given wire and have a custom logo printed on it, and you're now a cable manufacturer. All you're doing is re-packaging finished goods and setting that re-pack up as a value add. At that point, it's not even a discussion of how "True" or "real" the brand is, or how "good" they are, because you're talking about the same hardware with a different nametag. A rose by any other name. 

 

And based on this, brand affinity and price affinity are bunk imho. Not only because, for the most part, it's all the same soup with a different label, but because in some cases you end up paying 2-3 times as much for the experience. It's not even a matter of "well this amp is more expensive and more overbuilt, and we can debate if that has sonic benefits" because now you've gotta question "under that logo, is this even different than something I can pick up for $60 at K-Mart?" 

 

And the reasoning for all of this is fairly simple - R&D is expensive and nobody gets into this because they have some benevolent streak; their goal is to make money. They do not care about you - they care about profit margins and dividends. They act in a self-interested manner. Now, in the realm of "high end audio" that requires a degree of courtship with customers, but it's all self-interested. NAD, for example, is not there to be "your friend in science" - they want your money. They just go about it in a different manner than Yamaha - Yamaha is big enough that it really doesn't care about you at all, their margins are pretty terrible (maybe 10%) but you space that out over a few million purchases and you've got a wad. 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by project86 View Post

 

 

I read an article recently that mentioned B&O as having roughly a $1 billion year last year. I had to re-read it several times to ensure that I had not misunderstood. One BILLION as in $1,000,000,000. I can't find the article but here is one from a few years back where they were more than half way there. I find myself wondering who the hell is buying all this B&O stuff.... but then I remember that they do all kinds of work for luxury car companies, yachts, airplanes, and other fancy-pants type stuff (yes that's the technical term for that market). I can't imagine any of the big audiophile brands having anywhere near that much revenue. But I was wrong about B&O so who knows. 

 

The problem with moving to the lower end of the market like Musical Fidelity has - you get the initial massive boost of "hey, this is a really high end company, but they are designing stuff we can actually afford!", as well as the implication of trickle-down technology and performance from their nicer gear. But after a few years of selling $200 products, I wonder how that hinders their reputation with respect to the upper-tier models. Are people willing to spend 5 digits on their AMS and Titan products, knowing that some punk kid down the street has an all MF setup for under $1k?

 

 


Edited by obobskivich - 4/30/12 at 11:06pm
post #88 of 98

There is a lot that can be learnt from this thread. popcorn.gif

post #89 of 98
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

And the reasoning for all of this is fairly simple - R&D is expensive and nobody gets into this because they have some benevolent streak; their goal is to make money. They do not care about you - they care about profit margins and dividends. They act in a self-interested manner. Now, in the realm of "high end audio" that requires a degree of courtship with customers, but it's all self-interested. NAD, for example, is not there to be "your friend in science" - they want your money. They just go about it in a different manner than Yamaha - Yamaha is big enough that it really doesn't care about you at all, their margins are pretty terrible (maybe 10%) but you space that out over a few million purchases and you've got a wad. 

 

 

 

I'd like 1/10th of a percent of that wad.  wink.gif

 

For all the dramas in various industries over the years, be it the Toyota debacle or ongoing woes at Sony, I get the distinct impression that Japanese quality control may have slipped a notch or two. For all that, I dont recall a single scandal involving a Yamaha product nor do they make the finance pages for all the wrong reasons, and I'd question how 'terrible' their margins are on gear like musical instruments. Wikipedia is filled with history lessons on highly regarded Japanese and American audio brands that didnt survive the 80s - whether takeover victims or simply insolvent - Yamaha are still putting money into two-channel stereo and that puts them head-and-shoulders above some of their peers for mine. I agree that brand loyalty is stupid - I dont own any of the gear discussed in this thread - but I'm not prepared to write Yamaha or Denon or Marantz off simply because they arent producing handmade electronics for the tiny fraction of the population who can still afford such luxuries. 

post #90 of 98

Yamaha is a fairly diverse company, and kind of an odd one at that. They make a little bit of everything. Like GM used to. 

 

I don't think an all-Yamaha ecosystem would be rational, just like I don't think an all-Apple ecosystem is rational, but there's something to be said for their consistency and reliability over time. Sure, years ago, they produced some of the highest-end components in the world (the Centennial Series for example), but anymore they seem more focused on going after the average joe dollars. 

 

Fun aside: Denon and Marantz are the same company, and McIntosh is along for the ride too. Starting a few years ago, they began a path towards convergence, and this can be seen in a few of Denon's upper-mid-tier parts, Marantz's newer release parts, and somewhat between Denon's reference processor and the new Marantz processor. The higher end Denon AVRs seem to sit apart, but they're also somewhat dated designs (that just keep getting firmware and hardware updates to stay relevant, honestly if I was an owner (and had the foresight whatever six years ago to buy a 5308) I would be tickled pink). According to resent press murmurings, they're supposed to be making some big changes in the next year or two as they move towards convergence even more fully (it increases profits by having a common platform or platforms, vs letting three related companies run amuck on their own) - should be interesting to see what comes of it. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by estreeter View Post

 

 

I'd like 1/10th of a percent of that wad.  wink.gif

 

For all the dramas in various industries over the years, be it the Toyota debacle or ongoing woes at Sony, I get the distinct impression that Japanese quality control may have slipped a notch or two. For all that, I dont recall a single scandal involving a Yamaha product nor do they make the finance pages for all the wrong reasons, and I'd question how 'terrible' their margins are on gear like musical instruments. Wikipedia is filled with history lessons on highly regarded Japanese and American audio brands that didnt survive the 80s - whether takeover victims or simply insolvent - Yamaha are still putting money into two-channel stereo and that puts them head-and-shoulders above some of their peers for mine. I agree that brand loyalty is stupid - I dont own any of the gear discussed in this thread - but I'm not prepared to write Yamaha or Denon or Marantz off simply because they arent producing handmade electronics for the tiny fraction of the population who can still afford such luxuries. 

 

 

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