Originally Posted by estreeter
I posed the initial question in good faith, and the majority of responses seem to have been posted in the same spirit.
Given the effort I have put into researching both sales data and component specifications and pricing, to say nothing of extensive reading of design manuals and datasheets to ensure that I am not talking complete nonsense, I hope you feel that my contribution has been in good faith.
I've got a design drawn up here that I'm working at simulating (I haven't done a sim with valves and transformers before), that I'm working on with a view to buying the components, building and testing it. For no other reason than to prove a point. Not that I don't benefit from the effort, but I'm not doing it because I'm insincere.
I saw the comment about Bottlehead charging $65 per hour. I can hire a contractor here with an MSc and 10 years of experience of GSM and UMTS handset development for £35 ($55) per hour. I know, because I get the job adverts in my inbox. That's flat rate. I don't pay taxes, National Insurance, benefits, holidays, anything. He's self-employed.
3 years ago I was working for a company that was paying guys on the assembly line building point-to-point wired instrument panels £10 per hour. No two panels identical. This is not the 3rd. world. This is the Westcountry of England. The rate was depressed because they could get guys with service pensions, but not everybody had one. That was the rate. £4 over minimum wage. Of course that wasn't what the company charged the client if a panel came back for repair, although to be fair they did have other expenses.
These guys are interpreting wiring diagrams, building PCB and veroboard circuits, boxing subcircuits and assembling them to panels, mounting gauges and switches, cutting, drilling and building support frameworks and safety isolation barriers, printing logos and legends in addition to selecting appropriate wire gauges and insulations and wiring breakers neatly with cable-tied coiled strain relief and individual shrink-wrap wire IDs.
I'm trying not to be unfair here. Was I happy working there? No.
I'm not saying that people running audio companies should be paying their employees subsistence wages. $65 an hour is not just paying somebody's wages tho', it probably includes a healthy profit that the wage slave doesn't see, and it's far too much for an individual to charge for their labour when doing assembly work, anywhere in the world.