Originally Posted by MuppetFace
The new Floats have actually sold out in several runs so far. They're manufactured in extremely small quantities for an extremely small niche market, so they sell as many as there is demand for. It's a small German company who repairs Quad speakers as their primary business, and they invest zero in marketing the Floats.
Sennheiser by comparison is an industry giant. There's no way a smaller company could sink as much into R&D and expect to even break even selling the HD800 at the MSRP Sennheiser sells it.
Now, I'm not saying all this R&D is worth it at the end of the day, but it's actually extremely costly for smaller businesses because they simply don't have the resources and production scale that larger companies have. Audez'e for instance will probably sell the LCD-4 for $3000 or more just based on the amount of effort they're putting into the new drivers. HiFiMan by comparison sells their orthos for much less, but their focus has been more on streamlining production and reducing costs; if you look at the actual drivers, they're quite a bit more primitive compared to even the stuff from Fostex circa the 70s. Even today's "lowly" T50RP has more sophisticated drivers. Despite being single-ended, the drivers on the Abyss are actually pretty sophisticated as dBel has pointed out (and people have ignored).
Again I'm not saying it's all worth it at the end of the day. I'm not saying it's not worth it. Either way, the Abyss is going to sell at the very least because it's expensive. There are individuals---businessmen in Western Europe and parts of Asia for instance---who will buy one or two, listen to it for a day or so, and then shove it into a closet until some high scale client needs a gift. Talking to some of the distributors, the first production runs of the Abyss have actually all sold out already. There's actually a waiting list believe it or not. So yeah, it's selling for better or worse.
Whether or not it gains acceptance among head-fiers as a "legitimate" transducer is another matter, of course.
As for Stax, I'm definitely a fan of their products. They bring decades of refinement to the table and an almost wagyu beef type of pampering of their components. Dust controlled laboratories, day long diaphragm massage sessions, etc. That's where the justification for the price lies IMHO, not necessarily in electrostatic technology itself. I know quite a few individuals who feel planar magnetics "do it better" that Stax in some areas like bottom end response.
If I knew you better I'd be tempted to play with you .
However. I'm very familiar with the Jecklin story and Jecklin - QUAD. That type of product can only really exist in the niche market, and thats fine by me.It also is not 5 grand a pop. The lesson there is find your target and stick with it. Short of a buyout by a large org they will continue merrily along.
There are more than a few eyeing the Abyss driver with a wary eye. Technical achievement, sure, longevity, questionable, we wait we see. Nobody is debating the effort put into it. by the same token how many manu's do you see actively whining about their RD costs? What I am seeing, and this is just opinion here, is a company woefully underequipped to embark on this type of venture. "Feel the earth move under my feet", anyone? High price point to cover RD startup costs would have a vencapper apoplectic. It's a hallmark sign and not a good one.
I'm sure their entire production is sold out. The fact that review samples seem to be nonexistant would bear that out. The attempts to charge for review samples is yet another thing. that again is not a healthy sign.
There seems to be this trend in "high end" audio to crap all over customers. Lets charge restocking for review samples. Lets release players with firmware that does not support the functions we claim and promise an update real soon. Lets pop a cmoy in a box and charge 20 X what you could buy it for on TheBay. These are all just greed induced cash grabs at their worst.
Your point of Euro and Asian businessmen using them as novelty gifts illustrates the issue here. The value in the product is that is has no value. In some perverse Mcluhanistic otherworld called Audiophillia the outrageous price is the message and the higher the price the stronger the message.
I'd point out that Sennheiser did not start the company with the HD800, it was built gradually and with the profits from a well run business the HD800 at it's current price was made possible. Suddenly it seems en vogue to Start at the top, questionable business practice at best.
The technology itself. Look at where the industry is at now. Pancake dynamic drivers with impregnated voice coils are moving toward the ortho end of the spectrum. In about 5 years time there will be a very blurred line as to what we consdier an ortho or dynamic driver. That is being driven by the big boys and where do you suspect that will leave the small fry with the obscene price tag?
And to think this entire hobby started out as a DIY experiment. What was it Roger Waters said about giving any one species too much rope?