I made a response in the AK240 thread that was deleted because it was off-topic. I was given the option to post it elsewhere or start a new thread. So, here's the thread.
I hate to go back on my words, but...
I'm typing this with a completely calm demeanor, by the way. There's no vigor in my keystrokes.
Panda man, you're cool as hell but your argument is fundamentally flawed. A&K hasn't innovated a thing. Their streaming store can be achieved via simple mobile websites, and the Android OS already allows downloads through the web browser. The true heavy lifting is done by the primary manufacturers like Knowles, Sonion, Wolfson, etc. who make these chips and drivers, then publish schematics to get the most out their designs. If the AK240 was so much more difficult to make than the other DAPs, and provided SQ that was worth the effort then maybe they could start to get away with the price. Production lines are relatively cheap and easy for small electronics, especially on a small scale. Plus, A&K's touted music stores could easily be mobile versions of these stores running on the built in browser. Music streaming over wifi only requires the DLNA protocol.
I know some people think I'm talking out of my arse, but I did get a minor in economics while doing my bachelor's. I see the trend as its happening. If companies could pour out the sweat and blood for $500 flagships back when I first started out in audio 4 years ago, what has changed now? Sonion and Wolfson definitely aren't charging enough extra to warrant this. Minimum wage hasn't increased. For example, Sony and Vsonic developed diaphragms using bacterial biocellulose. You have to culture living organisms, feed them, and extract their waste products to dry and layer them into exquisitely tuned products. The price of the Vsonic offering? $179. JVC's FX700 uses a wooden housing, as well as a central diaphragm made of wood. Price? ~$300.
The A&K's pricing example is somewhat analogous to the way a person becomes morbidly obese. One day you're fit and running 3 miles a day, then you're eating an entire large pizza alone, and browsing the walmart aisles in a scooter because your knees can't support your own weight. It happens little by little.
Some have made the point that "the free market will decide". To respond to that, I will quote myself from last week:
That would be true under most circumstances, but not in this echo chamber of a hobby. Allow me to dust off my crystal ball and describe what will take place over the next few months...if the AK240 is not clearly above the competition (and I believe MUST, given that it costs double the price of its competitors).
1) Someone who doesn't care will buy an AK240. Likewise, others will receive a sample AK240.
2) Said individuals will defend their new purchase, despite how they feel about its performance. Likewise, the selected reviewers will want to talk about the product in a way that ensures they get more in the future.
3) People who read these glowing reviews will be convinced to buy these DAPs. Most will, again, try to defend their purchase. Only a few will speak out, but those few will be silenced. I've seen this happen before several times. I remember a certain IEM that had a wonky sounding midrange to a lot of folks. But one member shouted from the top of a rooftop that these iems had no such issue at all. Later, he confided to me via PM that he was using fabric filters to get the IEM to sound normal. This is what the consumer is up against.
4) A&K's strategy will have worked, leading to the sale of units for them, but also the impetus to continue with price increases.
5) More DAP makers will see this and want in on the action. I predict more $2k+ DAPs within the next 6-12 months.
And as you blink, you weigh 450 pounds.
If my long paragraphs and prolific posting didn't get what I'm trying to say about innovation and market trends across, maybe this list of truly innovative products will. Also look at how richly the market has rewarded them, even to the point where they often cannot meet demand.
1. Google Chromecast
2. Apple iPhone (revolutionalized an entire market)
3. Apple iPad (yes, the giant ipod touch)
4. Love it or hate it, the iPod.
5. The Sansa Clip+
6. Apple TV/Roku...made any TV with a HDMI port into a smart TV without having to pay huge markups
7. The Ford Model T
8. Countless others, excluding Astell and Kern.
9. The Stax SR-009. I left this one for last because it's so expensive. BUT, it unmistakingly BLOWS away every other thing I've put on or in my ears. I was in a room that had the likes of the LCD-3, HD800, etc. on some uber amps like the GS-X MK2, Decaware, etc. They all sounded good, but the SR-009 simply made them comparatively sound like dirty, foggy windows blocking my audio scene. In my opinion, it is only when you create such separation from your competitors that you can begin to charge such a premium. I'm getting a set of SR-009s as soon as possible. I included this to counter the thought that I'm some scrooge who can't understand the finer things in life. Look at my profile for a bit of my audio history.
Hopefully this gives some insight into what I'm trying to say.
This is definitely hopefully my last post in here, unless I hear a set for myself and want to post impressions.
The post I was responding to:
Please Read this before continuing with your flame wars people:
I am absolutely in favor of stuff like the AK 240. I absolutely am. We must first acertain that we are in a niche field.
Jude's comment on pushing the envelop of innovation is exactly why I think stuff like the AK 240 is good for the field. Look around guys, half the audiophile DAP's on the markets have problems here and there. The AK's aren't without their share of problems from what I've heard, but its like the Apple of DAP's. It doesn't need the best sound or anything. It just needs to 'work'.
How does this push the field better? Well, IF WE WERE ALL to use the mindset of hating on the AK240 right now as we did back with the CMOY's, headphone audio may not have gotten anywhere.
THEY ARE CHARING 2X for a new amp!?? What? Nah bro. I gots me a Cmoy. That stuff is too expensive!!
I don't see or use price as ANY type of object in a niche field like audio. Because think about it. Companies that are pushing the field and focusing on perfecting - or at the least attempting to perfect - one aspect of that device are spending lots of money and going somewhere others aren't.
But of course, there is then going to be a price precedent and the fact that cost still matters. I'm not going to ignore this. Hold one with me. Let's talk economics now.
The AK 240 is obviously VERY expensive. But that's good. That's very good. It means that there is a chance for competition and lots of it. This is why companies in niche fields charge insane amounts of money for their flagship items. Because competition and like products will come out soon that will more or less force them to do something about it or lower the price. They need to make back the money from R and D AND IN TAKING A CHANCE. Companies charge and overcharge to make up for the fact that they are taking such a huge gamble in the market becuase sooner than later, another competitor will come up.
Look at FiiO, look at Hisound! This is the competition we are talking about. One company that pushes the field a few years ago (AK 100) will soon receive a challenger that sets a price that people want. Introducing the X5, X3, DX50 etc etc.
Therefore, the price of a product that a company in a niche field products isn't of issue. If it's a shawty product, it won't sell and will fail. If it's TRULY innovative and pushes the field in the direction that other companies see as the future, then competition will soon arise.
Guess what guys, the AK class pushed it in that direction. Look at the FiiO X5 and DX50. They recognize that direction, and the fans innately want it and thus are pushing for that direction also. This is the type of directional innovation I was talking about. It is something that also corelates with economics. If its bad in a niche market. It fails. But if it's good, but very pricey, but pushes the field into a new direction. Then, other competition will soon join to produce units with same features or sound with lower price.
Now go back a few steps and put yourselves into the shoes of a niche enthusiast company. Your sales, revenue, profit, margins etc are X Y Z. You are a small company as compared to others. Can you imagine the costs, and gamble you must take? Hence the price
Those that can afford the price of the very expensive first innovative products will buy them. Simple as that. If you can't afford it or rational it. Wait.
Can't ANY of you see that your maxims will fail if you were to castrize something like the AK 240? Look at the Tesla motors car, the first SUV's, the first hypersonic jet. YES, the COST A CRAP TON of money. But they are the ones that creates the futures in each field that they are in.
You guys that are castrizing the AK 240 are setting up very dangerous maxims that you may not understand. A maxim is a sort of law that has to hold true the first AND last time you do it. The example would be a maxim of asking to borrow money from a friend without the intention to pay it back despite the promise. This maxim fails because you can't do it again as your friend won't lend you money.
The maxim set in the case of the AK 240 by those that are criticizing its price, is one of stopping innovation, and in stopping the future. Does the huge asking price set a precedent for the $10,000 DAP? Sure. Could it still have some non-perfect issues? Sure. But guess what, this is just part of the field and part of the game. Those that will buy that $10,000 DAP on initial asking price are supporting those practicies and that company. If what is inside that $10,000 DAP is TRULY good, and is something that the people want. Guess what, competition will arise. And that non perfect player? Its gonna happen, you don't have the money? Don't buy it and wait for the comeptition
I repeated a lot of the same info about 2-3x to make sure that I can use different examples and situations as a way to explain my view point on the AK 240 and similar devices.
I believe the reason with why I agree with Jude is due to us reviewing a lot of stuff. He obviously has reviewed a lot more than I have. But even with the amount I've done. It's come to the point in where everything is literally very stagnant. Oh, new package with an IEM. Cool. That stuff just isn't interesting anymore, seeing the same design, seeing the same type of functionality. It's just gotten boring. Stuff comes in costing tens of dollars to digits much higher than Iwould ever care for. It's all, just very stagnant. They sit on my shelf. It's just not interesting anymore. That's why it is there may be such a disconnect between some of us. Some of us see the AK 240 as something they may possibly 'use' or own. And thats why the $2,400 may be alarming to them. But to others, that device can be $5,000, but if it won't push the envelope, its still just part of everything else. That doesn't mean to say its not going to be a 'good' device'. It will be. But there comes a time of when you get bored of the stuff you get, and just want to see some REAL innovation that tries to push the envelope.
Disclaimer: This post has some heated text inputed in it. NONE of it was directed at any individual, company, entity, product. Any mention of any company or product in it was used soley as an example for innovation and is not a true representation of their product or their standing in their persepctive fields.
If anyone's feelings are hurt by this post, despite it not referencing anyone, please note that it was not intentional as I was not referecing anyone here. This post is also not in protecting the AK 240. I have not used the AK 240. This post is rather in showing some of the faults of logic and rationale some are using in terms of real life innovation with the AK 240 and audiphile niche DAP market as its main example for use. I do not believe any HF ToS was violated by this post or in anything referenced in it. I, Panda, encourage discussion, debate, and learning on a higher level. I can definately be argued on some of my points. If so, please do. Everyone can learn. These are but the type of economics, business practices, and other situations that are represented by my type of thought.