They may not be billionaires, but a large contingent of upper middle class hobbyists with disposable income are driving the hobby. Most other consumers are buying it as trickle down used assets or a few months after release with discounts.
For some companies they may find out there aren’t enough consumers to buy their overpriced product and they will have to sell at steep discount or fold. But many companies are still surviving and if they can sell a few products at the new car sticker price, then discount it heavily for others, that is what they need to operate.
This is similar to how many premium brands have operated for years: Apple (pre-2014), Porsche, and if I had more time, I’m sure I could list dozens more.
May I nominate this as post-of-the-month? Your description of perceived value are dead on.
Value. Some will seek it as a sine qua non part of the equation that is choosing audio equipment among other things. Others will flee it like a bat out of Hell and always making sure what they’re getting is the absolute TOTL of the chosen category. That’s how companies like Mac and Moon (for example) prosper because the insane amount of money they sell their wares over what it cost them to manufacture them. This doesn’t mean that people coming home toting a $19,500 Simaudio (Moon) DAC are all snobs set out to humiliate the Joneses, IMHO in most cases those are people who want the peace of mind that comes with the certitude that the equipment they lay so much money on is the best human beings can achieve.
Nothing wrong there, whatever floats your boat and all that, but one thing for sure is that such people are not tech types or they’d be aware that TOTL may just as well mean “still somewhat experimental but we’re working on it” in other words, beta. If ultimate SQ is the objective better go for the alpha, the one that got beta bugs ironed out of, the “last stable edition”. It’ll be cheaper and I’m sure the Joneses will still dislike you. Unfortunately the reason Mr Jones hates you (you’d like it to be jealousy) is more likely to be because he finds you extremely annoying with all those gimmicks about your house that drives down property value in your area.
That and the fact that your wife’s 21 prized (naturally) poodles don’t always abide by your rules that forbid pissing -and worse- in the neighbour’s garden. Well you can’t always get what you want but at least you got one heck of a DAC enthroned in the living-room as a conversation piece because you don’t have a clue how to operate it or even what it’s for exactly.
As for value and Drop well, their business model makes it unlikely for them to have TOTL items considering that for most brands that they sell, the TOTL is a prized unit that they wouldn’t “share” with Drop or other similar outfits. I don’t know exactly what you mean by “mid-fi” since Drop has genuine high-end phones -Elex is a good example- that just don’t happen to be the TOTL from the original manufacturer. I see Drop as a sort of clearance warehouse outlet for products that have run their course under their original guise and are given a second chance through downgrades that don’t really have an incidence on SQ. I define that as “no-frill high-end”, for those that were considered true high-end items under their original livery.
That depends on one’s criteria for “high-ending” stuff besides the SQ. Aesthetics for example. Visually speaking the Elex is not very appealing compared with the original Focal finish. When I see the Elex and the Elear side by side it doesn’t do the Elex any favours (true, the Elear is one of the best looking can acound, but still…) and I suppose that could have an effect on someone’s decision regardless of perceived value. Anyway personally I envision the procurement of headphone’s mostly from a collector’s POV and collectors don’t do well in the value department. We lack patience and not just a little. The GottaHaveItRightNow mentality is pervasive and, I’m afraid, unavoidable.
I would agree. I haven’t heard anything better so far. In 1989 (yikes 31 years ago), I purchased the AKG K1000, and spent two years finding the proper amplification for it (Nelson Pass’ First Watt F1). It was a revelation in headphones, the first “ear speakers” I had heard, opening up the sound in a way that headphones never had. As beautiful as it was, it was still a bit anemic in the bass, so much so that I used to supplement it with a sub-woofer to round out the presentation [a “hybrid solution”]. The Raal Requisite SR1a delivers everything that the K1000 promised - and more. IMO it truly punches above its weight.
It’s interesting to see how the landscape/market/technologies/price-points have evolved, and see which companies/lineups/models have been able to sustain/innovate and still be relevant in this current era with Focal/RAAL/ZMF, among others.