Has Audio gotten more expensive?

Hi all

This is well worth a look, how we forget about the value of inflation as we grow older, and a lot of us can think that the value of components or records has appreciably risen in the last 50 years since the vinyl heyday.

Are audiophile SPEAKERS and ELECTRONICS prices COMPLETELY NUTS? - YouTube


That was a good video from Steve. In summary, audio was always expensive. It was expensive in the 70s and when you plug the numbers into the inflation calculator, its proportionately not much different today.

There is some gouging going on. When JBL did a relaunch of the JBL L100 Century speakers, they tacked an extra $1000 on top of the results from the inflation calculator.


Yes but all luxury items have

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That was the whole point of the video, to show after factoring in inflation, price has not really changed that much over the years. It was expensive then and its expensive now.

Good point Gary and very true.

I am always reminded of my Dodge Duster 340 6-pack example. The Dodge Duster 340 6-Pack came out around 1969 - 1970, cost $3400 in Canada and put out 340 hp. The average wage was around $13,000 per year so in general terms, a new car was about 25% of your annual wage.

I’m not up to date on car prices but a new Camaro or similar type car today would have to be $45,000 - $50,000. In 2019 the average income for a man was $57,000 so the cost of a new car represented more than 75% of your annual income.

I’m not totally accurate here but you see the picture where inflation erodes our buying power.


I have a contrarian perspective:

I think the gear of yore compares so unfavorably in terms of reliability and capability (generally speaking - I am sure there are exceptions), that one could argue you get more for your money these days.

I tend to think we hobbyists are living in the golden age of Hi-Fi. When I think about it, the sheer vastness of the options in each category of stereo components (not to mention AV gear - but that’s actually mentioning it - right?) available over a large price range yielding excellent performance is a bit mind-boggling.

Throw in the internet’s contribution to the ease of finding and purchasing well-cared-for, used kit (excellent kit at that), and there is just so much bang-for-the-buck to be had.

One man’s opinion…


Well yes and no I suppose. Technology has jumped by leaps and bounds, but then we started making everything offshore. That should have brought the prices down but big companies are rewarded by stock options and executive compensation so the savings don’t get passed along.

Compared to the golden era of the 60s and 70s, I am amazed at the number of players in the game. It seems anyone with an idea can get in and they charge what they think they can get away with, because audiophiles will pay for it.

I don’t know if you ever watch the TV show called ‘Shark Tank’ but it seems the mindset of the entrepreneur is to get the largest margin you think you can get away with.

I was reading a 2000 edition of The Audio Critic the other week and they were talking about the 10 biggest lies in high end audio. They were warning about people getting ripped off 20 years ago over audio cables and interconnects but audiophiles still pay thousands today for a meter of cable. It’s whatever you think you can get away with.

I’m reminded of the ‘Corvette theory’ that was introduced to me in an economics class at university. It simply states, ‘If it’s that expensive, it has to be good’.

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We will have to agree to disagree on the relative price of arguably great, available kit these days, I guess.



I think it’s too easy to underestimate the effort it takes to bring a quality peice of audio gear to market. What we are using today would have been like witchcraft to the folks in the 70’s.

Just here on the forum we get a small glimpse of the time and effort it’s taken PSA to bring to market the FR30, and the forthcoming DS MKII, AirLens, and BHK 600.

Corvettes cost more because it takes more to create them.


All that expensive gear is just a bad case of penis envy.



None of the true hi-end audio brands make their hi-end audio components offshore.

Lower and mid tier, yes.

( I realize you probably meant tech generally, which is largely true)

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Agree and audio no different

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The high end market is not always quality in sound rather great marketing. Transistors and capacitors are very cheap in the big picture. Especially when buying bulk. Speaker drivers are fairly cheap to buy when buying bulk. Even when you spec a custom made driver from a manufacture. However, trick names and trade circuits along with what crossover you are using are marketing. Tubes and transistors as well as crossovers only work with the same simple methods that they were designed for 50 years a go, how you implement them is the key to your sound, there are only so many ways to do it.

When you are a manufacture line of products it’s easy to use trickle down technology. Say you design a speaker and spend 250k in research, you are going to pass that along in volume sales. Then, what you already learned will help you save money on the trickle down lower price models, as well as allow you to sell that speaker while you continue to look for new tweaks to better it. Hence, Mark II versions.
This is where the marketing comes in. You are selling a bunch of already paid for knowledge that you were able to upgrade for a small percent of the initial cost because of the learned knowledge from the first version. Charge a upgraded price at a minimal research and design cost. Remember it’s already learned and paid for by the first version.

We all have seen mark II , versions. Are they actually better ?
Or just different. Just because it’s different does not always equate to better.

Now most manufactures actually try to prove this advance with either measurements or A B demos…
It’s then up to the sales and marketing team to be creative. I’m not saying all mark II are not a step upwards. Just a much bigger profit, which is not a bad word.

That being said, knowledge IS power and you can and should charge for it. Now add in the dealer mark up of your product and that’s a big hit to absorb. They need to make money to.

What has transpired is complementary designs. Many speaker manufactures knowingly will make a speaker with multi drivers and complex crossovers( remember , coils, caps, and resistors still do exactly the same thing they did 50 years ago) that will only perform its fullest with a amplifier that can dip into the 2 ohm stable arena. Thus creating a joint semi co dependency on different manufacturing. You see it at all the shows. This is where amps cost rises as big transformers, tubes and more FET are needed to accomplish this. Do they need to put these into a bejeweled polished 3/4 inch walled case. No, but along with bling it sometimes is part of heat control as well as stability. Remember ,bling is not cheap in any arena. Just ask your jeweler or your wife. A 3 carrot diamond does not say you love her any more, it just shows her friends how much she is gonna get when she leaves…… lol.

Is this a cheap hobby. Depends on your views. In any hobby there is going to be the top shelf engineers who get every last drop out of something . It’s human nature to want to succeed and create to be at the top…. If not those two cave man would still be staring at the wheel with club in hand…


Wow! How can you ever not feel taken advantage of with anything you purchase?
And I have a couple degrees in Economics and I’ve never heard of the “Corvette Theory”. But I can tell you that even a first year econ student should be able to explain why Corvettes cost more than, for example, an Impala.


Ron, there was a little more to the story and the point being, the amount you were paying in terms of value was not the same as say a BMW in the same price range. Even I’m guilty of the philosophy today. I don’t always shop for the least expensive because subconsciously I think if I pay a little more, I’m getting better value for my dollar.

Just so I am following, you are claiming a BMW has greater intrinsic value than a Corvette sold at the same price?

Elk, back in the middle 70s when I was introduced to the ‘Corvette Theory’, the general consensus was German engineered cars were superior to their North American counterparts. I am not a car expert but the idea was to illustrate a point where people placed greater value on more expensive items.

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While this perception may not be unique to you, I can emphatically say I don’t think this or make purchases, or dare I say, investments, from this perspective.

Affordability is relative, value is relative and purchase decisions are personal choices. That said, I tend to value “bang for the buck” opportunities.

Sometimes that means I pay what some would say are exorbitant amounts for things. Sometimes I pay a relative pittance for something that brings with it a disproportionate amount joy and/or utility.



Steve’s premise is we’ve forgotten about inflation. I haven’t and I don’t whine about pricing in 2022. The whine in my experience tends to originate with those who don’t have an interest in good audio in the first place. They rationalize that view by marginalizing audiophiles as nutcases, pointing to the extreme, high price tag tail of the market as their argument. The fallacy of the argument of course is the trickle down of the technology and manufacturing techniques from development of those price no object products to far more affordable product lines. There is nothing new about that. Manufacturers have always trickled down performance enhancements from their top of the line products and folks who want to diss audiophiles as whackos will always point to the extreme end of the market. I just ignore that static.


As I I’ve gotten older, and hopefully wiser, I shop for value. I have no reservation with regards to spending money if I’m getting good value. That could the difference between a cotton shirt vs. a polyester shirt, or my nice German car over a domestic model. So really, we don’t differ in that we look for the best bang for our buck. I have difficulty getting my wife onboard since I think there is a greater proportion of people out there that are more price conscious, audiophiles excluded :grin:

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I understand. Thanks

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