Why Is Hi-Fi Audio So Expensive? What You Need To Know


If you wonder why high-end speakers, amplifiers, microphones, headphones, cables, and pretty much all things audiophile are so expensive, you’re not alone. In this article, we’ll clear some things out regarding our beloved audio products’ prices.

The reason why audiophile pieces of equipment are costly is because of:

  • Expensive Components
  • Luxury Products
  • Craftsmanship
  • Low Volume Products

The reason is not limited to these topics, but these five motives prominently direct the gear’s price. High-end audiophile products are generally reliable, and there are satisfactory reasons behind their values.

A high-quality audio component is an investment similar to a car; it features many engineering choices and solutions, and manufacturers build them to last many years.

Furthermore, to understand what grades audiophile equipment, one must know the processes that went into the manufacturing stage. It’s common to observe many unique materials and minimalistic methods in these audio devices’ electrical and conduct circuitry.

One of which is the valuable materials. Audiophiles can see this in cables; for example, when looking at Shunyata’s Sigma wires, the crystallizing process of copper to obtain a pure material is a factor that impacts the final price. In addition to that, this technique is a high-grade development of a Chiba Institute Of Technology professor, which adds to the product’s cost.

Expensive Components

There are components within the gear circuitry that uses high-cost materials. In amplifiers, for example, do not underestimate the prices of aluminum and ferrite cores. These are essential features for magnetic field distribution and shielding, which are indispensable to the audio industry.

Furthermore, you are not only paying for these valuable materials but also for the research and development time to make them ideal. Mentioning Shunyata wires again, their analog interconnects cables feature six exclusive development processes, while their speaker cables have five intricate technologies.

To illustrate the meticulous work that goes into Shunyata cables, let’s explore one of the six technologies they use in their analog interconnects.

  • Kinetic Phase Inversion Process: A product of Caelin Gabriel’s research, this process treats effects such as burn-in, wire directionality, and cryogenic treatment. With his study, a partially addressed core principle by burn-in and cryogenics got into the spotlight. This discovery led to creating a processing technique and machine that eliminated burn-in and cryogenic treatment requirements.

In addition to that, most high-end audio circuitry features highly pure copper, silver, and even fluorocarbon dielectrics, an intricate chemical compound.

When looking at speakers reaching twenty thousand dollars in price, many things are going under the table for it to be that expensive. It may feature three-thousand dollars drivers, capacitors that cost eight hundred dollars apiece, furniture grade enclosures reaching seven thousand dollars. After doing the math of the specifics that go inside the product, things typically add up.

Luxury Products

Audiophile stuff is frequently a luxurious investment. As already seen in this article, investing in audio gear has similarities with looking for cars. As with the car market, there are purchases made in the audio industry which prioritizes aesthetics and luxury.

Some brands are considerably expensive for their prominent presence in the field. In the audio industry, these types of brands offer high-quality sound circuitry and fantastic aesthetics. However, their products may not be superior to other on-budget versions of the same equipment in quality and craftsmanship.

A lot of expensive high-end gear includes custom-built cases, chassis, and electronic components. The hype from their pleasant-looking and exclusive equipment allows for prominent prices.

For example, some CD players might reach the exorbitant price of a hundred and fifty thousand dollars. This price for a CD player is impossible to justify; the product certainly is designed as a luxurious display for elegant customers.

Craftsmanship

Audio enthusiasts treat themselves to some of the most well-crafted products there are. The manufacturers that provide the audiophile market often make products last as long as possible, not focusing on ripping off customers with imperfect devices.

The high cost of constructing these gear makes them optimal for audio delivery. Ideally, you could listen to music on thirty-bucks Bluetooth speakers, but they’re not capable of reproducing correctly as audiophile hardware.

Think of audiophile equipment like musical instruments, not electronic devices. A well-built musical instrument holds its value independently of its age. In addition to that, most valuable audiophile products are handmade, which adds to the final bill. To highlight this scenario further, re-selling a cheap amazon speaker is scaringly different from reselling an audiophile speaker.

Think about cellphones and television, for instance. The cost of a top-of-the-game tv twenty years ago was pretty high, and today, this same tv is probably inoperative. On the other hand, an audio gear that an audiophile bought twenty years ago is probably still kicking it to this day. In short, high-value audio equipment lasts as long as you need when you treat them right.

Low-volume Products

Imagine if a company spent ten thousand dollars in the research and craftsmanship of a high-end speaker. If they produce ten thousand copies of the speaker, they need to sell each at one dollar to cover the overall cost.

Of course, the example above is simply illustrative. But following the same line of logic, if that company decides to make only two copies of their speaker, each would cost five thousand dollars to cover the initial investment.

The low volume of products typically happens in the audio industry, which significantly impacts the final bill.

The low volume manufacturers stick to when producing equipment is for the high cost of materials, the handmade nature of the gear, and the research involving it. The result is typically higher quality. When monitoring and spending more time crafting fewer pieces of equipment, the overall quality improves.

Mass-produced hardware commonly lasts shorter than expensive audiophile gear. The durability, quality, and assistance are prominently different in both extremes of volume production.

Júlio Roque

Júlio is an audio producer and sound designer. His experience and knowledge of audio and music drive him to write exciting articles related to plugins, hardware, and general audiophile gear.

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