Speakers.....are we getting ripped off?

oldschool

Well-Known DJ
Jun 25, 2018
150
58
Can anyone explain why speakers cost so much? Lets take a look.
First thing is the box. In many cases, speaker boxes are all the same. There made from the same materials (birch plywood) and there covered in felt or DeurTex, with a few handles.
Next thing is the drivers. They are all made the same way (Basket, magnet, voice coil, cone, spider, surround, with or without a xover) Some of the materials can be somewhat different (magnet, coil, cone) but are still basically the same. As far as I know the coils are all made of copper.
Why are prices so different?
Don't even get me started on home Hi Fi speakers and how much they cost.:urgh:
 

Jas

DJ Extraordinaire
May 22, 2013
1,769
I think speakers are cheaper than ever now days. Cheaper labor, cheaper parts and copied designs.
 
Reactions: Jeff Romard

Handinon

DJ Extraordinaire
Oct 1, 2014
1,866
72
Considering the technology inside them, IMHO PA loudspeakers seem to be a pretty good value. The major difference between them is probably the magnet structure.

Large, powerful magnets are expensive and heavy , which also drives up the shipping costs. The only way around this is using neodymium magnets, which drives up the initial cost even more.
 

IceBurghDJ

DJ Extraordinaire
Apr 17, 2015
1,646
57
Western Pennsylvania
iceburghdj.com
Brand name has some value to it - why do bose cost so much? Are they better than qsc? or yamaha?
A friend that DJs uses behringer and gemini...sounds pretty good for a LOT less than bose.

Begs the question, who you workin' for? Yourself or the bose company, rane, audtotechnica, etc?

I'm looking for acceptable performance at a fair price, and reliability. Be that in my gear, car, home appliances, etc.
 

wifedj

DJ Extraordinaire
Mar 20, 2008
953
If you buy professional tools with lowest price as your primary or main deciding component, then "Yes" you are likely getting ripped off.
 
Reactions: Jeff Romard

Jeff Romard

Moderator
Staff member
Sep 4, 2006
11,826
48
Sydney, Nova Scotia
I paid more for my first speakers than my first car....300 watt CV's cost me around $2500 and an additional $1000 for an amp at the time. I can buy a much more powerful and equally as good sounding pair for around 2K now with an amp inside them. Seems like a good deal to me
 

steve149

Veni, Vidi, Lusi
Sep 26, 2011
31,587
Prospect, CT
Can anyone explain why speakers cost so much? Lets take a look.
First thing is the box. In many cases, speaker boxes are all the same. There made from the same materials (birch plywood) and there covered in felt or DeurTex, with a few handles.
Next thing is the drivers. They are all made the same way (Basket, magnet, voice coil, cone, spider, surround, with or without a xover) Some of the materials can be somewhat different (magnet, coil, cone) but are still basically the same. As far as I know the coils are all made of copper.
Why are prices so different?
Don't even get me started on home Hi Fi speakers and how much they cost.:urgh:
First, not all birch plywood is baltic birch, which the better cabs are made from. Baltic birch plywood is laid up differently and is void free .. and lighter and more expensive. Also, better cabs have proper bracing, have quality handles and larger gauge grille material ... again, added $$s with better durability.

Second, better boxes have more durable finishes. Duratex (which is an polymer finish) is NOT what you'll find on cheaper cabinets .. the wearability is very different between the black coating on a low end speaker and a high end one .. even though they are both black.

Drivers are VERY different along the price curve. High end drivers include cast and/or forged baskets instead of stamped ones, higher quality and sometimes multiple motor windings, better cooling fluids, stiffer and more expensive cone material to minimize cone breakup and more resilient surrounds. They also tend to be made with tighter tolerances which allow them to function more like a piston and limit the lateral movements that tend to send lesser drivers to an early death.

SO .. a lot depends on what you want out of the speakers.

Then add all the same issues to an amp module for a powered speaker ...
 

oldschool

Well-Known DJ
Jun 25, 2018
150
58
First, not all birch plywood is baltic birch, which the better cabs are made from. Baltic birch plywood is laid up differently and is void free .. and lighter and more expensive. Also, better cabs have proper bracing, have quality handles and larger gauge grille material ... again, added $$s with better durability.

Second, better boxes have more durable finishes. Duratex (which is an polymer finish) is NOT what you'll find on cheaper cabinets .. the wearability is very different between the black coating on a low end speaker and a high end one .. even though they are both black.

Drivers are VERY different along the price curve. High end drivers include cast and/or forged baskets instead of stamped ones, higher quality and sometimes multiple motor windings, better cooling fluids, stiffer and more expensive cone material to minimize cone breakup and more resilient surrounds. They also tend to be made with tighter tolerances which allow them to function more like a piston and limit the lateral movements that tend to send lesser drivers to an early death.

SO .. a lot depends on what you want out of the speakers.

Then add all the same issues to an amp module for a powered speaker ...

I'm gonna have to disagree, in that what you described makes much difference in price. When material price doubles, finished price goes up 10x.
A speaker box is a simple wooden box any first year shop student can build. Even complex design's can done quite easily. Internal bracing is a very minimal step and cost. Yes there is more expensive plywood, but most of that cost is in the expensive finish laminate on one side that is not needed when building speaker boxes that will have a sprayed on finish on felt covering. Many manufactures also make install cabs that exclude the handles, corner protectors that portable cabs have yet still cost the same.

Xovers are also very simple design's consisting of a coil and a few filter caps. Not much cost difference here ether.

Drivers are still simple designs that have been the same for ever.

My point is, there are many different products that cost much less and have more technology.

Justafy the difference in a $500.00 double 18'' speaker cab and a $5,000.oo double 18'' speaker cab, with the same power rating.
 

wifedj

DJ Extraordinaire
Mar 20, 2008
953
I'm gonna have to disagree, in that what you described makes much difference in price. When material price doubles, finished price goes up 10x.
A speaker box is a simple wooden box any first year shop student can build. Even complex design's can done quite easily. Internal bracing is a very minimal step and cost. Yes there is more expensive plywood, but most of that cost is in the expensive finish laminate on one side that is not needed when building speaker boxes that will have a sprayed on finish on felt covering. Many manufactures also make install cabs that exclude the handles, corner protectors that portable cabs have yet still cost the same.

Xovers are also very simple design's consisting of a coil and a few filter caps. Not much cost difference here ether.

Drivers are still simple designs that have been the same for ever.

My point is, there are many different products that cost much less and have more technology.

Justafy the difference in a $500.00 double 18'' speaker cab and a $5,000.oo double 18'' speaker cab, with the same power rating.
"When the truth doesn't fit your narrative, simply feign intelligence, change the premise and claim it is identical then deny the truth." - From the "How to Debate with Idiocy" chapter in the Snowflake manual.


I suggest you continue to buy the cheapest gear possible and embrace the frequency of visits with your gear salesman.
 

steve149

Veni, Vidi, Lusi
Sep 26, 2011
31,587
Prospect, CT
I'm gonna have to disagree, in that what you described makes much difference in price. When material price doubles, finished price goes up 10x.
A speaker box is a simple wooden box any first year shop student can build. Even complex design's can done quite easily. Internal bracing is a very minimal step and cost. Yes there is more expensive plywood, but most of that cost is in the expensive finish laminate on one side that is not needed when building speaker boxes that will have a sprayed on finish on felt covering. Many manufactures also make install cabs that exclude the handles, corner protectors that portable cabs have yet still cost the same.

Xovers are also very simple design's consisting of a coil and a few filter caps. Not much cost difference here ether.

Drivers are still simple designs that have been the same for ever.

My point is, there are many different products that cost much less and have more technology.

Justafy the difference in a $500.00 double 18'' speaker cab and a $5,000.oo double 18'' speaker cab, with the same power rating.
It seems you haven't taken apart many better boxes. Most cheap boxes are built with rabbit joints (simple miters .. sometimes an overlap). A better box is made with finger joints, and the best cabs are made with dovetails. Not unlike the differences between cheap kitchen cabinet drawers and high end cabinets.

The use of better plywood is NOT to make them look better. Baltic birch plywood is laid up with birch veneer only, instead of using veneer on the outer skin surfaces and heartwood layers in between. Not having voids makes them stiffer and tend to vibrate less.

A crossover may be a "simple design", but the components used will dictate the actual performance. Cheap, loose tolerance components will NOT maintain their ability as long as quality high-tolerance components will.

Again, driver design and driver implementation are 2 different things. I know if I was making a rifle barrel, I wouldn't use a PVC pipe .. even though it had a hole and was round.

It's not the technology in there .. it's the components and the labor. A Ferrari and a Fiat both have the same part groups, but I would think a normal person wouldn't expect the Fiat to be able to run with the horse.
 

Jeff Romard

Moderator
Staff member
Sep 4, 2006
11,826
48
Sydney, Nova Scotia
There's other things too like warranty, length of reasonable expectation of use, durability....

I can buy really inexpensive speakers and get a year warranty or buy better and in some cases get a 10 year warranty. Companies don't give them out unless a majority of the product makes it to at least 11
 

Scott Hanna

DJ Extraordinaire
Oct 25, 2006
5,761
52
Cleveland, OH
www.djincleveland.com
Beef is beef, so why does a great steak costs more than a big Mac?

For speakers, So many variables. Parts, assembly, QC, customer service, software, r&d,

If you visit a factory that assembles name brand merchandise in China, you'll probably also see that they make "no name" products that use some of the exact same components. These no name products will use cheaper parts AND parts rejected from the name brand's stiffer QC standards.

In my experience, name brand merchandise will hold up longer because it was built to stiffer standards with a better plan and better parts. There's always exceptions, but I've found by using equipment from companies like Bose and Sennheiser, I can spend my time with events and not on equipment issues. Whenever a rare issue does arrise, the companies' customer care will fix it quickly

Also, many people overlook resale value of equipment. This can often make name brand merchandise less expensive to use than the cheap stuff. You want to know what people really think of equipment? look at what it is selling for on the resale market. I'd much rather buy used name brand than brand new cheap stuff.
 
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wifedj

DJ Extraordinaire
Mar 20, 2008
953
Beef is beef, so why does a great steak costs more than a big Mac?

For speakers, So many variables. Parts, assembly, QC, customer service, software, r&d,

If you visit a factory that assembles name brand merchandise in China, you'll probably also see that they make "no name" products that use some of the exact same components. These no name products will use cheaper parts AND parts rejected from the name brand's stiffer QC standards.

In my experience, name brand merchandise will hold up longer because it was built to stiffer standards with a better plan and better parts. There's always exceptions, but I've found by using equipment from like Bose and Sennheiser, I can spend my time with events and not on equipment issues. Whenever a rare issue does arrise, the companies' customer care will fix it quickly
Says you and based on what, (1) decades of real life experiences, (2) lessons learned from decisions and consequences never to be repeated again, (3) adherence to higher standards, (4) appreciation for actual quality and (5) a mission to provide your clients with the best results while providing you with sufficient and commesurate compensation...that's so old school and all unnecessary, at least that is what I read in a/damn near every contemporary dj forum/social media group.
 

oldschool

Well-Known DJ
Jun 25, 2018
150
58
It seems you haven't taken apart many better boxes. Most cheap boxes are built with rabbit joints (simple miters .. sometimes an overlap). A better box is made with finger joints, and the best cabs are made with dovetails. Not unlike the differences between cheap kitchen cabinet drawers and high end cabinets.

The use of better plywood is NOT to make them look better. Baltic birch plywood is laid up with birch veneer only, instead of using veneer on the outer skin surfaces and heartwood layers in between. Not having voids makes them stiffer and tend to vibrate less.

A crossover may be a "simple design", but the components used will dictate the actual performance. Cheap, loose tolerance components will NOT maintain their ability as long as quality high-tolerance components will.

Again, driver design and driver implementation are 2 different things. I know if I was making a rifle barrel, I wouldn't use a PVC pipe .. even though it had a hole and was round.

It's not the technology in there .. it's the components and the labor. A Ferrari and a Fiat both have the same part groups, but I would think a normal person wouldn't expect the Fiat to be able to run with the horse.

Like I said, building a quality box is not rocket science. I understand "void free plywood" but making it is no more expensive then regular plywood.

Components and labor do not explain the higher cost. Branding is also a rip off.
I can buy a Marshal 4/12 cab that cost $500 bucks, vs. a off brand that has the exact same speakers yet cost $150 bucks.
They look the same, there built the same, they use the same components, they sound the same, yet because one is branded differently, it cost more. Please explain that.
 
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tunes4046

DJ Extraordinaire
Jul 24, 2008
5,789
48
Fennimore Wi
Like I said, building a quality box is not rocket science. I understand "void free plywood" but making it is no more expensive then regular plywood.

Components and labor do not explain the higher cost. Branding is also a rip off.
I can buy a Marshal 4/12 cab that cost $500 bucks, vs. a off brand that has the exact same speakers yet cost $150 bucks.
They look the same, there built the same, they use the same components, they sound the same, yet because one is branded differently, it cost more. Please explain that.
Run them both at max playing volume for several hours you will hear the difference
 

Scott Hanna

DJ Extraordinaire
Oct 25, 2006
5,761
52
Cleveland, OH
www.djincleveland.com
Not only running them both for several hours, but road wear, ...
setting up and transporting equipment..... You'll see cheaper equipment start to not sound as good.

As I mentioned early, many name brands have different QC standards, and while the parts look the same, you can get different grades of parts to cut costs.

Perfect example: we make BioThane, a cleanable, durable, waterproof webbing. It consists of polyurethane Webbing, and it's covered in a tpu or pvc coating. Pretty simple, right?
But the Chinese make a knock off material that costs 1/3 of what we charge. Yet we sell millions of feet.

They use the cheapest raw materials they can find, often from different sources. So they get different results. It's why all the football helmet and shoulder pads manufacturers use our material for the pros and college. They need results.


If what you are doing doesn't matter, then it really doesn't matter what you use

I get customers all the time trying the Chinese stuff. I get it. It's much cheaper. But they always come back. Some take a bit longer until they are let down.

So if a strap can be so different, with electronic components with many parts, the difference can be astronomical
 
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steve149

Veni, Vidi, Lusi
Sep 26, 2011
31,587
Prospect, CT
Like I said, building a quality box is not rocket science. I understand "void free plywood" but making it is no more expensive then regular plywood.

Components and labor do not explain the higher cost. Branding is also a rip off.
I can buy a Marshal 4/12 cab that cost $500 bucks, vs. a off brand that has the exact same speakers yet cost $150 bucks.
They look the same, there built the same, they use the same components, they sound the same, yet because one is branded differently, it cost more. Please explain that.
If you HONESTLY believe that .. best of luck to you.

Looking the same IS NOT the same as BEING the same.
 

DJ Ricky B

DJ Extraordinaire
Mar 9, 2015
3,750
36
Who really cares about the speakers any way? As long as they sound good, and don't look used, abused, and like an eye sore, that is all that matters. Price is irrelevant. Amount of Watts, warranty, features, newest model, or a model from 7 or even 12 years ago...The clients, and their guests don't give a $hit about any of it.

My bro uses a pair of Alto TS110A speakers and a American Audio ELS GO 8BT speaker for cocktail hour(and ceremony if he needs to). I just booked him on a $1,600 wedding with some up lights. (Well, technically not booked until I receive the deposit, but agreement went out tonight).
 

oldschool

Well-Known DJ
Jun 25, 2018
150
58
Not only running them both for several hours, but road wear, ...
setting up and transporting equipment..... You'll see cheaper equipment start to not sound as good.

As I mentioned early, many name brands have different QC standards, and while the parts look the same, you can get different grades of parts to cut costs.

Perfect example: we make BioThane, a cleanable, durable, waterproof webbing. It consists of polyurethane Webbing, and it's covered in a tpu or pvc coating. Pretty simple, right?
But the Chinese make a knock off material that costs 1/3 of what we charge. Yet we sell millions of feet.

They use the cheapest raw materials they can find, often from different sources. So they get different results. It's why all the football helmet and shoulder pads manufacturers use our material for the pros and college. They need results.


If what you are doing doesn't matter, then it really doesn't matter what you use

I get customers all the time trying the Chinese stuff. I get it. It's much cheaper. But they always come back. Some take a bit longer until they are let down.

So if a strap can be so different, with electronic components with many parts, the difference can be astronomical

In the case of guitar cabs, a green back is a green back. Two different branded cabs with the exact green back speakers that don't cost the same. One says Marshall the other says something else.