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

IceBurghDJ

DJ Extraordinaire
Apr 17, 2015
1,657
57
Western Pennsylvania
iceburghdj.com
Marketing expenses perhaps.
I can hire a DJ for $200, or spend $1000. What's the difference?
Is the $1000 DJ ripping me off for $800?

I see few full time $200 DJs. Those charging $1000 are almost all full time. How can that be?

Call the knot or wedding wire, phone book/yelp ads, facebook/google ads - it's expensive to market.

I see off brands and I see bose and ev - but I see bose and ev NAMES a LOT more - full page ads in magazines/papers, multiple ones at times. Much better websites. higher in search results. it's expensive.

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.
 

wifedj

DJ Extraordinaire
Mar 20, 2008
1,121
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.
Like everyone else has, politely, albeit unwarranted, tried to say, YOU ARE INCORRECT and making claims based on pure speculative guess work.

Do you have any knowledge, not idopinions, but actual facts to support any of the following claims you so openly espouse in post #15 (I will not address the foolishness in post #9):

1) void free plywood...is no more expensive then regular plywood.
2) Components and labor do not explain the higher cost.
3) Branding is rip off.
4) You can buy a Marshal 4/12 cab that cost $500 bucks, vs. an off brand that has the exact same speakers yet cost $150 bucks.
5) there (sic) built the same.
6) they use the same components.
7) they sound the same.
 

Scott Hanna

DJ Extraordinaire
Oct 25, 2006
5,922
52
Cleveland, OH
www.djincleveland.com
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).
I do agree that for the most part customers don’t care about equipment. It needs to sound good and not be an eye sore.

I’ve found higher end equipment has made things easier on me. Equipment can get beat up. We have dramatically less issues with equipment than we did years ago.


It's like anything though. It's all how you look at it. Some people buy cheap used cars and find that better for them. I find my life is easier with a very reliable new or low milage car. Yes I pay more, but much fewer surprises. It's worth it to me. It's not worth it for everyone. Whichever works for someone
 

DJ Ricky B

DJ Extraordinaire
Mar 9, 2015
3,818
36
I do agree that for the most part customers don’t care about equipment.

I’ve found higher end equipment has made things easier on me. Equipment can get beat up. We have dramatically less issues with equipment than we did years ago.


It's like anything though. It's all how you look at it. Some people buy cheap used cars and find that better for them. I find my life is easier with a very reliable new or low milage car. Yes I pay more, but much fewer surprises. It's with it to me. It's not worth it for everyone. Whichever works for someone
I agree. BUY Speakers that YOU as the DJ like for your own use. DJs have different tastes, and opinions of how a speaker looks and sounds. We all factor in different reasons for our speaker purchases.

Light Weight, Clear Sound, Portability, and Looks were the top 4 factors in my speaker purchase decisions.

...I did not really care much about the length and quality of the warranty of the product. Having a well known brand was not important to me. Having the loudest speakers available was not important to me. Having a ton of inputs on the mixer section was not important to me. ...Albiet, having a super powerful pair of speakers, and a sweet mixer on the back of them would be cool, I don't see these things as necessary for what I do. Frankly, I don't see these things as necessary for 90% or more of the work that DJs typically book themselves at.

The Speakers are the DJ's tools. DJs will typically pick either what they can afford, or what they like for themselves.

Some DJs who do this full time, or do it part time, but have been in it for a long time often end up becoming "gear snobs" and start sinking more money into more expensive Speakers because they end up with eagerness to have higher end sound. It's not necessarily because they NEED those speaker systems.

Clients book DJs based on reviews, word of mouth, referral, (videos or seeing in action certainly helps) and comfortability in working with the DJ. What speakers the DJ uses holds almost NO value. They just want the speakers to sound good to them, and not look like trash when set up.

The notion that a high end DJ needs high end, expensive equipment is false. ...They don't NEED it. They just choose to have it as their tool of choice.

I know a DJ who uses old EV powered speakers...like 10+ year old speakers and books $2,000+ weddings. His clients are satisfied. They think those speakers sound fine, and they look fine.
 

steve149

Veni, Vidi, Lusi
Staff member
Sep 26, 2011
32,258
Prospect, CT
I agree. BUY Speakers that YOU as the DJ like for your own use. DJs have different tastes, and opinions of how a speaker looks and sounds. .
Actually, NO, I wouldn't recommend to someone asking to buy speakers "they" liked .. unless they understand how and what to listen for.

The goal is to please the clients (assuming you have a business), not the DJ. If you can do it on their behalf .. fine. Some "believe" they can, and that's where we get into arguments on why you need to spend so much money on good gear.
 

wifedj

DJ Extraordinaire
Mar 20, 2008
1,121
Actually, NO, I wouldn't recommend to someone asking to buy speakers "they" liked .. unless they understand how and what to listen for.

The goal is to please the clients (assuming you have a business), not the DJ. If you can do it on their behalf .. fine. Some "believe" they can, and that's where we get into arguments on why you need to spend so much money on good gear.
Steve,

While I endorse the message I think you missed an unconscious, yet prominent component in DJ Ricky B's comment:

...I did not really care much
..& to that I say, "C'est la vie!'
 

Scott Hanna

DJ Extraordinaire
Oct 25, 2006
5,922
52
Cleveland, OH
www.djincleveland.com
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.
If you can show how these are the EXACT same part, made the same way, same raw material, same QC, I'd love to see it. This is something I see on a regular basis.... Someone can't SEE the difference, so therefore there is no difference. Yet when we do tests, we see wild differences.

I've heard 1000 times how someone could make the $3000 sound systems I use for less then $500. But no one ever does. Why? Because they don't fully understand the manufacturing and product sales process. Pricing out parts is easy when you don't give the parts supplier any requirements. Why wouldn't they quote the cheapest available part?

Then they have to put it together, make it last, back it up with a gaurentee and customer service..... Add marketing, dealers, sales staff, r&d(unless you just plan on ripping off someone else's products)....and try selling them for $500 to make a profit.
 

wifedj

DJ Extraordinaire
Mar 20, 2008
1,121
If you can show how these are the EXACT same part, made the same way, same raw material, same QC, I'd love to see it. This is something I see on a regular basis.... Someone can't SEE the difference, so therefore there is no difference. Yet when we do tests, we see wild differences.

I've heard 1000 times how someone could make the $3000 sound systems I use for less then $500. But no one ever does. Why? Because they don't fully understand the manufacturing and product sales process. Pricing out parts is easy when you don't give the parts supplier any requirements. Why wouldn't they quote the cheapest available part?

Then they have to put it together, make it last, back it up with a gaurentee and customer service..... Add marketing, dealers, sales staff, r&d(unless you just plan on ripping off someone else's products)....and try selling them for $500 to make a profit.
You and your incessant reliance on reality.

Enough with that tired ethic, embrace the ignornet nontellect and free your mind from over use.

1546546141930.png
Run to the web, it is your savior...
 

sawdust123

DJ Extraordinaire
Nov 10, 2006
187
56
Ventura County, CA
I probably know more about speaker design than the average bear. I am also pretty sure I am the only member on this site that is also a member of the Association of Loudspeaker Manufacturers and Acoustics (ALMA International). This is a trade group exclusively focused on the design and manufacturing of raw drivers. There is a lot that goes into the design of a driver. A new driver design can cost well over $1M in just research and R&D.

The choice of metals for motor structure (magnetic structure) is endless. The design of the motor is a key source in eliminating distortion because the magnetic circuit is highly nonlinear. One needs very expensive simulation software (Comsol multi-physics) to really understand what is going on. Changes in the magnetic circuit also impact the thermal circuit. Focus too much on one problem, and another parameter goes out of whack. For years neodymium was magnet material of choice because of its very high magnetic strength to weight ratio. This is a rare-earth material and China controls most of the world's supply. It is not very environmental to mine and the US has only one mine for neodymium. China has been hoarding this material for use in electric vehicles. This caused a huge spike in costs for speaker manufacturers. The result was a return to heavier, less powerful and less expensive materials such as alnico, ferrite and samarium cobalt. Slight changes in metallurgy change heat dissipation, brittleness, corrosion, etc.

Similar differences can be found in cone, spider, basket, voice coils, tinsels and phase plugs. Slight differences in manufacturing procedure can make huge differences even with the same material. However, to the average person, a speaker looks like a speaker. If you want to learn more, subscribe to VoiceCoil magazine. It is THE engineering magazine for the speaker manufacturing industry. Every month it outlines the latest patents and does evaluations of newest drivers. I have subscribed to this magazine for years. Let me tell you, the differences between cheap and expensive speakers are huge.
 

wifedj

DJ Extraordinaire
Mar 20, 2008
1,121
Listen sawdust, you can have your credentials, your education & knowledge, your proven capacities and experience, your degrees and certification, your scientific facts and evidence, but when a faceless, name less unknown forum poster makes brilliant statements like "(speaker drivers) are all made the same way..coils are all made of copper...a speaker box is a simple wooden box any first year shop student can build...most of that cost is in the expensive finish laminate on one side...Xovers are also very simple design's consisting of a coil and a few filter caps...Drivers are still simple designs that have been the same for ever...making void free plywood is no more expensive then regular plywood..." and the coup de gras, "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 "...I mean, c'mon who could agrue with that pile of shi...I mean, evidence, based on quantity alone he wins!...Right?
 

Jeff Romard

Administrator
Staff member
Sep 4, 2006
12,086
48
Sydney, Nova Scotia
I'll give you an non speaker example I always bought headlights at a parts store. Most times a parts store is a few bucks more but with a jobber rate for me it works out equal or sometimes a bit less. Twice I've bought them at Walmart in the last 10 years both times the "same" headlights lasted 1/3 to 1/2 the time the parts store ones do....If they are the same explain the difference.

I have 2 pair of Sennheiser headphones one is a $35 pair the other is a $130 pair. The specs are virtually the same the design and durability aren't. The more expensive ones with virtually the same specs sound better (to my ear) than the cheap ones. There's generally a reason things cost more than other things

Actually, NO, I wouldn't recommend to someone asking to buy speakers "they" liked .. unless they understand how and what to listen for.
I agree to a point. Once you get to a quality loudspeaker the average person can't tell the difference in sound unless maybe in an A/B comparison

I had a guy ask me if my JBL's were Bose one time because he thought the sounded so good. So long as it's not hard on the ears the clients won't notice 9/10
 

IceBurghDJ

DJ Extraordinaire
Apr 17, 2015
1,657
57
Western Pennsylvania
iceburghdj.com
Well, two things - they MAY be the same or MAY be very different. I've seen both and had many people argue I"m wrong on both accounts..

First, walmart (and other big retailers) have the buying power to get things made to their specifications or price point. Ther are over 6300 walmarts in the us, and if htey buy your headlihts (or whatever) and get just a case of 12 for each store (likely they'll order more than that) you just sold 75,000 headlights to them. So yea, you can cut your price to them on that quantity of a sale OR build it to their specs.

My first job was in a tv repair shop and Zentih indie retailer. Big Box didn't exist then, but Sears, Monkey Ward and others did, and they'd order enough from zenith (and other brands) and demand a price point where they could sell them 'cheap' - so speakers or other items in the unit would be cheaper to make that price point.

One might ask how Ollies and Harbor Frieght and other 'outlet' stores can sell stuff sooo cheaply..it's can't ALL be overrun/over stock.

Speaker A sounds like 'this' when new, when in 'this' room, at 'this' volume.
Now lets go work it for a year, run it for 4 hours an max in a varity of rooms and see how it sounds.
And how do you compare that to anything similar?

They are all very similar - buy a name brand and use it. Check reviews to be sure it's not a lemon model with issues.

How it sounds to YOU isn't really that important...you're playing to 100, 200, 500 people - and only a small percentage will hear it they way you do - so the other 80% may not like it...and you'll never know.

Also, you're what, a 50's something guy that's been around loud music for years, perahps high end audio as well. Great.

Your AUDIENCE, which pays you so they're opinion is the only one that counts in the end, today is rarely around high end audio, mostly earbuds from i've seen, and are younger and hence probably hear better, certainly a wider range of sounds, than you.

Hell, with all the ear buds do we even need to use subs? they don't listen to their music that way so it will sound very different to them when we play it...no matter how good our speakers may be.




I'll give you an non speaker example I always bought headlights at a parts store. Most times a parts store is a few bucks more but with a jobber rate for me it works out equal or sometimes a bit less. Twice I've bought them at Walmart in the last 10 years both times the "same" headlights lasted 1/3 to 1/2 the time the parts store ones do....If they are the same explain the difference.

I have 2 pair of Sennheiser headphones one is a $35 pair the other is a $130 pair. The specs are virtually the same the design and durability aren't. The more expensive ones with virtually the same specs sound better (to my ear) than the cheap ones. There's generally a reason things cost more than other things



I agree to a point. Once you get to a quality loudspeaker the average person can't tell the difference in sound unless maybe in an A/B comparison

I had a guy ask me if my JBL's were Bose one time because he thought the sounded so good. So long as it's not hard on the ears the clients won't notice 9/10
 
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DJ Ricky B

DJ Extraordinaire
Mar 9, 2015
3,818
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Well, two things - they MAY be the same or MAY be very different. I've seen both and had many people argue I"m wrong on both accounts..

First, walmart (and other big retailers) have the buying power to get things made to their specifications or price point. Ther are over 6300 walmarts in the us, and if htey buy your headlihts (or whatever) and get just a case of 12 for each store (likely they'll order more than that) you just sold 75,000 headlights to them. So yea, you can cut your price to them on that quantity of a sale OR build it to their specs.

My first job was in a tv repair shop and Zentih indie retailer. Big Box didn't exist then, but Sears, Monkey Ward and others did, and they'd order enough from zenith (and other brands) and demand a price point where they could sell them 'cheap' - so speakers or other items in the unit would be cheaper to make that price point.

One might ask how Ollies and Harbor Frieght and other 'outlet' stores can sell stuff sooo cheaply..it's can't ALL be overrun/over stock.

Speaker A sounds like 'this' when new, when in 'this' room, at 'this' volume.
Now lets go work it for a year, run it for 4 hours an max in a varity of rooms and see how it sounds.
And how do you compare that to anything similar?

They are all very similar - buy a name brand and use it. Check reviews to be sure it's not a lemon model with issues.

How it sounds to YOU isn't really that important...you're playing to 100, 200, 500 people - and only a small percentage will hear it they way you do - so the other 80% may not like it...and you'll never know.

Also, you're what, a 50's something guy that's been around loud music for years, perahps high end audio as well. Great.

Your AUDIENCE, which pays you so they're opinion is the only one that counts in the end, today is rarely around high end audio, mostly earbuds from i've seen, and are younger and hence probably hear better, certainly a wider range of sounds, than you.

Hell, with all the ear buds do we even need to use subs? they don't listen to their music that way so it will sound very different to them when we play it...no matter how good our speakers may be.

Oh I DISPISE wearing ear buds. Using them have been proven to damage your hearing over time. Also, even the more expensive ones only sound "OK". The cheap ones are horrible. ...I just came back from the GYM. I use my "AUVIO" red head phones that I bought at Radioshack at 50% off when they were going out of business. They cost $40 after the discount. Supposidly $80 head phones. They sound "good". I need to wear them when I work out. I couldn't do ear buds. I have to have head phones on.

....Off my soapbox on that.

LET'S GO BACK TO 2006! In 2006 I purchased 2 JBL JRX115 speakers. That pair of speakers cost regular price at the time $659/pair. I paid a bit under $600 because one of the speakers I got through winning a ebay auction. The other 1 I got paying regular price at Musiciansfriend.

So back in 2006, I thought that the JBL JRX speakers sounded "AWESOME" I was very satisfied with those speakers. They had a clear sound to them. They were not as honky as Yamaha BR or Club Series. They had good bass to them. My Dad who had lots of different speakers over the years thought that had a great sound to them.

Now JRX series needed a amplifier to power them...They did not hagve a amplifier built in, so I am assuming JBL used at least "OK" quality parts in those speakers. When I performed with them, at least the first 2 years I received compliments on the sound quality from guests.

I am sure a pair of JBL JRX speakers TODAY would sound absolutely fine to 99% of guests at an event today assuming they are powered with a good amplifier, and not some cheap one that creates poor sound.

A speaker that sound GOOD to people back in 2006 would still be acceptable today.

Now MOST of the powered speakers that can be found at Guitar Center are going to sound EVEN BETTER than a pair of JBL JRX115 speakers can produce. ...Alto, EV, Yamaha, QSC, Mackie, Turbo Sound, ALL of those will produce a higher quality sound than the JBL JRX were capable of doing.

...Gemeni, and Harbinger are probably the only brands that GC carries today that may not sound quite as good as an older pair of JBL JRX did, but they are probably close on their newer higher end models.

My point is that $250+ speakers are ALL acceptable for DJs to use, and guests will be fine with the quality as long as the DJ is using the speakers correctly, and not blaring them like crazy.

Something cheap like Gemeni or Harbingers MIGHT have a discernible sound quality difference to the audience, BUT most likely the audience will be fine with those speakers as well.


Go back even further. I use to use a pair of Yamaha SE12 speakers that were built in like '97 or '98. They were 300 watts cont. Those speakers had a "ok" sound to them, but could be a bit boomy. ...In fact, my sister STILL USES those speakers today in her set up. Those were a $650 pair of speakers 20 years ago. ....Her clients and guests seem to be satisfied with the sound quality on those old speakers, AND I would defenitely say that a brand new pair of Harbinger Vari Speakers produce better sound quality than those 20 year old Yamaha speakers.

So I believe that in reality, just about ANY loud speaker currently being sold at Guitar Center would be acceptable for typical DJ work to the masses.
 

steve149

Veni, Vidi, Lusi
Staff member
Sep 26, 2011
32,258
Prospect, CT
Remember .. when something sounds "better than" something else, it still doesn't mean they sound GOOD.
 

DJ Ricky B

DJ Extraordinaire
Mar 9, 2015
3,818
36
Remember .. when something sounds "better than" something else, it still doesn't mean they sound GOOD.
It is subjective I guess. It also depends on what your defenition of "Good" is. I have a feeling MOST guests at any event will have a lower threshold for what sounds good compared to you. You are at least somewhat of an audiophile.

I have seen video reviews where people purchased the cheap American Audio ELS 15 speakers for $169, and they said the speakers sounded real nice. ....Saw a number of video reviews where people said the sound was less than desireable, or just not good. ...Heard them for myself, and I would say they don't sound good...not at least good enough as a main system. Cocktail hour they would be fine.

...The typical guest probably wouldn't be able to decipher any difference in sound between your RCF EVOX system, and a pair of JBL Eon 610 with a Sub or 2, even though you and I could tell a difference in sound. ...A guest may not be able to tell the difference, and won't care either way. To them, both set ups would sound fine.
 

steve149

Veni, Vidi, Lusi
Staff member
Sep 26, 2011
32,258
Prospect, CT
I realize a typical guest may not notice or care .. but I do. I've bought quality gear for a long time .. going back to my EV Interface Ds back in 1980.

1546644712758.png

Non critical listeners are comparing a speaker (maybe an AA ELS 15) to the junk they listen to at home. I compare my speakers to high-end home speakers that I've listened to or owned along the way (B&W, Carver, KEF, Mission) and try to get MY speakers closer to that level of performance.

I get it that many don't care .. I take issue with those that say there is no difference. :)
 

steve149

Veni, Vidi, Lusi
Staff member
Sep 26, 2011
32,258
Prospect, CT
Steve,

What KEFs do you or did you own?
Those were one of the ones I listened to extensively in the past .. 103/104/107. I owned a nice pair of Mission Argonaut 780 though, they were really nice ..

1546647932484.png
 
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