Good question. I hope that someone here knows the answer.
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Could be US importer is taking more. Could be Canada is really taking too little money. It could be a lot of things. I know it is hard to make money on specialty lines, so I would hesitate to use the word "gouging". Does the US guy travel more? Advertise more? Give dealers more margin? Who knows.
I would say you can choose to import gray market, or contact the importer and bring up your concerns and try to meet at a middle ground, or pay full price and live with it, or select another speaker out of frustration with the price structure. But you will not get a definitive answer on why it is why it is. And do you care? If you want to buy them then I would focus on getting the best price, bringing up what you did here with the importer.
In some instances certain items are priced higher than others are to steer you away from it. It may be in short supply, changing models at that price point, and simply wanting to introduce the new version, whatever it might be called at this price, saying it cost no more than the old one did.
I can't understand why they would otherwise want to alienate the U.S. buyers unless they simply thought they could squeeze this market for some reason? If that were true than all models would be similarily priced.
Drudin-Have you considered the Stirling Broadcast LS3/6 Reference? Acoustic Sounds sells the base finish model for $4095. The LS3/6 with basic finish retail for (2348 GBP) in the UK which is only a $400-500 importer markup when converted to USD. I have a very strong feeling the LS3/6 would give the 30.1 a good battle. If your interested in buying the 30.1 make an effort to reseach and listen to the LS3/6. Harbeth speakers have a strong cult following thus the heavy markups. I have heard the Harbeth 40.1 and the entry level 3PESR. Both are very good speakers for the money but IMO are NOT standouts at there price points. The 30.1 may be the sweet spot in the Harbeth product line, but just remember $6k can still buy alot of speaker!
Well this is very simple to answer. The US model sounds better. To prove it. Look at how much money you would have after buying the Canadian model compared to the US model. Less money left over for the US model, proof, it must sound better. ( I think the thing that drive cost of audio has more to do with what people are willing to spend than any consistent margin of profit model). Nice speaker though.
Some things to point out from a fellow manufacturer aware of the basics surrounding this situation (we teamed up with Fidelis AV at the past two NY Audio Shows and used 30.1s, so price did come up in conversations at the shows):
1. Canadian pricing may not yet reflect the current Harbeth UK price increases.
2. Starting June 1st, Resonant Woods stands will be included (a $700 dollar value) with the purchase of the M30.1 only as a promotion through Dec. 31, 2013. These are the stands shown at the NY Audio Show 2013.
3. Canadian Distributor has a handful of dealers, but mostly sells direct through its 2-3 stores. The U.S.distributor (Fidelis AV) sells through a dealer network of 20-25 dealers who need a decent markup to survive in this tough economy.
4. ALL Harbeth models sold in the U.S. for the last 5-6 years include the upgraded internal wiring which adds a considerable charge to the distributor and apparently get passed along accordingly.
5. The U.S. distributor has a consistent advertising program in the two major USA audiophile magazines and online and promotes the line at four to five audio shows per year. The Canadian distributor does a lot less of this.
The Harbeth 30.1 is a fantastic sounding speaker, but the customer will need to listen for themselves (hopefully comparing to others in this price point) and decide if they are worth it. I know that they have a very hard time keeping them in stock at the current price point, so there have to be people who believe they are worth the cost. Count me in on being in this camp!