OK, Here's One For You, Industry Quantification...

So, I have a few questions aimed at attempting to quantify the industry. This is not because I am thinking about opening a store - no, I'm a very happy computer software engineer (code bone). My interest owes its due to an unfortunate audio dispute, the details of which are uninteresting other than to say, my would-be dealer argues the hi-fidelity industry is small (cottage) and, as such, does not follow the same consumer protection ethics (my word) as, say, plastic kiddie toys.

Upon hearing his claim of a small industry, I began thinking, is this true, and upon what measure would one either make or deny this claim. I came up with the following questions whose answers would be very interesting.

I am interested in hearing if anyone knows of 'official' sources to answer any of these questions or your thoughts about how to quantify the industry or how to even define it, for that matter.

1) Annual consumer spend - US, Europe, Worldwide
2) Total number of manufactures - US, Europe, Worldwide
3) Total number of publications - Monthly, Quarterly, etc.; US, Europe, Worldwide
4) Total number of distributors - US, Europe, Worldwide
5) Total number of retailers - US, Europe, Worldwide

The last point above, how to even define the market, is also very interesting. Is purchasing a $250 Pioneer receiver classified similarly to purchasing VAC monoblocks? What about a $2,000 integrated amp? How is that line drawn?

I look forward to reading a few responses!

Well without the aid of any figures it seems pretty certain to me that since the audio industry (and by that I assume you refer to "high-end" audio) lives on unsubstantiated claims, its movers and shakers clearly believe, for the most part, that it is beyond reach of consumer protection laws. Cables that have a sound all their own, vibration reducing platforms or cones for solid state equipment that is not microphonic to begin with, the invention of a whole vocabulary that is clearly aimed as lying in a grey area where anything goes, etc is proof enough that they feel that some very basic rules don't apply to their "industry".
Yes our friend Pbb is the only one of us to realize how stupid all audiophiles are and that there really is no difference between and 70's vintage Panasonic reciever and a Wolcott, VPI, or Krell stereo system. Any claim made by a company or individual is purely for the purpose of robbing the ignorant.

What's worse is that none of the retailers and/or manufacturers have a conscience or soul. None of them will stand behind any of the claims they make. Which obviously does nothing to dissuade the audiophile community from continuing to buy their gear.

It is great that he is here to enlighten us with his amassed wisdom! I wonder if he has ever heard a derogatory claim that he did not love???

Pbb if you hate everything about this industry and hobby so much, why are you here?

Cocozhou, I imagine all the information you seek is available, but not in one place or in a format that would be useful to you. This industry is too splintered and insular. There certainly isn't any governing board who would have access to info or control over claims, but that doesn't mean your questions are a waste of time, just that answers will be hard to find.
Isn't there something like "The Academy for the Advancement of Hi-end Audio"?
I believe the movers-and-shakers formed this about 8-10 years ago.
They should be the ones to contact for this type of info.
Anarchy, if you could stop for one minute spewing and actually read what people post you could avoid being the source of lot more heat than light. Since when is audiophilia and, more to the point, products whose promoters cannot and will not deign provide any proper explanation or back-up as to their superiority, beyond the reach of criticism? Maybe you bite into the whole high-end subjective audio thing hook, line and sinker but there are still a few people who enjoy the hobby but still keep to a sense of proportion and common sense. Or is it maybe that audio to you is a religion? The original poster was a little dismayed that a dealer thinks that by dint of the fact the industry is small that the usual rules of commerce don't apply to it. In the sense that high-end audio lives by this notion that there are no objective measures to be applied, I can certainly understand this belief that a product does not have to provide provable performance that lives up to scrutiny if you invent this notion out of whole cloth that it is beyond reach of the physically provable and only lives in the world of aesthetics. If you are not the least bit shocked and appalled by, for example, cables selling for 8K, you are indeed a true believer. Now if you have any numbers to provide the original poster, go ahead, but somehow I feel you are not too big into quantifying anything.

The conversation is interesting, if not somewhat entertaining. I must say, Pbb does make an interesting point in that the high-fidelity world at some level is subjective. Now mind you, all the engineers out there would read that line and be so under-impressed as to not even respond, but you can have mathematically perfect gear that, for some ghost-in-the-machine reason, just doesn't sound good. Mathematically, what makes mid-range liquid?

However, just because there is an element of subjectivity to the quality of gear, doesn't mean that merchants, distributors, and manufacturers should be unethical. I don't even give a darn if they don't provide the objective basis for their claims; I mean, it's just marketing, anyway. But if I am told a product is better than sliced bread by both the distributor and the retailer, then I purchase the thing sight unseen and do not like the sound, the distributor should not hang-up the phone on me when I call asking for his assistance in trying to make things right with the retailer, who tells me in essence I am stuck with the freaking thing and there is nothing he's going to do about it.

I suppose I am actually lucky, the fool retailer never sent me a receipt with the purchase. Additionally, his website makes ABSOLUTELY no mention of a specialized return policy. Well, my friends, after just a quick surf, I obtained both the Utah, where I live, and the California, where he sells, consumer protection laws. I’ll tell you this much, these protocols are quite unambiguous (let's not delve tangentially into that whole lawyer thing). I have disputed the charge with my Visa issuer and simply hope that, via this dispute, a message can be sent to these unethical sweeties that they have to change the way they do business.

It is disappointing for sure when some smooth talking unethical fool pawns crap. Shame on me, as well, for buying into it without an appropriate degree of research. To be frank, and to Pbb's point, I had the specifications in hand and they looked impressive, but the result was shit! However, with this said, I believe there are more truly ethical representatives out there who are truly interested in sharing their passion with like others.

Isn't that why we are all really out here, anyway?
Cocozhou and Pbb the point of my thread and ridicule of Pbb has to do with the foolishness of the measurement above all crowd.

The piece you bought measured well but sounded lousy. The seller has complete responsibility to back up whatever claims he made. If you are not satisfied based on the claims of the seller you should get a full refund. You trusted someone who knew you had no governing board to hold them responsible for their claims (right or wrong) and therefore took advantage of the buyer!

It is frustrating that so many claims are unsubstantiated, but so much of "good sound" is unmeasurable.

I read into the statements made by Pbb because I have read his drivel before and find it to be at best unhelpful. I would much rather have an amp that sounded good and measured bad than the recipricol. And yes Pbb I would gladly buy an $8000 IC or speaker cable if it made an $8000 improvement. Since I cannot afford it though it shouldn't be an issue. Just because a manufacturer cannot back up his claims with measurements does not mean the product is not good, or worth the asking price.

How would one measure a Monet or Michaelangelo to determine if it was of significant quality to warrant placement in a museum?

Cocozhou who is the seller who will not stand behind his promises. Maybe he needs to be encouraged by the audiophile community!
A piece of wire has nothing to do with a Monet or a Michelangelo. An art historian could explain at length the technical and artistic merits in a proper historic context of the work of such geniuses. Can anyone do the same for the folks behind expensive cables? You, Anarchy, are truly a believer, one with no arguments to speak of aside from your personal attacks that are tiresome and unfounded. Strange is it not that an industry that has sidestepped any scrutiny by shifting their wares to the higher level of pure aesthetics should refuse to take back the product when the purchaser objects to it on the grounds of aesthetics? Insofar as you being a champion of the subjective audio thing is concerned, may I add that you are one of the worst ones I have come across on this site. Like I said: hook, line and sinker.
Pbb you have never heard anything I own. You are an idiot (and I'm not alone in that sentiment, others are just more polite, according to your own words you neighbor hates you so much he will not go in the yard while you are outside) for saying that I have no rational basis for owning what I own.

What "NUMBERS" will your art historians use to quantify the artistic value of those artists. I am not arguing that Monet and Michaelangelo are not great artists, they are some of the best to ever live. I'm arguing that there are no numbers that quantify thier work (using your logic) they must not be great artists, or there would be a numerical way to prove it.

Does that mean that if you can hear a difference in products, but that they measure the same, your ears must be wrong. Your science is in it's infancy, just like your logic and emotions!

I will continue to buy equipment based on how they sound, you can buy based on the specs. You will not change my mind and I will not change your... whatever it is you use to think?!?

Pbb, go play with your neighbor!
No numbers just opinion. It's a small industry. In High End Audio, most of us have much better audio systems than our friends. Some posters on the "gon" have said they don't know ANY audiophiles in their home area, ANY! World over, how many audiophiles? Most people think were nuts for what we pay for gear (even those of us with relatively cheap gear). I, on the other hand, think it's nuts to spend $20-30K on a fishing boat that you only use 2-3 times a year. Another comparison, you can always find another car enthusiast.

The High End Audio business has to a least make a safe product, meeting electrical codes etc.

As far as livng up to some of the claims that manufacturers of High End equipment make; Some do, some make claims only some people believe, some IMO are making ridiculous claims.

However, other industries make claims that aren't always true too. Can you go after a refridgerator company for claiming their machine does this, does that when it doesn't really? How about, "the safest car on the road", is it? We've all bought products that claim to do something they either don't really do, or do so very poorly. Can we go after them for making false claims?

What is High End? If your friends have equipment as good, or close to as good, you DON'T have High End equipment.
What if you don't have any friends, how can you tell your equipment is high-end?
Some people listen with their ears!