All it says is that most gear depreciates to it's market level within three years or so. Many, many brands depreciate and then flat line like this.
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Yes you are right for the most part but some gear flatlines then appreciates like alot of older Levinson. Case in point, Bought a 27.5 amp a few years ago for $1700. Now they are going for more. Bought a 36 dac for $1100 and then a 3yrs later they were going for $1500. Maybe someone started a trend don't know but Levinson gear seems to hold value then appreciate somewhat? Could be the newer stuff isn't up to snuff...lol?
Depending on the popularity of the piece, when a manufacturer changes models the market can become flooded with demo units and units from people upgrading to the latest and greatest. This can depress prices for a while then prices may rise again when fewer pieces are available, then may flatline. In the case of really old stuff from the the late 50's and 60's like Marantz, McIntosh and even Dynaco, prices increase above original cost due to inflation. The cost of a Stereo 70 in the early 60's was about $63.
Didn't Levinson eventually sell out to somebody? Are the older pieces the older Levinson stuff they made the name on? Levinson may be coming back - isn't it also the case with Classe' that they were sold? Same holds true for Marantz and McIntosh, after the sold out they had a down period then came back strong. Well not so much Marantz but the brand is good though clearly the line has entirely the Japanese house sound.
Early tube gear by Marantz, McIntosh, Brook, Radio Engineering Labs, etc. have appreciated greatly, not just due to inflation but due to the fact that they are historically important classics and collectibles, as well as being impressive performers even by today's standards.
Saul Marantz sold his original company in the late 1960's, and the "Marantz" brand that has been around since then has only the name in common. As was alluded to, it has been a Japanese company in recent times.
McIntosh was sold to Clarion in 1990 and D&M Holdings (Denon, Marantz and others) in 2003, but they have continued to produce products along the same evolutionary lines as before.
Mark Levinson lost his original company and the rights to use his own name in the early 1980's, following financial problems and power struggles. The successor company, Madrigal Inc., eventually became part of Harman International. Although solid state, the original products of Mark Levinson Audio Systems are considered to also be collectable classics, and that is contributing to their appreciation.
I think that if Classe equipment is holding its value better than other makes that are not in the category of collectible historical classics, then it does indeed say something about its quality.