It's a matter of striking a price/performance ratio that makes sense. If your preamp cost twice what it did, you might not have bought it. Volume of sales is very important. And these changes might improve the sound a bit. But I doubt they'll take it to a level that would surpass the initial ramp-up in sound quality when comparing your preamp to a cheaper, less well designed one.
The coupling caps, resistors, and tubes would be the only changes I would bother with.
Very simple - to hit a price point. The "cost not object" pieces are the tricked out units. Also, it gives you the option of improving the performance when you have more money.
Some people buy the entry level car and as they save up more money, they start adding rims, turbos, body kits, etc. Makes you wonder if it would have been easier to just save your money longer and purchase the tricked out version from the beginning.
The logic of upgrades is to separate you from more of your money.
Sugar, if you believe that, why do you participate here? Perhaps just or sell or buy things? Do you believe that the possible sonic character of, say, coupling capacitors, is audible? Or do you believe that everything that measures the same sounds the same?
I believe that EVERYTHING makes a difference in the sound. Whether you or I or anyone else can HEAR those differences is another question.
As 2 of us have alluded to, all these companies have to SELL components at a profit to stay in business, and the lower the purchase price, the more they sell. If someone else wants a premium version, I hope the manufacturer can and will accommodate them. Doing it this way makes the majority of those sold more affordable.
It's a great hobby, huh!
You are also forgetting a point. If the company uses the best upgrades for its 2.000$ amp than how is he going to sell his 5.000$ or 20.000$ reference amps. 5.000$ amp should sound clearly better than 2000$ amp in to justify its additional cost. So they need to produce clear-cut sound difference levels between their 2.000$ - 5.000$ - 10.000$ -20.000$ models. They know that today a very wisely upgraded 2000$ amp can sound like a stock 10.000$ amp easily if not better.
Gee Jeffreybehr I was kidding.....There is some truth in it though......
As others have said; the price point is important. Supply is also a factor. Some parts are not in large enough supply to mass produce enough of an item. But they are available for the few who want to upgrade it further.
Ease of manufacture also comes into play. Labor is a big cost.
To specifically respond to the Audible Illusions, it was a "Class A" component to begin with and is a lot better than most give it credit for being. It is pretty "Tricked" out as it is and Art Ferris has used very, very fine parts. Not knowing exactly which AI you have, the M3A's volume controls were discreet resistors so this eliminates the potentiometers. The coupling caps in the output stage can be switched out. The ouput jacks are of very fine quality already. I cannot recall any wire in the signal path.
I feel manufacturers research the product at its price point and get the most out of it. You can ticker with things and they may genuinely change the sound but then you have to ask "Is it for the better or just different?"
Tube rolling with the AI's will change performance more than some other preamps and this is where I would stay with this preamp.
Art ferris has these preamps sounding as good as they are going to get with their circuit designs.
It kinda goes with changing caps in speakers. Yes you can change the sound but are you capable of making the adjustments for the difference in series impedance and other parameters that actually change the crossover points with a change in parts?
Yes, they're certain mods that do improve performance. Steve McCormack makes a living at it. They're upgrades for CD players that work wonders but at a cost. It is all product dependent. Some products just aren't worth the upgrade. Most well designed products to begin with are hard to fault. The AI falls into this category.
I just remembered, they're are some short pieces of Wonder Wire connecting a few things. Sorry. But what wire would you change it to that would make a difference and stay accurate?
Speaking of an upgraded 8k amp sounding very close to their 17k version: I give you the CJ5 vs the CJ8.Had the 5's for about 5 years and owned the 8's for 3 years.Meaning I owned both at the same time for 3 years.(Just sold the 5's)--System for most of that time was Audiomecca dac. CAT3 for pre. Synergetic active X box.and Montana EPS with Celtic Silver to the speakers. Lots of big buck cords--2 king Cobras---2 AudioMagic Stealth conditioners.---I had some big buck cryoed tubes.
I swear I could take the best tubes;stick them the 5's-- yup,right up there with the 8s.
On to why the amps don't come with the best,whatever feet or cords---- Amp mfg's put their resources on the inside.--I guess Carma might be the exception.
I was drafting up a lengthy response rejecting your learned opinions and opining that manufacturers should use only the highest quality parts, thus eliminating the need for any future upgrades. But, I suddenly realized that, had AI done that, I probably couldn't have afforded their preamp on my meager budget. So I'll drop the issue.
Bigtee - what's tube rolling?
Tube rolling is simply trying different brands of tubes to change the sound from the tubes that came with the gear.
Hate to go here - but if there are better tubes out there (and the consensus seems to be that there are), why doesn't AI sell them or at least recommend them - especially if they'll improve the sound of their gear? Don't they want their preamp to outperform the competition?. The better tubes on the market are not that much more expensive than the tubes that AI sells.
You'll almost never get the "best" tube with a new piece of gear. In many cases the best sounding tube for a particular piece of gear is a tube that has not been manufactured for 50 to 70 years. In many cases it is a major search (months to a year) to find enough tubes in excellent condition to fill just one or two amps or preamps; and the tubes could sell for anywhere from $100 to $500 each because they are rare and not coming back.
Each unit someone makes and sells needs to sound the same, or who would trust to buy it. So a manufaturer needs to find a large, inexpensive, reliable and readily available supply of tubes in order to meet demand for its products.
If some hobbiest wants to take the time to search the world for a hand-full of tubes to change the sound of the gear, then more power to them.
Audio makers don't recommend other tubes for legal reasons. If you play around with your gear and the tubes and screw things up, or blow up the unit, burn down your house, they could be held legally responsible for recommending you try it. That is why every owners manual says that there are no user serviceable parts inside; not to open the top; and return it to an authorized technician for repair.
I have studied mods that involve about $30 worth of parts that allegedly make a unit, in this case a CDP, that make it comparable to a unit costing thousands. One must wonder why the manufacture does not do. It would probably cost them no more than $20.
I guess the same logic applies as stated above.
Same answer Pmwoodward. Cost and supply. I remember a conversation I had with Stan Warren a few years ago. He was backed up on modifying CD players because he was having trouble getting some of the Black Gate caps he like to use. Now if Stan could not even find a few dozen, how can Sony, Marantz, NAD, or whoever find tens/hundreds of thousands of them.
Over 100 million DVD players have sold worldwide. If those companies spent $20 more on parts their combined profits would be $2 Billion less. Any manager recommending the increased cost when 99.9999999999% of consumers would not know the difference; that person would be fired..
Sugarbrie - would agree with you only if the market was mid-fi. But audiophiles spend major dollars on front ends, amps, TT arms and cartridges, power conditioners, cables, etc. I don't buy your logic. The market is there, as evidenced by the continued existence of high-end manufacturers that produce mega-priced components as well as the large number of mod shops. And believe me, if Sony decided to use Black Gate caps, they'd develop a source faster than you could push "play" on your remote. I'm with Pmwoodward on this one.