Takedown of pricey servers, streamers OCD HiFi guy


Not sure if anyone caught this, but it's quite the take down of some of the very expensive server/streamer stuff out there. It seems logical to me -- especially when he prices out what some of the internal components are -- but this is above my pay grade so I cannot confirm. It's here: https://youtu.be/MMSC9-qQ_K4

Wonder if others agree or disagree with the basic takedown.
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Showing 16 responses by hilde45

Agreed. He's mainly aiming at the insane markup people, and is accounting for all the factors you mention. But it's pretty clear if someone is charging enormous $$'s and is putting a cheap Chinese gamer board inside a fancy chassis, then there is chicanery at work. This doesn't happen (he mentions) with Pass or Jeff Rowland etc. He's calling out those who are putting sawdust in the meatloaf, so to speak.
@larryi Very interesting setup. An Italian friend of mine with some lovely Maggies and VTL mono blocks built a nice setup -- two computers he built (kits make it easy) that are as simple as possible -- one is a server and that’s connected to another, which is a streamer, and they’re connected by an optical cable. Both are fan-less and both have linear power supplies. The big cost was the power supply. 
Points taken. He’s talking about units with $5k worth of parts that get fancy chassis that then charge $20-$30k. He says in the video he’s ok with charging $10k for such units and that he’s not dogging people who want to buy for chest-thumping reasons, but he’s pointing out that for those who don’t know (like me) there’s no $$s going toward anything audio related up that high. While it's true that "the best will cost you serious coin" I think we'd agree that it should cost "serious coin" because it is designed and built with serious skill and parts all the way through.

There is a way of commenting in audio that takes the easy way out -- to bash the rich or luxury goods. And I agree that’s too easy and not really of interest to people interested mainly in sound and value. I don’t think that’s really his game, overall, here, but it’s kind of his hook. (That old, "Hey, kid, I’m going to let you in on a secret" gambit.)

I’m not really that taken with this guy, but he makes some interesting points. Hans Beekhyzen, Darko, seem much much more rational as educators among the video ’casters. Kind of regret posting this thread.
@jayrossi13 Excellent point. (I'll comment with that  It’s possible that his point is true and it applies to his own practices, too. But the takeaway (for me) would be that his point is true.
@onhwy61 I suppose there was no reason except that I didn’t know it and this video was just released. I thought that with all I had read about jitter, and clock timing, etc. there might be something to very expensive streaming/serving equipment as there often can be with other expensive things. And some expensive audio (maybe not ultra high end but expensive) really does have better build, parts, etc. It's not just emotion up to a certain price point.

But I had never heard that there were cheap ASUS parts inside some of the most expensive of them. This, for me, was revelatory. But you’re right, there are many who know this already, so I apologize for delivering old news to them. They can skip this post at will.
I take it that those defending the uber expensive streamers and the multi-times markup are asserting that the answer to this question -- "Are there any streamers or servers out there that are way overpriced for what you get?" -- is "no" because of the  

@glupson Yes, probably best for you to avoid my threads. I don’t need the conflict and you don’t need to waste your time. Win win.
@justmetoo thanks so much for your nice comments!

@glupson How are you going to get your time back? One thing you could do is learn how to scrub through a video quickly so you can see if it has what you want in it. Or you can take tomorrow off from checking the forum and get your time back that way. So sorry to waste your time.
@glupson I’m not fishing for conflict. I’m seeking to see if others who know better than me can refute a video which is trying to do that. I am looking for refutations or affirmations of the claim in the video because I literally do not know if it is correct and want others to help sort through it. You can see here that people are doing that. Mission accomplished. It's incorrect to interpret me as fishing for conflict, but truth is in the eye of the beholder. Bye.
Points taken. He’s talking about units with $5k worth of parts that get fancy chassis that then charge $20-$30k.

@jond Good point. I think the reason he’s making this argument is *not* because he doesn’t understand the factors you mention (he is in the business, so he’s aware) but he’s saying that there are some companies that do all that for a fraction of the others, and the others he’s calling to task are putting cheap boards in theirs. I think we’ve basically hit all the main points on this topic, and I’m not sure we’re pushing toward a point beyond those we’ve exhumed.

Another way of simply identifying what he’s talking about would be to leave him out of it and ask a simpler question -- e.g., "Are there any streamers or servers out there that are way overpriced for what you get?"

It would be hard to imagine the answer to that question could be "no." And as it was pointed out near the start of this thread (basically, calling out why I started the thread at all), if we answer the question "yes," then the response is, "So what? Just don’t buy from them if it offends you." His larger point, I think, was simply to say, there’s no quality/sonic reason things *have* to cost exorbitant amounts.


Ok, well I feel quite satisfied that OCD is not worth taking very seriously. I also better understand the skepticism at my posting the video. I really thought he had more credibility than he does. You all have done a good job at showing me that, and as a relative newbie, I will take my lesson with good humor.

As a relative audio newcomer, it has sometimes been hard to start conversations because I don't want to go over old ground or seem to be stirring up controversy for no reason. I know people do that and then are disingenuous about their motives. But that is really not me. Glupson, I am sorry for my tone, earlier. 
@jksec said,
I really don’t understand the point for bashing any products based on they component value. If they sound bad then sure let us know, but estimating component value is completely useless.

That’s an interesting take. Many comments I’ve read on this and other forum try to estimate value, where value means whether the cost of the unit is worth the money paid. Sonic performance is one part of value; other parts include comparisons with other units at similar or different price points.

Right now, there’s a thread on Agon about Pass Labs vs. Sugden Class A amplifiers that is assessing whether or not the extra $$ paid for Pass labs is worth the additional money, or whether the Sugden offers more "bang for the buck." Some judging this question are referring to the parts on the inside of each and how good they are, etc., in order to judge if the Pass is worth the money. This seems to be a regular way that people drill into the details of the value question, especially when it’s hard to audition both. It’s not that sound of the unit is irrelevant, but if someone is going to pay a lot more for something, they often want to know more than just the reported sound of it, which we know is very subjective. Often, both are not available to audition, and even if they are, they might not immediately reveal everything one might eventually hear. Many buy with an eye to "future-proofing," knowing that down the road, one might be able to tell that, for example, the high quality capacitors in a better-made product sound better, even if this isn't immediately obvious. Then again, there's durability, etc. We all experience this with, say, a house or a car, which only shows its virtues or vices after a longer run of experiences with it.

This is my understanding as to why some downgrade (or "bash" as you put it) a product for charging a lot when the internal parts are not as good as other units. To each his own.


Couple of good recent comments about price to cost ratio and fetishistic nature of the hobby at times. I think the video guy and some others here are addressing the fact that some companies do offer lower markup for very good sound quality and that newcomers who might be initially turned off to the hobby (or in this case, to streaming) should understand that they can get some very good results without needing to win the lottery first. The video guy also assumes that some people are wary of being ripped off, even if they recognize that others have to make some profit. This thread has had comments indicating that price and value are very relative, especially when one considers how narrowly or broadly the term “value” can be construed. 
This thread contains a couple different sub-themes.

There is a debate over the facts which OCD guy uses to justify his claim that some streaming devices are overpriced. This debate hinges on what is involved, mechanically or in R&D, with these devices.

Then there is another debate over how much a manufacturer is justified in charging for a product. Some argue that they can charge whatever they want if customers will pay that. Some see this as fine because of the psychological satisfaction some people get from just buying things they feel good about, even if they don’t really know why they should feel good about it. Others disagree and see this as problematic because customers are being fooled by marketing claims or techno mumbo jumbo. They not getting what they expect (sonic excellence) by paying what they pay.

I suppose there’s no single right way to look at it. For my own part, I see every audio purchase as part of the larger audio budget that I feel contained by. If I spend unnecessarily on a product (e.g. because I’ve become convinced by the marketing even though the technology doesn’t make a significant sonic difference), then those are $$s I do not have to spend in another area. Many on this forum has advocated for cables or vibration controls or room treatments that I have not yet acquired. If I spend too much of my budget on a streamer that is overpriced, ultimately that subtracts from what I can spend on other elements of the system which could make a bigger difference. And that reduces *my* overall satisfaction more than the bling factor of a $20k streamer. Just how I see it.
OP, here. Thanks, Mike, for replying to this thread. I enjoy your videos and thought you were posing a legitimate question -- not about whether people have a "right" (funny word) to pay what they want for a piece of gear, but whether others had seen the video and how they assessed the argument you were making.

As usual, the thread went in lots of tangential directions, some of them valuable, but I do believe some stayed focused on your central point -- namely, that some gear that (for it’s high price) should *not* be using inexpensive, off the shelf, computer innards. I’m a newbie, but the point boils down to "there’s sawdust in this expensive meatloaf." And of course you’re not talking about kinda expensive meatloaf -- something that is, say, one or two times the price of a decent product. You’re talking about really really expensive stuff. That detail helps push back on all the (to my mind, ineffective) counter arguments about "R&D, overhead, design, research," etc.

You surely have a busy life, but if you could find the posts which understand and (civilly) address that claim, it would advance the central point in dispute. If you don’t have time, well, peace.
@rego I’m not the one making the assertion. I’m reporting it. Your debate is with @mikepowellaudio 
I trust you understand that. Perhaps he’ll engage your points. Ok?
@rego I see your point. I should have titled my post something more neutral, like, "OCD Guy claims to be doing a ’takedown’ of pricey servers." I put my post in a short, headline type style but I was hoping just to generate a conversation with this somewhat hyped phrasing. That’s why my OP also said, "Wonder if others agree or disagree with the basic takedown." But you're right -- I could have put things less tendentiously.

Glad to hear your view and your reasons. Maybe he'll reply, but whatever. Peace.