The new dynamic in speaker pricing

Yesterday I received the latest issue of the Absolute Sound mag. This issue has the round up of the varying speaker manufacturer’s wares along with the retail pricing. One thing that struck me is the number of speaker manufacturer’s who have a speaker in their line up that cost close to a $1M!! There are good number of speakers now available with prices in the $700K+ range. A few manufacturer’s are also a little ’glib’ with their top model pricing, such as Oswalds Mill--who state- price upon inquiry only!

This new speaker pricing dynamic is interesting, as it clearly indicates that there are buyers out there who are happy to pay these prices and presumably enough buyers to make these products viable. A trend that is certainly interesting and yet questionable as to how it will impact the hobby as a whole.

Opinions on this trend?


@fleschler   Sounds like you heard a classic mismatch of gear that had little synergy. When i heard the Alexx V's, they were in a huge room ( 45'X30'!) partnered with D'agostino amps/ preamp and a MSB Select 2 DAC. Superb sound with a huge soundstage and amazing dynamic impact/scale. However, whenever I have heard McIntosh amps, I hear what you describe, so that is where I would expect  the results you heard.

How big was the room you heard the Alexx V's in? I think anything smaller than about 25' x30' would be a limiting factor for these large speakers!

@daveyf  The room was about 40+ feet deep but less than 18 feet wide.   Yes, they had amazing dynamic impact/scale and a huge soundstage, just too much of something which made them less than relaxing to listen to.   Maybe it was the amps but I've only enjoyed listening to the smaller Wilsons rather than large ones over time.  The worst Wilson was the original WAMM, terrible, like five boxes shouting at me separately at a high end showroom (Christopher Hansen-Beverly Hills) using all tube Audio Research gear.  They've certainly gotten better since then. 

They're far too expensive for any dealer to have demo models so hardly anyone has ever heard them.  That means they don't have to perform well.  Someone with a lot of money who wants "the best" will buy them regardless of performance and some small company will make a ton of money.  The stupid rich are the ideal customer.  

@fleschler   I would suggest that you reserve your judgement of the new Wilson Alexx V's until such time as you have the opportunity to hear them with an appropriate setting and gear. I suspect you will then have a different opinion of the presentation.

Disclaimer: I'm a total newbie here. 

I understand why electronics can be very expensive from an engineering and parts cost perspective. 

But I just don't understand how these speakers can be so expensive. I mean I found a Hi-Fi shop in Paris which specializes in DIY kits using quality parts from Audax, Supravox, Davis Acoustics etc... This shop also sells assembled speaker kits with quality finishes (high gloss paint/veneer). Most of the components are assembled in France. The assembled speakers range from 200€ to 10,000€. You can realistically spend 2 or 3k€ on a serious pair of speakers. You can audition every product in the shop as you please. The service is nice and very helpful.  

And that's how it should be (IMHO). No magic. Just a list of parts and a bunch of customization options. Buying a speaker should be like buying a kitchen. 

Taking a broader perspective. Most small boutique speaker manufacturers sell bookshelf units for 2k~3k€ and tower units for 5k~20k€.