JA - budgets are fascinating things. At Thiel, we never entertained trying to satisfy someone who had $six figures to spend. We tried for a performance plateau that fit ourselves and our projections of our imagined customers.
There are real improvements to be had. A great cap can cost $1000+ which could add $10K retail to a pair with normal manufacture and distribution markups. Wade through that labyrinth of focusing the next performance plateau and each product might go for something like triple the original sell price. I’m presently working with those equations.
As an example: among the many possible thought-problems - imagine a tricked-out CS5 with its same or slightly updated drivers but with 2 major upgrade foci.
1: Replace the bucket brigade delays in the two midrange drivers with physical displacement.
2: Upgrade the signal caps to CSA and resistors to MRA-12s.
The XO part count would drop to half and the sound quality would soar. That’s on my to-do list. The present CS5 owner already has the platform and upgrades don’t need the 2X retail markup.
Note that the physical baffle part of that CS5 upgrade might have happened except for the tumult caused by the rampant conversion from hi-fi to home theater in the 1990s. In an alternate universe, I imagine Thiel having concentrated on hi fi product refinement rather than the tremendous investments and demands of addressing home theater. Not only would the state of the art have been stretched, but the internal workings of the company would have been more manageable. That’s second-guessing reality. In fact, I don’t know if Thiel would have survived those market changes without jumping on the HT bandwagon. Anyhow, we are pushing the ball up the hill, a small step at a time.