Top down or bottom up? Just asking...


This is a purely theoretical question that I’m tossing out just to learn what folks might say.

Consider, say, Magico and Wilson Audio. Their top speakers are in 6 figures, but their ‘bottom’ ones go as low as 10k. Consider, say, Monitor Audio and Paradigm. Their bottom is very low 4 figures or lower; their top in the low 30s.

Now, wouldn’t it stand to reason that other things being equal a 20-30k speaker from Wilson or Magico would be better than the same from the other firms? The upper firms have all that top level technology to scale down, while MA and Para would be at the top of their game in the 20-30 range.

Obviously, there are other issues—personal taste being the most important. And room size and other components.

But ‘all things being equal’ isn’t the answer clear? What am I missing?

P.s. I am a very happy owner of MA PL100II, which I got half price used here at less than a year old. And of B and W CM9 I got 10 years ago. I’m just wondering…


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Markup and volume of sales. 
Now, wouldn’t it stand to reason that ’other things being equal’ a 20-30k speaker from Wilson or Magico would be better than the same from the other firms?
Please clarify.
What are all the other things that are equal in your comparison?
If you are simply referring to the price where two distinct speaker brands cross each other at a specific price point, this is a false equivalency.
Cabinet design and construction, drivers, crossovers, implementation, company philosophy, marketing strategy, etc. would all need to be the same for this to be true. Now, if you were to post "considering trickle down technology" in lieu of ’other things being equal’, I believe you would get your point across with more precision.
So yes, it would be reasonable to think that if a company utilizes the strategy of trickle down technology from a higher end product, that product may be superior to another companies at a particular price point that had no such higher end product. Or not. Too many differing variables.
'Other things' = first and foremost personal taste. I'm very fond of MA; some people really dislike Magico or Wilson. 
But also there is the size of the room, the kind of music you like to listen to, even the appearance or size of the speaker itself. 
Ah, now I understand your premise for using that expression. IF all those aspects were similar, what are our thoughts.
I’m sticking with my ’trickle down technology’ spiel.
Actually I like both at the same time ... ;-)
It still all comes down to personal taste. I could easily see someone preferring Paradigm’s top offering to whatever Sonus Faber, for example, has at that same price point.

The bigger issue, I think, is that Paradigm has a much harder hill to climb scaling up than it is to scale down in large part due to brand perception. I shook my head when VW launched the $100,000 Phaeton and new it would fail from the get go. The Phaeton was actually an impressive car, but are you gonna drop 100 grand on a Volkswagen when you could have a BMW, Porsche, Mercedes, etc.? It’s precisely why Toyota, Nissan, and Honda created Lexus, Infiniti, and Acura — they knew perception matters, a lot.

The benefit to scaling up might be that as higher-volume manufacturers they can possibly leverage their cost advantages in creating higher-level products theoretically giving them even higher margins selling high-end products, but it doesn’t matter if people won’t buy them in sufficient numbers.

Case in point, MA’s top speakers are by all accounts fantastic and a great bargain for the performance they deliver, but they don’t get near the attention of the Wilsons, Magicos, etc. at their price points. I believe if MA launched a luxury division with a nice new name and raised their prices their top speakers would be getting a lot more interest and exposure. But, all else being equal and speaking from a manufacturer’s perspective, I’d certainly rather be in the position of scaling down as it’s a hugely easier path than going the other way.  Not sure this answers anything, but anyway...
Theoretically, all other things being equal, yes. When in fact all other things are never equal, so the answer is no.

Everything I loathe about these sorts of threads, distilled down into two concise sentences. Practice makes perfect. If only you guys would back off on the opportunities to practice.
Soix: Points well taken. MA gx50 I chose for my 'second' system and I thought them much better than other more expensive. They were so small I thought I was hearing things, but on 3rd listen made up my mind., The PL100II I own--bought unheard because they were an incredible bargain--I thought much more to my taste than 50% more expensive Focal, Kef, and Totem. 
but after all--who could prefer MA or Paradigm to Raidho or Wilson. 
lol.


@OP,
I can only base my opinion upon what my favorite speaker manufacturer does (Vandersteen).
Mr. V's top of the line incorporates the best of the best-Hence the price.
But, the technology incorporated into that speaker has trickled down the line into more affordable speakers like the Quatro and Kento, as well as the venerable 1,2 and 3 speakers and now his subs.
I imagine manufacturers like Wilson and Magico do much the same.-All the while preserving the 'sound' that distinguish their brands.
Bob
@rsgottlieb I don't think it's a case of top down or bottom's up.

I think it's a case of execution against a product strategy and the product offering.

If a company is disciplined in their product strategy and execution they can produce products using a good, better, best offering.  Audio Research is pretty disciplined in this approach.

Other companies focus on satisfying customer demand through presenting themselves through as many channels as possible - think of Sony and their presence at Best Buy, Cruchfield, Target, etc.

So I'd be inclined to focus on what the product strategy is versus the price point of the products.
In the past I listened to all the top of the line speakers then moved down the line to see if the qualities I liked were retained by the cheaper offerings. You can't do that with every manufacturer because designs can be radically different but the majority of manufactures have similarities as you move down the line. 
Cutting to the chase...or actually, the end pile-up....

Taste driven by budget.  Taste will include performance in your particular space and what's upstream of it.

Budget is up to the depth of pocket involved.

It is as simple as that.
Better the cheapest room in a good hotel than the best one in a bad hotel.

I am sure that does not fully apply in this case, but it may be worth considering.

Having said that, I like the sound of lower-priced Monitor Audio speakers and just could not enjoy the sound of one pair of lower-priced Wilson speakers no matter how much better they would have been if both pairs were scrutinized piece by piece (accuracy, timbre, whatever). Magico is in the middle of that. So, I guess, preferences matter the most.
If you want the best lowest priced speaker of a high3nd brand I say look no further than the Rockport Atria II. It is the entry speaker into rockport but does not sound like an entry speaker. IMO it beats speakers from both wilson and magico in its price range. I would take the Atria ove lr a pair of S3MKII or Yevette. Add a pair of great subs that would put it in line price wise with a sasha daw and it will keep up with it as well.

The great thing about Rockport is that as you go up the line you just get more of the family sound. 
Best damn room I ever had was in the cheapest room in a cheap hotel.

I was caught at night in a Nevada sand storm, barely able to see the hotel's neon sign from the road. They were full, but they put us up in the lobby. Under the circumstances, best room in the state.

To the OP's point - most speakers can be dramatically improved by substituting higher quality but similar components. Almost always the crossovers can be enormously improved for a couple of thousand, for a sonic improvement that is not subtle. In ESL's the power supply matters quite a lot. And the big Magnepans can hardly be bettered at any price, but change the crossovers and you have a world beater.

I use a swarm of modified ESL's, and that's perfect for my tastes. 

I doubt if a lower priced exotic could be upgraded to the same extent. 
So I say keep your lower priced exotics and instead, do a DIY upgrade of a very fine product to a great one.
terry9,

"...they put us up in the lobby"

You might have gotten the biggest room in the house. Under the circumstances, Versailles would not have been a match.
Actually that's not true the reason why monitor audio speakers aren't as expensive as magico and Wilson is because they are manufactured in China but if you look at the white paper and see their driver technology in the platinum line it's far ahead of anything that Magico and Wilson make at 80 to 100,000. I've heard the platinum 500 G2 and a $30,000 they're just as good or better than anything that Magico and Wilson make at 80 to 100,000, and that AMT tweeter is much better than that beryllium tweeter that Magico uses.And remember how much more expensive the labor rate is in the United States than it is in China. So the better value is monitor audio because their speakers are just as good in the high-end for one quarter of the price. And they sure do look a lot better than the ugly metal boxes that Magico make.
Here's another thing to consider monitor audio has two anachoic chambers, one in England one in China those cost a million dollars each to build. Magico doesn't even have one in their factory in the United States. I compared the a3 to the platinum 200 G2 and the platinum was much warmer and more natural and real sounding that's why I bought them. And they were $1,000 less than the ugly Magico metal boxes. And I got them in a beautiful Rosewood finish. Monitor audio has a team of 20 engineers working on their speaker designs. I don't dislike Magico, but for the money monitor audio trounces them in looks and sound.
What are you talking about the monitor audio platinum line is world renowned and it is a world-class speaker according to the reviewers if people are stupid and want to pay 80 to 100,000 for a speaker that a $30,000 monitor audio speaker will beat then so be it if they want to be stupid LOL
And just so you know Magico isn't even one quarter is big as monitor audio is.
The answer will be different for each speaker company.  Each company will have a different profit margin they determine to be acceptable for each product line/price tier.  That profit margins is first determined by what price the company believes they can sell the line at (usually determined by the target competitor price).  Secondly by the cost of materials/manufacture.  Then within these parameters, can they deliver an acceptable sound (in the opinion of the company).  When a  high end trickles down they have more pricing leverage due to brand value.  When low end moves up, they may have an advantage on cost of materials/manufacture (leveraging scale).  Though they face a headwind of any low price brand that tries to move up market using the same brand name.  Based on the experience of my past life, price leverage determines profit margin.  So trickle down is the easier business strategy.  Does that mean Wilson could make a better sounding  low priced speaker than Sony ... not necessarily.
It depends on which company makes better speakers.
Which comes down to which one makes the speakers you think sound best.
That one will always be best for you.

Why would Wilson trickle down all their tech from the $250,000 price point to $30,000?  And how, because of cost of top-tech materials and solutions.

There is no general rule and no answer to this rather nebulous question.

Some of the best loudspeakers seem to come from boutique manufacturers, for whom neither top-down nor bottom-up necessarily applies very well. Their products tend to fall in a relatively narrow price band.  Sanders comes to mind.  The company currently sells one loudspeaker, the Model 10.  Base price is $17K.  They're not chasing huge sales volumes (which may be the main reason to have a wide range of price points).
Any speaker that I can use my car buffer and turtle wax on is not for me, ho ho ho.
The speaker sound that those companies achieve can be bettered for a lot less than those out is the statosphere prices you need to keep an open mind and look to the vintage speaker market where you will find fun, musical, and emotional speakers for a lot less money.
thanks for all the thoughtful comments....
Would you rather own a Mercedes or a Toyota? Stupid question. It depends on the model. I might prefer a Lexus (Toyota) LS5xx over an E series Mercedes at a similar price point. There are different processes, even factories in certain cases. Marketers have all kinds of tricks, the "halo effect" and otherwise to trick you into what may or may not be trickle down benefits. I hate Marketing (spent over 30 years in sales) and especially commercials. It is BS. Many times (or I should say most times) price is based on where it is in the marketplace, not what it cost to make, or even how it performs. I was told by a well known turntable manufacturer that some of their wealthy clients wouldn't buy a $20K table because it is too cheap! They wanted to brag to their friends how much they spent. Didn't matter if it sounded the same as a more expensive one.

Bottom line - identify how much you want to spend and what are all of the viable options based on your room, your wife (may hate planars or speakers that are too big, oddly shaped, etc.) other components they would have to work with assuming you don't want to change anything else, REGARDLESS of brand. Then......LISTEN to them the make the cut down to a final number. That's all that matters. If you have a dealer you trust, that helps a lot, especially if they are flexible with trade ins, consignments, etc. They are tough to find though.
It depends. For example: I always thought the sweet spot for Dunlavy’s were in the IV-V series, for Magnaplanar’s the III series, for Thiel’s the 2 & 3 series, and for Vandersteen’s the II series.
It varies.
some of their wealthy clients wouldn't buy a $20K table because it is too cheap!
That’s because it’s a luxury good.  The demand curve is upward sloping for luxury goods unlike practically everything else, and it’s also why I stated earlier that MA would’ve been better off charging more for their upper-level speakers.  

It’s well beyond my knowledge of speaker design and business economics to definitively answer the ops question. But my experience is that if I like the SQ of a particular speaker brand, then I usually like all the offerings from that manufacturer at all price ranges. Perhaps it’s the signature sound that the designer shoots for.
examples: YG, Wilson, vintage Audio Physic, Vandersteen, ...