There are hefty duties on speakers!
Around 25% if I recall. Funnily enough, you can ship transducers with little or no import tax. This is why many countries have their own custom cabinet makers and these custom cabinet makers call themselves speaker designers!!! Rather an exaggeration for a bit of woodwork. I believe cabinets can be imported also from China with little or no tax as long as “final assembly” is in the US. So Chinese cabinets and European transducers now make up a large share of “American built” audiophile speakers.
So in addition to added freight cost - import duties play a big role.
It’s the same thing in reverse..... go compare the price of TOTEMS sold domestically by dealers on this side of the pond, versus the price charged by UK dealers
The variance is an alchemy of numerous components, including inter Alia:
- foreign exchange spread,
- OEM - local distributor negotiatiated dealer price-list to incorporate local warranty costs carried by that distributor (another buried FX component therein ) ,
- duties (a big one) ..... the UK has a much broader OEM brand population to promote and protect (and vice versa)
- other bespoke marketing items e.g There are examples of the same price in absolute values, except it’s dollars vs pounds. The local currency rules in terms of customer brand awareness.
I feel this is the number one reason you see audio companies starting to direct sell so there is not the middle man taking a cut. This lowers their prices 15-30% across the board. the distributor is a love hate relationship. Love the overseas products we see but hate the mark up.
try it when your distributor is in another country, always hated giving a cut to a company in another country altogether then either the source country or destination country.
The problem, so to speak, with the direct sale model is that most of the companies doing it are small and haven’t been building speakers for very long. They can’t touch the long-established brands like B&W, Focal, Tannoy, etc in accumulated R&D and manufacturing know-how. They can’t match the economies of scale. Their cabinet designs tend to be more simplistic (I’m not talking about just making the outside of the box a really pretty finish). They usually have to outsource critical parts like drivers, rather than building from scratch and truly optimizing as a whole for their own builds. They’re also not able to throw the money at very exotic builds and materials like a Magico.
I’ll buy a Tannoy all day over any direct-sale speaker. Just wish the prices hadn’t gone up so much recently (e.g. Canterbury GR jumping from some 27K list to 36K in the last year).
VAT on exports to non-EU countries
VAT is a tax on goods used in the EU, so if goods are exported outside the EU, you do not charge VAT. You can zero rate the sale, as long as you get and keep evidence of the export, and comply with all other laws. You must also make sure the goods are exported, and you must get the evidence within 3 months from the time of sale. This can be longer for goods that need processing before export and for thoroughbred racehorses.
I do not want to contradict Elizabeth , but I would be supprised if the VAT was in the dealer’s price.
just on a marketing or sale standpoint, dealers of all sorts try to attract customers by showing the minimum price.
Think about cars advertisement, the price that is published is far from the one that will be at the bottom of the bill.
I also like the walnut stain on these speakers. I love to support local dealers but it is not justified for me to pay $4000-$5000 more for the same set of speakers. I agree that there are some risks involved in buying abroad. If I am not ready to take those risks, I may need to explore other options such as different speakers or buy used ones.
Regarding VAT, the online retailers do list price with VAT. But as soon as I select country of destination (USA), It subtracts 20% from the listed price. Also if I select some other products that they are not allow to sell, they will display "Sorry we are unable to ship this item to your area due to our agreement with the brand."
Feedback from their internet site
John, Caroline du Nord
I want to underline that I have no interest in Son Ultime business.
I am not one of their customer .
Tannoys do tend to show up used for great deals - they’re not always posted, but you’ll find a great deal on Kensington GR/GRF-90/Canterbury GR if you’re patient. The GR versions of the pepperpot/alnico drivers are what you want - they really are better. Then you’ve got to vet the seller as trustworthy, and ensure they ship freight (don’t even thing about standard UPS/FedEx Ground services) and use all original factory packing. But you’ll save a veritable boatload of money! The trouble is finding an avenue to service if you need it. The most likely part to fail is the little 2" tweeter diaphragm that bolts on to the back of the large driver unit - it’s actually very easy for almost any tech to replace IF you can get that part. They were like $200 each in the SE days, and were available for sale online. Not sure about the new GR parts.
I’ve not dealt with the "Son Ultime" guy, but his posts have shown up in Facebook Tannoy groups, and his chop looks really cool! Looks like a serious Tannoy lover & dealer - I wish there were more of those. My dealer is "The Audio Company" just across the block from me in Marietta GA; I'm one of the very fortunate few with a Tannoy dealer so close :)
Thanks everyone for your input. Just like the previous user suggested, I need to be patient. I am in no hurry to buy and will wait for a couple months. If there is no good deal on the horizon for either new or used Tannoy speakers, I may either check overseas or entertain other brands.
has anyone listened to the GRF 90? Just wonder how it's compared to the Kensington and Canterbury.