Why so expensive??

I'm siting here Looking at amps,preamps,speakers,etc...and wondering why some of this stuff cost so much.Don't get me wrong i have some crazy expensive equipment,but $350,000 for amps' come on give me a break.$100,000 for a pre-amp'please.There is no way in h#%* it cost even close to that for parts and build time.So why???What NUT whould buy something like this?Ohh it's the same Nut that just traded in his '06 lamborgini for a '08.God bless you folks with that kinda of cash.And by the way when your ready to trade up let me know i will take your used equipment for FREE since you blowing your money anyway.
Thanks in advanced for your used equipment..
You don't only pay for parts and build time, you pay for knowledge and talent too - and they are the majority. This is generally the case with any quality thing if you stop to think about it. Even services, like your car mechanic. If he finds the problem in 5 minutes because of his knowledge, does that mean you should only pay him $5 for the repair? I doubt you will find one who agrees.

Having said that, I too feel some audio components are overpriced but that gives no reason to spaz out over it.

In almost every hobby there is a way to spend huge money because the market exists at those stratospheric levels. As Aball notes, those people are paying for expertise and rarity and the ability to say I have $100K pre-amp to their buddies.

There is a huge price disparity in nearly every hobby. Labor and parts cost don't drive the price. Scarcity and lust drive the price.


Just like any premium brand, they fulfill a psychological need that some folks have: To be exclusive, to feel a sense of accomplishment, to be unique, to be viewed as successful. It's basic marketing and there's nothing wrong with it. As someone else has mentioned, there's a premium brand category in most product service categories; Clothes, watches, clothing accessories (eg. purses), wines, cars, food, eyeglasses, writing instruments etc.

Other Uber Expensive retail items are driven by scarcity (supply) and demand; Original Artwork, Wine, Musical Instruments (Stratavarious sp?)
you pay for marginalia.....its hi end
Because of the belief in the following equation:

$$$$$$$$$ = sound quality.

As a high-end axiom, one can only seek to refute at at one's risk and peril.
High end audio is a luxury good. As in any luxury market price is used to segment the market into narrower niches. Ultra-expensive is one of those niches. It's aimed at the customer who wants the most expensive and exclusive item in that market.
Who knows how much the quest for audio nirvana costs but some people are willing to pay for it.
Does a $500 bottle of wine cost that much more to produce than a $5 bottle?
Hey, like any luxury item, if you got the bucks and having the best floats your boat, and everyone's happy in the end (particularly the vendor) why not?

Personally, I'd rather go for value and donate the savings to charity or use it for other good cause. Ideally, if more people did this, the world would be a much better place. Then again, I've spent plenty of money on what still has to be considered expensive audio equipment that I am able to afford (barely). I do this because I work hard, love music and aspire to high standards for things I care about.

Realistically, of course, I am not wealthy enough to afford the creme-de-la-creme. If I were, the temptations would surely be hard to resist......

I feel lucky to live in a place and time where so many things (both good and bad) are available to so many and everyone has the ability to chose.

What a wonderful world.......
what really gets me is these guys that buy expensive hand rolled cigars from Cuba? They are rolled with by hand and by spit!! I hate cigars and love to call someone who brags about smoking a $10 cigar a spit sucker!!!!! Yes some people with lots of money have more money than brains!
"There's a sucker born every minute."
-P.T. Barnum

"A cynic knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing."
-Oscar Wilde

"It's never a question of value, but rather of what the market will bear."
A large part of what you pay for at this end of the price spectrum is the creative vision and artistic execution of the designer or manufacturer. How much do you think it cost Jackson Pollock to splatter paint on a canvas?

Whether the cost is justified is a different question but unlike desirable artwork, audio, no matter how well done, almost certainly decreases in value.
The situation as I've come to understand it, is that products of the same category are usually more expensive when made by a small entrepreneur than by a large conglomerate. Because while the large corporation enjoys the massive economy of scale and therefore able to reduce costs, the small one-man company can only continue his craft by charging the full premium of 100% above his costs at retail.

This cost then is compounded dramatically when a distributorship is involved. Hence, it is not surprising that the price of his product ends up being 4 times that of his cost.

The other factor in the existence of a luxury item, such as audio, is that of vanity. Aside from the very fact that many expensive items, such as my 47 Lab PiTracer, Audio Note DAC5 Special, Audio Note AN-E SEC Silver loudspeaker, Tannoy Churchill Wideband, et cetera do present performance envelopes not attained by others at lower price points, there are products that though sonically superior, are priced to appeal to the financially competent for sheer exclusivity.

In the case of that $350,000 amplifier, if that particular $350,000 amplifier is sonically superior to another top company's $50,000 monoblocks even by a small margin, the mere fact that no one but the very exclusive can claim ownership of that $350,000 amplifier will appeal to those who want exclusivity and the very best.

It is an inherent human nature to want the one and very best thing that no one else can get. A movie star girlfriend, that beautiful car, the most elaborate sound room. Of course, if that person simply inherited a huge family fortune and can buy anything, I won't be surprised if nothing will matter to him, not even his expensive, $500,000 sports car. It is only for those of us who have to work our way up, that our adventure in this hobby, and the joy those expensive audio equipment offer will be cherished.

That said, I have not found products in their respective category that can surpass my 47 Lab PiTracer, DAC 5 Special, AN-E SEC Silver, Tannoy Churchill Wideband, etc. for what they do. Just FYI.

Constantine Soo

Retail pricing is a result of market, not of cost to build- nice quote Jimm

Also "Expensive is relative" - I have no doubt that some would say equipment that you own is "crazy" while others would pish posh it as not expensive enough
Any product/service is worth what someone is willing to pay for it.
"Any product/service is worth what someone is willing to pay for it."

Yep. Everyone has their own concept of "value" and "worth".

Of course, good marketing doesn't hurt to boost perceptions of "worth" either!
MYTH: $$$$$$$$$ = sound quality. This is where good reviewers, not beholden to advertising interests can help. Most of us are looking for the best sound, and if it can be had without spending a fortune, all the better. But I think most of us have a hard time getting away from the notion that the more something costs the better it is - definitely not always the case, but it takes a lot of time and effort to find great sound this way, versus the safer and easier approach of just spending more money -- which marketers are all to happy to take advantage of when selling their products. I'm not saying quality parts are not important, they are, but there implementation only brings cost of materials so far -- the rest is marketing and our desire for the holy grail. Companies are certainly free to charge what they want, but it is up to us to find good sound and not wasting a lot of money thinking that doing so is bringing us bettter sound when it isn't.
I think you are talking two different ideas. First, you reference costs. Well, as one other poster said above, most high-end manufacturers are small entities. So the cost of R&D and production, marketing, quality control, etc are spread over a relatively small volume, making the cost per unit high. Second, as another put it, the price is not always closely tied to the cost but to what people are willing to pay for it, i.e. what the market will bear. It does seem that in some instances, the higher the price the greater the demand. I seem to remember a show on TV, maybe 60 minutes, where an alcoholic beverage manufacturer found that the higher he raised the price, the higher the demand became--this could be called snob appeal. The value is in the eye of the beholder.
Dr. Floyd Toole at Harman is fond of pointing to graphs in his presentations that in double-blind testing, the majority of listeners identify speakers in the ~$1500/pair range as "sounding best" and that speakers that cost ~$20K fare as poorly in testing as <$300 speakers.

Granted, I recognize the commercial interest behind his assertions, but it's a point worth considering.

Ultimately, this hobby is a harmless pastime. I don't imagine anyone here is failing to feed and clothe their kids in pursuit of a better stereo, so more power to them if they want to spend their disposable cash on snoochy hifi gear.

Regarding Jwales' comment about relative worth, that's reminiscent of what George Carlin said about drivers.
Then how much should it cost? If YOU can produce an amplifier identical to the $380,000 Dynaudio Arbiter for less than one percent of the price, let us know. We'll buy all you can make.

"People that take risks are rewarded - those who do not, covet." (Me)
All these responces and still no FREE audio!!What gives, I thought some rich guy/girl would take me serious or feal sorry for me and give me some wavevac amps.Guys relax on the subject i dont give a hoot what you spend on gear as long as it makes you happy.I love upgrading just as much as the next guy.I tend to spend way more then i should but there comes a point where i just stop. I'm just looking at the whole picture and wondering.When you get to some point in this hobby it's a diminish and return type of deal.For the guy who spends $350,000 for amps is he just doing it because he can or is he into the MUSIC..Isn't that what it's all about...Music
Why,because they can,its that simple,the ole " its all about the music" is the stupidest thing i read in the forums,for 99% of us its not all about the music,even though most will disagree.
There are few if any reviewers "not beholden to advertising interests" or--just as bad--beholden to manufacturers for a steady stream of items--cost free--to review. So good luck on that score.
I've had 2 mfgr's say they charge outrageous prices because people will pay it. One said he was charging double what he considered a fair price. If he sold for 1/2 his current price people would not take his product seriously.
Why sell 100 of something when you can make just as much money by selling 50? It's not that big a market to begin with and you may not find 100 buyers anyhow.
Because someone, somewhere, is willing to pay.
I just heard a story about a potential customer evaluating a set of speakers that didn't buy them because they "only" cost about 25K. The manufacturer suspects that if they cost 50-60K there would have been a sale, and many of his customers or potential customers are trying to convince him to come out with a product in that price range.

Now me, I am in the opposite camp. I may spend alot on gear (not in the abive mentioned catagory) but it's simply about performance. I dont like to mention how much my gear costs, (except to other 'philes as a point of reference) because to the general public I look like a foolish, irresponsible A-hole for spending what I do on a stereo that to many people isn't a whole lot different that what could be had for $1500.

As far as the outrageous cost of some gear, there is potentially something to it.

I recently took possesion of a product in the $14,000 price range.

Though it performs excellently, after studying some of the parts, I feel
like I wish some better parts were included, even at additional cost to the base price (and plently of upgrade options are available, some of which were to much $$$ for me (better resistors), and even according to the manufacturer dont always produce a significant sonic impact. They seem to offer some of the upgrades because there are some people who have to have "everything" no matter the cost to benefit ratio.

I would have liked silver Nextgen binding posts (Itself costing well over $100) and premium Acme fuse holders. Now I have to go through the trouble and expense of having those parts added, since I feel they will enhance an already exellent product. To be fair I could have bought the parts myself and sent them to the manufacturer for inclusion in my unit, but I didn't become aware of those till it was too late)

Everything is built to a price point. I would hope however that on some of these Ultra expensive products approaching 6 figures and above, that they go the extra mile to find premium parts in every single catagory, and that to me means including premium fuses/holders and connectors on the par of WBT Nextgens, and the best possible resistors and caps available no matter how small their sonic contribution.

There do seem like some products like the Blowtorch preamp (RIP Bob Crump)
where every single part and circuit was optomised to the hilt.

One exception to all this pricing insanity is the TW Acustic Raven One turntable. The manufacturer and distributors (and even dealers I think) knocked alot off their typical margins just so they could release a world class table at a very reasonable price. They sold a lot of them, outstripping production capabilities. They recently upped the price $500 to help build back in some of the normal profit, but it's still a steal for the sonics attained.

Another example of how costs can escalate is the Tron gear from the UK.
Graham Tricker feels obligated to build every unit with his own two hands,
and doesn't trust anyone to build his stuff other than himself. (Same for Frank Schroder I believe) These guys are fanatics for build quality and tolerances, and their products are priced accordingly, though nowhere near these stratospheric prices we are talking of in the thread. I just point it out because there are only a certain number of man hours per year, and there is a maximum number of units these small shops can produce each year, which has a dollar added value all its own.

Personally I'm alot more excited by affordable and amazing products like PS Audio's $999 DAC and cars like the Lotus Elise which offer supercar performance and looks for $40K.
Anybody can look at high end stereo magazines, search for the most expensive components, and buy them to get the best sound. A great sounding system can also be obtained at a fraction of the cost by researching on Audiogon, and other websites.

After a while you soon realize that the best sounding equipment is not necessarily the most expensive. For example the Placette Preamp known only by word of mouth SOUNDS better than the highly acclaimed, well advertised Mark Levinson preamp.

Taking risks such as buying used equipment here can cut the cost of great equipment in half. However, you have to know what to look for in the equipment and the seller.

I saved thousands of dollars but buying raw K-horns and improved the sound of them 100% by upgrading the mid and high horns and crossovers , not with the Klipsch upgrades, but with word of mouth upgrades known only by those that participate on the Klipsch forum.

Using your brainpower, time, effort, and creativity is not only finacially rewarding, but FUN!
It may be what a high-end manufacturer told me once: the vast majority of people, even audiophiles, could never afford a $5000.00 amplifier. The two or so percent who can, can also afford a $10,000 amplifier. In that market, he will sell more of them at $10,000 than if he priced the same amp at $5000. Using that logic, perhaps those that can afford even $100,000 for an amp will not even look at anything priced closer to where mere mortals can afford.

But it cannot be just a matter of surviving as a business. The particular manufacturer I spoke to was know for wearing primarily expensive Italian suits, shoes, and even had a Ferrari or two. And he came from nothing and his hifi business was the only (known) source of income.

Nothing wrong with that. In fact, I wish I had the talent, vision, and fortitude to have done the same thing. But if his analogy is correct, it tells me that if people did not buy mega-buck equipment and cables, then that same equipment and cables would cost much less.
Personally I cannot afford those prices...but I don't concern myself with how others spend their money. As long as they don't dip into my funds to finance it, I could care less. Here's a question for you. Ever spend time developing a product for market? If you have, and its been successful then you know it takes time and resources. Time and resources cost money. And I'm sure you don't donate your time to your employer. If you still can't comprehend it then as long as it doesn't affect your cashflow, go concern yourself with something 'closer to home.'
Expensive = elite limited, an ostentatious display of profligerate spending on something totally unnecessary => it goes back to the basic male drive to demonstrate wealth, accumulate resources and power, and to differentiate versus other males (this may continue long after being happily married, as it is programmed into our very nature). This drive is primarily in order to attract females, however, the drive can become perverted when men build audio systems in basement caves - as it does little to attract females in this case(generous behaviour, attention to children, boats, luxury cars, big houses, social status rank much higher with females in terms of evaluating men). It is the same reason that multi-millionaires want to become billionaires...they must satisfy their drive and can't stop, as it is in their nature.
The next time you think of buying the $15,000 amp, do a blind listening with a $2,000-$3,000 of similar topology and power (Class A, Tube, Triode, SS) and if you can consistently tell which is which, and consistently prefer the $15,000 amp, buy it, it is worth it if you can afford it. You may find this type of evaluation might save you some money more often then you think, unless you simply need to spend more and there is nothing wrong with that if it makes you happy - it does feed the manufacturer's family, children and employees.
Manufacturing equipment costs a LOT OF MONEY. Research and design cost a lot of money. I have been in two high end manufacturer's facilities. Boulder Amplifiers and Dunlavy Speakers when they were in business.

As I remember, Boulder had several CNC machines, these cost megga bucks and you have to have one before you can build any product. So, you finance one, now you have to design a product to build, engineers, designers, CAD workstations... The first design is not always successful, it may not test very well, using the mega bucks test equipment you financed...

Dunlavy's facility had a anechoic chamber! again big bucks, Lots of test equipment. Every componet that was bought from outside vendors was tested before use. Sub assemblies were tested with results logged. Speaker pairs were built using componets that tested similar...

I worked as an engineer for a company that designed and built indutrial robotic manufacuring systems for manufacturers. We had some robotic movement controllers that were the size of an amplifier (and basicly the same thing with a lot of servo loops), that sold for $15,000.00 . A complete system, one built for Johnson Controls ( a HVAC equipment company), cost 3.5 million and took two years to design, build, test, and install.

Just because a product is electronic does not mean it is cheap.

From what I have seen, true high end audio equipment is on the same level of design sophistication as the space program, avionics, medical, really is some of the best product available in the world at any cost.

Jim G.
Shadorne, your argument might work for cars and other luxuries. Unfortunately I have yet to find any woman who does'nt find an interest in Audio, plain weird. Threads like this are interesting, but the arguments are so predictable, you could write them in advance.
1. You are not paying $350000 for the component quality, but for the years the genius designer struggled in a basement with a soldering iron. Sorry, that won't work. Let's be generous and say the 120lb's of steel glass and wire costs $30000 in premium components. lets also be generous and say construction is complex, hand wound transformers for example and that costs $20000. That leaves $300000 and yes I know there are a lot of other costs, but that's the point, those costs are spread over a small number of components. As someone else pointed out, it is grade school economics "Economies of scale", or rather the lack of them. The fixed costs are spread over a handful of units produced, not millions. That is why you are looking at $350000 and it makes for very poor value for money. Besides, who is the real genius, a designer using the very best avaiable components to make the best amp he can, or the guy using inferior parts to make a darn good amp for $5000? I know who I would choose.
2. Putting up the price of a component, may make it more saleable, by making it more reassuringly expensive. Unfortunately, that's probably true and a sad judgement on many of us, who can be schmoozed by a slick salesman, by an invite into the select High end dem room, away from the little people. It probably would work on me too, but I buy 2nd hand, so avoid temptation.
Sadly it's the story of "The Emperors new clothes" an old scam that works every time.
3. Spending $350000 on an amp is immoral, I happen to agree, but it's not illegal. People can spend their money as they wish and their are enough plonkers around to keep the company in business. Spend $10000, 30000 if you must and give the rest to charity, you'll sleep better at night. Plonker by the way is an apt Cockney description, google it if you like, see also dipstick.
Not relevant I know, but the real, hit you between the eyes with a 4 by 2 immoral act, is spending $500 on a meal for 2, when kids are starving for the lack of a few dollars worth of rice, but again, it's a free country.
Finally I have to admit, shaking my head at articles for $1500 interconnects a few years ago, that I buy now. My only defence is I get them second hand.
There I feel better for that rant
Greenelec, that may be true, but there is still great sounding equipment that does not cost a fortune, hand-made stuff, and then there is other stuff that costs 3x-10x and no better, or sometimes marginally better sounding. Both fellas (I assume they are men -Manley and DeHavilland may be exceptions) face the same design costs, tooling and prototyping problems yet one is able to go to market for much less. As far as quality of sound, try the blind test and see if you can consistently pick and prefer the much more expensive stuff. Not to say there isn't expensive stuff that isn't consistently better (my CATJL2 for one IMHO) Again assuming the same basic topology, try the test. In fact, I rememeber how hard it was for folks at the NYC stereo show to discern between a 30 watt EL34 tube amp and a 200 watt 1970s SS Denon amp - that was food for thought.
hi pubul57:

your hypothesis that audiophiles are looking for the best sound is an interesting statement.

no one has stated what "best" sound is, and how to determine when and if "best" sound has been achieved.

there is more than one conception of "best" sound and so "best" sound does not exist.

a lot of people are looking to achieve sound quality that is considered to be excellent according to audio experts.

some people just want to buy an expensive component that nobody owns, or has some unusual technology or appearance. for such people, sound is not the primary consideration.

the above mentioned customer is a likely candidate for 5 or 6 figure amps and preamps.

a manufacture does not need to sell too many $100,000 + components to sustain his/her business enterprise. and there is some intelligence in a business model which stresses selling a few very expensive products rather than many less expensive products.
Mrtennis, I suspect you are right, there are other factors in some our purchases beyond the search for better or sound or best sound, I sometimes seek equipment because I'm interested in seeing how single-ended tubes sound, or an EL84 amp sounds etc - that is, curiosity and love of the equipment and the hobby. I also agree that a "sell a few for more" strategy can be a good business model and perhaps answers the original question "why so expensive?".

I suspect (could be wrong) that many of us make the choice to buy the $10,000 amp versus the $3,000 amp thinking it is "better" in providing more convincing, moving, "realistic" sound (how ever we define it or hear it), and that to some extent the price differential is legitimate in that it fulfills that promise due to "better" parts and materials that we believe to be necessary for improved sound. I think that for a long time I naively believed this; to a great extent I no longer do. I've come to see that less can be more, simplicty in design usually sounds better, and the relationship between $$$$ and sound quality is not direct (though there is some connection). As I get older, the idea of lower powered, tube integrateds (2 or 4 power tubes) appeals to me more and more.
Every industry has it's zentih product.
Would you pay $1,000 for a glass of wine?
Would you pay $519 for MFSL Pink Floyd-The Wall (see Ebay)
Would you pay $54,000,000 for a Van Gogh painting?
Would you pay $20,000,000 for a ride on the Space Shuttle?
Would you pay $350,000,000 to Alex Rodriguez?

There can't be one answer. It's beyond supply and demand! It may be ego for the consumer, greed for the producer!
Maybe they don't even expect to sell these $350,000 amplifiers, but it is something for us to talk about isn't it? And sometimes, someone actually does purchase one!!
If I can point out a few things:

Anyone who objects to the price might want to do a serious price analysis on what the parts cost, the cost of labor, the cost of certification (such as in the EU), the cost of shipping, the cost of reviewers on the take, the cost of advertising, the cost of rent, utilities, the phone, IP service and the like, the cost of administration such as accounting, the cost of shows like CES and RMAF, the cost of warranty, the cost of out of spec parts that suppliers took you to the cleaners for, the cost of Federal, state and city fees and taxation...

Add to that the fact that some of out here who got into this really want to see how well our technologies can perform if we go all out. IOW, the game is not worth playing if you don't enjoy it and give it your ALL.

I concede that some manufacturers appear to be gouging. But I can point to a lot that are not. What we have found is that there is a segment of the audio market that is willing to pay for true state of the art (as opposed to fake state of the art) and they have the ears to know.

If you choose your system based on size, cost, heat, weight constraints, the resulting sound will be a crap shoot. If you choose the system entirely based on the sound being the best that you understand, the result will be entirely different- a transformation.

I also believe that the 'best' exists as a possibililty. I concede that most people have not heard it, and in that world as they have already found out, its all about taste. But the fact of the matter is that the best is real, IOW it it possible. If you've not heard it yet, that's OK, but I would not let that stop you from trying!! Isn't that a large part of what drives the high end of any endeavor?

All the Best,

Ralph, we were initially talking about a $350,000 amplifier and I don't care what it costs to do business -that is absurd, the price is so ridiculous that it almost doesn't deserve comment, but will get it anyway, and some will but it happily. And I'm more comfortable thinking in terms of several pieces that are truly excellent (rather than best), and when you hear them you know it, though they may differ from each other. I don't know if my CAT JL2 is the best, but I have no doubt it is really darn good, and the same can be said for your equipment, and a few others.
I don't think costs or labor has anything to do with price. Every manufacturer in a competitively vibrant market should do whatever they can to charge the highest amount possible. The market and competition will dictate what price is ultimately set. How does one determine a proper multiple of cost of goods anyway? What is fair? There is no fair in a free market, only what the consumer will bear and what the competition will allow. Lets not be naive. Except for a very few instances, every manufacturer wants to make the most money possible while every consumer wants to spend the least amount of money as possible. It is this relationship that helps to determine "proper" pricing. If someone thinks the price of something is too high, they have the choice to simply not buy it. If enough people choose not to buy a product, the manufacturer has a choice to either lower price or go out of business. And if someone does have the cash to spend $350K on a pair of amps, more power to them. I can't and I won't. Even if I did I won't buy why bash the manufacturer for selling this product? Obviously, someone is buying it. You may think its absurd to spend $350K on amps but realize that people in many parts of the world will think that is just as absurd for anyone to spend $3 on a cup of coffee or bottle of water.

Of course if a manufacturer has a monopoly then I can see where examples of price gouging can occur.
"Unfortunately I have yet to find any woman who doesn't find an interest in Audio, plain weird."

I have yet to find a woman who doesn't find a man, who demonstrates his wealth of disposable income by spending a quarter mil on a stereo, more interesting than a guy with a Bose.
We have an amp that costs $92,000... it takes 2 of our guys about 3 months of solid work to build it. Its on 4 chassis and makes a lot of power: 500 watts into 4 ohms and it has built in tube testing and power line regulation. At least when done you can *see* where the money went. OTOH I agree with the initial comments but there was some thread drift so I jumped in....
Why is oil near $100 a barrel? Pumping it out of the ground costs no more today than when it was $19 a barrel.

Answer is that there are people who will pay that price. To the extent that high end audio is an ego trip, a high price is a plus.
Sometimes it is better to look at other factors besides just the actual price. For example, I am in the lawn maintainence business (fancy way of saying I cut grass). My lawn mowers cost $10,000; $8500; and $3500. Some may baulk at that much for a lawn mower, but they are all Commercial equipment made to cut grass sometimes as much as 50 hours or more a week, do it quickly and with a quality cut without tearing up (usually). Compare this to the homeowners' model riding mowers that have Built-in obsolescense (designed not to last too long, so you will maybe buy a new model in 2-3 seasons instead of fixing the old one.)

So high-end audio is like commercial lawn mowers, you get what you pay for.(although I still wonder about six-figure speakers;)
Why is oil near $100 a barrel?

This is why.

Now back to regular programming......
Joeylawn36111, there lies the rub, do you get what you pay for? In many cases absolutely not and this hobby lends itself to many instances of that. Then there is some equipment that is expensive, is well built, good parts, sounds good, and is worth every penny to those that can afford it. On the other hand I think there is equipment out there where the price is inflated on any of those grounds.
My partner is building a $2 million house. The first bid that he received for A/V/Security was $250,000. The proposed Theatre system couldn't have made music to save its life. Fortunately sanity prevailed and now we're talking $50,000 or so, including a 2-channel set up and a much more modest video set up.

The wife had no idea how musical a system could be. She attends concerts regularly, yet she'd never heard good sounds over two-channel. Once she did, she wanted more and gave up on decree that all speakers had to be in-wall. So, they'll have a modest, but musical, 2-channel in attention to the full-house distribution and reasonable video.

When building a $2 million house (surely an ego statement) many people don't balk at $200-500 thousand for media and security. It's foolish, IMHO, but it's more common than not.

BTW, I drive a Hyundai Azera and my partner drives a large Mercedes and a Lexus 400-series SUV. My wife drives a Hyundai Sante Fe SUV and his wife drives an Audi A8L. He's got a hanger with airplane, I've got a room full of great musical instruments. We're great friends and partners, but with very different personal priorities.

EGO is everything. It took me a long time to understand that in the business world. It doesn't matter if you're talking about $100 or $1 billion, ego is MORE likely to impact a decision than logic.

IN (AND ONLY IN) the right context is an amplifier worth $350k. that would mean the synergistic match with everything else would also cost almost unbelievable amounts of cash.
the end result would HAVE to justify the means- in this case of course a near-perfect listening environment. the software would have to be the highest resolution available combined with the best musical performances. and then you would have to tackle the question that a person that could afford this theoretical super-system might be better off getting good seats at carnegie hall or lincoln center. with that kind of money to burn they could fly to europe or japan to catch concerts all over the world. they could hire a string quartet to play at their house.
i know my system has inherent comprimises, as does my living room. i have trained myself to listen past these shortcomings; occasionally, on an exceptional recording, the illusion of live music does visit my ear/brain during a period of receptivity, and that for me is rocket fuel for justifying the money i have already spent.
if switching on a super-system and putting on a really good alblum or cd puts you in a virtual trance, yeah, it would be worth it. if you can relax and enjoy it instead of worrying about managing your prodigious wealth or calling your broker 10 times a day, then that's great. maybe they'll invite some other folks over for a listen, too. like me for instance...
Is this worth the price?

mini-system chip amp for $1,100

I guess it is because someone is willing to pay the price.