THE HIGH-END: Is it too expensive? Compared to what?

Steve Guttenberg writes: High-end audio prices have never been higher, but that's true for high-end everything these days. So maybe a better way to look at high-end audio is to consider the value high-end audio offers compared with other high-end products and services. I'm not talking about diamond encrusted Beats or iPhones -- the prices of the best gear from established high-end audio brands is commensurate with the rising prices of Bentleys, Porsches, Lamborghinis, private jets, yachts, and so forth. We occasionally cover this level of exotica here at CNET, and next week I'll report on the $27,500 Ayre Acoustics KX-R Twenty stereo preamp -- it's a honey!

That's a lot of dough, but there are guys who'll happily spend $2,000 for a pair of Super Bowl tickets, and at last year's Boston Red Sox-St. Louis Cardinals World Series games, someone reportedly paid $24,000 on StubHub for a pair of tickets in the first row in a dugout box between home plate and one of the on-deck circles. That Ayre preamp's price doesn't seems so crazy out-of-line now, does it?

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