Looking at an issue of Hi Fi Plus, one of my favorite UK magazines, the cover shows a picture of the beautifully executed Constellation Audio products. These super expensive high-end audio pieces are beautiful on the inside and the outside and cost a small fortune to own. Much of that fortune is spent on cosmetics: to the point from a manufacturer’s perspective that it is quite possible the casework costs more than what’s inside on some products. I am not making a comment on Constellation because I actually haven’t a clue, but there are some out there …..
I wonder where it’s appropriate to draw the line if you’re a manufacturer?
Cosmetics are important – we certainly spend enough on ours – but it is interesting to think about how it’s divided up.
I remember a period when PS Audio paid little to no attention to the casework, preferring to put all our budget into the insides rather than the outward jewelry. I was standing at a CES in Chicago (they were held there many years ago) and a customer walked into our room and was running his hand over the product. ”Cheap stuff, eh? Does it sound any good?”
“Yeah, it’s some of the very best – better than others costing ten times more!” Said I.
“Hmm, you’d never know it. If that’s true, why would you put it in this ugly box?” Said he.
“Because we believe in putting all our money into what matters: how it sounds. Every dime I spend on the casework is a dime I cannot put into making it sound better if I have a fixed budget.”
“The problem with that approach is that I, the consumer, have no means to evaluate your claims. If the outside doesn’t look as good as the insides, then chances are you’ll never be noticed and, besides, you’re forgetting about pride of ownership. It may sound great but I expect it also to look great on my shelf.”
He had a good point.