The "how can you possibly do it for the price?!" comment is something we've heard a lot. We've generated the same reaction with other products in our portfolio too. The truthful answer to that question is that we aren't cutting any corners….I know I know, that's what they all say, but let me explain.
It all comes down to components and our willingness to delve deep into the dark corners of the market to find the components that offer the best performance for the best price. If other audio companies need a component, they'll get on the phone to the most popular (and expensive) manufacturers and pay a standard price for something that'll do the job. However when we need a component, we do our homework - we get samples, we test, we measure, we test again, and we always find an alternative that will feel as good, sound as good, and be as reliable for a fraction of the cost. Better alternatives always exist... if you can be bothered to look and negotiate.
We're also using discrete analogue components and designing original circuits rather than just using ICs (which are expensive). We don't use any stupidly priced op-amps - we use op-amps that give us the performance we need where we need it; that was another test, listen, measure, repeat procedure until we found something that works really well.
We aren't buying stupidly expensive connectors. There are 50 I/O sockets on the back panel of 500R8; if we were paying the market rate for 'industry standard' connectors, then that back panel alone could easily cost as much as $2-300 before we even talk about assembly.
For converters, we are using the very latest multichannel offerings which have a great inflection point in terms of price for performance - anything cheaper makes too many sacrifices and anything that's marginally better in terms of performance costs outrageously more.
Of course, the magic bit that you can't buy is our expertise. We design the very best supporting circuitry for every one of those components to make sure that they are running at their best and we have something that is incredibly optimised throughout. Converters are only as good as the supporting analogue circuitry; we have an analogue electronics genius on our team.
Another reason why we can achieve this kind of pricing is because we are going for volume. Maybe not quite a stack 'em high, sell 'em cheap mentality, but it's an aggressive but carefully calculated sales target. The more components we buy, the cheaper they become and so we have a manufacturing schedule that enables us to get the very best prices and relay that cost-saving onto the end-users - rather than just line our own pockets! The markup that some companies whack on their gear would make you feel rather ill!
If we only wanted to sell a dozen a month, we would not be able to achieve anywhere near this kind of pricing and the retail price would be much more inline to other brands that offer similar performance as ourselves.
Finally, It's our own mentality that enables us to get to these prices. We could easily make fewer units, charge more, and get by - but we aren't interested in doing that! We want to make cool stuff for a price everyone can afford and enjoy. We want to prove to ourselves - as well as the industry as a whole - that you can make stuff as good for a price this low and still build a brand that people trust with products that we all believe in.
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