I would like to make a few comments about the entire idea of those expensive Japanese compression drivers: GOTO, ALE and alike. I have voiced the near-similar outlook about the irrational exuberance that some audio people express about electromagnet drivers:
it was not about the drivers themselves (so far I do not see a credible advantage of electromagnets) but about the idiotic preoccupation of those people with artificial cost of the electromagnetic drivers. Anyhow, my views, mostly critical views, about GOTO’s prices would be from slightly different perspective.
I do not like the GOTO pricing politic. I do not just complain about the fact that they are expensive. However, I do insist that keeping prices for these drivers extremely high GOTO is shooting itself (or most exactly the customers) in foot, getting worse Sound from their drivers, getting worse juts because the high price. I will explain why I feel this way.
Please do not take my comments as an typical audio person’ bitching about the price of something that he can’t afford. I am actually stupid enough to afford to pay $20K-$30K for a driver for my speaker. We are, the snob-enthusiasts of horn loudspeakers, the people who spent a lot of time, money and efforts on our horn multi-ways, the people who take horn-loading concept to its implementation extremes – we are the people that companies like GOTO live and die to serve. Do GOTO really try to serve us? Well, it is more complicated, let look deeper…
GOTO is hardly serious speaker manufacturing company. They do have own views, well traditioed views, but their systems, the complete systems are well beyond any sensible criticism. The design concepts that GOTO invests in this “recommended systems” are so bogus that it is truly laughable. I am sure many of people who have interest on the subject did look at the pictures of many GOTO installations with GOTO channels dropped in a random order, with no time alignment, with absurd horizontal offset with axis angling… Erh!!! Looking at the GOTO-sponsored speakers I feel that GOTO is not speaker manufacturing company but rather a company that makes raw compression driver and sell then as OEM or DIY parts. I completely disregard all GOTO horns and their recommendations how their drivers should be used… as I feel they do not know it.
(I need to make a comment here as I do not necessary feel that Mr. Goto and Co is necessary are ignorant but I do know that they have own rational to keep public position and public attitude of the company in the direction that make them comfortable to sell products and services to generally idiotic audiophiles. There are a great number of industry people, and I can name many of them, who are in the very same boat and who sell to public a fraction of own capacity or on many instances intentionally faulty solutions knowing that better solutions will not be appreciated anyway but the customers they have.)
First let look the price of GOTO (ALE) drivers – the $10K-$50K per driver in retail, indeed sound as expensive. Some manufactures, for instance Vladimir Lamm, to make final prices multiply expanses 10 times – they are perfectly in their right to do so. If GOTO sells a driver for $20K-$30K then it means that it cost 2K-3K to make it. My experience to deal with custom drivers indicates that it is about right: if I for my own custom driver that I need then I would cost me ~$4K (and few years to found out what works and what does not). Do not forget that I am taking about a pair of drivers. If I order 200 of those drivers then the cost of each driver goes down to $310. They are actually the real numbers of my 5-poll Quartopuss driver:
I am sure GOTO do not sell or make a lot of drivers, why? Because they would like to keep price high, however that prevents to expose GOTO drivers for a wide array of OEM or DIY people. Please remember this simple result – GOTO drivers are not being exposed to common practice of horn public.
Anyhow, the untold truth about the speaker drivers that they are very cheap to make and the prices go down each year. The magnets nowadays cost nothing, as well as many other technological parts. What has some cost is the GOTO know-how but that know-how, whatever it worth, has been expensed long time ago. So, GOTO build their drivers with 20-30 times retail mark up with objective to keep the artificial retail price high. Even in Japan, where GOTO prices are a fraction of US retail price, the GOTO drivers are still very expensive.
Keeping retail prices of $10K-$50K per driver GOTO does something negative to themselves – they eliminate a wider community of perspective OEM and DIY customers, the customers who would be able to make USE of the GOTO drivers in their own, more advanced then GOTO’s original applications. Now we enter as very dangers zone. I claim that keeping retail prices of $10K-$50K per driver GOTO explicitly select for themselves very peculiar target of perspective customers – the ignorant and uninformed customers.
I certainly do NOT make a statement that anyone who use GOTO drivers are ignorant and uninformed. Still, I do insist that anyone who USE GOTO ideas “as is” would be an ignorant and uninformed person in the subject of horn systems. I have heard two complete GOTO installations. Whatever good or bad they were the owners of those installations were very unacquainted with horn loudspeakers. The owners were very nice and intelligent people and very fine in what they do (that made them to make enough money to afford GOTO-based systems) but they had completely hands off approach in audio. Somebody came to them, build up GOTO-based systems and showed them where to connect speaker cables. Those people did not use GOTO driver as creative tools of their installations and they would embrace with the very same enthusiasm the results if the speakers TAD, JBL or TOA based system.
So, where I see the problems with GOTO price approach? I see the problem with GOTO inflating the price of their drivers, keeping people with experience and skills how to use compression drivers out of loop of perspective users. I would like to see dozens of horn’s DIYer embrace GOTO drivers and experiencing with them. Let those peoples to be even as moronic as AudioAsylum.com and DiyAudio.com level – it is not a big deal. I would like to see a few horn turners that we have left in US to accommodate their horns for GOTO drivers, and have customers who use it, collecting knowledge base about the results. I would like to see horn manufactures, starting from Cessaro and ending with Bruce Edgar have options in their speakers to accommodate GOTO drivers. I would like simply to see GOTO driver being used and do not be concentrated in the hands of some freaks to reach whom it is necessary to fly 8 hours. Hey, it would be nice if after the fly you do not witness a moronic setup with GOTO drivers… I porously did not see any photograph or description of a single GOTO installation that I would feel comfortable.
The compressions drivers are superbly important but they are very small fraction of a successfully performing horns installation. Let me to approach from another side. What would I consider be a reasonable price for a good compression driver? I feel it would be around $5K or perhaps $7K of the driver is too obnoxious. Why so much? Because it will be juts ~3 octaves, because it will need 3-5 other drivers to support itself, would need time and much money invested into horns and horns arrangements, and because it cost $300 to make the damn driver. I can understand the manufactures that use those “serious” drivers to sell acoustic systems for $100K -$150K. I also can understand GOTO that sell 6 drivers for $10K and the systems for $60K. The “system” according to GOTO is just 6 drivers, the drivers crazy-glued together, with ZERO investment in the entire system design. That is why GOTO system are so brainlessly made – because they have no cost invested in “system” but juts bogus inflated cost in the system’s drivers.
Sure, if GOTO willing to continue to sell 8 drivers per year and to serve their explicit club of arrogant but ignorant users then it is fine. If however GOTO has interest to become an Instrument of Sound and do not afraid to compete then I would suggests GOTO to drop retail price approximately 4 times, soliciting wider margin of customers to USE the GOTO drivers. Her is the most important element: devitrifying the exposure of own drivers GOT could make OWN customers to tech GOTO how to use their driver and perhaps GOTO might found ways to make the drivers BETTER than they are now in context of more demanding systems (since GOTO with their OWN system designs are clueless what they do).
Once again, talking about the price of GOTO drivers I defiantly do not talk about profit that manufactures or dealers make – whatever they do it good for them. Here as in many other posts of my site where I try to use price tag of audio equipment as an applied tool that has ability of driving the results. I think that high price of GOTO (ALE, YL and few others) drivers do not serve Better Sonic Results for GOTO. Exotics price is fine but it should come in a package of a complete exotic solution that deliver BETTER exotic result. So far what GOTO offers is a set of expansive exotic drivers imbedded into extremely mediocre system and a set of extremely ill-mannered design view. I do not think that it made many people to pay attention to GOTO. Dose GOTO willing to promote itself as a Rolls-Roys engine sitting atop of Honda Civic chassis?
The compression drivers are juts very rich musical instruments of symphonic orchestra and to be able to yield own capacity those instruments have to be used by qualified musicians. With being played symphonic orchestra instruments become a museum, audio become a literature and the Japanese Stereo Sound Magazine become a pile of audio pornography.Rgs, Romy the caT
"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche