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In the Forum: Analog Playback
In the Thread: Audio Note new turntable and inflation
Post Subject: The Turntables and their PricesPosted by Romy the Cat on: 1/3/2010

 tokyo john wrote:
Audio Note has released a turntable called the Ginga which costs 60 thousand US dollars in Japan. (if you google Audio Note Ginga images you will find it very easily).
My first reaction was pure cynicism, as Audio Note does traditionally price its products aimed at Russian oligarchs, but given how prices of tonearms have gone up so much (prices of Dynavector, SME arms have doubled over the past 10 years), it is possible that it costs a lot of money to bring out a turntable like this today (ok, if not 60k, maybe 25k?).
Limited quantities, precision machining, and the small number of machining companies who will take on the job etc. all make it lot more expensive than 20 years ago to do the same thing. People who own Micros in good condition shoud rethink what price they should ask for when they sell!?

Digressing a bit, I have no idea if the Ginga is as good as a top class Micro, but in the latest Stereo Sound (Japanese hi-end audio magazine), one of the reviewers (and all Japanese audio reviewers are pretty familiar with Micros) said he approached the turntable with great skeptism but was actually impressed by the sound (given the price, he ought to!). Audio Note hardly advertises, so I think there is much less favoritism at play compared to say a product from Sony.
Other thing to note is that the founder of Audio Note, Kondo, has passed away and the company is now being run by people who used to work for him. I have heard how the current folks at Koetsu (son of the founder no less), has a more business-like approach to things and many Japanese swear by the "first generation Koetsus".

Coming back to the original theme, much manufacturing has moved out to China, so until the Chinese get serious about audio, and are able to do very high quality machining, prices of tomearms and turntables have no place to go but up. Since gold has already gone up so much in price, buying a couple of Gingas may be a good way to hedge against inflation :-)

Interning that I had a very same discussion with a NY friend of mine a few days back. There was a Micro 5000/II in a very good condition in HiFiDo and it was sold for $7K-$8K. I made a few calls to a few friends of mine informing them about the fact that it was a 1/3 -1/4 of the price from where it shell be. When I mention about it to my NY friend he told me that he had brand new Micro 8000/II, very last production, sealed in the box, never opened. He is willing to sell it he asked ask what I think the price for it might be? That leaded us to the very same conversation that you, John, stated. Continuum Caliburn has price tag of $160K, Transrotor Argos- $250K, Clearaudio Statement - $142K, Basis Work of Art – $170,000, Goldmund Reference- $142K, Transrotor Artus- $200K, Audio Consulting Revolution -- $140K, Clearaudio Ultimate Reference - $100K. I can continue the list but I think everyone who read this site knows it. The prices them are not necessary outrages but outrages is that fact that none of those prices have any relation to sound the TT produce. The prices themselves became a product of industry. For instance if I have a chose to get a new Continuum or Transrotor vs. to get  Micro 8000 or MIT 927 then I would get Micro/MIT with any second though. Does it mean that top Micro/MIT shall cost $300K-$400K? A rational person would say so, but there is very little sanity in High-End.

The problem with High-End price makers is not that they can’t put the price tag on Sound but that they do not truly know what Sound is. I am very much not kidding. Industry does not sell Sound but talks about Sound, the promise of gratification that has absolutely nothing to do with Sound. In this environment price might be anything and become very much irrelevant. Ironically I learned something from my real-estate buy-side broker. He has a notion that each house has a value for me, not the price that is being asked for the house. I think it a very right attitude. Yesterday I was asking for a new cable: 

I said that I would not pay for this more then $150. It is not because that I can’t not afford more but it is because that in context of my playback and the results that I get from my analog I do have a feel that the value of this cable shall not be more than $150.  If somebody makes cables that coast $10.000 then good for them and they need to learn how to make the very same cable to coast $150, not to mention that we all know that all expensive cables cost a few dollars to produce and all super-cable prices is just an industry pump up.

So, how much a very good TT shell cost in a playback of a person who would like to get good analog sound? That is very interesting question. As we enter into association of price for the features and price for useable result. Did you pay attention that it NEVER was done by industry? Wonder why?

About the new Condo Ginga TT – I do not know a lot about it. From their web site is said that it is oil-bearing and has sort SME tonearm, I do not know anything else. I personally would challenge the fact that $60K TT has an accommodation just for one tonearm. However, it is not $60K TT. From this $60K of the retail price 10%-15% is the “street” accommodation, 50%-60% is dealers mark up, 10%-15% is distributor mark up, 10%-20% is industry accommodations. What is left? $5K-$7K cash that Condo would get? Thai is pretty much how much a good  TT shall coast to begin with. Would you agree that sound of tonearm, sound of cartridge and sound of phonostage is as important as the sound of TT? If one pays $2K for cartridge then why he shell pay more for TT if the sound of cartridge is MORE important than the sound of TT?

As I said – a very little common sense and the whole illusionary BS that the industry built around itself despairs like a mirage… 

Rgs, Romy the Cat

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