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Wharfedale Speakers

soundbuff

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Hi,
This is a general sort of query about upgrading and not about products as such:
When you buy a new piece of kit, and money (as always) is a constraint, does it make more sense to buy the entry level product of a 'superior' brand or the top of the line product of an 'inferior" brand,. In the past (meaning 25 years) I have usually ended up buying the 'better brand' for its reputation/reliability etc and the entry level or just above entry level model in its range. Recently I broke this trend: I had to choose between the entry level of an integrated amp by Luxman and the top integrated by Xindak. I had not heard either, (although I had heard the lower models of Xindak) and made my call on specs. Obviously I am not in a position to compare the two models today (so I am clearly not running down Luxman), but I have absolutely no regrets at all about my choice. The Xindak is a serious super-amp. In terms of potential speaker upgrades it has opened up possibilites at a much higher level than I would have thought of, e.g., something like the Usher BE 10 is definitely in its performance envelope.
This experience is got me thinking that it may make more sense to buy at the top of a 'lesser' brand than at the 'bottom' of a superior brand. Especially in India, where choices often have to be made blind, we do tend to stick to the safety of brand rank. Love to hear if anyone has thoughts on this.
 

raghupb

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Soundbuff,
I subscribe to some of your methodology. Brand building takes years if not decades.
For consumers in India where we:
- have fewer dealers
- have higher prices
- don't have 30 day trial
- sometimes don't have demo options
it becomes a blind buy based on "trusted" reviews.

Eg. I bought a Marantz IA locally in 2007 because the pricing was good (same as US price then); paid 28K.
When I had the opportunity to get power amps (a friend moving back from US in 2010), I acquired Outlaw Audio M2200s; paid about 40K for 2 monoblocks.
Speakers I used hand me downs for 12 years before upgrading.
BW 303s to KEF R300s. Again R300s were purchased in UK by a cousin as used/demo pieces; so saved some money on the deal.
This combination works quite well in my living room.

Outlaw Audio is an internet only operation; no support in India whatsoever. But the build quality is fantastic and sound quality is good to my ears. Did not pinch the pocket either.
Another example is Schiit Audio, direct sales and making some serious noise in desktop audio space. Have a couple of products at home and may be one in the pipeline.
If going in for well established brands issues like warranty and service is taken care of locally. Otherwise one runs the risk of dead units when things go bust.

So a judicious risk/reward analysis is required when going with lesser known brands.

Cheers,
Raghu
 
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elangoas

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When it comes to hi-fi, think it would be apt to address it as "not so popular brand" than "inferior brand".. Every-other company is taking effort to make a product at a price point..

Depends on the user experience with hi-fi stuff & "Risk" taking ability.. A newbie wouldn't be willing to risk as much as someone who has experienced some gear..

When i first joined the forum, and was trying to put a system together, FM suggested "Marantz + Wharfedale"..Few years after that, i was ready for a change.. And now most of my purchases have all been blind buy..

Am always willing to bet on the "Dark horse".. It is either a hit (or) miss..
 
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sidvee

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Hi,
This experience is got me thinking that it may make more sense to buy at the top of a 'lesser' brand than at the 'bottom' of a superior brand. Especially in India, where choices often have to be made blind, we do tend to stick to the safety of brand rank. Love to hear if anyone has thoughts on this.

My recent experiences have led me to believe that if I am spending large amounts of money, I am going to look for proper sales/support in India, whether it is a superior brand or lesser brand. However I have noticed that lesser brands seem to be casual about their after sales/support in India for whatever reason, maybe not enough sales etc. Of-course even superior brands may have this attitude, but atleast due to the brand they may react better. Another thing to note which is very disturbing, some brands drop/change their distributors in India, and if you have a product of that brand from the dropped distributor then you are left hanging. Happened to me twice already.
So now I am very careful, I research the brand, then the distributor/dealer so that if I need support in future I will have a place to turn to.
High end Audio is disorganized at-best in India, so if one wants to participate as a consumer, they will have to be very careful.

Cheers,
Sid
 
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magma

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my thoughts

once you study the brand and its history you will have a fair idea of what quality they are comfortable with

for example both Dynaudio the danish brand
got famous with its contour lineup
and above
that was their bread and butter

ofcourse they then explored the segment buy releasing a range of products ( cheaper )
obviously these will be made to sound such that they dont canabalise their bread and butter speaker

this basicallly points to the fact the dynaudio is comfortable with 2l plus speakers ( bookshelf )
now if you misunderstand and go buy their entry level shit you are not a wise man

every brand has this
either they started with entry level stuff - shot to fame
and then said what they hell lets capitalize and tweak and charge double for an upgrade

you need to realize this
where the brand and head designers are coming from

where is their comfort factor
etc etc

decide electronic choice this
way you will never go wrong
 
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magma

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if you are lucky enough to get a mail from one of their designers or top company guys
it will not be difficult to ascertain where they are coming from

let take a
mid budget example
like warfedale

now we all know what their bread and butter is - what they are famous for - what sounds good for its price
Now warfedale bookshelves top out with the Dentons
all their series above it do not make sense for the money they call for

you would be wiser moving to PMC ATC etc



now take PMC for an example
their bread and butter and maximum efforts are on studio monitors and speakers at about 3-4 lac

buying their extreme high end may not be wise
At those budgets you would be wiser taking a KAizer,Manger,Tidal etc etc

Focal for example is used to making good stuff especially in the utopia and Sopra lineup and those budgets
GOing for their entry level stuff would not be wise

This same analogy doesnt apply in just audio
but probably most products in general

a little study on the history of the brand and the designer shoots more clues than you know
 
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prem

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Very well put Magma. Most times it makes sense to look at the very first model they introduced. That model or iterations of that would probably be the Best Buy for that brand.
 
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soundbuff

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Thanks,
Lots of takeaways in the thoughts above. Two things are coming out from the discussion as I get it.
1. At the higher price level buy only brands which have good support. I fully agree. Unknown brands which have little support should be a no-no. However should a less known brand have proper support and legit status it would cover that concern.
2. There would seem to be s 'sweet-spot' in which every brand excels. This is such an interesting and insightful point. If you want to buy a mercedes buy an E- Class else get a good Audi or a top Japanese brand. I can empathise with this approach, especially when we think of entry level products of super high end brands. What is this 'sweet spot' is for you to determine through reading reviews, seeing the product line-up, history of company and of-course auditioning. important thing is not to go just for the brand, but choose a brand that is best at a given price level. There will be exceptions always, but this seems to be good rule of thumb. In some ways it is a bit like saying 'buy something in the middle of a brands range'. I have never done this consciously, but effectively I tend look at what is the long standing model in the line-up, is it steadily being upgraded, how stable is its sale and competitiveness in the sector. While one should also look for innovativeness and fresh thinking, but at higher price levels, there has to be an established and well earned respect for design, longevity and compatibility, although this will bias one against new brands or start up companies. I am not against betting on dark horses, but your horse sense does take some experience maturing.

Thanks a lot for the responses, I really enjoyed reading the above stuff.
 
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Vinod.R

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This is a question which has plagued me many times!

The best answer that I thought is as follows:

1) Check the build quality of the lesser known brand "higher end" with the well known brand "entry level".

2) Which ever offers better build quality for the price, go for it. Warranty etc comes into play usually only in the first year. After that we are all at the mercy of the so called official service centre, local hack technician, our own local hack techie friends etc.!

3) Check if the entry level product has the same inner trappings of the high end models with the fluff removed. Then it starts to make sense to buy the entry level product of a top brand. Sometimes an unknown brand makes a top end model which ends up being top notch. So it is a product to product call basis.

4) I also google up to see if I can see the internal images either at the company website or some where else. A look inside can provide insight as to the quality of the product.

Now my own experience:

I remember in 1999, I had saved up about 1000 dirhams in the UAE to buy my own music system. Being in the UAE and a total noob about music systems at the time, the only going companies were Sony, Samsung, LG and Panasonic. By music system, I mean a power supply unit, dual tape deck, amplifier and tuner with 2 speakers.

Then one day, I saw an ad for a Sherwood music system for 800 dirhams. This sherwood was a completely separates system comprising of a dual tape deck, single cd player, power amplifier with a 10 band graphic equalizer (switchable on or off completely) and power supply. All complete separates unlike Sony and other ones which were all in one boxes.

The speakers build quality was top notch and had really good electronics inside (which I realized after I had bought it!) and sound came top notch.

Here is the funny bit. The dealer in Al Ain who was selling this Sherwood was a Pakistani guy and said "Sir Aap sony kyun nahi lete pata nahi yeh kaisa hoga, pura risk aap ka hai". No demo nothing. I bought it on pure gut feeling after seeing the ad picture.

ENDED UP BEING A FANTASTIC SYSTEM. My cousin, after not listening to my recommendation, bought a "SONY" and paid 1100 dirhams. My system blew his Sony out of the water! He himself admitted that and hit his head on the wall (figuratively!).

We did a A to B comparison side by side with the same CDs and cassettes.

When I finally left Al Ain, my office friends had a fight as to who will buy my system and one of my friends paid 100 dirhams more (Total price 700 dirhams) and literally took it off my hands!

So I feel that it depends on the product, company and what level of compromise has been made on a product at a particular pricing etc and which one is a worth buy.
 
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Soundstage

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Interesting dilemma!

Although there are a few lower priced products from smaller manufacturers which, by virtue of their brilliance do go on to achieve legendary status, and such products would undoubtedly be a no-brainer buy, generally speaking I would opt for the lower priced models from more renowned manufacturers. I would choose from those renowned manufacturers who invest substantially in R&D as I do believe there is benefit to be had of the trickle down syndrome in their entry/mid level offerings.

And, as pointed out above, there would obviously be more peace of mind buying from a well established brand in terms of after sales support.

Cheers
 
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magma

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ofcourse
my above analogy
like life do have exceptions to the rules

rare exceptions
but exceptions none the less

and as prem has found out
Rethum is probably one such case

however the dude ( Jacob ) is a sort of philanthropist
not really like most audio companies
 
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keith_correa

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Does buying blind mean that you cannot listen to the equipment in question or does it also mean that you cannot read about others views on the said equipment?
 
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soundbuff

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It means 'buying without listening'. Something like sex after an arranged marriage; You can figure everything out except the one thing you are looking for!
 
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soundbuff

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One consequence of buying in the 'sweet spot' is that brand loyalty goes for a six. While I am no longer given to any kind of 'loyalty' or even attachment to a piece of kit, when I was younger I felt more strongly about this and that brand. Today all that doesn't matter much to me.
 
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Kushanava

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The product line phylosophy for rethm is quite different from others.
Starting from Trishna to Saadhana..all models have the same design phylosophy..they have similar sound but differ in performance level.One who has lesser space should go for Trishna. This is exactly how it should be..the best pie maker will always give u the same taste despite price variation by weight.Unfortunately some of the manufacturers just doesn't follow this phylosophy of a house sound for users to follow their lineup.
 
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