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Are Expensive Speakers Really Better? + What Makes it High End

In the pursuit of superior sound quality, the allure of expensive speakers is undeniable. Yet, as tempting as it may be to invest in technology such as premium audio equipment, one must pause and ponder: does a hefty price tag guarantee an unparalleled auditory experience?

So, are expensive speakers worth it? Expensive speakers, ranging from $300 to $5,000+, boast superior craftsmanship, premium materials, and meticulous engineering, promising high-fidelity sound. However, their subjective value hinges on individual preferences and usage scenarios, so you should consider factors beyond price alone.

In this article, we look at expensive speakers and why they cost so much. We’ll talk about how they’re made and why people think they’re worth the price. Whether you’re an audiophile or a savvy buyer, join us in navigating the realm of audio excellence.

Why Are High-End Speakers So Expensive

What Makes High-End Speakers More Expensive -  Are Expensive Speakers Really Better?

The cost of a speaker comes from more than the electronic components themselves. High-end speakers can be more expensive due to the design of the speakers, the quality of materials, the durability and weight, and even the branding. These elements are often much more important than people realize.

The biggest thing to watch out for if you care about quality and value is brand-inflated pricing. Beats headphones, for example, are notorious for being a very low-quality product that gets sold at a high price because of its branding alone.

You need to be very careful about purchasing expensive headphones or speakers because the brand can play a huge part in the pricing.

Assuming we are not talking about speakers that are so expensive because of the brand alone, there are several components where the quality can be seen and felt.

Weight is Usually Associated with the Quality of the Driver

More expensive speakers are typically more robust and substantial. They will have thicker enclosure walls and heavy-duty hardware. Weight is a huge factor when it comes to speaker quality.

Good speakers require drivers with heavy coils that can precisely drive the speakers. In fact, the more rigid and complicated a speaker is, the heavier it will be.

Why Lighter Speakers Are Usually Not as Good

The added weight also reduces the vibration of the speaker or within the speaker itself. This is dually important.

First, the sound would be immediately affected if you can hear the vibration of the speaker’s components while it’s producing moderate to high levels of bass.

Secondly, a vibrating speaker over time will likely loosen components and start to sound distorted. This means a speaker that isn’t durable might sound perfect now, but terrible in a year.

Shipping Heavy Speakers is Expensive

Also, one of the reasons is that the added weight will likely add to the shipping cost as well. This is one reason to avoid buying speakers made in China.

Though China does produce some quality products, bulky items like quality speakers become expensive to ship from low-cost countries. High-end speakers are usually built in the US or Europe.

Manufacturing

It is common for expensive speakers to use more expensive components, but in some cases, they will design entirely new elements. As an example, some people believe speakers sound better if the audio is all coming from a single point in space.

As a result, manufacturers like KEF put one driver inside the middle of another driver. So rather than a tweeter a few inches above the midrange driver, the tweeter will be inside the midrange driver. This requires extra design and engineering and can add to manufacturing costs as well.

Expensive Speaker Materials

Are Expensive Speakers Really Better - Speaker Driver

Some speakers may be more expensive because they use high-end or exotic materials. In some cases, this may be neccessary for aesthetic purposes. Wooden enclosures may be constructed out of finished walnut or painted with a red violin finish.

The level of workmanship or intricate visual detail can add significant cost to the speaker. An extreme example of this is the Porsche 911 soundbar, which retails for $3,500. It has great ratings, but more in-depth reviews detail that the sound is just “better than okay.”

While durability, engineering, and high-quality materials are great, they do not guarantee a great-sounding speaker. So sure, you can pay more for better visual aesthetic and material quality. However, if you want a better experience with your media, spending more money isn’t always a better way to get there.

Do Expensive Speakers Sound Better?

As we have explained above, expensive speakers feature high-quality components and meticulous craftsmanship, undergoing extensive research and development for optimal performance across various frequencies, which allows you to have a higher-quality sound.

However, remember that whether they sound better is subjective and depends on personal needs and preferences. They excel in providing superior sound quality for audiophiles, professionals in audio production, and enthusiasts who prioritize high-fidelity audio reproduction. They’re also preferred in environments where accuracy and clarity are crucial.

How Can You Tell A Good Quality Speaker

Quality speakers deliver clear, balanced sound across all frequencies, free from distortion. They’re crafted with durable materials and premium drivers to minimize vibrations and ensure accurate sound reproduction. Consider reputable brands and factors like power handling, sensitivity, and room acoustics when choosing speakers within your budget. Reviews can also offer insights into performance and reliability so that you can choose the best speakers for your home theater system.

Setting A Speaker Budget

Approaching $1,200, speaker quality gains diminish. Spending $500 more boosts lower-end models, but adding $2,000 at the higher end may only yield a minor 5% improvement. Sub-$1,200 speakers offer comprehensive sound, with pricier options providing subtle enhancements, valuable for audiophiles and audio production.

Room acoustics greatly affect speaker performance. High-end audio speakers may not justify their investment in untreated or small, echoey rooms. Spending over $1,500 on speakers might not be wise without proper room size and acoustical treatment, as environmental factors can dampen quality improvements.

Check out our article on home theater room dimensions, it goes into detail about the importance of the size and shape of a room for acoustics.

Professional Grade Speakers

When you get out of consumer-grade equipment and into production-level audio gear, you start looking at equipment designed for an entirely different purpose.

Consumer-grade equipment is made to be versatile, and to sound pretty in a variety of settings no matter what is playing. This is the personality of the speaker itself and is often referred to as color.

Color can be great and can make small systems sound a lot bigger than they are, or make cheap audio systems sound impressive. The problem with color when working in a professional environment is precision. The sound might be rich, but it’s not accurate.

It’s not uncommon for speakers at this level to be priced at well over $5,000. However, not all producers use the most expensive equipment around. According to users, some producers use speakers that cost less than the equipment in my living room. I’ve even met one producer who built his speakers from scratch.

If you want to try to convince musicians to record their albums, or authors to record their audiobooks at your studio, then you want your studio to look impressive. This means you may want to invest more in speakers that look better.

It’s counterintuitive, but adding $1,000 to your speaker budget for something that looks better might pay off much more than adding $1,000 to your speaker budget for something that sounds better.

Related Questions

Are Bose Good Speakers?

Bose speakers are hotly debated regarding their quality. The honest answer is: Yes, Bose speakers are great speakers. The trickier question is whether or not they are worth the money.

If you want an audio setup that will sound pretty good with very little time and effort, then Bose may be an extraordinary choice for you. There are strong warranties, good customer service, and a trusted consumer brand.

Audiophiles and hobbyists often dislike Bose because it is entirely possible to build a quality speaker system that sounds much better than any Bose system for a fraction of the cost. Another reason Bose gets criticized often is that competitors who used to be far behind have caught up. Check out our more in-depth look into Bose and if their products are worth it!

Do More Speakers Make A Sound System Better?

Adding more speakers could sound better in certain situations. However, adding speakers all around your living room to create surround sound is not a good solution for getting better audio quality out of your music.

To add more speakers, an amplifier with extra channels is needed. Just connecting speaker cables to more speakers may not improve sound quality. Unequal distances from the listener can cause disorienting echoes.

If you do choose to use an amplifier, you will only want to use them for media designed for surround sound. To learn more about surround sound and sound systems, check out our article on using a Home Theatre Bypass.

Mark

Wednesday 22nd of July 2020

I got caught in the more money equals better sound. I totally agree with the article. The law of diminishing returns is HUGE in the sound systems. Putting an expensive set of high quality speakers like B & Ws for instance at say $5000 and then using a $300 receiver amplifier is like putting Volkswagen tires on a Porsche. Synergy of systems is the best way to go. After having invested about 10 thousand dollars on 3 different sets of speakers and receivers, I realized that the most expensive pairing , which was $1500 speakers and a $1000 receiver , along with a 500 CD/DVD player, and $200 for cables and connectors , That the sound DID NOT give me much better quality than my other systems of $500 speakers, and a $250 receiver did. Once you get really great quality sound, which make no mistake good quality speakers DO. Then then you are at about the 90th percentile of as good as it gets. After that you will be paying thousands more try try to inch your way up for that last 10 percent. And good quality in speakers can start at a few hundred dollars, not a few thousand. Just don’t expect that quality with the box store home theater packages. Those are not great speakers. And if you don’t know much about speakers in general, most quality speakers come from companies that specialize and have names you wouldn’t know. I mentioned B & W speakers. They are a STANDARD in the industry and their top line $20,000 models are used at places like Abbey Road studios and Skywalker studios to mix the sound for Star Wars movies. However B & W also make much less expensive speakers for hundreds, not thousands , And They’ Sound Great. There a lot of others out there too. Just do some online research. And do it while you are sitting down because you will run across. Speakers that go into the Hundreds of Thousands. of Dollars. Good luck!