Our culture is pre-programmed to relate better with expensive. A $10,000 preamp surely sounds and performs better than one half its price. Yet, intellectually we know that isn’t necessarily true. A $40,000 Rolex watch tells no better time than a $20 Timex.
Understanding that which isn’t necessarily true doesn’t easily equate to the next step of questioning those assumptions. I know chips aren’t going to do my bulging middle any good yet they are easily justified when I am hungry.
We can say with some certainty there is a price/performance relationship in most products but it’s so broad and so easily manipulated that it’s difficult to make sweeping proclamations. In fact, it’s likely downright injurious to our cause to not question some of the crazy extremes we see, like speakers costing more than half a million dollars. I mean, really?
In my view, the equation we need to be thinking about should be centered more on value than a return on investment. What value does the incremental performance differences mean in the bigger picture? Does it make sense to spend $10,000 on a preamp if your loudspeakers are $300 bookshelves? And the opposite?