Question Too much air within a $3450 price gap, why

AJM1981

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Mar 26, 2021
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$3600
JBL 4429



$149
JBL Professional Studio Monitor, Black, 5-inch (305PMKII)






I kind of understand that Hi-Fi speakers are more expensive compared to studio monitors because it is:
- living room friendly design versus spartanic simplicity. Materials are more expensive.
- The marketing department needs to get paid.

But still the arbitrary stretch factor seems enormous. Even if you would include a signature, size and application difference.

I know that there might be size differences between these two and that consumer audio is often also a work of art with expensice finishes, but the distance in price here is weird considering that the finish of the hifi model is not something I would pick as being a high end finish.

I also know that people who review hifi gear (including people representing speaker manufacturers themselves) like to paint studio monitors as something outlandish and cold to stay far away from as a consumer. But at the same time analytical speakers 'are' a thing at the consumer market and both reviewers and high end consumers like to experience "being there in the studio". All that given they still walk circles around what has been used at that same studio. It should be analytical, but not "studio monitor analytical" I guess (?)

In this example between the two particular sets of speakers mentioned here I would not "see" any justified price difference and I doubt I would hear it when they are equally tuned.

The active monitors measure obviously well. The fact that they can be used professionally is not just a small thing. That they have a built in amp with a decent cable connector and according to reviews share the same properties when it comes to experiences with the waveguide, there are a lot of question marks around that huge price gap between these models.

Apart from any discussion about sound. There are companies which kind of succeed in delivering well designed reviewed loudspeakers for a bang for buck price.

What justifies this huge gap?
 
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Gray

Well-known member
What justifies this huge gap?
Nothing justifies it.
Their intended markets probably goes some way to explaining it.
I would suggest the 4429 is aimed at those looking (and prepared to pay a premium for) a 'classic' speaker (the sky's the limit for pricing on the classic speaker bandwagon).

Whereas, to compete with similar offers, they probably need to keep the price of the little active a bit more realistic.

Pricing is often more about what they can get away with than anything else.
I always just wish there was more of an even playing field when it came to the financial wherewithal amongst buyers.
 

nopiano

Well-known member
What’s incredible to me is how cheap budget speakers are. To get a pair of decent speakers for say £200 (which lots of folk will spend on cables) is astonishing. (My QA3020i are a good example)

As for JBL I don’t know, but domestic ranges always seem premium priced versus studio models when you look at brands which sell both. The variety of finishes, the volume of sales, and what the market will stand/expect are all relevant factors.
 
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Gray

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Also, as we would expect, the little one is made in China.
If the 4429 is made in America, that would account for some of the difference.

No doubt about the fact that the little monitor looks like great value.
....but you just know the biggun would be a fun listen, made for 12" disco vinyl 🕺
 
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AJM1981

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Mar 26, 2021
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What’s incredible to me is how cheap budget speakers are. To get a pair of decent speakers for say £200 (which lots of folk will spend on cables) is astonishing. (My QA3020i are a good example)

As for JBL I don’t know, but domestic ranges always seem premium priced versus studio models when you look at brands which sell both. The variety of finishes, the volume of sales, and what the market will stand/expect are all relevant factors.
Expectations are different indeed. The professional market is not that sensitive to the emotional factor in love for materials and talks about how one reviewer experiences "Dave Brubeck's trumpet on take five" (this was literally written down) in a certain room with a certain setup.

It doesn't need kevlar woofers, or space age meta material. Especially in these days in which the world kind of discovers monitors given the growing amount of home producers, Hifi manufacturers follow with active loudspeakers and analytical signatures. But there should not be a cheap active consumer system, no.. they should present it as something new that was exclusively developed.

Nearly all studios use typical active monitors. Only B&W seems to have a deal with Abbey Road as it is center to their promotion. I bet they get them for free over there. :)
 
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Tinman1952

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I had a pair of the JBL 305 Mk2 a few years ago...just to see what they were like. I think I paid around £240 for the pair. They were crazy good in my lounge, despite being 'near field' monitors. I also had KEF LS50s at the time and the differences were very slight in my opinion. There is always the feeling that 'they can't be that good for so little money...' but that is just a bias of 'perceived value'.
I didn't find them analytical or cold in a bad way either.
Pricing often comes down to what the market will bear and the expected volume of sales, but in this case 'domestic' HiFi very often looks way overpriced.
 

AJM1981

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Mar 26, 2021
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I had a pair of the JBL 305 Mk2 a few years ago...just to see what they were like. I think I paid around £240 for the pair. They were crazy good in my lounge, despite being 'near field' monitors. I also had KEF LS50s at the time and the differences were very slight in my opinion. There is always the feeling that 'they can't be that good for so little money...' but that is just a bias of 'perceived value'.
I didn't find them analytical or cold in a bad way either.
Pricing often comes down to what the market will bear and the expected volume of sales, but in this case 'domestic' HiFi very often looks way overpriced.
'Near field' is also often used as a conversation killer as in the red line in the sand between monitors and real hifi.

While in reality it means that monitors "are applied to" a use of a person sitting between them. So it is not so much about the way monitors or speakers themselves are designed, but about the way someone is using them.

That near field listening also applies to most audiophiles with their professionally treated rooms who place their chair between a set of speakers in order to listen. Like all those audiophile youtubers do.

I have witnessed sessions in large studios with final stage mixes judged from a couch at the back. Totally going against the logic of what audiophiles think studio monitors are meant for. But it is just as hifi as hifi is.

When someone requests an active versatile analytical neutral sounding system or whatever terms thrown at hifi, try a pair of monitors. Their appearance also gets better by the years. :)
 
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AJM1981

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Mar 26, 2021
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A point to these two sets which probably adds some emotional value to the consumer market is the fact that the JBL 4429 is mostly reviewed and sold as a horn speaker while the monitor is not. I do understand the reason why most horns are pricey due their size and often tailored production costs,but this is "just" a waveguide as mentioned.

One user elsewhere on the net made a nutshell summary.

--quote--
Re: What is the difference in a waveguide and a horn? NM

Horns simply provide acoustic gain. Waveguides do pattern control.

All horns are waveguides, but not all waveguides are horns.
--end quote--

marketing does wonders.
 
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And not all horns are incredibly efficient, however these seem to be and their size compared to a smaller powered monitor are the main reasons for the price differential.
each have their place I guess but there is a reason for the price differential....
 
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LesterPJ

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May 23, 2022
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$3600 – bargain!

They started out life at £5900 in UK, $5000 in USA. They are made in Mexico.

Both products are in very different markets. The cheap one is meant to be used and is in a highly competitive market so normal rules of supply, demand and pricing apply. The 4429 is in a hobbyist market so its about appealing to people who believe they are specialists, who believe they have knowledge, and can tell the difference between one product and another – even if they can’t as their hearing has deteriorated as they are getting older they still want to believe and have others believe that they are experts. In such a market the normal rules of supply, demand and pricing go AWOL.

So JBL can put a high price on such a product and a few people will go for it. I say a few as they will only sell a few. Worldwide sales volumes of this type of stuff are tiny and profit margins on the few they do sell are huge. There are lots of products in the market (as its quite cheap to set up high end speaker production) and very few customers. So pricing is not about selling high quantities. In fact you may sell more by charging more as pricing will be one of the things that the potential customers will use to make their judgement on sound quality.

In the case of JBL they probably also think that being in the high end market will give them a bit of credibility in the mass market, certainly enough to justify doing it. It allows them to tell a story about how they have been making high quality stuff for decades and still do. It probably doesn’t matter to JBL if they don’t sell any 4429s at all.

It may have been discounted to $3600 to shift the few they did make before its replacement hits the market and the reviewers.
 

RoA

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That JBL 'Professional Studio Monitor' for 149 quid is about as far removed from Professional as can be.

No self respecting Pro would use junk like that. Strictly for bedroom DJ's only.

You are comparing apples with oranges.

Pretty pointless.
 

Tinman1952

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That JBL 'Professional Studio Monitor' for 149 quid is about as far removed from Professional as can be.

No self respecting Pro would use junk like that. Strictly for bedroom DJ's only.

You are comparing apples with oranges.

Pretty pointless.
Not a very charitable comment...you've obviously never heard them and are not aware of the considerable amount of R&D expenditure that went into that waveguide for example!
Judging based on the price alone is a mistake...
 
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RoA

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Indeed.
Regardless of who uses it, it would have to sound pretty terrible to be regarded as anything other than great value.
The likely hiss from the dirt cheap amplifiers/drivers will be enough if the (equally cheap looking) enclosure hasn't done it already. 4.7kg for a box of 354 x 244 x 299mm (with amps) is not exactly substantial.

Of course ASR won't tell you about that

Agree, it's a bargain if someone really has no cash or if it will be trashed in a student den. There is little proper hifi available at that price and there is usually a reason for it.

JBL's more upmarket products, both Pro and domestic are a different proposition.
 

Tinman1952

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The likely hiss from the dirt cheap amplifiers/drivers will be enough if the (equally cheap looking) enclosure hasn't done it already. 4.7kg for a box of 354 x 244 x 299mm (with amps) is not exactly substantial.

Of course ASR won't tell you about that

Agree, it's a bargain if someone really has no cash or if it will be trashed in a student den. There is little proper hifi available at that price and there is usually a reason for it.

JBL's more upmarket products, both Pro and domestic are a different proposition.
Personally I don't make silly prejudiced comments on items I haven't even heard...or people would accuse me of talking out of my woofer.........🙂
 

Pedro2

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I moved from passive to active speakers a few years back, replacing a pair of ATC SCM11 + Nord Hypex power amp with Acoustic Energy AE1a. The AE1a were around half the cost of the passive kit they replaced but to me, there was a lift in sound quality. The AEs are primarily aimed at the home market but represent great value for money (£1000).

I have since moved on to more pro studio kit (Hedd actives) + small, quality sub. This stuff is not cheap as chips but I can’t imagine how much I’d need to spend on domestic amps + passive speakers to match it. There is some great kit out there if you are prepared to step outside the home HiFi market (although buying second hand can often lead to bargain deals being had).
 

Gray

Well-known member
The likely hiss from the dirt cheap amplifiers/drivers will be enough if the (equally cheap looking) enclosure hasn't done it already. 4.7kg for a box of 354 x 244 x 299mm (with amps) is not exactly substantial.

Of course ASR won't tell you about that

Agree, it's a bargain if someone really has no cash or if it will be trashed in a student den. There is little proper hifi available at that price and there is usually a reason for it.

JBL's more upmarket products, both Pro and domestic are a different proposition.
I doubt there'd be much (if any) noticeable hiss - though you can bet ASR would pick up on it if there were.
I've got no idea what the little thing sounds like.
But the proof of any pudding, in terms of value, would surely be a blind test against something comparable.
Maybe even something 3 or 4 times it's price?
(The 4429 mentioned in this thread is 24 times it's price, so we're obviously not comparing it to that for quality. But that price difference only serves to emphasise its value, which, I think was the point of this thread).
 

RoA

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I know what the ongoing debate is about how actives usually trounce an equivelant priced separates/passive system.

I recently owned Kef LS50 Meta Wireless (for just over a year) and B&W Formation Duo's, sold after 4 months. I spoke about it here.

Neither quite did it. The Kef's more so than the Formations.

I'd argue, either can certainly be 'bettered' by a same price separates system, even a cheaper one. Personal taste comes into it.

Technically they read great, musically not so much. They score on tidyness though.

ASR now specialises on reviewing much cheap Chinese gear. It's almost always much 'better' than known Western Hifi. A lot of these products go wrong, are unreliable, are released 'updated/improved' every 4 months. Take his views (and mine) with a pinch of salt.

Unfortunately, good Hifi costs money and requires care (and experience) in assembling. I am not talking about 1000's though that helps, but 200 quid WILL NOT buy you Hifi.

As to hiss, most of these cheap home DJ speakers hiss. You don't have to Google far to get to complaints.
 
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Gray

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I know what the ongoing debate is about how actives usually trounce an equivelant priced separates/passive system.

I recently owned Kef LS50 Meta Wireless (for just over a year) and B&W Formation Duo's, sold after 4 months. I spoke about it here.

Neither quite did it. The Kef's more so than the Formations.

I'd argue, either can certainly be 'bettered' by a same price separates system, even a cheaper one. Personal taste comes into it.

Technically they read great, musically not so much. They score on tidyness though.

ASR now specialises on reviewing much cheap Chinese gear. It's almost always much 'better' than known Western Hifi. A lot of these products go wrong, are unreliable, are released 'updated/improved' every 4 months. Take his views (and mine) with a pinch of salt.

Unfortunately, good Hifi costs money and requires care (and experience) in assembling. I am not talking about 1000's though that helps, but 200 quid WILL NOT buy you Hifi.

As to hiss, most of these cheap home DJ speakers hiss. You don't have to Google far to get to complaints.
I understand fully what you're saying.
£200 certainly never used to buy something that was genuinely high fidelity.
But times have changed. I only have to look at my own case.
I paid £174 for a Topping A50S headphone amp. It's hard to imagine how it could sound ( or indeed be built) any better, at any price.
Admittedly it still has to pass one of my most important tests - that of longevity.
I'm not optimistic that it will match the 38 years (and counting) of my Quad tuner, but I have had to repair that a few times.
I wouldn't fancy trying to repair the Topping. (No doubt, at the price, many people wouldn't bother to).
 

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