To Audiophile Hobbyists - Don't Give Up Your Day Job!

AR-DIYNOT2a.jpg

If you have been involved in the audio hobby for more than a nanosecond you have probably contemplated building an audio component, be it an amplifier, preamplifier or loudspeaker, there are plenty of fine options for nascent builders.

Parts Express and Madisound are two vendors I've used in the past. And I encourage you to build something sometime. You learn about how a thing really works. And if your skills with carpentry are like mine, get to see your own failings up close and personal. But I can solder like a pro...

But with the knowledge of what the basic parts cost (plus some small fee for the design, either outright or through the parts kit) some audiophiles jump to some less than 100% correct conclusions about the economics of the audio industry.

AR-DIYNOT3a.jpgHow many people does it take to build a kit? Yeah, stupid leading question with the obvious answer of one. If they were to do this, full-time, in the United States of America, how much would they need to take home in a yearly salary? Factoring in some geographic variations, let's say $100,000 because it's an easy number. What do you need to add to the retail price of the thing you are going to make to put that $100,000 in your pocket? And how much do you need to gross to cover things like rent, advertising, materials costs, etc., to keep the business humming?

And then there are employees...

AR-DIYNOT4a.pngWhat is a skilled audio engineer's salary worth? I have no idea, except I suspect it's a quite a bit more than an audio journalist...

And along with advertising comes sales, marketing, and PR and what does one of those kinds of persons cost? Again, see the back half of the last paragraph...

And then there are the costs of warranty support. This is where manufacturers of smaller, lighter things get a break...I know of one manufacturer who had to fold due to the cost of supporting warranty issues for a subwoofer...

AR-DIYNOT5a.jpgSo, how much would the preamplifier that you made cost if you decided to sell it via standard retail outlets?

The answer to that question is the difference between successful and defunct audio firms...

And just to cut down on the hate tweets - DIY is, was, and always will be the most cost-effective and immersive way to get into high-performance audio, but the gap between hobby and business has never been greater...

AR-DIYNOT6.jpgIn the past, some of the most radical, and some of the most high-performance audio gear was created by hobbyists, and I don't see this changing in the future, but unlike the past, where someone could pull a "field of dreams" where they create a product and the world comes rushing to their door, nowadays unless you have a lot of resources behind you, opening a high-performance audio brand or product line will be exceedingly difficult, and even with almost unlimited resources there's no guarantee it would be immediately profitable.

My advice to DIY'rs - don't stop building and don't stop pushing your limits, but also, don't give up your day job...

comments powered by Disqus

Audiophile Review Sponsors