Written by 4:00 am Audiophile, High End Audio • 16 Comments

Would You Buy the Audio Gear You ‘ve Got if it Cost 25% More?

Steven Stone looks at what to expect when new China tariffs go into effect…

If I had a dollar for every time someone has commented that my publisher, Jerry Del Colliano, was “too political.” I’d have enough to afford whatever price increases are about to come down the pike from many high-performance audio manufacturers.

AR-tariff7a.jpgSome of the duller among you may be thinking, “If manufacturers just used USA-made parts they wouldn’t have to raise prices.” The phrase, “You know nothing,” comes to mind.

If US manufacturers could make a high-performance audio component without using anything made in China, many would, but many can’t. And manufacturers that do use Chinese parts don’t have many good options. If they can’t find direct plug-in replacement parts (without a complete component redesign), or they work from raw materials (like aluminum) there are simply no better US-made (or non-Chinese) alternatives. They will be paying additional tariffs for their parts, and more than likely YOU will be paying more for their wares.

AR-tariff5a.jpgWill the increases be only 25%? In some cases they may be even more! If you happen to be a Chinese audiophile who wants a US-made component you can kiss your wallet goodbye. According to EveAnna Manley head of Manley Labs, “For those who haven’t been following along in detail: So now my products are 25% more expensive in China because they have matched USA tariffs. Tit for tat.” So, US manufacturers get a double-wammy of paying more for parts and then having their prices upped 25% in one of the largest markets in the world.

Depending on what percentage of parts, and how expensive those parts are, the increases in the cost of a particular component could well exceed 25%. Jim McCullough from Mathew James, the manufacturers of Cello told me, “I just finished a conversation with our Chinese distributor. Due to the increase in costs for aluminum that went into effect last year, our Cello Chorale preamp, which weighs 68 lbs., due primarily to the aluminum we use for the chassis and the tariffs about to go into effect we will be forced to raise the actual sales price for the Chorale from $28,000US to $44,000US without an additional single dollar going to us.”

AR-tariff1a.jpgNow, if the MSRP on something that you already own goes up 25% you just “made” money, right? So why not consider this an example of the proverbial “It’s an ill wind that blows no one any good.” You’ve made out, right? Your gear is all “worth more” now…

Err, no. Just like in a rising residential real estate market, just because your current value or sales shows an increase doesn’t mean you “made” any money if it has to be sunk into your next home. Only the tax collector and the real estate agents actually made more money on the deal, just as the tax collector does on tariffs. But I digress.

AR-tariff3a.jpgWhether you’re a democrat, republican, conservative or liberal, these new tariffs are going to cost you.

As to whether they are justified, and whether they could be effective, that’s for far more political pages than this one…but one thing is crystal clear, your expensive hobby just got even more expensive…

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