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Thread: Price to performance ratio

  1. #1
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    Price to performance ratio

    Before I go any further, if you are not familiar with the term "The Law of Diminishing Returns", please read the following link.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diminishing_returns

    So, when we decided to build a subforum around the principle of finding the best value for the dollar, it doesn't mean "cheap". It means a product that is well engineered and hovers around the point where diminishing returns are starting to be realized.

    Many, if not most, of the products stated in the subforum will be supported by fact based analysis, user testimonial, and often times scientific testing. There's a right way to determine a high value product, and a wrong way. We will strive to use the right ways as much as we can.

    This doesn't mean that a product is not open for debate. The value of a specific feature can be debated. It might be a feature that is important to one person, but not another. That doesn't diminish the value overall, but it's important, in analyzing the product, to understand your own needs. Your own needs are what determines value.

    So, when evaluating a product, and posting it in this subforum, please be specific in what makes it valuable. For one, it will lend credibility to the product, and second, it will lend credibility to you. A detailed list of pros and cons is very helpful, but more importantly how you utilized the product in your system.

    I can't stress that enough. There is no one component that is the end all, be all of an audio system. There are many factors, and variables. To just say something "sounds great" tells us nothing.

    If you disagree with a product testimonial, it should be discussion based. There may be a high chance that the happy user found a better way to integrate that particular component into their system. A detailed discussion can really help others narrow down their search based on the both the successes and failures of as many parties as possible when it comes to a product.

  2. #2
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    posted on wrong thread

    ninja edit here.

  3. #3
    Tester Extraordinaire ErinH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MiniVanMan View Post
    Before I go any further, if you are not familiar with the term "The Law of Diminishing Returns", please read the following link.

    Diminishing returns - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    So, when we decided to build a subforum around the principle of finding the best value for the dollar, it doesn't mean "cheap". It means a product that is well engineered and hovers around the point where diminishing returns are starting to be realized.
    So, how do we decide at what point this happens, and how do we quantify for others a 'cutoff'?
    What about a law of no returns?...

    Thing is, price doesn't tell us JACK about what will sound good, which we all should hopefully know by now. Some very good drivers are cheap, and some very bad drivers are cheap. Ditto for expensive (thank you, Patrick Swayze).
    So, you can't really use the logic "good for the money" because that's not always true.

    Plus, some people are willing to pay a little more for the 'extra' returns, however diminished they may be. Does that make it any less of a value to that person? I don't think so.


    Ultimately, it seems you'd need a way to guage a bad driver first. Then we use the price as supplemental information to help you determine if it's a good value. What characteristics does it need to exhibit to be 'bad' and then we use that to determine if it's 'not good for the money'.
    One possible method of determining if it's 'bad' is to have your 'control' (for a lack of better word) be a driver that we've all said is 'good performer' (value, notwithstanding), which by most discussions I've seen, seems to be one that is relatively cheap. This then implies price/performance no matter how we try to steer it (people always look at price). But, wait... we're now factoring price back into the equation. Then you get into a few things:

    1) Is the control really that good, or are we only saying it's good because it's relatively cheap, forgiving it of characteristics we wouldn't expect of a more expensive driver?
    1a) How much are we willing to forgive, performance wise, for a certain price?

    2) Is the tested subject - the expensive one - really not good for the money simply because it's 2x as much and displays some of the same characteristics as the control? What about if it exhibits a minute betterment of the control, and you as a buyer think you'll benefit from it? Now we have to factor in price...
    It all kind of seems kind of like a catch 22.


    Then we're back into this whole 'law of diminishing returns', and how we, either as a group or individually, set this mark.
    We all have different budgets and goals in mind. Some may have no other hobby than car audio and/or may just have more money to spend. To these guys, maybe those extra returns are worth the premium. While others may have 5 other hobbies and "Good enough" is just that: good enough. They're not really looking to eek out additional gains for an increased price. Of course, here I am again assuming that price = performance which we know is not true. ;)
    I know there are many more reasons for making a decision, but I'll just leave it at that.


    What's my point? Well, the point is that the purchase you make is up to you: the buyer. Data, opinions, etc all help you make a decision but ultimitely you're the one shelling out the cash. It's up to you to decide what benefits are worth paying for and what are not. And, really, the only way to truly know is to start demo'ing various drivers yourself. Science does an excellent job at helping you predict what you'll like, but if one were to make a decision and have to live with it, based solely off of data only, I think many of us wouldn't be enjoying some of our purchases. I know I wouldn't be.

    Of course, what I mean is that listening/analysis is more of an iterative process than I think some give credit for. Your first few purchases are sort of like your calibration. If you're new to the hobby, chances are you really don't know what it means to have a gentle rolloff in the midrange or a boosted 2-3khz section. You have to listen to various drivers, take notes (mental or physical) and then look at the data to see how they mesh. After a few rounds of this, you'll then be able to start better choosing drivers based off data. Until then, you're just going off what people tell you you should look for. While it's great in theory, it just doesn't always pan out in the real world.
    This way, you'll understand what characteristics work for you (whether it be because of your hearing, your car, etc, etc). I'm not going to talk about install in this post other than to say that it's at least the #2 reason why certain drivers work in some cars better than others. In this sense, you almost have to calibrate yourself based even on your listening environment. May seem extreme, but you're not being fair if you buy a midrange because you heard it on axis in the kicks in someone's car and expect it'll sound the same in your pillar install, firing across the dash. Just don't work like that.


    We haven't even began to talk about how crappy the environment is, but I really don't think we need to. We all understand the gives and takes of the car, but we all still have different goals, whether it to be a parking lot king or king of the interstate. Truthfully, I've never really considered the effect of driving down the road when I'm buying speakers. Although, some others may weigh that heavily when shopping.


    Edit: Man... I edited this thing way too many times. Call it a 'post in progress'.
    Last edited by ErinH; 09-22-2010 at 09:46 AM.
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  4. #4
    Tester Extraordinaire ErinH's Avatar
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    Sorry for the extremely long post above. I just had random thoughts when I was typing up the initial portion of the reply.
    I feel like I just walked out of a philosophy class.

    Anyway, I hope it's not viewed at being in any way argumentative. I just had some thoughts and wanted to share because I feel sometimes the most obvious things are looked over when we started staring at graphs.
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  5. #5
    Devil's Advocate Adam_MSS's Avatar
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    It is entirely possible to label things as being high value using objective measures and setting aside personal preference or propensity to overspend. If a driver in a given cost bracket exceeds the abilities of many of it's peers and exhibits desirable traits typically only occurring in higher price brackets, we can probably safely label it as being high value.


    As to the concept of there being additional value in incremental performance beyond some benchmark, it doesn't in any way conflict with the concept of diminishing returns. We're looking for the inflection point on the cost v. performance curve, we're not saying the slope goes to zero. The inflection point does not care about personal preference or value judgements. Knowing typical thresholds of audibility and objective criteria that indicate performance at or beyond those thresholds, we can make an estimate of where on the curve a driver falls.

    One criteria I'd add is "usability". There may be some drivers that are very high value, but require enclosures or other criteria that are not typically feasible in the mobile environment.

    We can have a very esoteric debate about people's value judgements of incremental performance (reasons ranging from perceptions of quality to simple enjoying bragging rights), but I don't think it changes the assignment of the "high value" label in the end.

    Look at cars. I could make an impassioned argument that a 911 GT3 is a "high value" car, but it's not going to stand up to reasonable scrutiny from most drivers.
    You don't use science to show that you're right, you use science to become right. - R.Munroe

    The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them. - W.L.Bragg



  6. #6
    Tester Extraordinaire ErinH's Avatar
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    Cool. We're on the same page here, I believe.

    To me, when someone says 'diminished' I think of what's left over. Is what's left over still worth paying for?


    Usability, to me, kind of comes into the install aspect. If we want to factor that in, then I say "okay". But, I also feel that if we're talking drivers' value, then maybe we should focus on performance.
    I can argue either side. It's not going to be possible to not factor in usability with car audio, but I think we need to state that as a factor up front in all discussions if we plan on using it as a driver.
    Your ears: The best tools you have... and they're free, too!

  7. #7
    Devil's Advocate Adam_MSS's Avatar
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    Usability doesn't necessarily factor into "value" but is instead a standalone metric. Look at Zaph's ratings. I believe he used "performance, value and usability". Worked pretty well.
    You don't use science to show that you're right, you use science to become right. - R.Munroe

    The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them. - W.L.Bragg



  8. #8
    Big Daddy Chad's Avatar
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    Erin is laying the groundwork for the one day I give him a bunch of grief for spending what he spent for his new speakers in his car ;)

  9. #9
    Tester Extraordinaire ErinH's Avatar
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    ^ preventive maitnenace, as I like to call it.


    having been through all the gear I've been through, I've settled on what works best for me. It just so happens that it's not cheap. But, it also just so happens that I get it for dealer price. ;)
    Your ears: The best tools you have... and they're free, too!

  10. #10
    Big Daddy Chad's Avatar
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    That's OK, I'm a gear snob on the live audio end :p

    I have a Midas console in my shop now I would not mix on because it does not have 100MM faders ;)

    http://www.midasconsoles.com/

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