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View Full Version : Why is SB so expensive?



KarylFStein
2007-10-11, 16:19
I'm not trying to start a flame, but am really curious why a SB3 costs so much. Is it the components, low-volume production, or ??? I'd love to fill my house with SBs and support the product, but at US$200 a pop, I just can't justify the expense. So, I use the (free) software players (stand-alone in my office, with the SageTV plugin in the living room and master bedroom, and streaming to my Palm when mowing the lawn, etc.) I can overlook the slight synchronization issues between the rooms because it's free, but no one is getting paid for their efforts!

I'd love to see a $49.99 wireless SB and a $99.99 wireless with built-in speakers (perfect for the bathroom!) Then, I could afford to put SBs in the kid's rooms as well and configure things so they just access their own music, etc.

Slimserver is managing all my music playback, (streaming and MP3 collection), and is a great piece of work. Please lower the financial bar on using the hardware! If the hardware cost is that high, then consider making "standard" and "pro" models. I'm not an audiophile and don't need top-of-the-line stuff as long as it sounds decent plugged into my stereo.

kdf
2007-10-11, 16:33
I'm not trying to start a flame, but am really curious why a SB3 costs so much. Is it the components, low-volume production, or ???

The bulk of the cost is apparently the VFD display. Volume is likely also part of the equation. Naturally it would be cheaper if it were being built in lots of 100,000.

-kdf

bhaagensen
2007-10-11, 17:00
This doesn't answer your question. But perhaps it gives some background. Why does some CD-players cost 5000$ ? My experience is that the sound quality offered by the SB is much better than all software player based solutions. Of course you'd need a high-end soundcard for that, and those do not come cheap. Anyway some of the selling point of the SB is that it gives a fairly good sound quality, among other things due to its quality dac. I guess my point is that if one compares to what the SB is aiming at replacing, the price is not bad.

Of course I'd love for the SB to be cheaper. But if this means too much compromising on components, I'd prefer the current price. In my setup the SB takes the place of my Arcam CD player. And although the sound quality can not quite cut it compared to the Arcam, its not THAT far away. Given that the Arcam costs significantly more, I think the price of the SB is competitive in comparison.

EDIT: Ah, I did not read the last lines in your post. I guess the pro-solution is the Transporter, and the basic-solution the SB. But just out of curiousity. Are there any other comparable solutions, i.e. dedicated software with hardware with the same features, which are much cheaper?

Just my thoughts.

Bjørn

peejay
2007-10-11, 17:19
I'm not an audiophile and don't need top-of-the-line stuff as long as it sounds decent plugged into my stereo.

I believe that the SB3 was perhaps originally aimed at the audio mid-market, where names like 'Burr Brown' and phrases like 'lossless format support' pricked a few ears. Then add wireless streaming capabilities, SPDIF/out and the attention to detail that the designers obviously put into the unit and you have a US $299.00 piece of audio equipment, no question. <Rant>Actually the RRP down here in OZ is AUD 499.00. With the Aussie dollar at over US 0.90, that's a bit hard to swallow</Rant>
Add to this that up until recently, the SB3 was only available in selected HiFi Outlets (at least down here), so you expect to pay a bit more, because you perceive higher quality through that method of distribution.

Now, if SlimDevices had really set their sites on the market for lower quality devices, I expect they could have compromised the design and component quality and produced something for 75% or less of the current cost of manufacture, but then the differentiator from all the other music device manufacturers would have been gone, and they were probably too small to be a 'me too' device manufacturer, not to mention possibly alienating the cult-like following they have in the audiophile camp. The release of the transporter shows how much that market drove their vision, and rightly so. SlimDevices didn't necessarily pander to the audiophile, but I believe these guys (I expect) wanted the quality to be reflected in their equipment as much as their anticipated market, and that's an unqualified recipe for success.
Remember, to quote you, that 'what sounds decent' is highly subjective, and 'my stereo' is different in every living room. Just have a browse through the audiophile forum, if you don't believe me.

Now with Logitech in the picture, however, you may just get your wish. And I'm not bashing Logitech, by the way, it's just the reality of the market they have traditionally played in, and what that market expects from that brand. I love my Logitech bluetooth mouse, by the way....

jeffmeh
2007-10-11, 17:30
I guess it is all relative, because my immediate reaction to your post is, "Where can you get one for $200?"

Even at $299 US retail, I think it is a good value relative to the alternatives.

JJZolx
2007-10-11, 17:31
Now with Logitech in the picture, however, you may just get your wish. And I'm not bashing Logitech, by the way, it's just the reality of the market they have traditionally played in, and what that market expects from that brand. I love my Logitech bluetooth mouse, by the way....

As they say... stay tuned. I'm pretty sure Logitech won't be trying to push $300 Squeezeboxes at Walmart and Target. They'll almost certainly be producing some sort of inexpensive consumer replacement.

peejay
2007-10-11, 17:33
I guess it is all relative, because my immediate reaction to your post is, "Where can you get one for $200?"

Even at $299 US retail, I think it is a good value relative to the alternatives.

Sorry, I have corrected that, it should have read $299.

KarylFStein
2007-10-11, 19:32
Well, I made the mistake first saying $200 instead of $300. So, it seems like the big thing driving the price is the quality of components. I don't mind shelling out money for quality, but it's got to have a noticeable return. To my untrained ears, the software players are fine for what I use it for--background music really.

On the other hand, I did just get a new receiver and subwoofer for the family room and am hearing things in movies and music that I never had before. Maybe you don't know what you're missing until you actually hear it. I just can't see taking a $300 gamble on a SB without feeling pretty sure it'll be worth it.

Perhaps I'm looking for the wrong solution. I just really love the capabilities of Slimserver (with some choice plug-ins) and would like to be able to use that in all rooms instead of just those with a computer. Besides, I like appliances because they simplify my life. (And I'd really like to put a player with built-in speakers in the bathroom to stream news or what have you in the morning.) Slimserver is the only thing I know that can do everything I want, or even close to it with the same ease after initial configuration. I hope some more "mainstream" devices come out (not cheap, but less expensive) that can make use of all the work I've done on my Slimserver.

pfarrell
2007-10-11, 19:48
KarylFStein wrote:
> to have a noticeable return. To my untrained ears, the software
> players are fine for what I use it for--background music really.

Then keep using the software players. No one will stop you.

The SqueezeBox is about connecting your SlimServer's content to your
stereo. I have no computers anywhere near my stereo.



> On the other hand, I did just get a new receiver and subwoofer for the
> family room and am hearing things in movies and music that I never had
> before. Maybe you don't know what you're missing until you actually
> hear it. I just can't see taking a $300 gamble on a SB without feeling
> pretty sure it'll be worth it.

I'm not following you here. There is a 30 day, no questions asked money
back guarentee. There is no gamble at all, order it, see if you like it,
if not send it back.



> I hope some more
> "mainstream" devices come out (not cheap, but less expensive) that can
> make use of all the work I've done on my Slimserver.

Sounds to me like you want a display-less SqueezeBox, so they can be
much cheaper. And then maybe a fancy remote that can control many
players, do it all wirelessly, have album art in a cool display. Just
one nice remote and a bunch of inexpensive SB-lite boxes.

It that's what you want, Ask for it. The SB-3 costs what it does because
that's what it costs to make one in the volumes that they sell. If they
sold 100 times as many, it would be cheaper, that's how mass market
electronics works.

Immtbiker
2007-10-11, 20:04
Looking at the overall picture, including DAC and headphone amp, I feel it is decently price.

It is an amazing component and (especially after upgrading to the Transporter...even more mula) it has added to my music listening pleasures.
And that's what it's all about.

earthbased
2007-10-11, 20:20
I'm not trying to start a flame, but am really curious why a SB3 costs so much. Is it the components, low-volume production, or ??? I'd love to fill my house with SBs and support the product, but at US$200 a pop, I just can't justify the expense. So, I use the (free) software players (stand-alone in my office, with the SageTV plugin in the living room and master bedroom, and streaming to my Palm when mowing the lawn, etc.) I can overlook the slight synchronization issues between the rooms because it's free, but no one is getting paid for their efforts!

I'd love to see a $49.99 wireless SB and a $99.99 wireless with built-in speakers (perfect for the bathroom!) Then, I could afford to put SBs in the kid's rooms as well and configure things so they just access their own music, etc.

Slimserver is managing all my music playback, (streaming and MP3 collection), and is a great piece of work. Please lower the financial bar on using the hardware! If the hardware cost is that high, then consider making "standard" and "pro" models. I'm not an audiophile and don't need top-of-the-line stuff as long as it sounds decent plugged into my stereo.

If all you want to do is stream MP3 then maybe go with something cheaper. But if you want to stream FLAC there is nothing better for the price. The sound quality on a good stereo is amazing.

bhaagensen
2007-10-12, 03:11
Suggestion. Are you familiar with softsqueeze, squeezeslave, and stream.mp3 ? The two first are software players specifically designed to work with the slimserver and which can be used for streaming from the server. The latter provides an mp3-stream which can be accessed from any streaming-capable software player through the url http://serverip:9000/stream.mp3. Its VERY flexible.

So why not just buy a SB for your most "shiny" setup, e.g. the living room stereo, and then use the other methods to access your music in the kitchen, garden, bedroom, garage etc. Get some old pc's with wireless interfaces, use Linux and you have all you need for creating very cost effective stationary setups around your house. Then use a laptop, the palm, or some of the modern mobile phones, or your favorite choice of handheld device to play music when you are "roaming your mansion", or even roaming the world.

Finally the server software is quite powerful. It has many features and many additional features can be added using the plugins. One of the really nice features when streaming is the ability to do server side transcoding. E.g. the ability to use looseless formats on the LAN and transode to lower bitrates when on WAN.

Overall I think that slimdevices offers alot. They have chosen to use good quality hardware which comes at a certain cost. Even so, due to the openness of the design and implementation, they certainly do not lock people on tight budgets out. You could even choose not to get the SB at all, but just use the free softsqueeze and slimserver software and get all the features. Personally I'd rather have it this way around, than the company offering crappy hardware and leaving it to third-parties to develop the quality stuff.

This turned out a little more comprehensive than I intended. Still I hope it conveys some of the reasons I have for believing that the product is worth the money.

Bjørn

Gildahl
2007-10-12, 04:56
I tend to be price sensitive and have never thought of the SB3 as overpriced. In fact, I bought it because it was the least expensive device that fulfilled my minimum requirements for a decent quality wireless streaming device. What I *would* like to see is an inexpensive (< $150) self-contained unit (i.e. boombox) to move around the house, take out on the porch, use in the baby's room, etc. Such a device wouldn't need the pricey near-audiophile capabilities and fluorescent display, so I think they could keep the price down.

Another thing to consider about the price. Unlike other similar devices that I've had (the horrible Linksys Media Adapter comes to mind), SlimDevices/Logitech is constantly investing their resources in keeping the software up-to-date. And their server/web-based approach makes for a highly flexible system that, to me, has significant value all by itself. So to me, $299 is a bargain (and I got mine for $250 during one of the last sales!)

autopilot
2007-10-12, 05:55
Just because you cant afford something does not mean it's expensive.

I agree that the SB3 is the best VFM audio streamer on the market.

Empgamer
2007-10-12, 06:13
Personally, being a new convert I think it's excellent VFM.

jaysung
2007-10-12, 07:01
The bulk of the cost is apparently the VFD display.

O what! So then just make one without it! I am blind! ;) Great! I just want a dac which I can control via a web browser and SB3 is just that for me. ;)

KarylFStein
2007-10-12, 07:13
Well, the answer seems to be high-quality components mixed with low volume production. It *is* expensive compared to wireless music offerings from other companies, but I get it's not an apples-to-apples comparison. Understand that things like Burr Brown, FLAC, or VFD vs. LCD mean nothing to me. So, I'm not the target market of a SB I guess. Yes, the software players work fine for me; I'd just like to extend to more places without computers.

jaysung
2007-10-12, 07:40
If all this is not of much meaning to you why not connect a networked mp3 player of any sort to
http://yourslimserver-ip:9000/stream.mp3

Then you can at least listen to the music that is streamed to it. Then get one master SB3 to control the other players with. There are plugins for this. Do a bit of research in the
http://wiki.slimdevices.com
It might be worthwhile.
Or a Nokia n800 or a pda and you could walk through your house just flipping on the player you stand with. They will be listed in a drop down menu as you propably know.
Cheers
Jay

Skittler
2007-10-12, 07:51
It may be worth you asking some more questions on here (or reading the many articles already present) about a few of those apples in particular :)

You may find yourself becoming convinced!

And just to make you feel a little better, on our side of the pond we have to shell out £200, which is $380 :(

amcluesent
2007-10-12, 08:22
Let's not forget that Logitech shelled out $20M for Slimdevices. I expect their Treasury have set a hurdle-rate of > 20% for projects, or they'd be better keeping the money in the bank. The price of SB varies considerably by country, suggesting that it's priced at what each market will bear.

Empgamer
2007-10-12, 09:57
Panic. Order more before the price goes up. ;-)

peter
2007-10-13, 03:17
Empgamer wrote:
> Personally, being a new convert I think it's excellent VFM.
>

I hate it when I miss out on another buzzword.
What's a VFM???

P.

mflint
2007-10-13, 04:03
Empgamer wrote:
> Personally, being a new convert I think it's excellent VFM.
>

I hate it when I miss out on another buzzword.
What's a VFM???

P.
I guessed "Value For Money".

Matthew

peter
2007-10-13, 06:45
mflint wrote:
> Peter;234857 Wrote:
>
>> Empgamer wrote:
>>
>>> Personally, being a new convert I think it's excellent VFM.
>>>
>>>
>> I hate it when I miss out on another buzzword.
>> What's a VFM???
>>
>> P.
>>
> I guessed "Value For Money".
>

Sounds plausible, thanks...

P.

st2000
2007-10-13, 09:53
Let's not forget that Logitech shelled out $20M for Slimdevices. I expect their Treasury have set a hurdle-rate of > 20% for projects, or they'd be better keeping the money in the bank. The price of SB varies considerably by country, suggesting that it's priced at what each market will bear.

Wow, $20M - really?

I remember the first time I set eyes on the squeeze box web pages. The squeeze box (if that's what we called it back then) was in parts on a work bench. The text said something about: "...waiting for other parts - then will start building prototypes...".

But what really caught my eye was the beer next to the parts in the back ground. If I had lived closer I would have gone over to help out - I think it would have been fun.

Congratulations guys.

-------------------------------------------

As for the price - I agree with a previous post - slimdevices wouldn't stand a chance in the commodity market populated with lower priced music solutions. I believe their success hinges on an "Apple" type following of dedicated users.

And, yes, a VFD (Vacuum Fluorescent Display) can add a lot to the BOM (Bill Of Material). Probably accounting for nearly half the cost of production.

If they switched to an LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) they may slice $20 to $50 off the price. But scrolling and other actions would not look as good.

-------------------------------------------

As for stand alone alternatives. There are a few. But, I don't think there are any low cost ones that are technically friendly (i.e. work out of the box).

amcluesent
2007-10-13, 10:10
>I remember the first time I set eyes on the squeeze box web pages<

So does the Way Back Machine - http://web.archive.org/web/20020726222416/http://www.slimdevices.com/

haunyack
2007-10-13, 10:21
>I remember the first time I set eyes on the squeeze box web pages<

So does the Way Back Machine - http://web.archive.org/web/20020726222416/http://www.slimdevices.com/


Thanks for the link.

I found the News and Development Log very interesting reading.

Just to follow the day to day development of a peice of hardware that I have come to take for granted let's me appreciate how special these devices are.

.

st2000
2007-10-13, 10:52
But what really caught my eye was the beer next to the parts in the back ground. If I had lived closer I would have gone over to help out - I think it would have been fun.


YES... (here it is):

http://web.archive.org/web/20021112224742/images.slimdevices.com/photos/assembly/sean.jpeg

funkstar
2007-10-13, 11:31
I remember the first time I set eyes on the squeeze box web pages. The squeeze box (if that's what we called it back then) was in parts on a work bench. The text said something about: "...waiting for other parts - then will start building prototypes...".
That was the SliMP3 :) I remember this from Slashdot all those years ago. I always wanted one, then an SB, then an SBG, then a SB2. Finally threw down for a couple of SB3s in early 2006.

Not long after that I bought a SliMP3 off someone here. Still need to find a use for it, but at least i have one now :)

ftlight
2007-10-13, 12:38
amcluesent wrote:
>> I remember the first time I set eyes on the squeeze box web pages<
>
> So does the Way Back Machine -
> http://web.archive.org/web/20020726222416/http://www.slimdevices.com/

If only they'd been able to spell "hierarchical", who knows what they
might have made of themselves...

--
Bill Burns
Long Island NY USA
http://ftldesign.com

plympton
2007-10-13, 22:35
So, what part of the firmware is responsible for the "surveillance", and are our SB's spying on us? (Without permission, of course, lots of "with permission" spying going on... :-))

The hardware and firmware were designed by Slim Devices specifically for high speed embedded Internet applications, including multimedia streaming, data acquisition, remote control, and surveillance.

-Dan

iPhone
2007-10-20, 21:31
The SB does have a good For the Money Value to it. Part of your answer is in your question itself. The SB does much more then you are giving it credit for. It is a wireless bridge, its has a high quality DAC, it has a headphone amp, it has both analog and multiple digital outs, it has a VF display, and all these properties have a cost associated with them. Additionally, Slim Devices and now Logitech are not going after the portable MP3 player market. Take a look at what the competition has to offer and the price for multi-room goes through the roof. Not to mention that if you have a two or three Terabyte music collection the other products will not handle it.

Others are correct that Logitech will need to see a profit from their investment in Slim Devices. Part of that will come from increased exposure the Squeezebox is going to get through Logitech’s Retail footprint that the SB will be added to. As production runs get larger, cost ratios will improve. And I am sure that Logitech is already going over every detail of the manufacturing process to see how to improve it and create cost saving. Bottom lining it, IMO, the cost will not go up but rather come down very slowly meaning if you want one don’t bother to wait for the price drops because they are not in the near future. I do not see the SB3 becoming an iPhone in the retail market i.e. $699 on Friday and $399 the following Monday!