Prices in the high end have skyrocketed over the past few years. Today, $50,000 speakers are common and $100,000+ speakers are not uncommon. To wealthy purchasers who are interested primarily in brand image or bragging rights over the most expensive or physically largest speakers, price inflation in the high end may be of little concern. To true music lovers who are looking for the ultimate system but do not wish to pay inflated prices for prices’ sake or for expensive marketing campaigns, it may appear that high end loudspeaker pricing has become extremely cynical.
Our speakers, at a top price of $40,000, contain the materials, technology, labor, and artistic inspiration to compare favorably with any speakers at any price. Given the cost to build a pair of Concert Grand SI’s, most other manufacturers would price them at $50,000 to $60,000. We could do that and then discount them heavily in order to make people feel good, but that would be too cynical for our taste. The new ESP Concert Grand SI’s may have a similar external appearance to the older version, but almost nothing on the inside is the same. The speakers sound so coherent, organic, and seamless that we are often asked if they are electrostatics, yet they use 10 world-class dynamic drivers per speaker (yes, 20 per pair). The cost of those drivers is more than FOUR TIMES the cost of the drivers in the already underpriced old Concert Grands (which were $16,000). The cabinets, which were already highly sophisticated and complex, are now much more so because of the compound driver configurations and aperiodic damping for both the bass and midrange units. The world-class crossover components and the improved veneers are also much more costly than before, and that is even before considering design and labor! Designer Sean McCaughan simply does not know how to compromise, and he personally builds each pair with a fanatic perfectionism that is readily apparent in the sound of the speakers. It is only by keeping all of our design and production completely in-house that we are able to offer this level of quality and detail. And while we appreciate that more and more manufacturers feel they must build products in Asia in order to hold costs and prices down, we believe that for ultra high-end products, building them in-house is the only way to guarantee strict quality control and to avoid the unauthorized parts changes, skimping on materials, or other technical or manufacturing compromises which often accompany offshore production.
For better or worse, we have chosen to price our speakers so that people can have the equivalent of a Bentley at the price of a Lexus; so that they can experience the closest thing to live while receiving real value as opposed to artificially inflated brand image. For those who demand the biggest brand name, or who insist on showing off a speaker which is more expensive than their neighbor’s, we may not be the speaker of choice. For those who care about the difference between natural sound and hi-fi and who desire the emotionally involving, body-energizing sound of the live event, we believe the ESP difference will be clear and immediate.