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Sideways Uni-Pivot Arm, SUPATRAC Blackbird, formerly "Ekos Killer (Price?)"

Discussion in 'audio' started by sonddek, Sep 20, 2020.

  1. paulski

    paulski pfm Member

    Nor do we. :)
  2. RoA

    RoA pfm Member

    Dick :)
    paulski likes this.
  3. paulski

    paulski pfm Member

    No need to be rude, I was only making an attempt at humour.
  4. sonddek

    sonddek Trade: SUPATRAC

    Calm down chaps - I understand RoA's point very well. I embarked upon this journey because I could not afford new Ekosses or 4point 9s. The success of Rega is built on making truly excellent, but also affordable tone arms. High end products are very nice, but most people expect turntables to cost hundreds, not thousands.

    The SUPA has two key selling points: it sounds great AND it has the potential to be very cheap to produce. The advantage in production cost will be realised when the manufacturing process starts to reap economies of scale. There are various possible paths to that end, and I am open to them all, but for the time being I have to build the reputation of this new mechanism by hand, and every arm is painstakingly produced through many hours of skilled labour.
  5. Joe

    Joe pfm Member

    Not a strange reply at all.

    It is a relatively simple construction with few parts..all essential ...cant do without any of them to reduce the price.

    I was being slightly tongue in cheek but the simple answer is that the only way to make it cheaper is for him to charge less and, why should he ?

    As arms go its not that expensive to buy to start with start with and has only recently gone up in price ....mainly due to him putting it into dealers rather than selling direct....the dealers are getting the price increase not Richard.

    If he achieves a lower cost price to himself through economies of scale in the production process that would be his reward for all the research and prototyping and sheer hard work he put into its design and commission surely ?

    I doubt that he makes much money out of them as it is..particularly if you factor in a living wage hourly rate.
    sonddek likes this.
  6. sonddek

    sonddek Trade: SUPATRAC

    Bear in mind that Naim allegedly sold about a thousand AROs. I reckon if I can work my way up to selling a hundred arms a year the business will be viable. As it stands, all costs accounted for, I'm still well under minimum wage.

    I would love to make a cheaper arm so more people can experience a leap in vinyl satisfaction, but sadly I am not in the position of being able to operate as a charity.

    What I can say is that I have every expectation that the arms which I have sold will still be operating and competitive in 50 years time due to the ease of maintenance and the proximity to a mechanical ideal.

    My Garrards are 60 years old, easy to maintain, and still quite competitive on performance. That is the sign of classic design, and I hope the Blackbird will also prove to be one. If you amortise the purchase cost of classic kit which you can't or don't need to upgrade over many decades, I think it is good value.
    Durmbo, Sue Pertwee-Tyr and Joe like this.
  7. koi

    koi pfm Member

    Why don’t you sell direct like audiomods guy

    cut out dealers margins?
  8. sonddek

    sonddek Trade: SUPATRAC

    I do sell direct, but dealers are an important channel - they have loyal customers whom they have been serving well for years, many of whom would not consider installing a third party tone-arm at home. I may be a bit of a turntable set up nerd now but there was a time when I considered turntable/arm/cartridge set up to be the preserve of experienced fettlers (dealers). It's quite easy to get it wrong, and we DIYers are a small slice of the market. I also want to reach customers who prefer to buy with dealer support. Meanwhile if people buy direct I will continue to do all that I can to help customers have a thrilling experience, including best possible installation/set-up/after-sales support.

    If dealers think they are going to be undercut by the manufacturer so that customers use them for dems and then go online to buy at a trade price, what's in it for them?

    This product needs dealer support and it's not fair on dealers to undercut the retail price. The retail price has to have room for the incentive of a dealer margin. I hope that's an understandable position.
    Sue Pertwee-Tyr and CDphobe like this.
  9. sonddek

    sonddek Trade: SUPATRAC

    BTW, on page two of this long discussion I asked what price was most appropriate for an arm which I believe outperforms arms which cost £4k+. We're still at the proposed lower limit. I'm not a mass producer yet and it takes an insane amount of hard work, risk, poverty and ingenuity to bring something like this to market. It's precarious. Do you want fewer choices? I'm three years in and haven't broken even yet. Here's the question from page two, September 2020:

    NickofWimbledon likes this.
  10. Joe

    Joe pfm Member

    This is Hifi...charge what the market will stand.

    I was looking at a cartridge thread a moment ago on here and pondering. ... " how much more does it cost to produce a cartridge that sells for £3,000 than one from the same manufacturer that costs £1.000 " ?
  11. Sue Pertwee-Tyr

    Sue Pertwee-Tyr neither here nor there

    No different to cars, or any number of other things though.
  12. sonddek

    sonddek Trade: SUPATRAC

    The answer is quite a lot more, and the chief reason is that at £3000 you sell so many fewer of them.

    If I were funded to make 100,000 arms I would immediately get all the ABS parts injection moulded which would save years of skilled labour.

    It's the same with bought in machined part unit costs. The unit costs of thrust boxes, pillars and bases would drop dramatically if I were ordering large quantities.

    The economy of scale also applies to advertising and everything else in the marketing arena. It applies to me writing this.

    Allegedly the Rega Planar 1 is ten times as popular as the others. Volume of production affects costs very hard.
  13. tiggers

    tiggers pfm Member

    Good reply. I work in R&D and so often I struggle to get people to grasp the concept of amortisation of R&D costs in product pricing as well as the massive savings that can me made if a product is volume manufactured. When people say they can't see the value in things I often try and point out to them how the whole product development costs can mount up particularly with anything that requires safety testing for instance, often the costs before you even manufacture one single production unit are huge... as you will of course know from your experiences. As you say then there's marketing and advertising and all the periphery around the product itself.

    A good example I give people is that of the Honda S2000 vs Mazda MX5. These are two sportscars built in the late 90s early 2000s. Mazda already had previous iterations of the MX5 well established and sell millions of them, Honda produced a relatively limited number of S2000s as a 50th birthday celebration and had no idea how well received their car would be. While Mazda used alloy suspension components for lightness the Honda used steel as even a company the size of Honda didn't have the confidence about the sales volumes to make investing in alloy suspension manufacture for that model financially viable whereas Mazda knew they would be able to safely amortise the costs given their sales volumes. The effect of sales volumes on amortisation costs are huge and very difficult to predict, it's an interesting subject just in itself and very applicable to high end hi-fi.

    On a side note really pleased to see how well you are going with the Supatrac... in about a year's time my Gyrodec should be being installed in its new home (when I finish building it - the home, not the Gyrodec) and I will definitely be purchasing one of your arms.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2023
    Tarzan, IanW, sonddek and 2 others like this.
  14. sonddek

    sonddek Trade: SUPATRAC

    A quick progress report: Munich High End was magical and a huge opportunity. We had a lot of interest from distributors, dealers and potential partners.

    We were lucky to get a turntable into an enclosed room because after closing on the first night I overheard some neighbours discussing how to solve their turntable problems. I say more about this here:

    Lots of good things are in the pipeline including quite a famous Australian distributor. There will be more news soon.

    At the end of this video you can see Michael Fremer and Beau Ranheim of Oswalds Mill Audio among the visitors to the SUPATRAC stand (youtube can do translated subtitles if you set it to):
    BlueYeti and Mr Pig like this.
  15. sq225917

    sq225917 Bit of this, bit of that

    Sounds like it was worth the time and cost. :)
  16. sonddek

    sonddek Trade: SUPATRAC

    It was fantastic - there was a real buzz around the stand and the Moonriver-Sonnar-Panchanko-OePhi room. The irreverence of producing great tunes and presence from a 30-year-old DJ deck at High End just around the corner from the half-million-quid superdecks did not go unnoticed. The room had a really great sound and many visitors were raising all three eyebrows. Mark Dohmann's enthusiasm for the Blackbird is a great compliment because he knows a thing or two about tone-arms.
  17. BlueYeti

    BlueYeti pfm Member

    That Garrard with the red plinth and Supatrak arm looks fabulous :) And, Michael Fremer looks very small!
  18. sq225917

    sq225917 Bit of this, bit of that

    I hold Mark Dohmann in high regard, up there will Bill Firebaugh and John Bicht. He knows his onions and designed one of the best deck and arm combos ever made. So high praise indeed.
  19. sonddek

    sonddek Trade: SUPATRAC

    Michael Fremer is no giant. When people are famous you almost expect them to be big. I don't know why. He was very engaging and friendly and fun, just like in his content. We sat in the room for a listen and he asked me to send him an arm. Should I?

    Just kidding. Making it now.
    jagdesign, BlueYeti and sq225917 like this.
  20. sonddek

    sonddek Trade: SUPATRAC

    I've never shown the red Garrard plinth before because I'm slightly ashamed of it, like a girlfriend in a three-inch miniskirt. But I decided it would gain attention at the show. It worked!
    BlueYeti and waxkinglyrical like this.

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