The real value of SA Audio

joel

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It interests me that much of what is made here is discounted as not being good enough or not delivering value.

So what exactly is the real value of SA manufactured audio?
To try answer this I'll give two examples.

Sonor Audio Claro 6.2 loudspeakers sell in Europe for 4 995 Euro.
When they were reviewed (reviews on the sonor website) they were given extremely high praise and their price/performance ratio was rated as excellent.

In case you didn't know, Sonor are locally made. They decided to import a pair, excluding any shipping costs, clearing costs and duties, but including customs VAT, the speakers would land at just under R 100 000.00. Include other costs and the speakers would probably land at closer to 120K.

At this price and based on their reviews, they would compete head to head with imported brands that sell here in that region.

The local price of the Sonors is a little over R 52K or less than half the price of the speakers against which it competed favourably in Europe.
They are in fact too cheap in the local market.

The Second example is the Xact turntable from Reference Acoustics. This is a 2500 Euro turntable.
If one were to import one from Europe and pay shipping, duties, VAT etc, the turntable would land at around the R 60K mark.
The retail price here, depending on cart is in the region of R 30K.

These are products that have international acclaim and are value proposition options in their respective categories in the EU.

Here, at half the price, they are often discounted as not good enough.

I have to ask if some supposed Audiophiles are far more interested in how much they spend and a European or American brand, than actual performance?

If it costs more its better, right?? 
 

Jozua_2019

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Joel

There could be many factors:

a) Lack of advertising - I have only heard of both products but never seen or heard them;
b) Reputation - Reviews create a image XXX brand must be good - people buy into this illusion- and then experience conflict when it does not live up the reputation in their homes;
c) Access to post sales back-up- how many agents can support the product;
d) Looks - WAF - does it fit with the d?cor;
e) Collectability - especially international demand - just look at how many second hand high end items have recently exported;
f) Exclusivity - owning X makes you part of the exclusive club..
g) Some local products are priced as high end but sadly are not.
h) Code of ethics- you expect a certain modus operandi from a high end dealer aka supply on time as specified etc.

Buying behavior is not always rational - there could be many factors involved.

I do commend you for your efforts in promoting local- we do need to make this transition. Hopefully there are more who will step forward.

Jozua
 

scrarfussi

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Your argument though
Surely the overseas price includes shipping and customs from South Africa.
So using that as a comparison on pricing does not really work out.
Also without things like Avsa. More and more people Will be on the dark about local products
 

Crashappy

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Most SA designed and manufactured products in the audio market are being sold at very good prices locally and I for one can only be grateful for that.  If they were sold anywhere3 near their cost in Europe I would not be able to afford them.

A very true point stated above, seeing and listening to the products are not that easy.  More exposure will add a lot to the brands.

Hence, any Capetonians are welcome to come and listen to the Xact TT.

 

Gerry1965

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Joel,
let's assume that I have no idea what the brands you are referring to are about. What's the first thing I do in this connected world?  Yip, I reach out to a search engine and go search for their website, or "google it" as some would say.  Their homepage is possibly my first impression of a company that I have a level of interest in and we know that first impressions are rather lasting.
Here's where things get a little wobbly.
Have you had a look at these brands' websites? What are your feelings when you search through those sites for information? Does the info they provide inspire you to want purchase their product?  When last were these sites updated?

I know I'm being harsh here, but come on folks, we live in a connected world where a competitor's info is a click away. There are talented individuals out there who can and will make your public profile really interesting and exciting in a way that will make potential customers want to dig deep into their pockets.
Engineers are notoriously bad at marketing and maybe therein lies our first challenge - we try do everything ourselves. Maybe, just maybe, we need to reach out every now and again and ask for assistance in spheres that are not quite our core.

By the way, I still own a set of Sonor Sirius, so am well acquainted with Roy's abilities and have owned Valve Audio in the past. Note to self - go visit oom Schalk's website and see what's happening on his public gateway to marketing and sales.
 

Shonver

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Of the local products I am aware of, only Valve Audio and Bentley have a following here of any significance. These products are represented by their makers on this very forum. The Bentleys are affordable and have a good step-up option, while the VA amps are not entry-level, but still affordable for some. Bentleys did good considering the local economic climate. I think the relative success of these brands is a result of their accessibility, at least via this social platform.
 

joel

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Some of the comments are certainly applicable and marketing is being addressed.
However i found Sonor rather easily in a google search. Their site has liks to dealers too.

But I believe that my point is still valid and offer even more proof here 

https://www.testberichte.de/audio-hifi/2680/lautsprecher/testberichte/audio/2019-11-08.html

This was a group test of loudspeakers that included Sonor Audio Claro 6.1. The speaker fared well against all the speakers in the group.
The Kef speakers retail here for around 74K
The Dali for R 70K
The Sonor R 31 300

In their home market the Sonors are n absolute bargain as they compete against speakers that sell for more than twice their price 

The same is true for Bently. The certainly offer more value than their price suggests.

As to why local products have not been well represented.at retailers.

Many retailers have been importers. Why would they support the opposition.
Plain old biggotry and silly excuses about support that are irrelevant.
Valve Audio has a superb record of backup, Sonot can repair speakers back about 20 years.
these people make them they can fix them.

Resale value on most local brands is in my experience better than lots of imported ones.
 

wilhelm

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Thanks for this line of conversation.

As a technologically challenged lover of music: I have to look at prices first to see if I'm allowed to do any more research. Big decision these days to go out and listen to a component/s. Need to have as much info as possible first, price being the first obstacle. Also in layman's terms, for example how "big" an amp needs to be be for a how "big" speakers it can run, with a few examples of, say Exclame can run this or that speaker.
I know it's not as simple as that in terms of wattage, etx, but even if some accuracy gets lost in oversimplifying - that's the most that many prospective buyers will understand.

 

RRankin

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joel said:
It interests me that much of what is made here is discounted as not being good enough or not delivering value.

Is this the case? Or is it a case of people not being made aware of the presence of these products?

It's an honest question, and I recall myself being at least a bit dismissive of local brands about a decade ago, and was not alone.

But nowadays, there are large numbers of audio enthusiasts who will attest to the excellence of these products, almost regardless of price. To me personally a Valve Audio Predator is the best integrated amp bar one other brand that I love more, meaning it beats the 20 - 25 other brands that I have heard in my lifetime with my semi-old, yet experienced, ears.

Above statement alludes back to my question: are the brands really being dismissed, or are they unknown by the masses?

So.....if young Koos starts earning a decent paycheck and now decides he can afford a good stereo system, will he be aware that he can get local manufactured high quality goods?

Long story short, I do not agree that people are dismissive towards local audio brand's being a) excellent, and b) great value for money.

They are just un-aware of them.

Here's to hoping to your particular efforts and a wider strategy can create this awareness.   
 

Gerry1965

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It's not just about how easily one can find a website, SEO techniques are well known at this stage, Sonor is indeed easy.  However, more importantly is - the information contained therein. Roy's site makes no mention of his new babies, why not?

I'm happy that someone is addressing marketing, the ZA products need to be spoken of and looked at with pride. Our engineers are right up there with the best, now we need the marketing exposure by the best in the business...and I have no idea who that is.

This horse has now been flogged. Time to go listen...

Oh dear, no electricity.  What was that about engineers?
 

ghostinthemachine

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Apart from an online presence and grand websites, there are a couple of factors that I think impacts the value of the equipment:

Discounting equipment left, right and centre create this idea that the gear is not worth much. Yes we all got rubber arms but you cannot allow a client to wring you dry.

Small dealer margins - dealers will not make much effort to push XYZ brand if the margin is lean (makes kinda sense, doesn't it?)

Service and support - most small manufacturers do not have an admin office with a person who can deal with complaints or backup service. This frustrates customers that's got money to throw around - they want relative instant solutions. And phones that just ring and ring...  :thinking:

Second-hand market and value - with so many users flipping local brands on the used market it creates an ideology that "you can just sit around and wait because a bargain is bound to pop up" - and that causes a vicious cycle to occur.

Product narrative and lineage - local manufacturers must ask themselves what narrative are they projecting into the market (globally, not just locally). Does the narrative inspire confidence or is it slightly saucy and nostalgic?


 

muddda

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"I have to ask if some supposed Audiophiles are far more interested in how much they spend and a European or American brand, than actual performance?

If it costs more its better, right?? " 


Performance is good, but there are other factors.

1) Resale - if you spend a lot, at some point you would like to trade up or down ...
2) Reliability - if you buy a product, it must last long right ?
3) Looks - it must look good, if you friends come over, its nice to get a wow factor ...
4) Maintenance - if it breaks, hopefully there is a good chance of having it fixed
5) Performance - the cost of the item should be best in class for performance.

We have good engineers in south africa who can build wonderful products.

I think we lack on the marketing and marketing expertise .... The kind of material that makes you want to go out and just buy it, after reading, watching or hearing about a product.

Its sad that we lost our only audio/video magazine ... this is where the magic happens for products ... its in the press ... having said that, lately I have been enjoying youtube product reviews ... it seems this is where the future of reviews will live ...

The one product that stands out for me, is the valve audio predator. Great name , and great reviews.





 

TimbaLand

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Your points are very strong about the value that such products offer but we need to understand that consumer behaviour is influenced by many things that any business need to understand in order to reach their target market. Consumers don?t buy products. They buy brands. It?s the responsibility of the manufacturer to understand the consumer he wants to target and not build products but brands for those consumers. Mercedes Benz and BMW are solid cars but their price you pay is also for the badge. That  badge meant nothing to potential friends buyers but the company spent time to build the brand which has driven consumers to behave the way they do towards the brand.  Pricing in itself has an influence on how a brand is perceived. Sonor Audio may have shot themselves in the foot by pricing it that low and not investing much in building brand equity
 

TimbaLand

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Typo correction

Your points are very strong about the value that such products offer but we need to understand that consumer behaviour is influenced by many things that any business need to understand in order to reach their target market. Consumers don?t buy products. They buy brands. It?s the responsibility of the manufacturer to understand the consumer he wants to target and not build products but brands for those consumers. Mercedes Benz and BMW are solid cars but their price you pay is also for the badge. That  badge meant nothing to potential buyers but the company spent time to build the brand which has driven consumers to behave the way they do towards the brand.  Pricing in itself has an influence on how a brand is perceived. Sonor Audio may have shot themselves in the foot by pricing it that low and not investing much in building brand equity
 

kamikazi

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It seems difficult to me for local manufacturers to care about South Africa when they can focus on a wider market and fetch higher prices for their goods outside of South Africa? The local marketing effort appear to reflects this quite clearly, regardless of favourable local pricing. There have been reviews in AVSA in the past, but it is difficult to gauge what they offer in a competitive market with a long established international presence with well respected brands. Local manufacturers make an effort to attend the Munich Audio show, but it's been years since there has been a local one. Meanwhile you have to look to Europe to find other reviews on South African products usually in a foreign language. I have been to many Hi-Fi shops in SA, but I've yet to see a Sonor Audio speaker or anyone for that matter that offer local products. The only brand that seems to have gained a bit of traction is Bentley and then there is also Vivid Audio.

The lack of interest in local products also bear out on the 2nd hand market, reflected in low selling prices that reinforces a negative feedback loop of it being risky to purchase local. There is no ceiling or trade-up program that sets a standard for prices. There also seems to be lack of innovative selling models such as direct sales and support, or offering limited in-home trails, that can be seen in many internet only ventures such as in the US.

The only local brands that I see reasonably represented and know of are Bentley and Valve Audio, both who go to quite considerable lengths to reach out and build connections with distributors and potential customers.

If local manufacturers made products that really resonated with local tastes I would expect to see buzzing local community threads and clubs that celebrate the products of their respective local manufacturers. There don't appear to be too many of these around. Maybe locally produced products are missing a mark here?
 

bronko-red

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I for one believe  it is essential to support local industries and products.  However  like Shonover states, this forum is the primary awareness source  for local audio products. I just feel that local retailers don't give enough  exposure or dont  have local products in stock to compare their  to imported/other products. There are exceptions of course. I visited Vaughan in Centurion hell bent on walking out  with my beloved B&W's and yammy combo. Comparing various brands speakers and avr's  I settled  for a 5.1 Bentley 200 series with a Denon x4500 . A combo I had never thought of. So yes I believe  that the Bentleys  sold themselves- Vaughan . provided the resouces, time and  service to help me make my mind up.(a good hour 30 mins) My VA exclame I bought on this forum "blindly", after spending  a few hours with it I am an Oom Schalk fan and patron. I just wish that retailers are prepared to spend the time and effort in promoting local products for I do believe  they will sell themselves. Looking forward to the Stereo Music Show - well done Joel.
 

udwadia

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Many years ago I heard a system with Sonore Audio and Valve Audio components in Potchefstroom . Could not demo the same in any of our major cities then  and still cannot. If I could easily access SA MADE I would and probably purchase .  Waiting to hear the new Sonore Audio speakers with PL Audio amplifier. I?m told the combo is phenomenal.
 

TimbaLand

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The sentiment from everyone seems to be pointing towards the manufacturers for not doing enough to Crete build brand equity of their products
 

Stereosane

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Pricing is a big issue as it's never advertised, but I've found that the price you pay and the price someone else pays on local goods differs a lot.. I can think of a few local products that has many varied prices depending on who the customer is, eventually word spreads and you realize you paid a different price from another forum member.. that leaves a bitter taste in ones mouth.. sometimes the local manufacturers are to willing to drop pricing for a quick sale when times are hard other items are tweaked for the individual customer which puts a lot of the same product out there but with many differing versions of it so it's hard as a customer to say that is the sound signature of that model unless you know what went into it.. Take Sf or B&W you know if you hear the Olympica it will be the same Olympica as every other one made, there is consistency and a house sound which makes it a lot easier to identify with the brand.

I've bought a good few local products, it was a 50/50 mix, two guys really stick out locally and the rest have left a very very bitter taste in my mouth...which doesn't really do any good for local is lekker.
 
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