On Mono & Stereo systems

I follow Mono & Stereo magazine on Instagram for hifi porn thrills, but have noticed that virtually every photo is of kit I’ve never heard of before. There seem to be an awful lot of expensive boutique hifi manufacturers.

Is there really such a big market for these things? It must be expensive producing this equipment and there can’t be that many buyers surely?

I admit I’m a hifi ignoramus so it may well be that many of the makes aren’t as obscure as I think they are, but I don’t think I ever see the names mentioned anywhere else or even twice by M&S.

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Probably a small one

Hence the boutique pricing…

I’m certainly aware of the vast majority of the names, in part from having done Munich. I think Asia is a big target market for a lot of these firms, where serious Hifi is more widely considered aspirational.

I also suspect that some of the really high end brands have a pricing structure built around selling fewer than 10-20 units per year. Actually, it wouldn’t surprise me if there were firms out there who arrange their break even point on just their dealer network buying demo stock.


I was surprised at how many Kondo Ginga’s were actually made / sold (I heard 30). For the real micro high end, the stakes are high.

Yeah, I wonder how many of those £192,000 CD players that Audio Note had were actually sold.

Many, many, many.

What you fail to understand…



Marketing 101. Flagship products are designed to be aspirational ’ baited hooks’ for the ‘brand’. The cash cows are often lower value volume sellers. The micro brands selling ultra high end only, really need to have some backing / connections / exceptional quality to reach the often mystical white whale punter.
The time + R&D (Money bonfire) that goes into some of these products is really not for the faint of heart (Unless they have an external revenue stream that is looking for a tax write off)


And just to follow up on this, then there are the luxury brands that suddenly appear in several dealers. E.g. just this week I’ve seen Franco Serblin speakers advertised on two sites. I’ve never heard of them before. Same with Tidal/Vimberg that suddenly appeared.

I guess they have money pushing them.

From Wiki

“Franco Serblin was an Italian entrepreneur and designer, known for founding Sonus Faber”

Might have something to do with it, although he died in 2013 so now presumably they can stick his name on anything as he hasn’t got much say in the matter

FS founded the Franco Serblin brand not long after leaving SF, after he died family continued the brand. Iirc there was/is a connection with the Yter cable brand.

In any case the Serblin speaker brand is well established. If I’m not mistaken Absolute Sounds now distribute.

Likewise Tidal have been around a while though their Vimberg range is recent.

Masses of kit out there that never hits our consciousness until a dealer or distributor is convinced to pick it up and give it a push.

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Do they predate the streaming service of the same name? The similarity struck me as odd for sure.

Serblin speakers have been around for a while- I listened to a pair before he died- but the recent impetus has come from them being distributed by Absolute Sounds who both actually market things and have dealer contacts willing to give things a go. Likewise, Accuphase is making it into people’s conciousness because it’s being distributed by a company that actually wants to sell some rather than a man who acted like a department of sales prevention.

Ironically, I have a pair of Serblins turning up later.


I guess also there are lots of international manufacturers that may be popular in their home countries but not so well known here, until they start being promoted.

I always liked the look of their kit. Kind of a nice aesthetic alternative to Luxman.

They do look interesting. Which model? And in what fine publication can one read your thoughts after (if you can say)?

'99 I believe, well before the streaming service. Interesting they didn’t get tidal.com