Without picking on any one individual, I'd like to address a common plaint about prices.
But first, I wonder if I could reproduce, unedited, a short passage from the website of a high-end stereo retailer. To make sure you understand the context, "interconnects" are the pairs of wires than connect one component to another—for example, a preamplifier to a power amplifier. Got that? Here's the quote:
On a 1-meter length, the retail price of ODIN cables are 3 1/2 times that of Valhalla which, while extremely expensive, is exceptionally reasonable considering what just one ODIN interface does for your system and a bargain when you think about the cost of other manufacturers’ top of the line cables which don’t do anything nearly as well. Fortunately, additional meters are priced quite a bit more reasonably.
For example, while a 1-meter of ODIN interconnect is $16,000. each additional meter is only $4,000 more.
So let's just parse that. A meter-long set of wires is said to be "exceptionally reasonable" on a value basis: "...considering what just one....does for your system"; and, although that meter pair is at the same time acknowledged to be "extremely expensive," it's "a bargain when you think about the cost of other manufacturers’ top of the line cables," meaning, the other manufacturers' cables must cost more than $16,000 per meter pair; and finally, you can double the length of your interconnects by buying an extra meter of length for "only" $4,000,* the word "only" implying that the cost is sensible and could have been more.
Insofar as this is a viable product at all, and I assume it actually is, it's plainly an example of a "Veblen good," named for Thorsten Veblen, meaning something for which demand does not decrease as as price increases, turning the normal "law of supply and demand" on its head.
As I've mulled over the worlds of high-end audio and photography, it increasingly seems curious to me that almost all products in high-end audio are Veblen goods, whereas almost none of the products in photography are. Top-end Canons and Nikons, while very expensive for cameras, are really not unreasonably priced given their technology and economics of production. Leica is essentially the only true Veblen good in photography. And compared to single meter pairs of hookup wire that cost $16,000, even an M9 is quite reasonably priced in comparison. After all, an M9 body costs less than the difference between a one-meter and a three-meter pair of Nordost Odin interconnects. Chump change.
In any event, long way to go for a small point: the conventional wisdom about the price of Leica products is, well, wrong. It's a commonplace to hear things like, "Leica needs to lower its prices to make its cameras more accessible to more people." No; no, it doesn't. It's desirable to its customer base in part because it is not accessible to more people. Leica wants it to cost more than most people can afford. It's a status symbol, and status symbols that everyone can afford are no longer status symbols. Just because a number of real photographers select it as their tool of choice for perfectly valid reasons doesn't make that untrue.
A related mistaken belief is that "one of the big camera companies should make an affordable digital rangefinder that takes M-mount lenses."** Actually, they shouldn't. Know why? Because there's no market for that. (Well, there is, but it's a very small one.) Only a few people really want a digital rangefinder. What people want is a Leica. It's not the same thing.
Mike* To put you in context, the stuff I like best, after years of listening to various kinds of interconnects, costs $31.50 per meter pair. And an extra meter is "only" $7.50 more. (I have no connection to the manufacturer at the link except as a customer.)
**An alternative way of stating the same thing is, "It's time for the digital Zeiss Ikon." I could tell you why that's not going to happen, except I'm not allowed to tell you.
UPDATE: As if on cue....
Featured Comment by Jim: "Mike wrote: '...it increasingly seems curious to me that almost all products in high-end audio are Veblen goods, whereas almost none of the products in photography are.'
"Actually there is a very simple reason for this...allow me to explain.
"First, some credentials: I work for one of the world's largest music companies, and I have produced or executive-produced more than 40 high-resolution DVD-Audio titles for my company. I have, in the past, worked in the film industry where I was also a post-production supervisor on many titles. I have been able to combine these disparate work experiences to produce Blu-ray HD concert titles for my company as well. So I have a bit of professional experience in this area. (Plus I am a photographer, but it is not my source of income.)
"As you might imagine, my company has the resources and equipment to test all sorts of claims about audio products and processes, which we do on occasion, mostly to settle internal disputes. Also in my company, there are a wide set of opinions about audio, ranging from the educated to the ridiculous.
"The reason that there are so many bogus products in the high-end audio world compared to the digital imaging world is because hearing audio is basically a psychological experience. You can't freeze-frame a piece of audio and examine it. It's ethereal, fleeting, and difficult for most people to judge objectively. Any bias that you have in your mind about an audio product or process gets amplified in your brain when you listen. It causes you to experience stuff you don't really hear.
"However, in the digital imaging realm, the actual image doesn't lie. Artifacts are either there or they're not. Fidelity is either there or it isn't. It is much easier to apply objective criteria to looking at an image than listening to audio.
"So in the digital imaging world you mostly won't find such crap as $500 exotic-wood chickenheaded knobs, or special goo, or $10,000 interconnects, or any other such nonsense. If you can't demonstrate that it has an effect on the image, your product is a sham. And by demonstrate, I mean show me in the actual image. When my friends ask me where they should buy their HDMI cables, I tell them to get the cheap $3 cables on Amazon. Order 3 or 4, and if you have a bad one, you still come out ahead.
"As an example of rampant audio pseudoscience, one myth that we deal with all the time at my company is whether MP3 files are significantly inferior to the original audio. When we remove variables like cheap 5 cent D/A converters, 10 cent headphone amplifiers, and $1.00 earbuds most often found on portable MP3 players from the equation, guess what? For all people tested, MP3 audio files achieve transparency against the original material at around 160kbps. Most so-called audio 'experts' refuse to believe this, but we've demonstrated it over and over again in blind ABX testing.
"I am not saying that the MP3 audio codec is perfect, only that for most applications it damn near is. Although I wouldn't want to use it for a glockenspiel recording :) ."