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Old March 17th, 2008, 09:35 AM   #1
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just curious about costs

Why does an SD 302 cost $1,200? Is there a component that is particularly expensive to manufacture? Is the volume too low to affect costs?

Why is time code so expensive? Why isn't it thrown in for most pro and pro-sumer recorders and cameras? Is it a licensing issue?

Just curious.

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Old March 17th, 2008, 10:06 AM   #2
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Yes - it's not a mass market device and it is highly engineered. Also market conditions are at play.
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Old March 17th, 2008, 05:51 PM   #3
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because its made for film / video... like a $600 US Guvmint hammer :(

seriously, it comes down to other things like limited production - not exactly selling even a million units but you still have to pay for - engineering, manufacturing, R&D, shipping, cost of the building company is in, heat, water, sewer, receptionist, book keeper, occasionally feeding the lawyer, advertising, NAB and other trade shows. everyone in the company would like to develop new products, live in a nice house, drive a decent car, and keep the lights on thats what it costs. oh, don't forget tech support, spare parts, a service dept, specialty machines to solder those boards, ect. As I understand it, lectrosonics makes just about everything in house so add in machine shop, machinists, ect.

now if they sold millions of units, those expenses could be divided out amongst many more units and lower their price retail. of course that would also mean getting work would be a million times harder too, so count your blessings carefully. so thats how something that if it were a mass market consumer item worth $200-$250 becomes $1300 in a niche market.

then look at the quality of the components. good quality pots are expensive compared to what might be used on a consumer unit with 1/5th to 1/10th the cost. molds are expensive, custom aluminum extrusion requires minimum runs that could give you enough in one run to last for years of cases.

I'm in the process of developing a mic shock mount and it takes about a day to make the 3 primary parts that go into it by hand. if I had a fancy CNC mill I could drop parts out every minute or two, but thats a 20-60K investment even for a used one, then learn how to make it.

as for time code, its price gouging because they can. with sony, its a typical marketing ploy to force you into buying a more expensive next model up thing. why should they give you TC I/O which costs rather little, when they can get a couple of grand more.
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Old March 18th, 2008, 02:49 AM   #4
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I agree about the get what you pay for and high quality costs money part.

Looking at my SD302 however I don't see anything that's molded except the knobs. Molds are indeed expensive - several hundred $k is not out of the realm of possibility. However, the molds for small low precision plastic parts like knobs are not so terribly costly. Generally speaking the way the product is built tells me it's a small market product. Probably a lot of expensive hand assembly involved because the volumes don't justify investment in automated assembly equipment.

I'd vote for the cost being mainly in the engineering and testing as well as high quality componentry and labor intensive assembly - and the low volume. After that, I'd think it was support. marketing, infrastructure etc.

And by the way, I'm completely satisfied with the 302 and 702 and would move up in the SD line in a heartbeat if I needed more inputs/tracks.

Money well spent I think.
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Old March 18th, 2008, 04:29 AM   #5
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If your only differentiator is price, you'd better be cheap.

Pro gear (I don't mean gear labelled pro) has never differentiated on price, and why should it?

Price can be a barrier to entry, but even the rebels will join the gentleman's club.

So what's left?

Ideas are free.
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Old March 18th, 2008, 07:26 AM   #6
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Hi Chris,

Perspective may help. A Nagra D (a 4 track digital reel-to-reel) with a few needed accessories cost over $20K in its hey-day. The Sound Devices 744T comes in about $4K, or 1/5 the cost. It's file based instead of tape based, it's exponentially lighter and easier to operate.

Half of a 744T (a 702T) is about $2K.

A Sound Devices 442 is about $2500. There's a LOT going on inside a 442.
The 302 has less going on and one less input. Having reviewed each of them and owning a 442, I can comfortably say the price difference makes sense.

Implementing timecode properly is not a simple thing given the various flavors required these days. Keeping it out of the audio is also important.

So what mixer are you looking at that makes you think the 302 is too expensive...oh, and what boom mics are you using?


Ty Ford
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Old March 18th, 2008, 08:15 AM   #7
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And compared to the Cantar-X



It's nothing. These run the better part of $15,000.
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Old March 20th, 2008, 11:18 PM   #8
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I don't know the answers to a lot of the original questions, but I consider the usefullness and build quality of the SD302 one of the best values of any piece of gear I own. It's a professional mixer that you can get real work with. I agree with TY that the 442 makes even more sense. A better question is why is the SD302 so cheap? It was considered a breakthrough in size and price when it came out. That's why so many people have them.
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Old March 21st, 2008, 12:50 AM   #9
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In just about every craft and art, the price of the pro gear is significantly higher than the next level down (advanced amateur). I have a vintage sax I got cheap for only $5000 and then promptly paid over $1000 to get into playing shape. It is easily worth $7-10k. Saxes are cheap compared to many other instruments, especially Stradivarius violins.

It's the same with electronics. There is still a higher level of craftsmanship engineered into the best equipment and created by skilled technicians. Therefore it costs more. However, with the advances in technology, recording equipment is constantly evolving and improving (for the most part.) Instead of that old Nagra being a classic and still used today, it's a relic.
After years of lurking, I finally made the mistake of opening my mouth.
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