Who gets the money?

I have been enjoying my Atom and B&W speakers a great deal, but as I listen more and more I am discovering the limitations of what I have. I am now convinced that the speakers are the weakest link, so on an information gathering quest I visited a local dealer (first time in a long time). I didn’t want to do any listening at that point.

I was particularly interested in finding out what was available. The dealer had a wide range of Paradigm (the factory, labs, etc. are 10 minutes from the shop) and showed me the Persona B. The dealer suggested I also consider the Focal Kanta 1. The Focal was really more than I wanted to spend at $11,500, while the Persona was ‘only’ $9,600 (all CAD, and local taxes included), and perhaps negotiable. I got to wondering what these these cost in the UK. I should point out here that I’m a Scot and don’t like to hand out money if it can be helped :grinning:. It turns out that the Kanta 1 is 5,000 GBP, and the Persona B is 7,800 GBP in the UK. Converting to CAD, the Focal should be about $7,800 CAD, So where did the other $3,700 get to? The picture gets more extreme when you realize that the UK price includes tax of 20%, while here (Ontario) it is 13%. So that Kanta 1 is really a 4,200 GBP speaker. The Paradigm seems to have picked up some cost moving to the UK, but much less than the Focal gained moving the other way.

The story seems to continue into the electronics. A SuperNait 3 is 3,800 GBP, a Moon 340iX is 4,100GBP, and an Anthem STR Integrated is 4,800 GBP. (Moon and Anthem are both Canadian). The Moon and Anthem are more featured and more powerful than the sn3, so things seem in order. Looking at the prices in Canada however, the Moon is $6,500 the Anthem is $6,800 and the sn3? A whopping $8,360. (Taxes inc.) From my musing around on the internet this is not a Focal/Naim thing, it seems to apply to KEF, B&W and more.

This sort of price ‘enhancement’ doesn’t seem to happen between the US and Canada (once exchange rates and taxes are factored in) or for electronics sourced in Japan or China. So what’s with the UK?

Being a bit of a cynic I can’t help feeling that if I bought the Kanta 1, a good part of my money would be going to some distributor types in suits in a Manhattan office or something. I doubt if it’s going to the Engineers at Focal. Going forward I will plan on doing more research on different local prices and perhaps even leaning to more local purchases? Anyone else noticed this type of discrepancy, and if so, what do you do if anything?

1 Like

Buy second hand to not sweat it out.
Canada has as many accomplished speaker brands as the uk/Europe/USA so you should definitely stick with your home grown options and save on costs and your green footprint.

There may well be other factors as well, but import duties and taxes differ between countries. Some countries have special agreements with each other. CAN and US probably have one, EU and CAN probably have one, UK and CAN - no idea. If any of this would cover hifi stuff, I don’t know. Would be the first place I would look, anyway.

1 Like

I hadn’t thought about international agreements. There is certainly one between Canada and the US, and there is one between Canada and the EU. But I don’t think there is anything between Canada and the UK. (So those Manhattan types are off the hook for now.)

As a fellow Scot I would suggest better value could be found closer to home. I don’t know much about the Canadian speaker market but suggest a look at Totem speakers which I have heard several times and are excellent. They make several models from stand-mounts to small floor standers which would be a good match for your Atom.

Much the same happens the other direction with US things sold in the UK - a cost much higher than the exchange rate. I assume it is a combination of shipping costs (which on expensive items can be high if insurance is included. Then there may be import duty. And the importer/distributor to pay if not directly imported by the seller.

As you are in Canada, I’d suggest trying some Totem speakers, which are made there and match very well with Naim. Possibly the Sky Tower for an Atom.

1 Like

That’s two recommendations to look at Totem. I have never heard them, but they do get a good recommendation. I’ll just be sorry if I have to give up the brands I knew for the first decades of my life – and lusted after – Naim, Linn, B&W, KEF, etc.

I’ve always liked Totem when used for demo at the dealer. If I hadn’t upon my current Ovators I was giving them a strong look.

I have the Totem Hawks on my Nova and ran them on a UnitiQute2 (the precursor to the Atom) before that. They are discontinued now, hence my suggestion of the Sky Tower. I also have the Forest Signatures on my main system, and preferred them by quite a margin over Kantas 2, and they are cheaper as well, here in New Zealand.

Hi cephas, I was born in England, live in Ontario myself. I try to avoid buying brand new speakers now, you really get dinged on taxes on any purchase really. I have owned Paradigm and Anthem products, so locally made, but these were bought new in the early 2000’s. Lately I have been buying from dealers second hand gear, which is where you can find decent discounts, and you can negotiate lower prices.
If you are looking at Canadian made speakers, also look at Reference 3A. I owned their Taksim model, and it is one of the best sounding speakers I have owned…I regret selling those.
I do everything I can to avoid paying list prices, even brand new can be found heavily discounted if you know where to look.:eyes:

2 Likes

Add another recommendation for Totem. I have the Tribe Towers and they work very nicely with my SN3/NDX2/Pure Fidelity turntable. And even after recent price hikes will be a decent saving on those Focals, assuming you like the sound of course, always pays to try before you buy.
I will also add, they aren’t very fussy when it comes to placement either

1 Like

Why not buy from a US dealer? Or Audiogon? Or Canuck Marketplace. FYI there’s a really nice pair of Kanta 2 on A’gon for $6k

1 Like

Plenty of great speakers available in Ontario. Have owned several Totem speakers over the years and they are great, well made and punch well above their price range. Others to look at are the Paradigms, PSB, Shanihan, Reference 3a, and Martin Logan (apparently made in the Paradigm factory now). There are numerous others as well.
On the electronics side there is Bryston (probably the most Naim like in sonics and serviceability), Anthem, Classe, Sim Audio, Moon, and Oracle (for turntables and CD players) just to name a few.
CanuckAudioMart is a great place to look for very affordable and sometimes new product where you will find all of the UK products you are looking for.
Good luck.

3 Likes

Thanks for the replies. It’s clear I’m not going to be living in an audio desert as my upgrades move forward. I’m just a bit disappointed that the UK brands that I admired up to now are ceasing to be cost competitive – and I don’t mean “charging a lot for a premium product”; I mean “charging a disproportionate amount based on geography”.

But it is what it is. Recently, I have noticed that some of the newer premium audio companies are entirely located in China – AURALiC, Lumen, Topping… I haven’t seen Chinese speakers yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

Buy some good headphones. Listen to the music. Distributors in suits in Manhattan? That’s funny