Just to clarify nobody complained about an Audio Research preamp at 15,000. It was used as an example to a question about how could you build a component with features, and quality at a lower price point.
Hence the example was used that a 2 channel / Tube audio research amp has less actually technology in it than a smart phone, HDTV, and $300 dollar sony receiver combined.
Point was that it is a hard sell today... And it was also stated that "Maybe" this would be a product line more feasible at 4000 to 5000. But justifying it at 15,000 will be very hard to sell into the "Next Generation".
Also, fact is packaging, and shipping etc... on any of these items would be the same in reality for most companies.
But again those that love big silver faceplates, the glow of tubes, and somewhat better sound quality will pay up for this, however what is "Reasonable" was the question. Is 15,000 for 4 tubes, and an isolated power supply worth 14,000 more? Guess there are those that will argue it one way or the other!
Just as side note I was not around in the 70's, but I can tell you this my mother never paid more than about 3.99 to 5.99 an album, even most still had price stickers on them! So not sure where they were being sold for 13 or 17 bucks unless they were MOFI or something?
They were 1.99 in 1960 and under $5 through the 1960's. When I was in High School (1969~73) and travelling to the record store every Saturday they were about $8 to $13, depending if you shopped at a Record Store which offered a discount, or a Department Store, which didn't.
[As an aside, I earned my Record Money by working at a service station, pumping gas. Yes, I cleaned your windows ... all of them ... and checked your oil every time you visited. By Grade 10 (or if you are an American, "the Tenth Grade") I was working full time 4pm to midnight Tuesday to Saturday, while attending school full time and maintaining a B to A- average. School was relatively easy, as I was allowed to "work ahead" of the class, so I was done the year's work by February or so and didn't really have to attend most classes, although I did have to be there for attendance at 10:30AM and 1:15PM every day, while French and PhysEd were mandatory every day. All my English, Maths, and Sciences would be done though.
I was paid $1.15~1.25 an hour and the full service price for 90 octane regular was about 48c a gallon, or 10.21 cents a litre].
By the end of the decade, 1978~80, they were about $15 with a typical discount from the Label's MSRP of about $17. A Direct to Disk or Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab album sold for $25~40.
The inflation rate in the 1970'S was high; distributors released a new price list every six months and inflation was in the double digits; by the early 80's a mortgage in Canada would cost you 20~24% in interest. That means prices double every 3 years and a few months.
A common news story of the day referred to the number of people who were locking up their homes, leaving the keys on the kitchen table, and walking away, simply defaulting on the mortgage.
The above is all in $Canadian and reflects the Canadian economic reality. Prices, and inflation, were lower in the US, although from their perspective, still high for both.
The remarkable thing is album prices and CDs did not rise in price as much as everything else during the last 30 years, from the mid 1980's on. Cassettes, CDs then LP records were the most to least expensive to manufacture (about $2.50, $2.25 and $1.50).
The Audio gear itself, did rise in step with inflation, and were it not for economies of scale, the emergence of an electronics manufacturing ecosystem in the Far East and improvements in efficiency brought on by the Digital Revolution, would be even higher in cost today than they are.
Today vinyl is considerably more expensive than CD/DVD, cost of which hovers around $1 a copy.
* At 20% a given value doubles every 3 years 7 months 6 days.