wireless hifi system sonos 03Quick….name a luxury automobile. Maybe you thought of Bentley, or Rolls Royce, or something sportier like Aston Martin or Ferrari. Now…..name a high-end watch. You probably thought of Rolex or maybe Omega or Patek or Cartier. How about a luxury kitchen appliance? There’s Viking, Sub-Zero, Thermador or Wolf…

Now, name me some high-end audio/video gear. If you thought Sony and Bose, then you are like the vast majority of the population. And while I have absolutely nothing against either of these companies, no one “in the know” would consider either of them to be high-end.

For all its bluster and billions, the consumer electronics industry has really done a poor job of promoting itself, especially on the high-end. In fact, most companies that are really considered to be performance leaders are totally unknown to the vast majority of people, even those that are looking to purchase them. When introduced to a brand that has the equivalent pedigree of a Bentley, Rolex or Viking, most people shrug their shoulders and say, “Never heard of ‘em.” So, I thought I would introduce you to some high-end manufacturers, and explain what they are…and what they are not.

In the electronics world, Wilson is not the volleyball from Castaway, rather the manufacturer of some truly stellar loudspeakers.

There is a Meridian in Santa Barbara, CA that makes affordable – yet drinkable – wines. However, the A/V Meridian is from the UK and a leader in digital audio processing.

Macintosh is an Apple computer; McIntosh has been making highly desirable audio gear that engenders fanatical-like loyalty since 1949.

BO is generally considered offensive and undesirable. B&O (Bang & Olufsen) is a Danish company known for world-class industrial design.

A kaleidoscope offers a complex pattern of constantly changing colors and shapes; a Kaleidescape is a media server capable of storing literally thousands of movies.

Ronco is the late-night huckster trying to sell you things like the Chop-o-Matic and the pocket fisherman. Runco makes some of the world’s finest video projectors.

Crestron and Lutron are not characters in the upcoming Disney Tron reboot. They are actually leaders in home automation and lighting control, respectively.

B&W is not BMW. B&W is Bowers and Wilkins, the British speaker manufacturer, whose speakers are used in places like Skywalker Ranch and Abbey Road. BMW is Bavarian Motor Works, the car company.

Theta is the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet and the name of that Fraternity/Sorority you rushed in college. It is also the manufacturer of some terrific processors and amplifiers.

SIM2 is not a sequel to the popular “The Sims” video game, but an Italian projector manufacturer.

Oppo, Sonos and ADA are not merely examples of corporate palindromes. Oppo makes a highly regarded Blu-ray play, Sonos a terrific wireless audio distribution system, and ADA (Audio Design Associates) has been pioneering high-end audio and distribution systems for over 30 years.

Classé might sound like a term from the Urban Dictionary, but it is actually Canada’s leading maker of high-performance music and theater components.

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