There are literally thousands of speaker companies in the world, and many of the best products on the market today come from small, sole-proprietor custom shops that would be unfamiliar to the average consumer and unattainable to any of us with an average checkbook. The following five companies have been chosen as “tops” in part because of the quality of their products and in part because they are large enough to provide consistent customer service and support of those products.
Case in point? The product designated as the world’s best speakers cost $200,000 and look like an arcade game from the 1970s.
The critics of Bose speakers say they’re all marketing, but the fact is that marketing counts for something. As with others on this list, Bose has the advantage of combining superior quality and sound management with an international retail and customer support infrastructure that can actually service its customers. The speakers are also so good that they outperform most of the digital media a consumer is likely to play on them.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Sony has made itself rich and huge by producing consumer products, not ultra high end products for the most discerning audiophile. However, the fact is that most discerning audiophiles won’t be able to tell the difference between a Sony speaker and the most expensive speakers in the world as long as they’re playing digital content.
You’ll have to go into a specialty audio store (fellow Seattleites, check out Seattlehifi.com) to find Focal speakers, but they’re a great option if you’re trying to get the biggest bang for your buck. Focal made its name making super high-end speakers, some of which carry six-figure price tags, but they also offer kits for as little as $599.
Sonos is a relative newcomer to the audio industry, but for practical purposes its products have to appear on any list of great speakers, as much because of their input system as because of their output. Designed to connect with digital players – especially smart phones and tablets – through wifi and Bluetooth, the Sonos product line fits modern consumers’ needs better than most other products on the market. (Besides, Consumer Reports likes them.)
Pioneer belongs on this list for the many of the same reasons that Sony and Bose do. Pioneer products are sold and serviced widely. They have built massive market presence by selling quality products. And they sell products that can fit virtually any budget and audio system requirement. Their speakers may not deliver quite the same quality as their competitors, but consumers who go with Pioneer save money, gain peace of mind, and can’t hear the difference.