In recent years, the world of surround-sound audio has exploded, and nearly every high-end manufacturer of audio equipment now has a choice of systems designed for home entertainment. Most of these brands are unrecognizable to the average consumer, but to audiophiles, they are both known and beloved. As a word of caution, buying a surround-sound system from a high-end manufacturer will set you back a pretty penny, but the quality of such systems cannot be touched by any of the big names in audio, including Sony, Pioneer and LG. If your budget allows for it, you will not be disappointed with any of the following surround-sound brands.
Krell Industries has been a leading manufacturer of audio equipment since 1980. This American company produces an award-winning series of amplifiers, preamplifiers, DVD players and speakers that are perfect for the demanding and discerning audiophile. In addition, Krell has developed one of the most efficient surround-sound processors in history. Today, Krell continues to be an innovator of new home-audio technologies that produce clearer, crisper and sharper sound reproductions than ever before. Krell’s first surround-sound processor was released in 1996. It was hailed as a landmark achievement, but its current processors are even more sophisticated and powerful.
Most people know McIntosh as either a type of apple or an early model of Apple computer, but true audiophiles know the name as a leading brand of sound processors, amplifiers and speakers. The company was founded in Silver Springs, Maryland, by Frank McIntosh and Gordon Gow in 1949 and is known for its innovative and distinctive tube amps. These tube amps are still produced today, but they now employ the latest technology. New designs take up to two years to go from initial concept to finished product. The technologies used by McIntosh surround-sound products include Power Guard, which dynamically adjusts input levels to prevent distortion and overdriving. Final power outputs are then measured and displayed on blue watt meters that are known just as much for their aesthetic appeal as for their functionality.
Meridian home-audio systems have been considered the best of the best among consumers and experts since the 1980s. One of the partners who founded this British company is an electronics engineer, and the other is a mechanical engineer. Together, they produced the world’s first digital sound processor. Today, all Meridian-branded equipment is handmade in the UK, but once the boards are built, they are mounted by sophisticated, robotic machines. The cabinets are made from a combination of specially selected types of wood and aluminum, which is a material that has since been dubbed Meridium. After a system is built, it goes through a rigorous calibration and testing regimen that can take up to four days to complete.
Rotel is a family-owned business that has been designing and producing audio equipment for over 50 years. Even though the company has been operating for so long, it did not receive widespread recognition until the production of the RCD 855 CD player began in the 1990s. Since this time, Rotel has expanded its lineup to include surround-sound processors, amplifiers, preamplifiers and tuners. Today, Rotel’s engineers and designers work from shops in the United States, United Kingdom, Japan and Korea. The company’s surround-sound systems are often compared to those with price tags thousands of dollars higher, which has led experts to conclude that Rotel surround-sound systems offer the greatest value of any high-end, surround-sound system in the world.
Steinway is most famously known for its pianos, but the company also produces home audio equipment through its Steinway Lyngdorf division. The company is responsible for developing the first fully digital amplifier, and its other digital audio equipment is as good as it gets. The home audio division of Steinway & Sons was founded through a partnership with Peter Lyngdorf in Denmark. Lyngdorf’s dedication to electronic audio is legendary, and he has developed several breakthrough technologies over the course of his career. The hallmark surround-sound processor by Steinway Lyngdorf is the Model P1. Some of the unique technology in this system includes True Bass Steering and RoomPerfect, which allows the sound to adapt to the room instead of requiring the room to be adapted to the sound.