Heavy-metal thunder: The very best high-end audio products

When you're a manufacturer selling cost-no-object audio, build quality is paramount. Take a look at these beauties!

The Burmester 808 Mk 5 stereo preamplifier. Burmester

I had a long fascination with high-end audio before I owned any of the good stuff. I suppose the same allure applies to exotic cars; millions read reviews of cars they never drive, and watch Food Network shows about food they'll never taste. Folks are interested in excellence, but compared to $200,000 cars or celebrity chefs' handiwork high-end audio is more accessible and practical. Two products covered in today's blog -- used high-end Grado headphones and the Oracle Delphi turntable -- sometimes sell for less than $1,000 on eBay. That's still expensive, but more within the realm of possible than any Ferrari or Lamborghini, or spending big bucks for an evening's meal.

Longevity is one of high-end audio's greatest assets. I personally know three people who own Quad ESL 57 speakers that are close to 40 years old, and they sound as good as some of today's best speakers. So sure, high-end gear isn't cheap, but it can last practically forever. If you need great sound for the lowest possible price, check out the $70 Lepai/Dayton system I covered on Thursday's blog.

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by Brian Bennett