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Schiit Freya tube preamplifier

These are some of my all-time favorite audio brands, but the names are a little weird. All are successful enterprises, so the strange names didn't hurt one bit. 

Schiit Audio may not have been first in the weird name game, but Schiit, pronounced just like you'd think, got a lot of attention when it started in 2010, and the name still does. If all Schiit had was the stop-you-in-your-tracks name it wouldn't be the major player in affordable audio it is today. Schiit makes headphone and speaker amplifiers, digital converters, and it'll soon debut its first turntable, the Sol. They all sound like Schiit, and they're all made in Newhall, California.

Pictured: Schiit Freya

Caption:Photo:Lee Shelly
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Zu Dirty Weekend speakers

Zu Audio builds speakers with mostly American parts in Ogden, Utah, and it's been at it since 2001. The company specializes in high-sensitivity speakers that rock the house with just a few watts. It also makes speaker and interconnect cables.

Pictured: Zu Dirty Weekend   

Published:Caption:Photo:Zu Audio
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MrSpeakers Voce electrostatic headphones

MrSpeakers would be a funny moniker for a speaker company, but odder still for a headphone manufacturer. Another California brand, MrSpeakers is yet another one that builds all of its gear in-house and makes truly excellent headphones.

Pictured: MrSpeakers Voce.

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Woo Audio WA7 Fireflies

Woo Audio makes high-end headphone amplifiers in New York City. Mostly tube designs, some portables; all sound awfully nice.

Pictured: Woo WA7 Fireflies (2nd-gen)

Published:Caption:Photo:Woo Audio
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Okki Nokki

Okki Nokki makes excellent LP cleaning machines and accessories.

Pictured: the Okki Nokki RCM in black and white finishes.

Published:Caption:Photo:Okki Nokki
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BorderPatrol P20 tube amp

The name BorderPatrol conjures a political bent, but that's not what BP is all about. This Waldorf, Maryland-based electronics outfit makes superb tube amplifiers, and I use its digital converter in my personal reference system. BP's craftsmanship and sound quality are beyond reproach. 

Pictured: BorderPatrol P20 tube amp.

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Fluance Reference Series 7.1 system

Fluance -- I don't know what it means, but it just sounds, well, off-putting. No matter, Fluance makes sweet-sounding yet affordable stereo and home theater speakers and turntables.

Pictured: Fluance Reference Series 7.1 system

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AntiCables speaker cables

AntiCables may be just the ticket for audiophiles who don't believe in expensive cables. AntiCables makes very affordable cables; its entry-level speaker cables start around $48 a pair, but it makes pricey ones, too. 

Pictured: AntiCable Level 2.1 speaker cable

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EAT Forte turntable

EAT -- what kind of name is that for a company that makes turntables, tonearms, phono cartridges, phono preamplifiers, and accessories? They even craft vacuum tubes in-house! Turns out it's just short for European Audio Team, and it's based in Prague and Vienna.

Pictured: EAT Forte turntable.

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Skullcandy Icon Wireless headphones

Years ago when I first heard about Skullcandy, the name sounded bizarre, but its cool headphones are ear candy. 

Pictured: Skullcandy Icon Wireless headphones.

I'm still baffled as to why these companies chose such odd names, but those choices haven't thwarted their chances of success. Maybe their quirky names help them stand out in a crowded field!

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