Premium home audio speakers and receivers can take your sound playback to another level. The following five companies provide premium products that up the ante in the audio game. These are devices from manufacturers who traditionally appear in dedicated listening spaces and in the homes of dedicated listeners. Each brand builds products able to unlock the subtle intricacies of your favourite songs or movie soundtracks. The jump from general consumer audio products to the premium offerings can be mind-blowing. This elevation to another tier of performance opens up an entirely new sonic landscape to explore, making your existing sources sound their best, and encouraging us to close our eyes and take in the wonder that devices from these companies can deliver.

Premium Audio Brands
Bowers & Wilkins
Pioneer Elite

Bowers & Wilkins 600 series for premium audio in an efficient small package

For almost six decades the illustrious British brand Bowers & Wilkins has been at the forefront of the audiophile world. Their speakers are found at mixing studios and discerning home setups around the world, and thanks to their massive investments in research and development they have shown the way even to competitors companies how to maximize audio performance. The B&W house sound is notable for its accuracy and its immersion, and with a wide series of offerings there’s a remarkable synchronicity between their highest-end reference models and those aimed at a premium consumer.

The 600 series provide a fantastic foray into the world of B&W. From stand-mounted bookshelf speakers to the larger, floor-mounted models, they all benefit from the trickledown technology of their higher-numbered siblings. The Continuum cone that serves at the heart of these models, for example, evolved from their groundbreaking experiments using light but tough materials like Kevlar for their speaker construction, with their newest patented technologies even more bullet-proof in terms of performance. Even the dimpled ports have been honed after generations of models, producing significant punch out of a small package. The 600 series are extremely efficient and easy to drive, but above all they grow as your system does, allowing you to have years and years with these models as the rest of your components evolve and the B&W’s simply thrive with the better equipment you pair them with.

Pioneer Elite: superior quality and superior sound

Like many companies on this list, Pioneer has built an incredible legacy over many years, with the Japanese company tracing its origins all the way back to 1937. Their very name speaks to the company’s long history of innovation, and so many devices and formats over the years have seen their models be the first to market, with many of their iconic offerings setting the path forward on both technical and aesthetic grounds for the entire history. This spirit of innovation and quality continues with their latest products, where capable consumer models are joined by their more premium sibling offerings. Thanks to being overtly labeled with the “elite” badge, enthusiasts have known for decades that that this revered marque indicates a product that guarantees superior build quality and functionality. Pioneer Elite models take just about every aspect up a notch, from more robust amplification resulting in cleaner sound,to  better internal components. There’s even the ability to further expand to help futureproof these systems, with each model out of the box able to reproduce a veritable constellation of sound sources and codecs. It’s rare to have so simple a way of delineating the general from the premium offering, and thanks to Pioneer’s seemingly simple designation the Elite line is a touchstone for quality, a step above that’s more than welcome for anyone serious about their sound and vision components.

Klipsch continues to innovate and create unique audio solutions

Back in 1946 in the city of Hope, Arkansas, Paul W. Klipsch patented the design of a loudspeaker that helped transform the entire history of sound reproduction for decades to come. The high-end Klipschorn remains in production all these years later and continues to influence the design of their other products on offer from the company. With new developments in materials and modes of construction, there remains a direct link to the sound that built the reputation of this storied company, with just about everything they produce benefiting directly from this positive trickle-down effect. Their premium consumer products are revered by fans all over the world, and their speakers, earphones, powered monitors and subwoofers form the heart of many exceptional systems. Far from simply focussed on success of the past, Klipsch is also known for its groundbreaking integration of new technologies. Cerametallic drivers give a unique look to many of their models with its gold-on-black aesthetic, and their top-firing Atmos speakers are but one example of how they’ve helped initiate a wave of unique, ground-breaking sonic solutions. Combined there’s an entire family of products, from introductory models through to class-leading premium solutions, that can suit the fickle taste of even the most discerning of listeners.

Marantz groundbreaking and powerful performance

For many years the brand Marantz has been revered in almost hushed tones. Its models from the 1970s in particular provided some of the most groundbreaking models of their generation remaining classics to this day. This same commitment to powerful performance in an economic package drives the company to this day, and their models remain not only exceptionally robust and capable, they’re no less lust worthy than those of prior models. They build class-leading disc transports, extremely capable two-channel receivers, a wide-range of surround sound systems, standalone network streamers, and AV receivers that are easily among the pinnacle of the entire field. With several models capable of over a dozen channels of amplification and processing, combined with its trademark “porthole” design, these products are both cutting edge and classic at the same time. This modern marvels provide audio format decoding capabilities only dreamed of a few years before, yet even the most modern of playback modes is presented with a commitment to sonic purity that dates back to the company’s earliest successes. With new, sculpted designs, and an ever-increasing array of capabilities that essentially make their flagship models among the most capable from any manufacturer, Marantz is a name that is one of the few names on the top of any list for those wishing to take their audio journey to the next level.  

Devialet combine award-winning designs and room-filling sound

French manufacturer Devialet has helped transform the crowded landscape of Bluetooth speakers with their eye-catching, eye-shaped models that deliver powerful, pristine sound. The company rightly boasts of their over 200 individual patents covering sound playback, with their devices incorporating extremely high quality components in a unique package. With robust app support and the ability to expand the system with additional components, the award-winning company helps create room-filling sound out of a relatively small package, bringing to the market a convenient form factor without sacrificing the need for clear, immersive sound from a wide variety of sources. Thanks to integration with major streaming services, along with impressive levels of amplification and ground-breaking speaker designs, Devialet creates products that promise to provide the utmost in audio bliss all while never forgetting to do so with style.

Premium technology for premium sound

Bowers & Wilkens, Pioneer, Klipsch and Marantz have for generations been leading the way for sound reproduction, and along with relative newcomer Devialet all these brands continue to push forward on the premium audio front. It’s this blend of tradition and innovation that each of these manufacturers represents, and for any consumer looking to elevate their setup, you’d be well advised to give any of these marque’s products a shot. My own reference system that have evolved over decades has been built with products from several of these companies, and for any of you on a similar sonic journey to wring the most out of your music and movies these are all premium home audio products that are an excellent starting point.

Jason Gorber
Jason Gorber, M.A., is a film, technology, and media journalist and member of the Toronto Film Critics Association. He is the managing editor and chief film critic at That Shelf and a regular contributor to POV Magazine, SlashFilm, and CBC Radio. Jason has been a Tomatometer-approved critic for over 20 years, is an avid collector of music, movies, LEGO and many other aesthetic and technical treats.


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