In the world of high end, there are often many synergies, many luxuries that are juxtaposed seamlessly; a 30 year old Glenfarclas single malt whisky pairs beautifully with a King of Denmark cigar, for example. When it comes to high-end audio, there are common connections too because many audiophiles sport high-end watches, top-notch cameras, and well-engineered German automobiles. Audiophiles, it seems, recognise the beauty of superb craftsmanship and engineering, as well as fine music quality.
This enthusiasm is not bi-directional, however. There are many people who might wear a Patek watch, take photos on a Leica, and drive around in a top-end Mercedes-Benz, but listen to music on something cheap and nasty by comparison. That said, few audio brands have the financial clout to sponsor golf tournaments, take out expensive advertising campaigns in airports, or have their name in lights across a city skyline.
To help counter that primary lack of visibility that high-end audio suffers, some companies have attached their products to other high-grade engineering projects. If you buy a top-end automobile today, the in-car entertainment system may well sport a ‘name’ from the audio industry. A handful of audio manufacturers have delved into the world of automotive audio, realising that there is a huge potential for an augmented audience in this sector.
The beauty of hi-fi grade automotive audio is two-fold; from an engineering standpoint, the interior of a car is the ultimate in controlled listening spaces, and to the end user, the cost involved is a very low percentage of the overall purchase price of the car: if someone is prepared to spend £40,000 on a car, spending an additional 10% to upgrade the entertainment system seems a trivial sum, although the same person might never consider spending £4,000 on a home audio system.