To Jeff Fritz,

Your article ["Can Someone Please Answer These Questions?!"] strongly resonated with me because I have asked myself the same questions recently.

As context, my criteria for purchasing audio equipment are based equally on engineering excellence, build quality, sound quality and aesthetics -- and each piece of my current system represents a fine balance of those values. As an audiophile for almost 30 years and a trained engineer, the relatively recent exponential increase in audio-gear prices with the increasingly prevalent lack of corresponding improvement in engineering excellence and build quality is baffling.

Admittedly, I have no experience or beef with FM Acoustics -- but pictures of their internal construction begs the question for the justification of the price tag. As a contrast, simply have a look at the internals of the less-than-half-the-cost Boulder 2160 amplifier.

Yeah, I was also surprised at the step-down in apparent build quality for Krell’s Duo series. The original "built as a brick outhouse" Krell KSA-50 is what got me hooked on high-end gear going back 28 years!

I dismissed Devialet until I recently demoed them on the notoriously current-hungry B&W 800-series loudspeakers. I was blown away -- not only by the clean, warm, full sound quality, but that it came from an elegantly chromed box that will pass muster with the most pernickety house-proud mother.

The agonizing fade from glory for the Mark Levinson brand has been a blow to those with an eye for beautifully styled equipment outside and inside.

So, here are my best guesses to your questions:

Why do FM Acoustics' products cost so much? Because the dramatic increase in the top 1% of wealth has made the price of gear that cost more than the average salary a non-issue and they are the target market. The focus of the traditional and shrinking middle class have shifted elsewhere (like survival!).

Why isn’t Krell building real power amps anymore? What happened to the Mark Levinson brand? They both lost their way when the vision and passion of their founder was no longer their guide.

Is Devialet really, really better than everything else? Not sure. But I do agree with the previous letter -- "Devialet is . . . Utterly Disruptive" -- not only for the potential to deliver the audiophile fix at a lower price point, but that it delivers the goods in a package that can be easily moved, oohed and ahhed over by the latest smartphone brigade, or blissfully ignored because it is visually unobtrusive.

Mark Venter
New Zealand