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It is hard to beat emailing or calling a manufacturer and talking to someone whose main concern is helping you get the best performance from their gear...especially when that person is the designer of the gear and owner of the company! In my experience, two who should be on your list are;
Steve McCormack, SMc Audio - amplifiers
Michael Kelly, Aerial Acoustics, speakers
There are many others who have helped me over the years, and who could also make the list but, for me, those two stand out.
Dealers: Any and all who have been able to keep a specialist high-end shop in business as it's older customer base dies off is to be admired and respected. Without resorting to selling Home Theater, I don't know how they do it.
Designers: Max Townshend (Townshend Audio), Roger Modjeski (Music Reference), Ralph Karsten (Atma-Sphere), Bruce Thigpen (Eminent Technology), Jim Winey (Magnepan), Peter Walker (Quad), Brian Ding (Rythmik), Danny Richie (GR Research).