Who's the Cadillac of Hi-End Audio?

In "Get Shorty" John Travolta's character arrives in Los Angeles and the only car available at the rental agency is a minivan. Throughout the film people question why he's driving such an "uncool" vehicle and his character's response is "It's the Cadillac of minivans." By the end of the film everybody is driving the Cadillac of minivans.

Being that cars and hi-end audio have absolutely nothing to do with each other, notwithstanding so called hi-end auto systems, what company do you think is the Cadillac of hi-end audio? What's the Porsche? What's the Dodge Dart? Is any hi-end company as quirky as Saab? For that matter, what's the Harley-Davidson of hi-end audio?

My vote for the Cadillac goes to McIntosh. Both are old school companies with proud histories. Yet each offers products that while not cutting edge, are quite modern. Still, there are no documented cases of anyone under the age of 50 having purchased either brand within the last 30 years.

Except for my answer there are no wrong or right answer responses. Use you imagination and freely express your biases and preconceived notions.
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I vote for Mac.

The Mercedes is Krell

Mark Levinson is Ferrari
Harley Davidson--that's an easy one--Manely.

Parasound Halo is becoming the Lexus. Not cheap, but quality well beyond it's price tag.
There are too many Bricklins in high-end audio!

I remember the Bricklin, what an awesome car! At least they had the good sense to close up shop rather than trying to "finance" the company like John DeLorean did.

As to the topic at hand:

Volkswagen= NAD. Sound engineering but built to meet a price point. A "value" line.

BMW= Linn. Lurking under the surface is a performance product if tweaked just right. You pay lots for what you get but has a loyal following.

Saab= Wilson. Unusual engineering, and you either love'em or hate 'em, there's no middle ground.

Lada= Bose. 'Nuff said
Unless Cadillac gets purchased by Toyota it is not an appropriate comparison. American parts assembly owned by Japanese Multinationals and you get: McIntosh (but they still call upon some of the best they have had to design some of their best tube stuff today, not all bad); Levinson (fire a much of staff, cheapen the build quality to a degree (sort of like Levinson lite), and move the factory) why: Call it Harman Internationalism. Well at least they still have an American presence.

My votes go to companies that have maintained cutting edge design teams, passionate audiophile firms, fanatical customer support, support their USA employees with real world benefits like hopefully you and me, example: Audio Research, Jeff Rowland, Wilson, Vandersteen, Krell Industries, Conrad Johnson etc. Some promising new comers include Talon Audio etc.

Map of Hi-end Audio ompanies in the USA that still manufacture in the USA to my knowledge, not necessarily any longer USA owned( list to grow whenever I get some free time) at:


Levinson=Buick. No character or excitement at all! They started at the high end and have been constantly going downhill ever since. Ick!

McIntosh=Oldsmobile. Even more boring and now dead!

Krell=Cadillac. Over-rated, garish, ugly and built only to impress those who wear too much cologne and smoke crack. Who else would use a knuckle-headed baseball player as a spokesman?

Pioneer Elite=entry level Krell

Jeff Rowland=Bentley. Class and performance.

Linn Klimax=McLaren
Jeff Rowland = Toyota
Mark Levinson= Honda
Krell = Nissan

Gryphon = Lexus
Boulder = Acura
Halcro = Infinity

Audio Note Kondo = Bentley
Audio Note UK = Aston Martin
Tube Research = Lamborgini
Pioneer Elite definitly says Cadillac all the way down to the gaudy gold trim. Even if it had performance, no one who bought it would know what to do with it anyway.
Linn Klimax=mini cooper
Krell=12 Cylinder Lamborghini
Linn tweaked = Mini Cooper S
Counterpoint products = 60's 70's Jaguar. Flashy, good stuff... when it wasn't in the shop!
The Lada comment is cold. BTW, I strongly recommend anyone interested in movies about Hollywood see "Get Shorty". It's hysterical.
Bryston=Humvee, build like tank with 20 yrs warranty.
Classe=Infinity, beautiful build and not too expansive compare to Krell, ML.
Pass=BMW, perfect build, powerful and pricey.
Sony=Ford, well-known, Fix Or Repair Daily
Found On Road Dead
Cadillac has got to be McIntosh. Rega has to be the Lotus Elyse or TRV of turntables!
Cadillac has long been more image than substance, so MacIntosh would seem to fit.

Nissan would be a good comparison to Sony. Lots of money, can build good products but prefers to stay 'mass market.'

Audi matches up well with Krell, in my mind. I refer to the German use models, not the go karts they import. I rented an A4 TDI about a year ago and took it out on the Autobahn. My 13 year old son and I got the little A4 up to 131 mph. It went pretty good for a little car. The better Krell is more like a TT Coupe, lots of muscle, with just enough comfort to make the driver happy.
Audio Research D-52B= Edsel.
Sorry all you Cadillac bashers - but Cadillac has several new models out that are quite different than past offerings.
The XLR two seater is an aluminum and carbon fiber bodied sports car with the latest Corvette engine inside. And there is a new performance version of the CTS that will kick butt on any Lexus or Infinity you see on the freeway.
No - it probably won't outrun a 7 series BMW or an AMG Mercedes - but look at the price points before you make some comparisons.
Avideo: quite right, but make sure you get a deal on any real production Cadillac product because I am sure the resale value is probably not the best. Cadillac still can't get that change of image right: the multi-faceted body design, supposedly reminiscent of stealth aircraft looks, is bad. When you look at the overall shape (that square front end with those horrible headlamps) and then at the retro touches in the taillights and trunk lift on the CTS, you have to head for the exit. The time when it could be said that nobody could go broke underestimating the taste of the American public is pretty well gone. Do you know very many people under seventy that want to be seen driving around in a Caddy these days? Oh, and don’t get me started on their SUVs and, oh mercy, Pickup trucks! GM has lost its way many long years ago and is still, pretty much, out in the wilderness.
I recently attended an auto show here in Indianapolis and Cadillac had some very nice products. The CTS and the Corvette based coupe (XLR?) appeared to be fully competitive with the best comparable priced Japanese or German offerings. So maybe, just maybe, my earlier comments about Cadillacs were out of line. But then again, there were crowds at the BMW or Lexus exhibits and the Caddy area was empty. It's going to take some time for Cadillac to change it's image.
Now that this thread’s direction is more car related than audio, I thought I would add my 2-cents.

Being fat, happy and maintaining the status quo, it could be argued that the U.S. big-3 were initially blind-sided by the compact vehicle invasion from the Far East. However, many years passed before their luxury car lines (such as Cadillac) were pummeled by the Infinity, Lexus et al.

Given the length of time it took for this to transition, even the casual observer – let alone Cadillac Management -- could foresee the inevitable. The question is, why wasn’t G.M./Cadillac capable of improving their product’s styling, engineering, fit, finish, etc. to be competitive with the anticipated Japanese onslaught?

G.M. has employed educationally, some of the best and brightest engineers in the world, with commensurately hefty salaries. Why couldn’t they change? For the same reason why they’re still playing catch-up. Too many old, country club belonging ready-to-retire-to-the-Hamptons Executives. Why would they care to change, and undergo the headaches of doing so? Their current 6 and 7 figure salaries and pensions are guaranteed! They’re still suffering from too little, too late, as exemplified by the comments responders have made to this thread, and by reviews on the www, in periodicals etc.

Instead of designing and building exciting, attractive, well designed, and fun to own and drive vehicles as their competition, G.M Divisions such as Buick are resurrecting dead engineers (ala the Harley Earl ads), and touting “port holes” (the ancient Buick symbol). How sad!! The dying off of their buying base is as obvious as was the aforementioned inevitable Luxury car confrontation. Will they be able to equal, or exceed their competition before this happens – so far they haven’t! Moreover, it’s doubtful they will be able to, before irreversible harm occurs to their once highly revered name plates (Oldsmobile is already dead, which one’s next?) – not so bad for the million dollar golden parachute owing executives or retirees that “have theirs”, but too bad for the remainder of the workers, and the U.S Industrial Base in general!
Actually Cadillac has finally begun to 'reinvent' itself.
I would even be interested in trying out a stick shift Caddy....
As to which audio equipment manufacturer almost died of stagnation, then has recently 'gotten it' ??? can't think of any... MAC comes to mind... but they are still selling dinosaur-style components...
Though Nissan seems to have judged the market well, finally...
Interesting points raised by Mrmb. I think the failure of GM/Ford/Chrysler wasn't in the engineering, but instead was a fault endemic to their entire corporate structure(s). When Toyota first started the Lexus brand they imported dozens of Mercedes to the Japanese factory and let the assembly line workers use them. Management wanted the workers to know first hand the level of fit and finish that they would have to do better than. It's hard to imagine at any of the Detroit Big 3 management and labor working together to accomplish long-term goals. My observation is that in successful companies management and labor have a mutual respect and trust for one another.
I know a lot more about cars than I do about audio equipment so here are my thoughts...

The best high performance designs in general. Even those with modest specs present a cohesive approach to design and provide performance fundamentals before luxuries or features. At my budget end of the spectrum I would analog German cars to equipment such as Rotel or NAD - simple pieces with good performance for the money at cost moderately above garden variety mass market.

"Bland Quality". These products are generally well built and efficient but fail to excite most performance enthusiasts. Clinically there's little to fault with Japanese cars. I consider such cars to parallel audio equipment that is resolving and presents a flat frequency response but is otherwise uncaptivating.

Design for specs and impressive behavior on a 20 minute test drive (i.e. excessive throttle response upon initial toe in of the accelerator). When I think of an American car I think of a mass market stereo with sharp treble and deep boomy bass. It catches your (not my :) ) attention on first impression but after sampling better products becomes tiring and artificial.
Geez, if your knowledge of cars is better than your knowledge of audio, the latter must be pretty dismal. It's as though you have not test-driven a Japanese car in a while. Let's just say that generalizations are usually false, and leave it at that.
Pbb, you can like anything you want, but Japanese cars are well engineered but made of poor quality parts. Thus they are not good cars. They will never compare to the average European car, but you probably drive a Lada or Yugo anyway.
I'm leasing a new GMC Yukon and for $326.00 month there was absolutely nothing else I could find that had the ability to carry, tow and drive in it's class for that money.

I have zero experience with Cadillac, it would never work for my photography business and I was never drawn to it as a sports vehicle.

I have owned four BMW's, including the 540 V8 wagon. Five Volvo's (three of which were turbo charged wagons), and three Honda station wagons. (Cute but useless for many things).

I think much about an automobile, ANY automobile is about what you intend to use it for. If I were a single guy and no equipment to haul, I would own a Porsche, assuming I had the money. Since I must make a living and carry half my photo studio with me, there is little to compete with the big three auto makers for hauling, especially for the costs involved.

I have owned over 45 automobiles or trucks, including one Ferrari. The choices I made at that moment were a balance of what I wanted, what I needed and what I could afford. I always wanted MORE car than I could reasonably afford, sometime I made the decision to spend more than I should.

I must say that looking back, I am happy that I did, great memories are made from the unexpected things in ones life, especially things born of passion and excitement.

Automobiles are all about THAT moment, they have different values in different decades depending on their quality, gas economy, style, social acceptance and price. I can honestly say that I have been mostly satisfied with all the cars I've owned in some way or another.

Some, particularly the German and Italian cars, evoke a passion that escape most of the others. If you've not owned such an automobile, it's difficult to explain or justify.

I agree with those above who say the Japanese cars don't stir much in the way of passion. A strange level of emotionless perfection combined with reliability, as was their audio gear back in the 1970's.

Strangely, my GMC has a bit of personality that reminds me of several old GM products from years ago, including my 1955 Chevy Nomad station wagon, 1958 Chevy convertible and the four big block Corvettes.

When I hit the lottery I'm selling the GMC and buying 15 cars to replace it, most of which will be useless for hauling but a hell of a lot of fun to drive.
Quite strange, assuming for sake of argument that you are right when you are actually patently wrong, that Japanese cars are made with "poor quality parts", Toyotas and Lexus are probably the most reliable cars out there, bar none, with a host of other Japanese cars following quite closely (ex. Acura, Infinity). How do you build state-of-the-art production cars that are more reliable than all others with poor quality parts? Again, with your mindset I am sure that any quality survey would be dismissed out of hand in favour of your own personal experience and maybe some anecdotal evidence from your like-minded friends and acquaintances; just as you do it for audio, I guess. The average European car is probably a Volkswagen. Have you ever looked at how poorly they rate in terms of reliability? As far as I know Alfa-Romeo, Jaguar and Renault are all European; are those built with “high quality parts” but, somehow, the whole is a lot less than the sum of its parts ?
PBB I have had several VW/Audi's over the last twenty years and reliability has never been an issue. I currently have a Passat and have never had a problem with it. I have owned and driven several German cars including Audi and Mercedes that rode like a dream at any speed and I tested their ability to go fast! They did everything I demanded with aplomb. As long as ride and speed are not an issue, buy all the Japanese cars you want. Quality is obviously not an issue to you, in automobiles or stereo equipment.

German iron and steel has been known for generations to be the best available. Other countries try to emulate it's quality by adding to, or subtracting from what they are able to mine.

Japan does not have a good source for high quality iron or steel.

I spent a week driving a Jaguar last spring and was quite impressed with the quality of the ride and the construction. It is far and away better than my Passat which is better than any Japanese car I have ever driven. I must admit that I gave up on Japanese cars many years ago. I would never consider owning one when all the German/British/Swedish/Italian cars are better made and more reliable. I doubt though that you would be able to recognize the qualitative differences, based on what you have already said, so what' the point...
It's good to know that the second largest economy in the world doesn't have a good source of steel, but then again in my original post I did ask for people to freely express their biases.
If I had to guess what was the most reliable automobile made, I would guess either Toyota or Honda.

This based what I have read and heard over several years, plus my personal experience of having owned one Toyota and six Honda's.

I have also owned seven Volkswagen's, including the new Beetle with water cooled engine. Volkswagen, Toyota and Honda are VERY different in style, personality and finish. All are excellent in their own way, but I do have a special spot in my heart for German cars.

When I bought my first Honda in 1978, American Automobiles were not very well made and fuel inefficient at a time when we had gas shortages. Buying a Honda also made sense because of EXTREME value. A new Civic with AM-FM radio, air conditioning, and sport wheels could be purchased for $3800.00 new off the showroom floor.

This low price setting trend continued until about 1986, until they begin to get overly popular, causing the price to rise to within a few thousand dollars of the Volvo 740 Turbo wagon (and the Volvo had sunroof, drop forged allow wheels and leather).

Later, after Volvo evolved to 100% front wheel drive, dropped their no fault / no cost, bumper to bumper warranty and was gobbled up by Ford, the unique personality and low prices vanished completely.

Right now, American SUV's and trucks from both GM and Ford have rebates, incentives and zero percent interest, making them the best deal in decades. My new GMC retailed for over 40K, and I am driving it for $326.00 a month with no money due at the end of 36 month lease.

Considering I cannot spend a dime on repair during the time I drive it, that is not bad overall operating expense.

Surprisingly, the slow economy has also hit extreme luxury cars. A ultra high end 745 BMW was just leased by of my friends at $750.00 a month on two year basis.

He paid ZERO down, not even tax. He gets a free BMW X5 as a loan car when he gets his oil changed, and if he's busy, the dealership will pick his car up and drive him where he needs to go.

Granted it's a LOT of money, and WAY over my budget, but for the guy that can afford that kind of luxury, that is an incredible way to drive a $75,000.00 automobile and not have to be responsible for it long term.

As I said before, this is all about what you want, need and can afford. I would have a stable of automobiles including a BMW 6 series coupe and the new Aston Martin DB 9 if I had Bill Gates money :^).
I stand by my original comments which labeled Japanese cars as a whole unexciting - I also cited their high build and design quality (and by association reliability). My main objection to the Japanese cars is that in driving them I feel like the design philosophy was prescribed by a focus group rather than an engineer. By this I mean the Japanese cars try to offend nobody (with the exception of a few sporting models such as the RX-8). Drive a German car such as a BMW, Audi, or Mercedes and the car feels like it was carved out of a single piece of metal and has an angular purpose.

Excitement in my view has little to do with cost or even quality of design (although I do cite the quality of Japanese design and build). I've driven an Acura RL and Lexus LS430 and ES300 and been bored to death while the comparitavely crude Miata is a blast by comparison. I believe that for similar reasons we are instructed to let our friends demo the music they like on our systems and not a technically perfect audiophile disc.

I do agree with the generalization that German cars are more expensive to operate than Japanese cars. I chalk this up to higher performance requirements and more intense operating conditions. This quite simply requires a more intensive upkeep program regardless of how the owner drives. Anyone familiar with aviation can attest to this.

Having said all this - I (a college engineering student) currently drive a 1995 Civic owned by my uncle since new. I got this car on the basis that it was supposed to be reliable and cheap to operate. So far this has held true.

My previous car was both more reliable, cheaper to operate, and performed better... it was a 1987 Audi 4000S - bought new by my dad for his business travel.
A number of people have mentioned how certain cars offer a certain excitement when driven. Is this driving excitement analogous to what some audiophiles call musicality? There may not be a logical connection, but the language people are using is so similar.

For what it's worth, I drive an 1998 Audi A8 and my previous ride was a 1993 Lexus SC300. They're very different cars and each has its strong points, but one thing is an absolute fact. The Lexus dealer network is far superior to Audi's and this definitely effects the total ownership experience.
Amen to that Onhwy61! I used to own a 2001 Audi A6 Avant and was always amazed at how I was treated. Granted, this wasn't an ultra-premium car, but at 2 clicks less than $50K, I sure expected better treatment than the VW owners. NOPE. Same goes for Porsche. I couldn't imagine spending $100K+ on an exotic sports car (911 Turbo) and being treated the same as those bringing their New Beetle in for an oil leak.

Even for warranty repairs, they would not give me a loaner vehicle. When I complained, the best I could get was a ride to Enterprise to pick up my $25 POS rental.

At Lexus, even the entry-level ES-300 (Toyota Camry) owners get treated like royalty.

That being said, I still think that the analogy regarding Japanese cars is mostly true. There are, however, some pretty exciting Japanese cars. Most of them come from Nissan and Mazda who are far less conservative than Toyota and Honda. My 1996 Nissan Maxima was (from a reliability standpoint) far and away the best car I've ever owned. Sadly, it was killed in an automobile accident last Thursday. (MOMENT OF SILENCE) My old '90 Mazda Miata was an absolute BLAST to drive and was dead reliable as well.

Even still, I'd take a fine German sport sedan over a "comparable" japanese model any day of the week. Did somebody say BMW M5??
Anarchy, Italian cars are better made than Japanese cars? I rest my case as to the pathetic level of your knowledge of things automotive. I think that I have made my point that in cars like in audio, a lot of folks here would rather believe stories, lies and vicious innuendo than consider more objective data. I guess JD Power et al are wasting their time and, oh, obviously, so is John Atkinson. Anarchy you are precious. Love people unswayed by evidence. I see you are dumping your Sony speakers. Why? Bad Japanese components?
They are American designed and made. I have a short list of speakers which I would like to replace them including Sony SS-M9ED; B&W Signature 30's; Kharma Ceramique 1.0; or Wilson Watt/Puppies. So no Pbb I am very happy with the American Sony speakers I have.

You are probably one of the people who buy based on Consumer Reports recommendations, even though experts in the individual areas always disagree with their findings. If you are happy driving you honda or whatever, keep it. I will stick to better made German, Swedish, British, and American cars. I hope your knowledge of HiFi is better than that of cars or it must be ugly in your listening room.
You know I'm not interested in debating why I like car X more than someone else likes car B, but I think generalizations should be taken to be exactly such and exceptions should always be minded.

In direct response to the commentary about my knowledge of audio, I can't dispute that my audio knowledge is relatively dismal. With respect to motor vehicles however, I have designed, built, tested, and driven small scale formula cars while I've also been exposed to and driven high performance cars in a track environment.

I won't dispute the fact that the performance advantages of German cars aren't *necessary* any more than a $30k system is necesary over a $1k system. If it's good enough for a user and it makes him(her) happy then I wish them the best. However, it's another fair generalization that a high performance car brings benefits to lower echelons of the operational envelope. Many audio parallels can be drawn here and I will leave illustration to the users unless specifically requested to elaborate.

None of my claims have yet spoken poorly of Japanese cars from an objective standpoint. However it seems a popular opinion of users thus far that as a whole these cars are somewhat bland, of high quality, and appliance-like.

With regard to JD Power and their awarding process, this organization sells the results of their studies to manufacturers. This kind of behavior is heavily discouraged and is not tolerated in this particular community (i.e. dealer plugs in the form of "reviews" and "i'll give you a 30% discount if you refer 3 friends"). I have no intention of directly questioning the integrity of JD Power, but even if their tests are unswayed by market conditions some of the award categories are a little questionable and probably unnecessary. I am reminded of a Chrysler commercial a few years ago (maybe 5 or 6) where one of their vehicles was ranked "Number One in Initial Quality". If I'm going to leave my car on the showroom floor I suppose that's fine. If I'm going to drive it I would prefer to see a better measure of the vehicle's ability along with a pedigree of high performance engineering.
Hands down: BOSE. no exceptions!!!
Car & Driver recently compared six luxury sedans (Jaguar XJ6, MB S430, Lexus LS430, Audi A8, VW Phaeton and BMW 745). They highly rated all of the vehicles as great cars to own and drive, but the Lexus nosed out the Jag for top honors. Except for best highway ride the Lexus didn't excel at anything, but at the same time it did absolutely nothing wrong. It's overall excellence won it first place. That plus it's the only car with rear seat headrest massagers as standard equipment.
I think Caddy's new image is like Jaguars new image.Plus a good many pop,rock,hip hop,rap and sports stars own them now.

I assume most of them are under 50.Considering Cadillacs corporate direction just a few years back,I am impressed with the turn.
Lemme' see here...

Cadillac;One of the old guard manufacturers,part of GM corp
who badges several brands,Cadillac branding had appeal to older buyers who trust it,re-invents itself,flood of new rigs aimed at more demographics.

Cadillac vs Panasonic?Hmmmm?
The Cadillac of Hi-End Audio?

I would start with a brand that had one or two memorably audacious products.

Then, a brand best known for pretentious, over the top styling, medicore build quality, low performance, mass markeeting as a luxury item and coveted by lower income customers to the point of parody.

After that, a brand that fell off the face of the earth, only to be "resurrected" by sticking the badge on someone elses products and hyped by overpaid celebrity endorsements.

For the early years, we could take early to mid 90's Bang & Olufsen packaging wrapped around Chinese SS amplifiers with speakers subcontracted by Bose, maybe adding some neon lights, multiple LCD screens or other features borrowed from the car stereo industry.

After that failed miserably in the end, we could take any half way decent, middle of the road product, stick on the badge, hire an ad agency, NBA star and/or hip hop "artist" for the relaunch.

So, in my opinion, there is no "high end" equivalent.

Here's a link to an article from the LA Times regarding Cadillac and hip hop. There's also plenty of interesting references to Cadillacs and rock history.
First qualification, I'm not a Caddy owner. Sorry all you Cadillac bashers and bashers of Mac, Krell and so on, but you have missed what Cadillac was and where its going. It was never the best car in the world. It was the standard for the massed produced best. Cadilac was one of the innovators. Oldsmobile usually introduced the innovation and then Cadillac took it one step further and publicized it. At the time that statement was coined cars like Bristol and Rolls were better built but not necessarily better performers. As a whole people that like Caddys really like them and continue to buy them. Mac has that same kind of loyalty. Acura, has almost no owner loyalty. Krell doesn't either. And don't even talk about some of the boutique brands, here today can't find service tomorrow. And I do love the boutique brands.

Mac may not be the best, but people who buy them tend to keep them and keep buying them.

I for the most part agree with Wadedwyer regarding German and Japanese cars. I don't agree on American cars. Every German car I have ever owned has had some sort of electrical problem before it was three years old (easily resolved). None except the Audi could deal with snow. The Japanese were competent as an old Cadillac and twice as boring. The Americans cars on the other hand performed their job, had very few pretenses, rattled and were cheap(relatively) to fix. As a result, while I love German cars they have their place as do all the others. If you need an appliance buy Japanese. If you need road finesse buy German. If you need a mix buy American.
I find the many comments I read here amusing and overstated. Whatever happened to just enjoying a car for what it offers. I drive a late model Crown Victoria that rides great, handles well, can accomodate my family and has a trunk the size of Rhode Island. I paid a very reasonable sum for it as a used car with low mileage. It's reliable and repairs are few and far between. Everyday riding home I am passed by Volvo's, Mercedes etc and know from talking with colleagues that own those types of cars they are more often that not in the shop getting repaired. I also own a 1988 Cadillac Deville inherited from my mom which has the best ride of ANY car I've ever owned or rode in which happens to include a Rolls Royce. So my advice to all you "foreign" car buffs is keep wasting your money on those types of cars and when the bills keep rolling in sell some of your audio equipment here on Audiogon so I can take advantage of it. As for the original question about Audio manufacturers the answer is "McIntosh" period.
Whatever Mac is, it continues to get rave reviews. Latest TAS loves the new stuff. Beyond reproach.

Funny story: my grandfather drove Cadillacs all his life. he would never buy a Lexus because it looked too much like a Chevy. Go figure.
Long and off the audio topic:
Ran across this post, and found my above comments about Cadillac more germane than when I wrote them. At that time, I had never shopped for a Cadillac.

After owing nothing but domestic automobiles, with the purchase of over 30 new G.M. vehicles, I finally went to a Manufacturer other than a domestic/G.M. one, and was absolutely amazed at how the rest of the world builds and sells automobiles.

From the mid-’70’s I had been purchasing G.M. vehicles with an employee discount, thinking that my deal was a good one, and up-front it was, but at the resale end, I was getting hosed.

Consequently, I did my homework on resale, and visited a Lexus Dealer.

After decades of G.M. Dealer treatment, my wife and I were in disbelief at how poor the buying experience, auto aesthetics, and build quality were, when compared to what we experienced at our local Lexus Dealer.

On our way home, I exclaimed that every G.M. General Manager and above, should be required to go through what we had the pleasure of experiencing, and perhaps they may have a clue why their buying base is eroding.

Yep, we compared a Cadillac to a Lexus. They were similar vehicles, and similarly optioned, the Cadillac was $6K more than the Lexus (there went my employee discount).

We actually drove the Cadillac three times over a couple week period, and the Lexus twice. We went to two Cadillac Dealers. The salesman at the first advised us that he was new to “this car selling business” (because of his age, we assumed perhaps a second career).

After we drove the Lexus, we went back to the same Cadillac Dealer and advised the salesman of how impressed we were with the Lexus and the sales experience. He stated that Lexus trains their sales personnel! Hello!!! we were shopping for a $40K+ Cadillac and we dealing with untrained sales personnel. On the other hand, our Lexus salesman was exceptionally knowledgeable, and wonderfully accommodating –head and shoulders better than we had EVER experienced. His Management were equally so.

At the second Cadillac Dealer, our salesman was a notch above the other Cadillac Dealer, but still not close to our young, but highly skilled Lexus salesman. However, upon entering the showroom, an unpleasant odor that permeated the building slapped us in the face – perhaps decades of stale cigarette smoke or ??

Moreover when my wife and I had occasion to use the restrooms, we were appalled by their maintenance -- our local 20 year old Movie Theater has more sanitary, inviting facilities (oh, the restroom visit was prompted by the wide selection of help yourself beverages the Lexus Dealer offered to all those who entered – both new customers and those in for service). Did either Cadillac Dealer do same –nope! In fact the only beverage I every received at a G.M. Dealer came out of the salesman’s own pocket.

What a great way for G.M to showcase their flagship car line! Poorly maintained, odorous facilities, staffed by untrained sales personnel. Yep, it isn’t your father’s Cadillac, but his cronies are making marketing decisions, manning the showrooms, and still primarily doing business as it has been done for decades – what a shame!

Granted, Cadillac’s have improved, but based on our recent experience, their vehicles are not on a par with Lexus, and based on what I’ve seen and experienced, they never will be! They just don’t have a clue – or the bean counters have too much of an influence on design and engineering; or their overhead is just simply greater than Lexus’, preventing them from putting the same level of engineering quality and support into their vehicles; or they simply don’t think they need to, or care to compete, on a head to head basis – I don’t know why, nor really care.

We did buy the Lexus, and have had a blast with it. In fact, a couple weeks after our purchase, in somewhat serious jest, I asked my wife if she would like to visit the Dealership (it’s about 30-miles from our home) it was such a pleasant experience. You can bet that thought never crossed either of our minds with our dozens of previous G.M new car purchases.

Time will tell whether we remain happy Lexus Owners; however, based on comments from friends and acquaintances since our purchase, it would appear that will be the case.

Oh, I almost forgot, since this has been so far off Audiogon’s main topics, I must mention that the audio in the Lexus is better than any G.M vehicle we’ve every owned. In fact, we have a year old G.M. vehicle with the upgraded Bose, and it isn’t as good as Lexus’ base system (not their Mark Levinson upgrade). In fact, every feature on the Lexus appears to be a notch above what we experienced on the Cadillac, or on our other year-old equally priced luxury G.M. product – go figure.
Levinson=Lincoln Continental

Cadillac has made some memorable models.
Check the link to view a 1931 Cadillac V-16.

I havn't been too impressed with Cadillac since the 1959.
Say what you will but Harley Earl was the genius behind GM for decades. One brilliant design after another. GM has never recovered from his loss. Once in a lifetime genius. With Oldsmobile now gone and looks like Buick is next future of GM remains somewhat clouded. They seriously need someone who loves the car industry and will give the buyers what they want. Not the perceived need through focus groups, which are a waste of time. The only car maker I know of that has remained constant for all it's years is Ferrari. This was due in large part to founder Enzo Ferrari whose unbridaled passion never waned. Sure that have had a few less desireable Ferraris, but the over riding ambition was never compromised and remains to this day. If it carries the prancing horse logo. little else needs saying. For a car company that has only been around since 1947 Ferrari has a most enviable record

Lets face it high end has only been around since 1975 or so. When you think Cadillac started in 1903 out of a defunct Ford Plant, that a pretty good record. I wonder how many high end companies we now have will last a 100 years?
If you buy a used Cadillac, the glass most likely won't break on the car like a McIntosh component will ;*)