To Jeff Fritz,
I thought I would take you up on your question challenge:
FM Acoustics: I haven’t heard anything from them for 20 years. The phono stage I heard was pretty good, if I remember correctly. They are perceived as a “luxury” company. I would answer that companies like FM Acoustics are exempt from the cost/value relationship because that’s what their customers expect. This isn’t confined to audio, as you may know. We have all heard the stories of "good" being priced at, say, $10k and not selling much, then when the same product is priced at $50k it sells better. Reminds me of the joke about the Russian oligarchs: One says to the other, "I bought this watch for $100k." The other answers, "That’s too bad, I know where you could have bought it for a million!”
Krell/Levinson: While they made good products in their day, this to me involves the “cult of personality.” Both lines were founded by driven, passionate men who, while making good products, sold themselves as well. Now that each is not involved, the brands are dying as they don’t have a promoter and may not have as good an innovator at the helm. Also, how much can you really do with the house sounds of each? Both are now selling to a market instead of driving that market. I can speak about Levinson directly as my dad purchased one of their CD players. It was one of the more troublesome pieces of audio equipment.
Devialet: Again, limited exposure to this but what I heard intrigued me. Definitely a product for the lifestyle-conscious audiophile. Could be a feeder product to those able to afford high end but not wanting to tweak around with the setup just yet. Devialet could bring them into high-quality reproduction from their Bose and Sonos systems.