What do we mean by "Best of Class".
Real-world engineering is an exercise in "optimizing compromises" for a given design goal. Our goal is to reproduce the live musical experience in the home environment given real-world and technological constraints.
Technological constraints are being constantly challenged -- real world constraints define the playing field. Gilmore Audio, as both the designer and manufacturer, has established a new standard of excellence for realism in sound reproduction.
So now the task of creating objective criteria for what is "best" becomes easier, because of our stated goal -- accurate reproduction of the live musical event.
On the technology side, one can just imagine, for example, how the "ideal speaker" should perform. It should have no mass and no distortion, be capable of producing all frequencies with no variations, be 100% efficient, be totally phase coherent, be capable of infinite sound pressure levels at all frequencies, and have dispersion characteristics that duplicate the original recorded instruments. Then the challenge is to figure out which technologies in what combination (the recipe) can best approximate that performance in the real world.
On the aesthetic side, you always have the perfect benchmark -- the sound of the instrument, band or orchestra itself. So from both a technology and aesthetic optimization perspective, you have real, objective criteria to judge quality i.e. realism -- the live musical event itself.
Since real-world engineering is a process of "optimizing compromises", deciding exactly what "recipe" you use to attain the optimal realism becomes a judgment call -- (for example to what extent do you sacrifice frequency response to attain better phase coherency). Again, a comparison to live music can tell us how well we have succeeded.
Many manufacturers claim they can reproduce the realism of the live musical experience. We have found that only a select few can even approximate this goal. Even more surprisingly, we have found that not every manufacturer or listener agrees with realism as the criteria for quality.
Audio reproduction creates an interesting illusion. And the more profoundly we understand acoustical science (how our brains perceive sound), the more convincing that illusion can be made.
We find that the creators of the best products have a good understanding of the laws of acoustics and engineering and how to apply them to develop technologies that create the convincing and pleasing illusions we have come to know as home audio some more convincing and pleasing than others. Gimmickry, when combined with clever and persistent marketing, can be seductive. In these instances, relying on one's ears seems to be the best antidote. Again, we have live music as the definitive benchmark.
No matter what, we must always face the primary constraint of our source material. Mark Gilmore has been as successful as anyone we know in making the source material and front end the ultimate constraint to realistic reproduction. Thus, we believe that it makes good sense to define the goal of sound reproduction as "the faithful reproduction of audio media" -- the faithful reproduction of all the information that is there to be extracted, for better or for worse. As a result, recording, processing, media and playback technologies share an important responsibility and must be judged according to the same criteria -- how faithfully they (capture and) represent the live-music experience. On the audio playback side, we believe that our "Best of Class" components and systems fulfill this goal better than any other commercial offering in the world, and in this way they serve as the best reference for how well others are performing this task as well.