More than merely referring to an item’s geographical origin, the term “Made In America” carries with it an inherent character of quality, dependability, and craftsmanship. And while there’s certainly no shortage of American companies that have been caught up in the never-ending race-to-the-bottom in manufacturing that’s largely been spurred on by competitive overseas production options, the USA’s audio industry has been largely unaffected.
Combining old-world materials and production techniques with the latest and most cutting-edge hardware and transducers, a great many of these American audio outfits have carved out distinctive reputations in the larger global audio realm. And though there are a few companies that have become household names, the lion’s share of America’s best brands in this space aren’t on the radar of your average listener. So, in a bid to shine a light on the finest firms currently operating in the country, we’ve generated this guide to the best USA-made audio brands.
Despite only being founded in 2009, Audeze has already become a staple in audiophile circles thanks to a wide range of high-end headphones. Packaged in 1970s- and 1980s-inspired industrial designs, Audeze’s over-ear headphones and in-ear monitors afford ridiculously crisp and clear sound that’s made them a favorite amongst engineers and Hi-Fi enthusiasts. The brand’s all-time best-selling model by a substantial margin, the highly-lauded LCD-X model headphone have routinely been referred to by reputable audio and lifestyle publications — including Forbes, CNet, Stereophile, and Headphone Guru —as “the best headphone I’ve ever heard.” In more recent years, the Southern California company has also expanded into ultra high-end headphone amplifiers, audio software, and gaming headphones and peripherals.
Year Founded: 2009
Headquarters: Santa Ana
Known For: In & Over-Ear Headphone Monitors
Comprised of a world-class ensemble of artists, musicians, engineers, and craftsmen, Avalon Acoustics is an award-winning boutique audio company that’s spent the last quarter of a century producing some of the finest speakers in America — if not the entire world. Each of its speakers can legitimately be described as a work of art — if not an outright masterpiece —and is painstakingly crafted by hand in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies. In addition to sporting unique, artistic, and statuesque appearances, Avalon’s speakers contain a host of cutting-edge equipment and technology such as proprietary inert-matrix cabinets engineered with highly-optimized polar characteristics, pistonic wavefront sound generation, constrained-mode damping systems, acoustically-engineered grille assemblies, and proprietary magnetics technology, just to name a few.
Year Founded: 1980s
Headquarters: Boulder, CO
Known For: Audiophile-Grade Tower Speakers
One of the few bonafide household names on our list, Bose is an iconic American audio brand that dates back to 1964. Originally founded by Amar Bose — a sound and electronics engineer and MIT professor — Bose is currently recognized as one of the biggest and most reputable audio outfits in the country, and though, despite employing some 9,000 staffers and generating several billion dollars in annual revenue, it still manages to produce genuinely top-shelf products. Alongside being responsible for some of America’s most popular home theatre systems and soundbars, Bose has also consistently set the standard in the high-end noise-canceling headphone segment and is becoming an increasingly dominant force in the Bluetooth speaker and true wireless earbud markets.
Year Founded: 1964
Headquarters: Framingham, MA
Known For: NC Headphones & Home Audio Speakers
Grado Labs in many ways operates today just as it did upon its inception in 1953 by handcrafting unmistakably premium audio equipment from its Brooklyn, New York headquarters. Having now been passed onto the third generation of the Grado family, GL currently maintains the brand’s long-running proclivity for utilizing the latest and most cutting-edge transducers while keeping one foot firmly planted in the past through the use of the East Coast outfit’s old-world production techniques, liberal use of wooden constructions, and/or vintage-inspired aesthetics. And while the company primarily trades in headphones today, Grado Labs carries on the family tradition of churning out ultra-high-end handmade turntable cartridges, which was started when the company’s founder, Joseph Grado was awarded patents for the first stereo moving coil cartridge in 1959.
Year Founded: 1953
Headquarters: Brooklyn, NY
Known For: Headphone Monitors & Cartridges
Originally founded 75-years-ago in Hope, Arkansas though now operating out of Indianapolis, Klipsch is another one of the larger and better-known names in the US-made audio game. The company has historically employed metal-throated horn-loaded speakers that gives its products a warm and distinctive sound. Currently owned by the Audiovox Corporation following a 2011 acquisition, the company now produces an enormous range of headphones, earbuds, and speakers of all kinds, including outdoor systems, home theatres, and Hi-Fi bookshelf units, among many, many more. Klipsch also makes the Klipschorn, a loudspeaker that was patented in 1946 and stands as the longest-running production speaker of all time.
Year Founded: 1946
Headquarters: Indianapolis, IN
Known For: Home Audio & Theater Systems
If money is no object and you’re simply seeking the very best of the best, then you very well may want to consider opting for a pair of speakers from the elite Californian company Magico. Working out of a 30,000 square foot facility in the San Francisco Bay Area, this prestigious American brand produces high-end tower speakers, though it’s undoubtedly best-known for its over-the-top, spare-no-expense offerings like its M Series speaker, at the top of which is the M9. Priced at $750,000 per pair and towering at 6’, these ultra-premium units boast elements such as Nano-Tec speaker cones, titanium construction M9 drivers, aluminum honeycomb cores, and state-of-the-art analog outboard MXO active crossovers, all housed in genuine carbon fiber-skinned cabinets.
Year Founded: 2004
Headquarters: Hayward, CA
Known For: Audiophile-Grade Tower Speakers
Mark Levinson Audio Systems
Owned by Harman International Industries since 1990, Mark Levinson Audio Systems has long been the undisputed king of the two-channel audio realm, and as the years have marched on, MLAS maintains this stance with a world-class catalog of increasingly high-performance offerings. Whether it’s the Connecticut company’s turntables, streaming CD players, or regular, pre, or all-in-one integrated amplifiers, everything that Mark Levinson produces is engineered from the ground up to deliver absolutely exceptional sound quality and clarity. In the words of the company itself, its products enable you to “discover details you’ve never heard before in songs you’ve listened to a hundred times.” The company’s sound systems have also recently started appearing as optional upgrades in production vehicles such as in the Lexus IS range.
Year Founded: 1972
Headquarters: Stamford, CT
Known For: Amplifiers & Turntables
Master & Dynamic
The newest company to grace this list, Master & Dynamic has already proven itself to be a trustworthy source for premium-sounding headphones backed by attractive aesthetic designs and high-end materials. Items such as M&D’s MA770 model thoroughly demonstrate the brand’s knack for innovation, sleek design language, and high-end materials, with the premium wireless speaker sporting a proprietary concrete composite construction, laser-cut anodized aluminum control buttons, and its geometric industrial design that was penned by renowned architect, Sir David Adjaye. The company’s bread and butter, however, is in its high-end over-ear headphone and true wireless earbud models which are offered in a wide array of unique color options, as well as more than a few limited-edition versions born out of collaboration with other leading brands.
Year Founded: 2013
Headquarters: New York, NY
Known For: Premium In & Over-Ear Headphones
If you have even a tenuous understanding of the audio realm, you’ll almost certainly be well aware of the McIntosh name. Celebrated by audiophiles for over 70 years, the brand built its sterling reputation on a combination of world-class sound quality and a wildly distinctive design language. This latter area has made McIntosh’s products instantly-recognizable with design hallmarks such as its iconic domed tubes, switches, and needle-metered faceplates. Today, McIntosh still makes amplifiers, though has also dipped its toes into speakers, turntables, headphones, cables, and CD, DVD, and Blu-ray players — all of which are handcrafted in New York and are of the top-shelf, high-fidelity variety. And, like Mark Levinson, McIntosh’s systems have recently began appearing as available upgrades on some late-model production vehicles.
Year Founded: 1949
Headquarters: Binghamton, NY
Known For: Hi-Fi Amplifiers
Oswalds Mills Audio
Taking its name from a two-century-old mill in Eastern Pennsylvania, Oswalds Mill Audio is an objectively world-class audio brand that distinguishes itself from other elite outfits with its extraordinarily unique product designs, many of which borrow elements from depression-era horn-loaded speakers. The brand makes tower speaker models with custom timber-crafted cones/horns set in bespoke brackets such as its Imperia and AC1 models, as well as other imaginative Hi-Fi speakers like the antique camera-themed Mini and the crater-esque Ironic Speaker which open-baffle-type item that’s been cast from a special type of iron ore with a high graphite content using molds that were 3D-printed out of sand. The company also produces turntables, audio furniture, cables, and amplifiers that are all of equally high-quality and sport just as idiosyncratic of designs as OMA’s loudspeakers.
Year Founded: 2007
Headquarters: Fleetwood, PA
Known For: Avantgarde Hi-Fi Tower Speakers
Though its best-known for its rugged, weatherproof stereos found in UTVs, watercraft, and touring and cruiser motorcycles, Rockford Fosgate has always been a pioneer and leader in the vehicular audio space since the company’s founder, Jim Fosgate invented the world’s first car amplifier, the PR-7000 in 1973. Rockford Fosgate’s current lineup of amps, subwoofers, speakers, and processors are all built incredibly tough and aim to offer their listeners an uncompromising soundtrack while behind the wheel of their favorite motorized floating or rolling vehicle. And, despite the decidedly hardwearing nature of the company’s offerings, Rockford Fosgate’s sound systems afford shockingly premium audio quality, thanks to the Arizona outfit finding some clever solutions to solving problems stemming from issues like engine vibration and wind noise.
Year Founded: 1973
Headquarters: Tempe, AZ
Known For: Vehicle & Powersport Audio Systems
Appropriately using the slogan, “Pushing The Limits of Perfection,” YG Acoustics is unequivocally one of the most celebrated brands in the elite audio industry, as the Colorado-based company’s slew of prestigious awards demonstrates. Currently some of the most expensive on earth, the brand’s speakers come encased in modern-looking housings that contain some of the most advanced and cutting-edge transducers on earth and allow for some of the clearest and most immersive sound imaginable. Unsurprisingly, YG’s loudspeakers come with a fairly exorbitant price, with its flagship models like the SONJA or even higher-specced SONJA XV (or “Extreme Version”) carrying an MSRP that starts at $150,000 and $265,000 per pair, respectively. As a result, every minute detail and element has been extensively scrutinized and tested to ensure that only the very best of the very best leave YG Acoustic’s state-of-the-art Arvada facility.
Year Founded: 2002
Headquarters: Arvada, CO
Known For: Audiophile-Grade Tower Speakers
The 15 Best American-Made Watches
Want to check out another impressive array of contemporary American brands combining old world craftsmanship with modern equipment and technologies? Then be sure to head over to our guide to the best American-made watches for more than a dozen stellar timepieces made right here on US shores.
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