High-end audio is a term used to describe a class of consumer home audio equipment marketed to audio enthusiasts on the basis of high price or quality, and esoteric or novel sound reproduction technologies. High-end audio can refer simply to the price, to the build quality of the components, or to the subjective or objective quality of sound reproduction. Most critics agree that the high-end audio movement started in 1962 with the launch of J. Gordon Holt's Stereophile magazine, which departed from advertising-driven commercial publications like Stereo Review and High Fidelity and instead promoted a philosophy of reviewing and comparing audio components solely on the basis of sound quality.
High-end audio equipment can be extremely expensive. It is sometimes referred to as cost-no-object equipment. Audiophile equipment can run the gamut from budget to high-end in terms of price range. The Duntech Sovereign 2001 sold for 65,000 dollars in 1987.
The human sense of hearing is subjective and difficult to define because of how electrical signals from the ear are interpreted by the brain. Psychoacoustics is a division of acoustics that studies this field.
Measurements can be deceiving; high or low figures of certain technical characteristics do not necessarily offer a good representation of how the equipment sounds to each person. For example some valve (vacuum tube) amplifiers produce greater amounts of total harmonic distortion, but the type of this distortion (2nd harmonic) is not as disturbing as the higher order distortions produced by transistors.
Items often questioned are accessories such as cables utilizing exotic materials and construction geometries, cable stands for lifting them off the floor (as a way to control mechanically-induced vibrations), connectors, sprays and other tweaks.