By Becky Bracken / Photos by Kimberly Carrillo
Where do the elite shop for the most opulent in high end audio and home theater gear?
Do you like Boz Scaggs? Wait. Don’t answer until you’ve heard him through a pair of speakers that cost a cool quarter of a million dollars. Frankly, it really doesn’t matter what you play if it’s being pumped out of speakers that sell for as much as a middle-class tract home.
And where do audiophiles with piles of cash to throw around find the Bugatti or the Cartier of home audio-visual equipment? Right in the Airpark, of course.
Tucked off the quintessential Airpark intersection of Scottsdale and Frank Lloyd Wright roads is LMC Home Entertainment, one of the premier purveyors in the world of the most haute, luxe audio-visual equipment for well-heeled homeowners who have a taste for nothing but the very best.
Seriously. The very best. Take the speakers featured on the cover, which LMC co-owner Mike Ware – who launched the business over 18 years ago with partners Mike and Leslie McPheeters – regards as one of the finest speakers money can buy. These amazing loudspeakers are called The Sonus Faber SE17s and they will set you back about $250,000 a pair. And the only place you can buy them in the entire world is LMC Home Entertainment.
“We’re the A/V equivalent of the Penske auto mall,” Ware says.
When Ware asked the handful of people gathered in LMC’s spectacular red velvet theater for a recent demo of the The Sonus Faber SE17s if Boz Scaggs was their bag, the most enthusiasm anyone could muster was a milquetoast shrug-nod sort of thing. But once Scaggs starting swirling crystal clear out of the pair of 6-foot-tall, 700-pound beauties, the mood immediately shifted to something more electric. It sounded glorious.
How do you explain driving a Lamborghini? It was that kind of elevated sonic experience. What you hear is both warm and lush while maintaining crystal clarity – like hearing Scaggs in concert, but better. It was loud, but not the slightest bit grating. Why not?
“It’s because distortion has been eliminated,” Ware explains. “Many of our clients say their wives and girlfriends aren’t asking them to turn down the music once they upgrade to an LMC-designed system.”
Ware says he’s read plenty of studies that show women are more sensitive to distortion frequencies and will often be able to tolerate louder music on high-quality audio systems, provided the distortion levels are kept low.
Ware says he’s had not just one, but two customers trade in their regular therapy sessions for listening to music on his next-level systems. Perhaps good audio equipment will become the latest self-care craze.
LMC has the top-of-the-line of everything from video projectors (Sony $60K projectors sell out as quickly as they’re manufactured, according to Ware) to the structures encasing and surrounding their masterpiece audio-visual equipment.
LMC’s Airpark showroom location (there’s also a showroom in Tempe) is critical for business, Ware says, because it provides the shopping prestige a Scottsdale Road address affords as well as proximity to Scottsdale Airport, which delivers customers from all over the world to LMC.
Despite the unmatched technical specs of LMC’s products, the beauty of each piece is obvious. “Form follows function,” Ware says.
There are speakers in every color and shape, made from an array of materials, each with individual appeal. Asked how he helps people choose the right speakers and other equipment, Ware shifts away from technical specs toward a more philosophical approach.
“There is no perfect speaker for everybody,” Ware explains. “Speakers are very subjective,” and to that end LMC offers an incredible range of the finest available.
When asked about the most over-the-top requests he’s fulfilled over the years, Ware says the company often signs non-disclosure agreements with their clients. One tidbit he was willing to share was a project for a customer he wouldn’t name that utilized a basement and motorized platforms to raise a pair of high-end speakers from the floor, out of nowhere, at the push of a button.
He also recalled the smallest space LMC has transformed, a historic home in Central Phoenix with a room just 13 feet by 10 feet wide with seven-foot ceilings. It was historic, so the home’s structure itself couldn’t be disturbed. When describing how it turned out, Ware says with a wide smile, “It looked awesome when it was done.”
But just because LMC regularly sells six-figure gear doesn’t mean there aren’t bargains to be had. Ware explains LMC offers a speaker trade-up program where customers can recoup up to 100 percent of their original investment when they upgrade their gear. LMC also accepts trade-ins of a client’s existing gear.
Besides speakers, LMC’s huge facility is home to mind-blowing toys including the Linn Klimax DS, made in Glasgow, Scotland – a shiny, metal box Ware describes as the “best digital music player/source on the planet.” He’s also eager to show off a pair Burmester amps handcrafted in Germany and a sleek Sonus Faber all-in-one music unit, which Ware calls the “world’s finest boom box.”
Besides having access to the finest equipment, Ware says LMC’s ability to deliver the finest end result for their most discerning customers is what truly sets the business apart from just about every other retailer in the market.
“If someone absolutely, positively wants the very best – that’s exactly what we’ve got.”