Customers demand simplicity, like a remote control with just five buttons, and they want correct sound that duplicates realism.
Goldmund's finely engineered audio components are created in its Geneva labs, and when the need for a component that the company doesn't manufacture — an Xbox, a Playstation or a traditional DVD player — arises, they'll buy one off the shelf, tweak it and then install it.
Don't expect to find one of its $300,000 record players or $16,900 High Definition Blu-ray disc players at Best Buy, Circuit City or Amazon.com. There is never a discount on these items, no matter how much customers spend — a nice byproduct of having wealthy customers who only want the best and can afford it.
According to Butterworth, Goldmund has never spared any cost in designing a device, and that expense is passed along to the customer.
"They are not just stamping out a bunch of black boxes where the cost is a primary concern," said Butterworth. "They make a lot fewer of each device, but spare no expense. They are using the finest materials and the best workers to get it made. If you buy this, you have a desire to own the best. You have to be an enthusiast."
About three years ago, charismatic Goldmund CEO Michel Reverchon recognized that the marketplace for home theaters was infantile, decentralized and relatively small potatoes, and the company has been charging full steam ahead ever since.
"Worldwide, people are spending millions of dollars a year on home theaters," Reverchon said. "That's nothing for the electronics industry, and we wanted to be a part of it before it becomes billions of dollars a year."
Goldmund's engineers created sophisticated modeling software that factors in the size of a room, the height of furniture and the room's materials to create a high-quality home theater. This also conveniently allows Goldmund to control all equipment sales and installation duties; 100 percent of the profits go back to the company.
Asian clients were the first to sign on, and in 2007 Goldmund started installing systems in the United States. All systems are tailored to what the customer wants, with one contact person who will work with your decorator, architect and even the neighborhood kid you'll call to help you figure out how to turn on your high-tech TV.
Goldmund's installation includes preventive maintenance and software that is constantly monitoring the system and alerts technicians to possible issues, hopefully before the owner even notices.
While Reverchon says it's possible for his team to scale down the technology, use less expensive materials, lower the quality threshold and make it more affordable for a more price-conscious customer, he has no plans to do that.
"Our strategy is to find the most expensive rooms, to show what our systems can do and get our name out there," he said. "Our customers are our best advertisers, because your senses need to experience what our systems can do."
Inside a luxury home located outside Los Angeles, Goldmund has created a showcase theater with 32 channels of audio — a good home system has five channels — delivered by 56 separate speakers. Audiophiles should expect a $1 million price tag for a similar system.
If the price doesn't scare potential customers away, the utility bill might. All the horsepower needed to run those high-end components would not make environmentalists happy. Goldmund's luxury theater uses 13,000 watts of power.