Albert Pujols has a pair. As do Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Isaak and Lenny Kravitz.
But such A-list owners of MartinLogan Ltd. audio speakers don't rate the VIP treatment afforded to Tom D'Acquisto and two dozen of his fellow audiophiles, who earned a tour of the company's headquarters campus Monday in southeast Lawrence just because of who and what they are: plugged in.
"We're geeks - we're audio geeks," said D'Acquisto, who trekked 1,839 miles from San Francisco for the 2007 National Get-Together of the MartinLogan Club. "They have really taken good care of us. : This is the way all American companies should be. It makes me proud to be an owner, and an American."
For several hours Monday morning, club members enjoyed backstage access to a show few get to see:
¢ Peeking inside the engineering studio where ideas for the operation's signature electrostatic speakers are born.
¢ Sitting, with rapt attention, as leaders of the MartinLogan team pump Branford Marsalis' smooth saxophone through the company's Summit speakers - $11,000 a pair - in a demonstration room.
¢ And watching as experienced craftsmen assemble components to go into some of the 15,000 packages that will be sent this year to retailers both international and domestic, generating estimated sales of $20 million.
By the time Rob Zimmerman, an assembly leader at the plant, gets a chance to address a passing pack of club members, he knows he's facing a knowledgeable crowd. He talks of production schedules, quality-control measures and other technical details before letting the club in on a not-so-well-kept secret about the maximum level on the company's Descent I subwoofers.
"For those of you who don't know," he says, pointing to a knob with a straightforward delivery worth of Nigel Tufnel, "these all go to 11."
The "Spinal Tap" reference draws knowing nods and a few chuckles from the tourists, and the give-and-take between club members and many of the company's 80 employees continues.
Paul Schmidt, who's been working at MartinLogan for 15 years, said employees welcomed the enthusiasm of the club's members - "superfans," he calls them - who previously had been known only through their commentary at the club's virtual headquarters, www.martinloganowners.com.
"It's good to put a face with the person you've seen posting on the site," Schmidt said. "There, it's just sort of a monotone, and it all sounds the same."
Not anymore. And perhaps not for much longer.
D'Acquisto, an IT professional for a gourmet meats company in San Francisco, serves as webmaster for the exclusive club now 1,000 members strong, and he hopes to come back to town with more members in the future.
The site has no formal relationship with the company; D'Acquisto simply started it in February 2003 as a way to connect people with similar interests in what they consider to be the finest audio speakers in the world.
Count Dave Blount among the true believers.
Blount made the pilgrimage to this audio mecca - MartinLogan's design and production campus south of 20th and Delaware streets - to meet with fellow followers, share stories and worship at the site where $20,000 pairs of speakers are born.
"I'm an audio whack job," admits Blount, who owns Oakwood Transportation outside Philadelphia along with three MartinLogan speakers: two Vantages and a center-channel Fresco.
And he's not alone.