The success of online crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo and others, however, has provided a valuable outlet to tech start-ups and individuals with the ideas, but not the resources, to redefine traditional hi-fi and home cinema kit.
In 2014, a wide range of new and innovative AV products have been launched with the help of online support - and here are six of the best examples of crowdfunding at work, and handy suggestions for a Christmas gift idea that might raise a smile or two.
See all our gift ideas: Christmas Gift Guide 2014
Pre-order for $399; due to ship in Q1 2015
The triangular PonoPlayer is just one part of Pono's intention to create an ecosystem that delivers "the best possible listening experience of your favourite digital music". Its focus on high-resolution audio has been a key selling point and it proved a smash on Kickstarter.
While the arrival of the first PonoPlayers has been slightly delayed when compared with the initial timetable, Pono is now inviting pre-orders for the $399 device via its website, with the promise of deliveries being made in Q1 2015. A great gift for an audiophile (or a big Neil Young fan - it's his baby).
Pre-order for $299; due to ship in January 2015
For the fitness fanatic in your life, or anyone with a fear of cables, how about the "world's first" wireless smart in-ear headphones? Not only do you get a 4GB music player on board, but you can stream music too using aptX Bluetooth.
After soaring past its Kickstarter funding target earlier this year, The Dash can now be pre-ordered direct from Bragi for $299 (around £189), plus $20 (£13) shipping. It's expected to start shipping to customers in January 2015.
More after the break
LH Labs Geek Out
Tested at £200
It's actually not that often we take a look at a product that promises to "awesomify your life", but the Geek Out DAC and headphone amp does just that, and was among the first Kickstarter successes of 2014 to catch our eyes.
It's a clever little device with an interesting background story, but it's also a very competent device even if it doesn't quite display class-leading credentials. You can purchase through Amazon, with the Geek Out 450 (450mW of power) costing £200.
MORE: LH Labs Geek Out review
PS Audio Sprout
It took just one hour, but PS Audio passed its funding target for its Sprout all-in-one integrated amp in July. It includes a 50W-channel integrated amp, a phono amp, a 24-bit/96kHz asynchronous DAC and a headphone amp, all under its steel, aluminium and walnut cover.
It'll also stream music from Bluetooth-enabled devices too, which means it'll work with an extensive range of sources.
How do they work? Well, these wireless headphones create sound by sending vibrations through the temporal bone straight to the inner ear. It keeps your ears free to pay attention to what's going on around you, without missing out on "top-quality audio". Worth a punt? We think so.
See all our gift ideas: Christmas Gift Ideas 2014
One of the live Kickstarter projects right now (ending on 29th November) is Theatre Box, which is described as the "most compact wireless home theatre speaker". The campaign has already proved pretty successful with plenty of time still to run, so if you're not too concerned about the product arriving until the early new year, this is an option.
With the campaign still live at time of writing, you can make pledges of varying amounts. For example, a $69 pledge acts as a downpayment and gets you the Theatre Box for $269 - you'll simply be asked to pay the balance before the product ships. Alternatively, a $239 pledge secures the Early Discoverer Package and - therefore - a Theatre Box at a slightly reduced price.