Mel Schilling started in high fidelity in 1947, building amplifier and preamplifier kits while in high school. At the same time, he took piano lessons that fueled his keen interest in music. Later on, he studied piano at the Philadelphia Musical Academy under the world-renowned Helene Diedrichs, and attended Temple University to further his musical education. In 1952, Mr. Schilling started to give piano lessons to earn a living. This continued until 1968 when he purchased the retail store "Lectronics" of City Line Center, Philadelphia that was then owned by Irving M. Fried of IMF Loudspeakers and Fried Loudspeaker fame.
He named his retail store "Music and Sound" around his initials (mas), and because he liked the symbolism of "music" preceding "sound". As a retailer, Music and Sound pioneered the start of the then non-existent "high-end" industry. As the first USA dealer for Audio Research Corporation (a brand which went on to dominate high-end audio), Mr. Schilling's association with its founder William Zane Johnson helped gain critical industry recognition for the unknown product line. His "spreading the gospel" also helped establish the acceptance and credibility of ARC's tube equipment with hordes of consumers across the country. Mr. Schilling also similarly helped two loudspeaker companies called Magnepan and Infinity (both of which also went on to fame and fortune), establish themselves within the hi-fi market. Mr. Schilling also, via his contacts with the owner/editors of various industry publications, brought recognition to other unknown brands by arranging reviews and evaluations of their products.
In 1975, Mr. Schilling moved to Los Angeles where he opened another retail store under the name of "Music and Sound of California". All of the valuable franchises that he had represented in his Philadelphia store followed him, despite some of them already having established dealers there. His sterling reputation and credibility within the industry led these manufacturers to risk upsetting their local distribution in order to be included in the new Music and Sound. Music and Sound of California attracted many movie and television stars and other high-profile clients at a time when that type of business rarely materialized in high-end audio and video. Today, of course, such clients are common in our industry. Music and Sound of California continued to help establish many new companies and products within the marketplace, and even acquired one company, Electro Research, whose products Mr. Schilling felt to be truly exceptional. Electro Research went on to produce such legendary products as the EK-1 Preamplifier and A75 Amplifier.
In 1981, after the industry began to grow rapidly and cause more "experts" to enter the marketplace as so-called high-end dealers, the type of "audio salon" operation Mr. Schilling had helped to create began to change character, and Mr. Schilling decided to leave the retail world and start his own manufacturing and distribution company, Music and Sound Imports.
All told, throughout its glorious 13-year history, Mel Schilling and Music and Sound helped to pioneer the high-end audio/video industry and its products, while offering to his clients unique and invaluable guidance on product and system evaluation delivered with one-on-one attention. Music and Sound continually set new standards for customer service, as its hundreds of customer recommendation letters will attest.
Music and Sound pioneered the US introduction of such acclaimed brands as Audio Research (first US dealer), B&W (first US dealer), Magnepan (first US dealer), Infinity (first East Coast dealer), Nakamichi, Linn, and Polk, among others. Music and Sound established the concept of high-end audio and video to thousands of consumers across the country and the world, who in turn passed their newfound love, appreciation, and knowledge of high-end audio/video down to successive generations who now fuel the digital revolution.
As an analogy, often many former star athletes of yesteryear rightly claim that today's multi-million dollar athletes owe much of their success to them, the athletes who popularized the games that they now profit from. In this regard, Mr. Schilling's dedicated and tireless carrying of the torch of high-end audio and video laid an essential foundation for the industry's many evolutions to come, by providing, at its veritable inception, critical credibility to the concept of high technology and valuable innovation in consumer electronics.
After leaving retail and guiding Music and Sound Imports to numerous successes in the world of analog-based specialty products like amplifiers, preamplifiers, turntables, and loudspeakers, Mel's son Howard joined the company in 1990. As the decade came to a close, the Schillings saw digital technology turning the industry they had helped create upside down, by re-defining how people purchased and experienced audio and home theater. They realized that only those who embraced it and, more importantly, understood it, would thrive in the new millennium.
Many companies suffered, and perished, as the high-end stumbled through this ruthless evolution.
At mas, the Schillings embraced this change and quickly began developing products to address it. They developed the revolutionary "DCC-1" Digital Control Center, the first high-end preamp that addressed the oncoming "Media Center" concept. With its multitude of features including digital inputs and video switching capabilities, the DCC-1 quickly received much consumer and critical acclaim.
As digital technology continued to evolve and raise the bar on the bedeviled high-end community, the Schillings concluded that their industry, and more importantly, its customers, could mightily use a benchmark-type company that could be relied upon to provide state-of-the-art solutions in any technological climate. Hence, Camelot Technology was born...and to this day continues to set new standards for performance, reliability, and affordability throughout the world of audio and home theater.
After producing a slew of acclaimed audio and home theater products at Camelot (including The Round Table, the industry's first high-end DVD Player and among the most respected designs in home theater history), the Schillings took a step back from their pursuits late in 1999 and saw their beloved industry under siege once again.
What was this thing called mp3? Why was e-commerce such a threat? Why was the music industry in big trouble? Why was the computer and its Internet capability the topic of every news program and water cooler conversation? Why was the high-end being slowly squeezed out of the consumer electronics industry, forced to find its way into custom installation to survive?
To address this latest market evolution, Mel and Howard started Xhifi, a designer and manufacturer of computer, gaming, and mp3 audio and loudspeaker products for the next generation of consumer electronics enthusiast, who will help re-define the industry into the 21st century. Xhifi provides high performance solutions for everyday applications, offering the unique blend of compatibility and credibility required to bridge the gap between specialty audio/video and computer and gaming applications.