This article is from the rec.audio.* FAQ, by with numerous contributions by Bob Neidorff others.
DAK is out of business. It is believed that DAK went out of
business because they invested too heavily in 80286 PCs as
the price and demand dropped. Dave Platt joked that the closing
of DAK resulted in the great superlative shortage of 1995,
because DAK used many wild claims in their advertisements.
Regarding Damark, their products seem to be as described, but
not necessarily bargains. In addition, there have been a
number of consumer complaints against Damark for charging
for products not ordered.
Doug Purl reports that DAK was named after and owned by Drew
A. Kaplan and that Damark is named after and owned by Drew And
MARy Kaplan, so these two companies may share more than style.
Richard Bollar did some research and came up with a different
origin for the name Damark: "The firm's moniker is a
combination of the first names of the founders, David Russ and
Mark Cohn, who had both worked at COMB, a discount mail-order
house. They became vendors to COMB, but when that company
refused to pick up some of their merchandise, they started
their own catalog business. At first they continued to sell to
their former employer, but when it forced them to decide
whether to be suppliers or competitors, Cohn and Russ decided:
they started DAMARK in 1986."
Whichever is true, be cautious when buying any product without
an audition. Ignore any wild claims or comparisons to products
costing many times more. There are many examples of excellent,
expensive products that are worth every penny, but don't sound
great. Someone could honestly claim that their product sounds
better than products costing ten times as much, yet they could
still be selling an inferior product with poor sound.