I prefer the looks of open architecture tube amps and would not purchase a "boxed in" amp or one where the transformers sit in front of the tubes hiding them from view. I also would not purchase an over-styled garish product such as the current Musical Fidelity products or an ugly horn type speaker so yeah I think aesthetics are very important.
If good music is a work of art, then should not good music reproduction equipment also be a work of art? To my mind good design is a reflection of the passion, dedication and thought put into a product. Ideally, aesthetics and performance should go hand and hand.
I love to have good looks along with my good sound, but I have some good looking stuff, and some not-so-good looking stuff. Sound is the first priority, but good looks never hurts, if nothing sonically is sacrificed to get it.
Good sound is my first priority; I'm willing to buy most components unless they are truly ugly (WAF), like the old bulbous Perreax stuff (sorry, just my taste).
The look of a product is important to me. Symmetry, simple layouts of controls, thick & shiny aluminum fascia, they all get my vote. The more wild a component looks, the more suspect it is. Swooping curves, spaceship looks, gimmicky mood lighting, wood accents and flourescent displays, all spell junk to me. It could be the best sounding, state of the art unit out there but if it screams "look at me, i'm modern looking" i'm not gonna have it in my home, even for free. Gimme understated elegance and classic lines everytime.
Looks definitely is a consideration. How some manufacturers design some equipment aestically is beyond me. Everyone has different tastes though, which is why many manufacturers off the choice of silver or black. There is enough good equipment out there that I don't find myself torn into buying a gorgeous sounding unit in a hideous box. The closest I've come to that is the VAC Renassaince 30/30 mk III. Sorry, it does sound fabulous, but visually it looks like it was designed by Mr. T. I don't mean to offend anyone, it's just not my cup of tea. I couldn't sit and look at that. Another example is I recently saw a used pair of Jeff Rowland Model 7 monoblocks, they sounded good, bit unbelievably ugly. Two blocks of what look like solid gold. I guess I can take the silver and black, but too much gold appears gaudy to me. I would prefer my stereo system to call attention to itself by sound, and not because it visually screams for attention. Though some of my equipment looks good, some doesn't, but I don't own any hideous things. Of course hideous is in the eye of the beholder.
I meant no offense to those who like the looks of the above mentioned equipment. Someone must like them or they wouldn't be selling. To answer the original question, yes, to some extent visual appearance comes into play. It is very rare for me though. My wife will complain about appearance long before I will, hence the dreaded term WAF.
If you buy something that looks great but sounds so-so, you will not be happy with it in the long run. It will be like a thorn poking you every time you listen in dim light. And the upgrade bugs will bite sooner rather than later. I would go with good sound first.
Especially the appearance of speakers is very important consideration for me, when I was looking for speakers my dealer had Vandersteen, Dunlavy & Avalon available. I though each speaker sounded great and I would be happy to listen to, however the appearance of the Vanderstenn Black cloth turned me off, the large size of the Dunlavy's was in practical, the Avalon was the right choice for me. The cabinet construction quality is fabulous.
Good Question! Wow. IT makes you wonder about how we think and what pleases us with this stuff.
I do like equipment to look great, but sound is foremost I think. Still, if It doesn't look good, it's hard to get TOTALLY happy with something you have to look at all the time! Now if it's hidden, I can be MORE HAPPY with the gear if it sounds nice.
Hummmmmm...never thought too much about that. But I think you're right. It does make a difference to how I feel about the gear!
Maybe we're just vain. Naw!...there's an old saying,"if it don't go fast,CROME it!!! I guess that makes sense.
1st: Sound quality
2nd: Construction quality
3rd: Service availability & company reputation
4th: Appearance* I like the "industrial" but high quality look of most Levinson components.
*Like Lpgal, I don't think I could tolerate ugly speakers though. Cheers. Craig
I hate to admit it but looks came before sound 'cause of the WAF. I was going to get Nautilus 802's but she said that she was likely to start having conversations with them. I ended up with 803s which she's more than happy with (so am I now that I've got over the 802 decision). She likes in-walls for surrounds but I have to admit they're practical, if not tops in sound quality. The electronics were less important to her - the racks were her focus. She doesn't like all the little blue lights that stay on. I think it bugs her but she's living with it. And she absolutely would not stand to see any 'wires'. So, in my environment, looks were top priority, but they haven't compromised the sound too much.
All these compromises paid dividends in the long run - she redesigned the living area and I scored a nice new leather recliner that's positioned in the prime listening position.
The looks of a piece of gear is not important to me at all. Unfortunately it is very important to my wife since my system resides in my living room which is adjacent to the front door. Speakers have to be "OK'd" by her to see if it will fit into the decor. Fortunately she is pretty liberal with her acceptance of different speaker designs. Such is married bliss.