How important is component “aesthetics” to you?


Obviously, performance, sound, etc is what matters most. However, some super fine, high performance products are just plain ugly. Aesthetcs does play an important role for me since we have placed a lot of emphasis on furnishing our home. 

Anyway, my search for a preamp has led me to the conclusion that ugly is more the norm. I love the look of glowing tubes with the Primalunas, mystere, Atma-sphere, Rogers, Decware, mapletree etc. In the solid state world, the macs have those famous blue meters. Even the “fake tube” older Peachtree components looked really nice. 

Just curious how “ looks” play a role when choosing components?
aberyclark
If it produces great music then I'm happy. I had a Audio Research SP-16 for a number of years. Not very attractive but the sound was top notch.
Performance is paramount but it has to not be ugly.  Homely I can live with if the performance is amazing, but I always prefer that it be an attractive design. 
My listening session would never include staring at speakers that aren't up to snuff in the aesthetics department. I find it offensive to see plastic bits on $5K+
speakers  and gear.

Speaking of aesthetics, some of those system pics in the gallery are horrendous!
I wouldn't feel comfortable in some of those rooms.

I like looking at fine furniture grade veneers and nice CNC casework. Aesthetics should be part of the audio experience with all the money we dump into this silly hobby.

On the flip side, there's gear which show corners cut in the details, but sound great.
I agree. Thats why my wife love the look of my Zu Omen Defs in cherry. The wife hates speaker grills. The Zu’s, imo, look like classic pieces of furniture. 
aberyclark-
This is where my S.O. would assert her authority on what's not gonna happen

https://images.search.yahoo.com/images/view;_ylt=AwrTcXg3EtFZFQUATeqKnIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTIyNjg1bW9rBHNlY...
I have this brand, but one of the little sisters, waaay  down the food chain.

I  would love to have those crammed into my listening space.
The PL  mentioned,gets the "aesthetically approved" nod.
I have the Dialogue HP.
If you’re still looking for preamp, I would recommend checking out the ARC Foundation series.  

Aesthetix Claypso is not bad looking either. And yes, I do believe aesthetics should be the 2nd most consideration after the sound quality, IMHO. 
I love the look of both...out of my budget :(
I think the models (of major brands) will market and sell often audio gear that is more aesthetically pleasing to Europeans than what is offered to Americans. Much depends on the culture. Many Americans go to Best Buy to purchase audio, an awful excuse for architecture and aesthetics and they get even worse electronics with ugly designs. They don’t care, maybe the WAF to some degree.
I tend to think smart design can look good and sound good too. I would not buy the majority of Wilson speakers and very [email protected] Mac gear is classic and I like the entire Vandersteen line, except for the Model 7. Devore, Audio Note and Volti audio make nice looking speakers. I would get the Volti Audio Vittora: http://voltiaudio.com/vittora/ and the Border Patrol mono amps before I would ever buy Wilson WAMM Master Chronosonic. I would have $500k leftover.....
Aesthetics is a subjective thing. Generally speaking, I don't care when it comes to equipment. I do care when it comes to wives, though.
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@kosst_amojan, 

“When people see it the first thing they do is gaze down inside it and I beam with pride”

I believe this would be a normal reaction for any topless component...what’s so special about your F5, do you care to elaborate?
Speaking of topless components, a friend of mine used to leave off the top of his Krell KSA-250 claiming it helped with cooling but he was really showing off the jumbo coffee can size transformer. This practice stopped promptly when a guest left her wine glass on top of the transformer one evening......
Most of my gear is either really plain boxes or has truly ugly form-follows-function utilitarian looks.  I don't care at all.  When I had an Audio Note Kageki in my system (now on loan to a friend), I installed it ass-out because the power switch is on the back of the mono blocs and it was easier to use with the back panel facing forward.  I once was at an Audio Note dealer and asked about a particular model in a rack because I did not recognize it; it was a Kageki facing the right direction.
Funny how in the right context a simple industrial design can be viewed as truly attractive. It’s almost that the more sophisticated the system, the less style seems to be in play. However, sometimes I also find very costl6 gear is overstyled. Makes me wonder how much $ is the bling part and how much $ is the real performance. 

That said, I think all of my gear is aesthetically ok. A friend has asked if he can have sex with my Bottlehead headphone amp. I guess that’s a compliment. And with the lights off or dim, the MR78 is amazing. 
I don't want ugly gear, but as I have had to move and adjust to different living conditions I have to say: Smaller is Better!

What I long for are big CJ tube amps, monoblocks...what I have are Class-D monoblocks that fit on a shelf over the TV.

Even for simple things like pre-amps. Why do solid state pre's all need to be 18" deep? Why can't they be oh, 10" deep?
They can be 10” deep. I’ve been amazed how some relatively large piece of equipment are pretty empty inside. 

@zavato

I hear you....must be nice to own a piece of history. I believe MR78 is probably the best McIntosh tuner to date.

@erik_squires, I own Merrill’s THOR monoblocks and they are quite amazing. Love the small footprint!
Unfortunately, too important.
Very. I've always loved the look of Conrad Johnson and Atma-Sphere's champagne-colored faceplates, the control knob layout on the Marantz 7, the Marantz Model 9 power amp, and the retro-styling of the Atma-Sphere M-60 Mk.3---with rounded corners and stainless steel plate behind the tubes (and original Quad tube pre, which can't really be retro, can it?!). In loudspeakers, the Magneplanar Tympani-IVa in black cloth and oak side rails looks amazing. George Cardas owns a pair, as do I.
 
lalitk said


“I hear you....must be nice to own a piece of history. I believe MR78 is probably the best McIntosh tuner to date.”

listening to my MR78 right now. Love having it. I had a magnum dynalab previously which I sold for more than the MR78 cost me. It’s a great tuner. The MR71 is also great. If I could justify owning two tuners, the other would be an MR71. I already blew my chance at owning a Marantz 10B. Some years back I was offered a pair of 10b’s. For $1200. For both of them. 

Not at all. I would run a pair of paper plates as speaker drivers connected to a potato as an amplifier if it sounded better than my current gear. Although I admit I haven't yet tried that combination.
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Great, I am happy for you. Not everyone possess the know how or inclination to build their own class A amps. 

However, I do hear that one can easily build a class D amps with available DIY kits (thanks to HYPEX).  Whether they sound as good as Class A is purely subjective (please, let’s not debate class A and D merits here). 
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Well, since I don't believe in differences between amps (given the standard caveats), aesthetics is paramount. That's why I have a collection of vintage gear ... 77-80 silver-face and late 80's Pioneer Elite. When it comes to looks and feel, they don't make 'em like they used to.
It must look good. Even before I went off the deep end and into high end stereo, I've replaced a silver face plate DVD player in my old system to a black one. I like my cars silver and my stereo black. In my opinion, the prettiest ones to look at are McIntosh components. MC352 hands down the prettiest item in my system.
I personally find it cheesy to get a stereo system with matching colors just for the sake of... matching colors.
You are not an audiophile if the faceplates on your gear are not at least 3/8" thick. 
@aberyclark 

Check out upcoming Anthem STR Amplifier ($6K).  Not exactly a VU meter display but the next best thing. Reminded me of uber expensive display of T&A amps. 
why are you putting things in "quotes" ?
Low on the list.....sound is paramount.    My amps for instance have no aesthetics , they are as plain as can be, have no fascia / front panel but sound fantastic.

Speakers are another matter ,  while obviously they have to sound great , its nice if they are attractive especially if you live with someone who maybe thinks the pursuit of good sound is dumb.....

My Revels are the first speaker in our 25 + years together she said were "pretty" so their aesthetics paid off i guess.....  I have had some ugly ones.......always kind of ignored the WAF , being fortunate to have two "family rooms"   

Sound is critical but looks help.  Op should look at Raven Audio they make some of the best looking and sounding tube amps that money can buy.  I have a Reflection Integrated MK2 tube amp that is a thing of beauty and outstanding power and sound.  I actually have it as a show piece and every time a guest comes into my house they want to know what that cool looking piece of machinery is.   
Zavato,
I loved my MR78, C-29, MC2105 and MC2300 with the lights dimmed.  Mac makes some of the best looking gear, proving that you can have good looks and superb sound.  These days things are simpler for me.  It's a Sansui 9090DB which looks and sounds wonderful. 

I have recently noticed that many high end systems are so  ugly I could never live with them. Speaker cables the thickness of a coke bottles strung across the floor on little speaker towers, thick stiff patch cables hanging from preamps, room tunes stuck to walls and ceilings, huge separate stands for amplifiers that were designed to sit on the floor...come on people it's a stereo!

I must be getting old, this stuff just looks so silly.  I am a musician and I insist on good sound, but also a good looking system that blends with my wife's tasteful decor is likewise important to us both.
Some systems just look comical.

N.
Aesthetics are important to me.  Call me shallow, but I like my electronic gear to be beautiful as well as sound amazing.  I think Levinson is some of the most rewarding gear to own in terms of appearance and man/machine tactile interface.  They do it right IMO.
Op should look at Raven Audio they make some of the best looking and sounding tube amps that money can buy. I have a Reflection Integrated MK2 tube amp that is a thing of beauty and outstanding power and sound. I actually have it as a show piece and every time a guest comes into my house they want to know what that cool looking piece of machinery is.


I agree that Raven has really nice looking gear. However, the Raven emblem could be toned down quite a bit. Maybe, a bit smaller. To me, the size of the emblem looks too "chevy". Some of the newer Chevy cars (I despise General Motors for their company culture) look decent except for the giant size bow tie emblem.
Probably the 2 "prettiest" components I've ever owned are my Cary SLP-98 pre-amp (in "jaguar red" with black faceplate), & my former Merlin TSM-M's (also in red).

The SLP-98 also has the advantage of having a separate power supply, so that the preamp is very slim & small. And the tubes are exposed. It doesn't look like just a metal box.


It had nothing to do with choices I've made. Hey, I owned a Hegel that I thought was uglier than any piece of gear I've ever owned and I bought it new. I did however find I like the sound qualities of  Accuphase much better and I do find the Accuphase gear aesthetically appealing which is only a bonus for me. 
Can the way something look effect how clearly it will sound?  Most likely not.  But, for example a Mystere integrated tube amp looks sooooo good in black enamel!

If you want it to look better then it sounds...

Look at some of the British Hi-Fi selling for 10's of thousands of dollars (per component).

whats it worth to you?  Beauty or Truth?

I say lets hear the truth.

jhv