I think it (wood trim) is dumb but would judge a product primarily by sonics and reliablity - never say never
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Funny that you bring this up today; I was just looking at some Chinese built amplifier yesterday that mixed wood and metal the way Unison, Pathos and other manufacturers have done and thinking just how stupid it looks. I do like a well implemented mix of wood and metal, but I cannot think of any audio applications where I've seen it done well. I think it can be quite stunning when done well, but the audio manufacturers seem to be throwing it in as a design novelty rather than something that is well-integrated and thought out as an integral part of a design. Also, it seems like the trend is to make the wood look as if it were a blob of Play-Doh, all rounded and amorphous looking. Personally I don't care as much how components look as I do how they sound, but to answer your question, well, I guess I already did!
Form Follows Function. If wood adds to the function of the equipment,
and if the equipment is designed properly, it should look and sound
Otherwise, use what functions the best, which would seem to be
whatever material reduces RFI/EMI.
Supratek comes to mind as a company that successfully blends wood
and metal (copper, chrome...) into beautiful looking and functioning
preamps and amps. First Sound, on the other hand, uses a copper lined
chassis, precision volume pots and selectors and point to point wiring to
produce a preamp with sublime functionality. Out of that functionality
comes the Presence Deluxe II's beauty.
To answer your poll, since the question seems to be based entirely on
visual preference, I have to answer "Neutral".
Like it. Pathos does a nice job with the use of wood. IMO the wood needs to be integrated into the design - some amps look like the wood is just thrown on and this doesn't work. However, wood that is nicely done on an amp can help blend it into the decor of a room that has a lot of wood. My home has a lot of wood and has Craftsmen (Greene and Greene) style elements. My amp, which does not have wood trim, doesn't fit the style and sticks out. I like the sound of the amp, but would have preferred some wood. Some metal amps (like my DK) are stark and industrial looking, and this could be softened with the use of wood.
Well, I for one, love the look of the Tenor Audio amps.
I think some manufacturers pull it off and some don't do so good. However, my vote is influenced by the fact that I'm a woodworker.
Now, if you want something really exotic made from wood, check out this site.
That Cocobola keyboard, mouse and monitor goes for $8950.00!
Someday when I hit the lottery..........
Dislike it - I certainly wood prefer no wood trim on an amplifier or CD player. I am very particular about matching wood (kind, color) in our living area. We already use wooden boards to support the amp/CDP: any additional wood trim would probably just clash. Furthermore, just using a wooden logo (as e.g. on the Unison Unico) seems kind of pointless. However, if the sound is good, I guess, I could be convinced.
Very interesting question though: From the above answers it seems that more people dislike wood. This begs for the question where the current trend for wooden amps is coming from?
As I have learned, besides being subjective it is highly dependent on your room decor. Too much wood in your room can look tacky especially when the wood colours don't match well. If your room is light-coloured contemporary look with no wood in your room, sticking a dark coloured wood gear alongside your silver gear might stick out. I like contemporary decor but also like the warmth that wood gives to the room. Only problem I see is if your styles are mixed and matched all over the place.
I once owned an A&R Cambridge (now Arcam) A60 integrated amp (30w) which had an all-wood casing. Mine was in rimu, a fine native wood of New Zealand. I loved that amp as far as sight and sound were concerned, and it was only the need for more power that caused me to abandon it in favor of Plinius products, also native to New Zealand. I've always worried about metal casework vibrations in these and other conventional amps, so I applied some sorbothane strips to the interior surfaces. But there was no audible change, so maybe the preference for wood was aesthetic only.
I love the look of wood trim when done right; my kid's old Kyocera CD player look great with the wood side-pieces, as does my Opera Consonnance Cyber 10 tube integrated with the wood top I use in my office system. To my eye it adds something to the gear when done tastefuly, breaks up the boring/industrial lines of most audio equipment. Looks like I'm in the minority.
Hey Slappy;----Don't be slammin' my car. It took a while but I finally got it pad off.----Over the years I've had various pieces, Sophia amp most recently, and they add nothing to the sound so why waste a tree for that???---Count me as " strongly-dislike". I live in a foreign country called California.
I'm surprised that the prevailing opinion here is against wood. Being a woodworker, I'm all for wood IF it is tastefully done. Same goes for pretty much any material, as long as it is aesthetically pleasing TO ME (not my wife, she has no input on audio related matters, as it should be!).
Having built my Teres in cocobolo, macassar ebony, and owned a Supratek in jarrah & copper, and built a stand out of hard rock maple, red coconut palm and copper, you can see I likes my wood. But, being an Audio Note fan shows I likes some black glass also.
I'm still looking for those wood lps. But never a Grado!
pehaps the question should be- how much does the appearance
of a piece of gear affect the buyer's desire to lay out
the money. plus, i'm not running out to buy a new rack system
every time i see components that are too large or complicated
to set up on what i have-i.e.- two m.greene justaracks (adjustable 2in. thick shelves, cheap-finish black mdf).
i'm just not buying a three-piece preamp no matter how good it is. speakers- they HAVE to look good, end of story. hats off to my friend with quads with the grills ripped off, crossovers laying out on the floor, linty wires everywhere, a thorens with a broken motor/outboard motor assembly of his own design, no cd's, only vinyl, etc. yes, his system sounds good. so does mine, only i paid 5x as much- good for the economy, right?....
Here's something to fuel the fire both figuratively and possibly literally if I don't like the way it sounds. I'll be receiving this preamp in a couple weeks:
I liked that it looks like a recently washed ashore piece of driftwood. Funky!
On a general note I DO like the way some components looked in the late '60s to early '70s with the chassis surrounded by a walnut case.
Ahh, man. My first receiver, a Yamaha CR-820...that was a beauty. Brushed aluminum faceplate, large knobs, soft green lamp light dial, and the feel of wood, a darker-than-amber color; rich and warm to the touch and to the eye. This receiver and the various amps and receivers that followed-a Marantz 1040 integrated, a Kenwood something-or-other, some big ol' honkin' Pioneer receiver that weighed a ton, even a super-styled, sci-fi-hi-fi Bang & Olufsen 1900 with its faux dark cherry laminate- all of these groovy old pieces made me happy to spin record after record every day, lovin' the music and beam with pride as I knew that I had something special 'cause it looked, well, expensive- like furniture but better! On these dreamy old pieces I say- YES! to wood. As for the new stuff, those tube amps comin' out of China and Italy, well, not so much. No.
Cheers from Austin, Texas!
The green man said:
I liked that it looks like a recently washed ashore piece of driftwood. Funky!
See, now that's a more purist approach to the use of wood in industrial design. Add some of those $500 wooden knobs to that thing and you've got some genuine beach debris that actually sounds good too! Good bonfire kindlin' too! Kooombyabalo, kooombyahh!
FWIW, the stuff from the 60's and 70's mostly used veneered particle board, and not solid wood. I hate stuff that trys to look like something other than what it really is. Even worse, plastic wood! Plastic plastic is bad enough! This whole direction reminds me of the 70's, and some fruitwood inlay on the dash of an Eldorado with the 8-track on a constant loop of some Creedance Clearwater Revival!
Marco, my Dad's KLH speakers from the same era were pathetically constructed. They looked decently elegant when they were brand new sitting on the Scandinavian credenza with multicolor fabric grills [a color scheme similar to Tom Ridge's alerts]. But once the grills came off, it was a bare particle board baffle! Cheap and ugly.
The Magnum Dynalab MD-208 integrated has wood side slabs. Maybe they can issue the Brady Bunch Station Wagon Pre-Spot Road Kill Signature Edition soon.