Many higher end preamps are dated and ugly, why is this?

Conrad Johnson, BAT, VTL are all very good preamplifiers, they are dated and just ugly.  Audio research is a prettier amplifier but it's not very well regarded due to it sounding more like a solid state, ie. Not really a tube preamp despite all those internal lightbulbs.

Cheaper preamps can be more pretty. Schitt makes a pretty preamp for about $1000. People like pretty.

D'Agostino by many is viewed as very attractive but kind of weird. 


@reubent “Many Audiophiles are dated and ugly. Why is this?”

Good observation.

That is because the sound of equipment gets better with cost and the only ones that can afford really good stuff are old farts. So over time you collect old guys.


"good preamplifiers are few & far between"

I agree.  I went through about 20 before finding one I could live with long term.

High quality audio electronics are costly and will occupy prominent places in the household landscape, so it's important to buy products that not only sound as you wish, but also convey the visual impression of having been acutely designed for their specific functions. Knobs, switches, and lights must positioned and sized in proportion to the nature of their individual functions and their importance in relation to one another and to the the unit as a whole. Fortunately there are few I consider to be as "dated and ugly" as their owners (nerdy old white men). One candidate would be the current Conrad Johnson line -- black chassis, gold-wash faceplate, all buttons identical irrespective of function. Yet I'm sure this very thing is someone's ultimate cup of Ceylonese.

I don't care how preamps look, I don't care how speakers look.  I mix black and silver components.  I mix red back light with blue.  All I care about is, how does it sound.  I admit that glowing tubes in the evening can be somewhat intoxicating.