My "audiophile" weakness(es)...ie: how the item looks, and you?.


It's all about the sound.....right?  Well, with me mostly and most always.....however I am influenced by the cosmetics of audio gear.

The Maggie 20 are impressive, as are many Martin Logan's, and tubes....the glowing of tubes does have impact beyond the glow and heat.  Still love the "looks" of my original CJ ART preamp. 

As I look at the cosmetics/looks of audio gear I do give myself much slack...I know in sports cars, furniture, art and many other things how something looks does impact my thoughts......perhaps that explains some of the very pretty women I was with that were not actually very good people.....but they did look nice.  As a p.s. the best sports cars I ever drove were not very "pretty" as they were race cars...and the "pretty" street ones were much better looking but not nearly as fast/fun to drive as those race cars. 

Have you been influenced by how audio items look?  If you have, what are some of your favorites in the "looks" department?  Thanks for your thoughts/experiences. 







whatjd
My Miller Carbon turntable has a lead-filled acrylic platter because it looks cool. Seriously. https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/8367 Especially when its spinning. Its the Teres bearing and platter. Chris Brady was here and did a demo of the different platters. Modular design makes it very easy to swap platters. We listened to the original solid acrylic, lead-filled acrylic, a black synthetic material platter, and cocobolo. Differences between platters were immediately obvious and easy to hear.  

Normally something like this if sound quality was the only thing that mattered I would have to go with the upgrade. But imagine my table with a thick black hockey puck for a platter. No thanks. Especially since I could get the same or more improvement with a better arm without sacrificing anything in the looks department. In hindsight that was a good idea, and it looks even better with the Conqueror arm. 

Also not sure if this counts but there's fO.Q tape and TDF paint on the arm, and there would be more, but I like the looks of the arm enough to try and keep it out of sight.   

No, not me.  I don't care how it looks so long as it's big and has meters... ;-)
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I'm picky, can't be to ungy... BUT it has to be ugly enough...

Speaker LOOKs are an issue for me lately... The new speaker space ships don't appeal to me... I like a fine furniture, look.. Victorian error

Mcintosh tube gear is a great example. If you only knew how many people asked me what a MC225, 240, 275, was, through the years.
One was a young cable installer, just amazed him... You would think he would have seen one.  5 - 6 years ago...... Duno.... :-)

Regards
Oh, my vintage 1974 Pioneer TX-9100 tuner hasn't been used in decades. But it looks soooo gooooood!
I see nothing wrong with good visual appeal, what I'm curious about is which products are best in both categories. I have to say, there are some Nelson Pass pieces which look very pretty to me...
There are lots of great sounding pieces of equipment available at varying price points. All things being equal (are they ever really equal), I’m buying the one that appeals to me visually. Why would I want the ugly one? I’ll have to look at it even more than I listen to it. I prefer the industrial look, like Wadia, Krell or Line Magnetics. I have owned many turntables, but I always preferred the glamorous ones like Goldmund Studietto, Luxman PD444, Technics SP10, JR Transrotor, and now a J.A. Michell Gyro Dec w/plexiglass case. Again, if it doesn’t look good, I don’t buy it!  One of my CD players is a Consonance 5.0 Droplet. There are probably many that outperform it, but few that look as cool.

I love good industrial design but I find great sound combined with great industrial design costs big dollars usually. So I have what I would call "plain Jane" components that sound great. They were what I could afford and I feel blessed to have them.


@jond I'm with you. I try to make it dark when I listen, anyway. I bought a lava lamp for the espresso-drinking hamster in my head.
@hilde45  haha awesome I'm sure the hamster loves your lava lamp!
Looks no doubt play into it...I like a certain degree of “no nonsense functional” appearance but there’s a balance.  I’ve gone with a PrimaLuna integrated over something with lights and meters and that look (in addition to wanting to try out tubes for eons!) certainly weighed heavily in my decision but my personal sense of aesthetics wouldn’t have let me buy something that looked more “jumble of exposed electronic innards on a board” than the PL., no matter how great the sound quality/value ratio was.  For example, I don’t think I could live with a Manley Stingray if I was given one even though I’m aware it’s a fantastic component...It’s the design (looks) that doesn’t dovetail with my subjective sensibilities...
Thanks for the responses so far.  It is good to know others see design/cosmetics/looks to be a factor....perhaps not the main factor, but a factor none the less. 

I still find the "Thunder-Lizard 2000e" speakers to be without peer,...if you are not familiar with them they are the ones that are made from old Pinto and Vega parts.  (if you don't know of the Pinto and Vega cars...well that is good)

One trajectory for this topic is kind of a "toe-may-toe" vs. "toe-mah-toe" discussion. I like it, but it’s almost pre-determined not to converge. It’s about which designs, which aesthetics or which utilitarian pieces, etc. Which was the OP's slant. So, now, can we talk about the Italians? Because their stuff is suh-weet looking.
hilde45   I have been lucky/unlucky enough to own and drive some exotics, including Italian cars.  The local, private repair shop I used would jokingly talk of how many "units" it was going to cost to repair that car...with each "unit" being one thousand dollars.  Not to be mean here, but my mechanic said that he always liked the early English sports cars because they made the Italian ones look reliable (ie: steady income for him)....his take rather than mine.  I do remember my Lotus costing more than most other sports cars I have owned to keep running...but when it was running well, taking roads with plenty of curves was a great deal of fun. 
millercarbon made me think of how many of the audio units I loved the looks of were tuners.....I hadn't done that mental  A+B=C  in my head.   


haha

all that matters is we are self aware and honest about what pleases us, then we pursue it wholeheartedly

it is a hobby, we shd do what makes us happy

a big part of this is what we admired and looked forward to in our youth... granting ourselves what we desired when we were younger poorer less accomplished in life is a great pleasure of the journey
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I've hated the looks of my SOTA Sapphire ever since I bought it.  It's looked cheesy and 1970's from the first day it came out.  The MMT tonearm it sported at one time in history wasn't exactly a beauty contest winner, either...but I do consider my current Alphason tonearm to be wonderfully Art Nouveau.  My Sony SACD player looks blah & anonymous. My NOLA Boxer speakers are actually handsome if perhaps a mite understated.  Every single cable is an unquestionable eyesore. I do gotta say, though, that I dig the looks of my PrimaLuna Integrated. Dead serious.  The tubes glow...or should I say glower...behind what only can be called prison bars.
Yep, cool is a thing. But, it still has to sound good. Performance beats out looks all day long. Good looks get your attention. There are other examples of this in the world!
The listening experience is mostly, but not completely, about the sound. Where you are, whom you're with, what you're drinking, how comfortable you are and a lot of other things contribute. 
The obvious solution to the conundrum is to balance the effect by damning all pretty cables.  ;)
I agree entirely, the look of HiFi equipment in my living room is very important. This is why I assembled this system:

https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/7324#&gid=1&pid=1

At the end of the day I have combined outstanding sound quality with what I consider to be beautiful HiFi art. Works for me, could not be happier with this system, I have no plans to upgrade/change anything.
A portrait of a speaker above a speaker? Never seen that before!
I support you in this excellent post, and wish the answers weren’t so binary.
I don’t know but I am pretty sure that Enzo Ferrari fought for his cars to be 1) high performance but also 2) beautiful.
So every time I hear some stubborn "audiophile" arguing that nothing matters other than the sound, that they don’t care what something looks like blah blah blah
I perceive them to be a) a Subaru (WRX STI) customer but more importantly b) someone I hope I never sit next to at a dinner party.
Cheers,
@cwlondon 

not just wrx sti...

evo 9
996 gt3
alpine a110
lancia stratos

all are beautiful because of how well they do what they are meant to do


What a revelation.

I propose that any GT3 and the Lancia Stratos were also beautiful, and thus a higher expression of engineering and human achievement than the ugly ducklings (whether audio or racing) touted by the purely "objective" types.
Most Evo 9s disappear into the car park alongside the Subarus and the Alpine A110 is just low production weirdness, although I will give it points for being eccentric.
...I am not sure which was more stupid on my part, selling my CJ ART, or not buying the 246 GT Dino for 14K when I had the chance in the early eighties.  

This is an extremely non-politically correct joke:  

Do you know the difference between owning a Ferrari and being with a pretty woman?......in the long run, the Ferrari is cheaper and more reliable. 

Whatjd there is no reason to apologize for loving beautiful things.  We all do it.  I still get weak in the knees when I look at a Hovland Preamp (and I,m not a tube guy).  Aesthetics do matter as much as we'd like not to admit it.