Other than the SOUND, what do you love the most?

High end audio components, to me, are a bit like sports cars.

As enthusiasts, we tend to focus on performance and thrill first and foremost to the audio equivalents of acceleration, speed and handling.

Still, there are other, more elusive, qualities that really make someone fall in love with their cars and reduce grown men to tears when they sell them -- the color, the design, the interior, the smell of Connelly leather and wool carpets, the specific rumble of the engine and exhaust, the shape of the tail lights, the feel of the steering wheel and transmission.

With that in mind, think back and reflect on components you have really loved - the ones that made you weak at the knees to see them, happy to turn them on, gaze at them before, during or after the music stopped and depressed if you made the mistake of selling them...

What were your favourites?
Can you identify any qualities that gave you this feeling?
The weight and consistency of the controls? Or the case?
The color or shape of the lights?

For me, a few things come to mind:

...the fabric, oak strips and exotic look of my first Magneplanar MG-1Bs....

.....the intricacy and silky movement of an SME III tonearm with pulley and "fluid damping" system...

...the sleek anondized aluminum chassis, gyroscopic feel to the tuning knob and the 2001 space age red LED digital read out of a Yamaha T-2 tuner....

Good sound aside, what components have you loved the most and why?


I fell in love with the look and the tactile qualities of Fisher and Marantz products back in the very early 1960's. Given today's interest in them as vintage products, I guess a lot of other guys my age did too.
The turquoise back lighting of my all McIntosh system was my headboard when I was at college. I became heartbroken when I finally figured out it sounded terrible.
the old stuff still has a mythical quality that ironically you get for free. it was, is , and will always be cool. many vintage turntables as an example, not only sound as good as the new stuff.....they are less expensive, cool, and..... they don't look like a veg-a-matic.
Loved the look of my Teac X-10 reel to reel, just to see the reels turning and the meters moving to the music. The look of the lights on my first reciever, the Pioneer SX-525, and the Yamaha CR1080 reciever with its green glow and dark wood cabinet. And the smell of new gear when first unboxed. Now I love the look of my first tube integrated amp, the SQ-88 with maple trim, with the maple VS JR4's in the maple finish.
I'm using a pair of Atma-sphere M-60 Mk2.2's, having 16 total 6AS7 power triodes. Their orange glow in the dark is almost as enjoyable as a fire...which comes in handy, since my system's set-up prohibits me from using my fireplace!
My Shanling SP-80s at night. Amber tube glow, green LED display, blue power indicator, all reflecting off gold, stainless steel and champagne anodizing... sound like overkill but when the room is dark it's very cool.

My Klyne SK-5A's circuit layout every time I take the top cover off. The phono stage lets you make plenty little adustments if you want, to R-C settings for the MC inputs, but you get a visual treat every time you do.

My turntable, even when it's not playing.

Nice thread.
Mcintosh MC402 with the blue meters. I became heartbroken as I knew how good is was but has to sell to pay my sons college bill.

Another memory of a hypnotic component...I will never forget my Pioneer CTF-900 cassette deck, circa 1979, received from "Santa" for my 15th Christmas.

At that time, the Pioneer tape machines were very heavy, and well made.

And in contrast to the traditional VU meters of the time, the deck had bright blue LEDs, a blue, digital tape counter and other tiny lights on the solenoid controlled transport buttons.

It made a pretty good tape, but it was even better as a night light - just wonderful.
I love the look of the VAC Phi series amplifiers and peamplifiers.

And, I loved the solid feel and operation of the knobs and switches on the First Sound Presence Deluxe II. It also was extremely well built...complete with a solid copper chassis and cover.
Agree with you on the Maggies, I too owned the MG1c and they were truly amazing piece of kit and my first introduction in my own home to the sound of Maggies.
the smell of my Polk SDA 2B speakers my first decent speaker purchase the smell lasted for years wonder how?
The industrial/retro look of my first Audion 300b amplifier.
Since others have come out of the closet, I have to admit that the smell of opening a new audio component makes me delirious.

However, it's not what it used to be.

Opening my Nakamichi Dragon - now that was divine. Can't explain why that distinictive audio smell is so recognizable or lasts for so many years.

Kind of like new car smell for audiophiles.
I never owned them, and I dont think they were legendary in terms of performance.

However, I must admit that the colorful, back lit, sqaure buttons on the Yamaha M-4 and C-4 were very cool -- I loved them.

Which is making me realize that a lot of vintage Japanese gear, although not necessarily the ultimate in high end sound, definitely wins in the "it's so cool I just love it" contest.
Nothing like the smell of input transformers in the morning . . . seriously, it's an amp turn-on. (Is there a group out there that is more disturbed than us?)
I suppose it is very disturbing that someone could love the smell of new opened Nakamichi boxes.

Bojack - do you really think it is the input transformers?

I love the smell of styrofoam end pieces and silica gel in the morning!

More gorgeous components:

the Infinity IRS V in rosewood

Gryphon amplifiers (although never tried them)

What other components, speakers, accessories or features have you LOVED regardless of the sound?
I always thought the Phase Linear amps circa 1979 were super cool. They had nice brushed stainless steel faceplates and these very fine LED VU meters that looked like the "eye" of a Cylon.
An old SAE power amp just sold on ebay.

Not super high end, as I recall, but the gigantic VU meters with the amber glow were also "super cool", perhaps like the Phase Linear amps mentioned just above.

Quick question related to this post, would anyone please have links to suppliers of these types of LED switches, touch sensitive switches, meters, buttons etc. for a DIY, homemade electronics project?

Thank you and let us know what you think is "super cool."
Cwlondon, you can replace the light bulbs in most stereos with LED's of your color choice. All you need is a LED, Resistor, Soldering iron, and Voltmeter. Details available if interested.

thanks but I was especially interested in OEM of cool switches.

It seems to me, reading this thread, that one of the things that differentiates components in the minds of audiophiles is anything that LIGHTS UP.

Therefore, it would be interesting to learn more about suppliers and manufacturers of lighted switches.

I still vividly remember the Yamaha amp and preamp C4 and M4 which had glowing LEDs with different colors. Recent ads with these units for sale, however, often disclose the the LEDs are burned out, presumably because they did not know how to replace them.

So as the world moves more towards PC audio and Bose speakers, I just thought it might be nice to build some equipment and source the switches or other things that light up.


Cwlondon, I have the Yamaha C4, C6, and M4 amps. Those lighted switches are frosted clear plastic with a hole in the back of them for a small white light bulb (not an LED). The color glow of the switches comes from colored rubber covers (yellow and green)that fit over the bulb. This button also pushes the actual electrical switch behind it.

On mine, I left the lights as-is on the M4, but replaced the ones on the C4 (three of them) and C6 (two) with Blue LED's. Way Cool.

Try a search on eBay using "Blue LED" (or other colors) - you may find something to your liking. There is a lot of lighted LED switches there, but mostly for Automotive apps.

Lastly, its good to know that I am not the only one who likes lights on equipment.

What a coincidence - and thanks for the explanation of the old Yamaha lights.

With the frosted plastic, rubber covers and ordinary bulbs - that explains why they were so unusual looking.

So perhaps there are no OEMs of exotic switches but it is more likely that one could be cobbled together in new or unusual ways.

The top of the line Nakamichi machines always had interesting lights, sensitive transport switches and silky smooth tape drawers.

Very sad that everything sort of looks and feels the same these days, which will get even worse with the migration towards PC based audio.

Are there any other suggestions for wonderful, beautiful, fascinating components (beyond the sound) ?
Well, they don't light up, but I really liked the look of the CJ antique gold faced amp and preamp in the Bell O'ggetti rack. Looked like they were made for each other. When I decided to connect the CD player directly to the power amp, I considered keeping the pre just for looks.

I also like the looks of my Gershman RX-20 speakers. A work of art.
I like the good, visceral burn from touching a hot KT88.

Gets one in touch with audio on a whole 'nother level.
I can see it now - a group of 'philes showing off their Tube burns to each other.........
Exactly. I'm working on a Gold Lion branding. If I can just figure out how to get my forearm in the right position...
Other than the SOUND, I also love power amps that dim the lights when switched on.
The first time I laid my eyes upon an Oracle Delphi I feel in love. It looked so far out there,like an oil rig in the North Sea.
My first integrated amp was a Nikko 890 and I thought it was way cool looking at the power meter for each channel tack back and forth while listening to music.
But my most favorite thing about our hobby is and trust me this has happened to every serious audiophile out there is when some one says while listening to your system "man those really great speakers." Huh? Speakers don't sound great if you don't have the right synergy between everything,it's like the person thinks if he bought a pair and went home and hooked them up to a twenty year old kenwood reciever they would sound just like yours!