"Against design"

Yet another interesting blog from Mr. Weiss, this time on the design of speakers. As he goes:

Audiophiles want ugly speakers. Really. This sounds almost funny. Why would you want something that’s ugly?

The reason is very simple. If it’s ugly, you think–it must be good. No one in their right mind would pay $100,000 plus for a box with some cones in it, an unattractive thing at best, unless it was GOOD at doing what it does. Conversely, a speaker which is beautiful, or at least one where a great deal of work is evident in its industrial design, is not to be trusted. That speaker is, in the mind of the audiophile, trying too hard, like a woman all gussied up, hair, cosmetics and clothes all concealing another reality. Could not possibly sound as good as it looks, to be blunt about it.

It wasn’t always this way. In fact, it was pretty much the opposite fifty years ago. Before that AR monitor speaker, owning a really (sonically) impressive horn speaker was the ultimate. And those speakers, made by companies like JBL, Voight, Klipsch, Electrovoice, et al., were often very beautifully designed as pieces of furniture, a trend almost entirely absent today. Speakers such as the Paragon, Metregon and Hartsfield would not be out of place in the Museum of Modern Art, or any contemporary interior design magazine. Most audiophiles have never even heard of these speakers, let alone listened to one.


I concur to the above; speaker design in general has become trite (and non-organic) to the point where consumers, in getting so used to it, rejects whatever breaks the long-established mold of more or less square boxes, as well as other aspects of speaker engineering that goes contrary to the general norm (like small drive units, the type of driver used, etc.) when atypical design goes on to produce a prejudiced stance on the associated sound quality.

With regard to the enclosure materials used, how often does one see them made of carefully finished hardwood? OMA (via above link) and Daedalus comes to mind as some of the very few to hone real hardwood into beautiful speakers, evoking the feeling of something natural and organic - of something all too rare these days. My own speakers are made of fiberglass, definitely not an organic material, but their shape - what I'd regard "organic" or certainly curved, even to the point of being a sculpture - has led to numerous negative remarks:


- Just for being different? Almost every time I look at my speakers seems to do something different about them; the way the light hits them, the amount of it, ones angle to the speakers, mood, etc. - the magic of curves, if you will.. ;) Most importantly their design comes from a functional standpoint, and the non-parallel sides are only a plus acoustically.

Please chime in on the above...
Its all much nicer looking than what most would get at Walmart.

Its all relative.

Not sure exactly what is being complained about.

Markets speak for themselves in regards to what sells.
Have a look at dc10audio.com
Have a look at dc10audio.com
Question: why do so many box/driver speakers use MDF instead of real hardwood?
why do so many box/driver speakers use MDF instead of real hardwood?
See the answers by Lou Hinkley of Daedalus Audio and Jonathan Weiss of Oswalds Mill Audio ("weisselk") in this thread.

The main reasons seem to be (a)cost, and (b)difficulty of manufacture (assuming that the goal is manufacture to a high standard). Also, I would expect, lack of the necessary expertise in many cases.

-- Al