Bose speakers/systems (overpriced, worthless, essentially, sonically) have the highest waf I have ever seen.
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When she asked "Isn't there something that could be hung on the wall?", I hope you said no. Otherwise you may as well just go to Best Buys and get some Sony speakers that hang on the wall.
FWIW, my wife doesn't complain much about my Verity Parsifal's, and believe me, there isn't many things that I buy that she doesn't say 'looks ugly'. She would love an invisible system, that is not an option for me though.
It's easiest when you start with big, honking ugly speakers, and she wants wall ones, then you slowly compromise. The key is to make sure that as they get 'better looking' they also get 'more expensive'. You'll be surprised at what she can tolerate then. :)
The only speakers my wife ever said weren't "obtrusive" were speakers with a sloped baffle such as Thiels and Meadowlark Audio. First it was a small pair of Thiel 1.5s that she approved of and later a pair of Meadowlark Kestrel Hot Rods. It helped that they both had a finish that exactly matched the furniture.
Any Sonus Fabers and some Ushers on stands. But find a dealer who has Sonus AND sells big pro audio monitors. Bring home the biggest JBL black vinyl clad monitors he sells first, preferaby used ones with Black Fly stickers on it. When she complains, swap them out for Guaneri Momentos.... problem solved;)
I second the recommendation of the Vienna Acoustics Beethoven Baby Grands. A few weeks ago, I heard these for the first time and was shocked at the soundstage/sonics put out by this small floorstander (with equally small footprint). Not only did they sound beautiful, but were eye-catching in the piano black finish.
I agree that there comes a time when audio gear must dress the part. Great sound? Sure, but not from ugly boxes anymore.
Have a look at the Opera line of italian speakers. I personnaly own the SP Callas in durmast wood (light european oak).
These speakers are beautifully finished, with soft arcs on the sides, leather on the front, slim and a small footprint.
Past speakers include the Verity Audio Parsifal years ago, the Sonus Faber Grand Pianos (not the new Domus but the Home model) and a few more.
The Parsifals are of course in a league (and a price level) of their own, but the Operas edge-out the Grand Pianos on sound, and smokes them on looks, with the boat-shaped cabinet. I had a demo of the Sonus Faber Domus line with those ''serious'' looking piano black and dark wood finish- for WAF, the Operas still win in my opinion on looks. Photos do NOT show how beautifull they are when you see the real thing.
Nothing like Italian beauties, they ALL have a high WAF, regadless of the manufacturer.
My wife and her friends all think my Zu Presence are retro cool. Remember, though, no matter what concessions you make she will still bi*** about the wires, so you may as well seek a compromise that costs you nothing in the way of performance because she will never be completely satisfied unless everything is concealed and wireless.
My goodness - what great suggestions and experiences. Seems to me that the R&D of some savy speaker comapny would conduct focus groups with women and use their feedback to style their boxes. They could then market to us guys with the WAF Seal of Approval.
Some of you guys are cold - imagine bringing home the baddest, ugliest boxes and then offering her what's behind door number three. Love it. Except, if I do that, she would be well within her rights to bring more white wicker into our home. Any guy here feel that they are living with too little white whicker? Any speakers out there done up in wicker - that might do it.
Those italian speakers are beautiful, and the Parsifals and Vienna Mahlers - those are striking. Used Mahlers are within my budget. I looked at the Druids a few weeks ago - great retro design that might do it. Showed her a pair of in the red - "Well they do match the couch...."
Know what you mean about the wires. A MAJOR issue, especially with those big honking Nordost biwires that feed the Newforms - but just got a set of Anticables that I think will pass the test. The speaker wires are a single stand of red coated wire with a diameter a bit greater than coat hanger wire, and the IC'c are equally unobtrusive. They sound wonderful and are cheap in the extreme ($10 per foot for speaker - and $200 for fully balanced 1m XLR interconnects).
You guys are all gentlemen - not one suggestion that this is a non-issue. Appreciate all the recommendations.
"no matter what concessions you make she will still bi*** about the wires, so you may as well seek a compromise that costs you nothing in the way of performance because she will never be completely satisfied unless everything is concealed and wireless."
And I thought I was only person with this particular problem!
BTW, I like the look of the higher end Dali speakers.
In my experience, the cabinet finish is not so much the issue. My wife is more concerned with the dominating visual presence in the room. Speakers that will perform well close to the front wall are more acceptable as a rule. This also helps to minimize the visibility of THE WIRES.
Even when I had white Goldmund speakers that looked like something from Amana or Whirlpool, her greatest concern was the fact that I had them 3 feet out from the back wall.
Mr. Tennis' suggestion of large panels can work but only in a very large space. In more confined areas like my living quarters, they look enormous and take over the environs.
Something you might consider, depending on your living situation and you wife's need for attention, might be a state of the art headphone rig. Then you won't be able to hear the complaining and you will have a sound system to yourself. Meanwhile, put something small and inconspicuous where the primary system sits now and use that for ambient entertainment. You'll come out of this with extra money and enormous psychological advantage. Not to mention the glorious privacy this will afford you.
Thanks for all the suggestions.Macrojack, the headphones are an interesting solution. But I am a musician (tenot/clarintet) and play along. No way I can listen with the muffs and play.
Of all the great options, I think the best choises are the Vienna Acoustic Mahlers and the Verity Parsifals - the design of the Parsifals is extraordinary. But I think the thin vertical profile of the Mahlers would be a peacemaker. I have posted a followup on these, and again want to thank you all. I would never have known about either of these handsome devils.
For furniture grade, drop dead gorgeous cabinets AND great audio reproduction, check out Jim Salk's work at http://www.salksound.com - no prettier cabinet work anywhere else. My wife approved mine prior to buying - different than Jim's, but still beautiful: http://cgim.audiogon.com/i/vs/i/f/1134146234.jpg
1. Put doilies on the wires... or little yarn people..problem solved
2. White wicker speakers? Well, let's see it would diffuse the sound stage, especially around the tweeter, then you could make a bass node trap on the base of the unit, and around the woofer, maybe have adjustable wicker for soundstaging.... hmmmm.