Ugly vs Gogeous speakers


I know speakers should be all about sound but I can't help responding to the look as well and this presents me with a dilemma.

I have owned B&W Nautilus 803's for many years and love the sound and value (excellent sound for reasonable cost). I would love to upgrade but I (and wife) think that the retro Star Wars R2D2 looking speaker (802) is nothing we would have in our living space.

What do others think the best looking / sounding speaker is? Do looks matter to you?

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Ha!  While there are disagreements among us about what sounds best, that is nothing compared to the range of opinions about what looks good or  bad.  

For example, my wife actually likes the new 802D3 and hates purely rectangular shapes.  In addition, she gets to pick the color of anything I buy or review.  Fundamentally, the only ones who have to agree about looks are the people who will live with them.
There is just something about a piece of audio gear when aesthetically appealing to us just sounds better in our system, I believe that although audio is a hearing thing the other senses seem to add to the experience as well and just enhance our overall experience such as the aroma of a nice glass of wine or drink, good cigar and in my case red translucent vinyl.

 Life is too short for ugly speakers. 

 I own Sonus Faber Elipsa SE speakers in violin red.  They look gorgeous and sound incredible.


I only go buy sound i have Magico Q3 i think they look and sound wonderful so does my wife.
What about the looks of the [email protected] Matrix 800 speakers? A very different look indeed-But my wife likes the look.
I am not a fan of the aesthetics of most speakers especially as most aesthetics lead to compromises in sound. I don't like designs that try to disguise the speaker (Nautilus, Vivid, Sonus Faber)

However I like the industrial steampunk & Art Deco look - make the speaker look even more like a piece of machinery which is what it is!!!

Aesthetics wise I like
Large JM Labs
Large Horns like Avantgarde
Kef Blade
Evolution
Large Wilson

I think most large B&W speakers look silly - there is no flow in their designs. All angles and circles and cut lines - extremely lacking in aesthetics - no doubt they do this deliberately to stand out.



B&W polarize. I like the 802 looks. I had a pair at one time. I also had a pair of Dahlquist DQ-10's. My wife hated the looks. They looked like cinema screens to her, hence she named them East and West.....
When I had 802 D2's there was plenty of negative feedback on looks. Martren speakers are a great combo of looks and performance.

I'm very into the aesthetics of a speaker.  There's nothing more droolworthy, gear-wise, than a beautiful speaker to me.  Of course if I don't love the sound, the looks are meaningless in terms of my buying a speaker. 

I especially love the mating of a beautiful wood finish with a contemporary (not boring box shape) design.   A pair of Thiel 2.7s in ebony I currently own certainly fits that bill.

I often go through the speaker images on Pinterest because there are many beautiful speaker designs on display.  I have to say the sky high prices of some designs may not necessarily get you better sound, but they do get you "audio jewelry" that is hard to match in cheaper speakers.

Also, I'm one of those apparently rare audiophiles who doesn't like seeing every bit of gear when I'm listening to music; a clean aesthetic allows me to more easily just concentrate on the music, vs the typical jumble of wires and amplifiers set up in a "look at me" fashion around the speakers.  I even prefer to not look at the speaker drivers (and therefore use the grills) for the cleaner look, and because when I see speaker drivers I can not help but think of the sound coming out of the drivers.  Once they are out of sight, the speakers disappear more as the transducers, to my mind.  
I'm thinking this could compare to another activity that we enjoy. If the room is extremely dark, looks just may not matter, however in a room with light, gogeous, at least in our eyes, becomes more important.
Would you buy a car if it looked like a junk yard going down the road but ran good? Of course not! Aesthetics of a speaker are important as the sound unless some one designs a speaker that sounds leaps and bounds over the competition but had mediocre looks would be ok.

I must admit the Sonus Faber speakers are gorgeous (corrected spelling). I have not heard these so I can only speculate that they sound as good as they look.

I also like the look of the Avantguard's and have built some horn speakers as I also build low wattage tube amps but these go in my man cave as they are too big for the common space.

Looks have some bearing, and I certainly wouldn't own a speaker that I considered "ugly".

That said, my current speakers, Reference 3A Grand Veena's, are neither pretty nor ugly in my eyes.

Sure, I like the look of the Sonus Faber Amati Homage much better than my plain Jane speakers.
However, I like the sound of my Reference 3A speakers better than the Sonus Faber.

Everyone has their own priorities.
Black on Black Maggies have a non-ugly but ominous look to them.  Like the Monoliths in 2001 Space Odyssey.

The big Wilsons look like an alien robotic velociraptor that wants to eat you.

It costs money to make pretty wood finishes on speakers.  Vandersteen does it right IMO - a small amount of nice looking wood as an accent and the rest is just cheap cloth covering xlnt speakers.

Sound good, price is right. Who cares what they look like.
Well in my household anyway...................
I am surprised no one has mentioned the MBLs Reference Line .  At least as a question of whether the aesthetics are pleasing or resemble an upside down pineapples resting on a right side up twins.

Sound good, price is right. Who cares what they look like.


Well, some people have taste.    ;-)
The looks of this speaker might not appeal to all. But rumor is the tweeters are the best in the business!
http://www.likecool.com/Body_Speakers_by_Bob_Turek--HIFI--Gear.html
Just got my new Audio Note AN/Jlx's yesterday the style is a bit retro but I think they look amazing in their olive wood finish. There is a pic on my system page. Oh and they sound fantastic too which is why I got them.
@yogiboy lol thanks those look super cool though not for everyone as you said!
Well, some people have taste.   ;-)

Yeah, bad....................... ;-)
Check out Daedalus speakers - beautiful hand made wood cabinets , musical as well. 
One major reason why the Golden Ear Triton Reference MSRP is seventy percent more than the Triton One is the piano gloss black lacquer finish. Exquisite. 
I have the Sonus Faber Homage Amati Tradition and I think they are great looking and sound awesome.  They replaced my Wilson Audio Duette 2's.  My wife did not like the monitor look so that is why I went with a full size speaker.
So it is true that audiophiles hear with their eyes :-). My main system is in a dedicated room (basement actually), so it only has to look acceptable to me. Good thing too, my wife has stated that it will not go in the living room... ever. Something about it looking industrial & taking up to much space. She has made strange comments about the speakers (Lowther Fideleo's) in the past, such as Wife: "What are those large things holding up the cabinets?" Me: They're spikes. Wife: Do they need the big knobs on them? Me: It makes it easier to adjust them (in my defense, they are heavy). Wife: Why don't you cover up those (she is pointing at the drivers) with cloth or something? Me: Because they are Lowthers & I like looking at the drivers. Wife: Why are they so far from the wall? Me: If they are closer to the wall I lose the stage depth. At this point (or anytime I talk about sound stage anything), she rolls her eyes. To her defense though, she lets me enjoy my hobby in peace & has stated that the turn table can go in the living room, as long as the rest of the system stays in the basement. 
When I was younger I designed and built a pair of speakers that looked like Pamela Sue Anderson. Thought I could mass produce them and they would sell like,,,well sell like Playboy magazine. I had some venture capitalists interested but all they wanted was a proto type to take home.

Those guys are sick. 

not me
...and one finds oneself at the 'aesthetics' of the reproducer of the sound we seek.  Speakers as 'sculpture', when the 'object of desire' needs to fulfill not just the qualities of recreating the music we love.  Since it's a focus of attention, one hopes that it looks 'good' or 'intriguing' while doing it.  The 'monkey box look' don't cut it no more... *G*  Unless one's listening area 'devices' need to support a lamp, a vase, or some cherished item, fitting into the trappings of a 'normal' living space that most of us have...

SAF becomes a factor for some.  If it doesn't fit her (or his, taking a 'liberal approach' to ones' relationships) thoughts on furnishings in a shared environment, more 'trad' designs will win the day and the nod. ;)

A lot of the 'high end' units look their best when allowed to stand as they are....high technology items, mechanisms like the flat screens we watch, no way to disguise their purpose.  They become 'audio jewelry', items of desire, high water marks of their intent, looking best when allowed to be such, 'minimalist' in their display.

ESLs' and MBLs', and their 'larger' cousins come to mind.  A Rothko painting betwixt would look fantastic.  Anything earlier...ehhh, selection becomes 'dicey'....'Renaissance'...it'd better be an original to pull it off. ;)

Everything else....*shrug*.  If you've got the dedicated space with all the appurtenances for 'room acoustics' that the space dictates that you Must Have to 'make it work' for you and the 'significant other' has ceded control of it to you.....

Knock yourself out. *G*

Personally, I'm working on a driver that 'disappears'.  Does what it does without drawing attention to itself.  That's my 'take' on the subject.  As for what you want to have to look at, enjoy the compromises involved.... 
I really like the shape and colors the Focal Sopra No.2 comes in. On the other hand, I think JBL has made some of the most hideous speakers in history. I feel like whoever styles those things has some strange obsession with butts and anuses because too many of their products look like butt cheeks or spread anuses to me. I suppose that says something about my gazing at butts and anuses, but I prefer to do that in the near field with women, not from afar with speakers. 
I think the vast majority of society finds physical appearance important in every phase of life. If I'm not attracted to it, I don't want it.
Aesthetically speaking, "Ugly" and "Gorgeous" are in the eye of the beholder.
For me it is Gale GS401 speakers:

www.vintagegale.com


Not only do they look spectacular, they sound it to. I actually prefer the sound of the Gale speakers to my B&W Nautilus 801 speakers. See my previous post on these speaker and a TT/Tube based system I have recently assembled.
Not asking about sonics but what are your thoughts about the Vivid Giya speakers?
https://www.vividaudio.com/speakers/giya-reference-line/models/giya-g1.html
@rsf507 

Vivid are ugly - trying to pretend a speaker is a musical instrument or something a giant dog might leave behind is not my idea of aesthetics.
I heard one audiophile say the big Wilson's looked like a stack of ill assorted boxes....
I have owned B&W 801's, 802's, Magnaplanar, 
I now have KEF Ref. 3 and love them.
Excellent sound and beautiful to look at.
@mgattmch I've never seen those before very cool and mid-century modern! In a similar vein there is a Scandinavian speaker maker whose name escapes me that makes a speaker in that shape. It has a bit of an Eames chair look to it and is in wood.
I want the best performance for the money.  Looks aren't entirely irrelevant but they're way down the priorities list.  I definitely agree that vandersteen has the right idea with the cloth exterior with just a little bit of wood.  It looks fine but you aren't paying a lot for a fancy finish. 

 Speakers are a very personal thing. You see your speakers even when you are not listening to music.

Sonus Faber considers speakers to be musical instruments. They are designed and voiced to reflect that philosophy. They have that "in the room" sound in spades. They do piano correctly which can be very difficult.

 " I remember a quote from a review of my Elipsa SE speakers. "Some speaker sound one way and other speakers sound another. Sonus Faber speakers just sound like music". I have found this to be very true. I feel no need to ever upgrade.

I urge you to listen to a pair of Sonus Faber speaker. If you have no dealer, search Audiogon by your zip code. See if there is a pair for sale in your area and ask if you can listen to them

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I agree with Shadorne. The Vivid speakers do have a certain organic soft fecal character to their shape. 
gdhal...that's the most apt comment posted so far.  Congrats on cutting to the chase. ;) *5's*
The Vivid Giya looks fantastic in my room and sounds even better,but thats just my opinion as I'm done with box speakers made of mdf.
Ugly is ok, but it has to be a gorgeous form of ugly.  ;) 

I have found surprisingly little correlation between the appearance of speakers and their absolute performance. I find most claims of purportedly better performance while skimping on aesthetics to be tenuous. 



the Sonus Faber Aida's look real nice...
My girlfriend does not mind the idea of my Classic Audio Loudspeakers in her living room. She's heard what they can do. Plus they are finished very nicely.
I recently came across a speaker brand that has models costing even up to 3-5000, with the top model costing $12,000.  Everyone of their models fell off the ugly bus, I kid you not.  Owners warn NOT to try the speaker grills.  These Tekton models make me grimace and shake my head at the missed opportunity. 

Anyone with a lick of good taste in their body knows they are ugly.  One shouldn't have to look at ugly every night just to get to heaven, and I'm speaking of musical bliss.  Life is too short.  

Tekton obviously needs to start listening to feedback with a little more attention.
It looks like some people are simply obsessed with bashing Tekton speakers on every speaker thread regardless of the topic... its just incredibly juvenile.
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Imhififan, I'm not sure which, but I can't stop staring at them.  They're like robots!