At Edge, someone with no training and worst yet, no taste. Judging from such brands as CJ, Pass Labs, Manley and many others too numerous to mention by name, most are refuges from Chrysler.
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I agree the Edge stuff is unbearable. They probably wanted to make a statement, but in my view it's the wrong statement. Expensive to make too.
One thing that I definately prefer is a volume knob instead of buttons. A knob is quick and easy to use. Buttons are generally fixed in how fast they change the volume. Give me a big cherry-wood Blue Circle knob anyday!
As someone who loves and makes a living in the art+design field I totally agree. I wish more manufacturers that charge high dollar for their gear would put a little more effort into the industrial design of their products.
Obviously, Gilbert Yeung of Blue Circle puts a premium on design [and concept], but I think he should add a set of brassiere headphones to go along with his purse preamp and high heel pump monoblock amps.
I have designed or redesigned a number of audio products for a leading pro audio manufacturer here in the US. The last industrial design work I did for them involved designing a new series of components with which they planned to enter/re-enter the high-end market . Unfortunately, a change in top management canceled the project and disbanded the team just before prototyping.
Within this manufacturer, the design process varied widely - from designing sheet metal front panels that had to work with a nearly finished engineering design, to working from a clean sheet of paper where the chassis and front panel were a critical part of how the amp actually functioned. (I have a design patent on that one!)
Often, it was the engineering team that chose the design, aided by some from marketing and sales (who had a number of ex-engineers in their ranks.) From my experience, most engineers are not the best people to make these kind of design decisions.
I remember one project in which I was asked to provide a wide variety of quick sketches for review. I assumed that these would be used for further discussion. I presented some 16 designs that met the mechanical and manufaturing requirements. To my horror, several of the engineers picked up on a design I had simply tossed in to help fill out the presentation. That stupid design was the one they went with and it went on to be a big seller for them - ugly as sin as it was! Everytime I see that unit I just shake my head.
I will say that when it came to the high-end design, we recognized that how it looked would have a major impact on it's success in the marketplace. I reviewed virtually every competiting component out there and visited a number of audiophile shows to study the trends. The engieers that accompanied me enjoyed pointing out some of the insane things that others did strictly for show and really added nothing to performance. Of course, we knew that some of that kind of thing would be incorporated into our designs as well.
Having said all that.... man, you should have seen the design for the last project. Fantastic! Ground-breaking innovation! It's too bad I can't show the concepts, so you'll just have to take my word on it. ;- )
There were those beautiful early Threshold Stasis equipment designed by 'then' co-founder of the company, an industrial designer called Rene Besne.
Mark Levinson, the man who were also personally involved in styling all the early Mark Levinson Audio System equipment and later the even more outrageous Cello equipment. It has to be said that the man had incredible taste and a superb eye for detail without any formal design training. I wonder who designed the logos for him. Does anybody know out there?
As for the eye-poppingly gorgeous Jeff Rowland Design Group Coherence preamplifier; it was designed by a one David Carter Associates (it light have origins from Britain?). It is so good that it was nominated for an award for industrial design in the US Design magazine, I. D. Annual Award 1998.
There are more info about other top U. S. equipment but I have to look them up again since my memory is fading fast!
Best regards to you all.
Pathos Acoustics makes some of the prettiest amps on the market in my opinion. All of their amps are very distinctive. Especially notice the heatsinks on the Logos Integrated - very cool. I believe one of the companies founders does the case design work.
Jeff Rowland Design Group also has a very cool appearance. Not sure if it is Jeff Rowland who come up with the case design or not. In tube gear, I like Wavelength's chassis design, which I would guess is from Gordon Rankin's head. Nice, but understated chrome and wood appearance.