How important is the visual design of an audio product to you?

How important is the visual design of an audio product to you?
Extremely important
17% (44 votes)
Very important
35% (90 votes)
Somewhat important
31% (79 votes)
Not important at all
16% (42 votes)
Total votes: 255

Some audio companies, such as Bang & Olufsen, concentrate just as many resources into their products' appearance as into their sound. Does this matter to you?

T's picture

If I have to choose between two components, I take the one that looks the best. Who doesn't?

John Crossett's picture

Of course the looks of a component matter. Antone who says they don't isn't married. Just ask Sam Tellig. That said, if a manufacturer puts too much attention into looks and not enough into sound, I lose interest real fast. Sound comes first, with looks second.

John Meyer's picture

As the company (Newform Research) with probably the most "visually outspoken" appearance of any loudspeakers, we find aesthetics to be quite an issue with some customers. The reasons for our looks are obvious to most experienced audiophiles, and we have no resistance there. If there is a dedicated listening room, aesthetics are not an issue. However, if the listening is done in a shared living space, spousal approval comes into play, with 20% of spouses liking the looks of our Ribbon loudspeakers, 30% tolerating them because they replace the much larger classic panels, and 50% not tolerating them at all. I think aesthetics are important if they tell a story of performance or quality. Just being pretty, though, doesn't count to dedicated audiophiles.

Robert Allen's picture

Japanes products seem to be designed with absolutely no thought given to design or style. Most are as ugly as the early Subarus.

KJ's picture

I stated that design is very important for my choice of gear. Though I do have to state that design always comes second in priority to sound quality. Thankfully, there are companies that are able to give decent value for money in terms of both design and sound quality, even at the same time. Check out the gear from Primare and Bow Technologies; Meridian and Electrocompaniet are not too bad either. By the way, the design of B&O is not too sexy, in my opinion; rather dull, actually.

John Napier's picture

Appearance is very important to me. I abandoned a perfectly good pair of panel speakers because they were the size and shape of the front door. I now have Martin-Logan SL3s, which look elegant and interesting, and enhance the room ambiance.

Joe Ferrente's picture

Sound quality is the only thng that matters.

Nick Fulford's picture

Equipment should not be an aesthetic abomination (especially loudspeakers, since everything else can be hidden if necessary.) I appreciate an appealing visual aesthetic, but there are limits to what I will pay for it. As a corollary; listening tests should always involve not seeing the pieces of equipment to avoid bias when listening. It is like interviewing a beautiful woman (or man) for a job; visual aesthetic bias affects what we believe about who will do the better job (or who we want doing it at least.)

Graeme Nattress's picture

There's no excuse for a good-sounding product to look bad. Even if the shape is constrained by physics, the finish and materials should be of good quality. Products like the Gyrodec show that good looks and sounds can go hand in hand! And I love it!

Sam Tellig's picture

Damned important. If it looks ugly, it sounds uglier. Visual appeal adds greatly to my enjoyment of a hi-fi product. I wonder when more manufacturers will wake up!

Joe Hartmann's picture

I've always purchased based upon the sound of the product much to the disappointment of my wife

Scot Forier's picture

Design is the deciding factor.

Al Marcy's picture

My system is only ugly with the lights on.

willis greenstreet's picture

This is one of the designers weak points. It's not only how it looks, but how it fits both visually and physically. Speakers in particular. I know some people are building rooms to fit their gear into, but most of us can't and won't.

Priya N.  Werahera's picture

As long as the color is balck and the width is under 21" (so that it may fit within a rack), visual design of an audio component is NOT important.

Howard Strader's picture

Sound is first, of course. But if I'm going to drop several thousand on a product, it has to "look good" too. And not just flashy; it must present the overall appearance of a well-built and well-designed product. Yes, looks count.

Eric Scott's picture

No! I'm more interested in performance. As long as it sounds good, I don't care if it looks like a turd.

David Morse's picture

Esthetics are totally irrelevant if music reproduction is the goal. If showing off your neato looking gear to your friends is important then looks are all important.

Richard Landers's picture

I listen not with my eyes, only with my ears. I hate to see that manufacturers are wasting resources on cosmetics, then raising their prices to pay for those cosmetics. I couldn't care less what it looks like if it delivers the goods. Gold platings, shiny chrome, varnished wood, and such are useless. I wouldn't mind if hi-fi components take industrial-looking, rack-mounted black boxes like pro-audio recording studio components. If manufacturers dropped their cost-metics, I'm sure their prices would also drop and become more affordable to more people.

Isiah Johnson's picture

Some of the ugliest equipment is so beautiful in the way it sounds. And some of the most beautiful-looking equipment can make you want to run from the room for the way it sounds. If the soul of the equipment isn't beautiful, it doesn't matter what kind of face it has to offer.

Federico Cribiore's picture

Visual appearence is very important to me. As I don't have a dedicated listening room, my speakers and tube amps become an inherent part of my living room. If they were aestetically challenged, it would be much harder for me to appreciate them. In this light, I have a hard time understanding why more manufacturers don't pay more attention to the point of style. I mean, a tube amp, *without* exposed tubes!?! Sure, provide a tube cage, but don't compromise aestetics for those of us without kids or pets!

Hasse, Sweden's picture

I rather have good looking speakers,like my reQuests,than ugly looking speakers.Of course,the sound is most important.

Joel Lepage's picture

When making the step from mass market products to high end systems, one feels that the step up in sound quality and price should also be reflected in the appearance of the product. It doesn't have to be constructed of titanium and finished in gold, just that it reflects the same attention to detail that was put into the sound quality of the product. I believe that appearance is definitely important to the pride of ownership factor.

Jeff Vinklarek's picture

Beauty is only skin deep. Don't get me wrong---I love a product that looks good. It is what is on the inside that really counts.---Ex-B&O owner

Jean-Luc's picture

-Speakers: very important. Coolest speakers: Revel Ultima, Sonus Faber Amati, Hales Alexandria, B&W Nautilus 802, Genesis 500, NHT 3.3, Martin-Logan CLSIIZ. Ugliest speakers: sorry John, most of them British: Quad, Monitor Audio, KEF, Mission, Ruark (basically all of them but B&W); also: Aerial Acoustics 10T, Dunlavy. -Amps, Preamps, Sources: less important except turntables. Turntables favorites: Basis Debut, VPI TNTs.

John Paul's picture

A products exterior communicates the esthetic values of the company and should be a direct reflection of the what is inside. However, this is not always the case, as with B&O.

Peter Randell, New Zealand's picture

Sound quality is generally the only consideration I have, but appearance helps to decide between equipment that performs the same. One exception for me has been my purchase of a Proceed PDT 1 transport, which is so ugly that I would not normally have considered buying it even if the sound quality was perfect. In this case, though, the price I paid was irresistible. I throw a cloth over it though.

Constantine Soo's picture

While the purpose of existence of an audio component is to maximize the signal it sends out, it is equally important for such a component to have a pleasant appearance if it does its job well. But, of course, no one will spend any considerable amount of money if the sound has been known to be undesirable. For a great number of audiophiles, their expectations of such a successful piece of component will no longer be its performance alone, especially with the substantial investment involved; but the aesthetic aspect of this equipment as well. To me, the purchase of an equipment in many ways resembles the act of automobile acquisition.

David L.  Wyatt, Jr.'s picture

I used to own a beat-up pair of Bozak Symphonies with fake antiquing. What do you think?

Kerdraon's picture

Sound comes first, of course. Even if I am single and don't have to worry about someone else's visual sensitivities, I do wish some of our gear didn't look like military equipement trying to mate.