Poll: Do the Visual Aesthetics of Audio Gear Affect Perceptions of Sonics?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by ShockControl, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. tyinkc

    tyinkc Forum Resident

    To a certain extent, but ultimately it's how it sounds that counts.
  2. Apesbrain

    Apesbrain Forum Resident

    East Coast, USA
    This is not really a "poll"-type issue. People are not likely to admit nor realize their perception of sound quality is influenced this way. It is a however, a testable hypothesis. Pretty sure the test has been done and most people said the big, shiny amp sounded better even though it was just a static display.
  3. costerdock

    costerdock Forum Resident

    Prescott, AZ, USA
    yes - otherwise the thread on - post a picture of your gear - wouldn't have made it past page one. Then again my dog poop thread is rounding page 4 - no telling what interests these folks...:pug:
  4. ShockControl

    ShockControl Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I am happy to admit it. I would much rather have audio gear that looks good than ugly.
    Manimal likes this.
  5. cdash99

    cdash99 Forum Resident

    First thing that came to mind when I saw this poll.

    Helom, stereoptic and 62caddy like this.
  6. defmoot

    defmoot Forum Resident

    Arizona, USA
    You eat with your eyes first.
  7. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog

    Boston MA
    This is how I feel.
    SandAndGlass and tyinkc like this.
  8. manxman

    manxman Forum Resident

    Isle of Man
    I think there was a time in audiophilia when the opposite thinking applied: hardcore audiophiles prided themselves on having racks of mismatched gear, all connected with a spaghetti junction of snaking, twisting cables, and looked down on people who had elegant, understated installations. That fad seems to have passed and most top-end gear is now finished to a very high standard.

    The prejudice I mentioned persists to some extent however, particularly with regard to my favourite hifi brand Bang & Olufsen. There's an ongoing perception that gear that looks so slick and lifestyle-oriented can't possibly perform well, and in fairness that's true of some of the gear B&O have turned out since the mid-eighties, which was aimed more at home cinema than hifi buyers. Nonetheless, their top-end seventies turntables, as well as being stunning visually (the flagship Beogram 4000 is exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art) could hold their own, in engineering and audio terms, against the Linn Sondek of the day.

    From my standpoint, ugly gear can sound wonderful and visually breathtaking equipment mediocre. However, since my sitting room is my listening room, I expect both — and no spaghetti junction either.
    nosliw likes this.
  9. timind

    timind Don't blame me

    Westfield, IN USA
    Exactly. I read the poll as an initial reaction to visuals. Of course the sonic impression changes as you become more familiar with any piece of equipment. At least for me, and especially with electronics, the truth is revealed over time.
  10. Hipper

    Hipper Forum Resident

    Herts., England
    I tend to listen in the semi dark and my gear is set out on a side wall so I don't notice it too much except any lights. Some of my gear has blue LEDS, some orange, some green. Some can be turned off, others not. The blue is the most irritating and I cover these, as I do the orange. The green is on the amp which I have turned sideways on (to make the run of the speaker cables easier) so I hardly notice that.

    Generally my equipment is a mish mash of black or silver boxes.
  11. John Moschella

    John Moschella Forum Resident

    Christiansburg, VA
    The question is does it "affect perception" and the answer is yes, of course. We are human how can it not.
    Higlander likes this.
  12. Jazzman53

    Jazzman53 Member

    Savannah, GA
    YES -- case in point (see photos below):

    My first electrically segmented ESL panels sounded really good but they were visually just butt-ugly.
    My newest ESL panels have lovely oak lattice supported wire stators and they sound fantastic.

    Now, both panels are similarly segmented and driven by the same electronics so there should be no audible difference in their sound, yet I would swear the new panels sound better.

    Below: My speaker with lovely new oak lattice wire panels

    Below: Same speaker with the butt-ugly segmented welding rod panels.
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  13. Kristofa

    Kristofa I dream of wires

    Eugene, Oregon
    Not for me. Aesthetics can be a deciding factor for me when purchasing or not purchasing something, but I am not going to allow myself to be fooled in thinking it sounds better because it looks pretty.
    F1nut likes this.
  14. I think this depends solely on the individual.
    I do enjoy an aesthetically pleasing piece of gear, but the way it looks does NOT effect what I hear or how it functions.

    I have turned down good sounding equipment because it simply looked terrible. I have also purchased some vintage gear more on how it looks than how it sounded. None of that effected how the equipment functioned, or sounded to my ears though.
  15. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Syracuse NY
    How about the looks of good looking wire vs bland and ordinary?
    ralf11 and bluemooze like this.
  16. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Syracuse NY
    One should never lie to one's self.
    SandAndGlass and showtaper like this.
  17. Mugrug12

    Mugrug12 Crome Yellow

    San Francisco
    My system looks great and I am very happy w the esthetics. I must say though that the sound quality detracts from the visual appeal. It frankly sounds terrible. My workaround is that I try not to turn it on. just sit down and enjoy the view.....
    Robert C likes this.
  18. 62caddy

    62caddy Forum Resident

    Good looks sure can't hurt...:pleased:
  19. Higlander

    Higlander Well-Known Member

    Florida, Central
    ....only if you are human.
    russk and x2zero like this.
  20. Ron Stone

    Ron Stone Offending Member

    Deep Maryland
    The question isn't do looks affect performance but perception of performance. I would say almost certainly. Put the guts of a STEREOPHILE Class A amp in a generic black box, silkscreen a brand name like Stereotronix on it, cut the price in half and see if the investment bankers queue up.

    Now I do believe some audiophiles in my thought experiment would sniff out the quality innards regardless, but I do think appearance is a big component of Pride Of Ownership. And Pride Of Ownership is a big component of consumer satisfaction, at least at our esoteric hobby level.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2018
    showtaper and Higlander like this.
  21. Kyhl

    Kyhl formerly known

    Based on the comments this poll needs a second qualifier question, did you answer honestly for yourself or does your vote represent the general agreed upon consensus known to studies of marketing.
    toddrhodes, nosliw and Shiver like this.
  22. Shiver

    Shiver Forum Resident

    Looks can certainly affect expectations. Longer term perceptions, only if you don't know better.

    (Same goes for price tag and reviews)
  23. Higlander

    Higlander Well-Known Member

    Florida, Central
    There is an agreed upon consensus? (seriously asking)
  24. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    Can You explain what You mean? The problem with this we cannot avoid being influenced by looks, just as we cannot avoid being influenced by many other things, It´s like saying 'I´m not influenced by gravity'. Who cares if someone states that?
    showtaper, russk and timind like this.
  25. Higlander

    Higlander Well-Known Member

    Florida, Central

Share This Page