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Carlton Audio Visual

How important is the finish of a product?

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As I've been adding products to the website recently, I find I keep describing the finish of the products. Perhaps when you're reducing the essence of a product down to some words and images, you want to capture that intangible of how the product feels, as well as how it sounds. But It got me thinking - how much value to we place in the look and the feel of a product?

 

This is Hi-Fi, so we should all be shutting our eyes and listening to how it sounds without worrying about how it looks, but its kind of hard to divorce the two sometimes. Particularly with speakers, where they are going to be a prominent part of our living space, you need to be able to live with how they look in the room. But even electronics need to have a certain level of polish. For me, feel is more important with electronics. Is the product weighted well. Do the knobs turn smoothly. Is the casework solid and smooth, or rough and flimsy.

 

Many years ago I bought a Sonic Impact T-amp on a lark (probably to debate it's merits with Mr Brett...). This thing was a thirty dollar 8 watt a side amp made of plastic. It looked like a kids toy and ran on AA batteries. It's based on a tripath chip amp, and the thing sounded really good. Stupidly good really. The fact it worked at all for that price should have been a miracle, but here was this toy that was actually competitive with amps that we were selling. Sure, it was under 10 watts and had to run with highly efficient speakers, but none the less, it was an engaging listen. But at the end of the day, we just couldn't take it seriously. The horrible plastic case and cheap spring clips meant we ended up tossing it in a drawer and writing it off. Sonic impact must of realised this too, as the Mk2 version came in an extruded aluminium chassis, with nice hardware on the back panel.

 

I think as I get older, the finish of a product has definitely become more important for me. I do care about how a speaker looks as well as sounds. I wouldn't buy a cheaply made amplifier. The sound is still the most important aspect of a Hi-Fi product, but it has to hit a certain standard in finish to be on my shortlist.

 

What do you think?

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My system has a pretty good finish in gloss black, better than the bare minimum that I would accept.

I'd gladly trade some of that finish to mat black for some more performance (flatter in room frequency response).

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I know it is not always the case but finish on the outside is often a reflection of the quality within.

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@@wolster - I definitely agree. I guess when you see an component with a solid milled aluminium chassis you just assume that the same attention to detail has been applied inside the case as well.

 

@@Satanica - I bought my PMC TB2s in studio finish (sprayed matt black) to save some money - I couldn't justify the premium for a veneer back in the day. Given the choice right now I really wish that I'd gone for a wooden finish, ideally the oak finish, although that would have meant a two month wait at the time.

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I get what your saying and somewhere here there is a thread discussing, form over function and vice versa. There is a heap of gear that I would never buy purely because to my eyes they are dog ugly, shockingly gormless industrial design with no bend in the direction to beautiful design.

 

The gear in your signature for instance I would just never bother with as I think the designs are truly awful, I saw a complete rack of it once at your shop a year or so ago and just blanched at the ugliness of it all but that is my opinion and mine alone, other people like Cyrus gear and each to their own.

 

Anything by Manley just wouldn't get through my front door either regardless of how good it sounded or performed, Sonus Faber Toy towers...yuck, you have to be kidding me. Again, that is a purely personal opinion and no different to preferring a Ducati over a rice burner or an M3 over a HSV something or rather.

 

Charios over SF Toy standmounts...no contest and so it goes: Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder and in my case it overides function most times but I will admit I'd have a pair of Strauss NF-3's tomorrow even though they look like a pair of Nike shoeboxes...

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Not fond of ugly or poorly finished product and my level of acceptance decreases as the price goes up.

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Yep, my Hi-Fi system was definitely bought by someone in their 20's rather than their 30's...

 

I wouldn't say Cyrus look ugly, but I'd definitely say dated. They'e got a bit of a conundrum with that chassis - they've been using it so long they'll upset people if they change it, but the longer it goes, the more dated it looks. That said, functionally, it's still a brilliant design - the way the whole chassis acts as a heatsink means you can squeeze a lot more amplifier into it than you can into something relying on a big vented heatsink. Also, at the time, it was one of the few half width designs, and that still appeals to me.

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function over form and I've thought the same way for twenty years.

 

This is my power amp. TOA P300D

 

a picture says a thousand words :)

post-146889-0-82949800-1402838599_thumb.

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Guest BobbyD

I have a bunch of black boxes on my shelves marked Audio Note.... Not too pretty and really quiet basic, but man o man they make me smile :-)

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