If you present an engagement ring—and have hopes of it being accepted—you don’t present it to the beloved inside a custard-stained bag from Dunkin Donuts. You present the ring in an impressive box that shows off both the ring and the giver in their best light.
That principle has been around since the early days of home music-making. Yes, there were upright pianos that looked like the crates they were shipped in, but anyone who could afford it went for something a little more pleasing. Some stayed simple, relying upon modest inlays and molding:
Others were more grandiose, and pretentious:
When phonographs and radios first entered the home, they initially looked as though they had just escaped the laboratory—and oftentimes, that was indeed the case:
Eventually, makers developed fine casework that would fit in to even the grandest homes:
Entering the hi-fi era, we saw the same thing—early gear was straight out of the lab:
As hi-fi and stereo went mainstream, makers adapted to the demands of domesticity:
In today’s audio marketplace, buyers can choose from all manner of designs, from the inconspicuous to the outrageous:
Finally: combine time-honored English marquetry with exquisite metalwork, and you get the speaker in our header pic, the astounding Living Voice Vox Olympian. Whether or not you like the aesthetic, the glass-smooth woodwork and flawless metal-casting is just astonishing to behold. And for once, sound quality is up to snuff, as well—I’ve heard them twice in Munich, and they’re lovely.
What’s next? Anodized aluminum? Carbon fiber? Glass? Automotive finishes? Gold plating? It’s all out there in audioland. Take your pick!