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  1. #1
    Ajani
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    How much would you pay for more refined aesthetics on gear?

    I know many audiophiles (especially the DIY crowd) are always looking for ways to trim the fat from products; maximum performance for the lowest cost... However I wonder how many of us would be willing to pay a premium for better looking gear.... For example:

    Nuforce has just released the SGE (signature gold edition) of their uDAC-2 for $400



    It "appears" to have the same specs as the regular uDAC-2 ($130):


    The SGE is adorned with a genuine Swarovski crystal on the volume control and encapsulated in a lustrous 24K gold-plated chassis with stainless steel front and back panels.

    http://www.avguide.com/article/nufor...old-plated-dac

    I can't say I'd buy the SGE, but I don't see anything wrong with paying a premium for better cosmetics, especially for gear that is going to be prominently displayed in my living room...

    I have noticed some brands offering more premium finishes (such as piano gloss for speakers) at higher prices than the regular finishes... In fact online companies like Axiom have always been a prime example as you can more than double the price of their speakers just by selecting real wood veneer finishes (and they are 100% honest in letting you know that there is no sonic advantage to the more expensive finish)...

    So back to the question: Would you pay a premium for a nicer finish and if so, how much?

    I have to admit that the SGE would look really nice on my desk at work

  2. #2
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani View Post
    ...
    So back to the question: Would you pay a premium for a nicer finish and if so, how much?
    ...
    Does it LOOK like I'd pay a lot? (Pictured my eBay Wolfson-based DAC on a slab of scrap 1x4.)


  3. #3
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    At my salary, not really but if I had cash to blow and was decorating a new room, sure I would pay a little extra to have something look a little nicer than a black box with buttons and a stupid logo of all supported sound formats.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    Does it LOOK like I'd pay a lot? (Pictured my eBay Wolfson-based DAC on a slab of scrap 1x4.)

    Bill,

    How much would it cost me to have you build a simple volume control to go between a CDP and my Hafler 9180 amp so I don't have to keep fiddling with the two tiny pots on the front of the amp?

  5. #5
    Forum Regular harley .guy07's Avatar
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    I think it depends on the component in my opinion for me. If it is a Dac then I really can live with whatever as long as the sonics prove to be better than other products. But Speakers have to at least look descent for me to take them seriously but in my opinion a speaker company worth taking seriously is going to make their stuff look good as well as sound good because every man has a woman behind them really calling the shots on a rooms final look unless you make a deal with them like I did, I get this one room and you can have the rest of the house to do with what you want.

    Marantz SR5008(HT)
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  6. #6
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyfi View Post
    Bill,

    How much would it cost me to have you build a simple volume control to go between a CDP and my Hafler 9180 amp so I don't have to keep fiddling with the two tiny pots on the front of the amp?
    VERY little, Hyfi.

    You'd need a decent pot, like this ALPS Blue Velvet from PCX, (HERE), and a couple of pairs of RCA jacks, (HERE, also from PCX), plus some wire and solder.

    Here's a pic of one I made recently using the above parts, a cheap knob, and scrap material ...

    Last edited by Feanor; 08-03-2011 at 08:15 AM.

  7. #7
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    A point against aesthetics is that what is beautiful is in the eye of the beholder.

    I really wouldn't want this Shanling CDP in my house ...



    I find this CR chrome & gold amp to be too gawdy ...



    And while I find this AVA preamp a bit austere ...



    To me this ARC preamp is the epitome of functional elegance ...


  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    VERY little, Hyfi.

    You'd need a decent pot, like this ALPS Blue Velvet from PCX, (HERE), and a couple of pairs of RCA jacks, (HERE, also from PCX), plus some wire and solder.
    Bill, I sent you an email to continue this and to the OP, sorry for hijacking.....carry on.

  9. #9
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    Does it LOOK like I'd pay a lot? (Pictured my eBay Wolfson-based DAC on a slab of scrap 1x4.)

    LOL...

    Note my first line in the opening post:

    Quote Originally Posted by Me
    I know many audiophiles (especially the DIY crowd) are always looking for ways to trim the fat from products; maximum performance for the lowest cost...

  10. #10
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by harley .guy07 View Post
    I think it depends on the component in my opinion for me. If it is a Dac then I really can live with whatever as long as the sonics prove to be better than other products. But Speakers have to at least look descent for me to take them seriously but in my opinion a speaker company worth taking seriously is going to make their stuff look good as well as sound good because every man has a woman behind them really calling the shots on a rooms final look unless you make a deal with them like I did, I get this one room and you can have the rest of the house to do with what you want.
    Speakers are generally the most imposing items in a room... Also, they tend to be the hardest to hide... Most DACs are half-width and could be hidden just about anywhere... So it's really quite challenging to get a spouse to accept some really ugly speakers in the living room...

    Of course the best solution (if you really don't want to have to deal with WAF) is to have a separate man-cave for your stereo... A man cave is the perfect place to have a Frankenstein like lab of DIY projects....

  11. #11
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Since all of my gear is stored in a equipment room, then there is no point in paying attention to aesthetics....nobody ever see's them.
    Sir Terrence

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  12. #12
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    Does anyone know this name "Sono Fer".. West German Speaker manufacturer ?
    Sorry about the post but can't start a thread and I need this mystery solved.
    Thanks in advance.....

  13. #13
    Forum Regular harley .guy07's Avatar
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    I haven't heard of them and I tried to do a web search for them or any info on them and found nothing but that does not mean they don't exist. They might be one of those one off small companies that does not do much online, even though that would be hard to believe in today's world.

    Marantz SR5008(HT)
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    Dayton 8" HO custom sealed subwoofer(2 channel)
    Yamaha NS-c444 center channel
    Emotiva ERD-1 surround speakers
    JBL e250p subwoofer highly modified
    Samsung 46" LED TV
    OPPO BDP-83 blue ray/multi format player
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    Dell I660 music server running fidelizer windows 8 audio optimizer
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albert_M View Post
    Does anyone know this name "Sono Fer".. West German Speaker manufacturer ?
    Sorry about the post but can't start a thread and I need this mystery solved.
    Thanks in advance.....
    You need to switch Google to /de for a German search

    Plenty of hits here
    http://www.google.de/search?um=1&hl=...-8&sa=N&tab=iw

    And pics here
    http://www.google.de/search?um=1&hl=...og&sa=N&tab=wi

  15. #15
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    You pay for the appearance of whatever you buy. However fancy or plain you want it, someone will accomodate you. I do not concern myself with cosmetics unless they also contribute to performance. Usually I find cosmetics to be reasonable.

    Example: The Mackie HR824mk2 versus The Mackie HR824
    The Mackie HR824mk2 has a nicer front face that enhances audio performance, so OK.
    The Mackie HR824mk2 has piano black finish on the top, bottom & sides. Very sexy but fragile compaired to woodgrain on which damage is easier to hide, so I left the protective plastic film on the PB and polished same with Black Magic car wax. I could do without PB.
    The Mackie HR824mk2 has a sexier rear end (back side) but it does nothing performance-wise as far as I can tell, so why bother?


    ****** Feanor, put some Tung Oil on the damn wood...................

  16. #16
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani View Post
    Would you pay a premium for a nicer finish and if so, how much?
    I'll draw a distinction between build quality and pure aesthetics. Since I have long term relationships with most of my gear, I am willing to spend more to get the highest quality. One of the brands that shaped my audio experience long ago was Audio Research. They have always had simple faceplates with an industrial look and level of quality that you would find at a NASA installation. I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, but by contrast I find most McIntosh gear downright gawdy looking. It screams "I'm trying to look cool".

    I have never paid for fancy finishes. The VTL amps are downright homely looking, if not functional. My $30k speakers use the very best flat black textured Polane paint available for the tubular steel frames! Piano finish? I leave that for wifey's baby grand.

    On the other hand, I did spend about $80 for a black anodized Par-Metals aluminum cabinet for my attenuators. I wanted to match the look of the other components. My first project used a $3.50 Radio Shack pressed steel box. Atomic Adam now has that.

    When I chose a GamuT CD-1 player about ten years ago, I compared it directly with what was arguably the best CD player of the day - the $56k Burmester 969 / 970 transport and DAC. It held its own sonically darn well, if not for a slight loss of resolution and frequency extension at both ends. But comparing the finishes was another story altogether. If you've never seen a Burmester component in person, I can tell you they are very impressive. Billet solid. Highly polished to a mirror finish. Recessed hex machine screws everywhere. Tactile drawers and controls. I would venture that the casework on each unit cost more than the $3k GamuT player!



    rw
    Last edited by E-Stat; 08-03-2011 at 02:38 PM.

  17. #17
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    For me, its about getting the most peformance and best sound out of a certain price point, hence my Van Alstine gear and Magnepan 1.6's. My gear certrainly won't be winning any beauty contests but at least I have a very nice audio rack and very nice sound.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
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  18. #18
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    pay for the finish

    I do not mind one bit to pay more for fit and finish. even as a college student I got a B&O turntable, luxman intergrated amp and luxman KX-100 cassette player. btw can someone tell me how to post a pic the kx-100 is totally cool. Half of the front panel recessed back to expose the knobs when it was turned on and the play button and all other buttons were a deep plexiglass with a light that came on that reflected totally 3-d
    of course I do not use it now but do use the lux IA almost every day and it is 25 years old

    you get what you pay for and if it looks great even better

  19. #19
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    Aesthetics were never really that important to me until recently. I've added some nicer furniture to my room and now my subs don't fit looks wise. Two black, four foot tall, u-shaped PVC subs are prime examples of the agricultural (quick, cheap, dirty) school of design. I've been thinking about replacing them with a couple of boxes (probably sealed) to better match my new room decor.

    I've got a Behringer DSP1124P so I'd Eq them for best response as I've done with the PVC enclosures.
    ARC SP9 MKIII, VPI HW19, Rega RB300
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  20. #20
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    I'm not really that worried about what my amp's or pre, or CD, turntable look like as long as the sound is accurate and clean now when it comes to speakers they have to pass the wifey test and that can get really expensive.

  21. #21
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    You could buy some esl's or other planars and then people would wonder what they are. People also have a tendency to stand right in front of them and ask "Where's the music coming from?". They do this while music is playing.
    ARC SP9 MKIII, VPI HW19, Rega RB300
    Marcof PPA1, Shure, Sumiko, Ortofon carts, Yamaha DVD-S1800
    Behringer UCA222, Emotiva XDA-2, HiFimeDIY
    Accuphase T101, Teac V-7010, Nak ZX-7. LX-5, Behringer DSP1124P
    Front: Magnepan 1.7, DBX 223SX, 2 modified Dynaco MK3's, 2, 12" DIY TL subs (Pass El-Pipe-O) 2 bridged Crown XLS-402
    Rear/HT: Emotiva UMC200, Acoustat Model 1/SPW-1, Behringer CX2310, 2 Adcom GFA-545

  22. #22
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    It is a very tempting question one Cleopatra should have ask Anthony instead of the asp! I feel the better question is - do you really need to in order to satisfy your ears unmindful of the greatly diminished balance on your savings book? I made that mistake many years ago when I didn't know exactly which between ears and stomach can give you more pleasure. It's like buying a brand new top of the line Mercedes. You plunk few thousands and in a minute the car is depreciated. The same goes with audiophiles. You keep wanting for more and the ones you are no longer happy aren't worth a thing.

  23. #23
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    I read somewhere that 75% of the cost of most commercial audio offerings went for cosmetics. I can believe that as I enjoy DIY and the price of an attractive metal case can be higher than the electronics you're stuffing into it. That's the reason Feanor likes those scraps of wood. :-)

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