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Where are the truly beautiful speakers?

The Sonus Faber Amati Futura, an Italian beauty

(Credit: Sonus Faber)

Go to any hi-fi show and you'll see room after room filled with the latest and greatest-sounding speakers, but chances are you won't come away from the experience captivated by brilliant designs. I sometimes wonder if the audio industry will ever get its act together and make speakers you don't have to be an audiophile to love.

Extreme cars, like Ferraris and Lamborghinis, arouse strong, positive reactions from people who would never buy or even drive them, but high-end audio speakers rarely achieve that sort of admiration. My best guess as to why that's so is that truly beautiful audiophile speakers are rare. Or to put it another way, do you have to be an audiophile to think speakers are beautiful? Granted, if you're already an audiophile you might be predisposed to view large speakers in a positive light and see their form as part of their function. For nonaudiophiles, size is definitely a factor, in the opposite direction: the smaller a speaker is, the easier it is to fit into the average person's living space.

Really tiny speakers like the Boston Acoustics SoundWare XS 5.1 visually "disappear," but that's not what I'm talking about. Tiny boxes aren't beautiful, they're merely small. I'm thinking mor... [Read more]

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