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? You can post your thoughts on our forum at by clicking here