Design and sound: modernist classic, Japan's British response, “space age” cassette player and brutal Swiss

The value of design when creating modern equipment is estimated in different ways. There are people for whom the use of certain aesthetic delights does not play a significant role, as well as others who sincerely believe that audio equipment is first and foremost a piece of furniture, and only then a valuable fur sound and everything else. But, as it seems to me, the overwhelming majority of people are sincerely convinced that the form should correspond to the content. This is the first post in a new cycle about audio design.

You can not grasp the immensity and I will focus only on a few interesting developments. When choosing devices, I was guided by personal aesthetic preferences, as well as originality, unusual development (taking into account the time in which they were created). Under the cut a few words about design concepts that have left a noticeable mark in the history of audio.

Perhaps it is not a secret that some companies did not become bankrupt only thanks to talented designers, since the technical characteristics of their products leave them to be desired. In addition, it can be said with confidence that a number of technically impressive developments were not accepted by the market due to their nondescript appearance.

It is customary to think that it is necessary to look at the design of devices, and not to write about it, since we first of all perceive it visually. I set a slightly different task - to analyze the once-existing and current trends that gave impetus to development and left a noticeable mark.

Classic modern and the first concepts of the 30s - Bang & Olufsen

The Danes from Bang & Olufsen, who began their history in 1925, can be called one of the flagships of the radio industry in the third decade of the last century. The design approaches that this company used were truly innovative at that time. This concerned both form factors and other external aesthetics, and equally the use of new ideas of functional design.

The first outstanding device of Danish engineers was Musikmöbel, created as a concept in 1934. The design was designed by Peter Beng in the spirit of the Bauhaus works. Without exaggeration, this device can be considered the first, made specifically as a design concept in audio.

1938 became especially fruitful for this company. This year, Bang & Olufsen developed a unique radio Master-39CH - in which, for the first time in the world, control using buttons was used. The buttons allow you to tune in to 16 radio stations. The appearance of the device was also unusual for the 30s.

Master-39CH (unfortunately, more decent photo could not be found)

Another device of the company was the world's first radio receiver in the Beolit ​​39 bakelite case. In the 30s, traditional materials for audio equipment cases were wood, aluminum and radio fabric. The design of the device, which now seems archaic, in the 30s was a real breakthrough. Small dimensions, plastic case and smooth forms became common only in the 50s.

Beolit ​​39

Lecson - Japan's British response

By the early 1970s, European audio design seemed to have exhausted itself. The market is rapidly seized by Japanese manufacturers. However, two, later, cult figures for European audio technology created a device that showed that there is still powder in the European aesthetic powder box.

These people were the future creators of Meridian, Alan Butroyd and Bob Stewart.

In 1973, the developers created the Lecson AV1 helper paired with a pre-amplifier. The preamplifier case was unusually flat and was equipped with large convenient faders for volume control and a graphic equalizer, the tip was installed in a ribbed cylindrical case. In the same year, the developers received several awards, including in Japan. Today, Lecson components have become exhibits of the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Despite the aesthetic design, Lecson ordered to live long because of a stupid guide. Butroyd and Stewart have created their own brand - Meridian, which today is known to many music lovers. New design partners some elements reminded Lecson, but was more restrained and traditional.

Meridian 551

Weltron - stereo 8 format UFO

The first flights into space, visiting the moon caused a real genuine interest of society, which peaked in the 70s. Everything innovative, high-tech and high-quality has become associated with space. Marketers felt this moment and set the appropriate tasks for designers.

Combined player Space Age UFO

So the American company Weltron has a thematic series of equipment called Space Age. It is characteristic that the combined devices produced in this series were equipped with stereo 8 (8 Track) standard tape recorders - only the American format (that is, the devices were made only for the domestic market).

In the controversial, both from an aesthetic and technical point of view, the line was a real hit, which became popular due to the more concise design of the Weltron Space Age FM + stereo 8. The device combined a stereo 8 cassette, fm radio, small amplifier and speaker.

Today, these devices are of great interest to audio collectors in the US, the cost of some rare models of the series can reach $ 600.

Brutal vintage Nagra

The equipment, which creates the Swiss company Kudelski SA, today, perhaps, one of the most recognizable in the world. Since 1951, the release of reel-to-reel tape recorders began under the brand Nagra. Since that time, the impressive, massive forms of Nagra in chrome-plated metal shells have remained almost unchanged.

Characteristic features of amplifying equipment (the production of which began in 1997 on the wave of high demand for High End) are huge radiators, impressive toggle switches, dial gauges, tough utilitarian-militarist outlines and a lot of steel, aluminum and chrome.

Among the High End technology, the style icon for the Nagra is the PL-P preamplifier and MSA amplifier.



Despite the obvious household purpose of the devices, an incompetent person may well take these impressive units as professional equipment.


Tastes do not argue and, perhaps, to someone the components selected by me will seem not masterpieces, but freaks. I suggest that readers themselves sum up this publication and in the survey below, choose a device that impressed you more than others.


A wide range of amplifiers , receivers and other high-quality sound reproducing equipment is presented in our catalog . You can also purchase headphones, docking stations, multi-room systems and high-fidelity speaker systems with a very impressive design from us.


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