Great sound is nice, but the best stuff has to look awesome.
It wasn't that long ago that the best sounding audio gear wasn't much to look at. The designers focused almost exclusively on the sound, but in the early 2000s the engineers started to lavish attention on the way these things look. That makes sense: we live with the gear, so purposeful style and build quality can only add to the products' allure. Take for example the Devialet 120 digital amplifier.
It does it all: it has turntable and analog line inputs, USB, Ethernet, and digital coaxial, plus the new Devialet AIR Universal Streamer. Oh, and it also sounds phenomenal!
The Woo Audio WA7 ($999) is a high-performance vacuum tube headphone amplifier-digital converter. It's a pure tube design, utilizing 6C45 tubes, and I think it's one of the most exquisite designs that still comes in at an affordable price.
The VK-1 Legacy sounds sweet and weighs 7.5 ounces, a little lighter than average for this type of headphone. The US price is $500, which I don't consider expensive for a hand-crafted product.
The Avantgarde Acoustic Zero 1 wireless speakers come with built-in digital converters and power amplifiers. And since they're horn speakers, they deliver extreme dynamic range and razor-sharp stereo imaging.
The Abyss AB-1266 is arguably the most extreme headphone in the world. The Audiophiliac thinks it is, by a large margin, the best-sounding headphone you can buy.
The Extrema is a special limited-edition speaker from Sonus Faber. It's hand crafted in Italy, and like all of the company's designs, the Extrema advances the state of the art.
Dan D'Agostino is a legendary American electronics designer that made his name as a founder of Krell Industries in the early 1980s. Now, with his new company he's topping his best earlier works.
This picture of the Tri-Planar U12 shows the back end of this meticulously designed, machined, and crafted tonearm. It's a popular 'arm for the audiophile cognoscenti.
This French-made, 55-watt x 2 solid-state amplifier has the look, feel, and sound of a luxury product.
The Viola Crescendo preamplifier's chassis is milled from a solid billet of aircraft-grade aluminum. It sounds as good as it looks.