I don’t have any Brand Affinity!

I am objective! I only care, 100% about quality and fidelity! I also lie.

Heh… I have an affinity to Benchmark products for a couple of reasons: they measure very well, and I like the minimalist asthetic. Based on that, I purchased several of their products with which I have been very happy with.

This post is a response to me looking at Chord products. Highly regarded products. Which are UGLY. I honestly could not have a Chord whatever with its glowing luminant blobs sitting out in the open. On the other hand, their look is distinctive, which is useful to them and appealing to some. If I liked that asthetic (and knew about them when I was building my system) I may have gone that route.

Benchmark appeals to me from the standpoint that the engineering is out front. They basically say here’s what we’ve got. It’s excellent. Like it or don’t. But they also have an asthetic; it appeals to me, but certainly not everyone.

Marketing is a powerful thing. In my personal professional career I have come to respect its value (if you’re trying to sell something). The best mouse trap doesn’t win, unless it’s marketed properly.

Who among you recognize or deny that the appearance of a piece of gear matters? How aware are you of your own biases when choosing gear?


I don’t have any brand affinity. I will swap at a drop of a hat if the product I have exhibits traits I don’t like it goes wrong and have bad support. Aesthetics are important to a degree, I feel the same about Chord, ugly devices that look like they were designed by Fisher Price or VTech. But it also above all needs to sound good to me.


I can’t say that the Zenline from iFi aren’t ugly. But they get good reviews compared to others in the same price range. So I use them. I find Chord looks UGLY. And going upward I found D’Agostino out of a Mad Max movie. But I would use them if in my price range would shine with performance.

I like Benchmark looks, only have the LA4 and for sure I never used the touch screen or the volume knob, so I would preferred just a box. But it is not only the looks. I like the Benchmark Dac but since I use HQP I probably will upgrade to a Dac recommended on signalyst website, no matter how ugly it is (I do not like the looks of Holo. Black box ok but those orange buttons wish they were black).

There are lines of gear that look terrible but it just the appearance so it is a balance. Also depends on the personal style. I tend to forget and I can live with ugly things (I have a very very ugly curtain, but it covers the widow so it is better not to have reflective surfaces. I hate carpets but I have one also for the sound). I was looking with a good friend at speakers, he hated focal sopra 2 and I know he wound never buy such. I agree that they are ugly but I would happily live with then if convinced that it is the best choice for SQ. Maybe I could live also with Nautilus that are beyond UGLY.

I do prefer just a black box, I love my NAD C 298 and if ever would diy I would do same black box for all the separates.

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I’m another who’ll claim objectivity over loyalty, but you outed my secret brand loyalty in the first post. I’m not a fan of the aesthetics, but I love the sound of Chord gear and own multiple devices.

Brand loyalty is usually weaponized by companies. Note the

A must for every McIntosh owner

Sports clubs and political parties are as bad, or worse…


I have had equipment that was just a plain box to stuff like Jeff Rolland which looks the opposite, I bought everything I own or ever have had by trying at home, if it doesn’t sound better then it goes back. No brand loyalty whatsoever.
The SME T/T I have now does not look beautiful like some do ,it is functional and well engineered and it lets my cartridge do its job, and that is why I bought it.


I have brand affinity and admit that I don’t want a huge system and speakers in my living room for years and decades that offends my design sensibilities. Plus my brand affinity is in large part based on the sound to begin with. I’m also not throwing out tens of thousands of equipment every year, so I have to be able to live with it. I don’t want a good looking system that sounds crap either, but luckily we can have both.


All my equipment lives behind smoked glass, behind my listening position, the only bit I see is the headphones

Sennheiser fan boy :smiling_imp::smiling_imp:


I’ve stuck with the Quad brand for nearly 60 years for my amps and speakers. Only once been slightly tempted to stray from my Quad ESLs to Kii 3s, but that was short-lived. I suspect my Quad setup will outlive me now.


Whilst I think the extremes of subjective ugliness would put me off (!), I’m definitely more concerned by the sound. I have a Hegel H360 which I actively chose, based on my ears, despite thinking it looks dated and fairly ugly. Likewise I now have two RME DACs which I think sound fantastic, but aren’t exactly made with consumer aesthetics as a key design goal, and have one of the most painful interfaces I have ever come across for setting the numerous options (like a central heating programmer on steroids). Speakers, though, are more of a room feature and I suspect aesthetics matter a bit more there for many of us.

Incidentally @Kelly_Burkhart , I’d be really interested to compare the Benchmark DACs side-by-side with RME’s offering, given their similar emphasis on engineering and excellent measured performance. In debating what cables to buy, I came to the view that the simplest thing to do was copy what Benchmark does, since they pretty much led the field with the AHB2.

As for brand loyalty, I’m still rooting for Lumin due to the combination of excellent support, reliability and longevity. However, ironically, at the moment I’m not actively using a Lumin product :grinning:


My ESL 63 abandoned me . They can’t cope with high altitude.

JHB is 1600m and very dry in Winter, 2 weeks after moving back here from the coast my L speaker sprung a tiny perforation, you could see it arcing with the lights out. A few weeks later the R one went the same.

Previously before moving to the coast I had 2 panels replaced , they were fine in Cape Town for 7 years , 2 weeks in JHB

SAD :weary:

I still bought Quad 21s to replace them - brand loyal …

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How’s that for Fugly?!
I had one in the 90s - I thought it was very cool

But then I also had lurid multi-coloured Dianese Storm bike leathers - I looked like a Power Ranger :sunglasses:


I’m on my fourth generation of TacT/Lyngdorf amps over 15+ years

I’ll claim to not be brand loyal though, I’m just drawn into the sound quality, room correction, 2.2 bass management, build and overall value

Front end, after vinyl was kicked into touch in the 90s, has been Marantz, Micromega, Mark Levinson, customised PCs and now SOtM

Speakers have ranged through Tannoy, Celestion (lovely SL600/6000 combo at one point) and I’ve had my Quad 2905s with Lyngdorf W210s for over 12 years


@Kelly_Burkhart @dhusky
That would be interesting


I ran across mention of the RME ADI-2 DAC FS in another post some time ago, looked it up and found myself thinking: hmmm… wish I had a need for another DAC! They do remind me of Benchmark in the way they present their products on their web page. No silly audiophile claims which immediately turn me off.


Indeed! I would need to put that behind cabinet doors…

A must for sure! :wink: I can actually see that being desirable for some people in a rack filled with all McIntosh gear to achieve the Wall Of McIntosh look.

I don’t have any problem with branding, differentiating and marketing copy that is actively trying to make you want the product (as long as they are not lying). That’s their job. Ours is to be skeptical and sensible consumers.

One of the things that drove me to investigate Benchmark in the first place are space constraints. The equipment had to fit inside my cabinet along with other existing gear and could not generate excessive heat.



Indeed, though like for example the AHB2 for Benchmark, their DAC now seems well received in both circles.

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Every time someone says “sound over optics” I suggest this


Designed by Dr. Seuss?

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Vader Abraham

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Design based on the “headphones” in my profile pic.

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