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ANALYSIS: AUDIO DESIGN Home Entertainment


One manufacturer that


champions the industrial design style – saying very much that “less is more” – is Q Acoustics. The brand has followed a path of gradual reductionism in form and detailing, with products becoming cleaner


in


appearance with their character coming from simple forms and colours. Kieron Dunk, Q Acoustics’s Industrial


Designer, says a sophisticated design language telegraphs the technical competence of the company’s products… “and consumers are drawn to this.” He says: “The technical achievements of our


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products are expressed in the form and quality of the industrial design. If the appearance projects a sense of purpose and engineering competence, with no frivolous decoration, this enhances the performance and quality message. “With our own products we have seen a


gradual movement away from organic finishes towards metal glass and neutral applied finishes.” If we’re talking about the use of materials, Mr


O’Rourke points to the latest version of Ruark Audio’s R1 Bluetooth radio (picutred above – which came out at the end of last year) and rather than staying with the wooden cabinet design, the company opted for a cleaner creation and so far “it’s gone down really well with customers”, according to Mr O’Rourke. “Trends go round in circles,” he continues. “So


we’re now looking at man-made woods as I think consumers are more aware now of where their products come from.”


Music is important Mr O’Rourke goes on: “It’s important to make stuff that people want to put out on display. Our


latest products certainly give a nod to the 50s and 60s, as this aesthetic is still very much on-trend. Definitely with turntables having a bit of a renaissance – it’s cool again to have a hi-fi system on display. Back in the 60s a hi-fi system was so important in people’s lives for music, and I think music has become significant again for people in the last year.” Mr Powell adds: “When it comes to turntables, the consumer is buying into a


tangible format, nailing their colours to a mast, physically hunting down limited edition releases of their favourite albums. And, in an age of ‘digital almost everything’, a turntable’s corporeal experience chimes with the desire of many to emotionally connect with their purchases.” Also feeling nostalgic is Dan Raggett, General


Manager (Europe) at Melco Audio, who agrees that retro-styled electronics can bring back memories for users… “growing up listening to their family’s hi-fi systems when they were kids,” he says. Melco’s style is inherently Japanese – solid


engineering, straight lines and very little fuss on the front panel, with just an OLED screen and four small push buttons for navigation. Continues Mr Raggett: “When customers


hear/see ‘made in Japan’, they instantly know that high-quality materials have been used to design and develop the products. It gives them a sense of comfort that they won’t be replacing it in a year or two’s time.” Another fan of a push button is Mr O’Rourke,


who also likes tactile controls… “Sometimes touchscreen technology can feel a little bit dead,” he says, “people want that ‘click’, that recognition that you’ve done something.” Mr O’Rourke also teases that his team are


working on the next generation of Ruark Audio products, including a new R5. Mr Dunk simply adds that consumers will


March 2021 ertonline.co.uk


Sonus faber Olympica Nova III


continue to be presented with a greater variety of form, colour and function than ever before. He also confirms that Q Acoustics will “continue the reductionist path… simplifying life whilst increasing the pleasure of ownership”. It’s important for manufacturers to create that


breakthrough design that will grab customers’ attention. Mr Raggett refers to real wood finish speakers as an example, also champagne gold is “looking pretty cool again”, he says. As it happens, Melco has a special limited edition N10 45th-anniversary digital music library in this finish. Sonus faber’s Mr Cucuzza concludes: “Music is


clearly accompanying the evolution of the human race, but the way we’re listening to music evolves. We must deliver our multisensorial experience. Automotive, CI, wireless audio and home theatre are all interesting areas to grow for us.”


Top left: Ruark Audio R3. Bottom left: Q Acoustics Q Active 200. Middle: Ruark’s R1. Top right: The Q Active 200. Bottom right: The Hugo Collection from Chord Electronics.


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