Why is black so popular for components?

A current post about the looks of gear got me thinking. How did black become the most popular color for audiophile gear? I can see it being popular for home theater where the gear might be at the front of a room where you want it as dark as possible but black was the color of choice well before home theater. Maybe it is as simple as people just like it but if that were the case I would think it would also be the most popular in other consumer items such as motor vehicles.  I remember when I wasn’t always fortunate to have a dedicated stereo room and my wife would ask me why I purchased black equipment because she thought it was ugly and I agreed with her but usually, I had no choice.  For manufacturers offering additional colors may be costlier but I am willing to pay for it. Fortunately , some companies that I like offer silver usually in the face plates which works for me. Odyssey Audio has numerous color options available for their faceplates for a nominal fee but as far as I know they are an exception.  A lot of speaker manufacturers offer different colors which is great, especially if you have to place them in a communal space like a living room.  So in summary why did black become the color for stereo gear ? How many of you would prefer color options?

I think that the reason is neutrality, same as silver. I do think that more companies should offer colors though. There are many customers who would welcome that individual personalization. Sugden offers several anodized colors on the A21 integrated amp. I had a blue one which was really beautiful.
They use to paint stuff with a "TYPE" of black to dissipate heat quicker.

Come to find out it built HIGHER very quickly, THEN cooled very quickly also... That idea came and went.. Now powder coating is really nice...
Carbon fiber, all kinds of goodies, now..

Looks Nice... The old Macs, the Art Deco look, Black and chrome.. I love it..

I have a Cary, Jaguar Burgundy. Very nice when it's all polished up..

24K Gold plated, MC60 cases, STUNNING... I have a pair..

Just stunning.

Best plating money could buy at the time.. Now I need to anodize the HUGE old style Power supply cap cans. I think a darker red.  The transformer covers and bottom part of the case.  I haven't figured that. Maybe a mat black, (simi gloss) like the new transformer covers on the new Macs... I just need to do up some MC60 gold plated logos. Lost my source on that one.. Been working on that pair 5 years...

If it's common for people to get multiple components, or to swap out components, then a common color between units or even between brands makes that easier. Not everyone cares about matching, but some do, and avoiding a feature which would be a dealbreaker for a segment of your market is better for your bottom line.
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It must be cost, and like the OP I too would pay extra for different finishes.

Anything but black. And no sharp corners either.

Looking back I'd say the late 1970s were the period for the most stylish designs.

Remember those Japanese tuners and tapedecks with their beautiful backlit VU metres and displays?

This chap certainly does, and also offers a decent impression of the human riff himself, 'Keef' Richards.


Audiofiles. Can you hear a sound improvement (straight away)?

It is probably based on marketing studies. I like black because my system doubles as a theater and you do not want anything reflection lights.
There are companies that beg to differ. Accuphase does gold and I think their stuff is very attractive. 
Because it looks nicer than magenta, yellow, and cyan.   Not to mention blends into most decors easier than red, blue or green.

White, black, and all shades of grey in between are where its at baby.   Ask any home decorator.
In fashion they have a saying, adapted here to answer your question:
Black is the new chrome.
Chrome is the new brushed aluminum.
Brushed aluminum is the new wood.
I miss the old battleship-grey NAD pieces.

I don't know why more manufacturers didn't adopt a similar color.
Silver is much better looking all my stuff is silver except for my XIBEX Platinum.
black anodization is the only functional color or tone when it comes to anodizing.

Colors are difficult to affect to the same tonality when repeated, and they are subject to fading as they are all basically dyes.

thus no set of ’purple’ components will ever be the same tonality of purple, nor will they fade at the same rate or end up looking like the same purple in their various aspects of individual aging. Same for cyan, blue, red, green, orange, magenta, and any other color that can be anodized into existence.

Black is a dye but the dye is opaque.

One leaves the object or faceplate in the dye long enough and it emerges as a uniform black. same for all others that are dyed back via anodization. the tonalities match well, as they don’t deal with color, just shades.

So, when making audio gear and one is a neophyte, the maker of the chassis (CNC and anodization, all the machining,etc).. has to explain all of this to you.

That for sheer functional effectiveness in the market, there is only one color, and it is black.

Everything else, all colors and so on...are a non-repeatable variable.

the only other one that works, is at the other end of the spectrum, which is clear anodization.

So you get two choices, silver and black.

Faceplates that are metal and painted, like the NAD stuff, are subject to chipping damage. Which most of them have. So that's not a solution, either.
If I was buying an all in one and it was the only piece than I would take a color otherwise black or silver to match everything else. I would add white as an option but as pointed out, that's paint not anodized. I would prefer my heatsinks painted, they work much better than just anodized even black.
When I decided to dip into digital waters with a Mytek Brooklyn Bridge, Music Direct had a silver one at a special price. Apparently, they can't sell silver ones to save their lives. In any case, it doesn't matter to me that it's my only silver component. It is gorgeous. It complements my otherwise sober rack of components in a most elegant way.
Come to think of it. I have a 3300, and Thirty Three Marantz (pair) of preamps..  That is one great look.. Brushed Aluminum.  Kenwood, Pioneer, Sansui, and Marantz.. Slides, pots and switches for everything..
TONE control.. On all of them.. yup..

The reason they’re all black today is retribution for all the years of the ruling patriarchy oppression of white kitchen appliances. So now, you guessed it, black is the new white.
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North American standard for companies is black, what the majority want, so they say. Unlike Europe or Japan were Champagne or Silver is more popular for that "exotic look"...
I forgot to ad to my post, prime example, I tried to get my Marantz Ruby in Champagne finish and not a chance according to the Distributor in Canada, North America can only get black and Europe and other countries had the option of both finishes.
I recall reading something in a design journal, several decades ago, that black was associated with "professional" equipment, beginning in the early 60's. They referenced both chrome and black Nikons, Canon's and Leica's.

In the 70's, higher end separates, from mainstream companies like Technics, Kenwood and Sansui, would have black faceplates while their  receivers were generally available only in silver.
Indeed I recall it was associate with "pro" equipment. Black, rack-mounted equipment was big in the 80's, and black became almost universal in the 90's. This ruined it for me, it became associated with cheap, mass market stuff in my mind. I know that is just a perception, but I can't shake the association.
Yep, Motown and mikey99 are correct. When first introduced for retail , most manufacturers had the option of silver or black, but eventually , that went away. 
I used to prefer silver, now I prefer black. Small blemishes are not as noticeable.

To start is was due to cost, heat, and what was available due to technology . Ayre components are silver because they are brushed aluminum. If you wanted a black anodized finish it was a $400 option but the remote is still going to be silver if the remote is aluminum. My Denon Receiver and SACD player were silver by choice. I have a mix of black and silver. A lot of companies are now mixing the two like Rotel, NAD, and  Mark Levenson. The only thing I prefer is blue lights on everything or give me a choice for the led color. I prefer silver or grey vehicles. Even my Ferrari was anthracite or metallic grey with deep red interior very nice. I had a black car and it is impossible to keep clean. 
Black for me, BECAUSE I can see the dust more easily... therefore I keep it cleaner.

Also, Black is more uniform. As someone in the printing business, I know that blacks are much more easily matched and stable in color. Whites are the most difficult to match, followed by colors... all of which can change with time and exposure to light.

Having several components that are intended to be the same colors results in a mishmash of non-matching colors...like you failed or couldn’t see the difference...like the poor fellow driving a car that has had body work done and the fender doesn’t quite match the front door and neither of them match the quarter panel.

Silver is pretty, but there are a lot of different ways to obtain that color...natural, polished or natural, machined, anodized, lacquered, even painted😱. All of which look different.

I once had a Rotel power amp that had Black "heat sinks" on either side of a silver anodized front panel. Pretty clever...like blue jeans, it went with everything.

Maybe it’s just the audiophile’s equivalent of a woman’s need to have all parts of an outfit match or compliment each other?

All said.... the sound comes first!
Remember when, in the 1980s, silver audio components suddenly became unobtainable? You'd have thought Henry "any color so long as it's black" had been put in charge. Well, I HATE any product, audio or otherwise, that is both black and (theoretically) functional. BECAUSE THE BUTTONS ARE FUCKING INVISIBLE -- BLACK ON BLACK! I literally need a flashlight to find the controls. Never have I understood how consumers manage to tolerate the Great Audio Blackwash. These days I'm down to only two black components: a stereo tuner and a cassette player. The cassette is rarely used, and the tuner is set permanently to NPR. These are black for the simply reason that SILVER IS NOT AVAILABLE in tuners (the NAD is the last one on the market -- comes in black only, of course), and cassette players haven't been made since I turned 30. So hooray for Schiit, Cambridge, Parasound, Rogue, PrimaLuna, Aurender & others that offer silver components with classic styling. The Yggy even has rounded corners, like the old Peachtree Grand Pre. But I repeat: it's not JUST looks; it's function, baby. If I can't see it, it doesn't exist.
For eons all my kit was black, but about two years ago I began a move to silver for electronics and natural wood finishes (especially cherry) for speakers.

My favorite receiver brand is Marantz and the US market only gets black but I wanted silver.  I finally found one on Amazon UK and the price was still competitive despite shipping and the required power converter. 

I've often wondered if WAF was the reason for all the black. The spend would be grudgingly agreed with with a provisor to make it "disappear. Hence the black!

I'm going with "it makes all those nice lights pretrier" theory.  Darken the room and all the indicator lights look like they are floating in mid air.   I actually put adjustable brightness LED strips hidden above the system and when they are on red & low brightness it looks awesome.  Space ship control panel awesome.  Play some jazz & it's sexy awesome.  
I was gonna order plaid but it won't be available until the 2022 models come out.
I'll echo what I think most are implying: It's the current trend. I also agree with what folk are saying about APAC in that they prefer gold tones. I had an SP3 in the gold color. It never bothered me enough to trigger my OCD  though. Same with my CJ Premier 6 that's gold as was most CJ gear. (Likely to stand out from competing ARC gear. :) I admit I'd love to get one of the Taiwan-only ARC SP10's in gold as I think they look stunning... But it's all kind of moot for me. You see, my wife asked kindly if I could conceal my gear somehow as it lives in the living room...No worries! So I custom spec'ed a large Ikea amoire and except for the ARC VS110, it all happily lives in there. I usually keep it closed even when playing which helps with isolation. 
Cheers all!
In 1973, when I started out in HiFi, there was considerable variation in the color scheme of products.  Yamaha launched their line with a brushed aluminum, a clean new look, and that became trendy, with Pioneer particularly following...albeit with less design detail.  A few years later, Nikko launched the first all black line. Sansui had black amps and tuners earlier, but not receivers. My recollection is that Nikko marketing tried to associate their image with the precision and pro credibility of Nikon F series cameras.  Anyway it took off and soon, as hickamore states black was all but ubiquitous. 
As has been said before, loudspeakers should be offered with not only different finishes but different coloured grilles. 

I used to have a pair of Tannoy speakers with silver grilles and they disappeared quite well against the white wallpaper behind them. I'm certain that helped with the perception of imagery.

With loudspeakers I think it's especially important because they are the item the most likely to be directly in constant line of sight. 

This is certainly a weird subject because with LEDs I'm fine with red or green, yet not too keen on blue! 

Now there's another point, do most listeners listen with eyes open or with eyes shut? 
Thanks guys! Except for the usual and tiring frat boys attempt at humor there has been some excellent responses. I didn’t even think about pro gear but it makes sense. I can remember buying black equipment that had side pieces for rack mounting. Even then I thought it was ugly.
There is a very good reason why you probably don't like blue. In a dark room our eyes become much more sensitive to blue light and biologically blue light is what triggers our glare response.

Yes, I think you're right. Blue kind of makes me a little too alert. Doesn't help to get that 'mellow mood' established.

Whereas the green light Arcam used on their 7 integrated amp was fine. Almost hypnotic.

I'd say that I tend to use music for relaxation above anything else.

Come to think of it, is there any audio component that's as easy on the eyes as a tube amp? Some of them look beautiful even before any music is being played.

Maybe it's something to do with race memory, you know all those centuries of our ancestors sitting around glowing fires.
I have a Yamaha DSP-A1 Integrated amp done in Champagne Gold with Rosewood (fake) side panels, which to me is gorgeous! Lettering in black is easy to see. An aside, the lighting is in yellow, which unless you're in a cave, can not be seen at all in daylight. 
Good thread, interesting to boot!
My guess is that black is less noticeable. The last 3 pieces I bought were silver-I wanted a change.
@cd318, that is from melatonin suppression which blue light also does. It keeps you awake.

cd3181,366 posts11-12-2020 2:40pm@audio2design,

Yes, I think you're right. Blue kind of makes me a little too alert. Doesn't help to get that 'mellow mood' establishe

The color Black will hide a multitude of sins.
What does that mean? It's cheaper.
Owned my last black speaker or component.
Left with Walnut and silver.