Giant stereos are everywhere—on the shoulders of cool 90s teens, in the living rooms of finance fat cats, and on the stages of face-melting electronic shows. Even though we have iPods and discreet speakers now, awesome huge systems haven't gone anywhere.


About 140 years before everyone became a DJ, Thomas Edison accidentally invented the phonograph.

Photo: Keystone/Getty Images


In the early 1900s, artist Luigi Russolo created this "noise machine" for his futurist symphonies. Every time adults call a teenager's music "noise," Russolo's legacy lives on.

Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images


Back in 1926, the USDA was in on the giant stereo game, as you can see from this photo of bug scientist W.J. Walton.

Photo: Topical Press Agency/Getty Images


This guest at the UK's 1947 National Radio Exhibition, in Olympia, is shocked at the size and sound coming out of the HMV machine—it had a record player, pop up TV, and two speakers.

Photo: Topical Press Agency/Getty Images


In 1965, stereos had to be big. It takes a lot of cabinet to fit a tuner, receiver, speakers and a record player. Better make it stylish.

Photo: Three Lions/Getty Images


This 1960s set up seems giant, but it was made for a doll house.

Photo: diepuppenstubensammlerin


This is a 1974 advertising photo for a Zenith Allegro F736W Quadrille system. It's not, actually, a photo from the set of Austin Powers.

Photo: magazine scan


More contemporary styles can still have classic aesthetics—Arcadian Audio's Pnoe Horn is inspired by an upside-down tuba.

Photo: Arcadian Audio


The Avant Garde trio shows design cues from the earliest phonographs.

Photo: Avantgarde Acoustic


Others borrow styles from different industries—the speaker outputs of this aluminum and carbon fiber Pagani system come out of a tail pipe. Not surprising, since it's designed by a car maker.

Photo: Pagani


There's a reason the Pivetta Opera One, a six-foot monster that weighs half a ton, looks like it first appeared on a space ship—the outside is made of aeronautic aluminum.

Photo: Only Creative


The 1980s were an apex for giant stereo design. Gemme Audio's Vflex Katana Itokawa is a more recent model, but you can easily imagine it in Patrick Bateman's living room from American Psycho.

Photo: Gemme Audio


This crazy sound system cost around $1.4 million and has an output of 40,000 watts. Enough to knock your face right off your head.

Photo: Jan Bauer/AP


Wouldn't you love to have this Wilson Mezzo set in your home? It's more accessible than the $1.4 million system, but you'll still need more than $10,000 to get it.

Photo: Wilson Audio


This A Capella machine goes by the name Excalibur. How could it not?

Photo: Acapella


This two-channel system is designed by five different Swedish companies. You won't find it in Ikea.

Photo: Swedish Statement


Magico's Ultimate II has 200-watt amplifiers, measures seven and a half feet tall, and weighs 800 pounds.

Photo: Magico


Gargantuan stereos are still a big business. Shown last week at the Gothenburg Show, the Wilson Sasha is one of the most pleasant new ways to blow out your ear drums.

Photo: Wilson Audio/Facebook


But even some contemporary models maintain a classic aesthetic. The DaVinci Audio Reference Turntable Mk II, currently one of the highest-fidelity turntables in the world, looks like it came straight out of the 1960s. But it's actually just a year old.

Photo: DaVinciAudio

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Image credit: dual.pytalhost.eu

Image/research curation by Attila Nagy