Concept: An 80s Stereo for 2016

Posted on January 4, 2016
Updated January 19, 2018

How great were those all-in-ones from the 80s – boxy, metallic, tactile and fun. I’d love to bring them back, but what would change?


This conceptual illustration shows what kind of stereo I’d make if I had the chance. Simple, sleek and solid and heavy – all metal and glass. Illuminated with neon hot-pink where the chance present itself.

In case this looks like 3d modelling to you, it’s done purely in 2d with gradients and embossing to add depth.

The front facing speakers in this design are for the majority of the tonal range, with tweeters pointing out the side, seen in profile, for wider stereo definition. A subwoofer would boom out the back somewhere, ensuring a full sound. A solid, wide-holed metal grate covers the front speaker. The speakers are also detachable for more stereo spread.


The CD would be opened from the top and be like an old record player cover made of glass. A simple digital display for tracks, with advanced programming on the remote and accompanying app. Big, friendly, flat buttons.


Simple EQ adjustments happen via bass and treble controls, with the ability to tweak through the five band EQ. What 80s stereo could be without them?

The cassette player would be a glass opening, and the tape cavity would be backlit with a soft neon glow.


Bars indicate volume levels for headphones and microphone input.


I’ll give you a peek into the illustration process, which happened in Affinity Designer (a mac-only Illustrator/photoshop alternative), versions presented earliest to last:

I originally wanted to do an exact version of a 1980 model my dad owned – but I couldn’t find it online.


I decided to go with a dark, neon, hot-pink theme.


I created the elements without much thought as to their arrangement, then was left in a pickle.


It was decided that any stereo in the 2010s should have a CD player. It would still fit nicely with the 80s theme (CD players just snuck into the 80s anyway).


Labouring over details now… One thing that bothered me was the lack of tweeters on the speaker – removed for a more pleasing, symmetrical front face.  See the finished images for the side-facing solution. Also, I decided a top mounting CD player would be better in a clear pop-top, that you would open like an old record-player top. And finally, I realised there were no mic/phones jacks!