Most wireless speakers are slick, smooth, shiny, and almost colorless. If you covered up logos in a store full of speakers, it would be difficult to tell one minimalist cube or sphere from the next. 

But, recently, designers have been rolling out products with more varied designs, some of them based on early radios and mid-20th century guitar amps. To my eye, at least, these retro speakers come as a visual relief from their competitors. An example is a line of speakers I recently previewed from Como Audio, a new company headed by Tom DeVesto, who earlier founded Tivoli Audio and Cambridge Soundworks.

The company's Duetto, shown below, and Solo speakers are built into wooden boxes, where the grain and texture of the material are highlighted. They come in several wood finishes, including walnut and hickory, as well as a high-gloss white-lacquer finish, for those who do prefer a space-age look.

Retro speakers make a great Father's Day Gift. Here, the Como Audio wireless speaker.
The Como Audio Duetto wireless speaker, $400.
Photo: Terry Sullivan

But the modestly retro design has benefits beyond the visual. Como speakers use prominently displayed buttons and controls, which I found pleasing to use. Many other speakers have recessed or hard-to-see controls that give the impression that the manufacturers would prefer for you to use their mobile apps.  

The Como Audio speakers are too new for us to have test results, and I'd never recommend speakers just on looks and controls, before carefully evaluating their sound quality. But a number of other retro speakers are already in the Consumer Reports ratings. And these make appealing gift ideas for Father's Day. Here are some of my favorites. 

This is a wireless speaker with a retro design by Fluance.

Fluance Fi50, $200: We not only liked the woodgrain finish and the LED display on this model, but also how it sounded. This large and retro-looking Bluetooth wireless home speaker delivers very good sound quality, and it's a Recommended Best Buy. The speaker was very easy to use and comes with analog audio inputs in addition to its wireless technology.

This is a wireless speaker with a retro design by Grace Digital.

Grace Digital GDI-BTSP201, $180: One thing we really liked about this model is that it's sold as a pair of wireless speakers, which means you’re paying just $90 per speaker. Although these aren’t CR-Recommended models, they do provide good sound quality and are very easy to use. The speakers are offered in black, white, or red vinyl finishes, which give them a 1970s look.

This is a wireless speaker with a retro design by Marshall Kilburn.

Marshall Kilburn, $300: This Bluetooth portable wireless speaker from Marshall Kilburn has a similar design to the company's well-known guitar amps, although this speaker does not feature a guitar input. We found the controls to be clearly labeled and were easy to access. But most importantly, this model topped our portable wireless speaker Ratings: It delivers good sound quality and is easier to use than most models in our ratings.

This is a wireless speaker with a retro design by House of Marley.

House of Marley Roots Rock, $130: The portable speaker is housed in a bag-style enclosure that features an adjustable shoulder strap, bamboo side panels, and a fabric cover that can fold and snap to form a stabilizing stand. It looks like a small, trendy piece of luggage. Although the overall product didn't score quite as well as the top-rated speakers in our Ratings, it provides good sound quality and was easy to use. Plus, it's about $50 to $100 cheaper than many portable wireless speakers.

This is a wireless speaker with a retro design by Edifier.

Edifier MP700, $230: This portable Bluetooth speaker from Edifier has a stylishly designed, exotic looking grill exterior. It's not a CR-Recommended model, But it still delivers good sound quality. And although it’s not very large, it provides enough volume to fill a medium- or large-sized room.