Anyone try Synergistic Research PHT...


transducers on their cartridge/headshell? Wondering if this really improves sound, and which type do you use. Thanks.
hiendmuse
I have read several glowing subjective "reviews" of this item, and I will predict that you will be swamped with similar. If you can arrange a "free home trial", it seems a reasonable thing to try. But I don't know any scientific evidence that supports the theory, such as it is, behind these devices. This makes me a skeptic. Some of the claims are so excessive as to be beyond my belief. Listener bias is huge, once one has paid good money for a tweak.
Beautifully stated, Lewm.
'Listener bias is huge, once one has paid good money for a tweak.'

Quote of the year Lewm!!
I do not have a turntable so I won't be able to comment on the performance of the pht. However I do have and use SR. products. I have read a few comments on these and so far none of the skeptics have actually used them. The PHT and most other SR. products come with a 30 day money back period. The way I see it the only thing you have to loose is your bias.
I actually own a turntable and I actually own the PHT! Yes, they do what they claim. I'm not crazy. There is a 30 day money back guarantee if you don't agree. I sent back the SR RED fuses for a refund because I didn't hear a significant difference.
"11-17-14: Philb7777
'Listener bias is huge, once one has paid good money for a tweak.'

Quote of the year Lewm!!"

The only problem with that quote of the year is you don't have any evidence to back it up. Now, if you are looking for examples of the opposite, you'll have no problem finding them right here on Audiogon. People are always complaining that they overpaid for something that doesn't make any difference at all.
Zd542, The idea of observer (in this case "listener") bias is much older than this discussion. It has long been taken as a given in the design of any study that involves opinion or human judgement of any kind and that purports to be "scientific". When you then add the fact that one has paid for the device under scrutiny, the bias factor is only compounded. We are all guilty of it; one cannot divorce one's judgement from subconscious bias. Thus you could say I disagree with your premise that listener bias is not a big factor in the formulation of opinions put forth in this and many other forums. That said, please note that it was not I who claimed that my quote was the quote of the year. Quote of the year was not my goal, but thanks for that, Phil.

I did see that SR has a 30-day return policy. In that case, it cannot hurt to try out a PHT. As I understand it, the PHT is some sort of weak magnet. One might also make a similar device for much less than $200 and give it a try. It is also said to weigh only one milligram, although it appears to be heavier than that. Thus it won't add significantly to effective mass.

Sbayne, I own 5 turntables and about 8 tonearms and 15 or so cartridges. I listen exclusively to vinyl. Digital only if I want to read a book or need background music for a party. OK? One thing I notice as regards Tweaks like this; the early adopters become very defensive and sensitive to criticism of the Tweak per se. It's nothing personal.
The point is there is no "listener bias" when you can return the item for a full refund. Like I did with the SR RED fuses. This is true for any product you buy that can be returned. If I bought a vacuum at Target and decided it didn't work as claimed then I simply return it. There is no bias there. I would only try to rationalize the purchase if "I'm stuck with it." My other comments are directed towards the fact I own the PHT. Nothing personal, but its easy to dismiss something you have never tried.
Sbayne, do you have the Blue Velvet or the Purple Haze version, and how does it improve performance versus listening to the same cart without it?
Sbayne, how is it attached - did you check to see how much it added in weight and did you make adjustments for such.
Sbayne, I am not dismissing the PHT. In fact, I wrote above that since one can have a 30-day trial period, I'd support the decision to give it a shot. Glad your happy with the PHT; as I also said in my first post, I do know that others besides yourself are also pleased with it. I am a skeptic by nature, when it comes to accepting anything on faith alone.

Oh, and not to beat a dead horse, but I do not agree that there is no listener bias, if one can return the item under review. There is ALWAYS subconscious bias of one kind or another in any subjective judgement. Someone like me is probably biased against hearing a beneficial effect, in fact. I did not think power cords could possibly make any difference to the sound of an electrostatic speaker (connecting the ESL bias supply to AC), until I finally did a listening test in my own system; I was wrong. However, what I found was that sonics only poorly correlated, if at all, with cost of the AC cord.
Hiendmuse - I have both the Blue and the Purple. I've used them on my ZuAudio 103 and various Grado Statement and Reference cartridges. The Blue is more to my liking since it presents a more fluid and spacious soundstage. The Purple is more defined and focused which may sound better in a different system or to a person looking for a different presentation. They do slightly change the tracking force of your cartridge so you will want to check that after application.

Lewm - Fair enough and thanks for the cordial response.
Thank you Sbayne.
Dev, According to the SR website, weight of the PHT = ".001 gm" = 1 mg.
Thus there should be very little effect on tonearm effective mass and only a small adjustment of VTF is necessary after installation. I guess it "sticks" to the body of the cartridge due to magnetics. A theoretical question I have is how can this device INCREASE the intensity of the magnetic field in the gap between the coil and the cartridge magnet? (This is the mechanism by which it is said to work.) Normally, placing a magnetic object within the field of a permanent magnet would weaken its magnetic field. At least this appears to be the case empirically.
Lewm- where in the world did you get the idea that the PHT is magnetic? It is not, so therefore your question about increasing the magnetic field intensity is moot. No manufacturer that I know of would design and market an add on magnet for use with ALL types of cartridges- MM, MI, or MC. The PHT is a mechanical/acoustic transducer ( granted an extremely small MICRO transducer). I have used it with Lyra (MC), Ortofon (MC), Soundsmith (MI), and Benz (MC) cartridges and I can absolutely verify that it does make a discernable impact on the sound quality of the analog playback.
"11-18-14: Lewm
Zd542, The idea of observer (in this case "listener") bias is much older than this discussion. It has long been taken as a given in the design of any study that involves opinion or human judgement of any kind and that purports to be "scientific". When you then add the fact that one has paid for the device under scrutiny, the bias factor is only compounded. We are all guilty of it; one cannot divorce one's judgement from subconscious bias. Thus you could say I disagree with your premise that listener bias is not a big factor in the formulation of opinions put forth in this and many other forums. That said, please note that it was not I who claimed that my quote was the quote of the year. Quote of the year was not my goal, but thanks for that, Phil."

Reading my post again, I think I could have done a better job explaining my point. I'm not saying that listening bias doesn't happen, I just don't think it can be applied in the manner that you suggest. Look at this once more.

'Listener bias is huge, once one has paid good money for a tweak.'

What type of bias? Lets say 2 people that are financially equal (they make about the same money), buy the same expensive tweak. One person can have an attitude like "For $xxx amount of money, this new tweak should really make my system sound great", while the next person may say "$xxx is an awful lot of money, I hope this damn tweak works.". Both are legitimate examples of how listening bias may be a factor in ones judgement of a particular tweak, but they're practically opposite views. Since we don't have any idea of an individual's personality traits, I don't see how any accurate and responsible judgement/recommendation can be made. We don't have any where near enough info, and even if we did, are we qualified to make assessments of this nature? So, my position in all this is to just not go there. To me, it seems like you can do just as much harm, as good, by bringing psychology into all this.

"That said, please note that it was not I who claimed that my quote was the quote of the year. Quote of the year was not my goal, but thanks for that, Phil."

OK. I do note that you didn't ask for quote of the year. Fair enough. But I also note that you thank Phil for calling it quote of the year. This is interesting. Phil's comment may bias your future posts. The question I have, is will this positive reinforcement effect your accuracy? Maybe you'll just guess more often because you subconsciously judge yourself more knowledgeable, or maybe you'll do more research before answering posts due to the new burden placed on you in winning quote of the year. Phil, I'm hoping you keep track of his progress and give us some updates on which direction he's headed. Its all up to you now.
JWPstayman, Pardon me, if I was incorrect in my assumption that the PHT is itself a tiny magnet. However, I did not make that up; I read it somewhere during my effort to research this product. If I am wrong, a thousand pardons.

Now, as to your contention that it is a "transducer", please tell me how or in what way it can be a transducer. It is not even electrically connected in the audio pathway, so I must wonder about that.

Zd542, I assume your long post is tongue in cheek. Good one. But my next post will contain the Quote of the Century. Ad astra per aspera! (Or something like that.)
"Zd542, I assume your long post is tongue in cheek. Good one. But my next post will contain the Quote of the Century. Ad astra per aspera! (Or something like that.)"

Yes, I was definitely kidding. But only the last part of my post. I really don't see how you can use psychology, like listening bias, in any useful way, unless its under special circumstances. We just don't get enough info in these posts, or have the ability, to effectively use it.
All I say is that there IS observer bias, and it works in a major way to affect our sense of things. Where did I say that I can measure it or know for sure the degree to which it has affected a review? If you thought I meant to say that, or anything like that, you are mistaken. But just because we cannot fathom someone else's observer bias does not negate its effect on his or her review or opinion. Having said that, is it not logical that spending a substantial sum of money to purchase a device would tend to cause the buyer to be subconsciously biased in favor of the device? Thus I think cost has a predictable effect on subconscious bias. Likewise, the color and feel of an object will affect our perceptions of it. (For example, is the faceplate gold, silver, or black? Is it made of really thick heavy metal or flimsy looking? Are the knobs "really cool"? Any or all of such factors may affect one's opinion of the sonics, up or down.) So, here is how I use the notion of observer bias as regards audio: I take anyone else's opinion of an audio device with a large grain of salt. If ten out of ten knowledgeable listeners agree, then I might sit up and take notice of the device, or ignore it, depending upon the consensus of a quorum of persons I trust.
"Where did I say that I could measure it or know for sure the degree to which it has affected a review?"

In your first post. I never said you could measure it or know for sure, but you appear to be implying, in a strong manner, your prediction that there will be a positive bias.

"11-17-14: Lewm
I have read several glowing subjective "reviews" of this item, and I will predict that you will be swamped with similar."

Read down a bit further, and you get to your famous quote, that implies the positive reaction is due to listening bias. Just to be clear, I'm not saying that can't or doesn't happen, I'm saying that a positive reaction in the above example is not the only reaction. The reaction could just as easily be negative. We just don't know. Why get so worked up over the whole issue?
I've been watching this thread in amazement and quite surprised in the emotional outcries it caused, which was unintended on my part.

Well, I tried the blue velvet PHT today. The device weighed around 0.015g. I heard no discernible difference at all. Had a friend of mine blind me and put the device on and off without my knowing which was which. We did not account for its weight effect on VTF due to the changing out sequence. Cart was a Dyna XV-1t. We then did it on my friends system too on a Lyra Atlas. Same result - no appreciable difference in sound. Bottom line is when you have your cart dialed in properly, I'm doubting one would even desire a tweak such as the PHT. At least the blue one. Of course, everyone's system and listening preferences (and probably bias too) will vary.
Philb7777 - I assume you are returning the PHT - I would if I were you. However, I also know all of my turntables/cartridges are/were set-up probably and I stand by my earlier comments on tracking force, the Blue vs. Purple and listener "bias".
"Of course, everyone's system and listening preferences (and probably bias too) will vary." You forgot aural acuity, critical listening aptitude/experience, familiarity with real instruments/vocals in a live venue and(perhaps) ear wax. There are a plethora of variables! Synergistic offers a money-back satisfaction guarantee. Any Dollar-induced bias should be subtracted from the opinion equation, as it won't cost you anything, not to like it. Then again; those with the preconceived notion that it can't possibly make any difference, already have a built-in, set in concrete, bias against such tweaks.
"Then again; those with the preconceived notion that it can't possibly make any difference, already have a built-in, set in concrete, bias against such tweaks."

Yes, but in a case like that, you are moving away from what we are discussing here with listening bias and moving into other areas. A view like that is more of a ego/personality issue. I think its likely that someone with such an extreme position, can hear a difference, but will not admit it. You don't see too many people like that here on Audiogon, which is why I like this site over the others. The other sites are overrun with that type of thinking. They call themselves objectives. I call them super subjective. If we had this same discussion on a site like Hydrogen Audio, they would have shut it down after the first couple of posts and kicked us all off. lol.
Phil, Thanks for relating your real-world experience. I was surprised to learn that your PHT weighed .015gm (=15mg), as I thought I saw a stat on the SR website of .001gm, for the PHT, albeit that seemed too low to be true. (Here I do not mean to say that SR is deceptive or duplicitous about the weight of the PHT. More than likely this is my own error in interpreting what I read.) In any case, even 15mg is nothing to worry about as regards altering tonearm effective mass or VTF. I personally have had the experience of going in to a listening test with a decided negative bias and coming out with a different opinion entirely. It may well be that when one expects to hear no difference, then the tiniest difference may register with more sensitivity than would otherwise be the case. (This was the question of whether power cords make a difference to the sound of an ESL [electro-static loudspeaker]. I thought surely they would not, but I was very surprised to discover that they do indeed, at least in my system with my pair of Sound Lab ESLs. But one of the two best sounding PCs were the hardware store grade cords supplied by the manufacturer. Cost of the PC was no correlate of "goodness" to my ears. The only nearly "bad" sounding PCs were as costly as any of the 4-5 pairs I got together for my test.)
I think blinded listening removes a great deal of bias. And I agree with everyone, bias is bidirectional, for liking or disliking sound. The money back guarantee (it was my friends purchase of the PHT) helps removing bias as there is nothing to lose but the hassle of returning a product and requesting money back.

Just to give another example: I went to audition a pair of loudspeakers 300 mi away. I really wanted to like them before driving and listening and was prepared to purchase. After auditioning, I was less than blown away and drove home empty handed. I wanted and was ready for a purchase that day. I had a preconceived bias from reading the reviews and internet that I would love these speakers. Despite that bias, I didn't.

By the way Lewm, the PHT does appear to have some magnetic properties. When resting it on my digital tracking force gauge, it made the baseline fluctuate before ever touching the weighing platform. It also has some weak magnetic attraction to another magnet. The perceivable change in sound some may hear are if ones cantilever isn't precisely in the plane of the carts internal magnetic field. This PHT would have an effect on the carts magnets, maybe aligning things better. This may explain the lack of effect on both my friends and my cart - both are new with < 200 hours on them. I imagine that the PHT may have more effect on well-loved carts with several hundred hours on them. Just a guess though.....
Sbayne, it was my friends purchase and I think he will be returning the PHT. We just simply couldn't notice a difference switching back and forth, each of us blinded, between with and without the Blue Velvet PHT. If anything, although both of us skeptical, we both actually wanted to hear a difference. Who wouldn't want improvement in sound for that low a price and the ease of application of the device!

The PHT's may very well be cart-depedent. Who knows, but if it makes a positive difference to those who have purchased and kept them, I say that is great and think its awesome to get improvement with tweaks that are relatively inexpensive. I wish there were more of them in this expensive hobby/passion of ours.
"I personally have had the experience of going in to a listening test with a decided negative bias and coming out with a different opinion entirely. It may well be that when one expects to hear no difference, then the tiniest difference may register with more sensitivity than would otherwise be the case. (This was the question of whether power cords make a difference to the sound of an ESL [electro-static loudspeaker]. I thought surely they would not, but I was very surprised to discover that they do indeed, at least in my system with my pair of Sound Lab ESLs."

I don't think you're giving yourself enough credit. You clearly have the knowledge and experience to work around whatever bias you have, in order to make a good decision.
Zd542, Naahhh. I'm as bad as anyone else. This is why good science depends upon double-blind testing. But I did not say audio has to be good science.

Phil, When a cartridge gets a lot of use, the only thing that wears are the stylus and the suspension; the magnet of any decent modern cartridge are is quite stable, probably completely stable for decades. Now, when you introduce a magnetized material (PHT?) or any ferrous material (PHT?) in the vicinity of a permanent magnet, I would think it's a crapshoot. The total magentic field then available to promote induction of a signal in the coil of the cartridge may be enhanced but more likely would be reduced in intensity. (Anyone who knows the physics of magnets and who thinks otherwise, feel free to enlighten me.) I don't see how the PHT can be a good thing, if it's a magnet or magnetic, but I am open to teaching.
If it's mu metal which is slightly magnetic it could be reducing the deleterious effects of "fringing" around the actual magnet, along the same lines mu metal used around speaker magnets.
Fremer thinks the PHT are legit. Checkout the February 2015 Stereophile. "The sound was clearly better overall"
This may not be related to audio. If you, let's say, decide to try a nutritional product, claimed to increase your energy, I think it's important that you have a positive bias, when you take it. People will say it is the placebo effect, but I think, in order get the full benefit of that product, you actually have to have a positive bias. Time will tell you what is correct, but I've seen negative bias interfere more(because they stop experimenting with that product) with finding the truth.
A friend loaned me a blue velvet pht. I was quite frankly amazed at the improvement. I have since ordered a pair for myself.