"Feng Shui" and "Floobie Dust"

These titles were once used in an edition of Stereophile reporting on some miscellaneous items from a CES show. Do things like Shun Mook disks, Shakti stones, silver vs. copper wire (the resistivity of silver is only a little greater, so is it the grain structure?), power conditioners (for example, there was a fairly interesting article in the current issue of The Absolute Sound debunking most power conditioners and filters), etc., make a difference? Is there any physical basis (in terms of an understanding of the physics) for the claims made by the manufacturers?
At the risk of not answering the question directly.... How can you be certain that current physics theory is sufficient to describe everything that makes a difference to sound? - since a true scientist should always be sceptical regarding the sufficiency of existing theory. Therefore, if no one can provide any physics theory to explain the influence of these products, how could you conclude they do not make a difference? On the other hand, even if there is some available physics theory that explains that these devices have an impact on the sound, how can you conclude that therefore they will have a noticeable, or even beneficial, impact on the sound you hear or your enjoyment of the music? Surely, you need to focus on the credibility of the individuals making the claims with regard to these items, carefully consider the context in which the recommendation is made and compare that with your own situation (eg. I doubt the economics of using a Shakti Stone on a boombox), and then make a judgement as to whether you should invest the time to try it yourself. Then when you try it, it is up to your judgement. What I find interesting is the very common lack of trust many non-audiophiles have in whether or not they could make a sound judgement based on listening for themselves. Since the whole purpose of our pursuit is musical enjoyment (by using our ears, not a volt meter), then it seems to me that whether or not our musical enjoyment is enhanced has to be the deciding factor for us individually. All the rest, such as the theory and the reviews can only be pointers to help us along the way.
First off, I would like to thank Redkiwi for exhibiting a good dose of common sense. So often in this hobby (obsession?) we get so tied up in numbers and worse- other people's opinions that we forget the reason why we started this thing in the first place. Now to respond to your query... I personally have had good experiences with line conditioning. I do live in an area with a notoriously erratic power supply as well as frequent thunderstorms. I noticed a significant quieting of my background noise in my system with the addition of a line conditioner to my system. I had much less impressive results with new relatively expensive power cords (Marigo reference RMX. As far as isolation cones, etc., I did not notice any difference in sonics with them (vibrapods) under my preamp, so I subsequently did not buy any more. I have a pretty solid rack (Salamander Archetype), so maybe it was not needed. Many people swear by them. My system is relatively hi end, but not obscene (around 20k), so maybe with better stuff, it would be more noticeable. As far as silver vs copper, they do have very diffent sonic characteristecs. i don't know why, but they are very different- not better or worse. Use your ears to determine what you like. To my ears, silver is brighter and sometimes a little too splashy. This can be used to your advantage, however. For instance, I use both types in my system. My D/A is a little laid back (EAD 7000 Mk III), so I use a Kimber KCAG from it to my pre. The rest of my system is very neutral sounding and through much trial and error, I have settled on a copper wire (Nordost Red Dawn) and really like it. the bottom line is use your ears. Some people probably would not like my choices, but they are my choices, as yours are yours. One little floobie dust that I do believe in, incidentally is Optrix spray. It gives a marked improvement to CD's. I still don't understand why, but it is a BIG difference. Anyway, I hope this helped you some and I will get off my soapbox. Happy listening
Cables -- Yes there are pretty significant changes in the sound of silver and copper. The choice is yours to pick the one you like. I own a set of Audio Truth Diamond and also a set of MIT xxxxx Pro-line reference. As in one of the responses above, the MIT far out performs the Diamond in every aspect of the music (as it should for 4x cost). I like some of the characteristics of both copper and silver, so my choice was to have silver from source to pre-amp and copper between pre-amp and amp. Main point -- audition cable additions for at least a week or two, have audiophile friends over to listen with you, and make your choice based on YOUR ears. Cables can make differences to the magnitude of a component upgrade of many $$. Other Toys -- I have had the opportunity to audition a great many "tweek" products... Some of them worked for me, others did not. They were again all tested with ears and an elixer of fine ale. The ones that stayed in my home are: Bedini Dual Beam Ultraclarifier, Marigo CD Cleaner and Cross Bow, and Audio Quest Ultra Connect. The others I auditioned either did not work or presented a trade-off in another area. Again, listen carefully -- even the tweeks mentioned above (except for the AQ Ultra Connect) do not always produce desireable results on all media. My 2 cents...
Good comments above. Sure, some of the things you mentioned can can have a great effect on some systems. When you are dealing with srong electromagnetic fields, lots of things can have effect. I'm sure the shakti stones are great but the price is ridiculous. Try the "bag" from Virtual Mode, 203 929 0876, ask for their catalog, very informative. I've liked their $30 "bag" for transformers (3"x5" bag to put on top). Any little object on top of a speaker can be audible, try two quarters, one at each front corner, and a dime at the front center. This can give a richer, more spacious sound. What do the Shun Mook discs cost? But I'll bet wood DOES sound better than metal coins....
An interesting topic. I identified with Redkiwi's comment/question about non-audiophiles trusting their ears. I did not become obsessively interested in high end audio until near age 50, and it took me about 3 years of much reading and careful listening before I was confident in my ability to hear differences between treatments, tweaks, and components. Critical listening (in my opinion) is an acquired skill. Now, while I still like Stereophile and TAS, I don't need their opinions to pick out components or decide if a tweak is worthwhile, in other words I have learned how to listen, and to trust my own hearing and judgement. My 28 year old daughter,on the other hand, loves music and has better hearing than me, but she has not learned critical listening skills as I have. I lovingly refer to her as a "cloud of sound" person. In Robert Harley's book, he carefully differentiates between listening for pleasure and the more difficult critical listening-- sometimes they are hard to keep separate. Recently I tried out an after market power cord on my big McCormack amp (recommended my Steve McCormack). There was a big difference in music quality/character, and I was amazed-- but I didn't like it and sent it back. Not all tweaks work in YOUR system. Elsewhere in this forum, Redkiwi noted that he did not like the effect of Vibapods in his system and I respect that, but my experience with them has been totally positive. SUBJECTIVITY:) I have enjoyed all the above posts. Thanks.
Hi Tsquared; I too have had good results with AC line conditioning. I have a Tice E-4, and the 4 digital outlets are particularly beneficial. A question: Where do you get Optrix spray for CDs, and what improvements have you noticed by using it? This is an area I have not yet investigated. Thanks.
Hi J_K; I don't seem to be able to stop on this topic! Where are the Bedini dual beam Ultra Clarifier (I assume this is for CD cleaning?) and Marigo CD cleaner available from, and what is Cross Bow? Also have any of you guys above had any experience with the "green pen" application on CD edges? Thanks.
The green pen is fun. The audiophile one for $14 is a pain to use, and it flakes off sometimes. A good pen is the Staedtler Lumocolor 314 "B" (not the S or M, tip too small). These are pens for overhead projectors with transparencies, you can find in good art stores. Do the outside and inside edge and the groove. Gives better focus, but y'know...some cd's sound better a little fuzzy...
You can find a good selection of tweeks and the technology explanation by ordering a Music Direct catalog at www.amusicdirect.com... They have the Marigo and Bedini products. The official names are Marigo Orpheus CD Mat, Marigo Boundary Layer Optical Fluid, and Bedini Dual Beam Ultra Clarifier (www.bedini.com has a list of local dealers, also click on "reviews" to see the rave reviews of the Ultra Clarifier). Music Direct is a neat catalog for any audiophile to have as a good source of tweeks, analog parts and media. They typically have been good with order turn-around. J_K
Thanks J_K, I'll check it out.