I Just Know It's BS ... But I Have't Tried It Yet

Have you ever noticed how quickly naysayers jump on "unconventional" products they have never tried, letting us know they are worthless -- shamelessly admitting they have no direct experience with the item they are putting down? For example, anything with the word quantum in the name seems to set some people off. Do you have your favorite examples of this phenomenon? What do you make of this irrational approach to high end audio that is often suffixed by LOL and exclamation points for emphasis?
Have you ever noticed that it's the same small number of people who are always touting some not understood by conventional science product? Despite all the scientific studies that point out how fallible and easily mislead human sensory perception is, they still insist that what they hear is the only valid criteria. Real science is done by published, peer reviewed experimentation and data. I've never come across the phrase "critical listening" in any science journal. I wonder why?
High end audio red flag # 1 is when questioned about some "unconventional" or poorly understood product, the guy on the bandwagon takes offense or becomes a bully to defer questions. Just Bolieve!!!

Sure thing. It will be on his time and wallet I assume?

Seems to me anyone sincere in touting a product's value that really believes in it is prepared to field any question, even inconvenient ones.

ALso it irks me that we are told we should buy said product because "it sounds so damn good". News flash: this is high end audio....it is ALL suppsoed to sound really good.

THe real question is what is the unique value case by case. THis requires open discussion to determine or not. If that cannot occur then best to just move on the next great product out there.
SAbai, I am surprised that you have the opinion expressed.

I hear Machina Dynamica is having a sale. You can catch up on all those "unconventional" products that I seem to recall you have questioned in the past now.
I do see both sides of this issue. I agree that equipment design and execution is a science and engineering based discipline. I do not, generally speaking, respond well to metaphysical snake oil approaches. Yet, the human emotional element, our response to what we hear, is far from an exact, predictable science. I will take my 300B SET amps every time over my previous solid state amps, and I don't give two toots what the specs may be. I think that "If you haven't heard it, you don't have a fully informed opinion" is not a bad principle.

The real problem here, in my opinion, is the arrogant, dismissive attitudes of some posters (on any side of any issue). There are a few around here with an inexcusable lack of any semblance of social skills.

There are people on this forum, for whom I have the utmost respect, that I will occasionally disagree with. I can disagree completely with them and maintain that high level of respect. It would never occur to me to think less of my good friend Schubert because he does not share my high regard for Stravinsky and Mahler.

One could wish that a few folks would finally learn to play nice in the sand box.
"One could wish that a few folks would finally learn to play nice in the sand box."

There is a difference between innocent children playing in a sandbox and the real world, unfortunately. Its just the way it is.

SETs are not a good example of "unconventional" technology in my opinion. One may prefer SETs or not. Its a judgement call. SET technology and its advantages and disadvantages is well understood by many. One can make a well educated decision about it. As such one can argue that it is not unconventional. One merely needs to read up to understand the "conventions" that apply and how different from others.

Unconventional to me implies not well understood in general. It's semantics though. I suppose Walsh driver principles that I am a fan of would be considered unconventional in that such a small minority of products operate that way and the principles are not well understood by many. Bottom line is if a well informed decision can be made or not.
SET is the most primitive and simple design of equipment and certainly shouldn't be worth much at all.
Mapman, I think you missed my point on the sandbox. There are social skills that should be learned at an early age and not forgotten or abandoned when one matures. I understand the world is not a sandbox, and believe me, I can play hardball with the best of them when necessary. But I take no pleasure in doing so, nor do I derive my sense of self worth by belittling others. This is a hobby. IF the AG forum becomes a frustration or irritation, I don't need it. And, there is absolutely no reason to allow it to become so. This actually can be a "sandbox" in which we interact, learn, teach, socialize and have fun--or not.

I spent my entire adult life in science and engineering. I did see and experience first hand how things work. On rare occasions, I saw chemical reactions proceed in ways that seemed to make absolutely no sense based on the laws of chemistry and physics. No doubt, the explanation was there, but it eluded even my most brilliant (world class) colleagues and consultant professors. My point is that there is a place for empiricism. Especially amongst those of us that are far from world class EEs or physicists.

I agree with you in theory and hope for the same in reality.
"On rare occasions, I saw chemical reactions proceed in ways that seemed to make absolutely no sense based on the laws of chemistry and physics."

I see things in my companies tech labs all the time that make little sense. THey do not go "to production" as actual products or solutions until they do. To do anything otherwise would negatively affect the business and its customers.

I'd bet no products based on those unclear chemical reactions were sold either until better understood.

THe stakes in audio are lesser I suppose, so not quite the same. What's the worse that can happen? Someone ends up unhappy and feeling cheated I suppose. OR not. So its a different game there for sure. It's largely about what people think or feel which is totally subjective. The good thing about a placebo is the worst thing that can happen to you is ..... nothing. Not much downside other than money spent. Products are marketed based on this principle all the time. Nothing so special about home audio there.
So Sabai you have all the money in the world to try every tweak? I sometimes want to try these tweaks but at times I question what I'm paying for. An example is the WA Quantum chips. I can't get myself to pay $7.50 for a sticker to place on my fuse that will supposedly make great changes to my system. $7.50 for a little sticker. I'd rather put that money toward a record. Or you have stuff from Synergistic Research where you pay $400 for 4 things that look like socket wrench ends to place on your wall. This will then improve sound drastically. Sorry I just can't pull the trigger on that either.

No, I don't have all the money for every tweak. I have a lot of tweaks and accessories in my system. Almost everything I buy is used -- purchased at a deep discount, in most cases.
Or you have stuff from Synergistic Research where you pay $400 for 4 things that look like socket wrench ends to place on your wall. This will then improve sound drastically. Sorry I just can't pull the trigger on that either.
I'm not into tweaks but the little suckers do work. Remodeling my house and walls are bare so gave them a spin after watched the avshowrooms video plus they do offer a 90 days REFUND.

I have no interest trying the other SR stuff sticking on components ... too much!
This just in. We are using your product Animal Magnetism Cable Collars at CEDIA Shanghai intelligent building technology show. We are the most popular booth there. We have the video pictures for 4k video. We are currently using a new Sony 4k player and two Sony 500ES 4k projectors with Golden Sound HDMI cables. The pictures could be the BEST IN THE WORLD right now. That is why everyone came to our booth and don't want to leave. Our engineer will test the actual improvement of the pictures when he goes back to office."

Hey, what can I tell you?


I am flattered that you follow my comments. I am in favor of whatever works -- and whatever works better than something similar. I have a lot of tweaks in my system. I do not remember having nay-sayed a product I have not tried. We all speculate on things we have not heard but nay-saying without auditioning is not a wise habit to get into.

But when it comes to my personal limited budget, I do nay-say price and marketing. Which is not to say the products may not work, and work well in some cases. I can think of a couple here -- the Synergistic Research HFT pimples at $60 a pop come to mind. First off, I have never heard them. But I am convinced they work, and probably very well, since I have made my own version that work great in my system -- at about $1 each.

I was thinking about how to develop this kind of tweak when Ozzy tweaked my curiosity with his version. I came up with a variation on the theme that is really excellent. I have about 40 in my listening room -- total cost about $40 vs. $2,400 for the SR pimples.

Frankly, if HFTs were the culmination of my life's work, as Ted Denney claims for his life, I would have demonstrated the HFTs on a real system, not on a Bose wave. After all, he does mount expensive systems at shows. So, this I cannot figure out. Something so "revolutionary" deserved a better introduction, IMO. In any case, to my eyes, HFTs look like a cross between Franck Tchang "Sugar Cubes" and the PMR resonator.

The HFT markeing Youtube that Peter Breuninger (nodding and nodding) and Peter Hansen appear in is rather comical. They talk to the audience as though they were talking to a classroom of morons. They show you how to take each pimple out of the box, how to put the Blu-Tack on the back and how to put them on the wall. Thank you.

SR needed a good marketing plan so they call HFTs transducers. IMO, they are not transducers. They are simple resonators. You cannot sell one pimple at a time so they sell them in 5-packs -- $300 beats $60 -- with the sales pitch of 4 "levels" of 5 pimples per "level". $1,200. Nice. My pimples are not the culmination of anything but they do take the system to a higher level -- one of many levels -- at a total cost of about $40.

Another heavily marketed product that comes to mind is the Nordost Qx4. I am sure it works, and works very well, even though I have never tried it. Because I use the precursor in my system, QRT Symphony Pros. They are great. But they do not need to be packaged in a lead-heavy container that presumably contains a few light components. Sorry, they DO need to be packaged like this so Nordost can charge nearly $3000 each vs. $600 new for their precursors that I have been fortunate enough to pick up for around $200 each used.

I notice that all the reviews I have read on the Qx4 say that Nordost dropped off 4 or 6 units for reviewing and testing. Now, you'd think with that price tag that one Qx4 would do for a normal audio system. Sorry, they say you will want and will need several more. Let's see now. $3,000 x 6 = $18,000. Nice.

I love products that work. But I don't always love the marketing and the price of admission. So, I do my best to get something close to the "real thing" at a fraction of the cost, whenever possible. Some folks can simply throw money at their system. I am not in that category.
Mapman, what you say is correct. In many respects, a movement away from statistics and toward first principle understanding and modeling provided a better level of certainty with respect to outcome. However, in early development proceeding with interim manufacture with minimal understanding is quite common. In industries where the attrition rate of developmental products is quite high, it does not make sense to spend that much money until it is clear a product is going to go to market. In my industry, a lack of understanding at a mechanistic level does not represent a potential risk to the customer.

Not only are the stakes lower in audio, but the ability and resources of the average Audiogon poster, be they skeptic or innocent gullible fool, does not permit that level of analysis. I've never seen the sort of thing Sabai is complaining about addressed via a first principles argument. It usually runs more along the lines of you're a stupid idiot, na na na na na na.

I know I won't spend my time pursuing that level of understanding in audio.

Even if such an argument were presented, it does not address the far more unpredictable human response. Assuming the tweak produces even a marginal difference in sound, that difference could be objectively either "better" or "worse," which may or may not correlate to a listener's subjective response to that difference.

I think Jedinite's comment is a good one. Some of these products could have some scientific basis, but if they are marketed behind metaphysical mumbo jumbo, I'm probably not going to bite.

I agree with you on several points. I believe if we can maintain a certain level of decorum here by being polite and respectful then everything will be so much easier.

I also agree with you about empiricism. Regarding audio, I have been called nuts -- by folks who have never experienced what I have done -- for lengthening the signal path by using a daisy-chained front end and for using cables in series. Although these strange ways defy conventional "wisdom", I go with what my ears say since they have been tested and can still hear 16,000Hz.
I return about one of every ten tweaks that I audition.

I always let my ears be the judge, every single time.
Chips, fuses, cd and room treatments, enhancers of various kinds...
it doesn't matter what they are made of or what I
think the value of the material with which they are made.
If they do the job, I want to use them!

All that counts is, "will this product further my objective of
hearing emotionally satisfying music?"
I would much rather invest hundreds in a tweak than thousands
in a new piece of electronics. Because the tweak, if it is a
"keeper," will help me maximize the performance of the whole system,
making it possible to further enjoy what I already own!
And, replacing a piece of electronics without the benefit of the tweak might
leave me with limitations that I was trying to overcome.

I look at experimenting by "trying new things" as the most cost effective
way to get the most of what I have. I will not reject or comment about any new product without first plugging it in to my system, to hear the difference it may make. I don't care about science or measurements; I only care
about the experience of listening to music, and how it enriches my life.

There is no risk in being open minded, since most such products have a generous return policy. To reject a product or concept having to do with
music without auditioning it... makes no sense to me at all.
And I am not sure why ANYONE would make an entry on this forum
("I Just know it's BS... but I Haven't Tried It Yet" and elsewhere) simply to
advertise their ignorance.
Trust has a lot to do with it.

I don't trust anyone who solely pitches pros and NEVER addresses cons. All products have both. If depicted otherwise, a big red flag should go up.

I don't mind "fanboys" ie people who just like certain things for whatever reasons.

However, many who post on Agon are not merely fan boys and have products to sell and this site does nothing to identify user types. So motivation behind claims often becomes very murky, but less so once one knows who they are dealing with.

Its easy to recommend or like a product when one gets to audition or even own it for a discount or perhaps for nothing. In a case like that, there is little skin in the game as would be the case for the average perspective buyer. Its all useful things to just keep in mind to help sort through things. The facts are NOT always apparent. So some degree of skepticism here specifically is a wise thing IMHO.
The key phrase "Trust Your Own Ears" sometimes is used to pitch different kinds of BS.

Would you prefer to hear "Don't Trust Your Own Ears"?
"Trust Your Own Ears" is sound advice, but a highly flawed and often unreliable process nonetheless. The BS'ers know that very well, but they will never say it.
Similar issues were discussed at great length a couple of years ago in a thread entitled "Do You Believe In Magic?"

As I indicated in one of my posts in that thread, my background in electronic design (unrelated to audio) has taught me that many things can occur in a system that are subtle, counter-intuitive, and inherently unpredictable. One example among a great many that could be cited being effects caused by coupling of electrical noise between circuits that are ostensibly unrelated.

As I also said in that thread, however, while broad latitude should therefore be allowed for the possibility that subtle, counter-intuitive, or even unknown phenomena may be at play, the boundaries of that latitude are not infinite. There has got to be some finite boundary to the degree of absurdity of a tweak or a claimed effect beyond which “a priori” rejection is warranted. And beyond which assertions of the efficacy of that tweak or effect, or at least the likelihood of its having any kind of general applicability, warrant being challenged.

What is involved here is a spectrum, a continuum, of ideological positions. At one extreme are those whose minds are totally closed to any assertions which don’t make sense to them. At the other extreme are those who would seem to believe that there are no finite limits to the degree of absurdity of a tweak or a claimed effect that would warrant “a priori” rejection or challenge.

As with most ideologies, IMO it can be expected that in most situations positions at both extremes of the spectrum are much less likely to be correct than those which are somewhere in the middle. That may seem like a cop-out, but in most things in life that’s usually the bottom line, as I see it. And I see no reason why audio is any different.

IMO. Regards,

-- Al
Sorry, I got the math wrong. Level 4 of SR HFTs requires two 5-packs. So the price of admission is actually $1,500, not $1,200. Nice.

Oh, and I forgot to mention SR's other "transducers" called ECTs. They are also sold in 5-packs. They look identical to the HFTs except that the latter are silver and the former are black and red. Change the color scheme, change the name and watch the two Peters spilling them into components like jelly beans -- at $60 a pop -- on their Youtube video. With Peter B. looking into the camera and nodding and nodding -- like a nodding toy on your dashboard. Nice.

By the way, talking about marketing, can anyone tell me why HFTs and ECTs are called transducers? What are they transducing? Are they really like microphones or speakers that are true transducers? I believe SR is using the word transducer here as a marketing term that does not reflect what a transducer really is. I could be wrong but I believe HFTs and ECTs are simply resonators. Maybe someone would like to elucidate the matter.

I could not agree more with your post. You hit the nail on the head.
The market is a great screener of value/worth. I would never get an unknown product, even if their literature/reviews are wonderful. They will probably not succeed making your new component is worthless.
I have found the best gear and parts by going down the road less traveled rather than the beaten path of safe and big. Many gems in the unknown and nowhere is that more true then this industry.

Please note, in most cases, I was not referring to "unknown" products. I was referring to "unconventional" products.


My experience is similar to yours. Although I would call this "unconventional" rather than "unknown", in most cases, in a few cases -- and I have examples in my own system -- there are, in fact, "unknown" elements involved.
Sabai, ya I guess I mean both! Sometimes they both are true of the same builder, sometimes not.
Happy to learn that Geoff's unconventional Animal Magnetism covers are clearly recognized in the video world. Until this news arrived I felt like a voice in the wilderness proclaiming their benefit for audio cables.
I guess one can now agree Geoff's Animal Magnetism cable collars have achieved their break through recognition in the video arena as his "news just in" posting above shows.
I have been a fan of his reasonably priced unconventional tweaks because they work in my audio systems, and that thirty day money back guarantee is always there, just in case.

You're right about that.
Lots of good comments. I especially concur with those by Almarg & Brownsfan.

Plus, my experience correlates quite nicely with Grannyring's:

I have found the best gear and parts by going down the road less traveled rather than the beaten path of safe and big. Many gems in the unknown and nowhere is that more true then this industry.

The bottom line for me is that I listen to music not statistics nor empirical measurements...and hence, I trust my ears to be the final arbiter....

Don't really care about that.
I'd prefer to use that when I or anyone else can trust own ears. There are plenty of cases when anyone just can't trust ears.

That's interesting. I imagine this applies to those who have hearing impairment. What other cases come to mind?

Can you definitely tell if signal generator delivers 6.745Hz to the speaker? What if signal generator increases by 22.5Hz?
Can you DEFINITELY tell in blind A/B Transparent cable vs. zip-cord?
Can you DEFINITELY tell which note the wind's blowing?
Can you hear rock placed on top of your amp can totally change sound of it or any system component?
Can you hear fish singin'?
If you can, than trust your own ears 100% and you don't have to use your poor imagination(not good idea at all).

I have maid the point in an earlier thread -- speculating that cable makers would not be able to identify their own cables in a blind A/B test.

But I am concerned with changes in the sound that are significant enough to change the quality of sound. I can hear very subtle changes to my system. I cannot speak for others.
Our ears hear and deliver the info but its our minds that do comparisons.

So trusting ears alone for comparisons will not work.

This is a fact and should not be hard to accept.

Not only will it not work, but its not even possible to compare two things with ears only.
We each have no choice but to trust our ears (using the tools we are given) but there is no categorical reason why anyone should trust the "ears" of others necessarily. Ears cannot talk. People do. :^)

OF course trust can be earned over time, but it is not owed.
There are at least a couple of issues here -- trusting your own ears and trusting the ears of others. The only ears you can trust are your own because they are yours. No one's ears can decide better than your own. But if you cannot trust them for one reason or another then this is a moot point.
Our ears - to my mind - are the worst of "test instruments" to judge a given system, but it is the only one we have. It takes a long learning curve to come to trust what you hear.
To get there, you must have developed at least some sense for your inner preferences, your emotional state in a given moment as well of course, just to mention two outer factors, the weather condition and the state your electrical grid is in. Apart from that, to listen as objectively as possible, I feel one should strive for the same state of mind, as FREUD told us as desirable, when listening to his patients: A free floating attention, a state of inner calm, wanting nothing, expecting nothing.
Good listening is as difficult as ZEN. (:
Sorry. I think I was unclear: I meant critical listening, not listening for pleasure. But then if the music lover becomes an audiophile, critical listening always creeps in and often enough spoils all the fun...........
01-05-15: Detlof
Sorry. I think I was unclear: I meant critical listening, not listening for pleasure.

Indeed! Listening should be for pleasure!
Critical listening isn't necessary unless you're able to analyze quality of musician performing challenging pieces.

Critical listening of equipment often destroys your focus to the music quality and not at all important in most of cases. Your test record may show certain improvements on certain passages after your new modifications to the system, but the rest may sound just the same or even worse(you never know unless you're so obsessed!).

Just enjoying and being able to listen to music is z best.
I keep a very pretty crystal bowl on the top of my nuclear hot performing new passive preamp (review at Dagogo.com to come soon), and to invoke the potential of upgraded sound I stir the glass rocks inside, which I will call "Quantum Glass Rocks", with my hand before every listening session. You just don't know when a better "formation" of rocks will happen - just to make sure I'm getting the most out of the preamp. LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Despising such tweaks is an "irrational approach to high end audio," and a "phenomenon", eh?

Really, a lot of exclamation points add greatly to a thread, the way "quantum" products add to a system. ;)

In all seriousness, I will be more than happy to build my reviewing reputation upon eschewing such tweaks. I'm not into marginal improvements, but serious gains in performance.
I like it when people who talk about tweaks I do not understand demonstrate knowledge of related things I know more about as well. That gives them more credibility with me in terms of understanding the big picture at least.

When people talk about a tweak alone, if I do not understand it, then there is no basis to give any benefit of doubt.

Its all about credibility pretty much for me. There has to be something you can sink your teeth into initially to help justify spending ones time or money.

THat does not mean there may not be something to whatever trick of the day is being discussed, only that there is nothing concrete there for me that I can sink my teeth into. Others might feel differently. If so, hopefully they would shre their unique knowledge and help others like me learn.
Mapman, contrary to the one before yours, I would call your response an evenhanded approach to the problem we are discussing here. I tend to be very much on Sabai's side in viewing the problem, to whit, to be curious, to experiment, but to discount the hype we are continually being told.
And yes Czarivey, I generally hope to get out of the "audiophile mode" as soon as possible and revert to that happy being, called "music-lover".
It cracks me up when anything around here is pitched purely on how good it sounds. Breaking news: this is high end audio. It's all supposed to sound anywhere from very good to fantastic. But there is always the pitch for some new product that ups the ante. So do, I m certain. But I do not live in a laboratory and like to spend my time actually listening to my music that already sounds great to me, so my bandwidth is limited, so cut me a break and stop with the "you can't know until you hear it"'s. Duh! Of course I can't. Just give me a good reason to try at a price I might afford though and I'll add to my bucket list. :-)