James Randi vs. Anjou Pear - once and for all


(Via Gizmodo)
So it looks like the gauntlet's been thrown down (again).
Backed up this time by, apparently, *presses pinkie to corner of mouth* one million dollars...

See:
http://www.randi.org/jr/2007-09/092807reply.html#i4
dchase
Indeed, given the conviction with which many people talk about extremely high cost cables, break-in and other questionable tweaks...surely someone would step up to the plate, for a million bucks!

I can see why an editor or reviewer might not want to risk their reputation though.

However, surely the people who manufacture these amazing products would want to step up to the plate, defend their products and collect a cool million...all at the same time!!!

Perhaps manufacturers/dealers on this site, upon reading this thread, will post correspondence of their multiple attempts to set up a scientific test and secure the cool million dollar prize from Randi.

If Randi shows evidence that he is unwilling or evasive to oblige then it would at least cast doubt on his aspersions about "cable nonsense"....unchallenged Randi must be taken seriously.
Mr. Randi's challenge reminds me of when people claimed you can't tell one beer from another when tasting them blindfolded. Some can, some can't.

He'll admit $50/meter Monster Cable sounds better than $1.50/meter Home Depot zip wire, yet many folks would say you're insane to pay $50 for a piece of wire.

So is his argument you can't hear a difference between any cable or you just can't hear a $7500 difference? If it's the first, then he's just dead-flat wrong. Otherwise, there wouldn't be a Monster Cable or a Cardas or a Pear Audio. If it's the second than he's simply questioning a company's justification for its profit margin. And that's none of his business. If I'm rich and stoopid enough to pay $7500 for some fancy wire because I I think it will help me reach audio nirvana, than that validates companies like Pear who cater to my (foolish) whimsy.

All said and done, it's a mix of reality and placebo effect. You can hear a difference between $50 cable and $7500 cable, partially because you want to. As Mr. Randi knows, perception can determine reality.
Oddly, my attempt to post something very similar about Mr. Randi's offer yesterday got nixed by the site management. What gives?
Meagan02 - your answer doesn't answer the question of why someone won't step up and win the million dollars. I just did a listening test last night with a couple of buddies - Purist speaker cables (Elementa Advance, not their priciest) against a couple cheaper mail order cables (no need to mention, they are decent cables). Everyone in the room felt that the Purist cables represented a significant improvement (all 3 of us). On a resolving system, this should be quite differentiable. What are the rules of his challenge? Who is the jury. A million bucks can buy a lot of audio equipment, and the contestant doesn't risk anything besides their time (is this true?). So, somebody with time - step up!!!
I feel that it would depend a lot upon the system used in the test and who decided. I know that in my system, different cables are easily distinguished, even by a nay sayer engineer (price does not dictate quality). However, if it were in a system built around a midrange cd player and tri-amplified self-powered loudspeakers, one may not be able to. IMHO of course.
Peter s,

It's not my place, nor yours, to answer the question why someone won't step up and take the challenge. Actually, that's not even the question. Randi is baiting Dave Clark and John Atkinson, not you or me, or any A-Gon member. We've got nothing to lose. And on the 50/50 outside chance we could actually tell the Monster Cable from the Pear Audio...who freaking cares? Randi just wants to embarrass these two hotshots, not schmoes like us. Wisely, these guys aren't going to risk their reputation--and careers--to let Randi make saps out of them.

But feel free to call him and try to win the $1,000,000.
More info on the challenge:

http://www.audioasylum.com/audio/cables/messages/13/132144.html

Meagan02 - I can't agree with your assessment. Randi may be trying to embarrass the hotshots, but by making this an open challenge, whatever vendetta he may have has been diluted and the question is now open to all. I'm not saying that someone "should" take the time out of their personal lives to do this - that they are bad if they didn't - it is anyone's choice. But his challenge lends itself to the scientific method. Why should we avoid such an experiment? And I think we do have something to lose, and to gain. If you really believe there is a 50/50 chance that the difference could be discerned - we have to lose an unsupported myth and we have to gain some truth. If 50/50 were the case, the truth would be that some people are dillusional and/or value status over their stated goal (enjoy the music). And the truth would benefit most people, that they don't have to spend that kind of money to get good sound. If it 80/20, or some other statistically significant combination, than the truth is otherwise. My experience tells me that this is the case, though I've never heard a $7,000 cable before!

When you ask who cares - I assume you mean who cares about the outcome of the test, not who cares about the truth. I guess my concern is whether such an experiment could be run in a convincing way - and I truly believe that it could - but would require some significant planning and design. With that kind of money, it would be a good project for a grad student in statistics and the scientific method!

Cheers, Peter
4est,

I know that in my system, different cables are easily distinguished

Have you contacted Randi about the Million dollars, or if not, why not (too busy like John Atkinson, for a million bucks)?
Why pick on Pear Cables? They're a small outfit. There are other cable manufacturers who have been around for years and "earned" multi millions of dollars. They sell cables much more expensive than $7500. Why not do them?
Also, I'd want to see proof the dude has the million beforehand. Remember the Twilight Zone where the guy wouldn't talk for a year and win a million dollar bet? The guy had his vocal cords cut but the other better didn't actually have the money.
Open challenge? Not. Sounds like more of a media stunt than a real challenge:

"This offer is not open to any and all persons. Before being considered as an applicant, the person applying must satisfy two conditions: First, he/she must have a “media presence,” which means having been published, written about, or known to the media in regard to his/her claimed abilities or powers...Several applicants have suffered great personal embarrassment after failing these tests".

"...That said, we offer the JREF million-dollar prize to – for example – Dave Clark, Editor of the audio review publication Positive Feedback Online, who provided the above rave review. If Mr. Clark should choose to apply for the prize, he would be unlike John Atkinson of Stereophile Magazine – see randi.org/jr/121004science.html#11 – who made great noises about being ready to snap up the million, then got distracted by things such as gullible readers who accepted his claimed abilities, and backed out. But we’ll see…"
Peter s:
I guess my concern is whether such an experiment could be run in a convincing way...
Good point. I assume it's not as simple as it seems at first glance. Not for $1M, surely.
Otherwise, there would be ways to "rig" the results... say, using a medium/high output impedance amp+insensitivie speakers (or highly damped amp & overdamped spkrs) and a ref "cheap" cable that has much higher inductance (under normal load) than the 7k variety...
The earth is flat I tell you!! I've seen it with mine own eyes!!
First, he/she must have a “media presence,” which means having been published, written about, or known to the media in regard to his/her claimed abilities or powers

Surely that suggests most reviewers and any cable manufacturer with a web site that makes claims about amazing powers or abilities of their products in relation to "Monster Cable" fare. (Monster Cable appears to be JREF chosen reference...i.e. extremely expensive wire but not "crazy extreme" prices).

A million bucks is a milllion bucks!
Why did I read through this? I will give you $1,000,000 if you tell me why.
Bjesien,

Because your Papua New Guinea Fertility statue needs recharging from the Water Tank Tweak and so you ended up wasting time surfing the web, instead of pursuing more enjoyable activities...

Now cough up the million!

(For those reaidng this post you need to check out Bjeisen's system to understand him)
The exclusion of people without a "media presence" and the open ended condition of proving that Pear Anjou speaker cables "perform better" than the equivalent Monster cable, (NOT to prove the ability to distinguish one from the other), makes the contest impossible to win.

Personally I think it would be easy to distinguish Pear Anjou from Monster in a high resolution setup (the Anjou's have ultra low inductance numbers while keeping capacitance in check). But if were we take pick an "unbiased" sample group of listeners from the street for blind testing to prove cable A "performs better" than cable B, does any one of us really believe we will be able achieve statistical significant positive result?

Thus a "media presence" person foolish enough to take up the challenge will simply invite ridicule from Randi.org on being a "failure", which they will no doubt portray the attempt as.

To me this challenge is simply a publicity stunt to gain notoriety. Cable naysayers have no doubt lapped this up and are taking this opportunity to gloat. The disingenuity of their claims that no one is up the challenge is rather telling.
Personally I think it would be easy to distinguish Pear Anjou from Monster in a high resolution setup (the Anjou's have ultra low inductance numbers while keeping capacitance in check).

Then why do you think John Atkinson and Dave Clark do not take up the challenge?

If it is "easy to distinguish" then surely the time/effort would be worth a million bucks?

I mean these people do audio listening tests and measurements for a living...it should be a simple matter for a respected & highly discerning reviewer.

After all, the challenge is not about "inductance" or other measurable differences - it appears to be about the ability to demonstrate being able to hear better performance; simply to support the claims, made with ease, in the reviewers articles, which are published in the media and influence a great many buyers. That is the jist of it in the way I understand it. I don't see a trick or impossible challenge as you do. I mean what is impossible about something that can be done with ease?
There are many things about this challenge that make it difficult, if not impossible, to obtain the natural result that anyone would hear in their own system if they tried the same cable comparison under normal circumstances.

Leaving aside the exclusion of anyone who isn't famous, the number of unusual requirements for a valid experiment make the listening situation an unnatural one. Things like wearing a blindfold, or having an acoustically transparent curtain between you and your speakers, along with the stress of being on camera and under the scrutiny of strangers who will act as scientific observers to determine if you win $1 Million, all insure that the listener will be unable to relax and hear the way he would on any given night when enjoying music at home

What this could be called is an experiment to see how much distraction and stress a listener can undergo and still be able to hear differences that are otherwise obvious.

I can think of lots of things that are easy to do under regular circumstances, but become very difficult to perform with cameras, an audience, blindfolds, and a cool million dollars at stake.

BTW, Shadorn, have you ever tried comparing something like original Monster cable (or some other basic fat stranded cable) to any solid-core speaker cable (like Audioquest)? Without regard to which is better, are you saying that you are unable to detect any difference?
Shardone:
"Then why do you think John Atkinson and Dave Clark do not take up the challenge?

If it is "easy to distinguish" then surely the time/effort would be worth a million bucks?"

If the challenge to be able distinguish one from the other in a listening test I think it would be VERY easy indeed! But the challenge is to prove that Pear Anjou "perform better" than the equivalent Monster which is the catch. Since we are talking about listening here, isn't "better" in the ear of the beholder?

BTW, the Pear Anjou cable already does "perform better" in its ultra low inductance measurements. On that count alone they ARE better. But Randi seems to to think properties such as capacitance and inductance matter only to nut cases (read the writeup in his website).
Dave,

No I have not tried solid core so my experience is limited to ordinary stranded cables of several types (including extension cord cable, lamp cord, monster etc.) and none have made a wit of differece to my tin ears except that I felt much better about using thicker (higher AWG) cables for long runs (as per JBL table). I have not tried difficult load speakers or amps with high output impedance - so I have been in the situation of using gear that is likely to be only very modestly affected by a change in impedance - slight enough that it is inaudible to my tin ears.
Shadorne,

I think you are selling your ears short. Without getting in to exotic expensive cables, just try a set of some of the least expensive solid core cables in your system. I can't say that you will surely like them better, but I think you will easily hear a difference.

Years ago I used to keep a pair of original Monster speaker cable around along with the entry level Audioquest solid core wire. I would do comparisons for people who were sure that they couldn't tell the difference between any cables. To simplify the comparison I would take a single speaker and play about one minute on one cable and then switch to the other. The difference was so obvious that many of the listeners would start giggling.

The interesting thing was that some of these listeners were not audiophiles and had no idea what a Monster Cable or an AQ cable was. They had no "horse" in the race. For these people the listening comparison was tantamount to a blind listening test, just minus the stress that would normally accompany such a test for an audiophile who is concened about the outcome.
Dave,

You may be correct. I see that Monster now sells solid core interconnects and they clearly state on their website.

Ordinary cables can actually limit sound quality restricting dynamic range and frequency response. The result? You don't hear your music, dialogue and effects the way they were meant to be heard. Instead, soundstage is compressed, imaging smeared and vocals - both spoken and sung - difficult to understand.

and on the solid core they claim

You'll hear improved vocal reproduction, deeper, tighter bass, superior soundstage and excellent imaging...extraordinary improvements that properly designed cables can make in your sound system.

After reading this and your testimonial Dave, how can one not be totally convinced that claiming the Million bucks should be an absolute breeze.

If an audio reviewer says they cannot be bothered to discern "extraordinary improvements" in order to claim a million bucks then something is suspiciously wrong with the statements being issued by the audio cable industry and reviewers themselves!

=> Nobody seems willing to back up these claims. Are the claims actually extreme hyperbole?

Perhaps my understanding of "extraordinary" is different from others. As far as I am concerned, "extraordinary" should be clearly audible...no ifs, ands or buts about it.
Cool site,I booked it next to my Dead site so I dont have to get spread out so thin,adieu,Bob
Shadorne,

Just as some manufacturers may over-hype their products in their advertisements, be careful not to under-hype or underestimate the effect that various stressors can have on a person's ability to perform what is an otherwise relatively easy task.

I'm not sure I understand your position. Do you believe that there are no discernable sonic differences between any audio cables?
I am holding the fertility tweak. Cough...cough...cough...cough...

Nothing is happening :)
Do you believe that there are no discernable sonic differences between any audio cables?

I would believe if a reviewer would step up to the plate and defend their statements. In the absence of defence, I remain skeptical of statements that cables can make the kind of significant differences normally associated with acoustic treatments or changing speakers.From an engineering perspective (science) nothing I have ever read would support the kind of "extraordinary" claims being made. A small and barely audible difference is the most that could be expected, given properly matched components (components are normally designed to minimize the impact of cabling but there are some weird exceptions out there, so given the infinite possibilities out there some surprises must definitely occur!)
A small and barely audible difference is the most that could be expected

Well, at least that's a start.
If cables make no difference then why is Mr. Flat Earth not allowing the challenger (the person defending the fact cables make a difference) to select the high end cable of his or her choice to pit against the Monster Cable?

Seems obvious to me.

LM
LM,

Do you mean to say that because they have selected a well respected (already expensive) cable like Monster and chosen to make it go head to head with a $7,000 cable that it would be hard to tell the difference? If so, then I guess you agree with the general idea that "extraordinary" differences (the kind of claims made by many cable manufacturers and supported by reviewers) would not stand up to any serious test.

If you are suggesting that the challengers allow a 12 AWG wire to go up against a 30 AWG wire then no doubt the effect would be quite clearly audible (a million dollars would be quickly gone); deliberate selection of extreme cable resistance differences is bound to be audible due to the SPL drop. Similarly, if one were to select a cable with some active elements (capacitor/inductor) then the roll-off effect might become quite audible in some cases.

Dave,

Yes indeed a good start. You may be able to save me yet! What wire would you suggest for the mains?
Shadorne, I'd try some of the entry level Audioquest like Type 2 or Type 4. Both are solid core copper cables with the Type 4 being a heavier gauge. You can buy them raw for a few bucks a foot and not have to pay for termination.

Within the realm of slight audible differences, I find that these solid core cables sound a bit tighter in the bass than stranded cables generally. Solid core cables also tend to be a little smoother in the highs. No hocus pocus.
Shadorne,
What I am suggesting is that some "high-end" read "expensive" cables are in fact not worth their asking price and do in fact offer a negligible price to performance ratio as well as lower then acceptable ultimate performance given their asking prices. SO if cables DO NOT MAKE A DIFFERENCE then it should not matter which high end (expensive) cable challenges the Monster Cable and the choice of which cable takes on the Monster should be in the hands (and ears) of the challenger; and not a "ringer cable" selected by a person looking to prove ALL HIGH CABLES ARE JIVE; who will then take his "challenge results" to smear the real high end cable players whose cables do make a huge difference. Again if cables do not matter then the cable that takes on the Monster should not matter either. But it does matter, then this proves that (some) cables do in fact make a significant difference.

If I were I taking this bet I would select Synergistic Research Precision Reference Active Speaker cable ($2800) or Synergistic Research Active Apex speaker cables ($4600). These cables are significantly better then any cable I have ever heard in my system and I have owned cables that were several times more expensive then Synergistic Research Tesla Series cables. Perhaps some high end cables are little more then "snake oil" but Synergistic Research Tesla cables represent a paradigm shift in audio playback that is easily heard when compared to other high end cables- I'll bet you.

LM
LM,

Good point. That is the trouble with any test...it does not prove that all cables do not make a difference....only those two tested.

However, perhaps the idea is to show that a rave review may not be as authentic as it is made out to be.
>>>> perhaps the idea is to show that a rave review may not be as authentic as it is made out to be.<<<<

Shadorne,
I agree with you- a lot of mediocre and over priced cable and audio gear for that matter garners undeserved rave reviews however I doubt that this is the gist of this exercise. It will be interesting to follow the fall out after the challenge is met however I have an idea as to the outcome- most likely "my test proves once and for all that ALL high end ables are fraud"

Time will tell.
LM
I was recently a sucker for the cable hype, but was enlightened by a person who requested that I remove all of my high end Nordost Cable and replace it with Monster Cable to see if I noticed any loss in quality of sound. To my surprise after a week of listening, I didn't miss the high end cable at all. I then invested all of that money into a high end CD/SACD player where I noticed a BIG improvement in sound quality. The idea is to put your money where it makes the most difference. Who cares about the super-duper specs of high end cable if you can't hear, or can barely hear the difference.
>>>I was recently a sucker for the cable hype<<<

Yet another nail in the coffin of excellence. If the champions of mediocrity can convince everyone (or just enough people) that cables, electronics, and speakers beyound the mass market level are "hype" then the market will be clear for overpriced, but less expensive then real quality products, to take over and the dumbing down of consumers will be complete. Perhaps someday not too far off boards will be full of people singing the praises of highly compressed audio broad cast wirelessly through their homes via iPods to plastic speakers with perfect measurements- with nothing of real substance to comair against the battle is won.

If anyone has ever read George Orwells 1984, think "Double Plus Good"

Good night and good luck,
LM
Or yet another dollar in the pocket of scammers...
Redwoodgarden,
I'm glad we have you and others like you to protect us from personal senses we should no longer trust- Thank you.

I would greatly appreciate your list of subjective elements to life, thought, art, literature, cuisine, beauty, or anything else you feel should be off limits to thought, individual discretion, and personal responsibility. It will be a glorious day indeed when we no longer have to think for our self’s and can instead entrust our lives to wiser, selfless, and enlightened people who have our best interests at heart.

LM
I would never go back to using Monster cable. It is too expensive, and the sound sucks. I roll my own. :)
Leica Man,
I envy your articulatory satire skills; however, you missed the whole point of my comments. To me it's a waste hard earned money investing in cable which have subtleties beyond my range of hearing. Personally I would rather spend my money on equipment which have auditory improvements that I and everyone else can easily notice and enjoy.
So this is heating up. Apparently Stereophile's Mickey Fremer picked up the gauntlet J. Randi threw down. That is, assuming they can agree on the ground rules.

http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/calling-bullshit/updated-journalist-accepts-1-million-challenge-do-7250-cables-sound-better-or-not-311034.php?retitled
Nice try Redwoodgarden- in my original blog to this thread I pointed out how Mr. Randi (Mr. Flat Earth’s) "challenge" is stacked against anyone who would challenge his basic premise that all cables sound pretty much alike when I wrote the following:

>>> “why is Mr. Flat Earth not allowing the challenger (the person defending the fact cables make a difference) to select the high end cable of his or her choice to pit against the Monster Cable?”<<<

I then acknowledged many cables are in fact hype and not worth their asking price. This plays to my point that the person defending the value of high(er) end cables should be able to select a cable of their choice to go up against “The Monster” due in large part to the fact most cables are not worth their asking price.

>>> “SO if cables DO NOT MAKE A DIFFERENCE then it should not matter which high end (expensive) cable challenges the Monster Cable and the choice of which cable takes on the Monster should be in the hands (and ears) of the challenger; and not a "ringer cable" selected by a person looking to prove ALL HIGH CABLES ARE JIVE; who will then take his "challenge results" to smear the real high end cable players whose cables do make a huge difference.”<<<

You chime in with all cables are a rip off:
>>> “Or yet another dollar in the pocket of scammers...”<<<

Why do people who purport all cables to sound alike or at best only slightly different have a problem with someone wanting to select a different cable to go up against “The MONSTER?” Moreover, why do they have a problem conducting the listening test in the system the listener wearing the blindfold is familiar with? After all, if all cables sound alike or too close to discern real differences why would the listening room, electronics, and challenge cable matter since they know ALL CABLES SOUND ALIKE?

Giving people who don’t understand the true value of high resolution cables the benefit of the doubt one can only conclude these people do not have carefully set up systems or perhaps they have only tried overpriced mass market cables and are assuming their limited sample group is representative of all cables- an inductive argument at best. After all if you have only seen ten dogs in your life and all were brown, you could conclude, “all dog’s are brown.” But to berate others who have seen red, yellow, or black dogs as insane or suggest the sun was in their eyes and therefore they should not trust what they saw is absurd. While trying to prove this point by preventing the person who lives in a neighborhood with dogs of different colors from presenting dogs in their neighborhood as proof only shows the frailty of their argument.

LM
I've never seen someone get so upset about trying to rationalize wasting so much money on something that make so little difference.
I am not upset but you have no idea how much a cable can contribute to the sound of a system. Switching to Synergistic Research Tesla cables was easily the single biggest and most clearly audible improvement I have ever made to a system. Comparatively speaking it was also one of the most cost effective improvements I have ever made.

You simply do not know what you are talking about and so you fall back on the argumentum ad hominem with nothing of substance to back up your claims.

LM
...if you have only seen ten dogs in your life and all were brown, you could conclude, “all dog’s are brown.” But to berate others who have seen red, yellow, or black dogs as insane or suggest the sun was in their eyes and therefore they should not trust what they saw is absurd.

LM
Leica_man (System | Threads | Answers)

An outstanding analogy.
The Tesla shields the signal from RFI and EMI. What they have solved is how to do that while not polluting the signal with dielectric random charges. That is a buffered electrical clean-out charge. Did I get that right?

This is not reason enough to say you get what you pay for.

My system being very sensitive to ill behaving insulation, I construct cables relying on air dielectric. I don't bother with shielding because I keep my cables very short.
I am willing to concede to the winner of the Randi challenge. This is going to be very interesting. All of the endless debating at Audiogon will come to a head at the conclusion of this contest. Perhaps a lot of high end cable companies will be going broke after this scam is exposed. Or maybe naysayers, like myself, will have to reconsider the effectiveness of high end cable. Regardless, it would not be justifiable for me to spend tons of money on high end cable as I personally can not hear any difference. However, it could be conceivable that others have doglike ears and can actually tell the difference, and would be justifiable for them to invest money in high end cables.

Regardless of the outcome, individuals need to hear the difference for themselves and base their investment on how much difference THEY hear and how much they can afford. Only a fool would spend all of their money on high end cable just because of the outcome of a contest, hype from a magazine, or gossip from a website.

I am not upset but you have no idea how much a cable can contribute to the sound of a system. Switching to Synergistic Research Tesla cables was easily the single biggest and most clearly audible improvement I have ever made to a system.

LM and Redwood,

I believe LM might be using "Active Cables". The speaker cables need to be plugged into the wall and the shield is activated with a DC current with return on a separate ground wire. A buffer circuit is added between the Shield and ground wire. About 30 Volts DC is applied. Details are, of course, proprietary, although anyone with $3000 or so to burn could cut them open and check the circuits.

Speaker cables with active power and buffer circuitry will without doubt have the potential for much greater impact to the sound than ordinary wire. No wonder it made such a big difference to LM! Far from having an ordinary brown dog or black dog, you could say LM has a white unicorn - you know something entirely different and quite rare...not even the same species as what ordinary folks would consider a dog.
Dave Clark of Positive Feedback says of Pear Anjou Cables,

…way better than anything I have heard…Simply put these are very danceable cables. Music playing through them results in the proverbial foot-tapping scene with the need or desire to get up and move. Great swing and pace – these cables smack that right on the nose big time.

Is this what he means by danceable cables?
Leica Man, I see your point that the testee should be able to choose his own cables, but surely a professional cable reviewer (among other things) should be able to tell the difference between Pear Anjous and Monster Cable whether the Anjous would be what he would choose as best cable or not.

For Fremer this should be like seeing the difference between a dark brown dog and a tan dog on a sunny day.