For me it was the horror of spiked loudspeaker stands. Some of these vandalising monstrosities even had spiked top plates!! Ouch!
After all the careful alignment and sitting of spikes through carpet (on crosshead screws no less) what was the improvement in sound?
Bugger all improvement I'd say! Yet many voices, Linn amongst the loudest, were proclaiming that these items of ironmongery had to be assembled with enough pressure to almost burst blood vessels. Ditto for headshells.
Thankfully the alternative approach of a degree of loudspeaker isolation is now making a comeback.
Eventually we may even see a return back to the days when speakers used to come with small attached rubber feet.
“What’s your vote for the most ridiculous, overpriced, and useless tweak?”
>>>>>Look at it like a Venn diagram. 🥨 The three criteria you name are mutually exclusive except in rare cases. You got your ridiculous tweaks, which may or may not be overpriced OR useless. By the same token an overpriced tweak might not (rpt not) be ridiculous OR useless. And a useless tweak might not be ridiculous OR overpriced. A ridiculous tweak could be FREE, so it could a useless tweak. There may be many tweaks meet two out of three criteria. But, gentle readers, the universe in which all three criteria are met - the center area of the Venn diagram 🥨 - is probably quite small. Maybe there should be three separate threads. 😬
Ridiculous: Stereophile's Jonathan Scull. Tie between the time he said the cleaning lady moved his carpet and it sounded better with the fibers going one way than another, and the time he said his CD player sounded worse after some work being done.... because they had put the screws on too tight.
Overpriced: CD Greenlight pen, an ordinary paint pen for $30.
Useless: Shakti Stone. Though to be fair, only for its intended purpose. Very useful as a door stop or paperweight.
This is at the centre of the Venn :
Ridiculous - check
Overpriced - check
Useless - check *
* smears imaging and de-focuses soundstage so it has a use, but not one that I would call useful.
I am hoping that this will be a thread we can have some fun with, but I'll clarify a bit. What got me thinking about this is that I was at one of the retailers I frequent, where I’ve spent quite a bit recently. He actually asked me to buy one of these (similar price, not these) and after I thought about it I was pretty insulted. Did he think I was a pigeon? I don’t know about the rest of you, but I didn’t make my money by being anyone’s fool.
So, no lalitk, I don’t have any empirical evidence, and frankly your very serious and utterly humorless comment does help make my point…that maybe some high end vendors do see us as pigeons, who will try anything. At my age I believe I do a pretty good job of identifying the ridiculous, and avoiding getting bilked by con men…that frankly I think prey on the somewhat neurotic behavior of some audiophiles. I submit that a Borneo fruit bat couldn’t detect a difference in the sound with or without a $220 outlet cover (well, maybe you could), and I’m not going to get swindled to find out.
Geoffkait, good point, maybe I should have used ‘or’ but I wanted leave it wide open for responses. That said, I believe that this product would be a great example of the Venn intersection, dead center. And there are a number other examples I’ve spotted over the years.
Millerc, good question. I rest on my comments above, simply con artist detection, not trial. Things that just don’t pass the smell test, and are too expensive and ridiculous to even try. (just read your Stereophile Scull example, hilarious!)
So, if any of you can think of a tweak that seems absurd, please share, because I vote that there are indeed MANY “ridiculous, overpriced, and useless tweaks.”
I’ve been designing and selling audiophile products based on piezoelectric crystals for a wide range of audio applications, including but not limited to power plugs, walls, windows, room acoustics, for more than 15 years. I also designed and have been selling a wall outlet that acts like a resonator for around ten years but who’s counting? No big deal. Maybe for someone living in a cave.
I agree with Frank. But first coat the inside with fo.Q tape and then apply the Total Contact onto the fo.Q tape. I found that to be even better, and it’s easily removable if you move out of the house.
My main wall duplex outlet has SR graphene treated screws for the wiring, fo.Q/TC inner plate lining, fo.Q outer plate lining and AVM paint on the internal wiring and casing. Unused outlets are plugged with PPT Stop-It! duplex plugs. I think it was also blasted with the SR Tesla coil when I sent it to SR for treatment. I’m happy with the results.
@stringreen , good point. I never got on well with spikes - maybe it was my ancient floorboards to blame. So naturally I'm biased a little, and maybe that colours what I hear. I don't know, but they didn't work for me.
I also hate the thought of record clamps, heavy ones especially because of the additional weight just where you don't want it.
You're right this hobby is largely about preferences or else it would be easy and we'd all have similar systems.
“What got me thinking about this is that I was at one of the retailers I frequent, where I’ve spent quite a bit recently. He actually asked me to buy one of these (similar price, not these) and after I thought about it I was pretty insulted. Did he think I was a pigeon? I don’t know about the rest of you, but I didn’t make my money by being anyone’s fool.”
So you felt insulted by this retailer and thought of venting your frustration here...great. The only point you made with your post is you’re one of those individuals willing to diss a product without even trying.
BTW, pigeons are extraordinarily intelligent birds 😉
Most useless, overpriced (most are overpriced) tweak would be the tweak that doesn’t work as advertised (most don’t) and that is way overpriced (most are) to boot.
I am not speaking about any of your tweaks as they cost very little money , especially considering what most others charge.
@roberjerman yeah crazy, right?
Some African wood.
I read once that the wood came from a swamp in Africa............
SWAMP? I didn't know Africa had swamps. Also, what is so special about this African swamp wood that swamps in say, Louisiana don't have? Apparently audiophiles have waded through various swamps around the world, making record clamps from these exotic swamp woods and have determined that the characteristics of the African swamp wood does a better job in making records sound good than others.
But seriously, what they’re doing is criminal.
BTW, pigeons are extraordinarily intelligent birdsAlso the fastest land bird in level flight. Clocked at what, 54 miles per hour.
Look at them. Barrel chested little things, all engine, no body. They became that way, over time, from the need to escape predators, with sprint power.
So ya.... best quarter mile? The lowly pigeon.
As for tweaks that are ’original’. the bybee devices, are to my understanding, ’original’. which means a notable amount of what they are is in the IP, or the intellectual property. The original ideas from that given intellect.
We have to respect the intellectual property, otherwise nothing would be here today, there would be no original works and humanity would not have moved forward. I believe there is also a limit in that area, re paying for it. But there is room for a middle ground in there, somewhere.
Perhaps the problem is one of intellectual theft being the fundamental in human behaviour re the aftereffect of human observation. Theft being the norm and all.
Importantly, If I spend 20-30 years figuring something out, and most of the change or difference is due to the 20-30 years of hard work and life spent/used up in that work, then..no one is getting that for free, just because they want it for free or think it should be free.
If they want it for free, then they can spend or work and sweat over something for 20-30 years and then just give to me and everyone else for free. See how they feel about that.
elizabeth sez ...
"In particular Shakti Sticks ..."
While I agree that they are flimsy, they DO work like crazy to help get a room under control. I have four in my system, one behind each speaker, and two more behind the listening position. I have A/B’ed them many times for doubters so they can hear the difference. Very effective ... just have the Gorilla Glue handy in the event that one gets knocked over.
I’m not a tweak fanatic but...
Shakti Stones standing on edge on my tube amps between the mains and output transformers definitely makes an improvement in the lower frequency separation. It has the same effect as moving the transformers further apart (I have built many a tube amp and experimented with tranny placement and orientation as my reference).
Back in the mid 90's, Michael Greene of Roomtunes fame, (sorry for any mis-spelling) made his bid to convince me that the kind of screws (re. what they were made of), that held the circuit boards in place, would make a dramatic difference in the component of which they were applied. I would assume he was trying to control the resonances to the circuit boards by said screws. While I have never been in the position to test his theory, I remain skeptically unconvinced that this would make any worthwhile improvement other than drive up the price of the component. IMO.
Decoupling the printed circuit boards from the chassis, including removing screws, is a way better idea than using special screws. For example, use cork squares to decouple the circuit boards from the chassis, and remove all or most screws. This is especially important if there’s a large transformer inside the chassis.
No way the same audio components will sound the same in different reviewers room, treated or non-treated by acoustic tweaks for example, without speaking of the vibrations that plague almost all audio system unbeknown to the listener...
Then judgement on the value of tweaks are like reviews, only rarely more than very generally significative for each of us and most of the times illusory,because of these differences of implementation,first in different audio components grids, second in different electrical grids,third in different acoustic environment... I dont even speak about the different listening capabilities of each of us,resulting from our specific audiophile habits personal history...That explain much of the contradictory report about specific tweak... If your system is not very refine or at least if not optimally or minimally embedded in these 3 grids, how can you perceive subtle but clear differences?
In lack of personal research and experience and experiments many people resort to denigration or denial, I prefer experimenting... But another point, many cie. sold tweaks that are too much costly, I prefer to recreate them by myself if possible... The last tweak that was too much cost for me than I recreate with astounding results at almost no cost were Helmholtz generator... Stupendous artefact easy to create that transform completely for me my audio already treated room...No need to pay thousand dollars...
But certainly someone with time to loose will denigrate that without any experimenting...I hate snake oil but I hate people who hate systematically anything they dont like and called that " snake oil" also,because often for them anything is snake oil...Thinking, experimenting, and loving and partaking tweaks are truly great activity in audio...
P.S. The simple truth is most audio tweaks are overpriced perhaps, but are not, most of the times, pure snake oil "per se" but depend of the quality of the 3 embedding grids, audio,electrical, and acoustical, where they will be implemented to be listen to with great or less great success....
Perhaps this question will be more interesting:
What’s your vote for the most astounding,underpriced, and useful tweak?
My answer will be because it is so cheap and simple to make : Helmholtz resonator....