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  • What is and isn't snake oil?

    Ask a few seasoned audiophiles at a meeting of audiophiles nonetheless. The gentleman speaking at the 8:10 mark made some of the best points, IMO. The story about Sid Marks is worth the watch..

    Treating CD edges with a green marker is a good one and before that The Mod Squad disc damper. The locating ring you had to stick to the center of the disc was a pain to peel off and it always left glue residue that was impossible to remove. Fortunately I only did a few dozen discs but the 2nd hand CD resellers would reject them every time.

    Linn Kilmax LP12 | Channel D | Valvet | Muse Elec.| Innuos | Klipsch

    A great challenge of life: Knowing enough to think you are right, but not knowing enough to know when when you are wrong - Neil deGrasse Tyson

  • #2
    One person’s snake oil is another person’s beloved tweak.
    Micro Seiki SX-8000 table with flywheel, SME 3012R arm, SME 312S arm, Lyra Etna SL and Dynavector XV-1S cartridges, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers, and Def Tech Ref subs.

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    • #3
      Peter Belt’s paper clips and tin foil nonsense and Mpingo dots you stick around the room are snake oil.

      Cables, often considered snake oil, often do make a difference so are not.
      Last edited by shawnwes; 03-04-2020, 08:37 AM.
      "I'm...a rather simple person with a limited talent and perhaps a limited perspective"...Bill Evans

      LP playback: Ariston RD 11 Superieur, Audiomods Series 6 Tonearm, Dynavector DV DRT XV-1s, Valab LCR MkIII, Target wall-mounted turntable shelf

      Amplification: Exposure 2010 S2

      Speakers: B&W Nautilus 805 on sand-filled Atacama stands

      Cabling: Audio Sensibility Statement SE (ics), Audio Sensibility Testaments (spkr)

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Rob View Post
        Ask a few seasoned audiophiles at a meeting of audiophiles nonetheless. The gentleman speaking at the 8:10 mark made some of the best points, IMO. The story about Sid Marks is worth the watch..

        Treating CD edges with a green marker is a good one and before that The Mod Squad disc damper. The locating ring you had to stick to the center of the disc was a pain to peel off and it always left glue residue that was impossible to remove. Fortunately I only did a few dozen discs but the 2nd hand CD resellers would reject them every time.

        It all comes down to value.

        Value for the dollar of course and certainly value in terms of your perception of the the improvement. So much makes a difference at the levels we play at... but is an improvement or simply a difference


        The biggest issue with snake oil in high end is really the cost equation. High end has become unapproachable, too few units out the door for a smaller audience. Thus, as the the units out the door decline the snake oil that surrounds that product abounds. Whether it be exotic materials, unusual concepts (sealed ground boxes full of some earthen material) , gold and silver flashing, CNC XYZ axis machined boxes for dampening... you name it.

        I am not saying it is not expensive to produce these items ... but its often done for some perceived benefit ( snake oil) that makes the whole value equation not work .

        Front end: Aesthetix Io Eclipse with 2 Power Supplies and Volume controls
        Brinkmann La Grange & RonT Tube Power supply with Kuzma 4-point ,FR64S, Brinkmann 12.1 , .Koetsu Jade Platinum,Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum, Lyra Atlas, Lyra Etna SL Goldfinger Statement, KLAUDIO RCM, HRSM3X
        Amps: Wyetech Topaz, Futterman H3 Quad II,Citation II, Marantz 8b, 5 ,2
        Pre-Amps:Marantz 7, Marantz Model 1 Consolette Pair
        Speakers: Quad ESL 57, Beveridge Model 3 DD amps, REL S/2 x 2
        Otari 5050BXII, DeHavilland 222

        Comment


        • #5
          While all things may or may not work in one system, it doesn’t mean it would not work in another - there are no guarantees and hopefully for the ones that don’t work there is a full return policy.

          I’m sure there have been a few con artists out there, Paul McGowen references some type of radiation box of sorts at an audio show he called out as B/S but aside from that I have not heard much.









          Source Analog: Kuzma Stabi R with 4point 9 arm & Kuzma 40 Cartridge
          Source Digital: Aurender N10 | Brinkmann Nyquist MK II
          Amplification: Dan D’Agostino Momentum Pre Amp and Monos | Boulder Phono 508
          Speakers: Wilson Alexias
          Cabling: Nordost Valhalla 2/Odin: power, interconnects & speaker | Ansuz: C2 power & interconnect | Audioquest Diamond RJ45’s
          Power: Nordost QRT series | Furutech FP55SN cable from 20 Amp Breakers on grounded sub panel to Furutech GTX D NSF receptacle packages | Surge Guard at Main Panel | Keces P3 & P8 | ADD POWR series
          Other: HRS M3X | Stillpoints Ultra 6, SS & Mini | Nordost Sort Cones TC & BC | AQ Vox SE switch | Gigafoil v4 | Vicoustics | Audio Desk Systeme - Gläss

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by kcin View Post

            It all comes down to value.

            Value for the dollar of course and certainly value in terms of your perception of the the improvement. So much makes a difference at the levels we play at... but is an improvement or simply a difference


            The biggest issue with snake oil in high end is really the cost equation. High end has become unapproachable, too few units out the door for a smaller audience. Thus, as the the units out the door decline the snake oil that surrounds that product abounds. Whether it be exotic materials, unusual concepts (sealed ground boxes full of some earthen material) , gold and silver flashing, CNC XYZ axis machined boxes for dampening... you name it.

            I am not saying it is not expensive to produce these items ... but its often done for some perceived benefit ( snake oil) that makes the whole value equation not work .
            I will posit that more times than not it's a difference that is readily apparent when we hear it, but I will also posit the bigger the initial difference you hear is, the more it will grate on your nerves over time. Plugging in the latest audio mob approved power cord in a piece of your gear shouldn't result in a "system transformation" and if that is what you hear, you need to start asking yourself some questions. Ditto for speaker cables. Everything is a filter now with the goal of turning your system into a black hole that sucks all the "noise" out of your system.
            Micro Seiki SX-8000 table with flywheel, SME 3012R arm, SME 312S arm, Lyra Etna SL and Dynavector XV-1S cartridges, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers, and Def Tech Ref subs.

            Comment


            • #7
              Was I the only one who thought that was an atypical audio society???? Pose the same question to members of the LAOCAS and will get a totally different reaction.

              That said after losing 11 minutes of my life watching that video. Did some of these people understand the question? What some were talking about had nothing to do with the question. But music servers being snake oil? Cables? In this day and age?

              Let's be honest. A product will either do one of three things:

              Improve the sound
              Degrade the sound
              Do nothing to the sound

              Also important to consider: not every product will work in every system. Take sports even for example. Some training techniques work with beginners and not experienced athletes and vice versa. Take Mpingo discs for instance. In my system (back in the '90s) they had no effect. But the little discs clearly had an effect in an audiobuddy's system who used MBL 101As back then.

              I guess I just can't wrap my head around people thinking interconnect and speaker cables are snake oil. Power cords? OK though I don't agree with certain reservations. Price and whether they are worth the price is one thing; but whether they work is a whole 'nuther thing altogether. Again, the cables must be matched to the price of the system it's being used in. Once in a great while there are cables that truly exceed all expectations and elevate a system to a new level.

              And just because you can't hear an effect doesn't mean someone else can't. Years ago I actually received a box containoing all of Peter Belt's tweaks. I didn't hear anything with most of them save the power cord wrap. And there I felt it degraded the sound. Yes, I heard an effect with the Tice clock but I thought it too degraded the sound (rolled off the upper octaves that might have been a blessing in the days of early digital).

              We also did a blind listening test back in the '90s of five different CD tweaks including the green pen, Sumiko's little rubber belts you put around the outside of a CD, a CD damper made by someone now long forgotten and two other CD Rxs. Out of the five, the only one everyone clearly ID'd as different from the control disc was the green pen. Oh. The person doing the test also included an internal control (another identical disc to the control disc) and everyone thought that sounded different than the control disc. Little did we know back then about the variability of the sound of CDs.

              That leads us to the topic off tweaks and accessories. These were originally meant to be inexpensive ways of improving the sound of your system. Say for under $25 or even under $100, Mod Squad tiptoes or Optrix CD cleaner fluid for example. But now we have "accessories" that are $3000 and more and that to me kinda kills the original objective.

              PS. I also find the issue with many of these snake oil product is that they do have an effect and degrade the sound. Or let's make your system sound any way you want it to
              Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
              Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
              ________________________________________

              -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
              -cj 40th Anniversary ART300 monoblock amplifiers and Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
              -cj GAT preamplifier Series 2 and Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
              -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
              -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
              -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
              -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
              -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
              -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
              -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

              Comment


              • kcin
                kcin commented
                Editing a comment
                Exactly the $50 tweak was a lark way back when -now the tweak or improvements add thousands or multiples of thousands to the product.

              • atmasphere
                atmasphere commented
                Editing a comment
                Its easy enough to measure the effects of a power cord so they aren't in the snake oil department.

              • Joe Appierto
                Joe Appierto commented
                Editing a comment
                First of all, Happy Easter to everyone.

                Second, Myles do you think there may be a fourth category: Improves the sound in one area and degrades it in another?

            • #8
              Originally posted by mep View Post

              I will posit that more times than not it's a difference that is readily apparent when we hear it, but I will also posit the bigger the initial difference you hear is, the more it will grate on your nerves over time. Plugging in the latest audio mob approved power cord in a piece of your gear shouldn't result in a "system transformation" and if that is what you hear, you need to start asking yourself some questions. Ditto for speaker cables. Everything is a filter now with the goal of turning your system into a black hole that sucks all the "noise" out of your system.
              Agree 100%. Made the same observation for many years. Wow! Listen to all that detail. One hour later. Oh boy do I have a splitting headache!
              Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
              Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
              ________________________________________

              -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
              -cj 40th Anniversary ART300 monoblock amplifiers and Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
              -cj GAT preamplifier Series 2 and Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
              -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
              -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
              -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
              -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
              -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
              -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
              -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

              Comment


              • #9
                Originally posted by Rob View Post
                Ask a few seasoned audiophiles at a meeting of audiophiles nonetheless. The gentleman speaking at the 8:10 mark made some of the best points, IMO. The story about Sid Marks is worth the watch..

                Treating CD edges with a green marker is a good one and before that The Mod Squad disc damper. The locating ring you had to stick to the center of the disc was a pain to peel off and it always left glue residue that was impossible to remove. Fortunately I only did a few dozen discs but the 2nd hand CD resellers would reject them every time.

                I was not present for the watermelon eating errr.... listening contest. Were the watermelons chilled or at room temp?

                Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                ________________________________________

                -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
                -cj 40th Anniversary ART300 monoblock amplifiers and Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
                -cj GAT preamplifier Series 2 and Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
                -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

                Comment


                • #10
                  Originally posted by kcin View Post

                  It all comes down to value.

                  Value for the dollar of course and certainly value in terms of your perception of the the improvement. So much makes a difference at the levels we play at... but is an improvement or simply a difference


                  The biggest issue with snake oil in high end is really the cost equation. High end has become unapproachable, too few units out the door for a smaller audience. Thus, as the the units out the door decline the snake oil that surrounds that product abounds. Whether it be exotic materials, unusual concepts (sealed ground boxes full of some earthen material) , gold and silver flashing, CNC XYZ axis machined boxes for dampening... you name it.

                  I am not saying it is not expensive to produce these items ... but its often done for some perceived benefit ( snake oil) that makes the whole value equation not work .
                  For me its more philosophical. What's the end game if you will and what/which tweak's will bring my system closer to some ideal? Obsessing with tweaks boils down to restlessness or some sort of neurosis about getting what you paid for by trying to 'improve' what you already own. I'm 'over' tweaks. I save all my irrational and compulsive energies for music collecting which is infinitely more rewarding
                  Linn Kilmax LP12 | Channel D | Valvet | Muse Elec.| Innuos | Klipsch

                  A great challenge of life: Knowing enough to think you are right, but not knowing enough to know when when you are wrong - Neil deGrasse Tyson

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Here is my take. If one has a system and has put the time into knowing it well most all matter in the video.
                    I don’t expect most to understand why nor do I claim to know all Reasons.
                    but the ones I’m listing below I think most here will agree
                    interconnects
                    power cords
                    servers , streamers
                    water melon be it on top of speakers or most any other devices we use.
                    the feet 🦶 we use on all stuff.
                    even as it pains me to say cable lifters too under some circumstances.
                    speaker cables a big one.
                    but if ones setup if congested or so off kilt I can see why many may feel it’s all a waist.
                    as I post on forums both private and open forums. plenty of my ramblings get ignored lol.
                    here is a simple one
                    flac , wave or wave 64 or AIFF. they all sound different to me but many just ignore me. 🤔😂
                    analog stuff.
                    otari mtr 10 2 track 1/4 made new by soren
                    otari mtr 10 2 track 1/4 1/2 combo made new by soren
                    sota sapphire used eminent tech ver 2 arm
                    new sota nova table has magnetic levitation platter and full speed control and latest motor same arm as above
                    thorens td124 sme ver 2 arm
                    thorens td125 sme ver 2 arm
                    kenwood direct drive sme ver 2 arm
                    phono preamp Ml no 25 all re capped
                    speakers cust infinity IRS V , new caps and LPS , magnets etc.
                    mark levivson pre no 26 amps no 33
                    digital three cust servers , win ser 2016 , AO
                    Dacs lampi various

                    Comment


                    • #12
                      Originally posted by Alrainbow View Post
                      Here is my take. If one has a system and has put the time into knowing it well most all matter in the video.
                      I don’t expect most to understand why nor do I claim to know all Reasons.
                      but the ones I’m listing below I think most here will agree
                      interconnects
                      power cords
                      servers , streamers
                      water melon be it on top of speakers or most any other devices we use.
                      the feet 🦶 we use on all stuff.
                      even as it pains me to say cable lifters too under some circumstances.
                      speaker cables a big one.
                      but if ones setup if congested or so off kilt I can see why many may feel it’s all a waist.
                      as I post on forums both private and open forums. plenty of my ramblings get ignored lol.
                      here is a simple one
                      flac , wave or wave 64 or AIFF. they all sound different to me but many just ignore me. 🤔😂
                      If you can measure the effects its probably not snake oil. Things that have measurable effects from the list above:
                      Interconnects
                      power cords
                      servers, streamers
                      tip toes and other kinds of feet- the effects of these depend very much on what kind of footer they are but they fall into two categories- isolation and coupling.
                      speaker cables

                      So really on your list the only one that isn't measurable is the watermelon, unless liquid from it has damaged the speaker on which it rests.

                      In a lot of cases, it is often best to measure the effects the item has on other products such as an amplifier. But in some cases you have to place a microphone in the room and do a spectral analysis of 'before' and 'after' , while also being very careful to not make any other change during the two measurements.

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        I was waiting for you. Your the one here who makes audio stuff. The water melon may work but so would a Brock or any other heaven object. For reasons you wound know better then me.
                        The melon on the speaker is a carnie trick but does change it. when I started playing with amps I found the sound varied. Cover on or off caps inside or out and so on.
                        analog stuff.
                        otari mtr 10 2 track 1/4 made new by soren
                        otari mtr 10 2 track 1/4 1/2 combo made new by soren
                        sota sapphire used eminent tech ver 2 arm
                        new sota nova table has magnetic levitation platter and full speed control and latest motor same arm as above
                        thorens td124 sme ver 2 arm
                        thorens td125 sme ver 2 arm
                        kenwood direct drive sme ver 2 arm
                        phono preamp Ml no 25 all re capped
                        speakers cust infinity IRS V , new caps and LPS , magnets etc.
                        mark levivson pre no 26 amps no 33
                        digital three cust servers , win ser 2016 , AO
                        Dacs lampi various

                        Comment


                        • #14
                          No idea what a 'Brock' is. I'm not buying the melon thing.

                          Comment


                          • Rob
                            Rob commented
                            Editing a comment
                            im fairly good a scrabble, if I were a betting man id guess "brick"

                          • astrotoy
                            astrotoy commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Heaven is heavy, wound is would. Once you get used to Al's spelling quirks, what he writes does (usually) make sense!

                            Larry

                        • #15
                          The Mellon is an absolute if the speakers drivers are not very well isolated. I don’t speakers but I wish Gary koh would chime in here. The drivers react to each other and to the enclosure. If you just placed your hand on a book shelf it will change. Think footers here.
                          now most all of our devices vary if put on there sides or remove covers or change the covers. I know I’m the idiot here and it’s ok but this is a fact I can swear too. It’s also why say don’t stack our stuff and keep things near it too. Same of we put the stuff behind massive speakers it varies things.
                          anyway I like this place and all of the kind people here.
                          analog stuff.
                          otari mtr 10 2 track 1/4 made new by soren
                          otari mtr 10 2 track 1/4 1/2 combo made new by soren
                          sota sapphire used eminent tech ver 2 arm
                          new sota nova table has magnetic levitation platter and full speed control and latest motor same arm as above
                          thorens td124 sme ver 2 arm
                          thorens td125 sme ver 2 arm
                          kenwood direct drive sme ver 2 arm
                          phono preamp Ml no 25 all re capped
                          speakers cust infinity IRS V , new caps and LPS , magnets etc.
                          mark levivson pre no 26 amps no 33
                          digital three cust servers , win ser 2016 , AO
                          Dacs lampi various

                          Comment

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