What is the goofiest product or product category in high-end audio?

Stereophile's picture
High-end audio has always supported a fringe element of manufacturers who make bizarre products backed up by loopy "research." Curious, strange, or just plain silly, these products, and the claims made for them, have given the audio hobby a sort of "Flat Earth Society" cult reputation.
What is the goofiest product or product category in high-end audio?
Ultra-expensive low-power amplifiers
7% (14 votes)
Ceremonial listening aids (small items that affect sound)
34% (67 votes)
Magic clocks with "programmed electrons"
17% (34 votes)
Cable "trees"
1% (2 votes)
Water-encased speaker cables
12% (24 votes)
Illuminated speaker cables
12% (23 votes)
Other (please explain)
16% (31 votes)
Total votes: 195
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Comments
Jeff Horowitz's picture

Bedini CD Clarifier---like an idiot, I had to get the expensive "powered" one. A waste of money!

tyc's picture

I wish I could vote for more than one category; I've considered reasonably knowledgeable in the arcane matters of Hi-Fi, but I haven't a clue what 'magic clocks' and cable 'trees' are

KC Teo's picture

Shun Mook Mpingo Disks? You gotta be kidding.

Joel's picture

I don't think there is one category that is silly. If anything is silly about high-end audio, it's the fact that most of us can't wait to hear about the new, most current thing that can enhance our listening enjoyment, whether it be a $2 double-platinum binding post or a $10,000 interconnect. I think most of us like the hobby enough that any review of a new product is worth looking at. Since the hobby is an expensive hobby, we all can't decide to get new "main" components all the time, so some of the little tweaky things that come along from time to time are kind of fun.I think this for a couple of reasons: 1) They just might enhance our listening pleasure (if we're very lucky). 2) Even if we don't admit it, it's always a nice little ego boost when our friends come over and see a new little gadget incorporated into our systems---then we can explain how our "complex musical tastes" need the device that we've taken such care choosing to purchase for our component lineup.

Karl Richichi, U.T.  Media's picture

High-end power cable??? Thousands of dollars for a 2' power cord has got to be in the top ten . . . Does the power cable from the power station to your house need to be gold-plated as well for it to work right???

Michael Franks's picture

The mpingo disc and the shatki stone, specifically.

David Gulliver's picture

ALL OF THE ABOVE! My personal favorite: CD treatments of any kind. Green pens, rubber bands, Armor All, etc., cannot change a "1" to a "0" no matter WHAT you think you hear.

Anonymous's picture

The Shin Mook thing is a joke

Will James's picture

CD Diapers---A new "no load" gauze-like material applied to the upper surface of your CDs that reportedly is derived from the tips of a secret tree in southeast Asia discovered by Zen-master audiophiles. Filters the, uh, well . . . the unwanted "crap" out of those CDs of questionable audio quality. Restores vinyl-like aural timbres, removes dark, loud resonances, presents HUGE soundstage, and serves duplicate service in the event the Charmin runs out.

Bobby M.  Ma's picture

Come on, get real.

Geff Ratcheson's picture

How about a catagory called "any non-hardware suggested by Jonathan Scull" P.S. I MISS Cory Greenberg!!

Anh Vuu's picture

Programmed Electrons? IT seems Barnum @ Bailey just hit town.

SKOSRO@aol's picture

99% of the tweaks.

C.  E.  Aurigemma's picture

A $10,000 "Phono Cartridge" . . . in other words, a freakin' record needle!!

Melvyn Kopstein's picture

Solvents for gold connections, green lights for CDs, etc., make claims that are based upon subjective listening. There should be a scientific explanation that---at least qualitatively---makes sense. Sound reproduction involves fields of study such as physics, chemistry, and electrical engineering. In making claims about improvements in sound, manufacturers of "ceremonial listening aids"---and other devices that improve sound reproduction---should cite scientific and engineering principles that support their claims. Failure to do so casts a shadow on the credibility of manufacturers' claims.

STUART MCDONIEL's picture

USING LIGHT AS AN ENCASEMENT AROUND AN INTERCONNECT IS A VERY BOLD MOVE TO CONVINCE THE CONSUMER THAT THEY WILL ACTUALLY HEAR THE DIFFERENCE. YOU CANT POSSIBLE MEASURE THE EFFECTS OF A LOW CURRNENT LIGHT SOURCE AROUND A CABLE. ITS LIKE SETTING A COUPLE OF HOCKEY PUCKS ON STANDS AND SAYING IT TAKES CARE OF FREQUENCY PROBLEMS IN A ROOM!! HEHE

Jack G's picture

Audio magazines, with constant rave reviews., and a useless rating system. What is the point of this? to pick on certain manufacturers? there is only one maker of water encased cables, and Illuminated cables, and one majic clock. I am not suporting these items, but your biases run deep. Why not just say"who laughs at Tice and PAD?" and be done with it?

Al Marcy's picture

ABX listening tests. "Info is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, wisdom is not truth, truth is not beauty, beauty is not Music. Music is the best."---Frank Zappa, through "Mary" (Joe's Garage)

Gary Ang's picture

I can make my mind on this one, so I am choosing all of the above.

L.  Fisher's picture

The fact that people heard the same difference (effect) while using an "untreated" clock and that, last time I read anything about it, outsiders could not view the process, says it all.

Forrest Mackey's picture

mpingo discs have got to take first prize!

Carl's picture

I voted OTHER, as in All Of The Above. I am not against good-quality SE tube amps, but fer crying out loud, the prices are not within reason . . . the rest of your choices are all embarrassing to our hobby.

John Skubick's picture

Actually ALL of this stuff that we voted on is "audio B.S.". You know this and so do I. I would have selected ALL of them if able to do so.

Josh Treadwell's picture

In your October 1997 edition of "Recommended Components," there is a listing for a CD transport unit for $17,500. This is without question the silliest thing I've ever seen---an audio device that by itself does not even play music. And only $10,000 shy of the average annual salary for Americans!

samdesign's picture

personally,I've never heard of "water-encased speaker cables", but there are a lot of audiophile products I've never heard of. Water-encased speaker cables sound off-the-wall to me.

Hoovenson Haw's picture

Who among you in Stereophile turned the carpet around so the weaving will be oriented in such a way as to present a path of lesser resistance?

Chris Mini's picture

Any tweek used by Scull.

james warner's picture

what does light have to do with cables I listen in the dark for best results...

Jason Tyo from Charlotte, NC's picture

People try to "hide" their cables. Why would they want people to be able to see them better? It makes absolutely no sense at all.

Eric Sarjeant (Quincy, MA)'s picture

The religious phenomenon of cable "technology" in audiophile circles is purely mythological. You certainly need quality cable that has not frayed and sports a sheath that has not vulcanized, but some of these speaker/component interconnects border on the inane. You don't need 10-lb magnetic shields cupped to your RCA plugs for optimal sound.

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