Listening #112 List of the Month

Sidebar: List of the Month

Ten tweaks that appear to have been abandoned by the reviewers who once hailed them as "indispensable" (* indicates my own culpability)

1. Bedini CD Clarifier
2. Symposium Acoustics Rollerblocks
3. CD Stoplight pen
4. Sumiko Tweak contact enhancer
5. StyLAST stylus treatment
6. Mod Squad TipToes
7. Shakti Stones
8. Mana Acoustics* and Sound Organisation* stands for the Linn LP12 turntable
9. WonderSolder
10. Anything made of Sorbothane

remlab's picture

If any of this had any truth to it (And out of respect for the Belt's, I'm not saying it  doesn't). It would call into question anything and everything that is subjective about the high end. The variables involved(And the interactions between those variables) would be infinitely complex. Audiophilia Nervosa? Insanity? This hobby is insane enough as it is! We don't need to go there!

John Atkinson's picture

It would call into question anything and everything that is subjective about the high end. The variables involved(And the interactions between those variables) would be infinitely complex

This does appear to be the way things are. From my Richard Heyser Memorial Lecture that I gave at the 2011 Audio Engineering Society Convention:

"We can’t directly experience reality; instead, our brain uses the input of our senses to construct an internal model that reflects that external reality, to a greater or lesser degree. . . evolution has optimized the human brain to be an extremely efficient pattern-recognition engine that uses incomplete data to make internal acoustic models of the world. That same evolutionary development has major implications when it comes to the thorny subject of sound quality."

The brain is used to using incomplete data from which to create its internal models of reality, which in turn means that _everything_ we perceive, not just sound, contributes to our judgment of sound quality, which is what Mrs. Belt is suggesting.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

popluhv's picture

After reading the follow-up, I'm inclined to think that Art's 14 y/o daughter would make a better reviewer. 

dalethorn's picture

If a table with a stain on it - a table I'm not even consciously aware of - would have a significant impact on my music perceptions, then I wouldn't be as concerned about my gullibility as I would be about my susceptibility to substances and subtle aromas. Should I live in a sterile house, or allow my emotional state be held hostage to unseen and unsmelled chemicals hiding in the walls, the drapes, and countless other household things? People like Michael Jackson were afraid of germs and wore gloves. Could Michael have been tuned into a wavelength that others of us are blissfully unaware of unless we try a jar of Belt's magic cream? I think before I smear some creamy substance from a jar onto my prescious amps and music players that that cream is going to have to give me a better high than some of those substances I was acquainted with back in my college days.

Kal Rubinson's picture

It is interesting read of these things and the introspection of the Belts is appreciated but I cannot regard their work as anything more than entertainment in the absence of objective testing.  There are many approaches to the study of the mechanisms of perception that can be applied to these phenomena, given adequate motivation and funding.  I know the latter is always in short supply but, apparently, no one is sufficiently motivated.


remlab's picture

  This means that you could send the same piece of equipment out to ten reviewers, and all else being equal(HA!), will give a positive or negative review based on how they personally interact with the chemicals in their particular brand of deoderant... Or how the shampoo residue interacts with the deoderant residue after the reviewer gets a whiff of his wifes perfume residue, and then only when combined with the chemical interactions of the lemony fresh Pledge residue?  SHEESH!

soulful.terrain's picture


I usually just circumvent the all the tweak stuff and just channel Nikola Tesla's cosmic aura for improved audio results.

Waxxy's picture

I'm talking of course about Art's list.  I'm still a user/fanboy of roller blocks, tiptoes, and even a little squishy stuff once in a while. Best regards.

sudont's picture

I have no difficulty believing that chemical compounds can enhance the listening experience. My own tweak - let's call it chemical "c" - greatly enhances the emotional impact, sweetness, liquidity, and three-dimensionality of my system. Instead of rubbing it on components, or placing it near cables and power supplies, one simply smokes a small amount at the beginning of the session.

The improvement is immediate and undeniable. One becomes deeply engaged with the music, and the equipment "disappears." In other words, it's just you and the music. Thoughts of newer, more expensive equipment are replaced by a contented feeling of, "I can't believe how freaking awesome this sounds!" And, relatively speaking, it's an inexpensive tweak.

Zorch's picture

I've done tweaks and heard nothing. I've done tweaks that made things worse!. But the three things I do to CD's pretty mach always work magic are: 1) CD Stoplight [green permanent marker is just as effective) on the CD's vertical edges; 2) Bedini Clarifier (the six beam just kills the old Ultra; and 3) CD surface oil (Yamamura Churchill Millennium CD Coating Oil Q-151).

Perhaps the reason you abandoned these tweaks is that your hearing is not what it used to be? All of these tweaks results in reduction of work clock jitter in the D/A converter.