The Shun Mook Affair More Letters!!

Stereophile Vol.17 No.11, November 1994

Snake Oil!
I am writing you once again in hope of expounding my philosophy on less-deaf ears than I witnessed this weekend past.

Partaking in what I believed to be an investigative effort in what I also believed to be a respectable audio salon in northern New Jersey, I witnessed no serious effort in seeking out musical truth, but rather an exercise in self-indulgence at the expense of the latter: A group of "audiophiles" sliding wood across the top of various gear, claiming "There, no there...that's it!"

I've been to such alchemy sessions before, featuring wood, pillows, dots, even loose change placed randomly wherever they may "feel" it "works."

Such indulgence of the ignorant under the guise of "art" I believe to be not only stupid, but destructive. Considering the pioneering efforts of great traditionalists like Conrad-Johnson (more recently Cary, and to a lesser extent Sonic Frontiers), or the adventurous design work of Audio Research and Melos (Melos is reputed to be the most avant-garde), or even simple but sound (pun intended) efforts such as Tiptoes and Sorbothane, one can only view such witchcraft with disdain.

I believe it to be Stereophile's job---rather, your obligation---to separate snake oil from olive oil. By doing so, you will prevent the High End from suffering the fate to which fine cuisine has already succumbed, trampled under by the herd of Bennigans and Fridays purporting to give something they simply do not.---Calvin Damon Kilmer, NJ

Mr. Damon, the one thing missing from your letter is a statement from you as to whether or not you heard a difference in the listening session you ridicule. It pays to remember the rhythm by which science has always advanced: first comes the admission of the existence of inexplicable phenomena; only then can theories be advanced to explain them.
---Richard Lehnert

jvjessen's picture

Edit: Stuff like this really should require a blind test with multiple staff to give a more credible review.

ishis's picture

It's fun reading these old letters written by foaming-at-the-mouth Nay-Sayers, 26 years later. Other manufacturers of accessories (vibration control, room-tuning discs, etc) that have been proven to work in the years that followed, have gained the respect of Audio Lovers everywhere. People have to be open-minded about new ideas and discoveries of things we were not aware-of before. If you 'dump' on things you do not understand, you just sound stupid later!