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Hi-Fi Snake Oil

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by greenleaf7, Jun 7, 2013.
  1. esldude
    If you know of any other similar equipment, please feel free to share them!
    I think not.  I should live so long as to share with you all the high end snake oil audiophile products I have run into.  You really got to be kidding.  Just go to any audio site and read the ads.  The shorter list would be those commercially available that aren't snake oil.  Which is an indication of just how far afield high end has gone vs the idea of high fidelity. 
    Maybe a better discussion would be hi-fi vs high end. 
  2. Greenleaf7
    The purpose of this thread is to separate fact from fiction. Price does not matter, It can be something costing thousands, or as little as $40 http://www.machinadynamica.com/machina31.htm. I should have been more clear about this when i first started the thread, but have now made the necessary changes to the initial post. If a cheap product is nothing short of a marketing scam, then it too deserves to be called out. I reiterate, it does't have to be high end to be considered snake oil, price doesn't matter.
  3. julian67
    machinadynamica is a parody. Perhaps a few people have actually sent money and received pebbles or a magic kitchen timer but this only makes it funnier. The joke is on anyone who takes it seriously, and that has to include both credulous reviewers from audiophile publications and also literalist skeptics who fail to discern context, intention or attitude in their single pointed quest to be outraged.
  4. Steve Eddy
    Sadly it's not. Before starting Machina Dynamica, Geoff was a devotee of the UK's very own Peter Belt.
  5. julian67

    I've looked at the Belt's message boards and the machina dynamica guy is hilarious.

    I'm sorry but anyone who reads through http://www.machinadynamica.com and doesn't realise it's a joke is equally gullible as the other people they laugh at for also taking it seriously.

    You only have to look at the overtly entertaining language, laughably bogus and mostly nameless testimonials, funny pictures (dinosaurs, H.G. Wells Time Machine, covers of Amazing Stories etc etc), to see it's a big joke. Anyone who isn't wanting it to be true can easily see that it's false.

    You believe it to be something other than it plainly is because you want to. It's the emperor's new suit and the best thing about it is that different people see tailored cloth for different reasons according to their particular bias.
  6. bigshot
    When I read high end audio magazines, I'm tempted to think they are parodies too!
  7. esldude
    Okay then, just forget price, and go with high fidelity.  Anything cheap or expensive can be characterized by fidelity or various lack of fidelity or into a category where it makes no difference.  Obviously something making no difference is worth nothing. 
    My point of differentiating high end and high fidelity was at one time the goal was to produce things that were true to source.  High end altered that to produce things that sound truer to source.  Sometimes things less accurately reproduced trick us into thinking it sounds better.  Sometimes our natural human tendencies trick us into thinking something has changed when it really hasn't.  Harry Pearson at The Absolute Sound who is sometimes credited with creating and popularizing the term high end also didn't limit it to expensive items.  He limited the term to items at any cost high or low that subjectively sounded more true to source.  The above caveats about human perception have caused that path to become one that is usually expensive (sometimes grossly so), and also sometimes does nothing in fact.
    Also as a result of this, one could make a shorter list of things that aren't ineffective or scam-like than the reverse.  And the $40 item you list I would call a scam.  I see no reasonable manner in which they could possibly do what is claimed, beyond convincing someone to think it works.  To reiterate, we should all live so long as to create your list. A better approach might be to ask what guidelines one could use to evaluate products that make such claims.
  8. bigshot
    High end is much more likely to be colored than midrange nowadays.
  9. nick_charles Contributor
    I agree that some very expensive components are badly engineered or engineered with deliberate colorations such as absurd roll-offs, however there is another strain of very expensive kit which is measurably superb.
    If you read the Stereophile measurements sections for these uber components and just ignore the subjective reviews then some really high end kit (v.expensive) is truly uncolored with splendidly low distortion and flat FR and so on. Empirically (from this source anyway) the tweako nonsense overpriced crappy stuff is generally outnumbered by the rather expensive but actually neutral stuff. That is for every McIntosh MS750 or Zanden 2000/5000 there are several more expensive but accurate devices. Similarly there are some mid priced units that are measurably quite bad on some parameters. But of course the point is the extent to which these differences are audible which can only be ascertained by unbiased listening tests...
  10. Lorspeaker
    dun waste money on $1 coat hangers [​IMG]
  11. bigshot
    Or just ballparking by comparing the specs to thresholds of perception. That's when you realize that the best of the high end expensive stuff can't do any better than being just as good as the typical midrange stuff.
  12. julian67

    I do much the same if I want to know the standard of a restaurant I haven't tried. Visiting it and tasting the food is obviously unnecessary because I can simply view the menu online and deduce its quality. A gas cooker is a gas cooker after all.

    Remote listening is so much more convenient than actual listening.
  13. bigshot
    The equivalent of the chef and food in your comparison is the music itself. I agree that the most important thing is the reason to be putting together a stereo in the first place. What sort of music do you listen to?
  14. julian67
    I don't listen to music. I don't even listen to equipment. I just read spec sheets and scores and my golden objective ears fill in the rest.
  15. bigshot
    I listen to a lot of classical music and opera, 50s and 60s rock n roll, 40s rhythm and blues and jump blues, pop vocals, country western and bluegrass, all jazz from ragtime through the early 60s, cuban mambo and hawaiian slack key guitar, all kinds of stuff. I have over 15,000 records, 10,000 CDs, and an iTunes library that could play for two years straight without repeating.

    I've spent more on music than four or five high end systems. I think it's better to spend money on the music than a box full of wires. Don't you agree?
    uchihaitachi and defcan like this.

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