It is a world as scary to some as it is exciting to others. It polarizes the audio community immediately, as soon as you start talking publicly about these concepts, or the products that utilize them. Audio enthusiasts everywhere scramble to take their positions, and will almost always stand firm on them. It isn’t difficult to see which side of the fence they choose to stand on, either. If they start fits of mockery and ridicule when the subject is raised, they’re on the side of the naysayers (or “skeptics”, if you prefer). If they are the ones suffering the abusive fits of mockery and ridicule, then they are called “true believers”, by the skeptics. I suppose if we wanted, we could add a third group here, but they’re an almost invisible minority. They are the disengaged. The ones who don’t have an opinion one way or the other. However, they are usually not audiophiles! And they usually have the most open minds, in comparison to the audio hobbyists. They don’t know enough to convince themselves they know it all, and will often listen without prejudice.
So, which side of the fence are you on? My hope is that one day, this fence will be torn down, and we will all strive to belong to the same community. Realizing that there are many roads that lead to Rome, and not all have been travelled on by the influential Sir Isaac Newton. After all, I would like to think that all of us audiophiles, regardless of what we know and where we are in our progress along the audiophile road, all have the same desire in common: to improve our sound. If it turns out that we can’t ever get along, I propose this truce among the ideological combatants of the audio community…
For those who wish to be “safe”, stick to just speaker upgrades, and not even think about trying anything that looks like an advanced audio product, I say, fine. Even if you have such an irrational fear of revolutionary technology that you won’t buy anything that plugs into a wall, after seeing your friend Ongluk shake like the Gods were angry with him, when he poked his fingers into an electrical socket. Even if you prefer to keep it simple and make music by banging rocks together, I’m okay with that. But let those with an open-mind choose advanced audio products or ideas if they so wish, without denigrating them for their choices. Without trying to deny them of their experiences. And without accusing them of being gullible non-thinkers because they choose to advocate products and ideas you know nothing about and don’t believe in. For at least they have enough intellectual courage to evaluate new concepts, and enough listening skill to make the effort worthwhile. We advanced audiophiles are part of the same community of audio hobbyists, and part of the global community of music lovers. So we need to respect each others choices. Thank you in advance!
“ If you thought that science was certain - well, that is just an error on your part.”
- Richard Feynman
how it all began
There is a quiet revolution that has been taking place in the world of high end audio in the last 25 years or so. It was started in Leeds, U.K., by the father of alternative audio, Peter William Belt. Some have said he was 25 years ahead of his time, but witnessing as I have that the majority of the conventional audio world has still not even begun to catch up with him, I say he’s far more than 25 years ahead. He is however, not the only engineer or audio hobbyist who has toiled on advanced concepts that pioneer new techniques for improving sound or video. Some which belong to this list of advanced audio pioneers would include; Canadian audio engineer Ed Meitner, audio journalist Enid Lumley, German lacquer researcher Dieter Entemosser, John Bedini, among others.
advanced audio defined
Alternative audio, “advanced audio”, can be most easily defined as products or techniques that purport to improve audio or video without any demonstrable effect on the signal chain or air pressure waves coming from the loudspeakers.
e.g. A set of interconnect cables belongs to the domain of conventional audio, as it carries the signal along the signal path. So do Room Tunes (sound diffusers), as they work directly on sound pressure waves coming from the loudspeakers. Power conditioners belong to the same group, they work on the electrical current being fed into the hifi chain.
So what’s an “advanced audio” product or concept? Well, if you’re a conventional audio engineer and you don’t know how it works, then it probably fits into this category. For example, take a look at the vial of cream on the right…. It’s the “Cream Electret” product, from PWB Electronics. It may look like it will take years off your complexion, but it’s actually a product that can be applied to objects in the environment that have no relation to the stereo system itself, in the goal of improving your sound. It would definitely qualify under the advanced audio banner. So might LP demagnetizers, CD or LP edge treatment markers, Joe Lee’s Amber Beads, C37 lacquer, Quantum Resonance Technology’s EMF stabilizer, Machina Dynamica’s GSIC chip or Clever Clock, and many others.
They are products that attempt to improve the listening or viewing experience, conventionally done through component upgrades, but these take entirely different approaches to the same solution, than what has traditionally been utilized. The technologies they operate on, being as new or avant-garde as they are, may be little understood by the public at large, or even by the manufacturers themselves. They may be based on bleeding edge ideas (ie. the Golden Sound Intelligent Chip’s artificial atoms or the Cream Elecret’s morphogenetic fields), or they may be based on ideas hundreds of years old, but given new applications (ie. C37 lacquer). However these products purport to work, all that matters in the end, is whether they do effect positive changes to your sound or video. And I’m sorry but no matter how effective people may think it is to “try them” in “virtual reality”, and then pass judgement on them, they can only be assessed by actually trying them.
I personally have tried some of the products offered by PWB, but even then, only a fraction of them (they have over 100 products in their line!). I’ve not tried most of the other products mentioned here, so this site is mostly based on my experiences with the PWB products and techniques. I have however offered links to reviews and articles on some of these products where you may learn a little more about them, in the Product Links section.
what this site is about
Most audio hobbyists can’t seem to wrap their heads around the idea that if it doesn’t plug into something, or vibrate when a signal is fed into it, then it probably can’t possibly have any effect on your sound. They criticize the cost of some of these products (but neglect to mention the $2,000 dollar loudspeakers they have sitting in their listening room). Alternative audio products are simply an alternative way of achieving the same thing that you try to achieve with conventional audio products. They can be expensive (and also inexpensive), but they can also be cost-effective, and even achieve results unobtainable with conventional audio products. This is why they need to be evaluated by more audiophiles, who put sound quality above ideology.
The problem with that is, I’m sad to say, many of our otherwise intelligent audio hobbyists prevent themselves from ever trying such products because they are blocked by the inherent prejudices they have built up towards these devices. It’s apparent this prejudice is developed early, but may come from any variety of sources; including conventional engineering training, other educational studies, social peer pressure, and the prejudice inherent in popular audio publications. So for many, there is an automatic knee-jerk reaction to even accepting the viability of these products, before they have given themselves a proper chance to evaluate them.
Well, I created this site so you can’t say no one ever gave you a proper chance to evaluate advanced audio concepts, or that it costs too much to get into the game! In the process, I am also giving the audio enthusiast many ways to improve his/her sound (and even video), without asking for a cent in return. I believe those with the most open minds, and open ears, will have thde most to gain from the knowledge. But even for those with totally closed minds that will never be pried open, at least not on the subject of advanced audio, there’s stuff here for you too! (See The Skeptic’s FAQ). You can find out all kinds of ways to improve your audio-visual experience by accessing the Free Tweaks section in the Menu on your left.
I do not claim that any of the experiments listed under Free Tweaks will “improve your sound”. That’s not the goal here. It’s simply to help those uninformed about what we call “the Belt phenomenon” attempt to determine if they can perceive differences using these particular techniques. I will only go so far as to claim the techniques will change your sound (but I can’t say who will or won’t be conscious of that). I’m being very conservative in my evaluation, even though I feel many people who try them and find differences, will find it has indeed unequivocally improved their sound. (I have my favourites among them, that I use myself). But officially, the techniques can be considered scientific experiments to prove or disprove a hypothesis (aka “The Belt Effect”, which purports that our perception of sound may vary according to our relationship with objects in the environment), for yourself.
The PWB products are far more effective than the techniques, even though they use the same principles (it’s sort of like comparing conventional “tweaks” with conventional audio products). For many, these free techniques are the only chance they will ever have, because few will bother to try the Belt products for evaluation. The Free Techniques was my introduction to the Belt phenom some twenty years ago, and I’m very appreciative of that, because Beltism has given me far more options for reaching audio Nirvana than I ever would have had. Out of my appreciation I created this site to offer the opportunity to others, should they wish to accept the Belt challenge!
ave atque vale
Whether you are a permanent skeptic, a curious open-minder, a true believer who can already appreciate the value of advanced audio products, or regard yourself as some combination of all that, I hope you enjoy your stay. If you intend to try out some of the free tweaks I have endeavoured to share, I hope that you were able to improve your hi-fi experience using them. If you wish to let me know how it went, or you have questions or comments, good or bad, feel free to leave a message in the comments (to your left), the discussion forum, or email me.
Messing with advanced audio products and projects has made me appreciate music more. Yes, even the boring tracks. Not because I’m listening to more of it, from doing listening tests, but because I hear more of it. More of what I’m supposed to be hearing in in the music in the first place. Tones ring truer, instruments sound more natural, voices more lifelike, bass faster and more clearly defined, melodies more fluid and rhythm more flowing (and we’re talking entirely about producing these improvements with items or ideas that they all tell us are impossible to have any effect on human hearing). Even on tiny little cheap plastic computer speaker satellites, sometimes details sound like they are in the room. At the end of the day, after all the squabbling over theories and how ridiculous some people think it all is…. isn’t that what it’s all about? Sound has priority!
the advanced audiophile
“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
- Giordano Bruno