A Brief History of Peter William Belt
“The best way to find out whether or not Peter is on to something important is to try the stuff.”
- Ken Kessler
The big problem with Peter William Belt, is that he is a man ahead of his time. Far ahead of his time. How far ahead of his time? Too far to speculate. But, there was a time when he was just “ahead of his time”. As mentioned in the PWB Traditional Audio Product Designs section (where Peter Belt’s earlier engineering achievements are discussed in greater detail), his conventional audio engineering was well regarded, and never brought into question. His designs may have been at the far edge of conventional audio technology, but they never actually went over that line. Not until he spilled something on his coffee table… (for a more accurate and complete story of how Peter discovered The Belt Phenomenon, start here). Mr. Belt eventually came to realize that whatever was going on that was invisible to the naked eye, however it could or couldn’t be explained by then known theories, could affect perception of sound to a degree more powerful than that which he could achieve with conventional audio approaches. Even considering his state-of-the-art designs. Once that set in, it made no more sense to return to conventional audio research, and thus, PWB started moving away from the “Electronics” part of the name, and on to advanced audio products that tackled an entirely knew and unrecognized problem in the art & science of music reproduction.
I see someone raising their hand so…. let’s open up the discussion:
Q. When you say that Peter found out that he could produce products that affect “perception of sound”, that’s the same thing as saying “he’s selling placebos”. He seems to charge an awful lot for placebos?
AA. Er, no, actually, that’s not what that means. And you’re getting ahead of yourself. You’re already launching criticisms about “charging a lot for placebos”, but you got it wrong to start off with. It’s a common misconception when non-Beltists criticize the products, to confuse the idea of a product affecting “perception of sound” with “the placebo effect”. For the same misguided reasons, people confuse The Belt Effect with “metaphysics”, “mysticism”, “spiritualism”, “supernatural phenomena” and after seeing his web site address is “belt.demon.co.uk”, I’m sure that some are also eager to put down ”Satanism” on the list. The products working on “the perception of sound” merely means that instead of affecting our audio systems directly, they affect our capability of perceiving sound (by manipulating energy levels on objects that affect that perception), and in turn, affect the sound we hear coming from all audio systems in the home.
Q. Does it happen that researchers, scientiifc or otherwise, discover entirely new principles previously unknown to mankind?
AA. Not very often. But let’s not assume that the working principles are “previously unknown to mankind”. Arguably, there may be some correlation bewteen Belt’s observations, and ideas proposed by some notable western psychologists of the 20th century, and cultures from a millenia before this time. Until more is known about the phenomenon, it would be difficult and imprudent to say that Belt is the first to have ever observed it, in any form.
Q. Does it happen within the realm of audio research?
AA. Really not very often! (I don’t believe it has ever happened before Peter Belt. At least not on record!).
Q. Then is it possible that it may have happened a quarter of a century ago, with Peter’s discoveries?
AA. Not only is it possible, but yes, it did.
Q. How is it possible?
AA. Because it is. “Unlikely” doesn’t mean “impossible”. Assuming that it can’t be possible that an audio researcher from Leeds, England stumbled upon an entirely new scientific phenomenon previously unknown to man (and still very much unknown to man all the same!), you are asserting that all is known in the universe. Even Einstein wouldn’t go that far to support an argument. Yes, even if the reputation of the Conventional Audio Establishment was at stake, and the credibility of the entire AES at risk, with all members under threat of being exposed as ignorant fools all of this time….
Q. If that’s so, then why isn’t it common knowledge by now, why isn’t it known the world over?
AA. Pffffffffttttt! How long do you have?
Q. Do you realize how ludicrous it sounds to claim that the entire Audio Engineering Society, most of the worldwide audio press, and the scientific community as well as much of the audiophile community is wrong about Peter?
AA. Yes. And I’m sure that’s painfully apparent to Mr. Belt as well.
He didn’t create the phenomenon, he just discovered it, during his normal research. Other engineers have stumbled upon it too, but unlike Peter, didn’t persue the phenomenon, and understand it for what it was. It just gets logged as “one of those mysteries, ya know….”. Or it gets “improperly understood”. Which is to say the “mystery” may be rationalized many different ways, depending on your education (what you know or think you know). The idea that it may be primordial human senses reacting with an energy force that permeates objects in the environment that are now alien to them, isn’t the first thing that someone thinks of when coming across the phenomenon. It certainly wasn’t the first thing Peter thought of either, and indeed it may not even be that (Peter’s extensive theories have yet to be fully validated by scientific peer-review process). Even if the phenomenon is relatively easy to prove (and indeed, I’ve proven this to myself countless times over by proving it to non-audiophiles with no special listening training), the hypothesis that currently backs it is not. Especially if the areas that it covers (ie. biology or what have you) is not your particular area of study in life.
Understand this as just my opinion, but I see it this way: The theories Peter has put forth over many years time make sense to a lot of people (non-Beltists alike), as they do to him. But “making sense” and proving the hypotheses correct to the scientific establishment are two very different things. Peter Belt is not a scientific researcher, and never claimed to be. That means he does not make a living where he is given grants to study scientific phenomena. Of course there has to be a reason for the phenomena behind the products that enable them to have an effect (apart from the usual cry of “placebo”!), but that reason is as I would presume, somewhat less interesting to an audio engineer than the study of the products themselves.
Researching the reasons behind the phenomena and working on new ideas on how to improve the products are two different endeavours in conflict with each other. If you take your work seriously, you can only be expected to do one at a time. As an independent audio engineer and not a scientific researcher affiliated with a university or research centre, it would require thousands of dollars and years of effort to take on the task yourself, of proving a given phenomenon you stumbled upon, to the satisfaction of the peer-review process in the scientific community. It would no doubt be harder for someone who didn’t already have the training in a host of different scientific disciplines, all of which might help to prove the hypotheses. Not to mention the lack of facilities which might be necessary to do so. At the end of all this effort, there would be no guarantee that you could find all the answers, that would satisfy the scientific community (already proven to be completely hostile to your ideas and not in the least bit objective about them), and its (notoriously difficult) peer-review process.
It would be a huge gamble, large enough to bring a small audio company into Chapter 11, if anything goes wrong. And maybe even if it doesn’t. During all this time, the audio engineer would not be able to devote his time to producing new products, and further developing his ideas and making progress on the audio front. All this for what, to appease a host of perpetual skeptics who no doubt would never buy his products even if they were peer-reviewed by Jesus and his 12 disciples? And passed? Yes, there’s always the possibility that established researchers in the scientific community who agree Peter Belt’s observations are worthy of study can take the task on, while Peter does what he does best, producing amazing audio enhancement products. But again, that’s a lot easier said than done. I’ve no reason to think Mr. Belt wouldn’t welcome that scenario, but let’s consider the fact that the last time the scientific research community showed any interest in Peter’s findings, which was about twenty years ago, they abruptly pulled the plug on completing a series of DBT tests, citing “lack of time”. Coincidentally, right after a baseless diatribe against Peter was published.
Okay, question period is over for now (we can continue on the discussion forums if you’d like). Moving away from conventional electronics to concentrate on products that resolved problems discovered in The Belt Effect, was a risky venture. So I think Peter showed incredible courage to do so. If his conventional audio products were esoteric before, his new batch of audio products were so esoteric, people couldn’t even begin to make sense of them! It posed a problem unique to Peter, and Peter Belt alone. Engineers and audio journalists no longer had a backdrop with which to understand his new line of products. Unwittingly, Peter “pulled the rug out from under them”, by producing and presenting products that dealt with problems no one else realized existed, but which Peter proved to many, affect perception of sound as much as conventional components could. (They still require conventional audio to produce the sound, of course).
In case it isn’t obvious, engineers, audio journalists, scientists (including the many pseudo-scientists out there), or even many audio consumers don’t like having the rug pulled out from under them. They don’t like the idea of someone telling them they no longer understand something they thought they understood well enough. Especially when it hurts them “in the ego”. For this reason, many didn’t even want to hear about Peter’s new products, and dismissed them summarily and without a moment’s hesitation. Dismissing them also meant they could stay on the “safe side”, and go on pretending to be experts about all things that they think affects perception of sound. Of course, not hearing the products didn’t stop many journalists from “reviewing”, which is to say “commenting” about them, and their inventor within the pages of their publication. Disparaging comments about Peter and his products, without affording them a proper in-depth analysis, was the usual practice in all the negative press he received. (see “The War On Alternative Audio“).
Some of those journalists who were lucky enough to try them long enough to “get it”, and realize they were no hoax, were very enthusiastic about the products. This was reflected in their commentaries, some of which I have made available to read in The PWB Library. The outrage against such commentaries, for advocating products that “could not possibly work!” and for which you “obviously didn’t need to waste your time trying them!“, was equally strong. So for the company, marketing the products themselves proved to be…. well…. very, very difficult, let’s say. They didn’t set anyone’s world on fire, by their looks alone. In fact, they looked an awful lot like junk you might have strewn about your kitchen drawers. But the prices were perhaps more reflective of the notion that the junk in your kitchen drawers happened to all be plated with 14k gold.
This presented yet another problem for Monsieur Belt. For along with a new scientific phenomenon and audio-related products to exploit that phenomenon, a new business model had to be devised. Much as the traditional concept of what prduced good sound in audio had changed for Peter, the traditional concept of “relative value” also had to change. For his company couldn’t very well be expected to produce products that sold at 59 cents, which may well be the value of an equivalent-looking product (Electret Ties, for example). They would be able to remain in business for all of about three seconds, before the bailiff came knocking. So rather than base the marketing model on the traditional cost plus x percent markup model, the pricing structure of the products had to represent, in a stronger way, their value relative to their performance, and not necessarily their cost of manufacture. That was only fair, since their benefits to sound could directly be compared to those obtained from conventional products that cost considerably more to manufacture. So these products demanded to be evaluated not on their original cost of manufacture (whether before or after PWB processing), but with conventional audio products of a similar cost. In that context, many audiophiles who have given them proper evaluation feel they compare very favourably.
Upon reflection, Peter’s new business model was not all that different than the traditional marketing model of conventional audio. Meaning you expect products that perform at higher levels of quality to cost more. The primary difference between the two is with the traditional convention of selling audio products, you might also expect your goods to be made a certain way, so you can “see” where your money is going. Sexy looking metal boxes with shiny knobs and bold faceplates for example. With the PWB products, you couldn’t “see” where your money was going. But when evaluating them, you could “hear” where it was going, and why some of their products cost more than others (even if at first and second glance, all seemed to appear relatively worthless!). Other hidden factors that made up the cost of the products included the extensive R&D that goes into each one. There are few audio companies, let alone audio accessory companies, that have a range of products as large as PWB’s (over 70 at last count!).
Contrary to popular public opinion from Belt-bashers, Peter Belt is not getting rich from this model, he’s only getting by. While they may be very effective, the products are very esoteric. A fact which has always worked against their general acceptance (read: success) and appeal, and the company only has a small but loyal customer base. Much of it created before the Belt-backlash, when the Belts were allowed some positive press coverage. But it continues to grow. Thanks to small audio publications which are more independent and less reliant on big advertising revenues from conventaional audio manufacturers, and have permitted attempts at objective reviews of some of the company’s products. Had he chosen to stay within his conventional training, as most of his peers did, Mr. Belt could probably have made more from selling his advanced conventional designs to larger manufacturers, as he did to Koss in the 70′s, with his unique microphone technology. Instead, he went with what simply worked best.
After all, it’s not unheard of for an audio engineer to stay with whatever approach he feels contributes the most to good sound (which is what most engineers are after), regardless of whether it follows convention. It is for these reasons that the most hurtful remarks made about Peter, felt by Beltists and no doubt his family alike, is when foolish people who don’t know anything about the man, his accomplishments, the history of his work or his motivations, put little thought into what they say before declaring him to be a swindler, and claiming that he doesn’t even believe in his own products or their working principles.
It isn’t just Peter that had to adopt to a new business model, on account of the unusual cost price to performance ratio of the new product line. His customers had to adopt a new consumer model. What many of them learned is that, for a given amount of investment, say £100 of PWB products vs. the same £100 of traditional products, you could obtain a higher overall degree of sound quality if that investment went towards the PWB accessories, than towards conventional component or accessory upgrades For example, a set of Silver Rainbow Foils costs about the price of an entry-level audiophile interconnect, but can improve overall sound by much more than the IC can. So regardless of the manufacturing cost is for Belt’s products, they prove themselves to offer greater overall value than what can normally be achieved via conventional component upgrades.
For this reason, many Beltists choose not to rush out and buy the latest, greatest, newest “Mk. II.5″ version of their favourite amplifier, or other component. Remember the story I wrote about under the Commentaries section, where Paul Benson heard a £39 Sanyo amp embarass his £2,000 Naim setup? That’s what I’m talking about. As an alternative to the endless upgrade route (where you are often seeking some quality of sound but you simply don’t know what that is yet because you haven’t heard it…), the upgrade strategy many Beltists have chosen to adopt is to invest part of their budget on PWB products, and part of it on the conventional side. Doing so, they find, means greater value in the end, for the benefits of this model prove to yield higher levels of high fidelity performance than just smacking the whole pile down on the usual component upgrade plan.
Some have even put together very cost effective killer systems by buying good used gear on eBay, giving it all a good Belt treatment with some of PWB’s products, and experiencing immense pleasure listening to it, at a cost much lower than what they would have had buying only conventional products from an audio shop. I have done this myself, when friends have asked me to put together a system on the cheap. I might buy some of the audio gear locally on the second hand market, treat the gear with Belt’s products, then watch as my friends eyes bug out when they hear the final result. Of course, none of this is meant to imply you can’t treat new equipment effectively with the same products! It’s just a matter of getting around the problem of having a very limited budget, but not depriving yourself of “The Belt Experience” because of that.
More factors that contribute to relative cost have to do with the difficulty of making some of the products, such as the creams and highly specialized foils, which are custom manufactured for PWB. (The costlier foils appear to be adorned with tiny hieroglyphics, but they are actually very small lines of English text, made possible by precise laser printing. Along with the other unique proprietary processes incorporated into the production of these advanced foils, they are very much a part of what makes them sound the way they do. Yes, it doesn’t matter that you can’t read the text!). The fact that PWB is a small business and does not sell products in vast quantities adds considerably to the overall cost of the products. (Ironically, if more people purchased the products, the overall cost of the more expensive ones could be reduced, but one of the things preventing that appears to be the perception of the cost of the products! It’s a circular problem, you could say…).
So to recap, the story so far is, you have an audio engineer who discovered along the way that there were influences affecting sound perception which had absolutely nothing to do with what was happening in the electronics itself. Things that were not at all obvious, like the colour of the wire, or polishing a turntable cover with a chemical product. But which were all part of the same phenomenon that was influencing the sound nevertheless. Refusing to believe it himself at first, he later gave it a bit more attention, and then eventually got to a point where he could no longer ignore these bizarre and unusual observations, because they held up under repeated listening. Through his research, he learned how to manipulate the perception of sound by treating everyday objects so that they make “devices”. “Devices” that would have an effect on the sound by anyone listening, throughout an entire household. The “device” could be as simple and incongruous as a piece of paper, a matchstick or tea leaves. But in the hands of Peter Belt? Devastating, in its effect on sound!
These were remarkable discoveries Peter had made, and equally remarkable products that he invented out of their working principles, but how to market them? Initially, being an audio manufacturer himself, he thought to market them to other audio manufacturers, and so developed some rather expensive but equally effective devices which, when used on many runs of quality audio gear, would prove to be very cost effective at improving sound at a negligible cost. Even to the small audio manufacturer. Getting audio manufacturers to listen, it seems, proved even harder than the general audio buying public. So that idea may not have been as fruitful as had hoped (still, there were some companies who were receptive to Peter’s demonstrations, and heard the effects. Peter Turner reports on that in the Commentaries section). Thus Peter Belt later made them available to his customers, and these happen to be the devices that critics seem to immediately latch on to and decry when they see the price list! Not realizing that the top of their product line was, and still is, intended for manufacturers, but made available to home users. The truth these critics choose to ignore is that most of PWB’s products fall into the under £50 range, and many are in the £10- £30 range (almost half are $50 or less).
If it was easier to market the new paradigm and the wealth of products Peter created from it to the consumer, that would only be because there are more to market to. More diverse viewpoints. But also, more in general finding the ideas ludicrous, and their products redolent of charlatanism. When first hearing of the products, the common understanding was, you have a boatload of gadgets that appear to be worthless items you might find at a dollar store, selling for unheard of prices. And it’s about then that their brains shut off, and their ears go into hibernation mode, and so they don’t want to hear any further. Literally. An unfortunate side effect of being human and living in the societies humans live in, is that people are conditioned to react in such ways. Sadly, most will not ever go beyond their conditioning, and find enough scientific curiousity to try the products themselves. Needless to say, while this new change in PWB’s direction may be a bold step toward truly understanding sound reproduction and even redefining what is possible within the realm of audio (not to mention its impact on other scientific disciplines), it is a marketer’s nightmare!
So apart from trying to convince audio magazine editors to allow them in for a review, Peter’s company had other problems. Namely, how to convince consumers that what looked like ordinary plastic doodads and “magic paper clips” etc., was actually audio gold that could transform your listening experience like absolutely nothing that you could ever buy in a high end audio shop? I think Peter may still be working on that problem 25 years later… It’s obviously not an easy sell, because not only are you trying to market seemingly worthless products, but a complicated set of concepts to go along with them, that few without backgrounds in quantum mechanics or anthropology could begin to make sense of. One criticism against Mr. Belt is that this is intentional, with the cynical retort that if customers can’t begin to understand how the products work, they won’t ask too many questions. But that just isn’t so. Belt’s customers really don’t care how the products work, because they are each in posession of a working set of ears that adequately proves to them that they do. And has been continuing to do so for years, long after placebos are meant to wear off.
The reason the theories are complicated is simply because the phenomenon doesn’t have a simple answer. The Belt theories were formed over a period of 25 years, take months to explain properly, and do not lend themselves well to the all-important “sound bite” that you need to master to capture people’s attention these days. Moreover, they have never been scientifically validated, and there are few peers in his industry that are willing to validate them. Primarly because they have not researched it and don’t understand it as Peter does. Boy… now that I have re-read these last few paragraphs, even I’m starting to wonder if maybe all of this isn’t a croc of… (just kidding!) I know in every possible way the phenomenon is real, but I also know how implausible it all sounds. When you combine all these elements above together, it looks to be the classic story of the “snake oil salesman”. But when you know the real story, and the people involved in it, you know that nothing could be further from the truth.
Like everything else that follows Peter’s research into The Belt Effect, the value of the products will never be apparent to the superficial eye. They will always look like ordinary household objects. Alligator clips, colored plastic ties, laser-etched foils, plastic tweezers, colored magnets, white plastic tubing, labels with “special messages” printed on them, little vials of greasy cream, safety pins, washers, felt markers…. you’d be forgiven for expecting to find a magic box of Crayola Crayons among the product list, selling for twenty times its apparent value. The reason they all look like ordinary household objects is because for the most part, they are ordinary household objects. In fact, you could probably find the very same markers at your local stationer’s. So to the shallow observer, it appears that Belt had abandoned very high-tech designs comprising boxes, high quality electronic components, wires, and such, for magic boxes of Crayola crayons that are “guaranteed to improve your sound system”. Ahhhh…. that’s merely part and parcel of the unheralded genius of Peter Belt! The Belt products are perhaps the least marketable ones in audio, but conceptually, they are the most advanced. They change sound in ways most traditional products only dream of.
What makes them so advanced? Well it’s the same thing that makes them so hard to market on visual appeal alone! It’s also what makes them even less credible to Joe Sixpack, as audiophile consumer. The answer is, you can’t know that, because if everyone did, Peter Belt would soon find himself out of business. The reason is that while many of the products appear to be off-the-shelf items that Peter has simply purchased and is re-selling along with a convoluted explanation and a much inflated price, far from that, the items themselves have gone through many proprietary procedures to change their original intended use. Therefore, they should no longer be viewed as we would normally tend to view them in their traditional form of usage, because they are not the same products.
Q. Is it possible to change the normal characteristics of an ordinary household item such that its influence on our perception of sound changes?
AA. Yes. I’ve done it myself with my own methods. (And no, I’m not going to tell you either how I did that!). But I will tell you that that is why, even if I never tried a single Belt product or heard of him, I would know that what PB has done to the seemingly-ordinary objects that he sells, and the claims for them improving (perception) of sound, is indeed valid. It is indeed possible. It is indeed observable and it is indeed repeatable. Of course, I admit that if I hadn’t heard of him, I certainly wouldn’t know that it was possible to change objects in this way and would never have thought to do so! I’m not sure anyone would have. That’s why I call Peter a “genius”. All geniuses are highly creative, and think of things that for ”ordinary” folk, would never cross their minds (and of course, even if you explain it to them with a map, a legend, a slideshow and a laser pointer, most “ordinary folks” still have difficulty accepting the concepts as possible). As one article on him wrote, “there’s a fine line between madness and genius”. Peter’s on the correct side of that line. However, popular opinion, I must say, is not.
I have seen many of those “common thinkers” express the belief that because the objects appear to be nothing unusual (and assuming they do have an effect on sound perception), that they can produce the same results by simply obtaining “similar” products that look like the Belt ones. They are seriously kidding themselves. I liken it to 8-year old boys saying “Yeah, I can jump over the grand canyon, it looks pretty easy! I saw Evil Knievel do it on tv last night!”. The more you compare the original products to their counterparts, and the more you study the effects the Belt products have on the sound, the more you know that they can not be duplicated as such. If properly applied, true Belt products have a very well balanced sound, a very beneficial effect on sound reproduction. As opposed to a “partially beneficial and partially harmful” effect. Or, as many ordinary objects will have, a completely detrimental effect. Even conventional audio product upgrades can be “partially beneficial and partially harmful”. The trick is also knowing what is and isn’t harmful or beneficial, and there’s your key to great sound. From listening to some of the products he’s designed, it is most apparent to me that Peter does indeed know what good sound is, and has a very keen and discerning ear. I don’t think I could say the same of most audiophile engineers, conventional or otherwise.
Peter was very generous with his ideas and from the beginning, offered people many free ways of improving their sound, in order to introduce them to the concepts that he had been researching. Had he not done so, I would have had no reason to create this site. Peter needed people to at least attempt to understand what he understood about sound and the ways we can be affected by our perceptions of it. This was important in order to accept the idea that the products he designed which are based on those concepts, are worth trying. But also to move the industry forward as a whole, taking these new findings into consideration. As mentioned in the articles in the Commentaries section, one reviewer estimated the value of these free techniques (in equivalent conventional audio terms) at £2,000! That means to statesiders, that if the techniques are taken advantage of, they can have an effect that would require approximately $4,500U.S. to achieve with conventional audio upgrades.
Knowing his would not be easy products to market, Peter also generously offered some of the products for free as well, in the form of an attachment to many UK audio magazines. (The first and presumably only time anyone has ever included a free audio enhancement device directly in the audio magazine! Ahhh… those were the real golden days of audio….). Sad to say, I never saw one of those samples. But many who did later became customers of PWB, and some remained so after twenty years or more. As with conventional audio companies, Belt’s products evolved as the research evolved, and those deemed more effective replaced older products.
The fact that the products are so difficult to market for all the above reasons, might explain why after all my research and throughout all these articles on Peter Belt and his products, I could not find a single audio publication in the world, from the 80′s or early 90′s, that did a proper review on any of his products1. I mean beyond brief comments such as “they work/they don’t work”. A proper review, as you would expect of any audio product, including an accessory-type product, detailing exactly how the tests were conducted, how many, etc. It would be nice to see one that featured a panel of judges, so you could be a little more certain that the review you’re reading isn’t merely the mad whims of a totally biased audio journalist.
In one of the included articles here, Paul Benson puts his finger on it when he says that it would make no sense to review the products because there doesn’t appear to be much of anything there, and that you have to hear the products for yourself to understand that they can and do improve your sound. I did a double-take when I saw that at the end of the article, this journalist actually offered to go around to people’s places and demonstrate the Belt products himself! In fact, I don’t even see myself offering that opportunity to readers had I written the articles! So I must say on the part of Mr. Benson, that’s conviction! I’ve never seen a journalist offer readers a free personal demonstration of the subject of his review, within the reporting of any conventional audio product. I suppose it might be because it’s hard to get as excited about conventional products that for the most part, all do the same thing.
One way to understand Peter’s work and the reactions to it, is to imagine it as alien technology. Peter’s the alien (of the harmless sort, though). He’s visited earth, is from an advanced civilization, and has many advanced concepts and designs to share with us. But he couldn’t get himself arrested, for all the interest shown in his designs. “I’ve got a vehicle of sorts”, he claims to a group of automotive engineers, who are busy trying to improve their traditional designs of a gas-powered vehicle. “It doesn’t require any fossil fuel or batteries or fuel cells to operate. In fact, it has no engine”. This last claim incites mocking laughter, of course. He offers a free test drive to the engineers, but none are interested in the offer, they believe it a waste of time. “How does it work?”, they ask instead. “Magnetic levitation?”. “No”, the alien replies. “It gets its energy from nature.” “Naycher?? Solar energy ya mean?!”. “No, not solar energy”. Look, it’s available for free if you wish to test drive….”. “So how does it work then?!”, the engineers inquire with impatience. “Oh, I know how it works! It works on bull manure! Yeah, that’s it! Turns it into fuel!”. “No”, the alien patiently replies. “It gets its energy from the stars….”. “The stars???!”, the skeptics respond. “Ooooohhhh…. it’s the world’s first vehicle powered by astronomy! Did you get a psychic to design it?! Ha!”.
He tries to explain how that might work, but to no avail. There is little in their present knowledge of physics to allow them to understand how his theories are viable. Besides, they’re too busy with their important automotive design work, designing a new ergonomic type of gas pedal, or working on how to get more mileage out of a battery. They return to their usual work and chatter, where they employ principles of physics hundreds of years old, and all the little tools and parts they know and are used to. And so, unable to change unevolved minds, and show them a better way of doing things, the alien then drives off in his star-powered vehicle, seeking more intelligent life in the universe….
Meanwhile, back on earth… if you read the UK audio press at the time, it seemed that once the public got wind of Belt’s work, no one sat on the fence. You either thought it was the most outrageous sham perpetrated on the innocent naive audiophile who can’t think for himself (and yet somehow has enough sense to have managed to acquire enough money to have more money than sense), or that it was a phenomenon truly worthy of a nobel prize. And little has changed today! Mr. Belt has yet to receive his nobel prize, but there begins to be evidence that little by little (by very little), attitudes are starting to change. For the simple fact that more and more developers and even audiophiles are starting to realize that science and technology does not yet have an explanation for some of the things that appear to affect our perception of sound.
It is the products in the category known as “advanced audio” that are starting to change those perceptions. I feel that as we (slowly…) come to learn more about our world and our species, the phenomenon may be “rediscovered” in other fields of study, and the slower folk, which unfortunately comprise the majority as I have discovered, might eventually go back to the beginning of this, and wake up to the realization that back in the early 80′s, Mr. Belt really was “on to something” that few had the foresight or open mind to look into.
“Though JA also comments on Peter Belt’s “idiotic crap” in this issue’s “As We See It,” my feeling is that it is important to remember that, in the history of science, theories usually come after the facts to explain otherwise inexplicable events. If Peter Belt’s tweaks work, then it is the responsibility of professional audiophiles to first investigate and report that fact (or, at least, that opinion as informed by experience, however subjective), then speculate as to its cause. Rejection of alleged phenomena on purely theoretical grounds—as Mr. Long seems to be doing, regardless of how “common-sense” his position—is indistinguishable from the cant of orthodoxy.”
— Richard Lehnert
the advanced audiophile
Footnotes: 1It seems this only started happening in the late 90′s, with the advent of online publications. I can only presume this may be because the anti-Belt backlash hit before the products could come into wide acceptance in the UK, and compel editors to give them the proper reviews they deserved. After writing that, I heard tell of a legend that the American audio reviewer, Enid Lumley, she of The Absolute Sound, published a review in the early-mid 80′s on Belt’s products.