October 2, 2007

Skeptical Audiophile Challenge

Skeptics are sometimes accused of being too critical of religion and not critical of other things. Not true -- skeptics have been in the forefront of efforts to debunk multi-level marketing and other fraudulent advertising, junk science, phony psychics, and quack medicine. And here's an interesting example of a skeptic debunking another kind of bullshit that is being sold to the masses: audiophiles who are told that seven thousand dollar speaker cables are somehow worth it. The James Randi Educational Foundation is offering a million dollars to someone who can prove, in a double-blind, scientifically controlled test, that these astonishingly expensive pieces of audio equipment are materially any better than equivalent high-end cables sold for under $100. So you see, it's not just religion that comes under the fire of rationalism. There's all kinds of nonsense being sold to a gullible public, at premium prices.

1 comment:

Orange Phantom said...

For me, the spool of wire from the hardware store seems to work fine. And note that I have a very sensetive set of ears. The more expensive wires have less inductance and capacitance and result in less distortion of the higher and lower frequenceis (distortion at low frequencies is very un-noticable anyhow 'cause it's just 'booming').

The Gold plating is BS too. Most people don't understand why gold is used. It's not cause it's expensive. And sivler or copper are better conductors. Gold is used because it doesn't corrode (like silver or copper). It actually forms to the surface to create an air-tight connection. But the gold used is SO THIN, it's worn off with just a few insertions. This air-tight connection is only important for very low voltage/current connections. Audio connections do not fall into that realm. However, they are important inside the amp, but we're not discussing that.

Some audiophiles also brag about the clarity of analog recording (vinyl vs CD) I guess the analog is really better but only if you're in a dust free room with mucho-bucks turntables that never wear out the vinyl. I'll take a CD any day for the reliable quality and ease of use.