A Decade of Tuning Tips (Part Two) – 3

Cover: A Decade of Tuning Tips (Part 2)Oh, I’ve been so terrible. I was chatting to someone today and whinging about the British hifi media of the 1980s, only to remember that I had failed to follow up on a series of posts started a couple of years ago. So let’s move onto the very next two paragraphs.

Remember, these words were penned by a respected British hifi writer in an insert for a leading UK magazine. This is his actual proposal to make your hifi system sound better. ‘PWB’ stands for Peter something-or-other Belt, the purveyor of a range of loopy and expensive treatments for audio gear to make stuff sound better. Here is the recommendation:

A similar technique can be used to treat LPs and books. Just take a piece of plain white paper and slip it inside the sleeve of an LP, or between the pages of a book. Use only one piece of paper per LP or book, and treat gatefold albums as single discs despite their holding two LPs: insert just one piece of paper. If you have two or three hundred LPs in your listening room. I promise that a piece of paper in each (except where a wordsheet or poster is provided – here you have to take care) will greatly improve the sound of your system.

Another way of treating books and magazines is to cut off the corner of one page. This is because books and magazines invariably contain an even number of pages. Putting a piece of paper in a book provides an odd number of pages, while nipping off a corner results in an odd number of page corners. You only need snip a tiny section off, incidentally, and do it to one page only. CD booklets should be treated in this fashion. Because of their printing, books and magazines actually present bigger difficulties than snipping corners off can deal with, and ideally a thin strip of PWB grey or silver foil needs to be applied. Even so, the technique works, and will produce worthwhile benefits.

Now, if I were reading this quotation on some random blog, I’d think it either a lie or a parody. Surely no-one would recommend such insanity!

So, to remind you, this was an small booklet called ‘A Decade of Tuning Tips (Part Two)’, authored by Jimmy Hughes, and inserted ‘Free with Hi-Fi Answers’ in the May 1989 issue.

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13 Responses to A Decade of Tuning Tips (Part Two) – 3

  1. Anthony says:

    So did you insert a sheet of white paper in this booklet to make it read more plausible for the next time?

  2. Mark says:

    It should have come with the April issue. Mind you this is no more loopy than expecting a silicon wrist band to increase your strength or diluting a substance makes it more potent. People are too willing to believe in dumb things.

  3. Actually, I’m really quite relaxed about people believing all sorts of things that I consider strange. Want to be a creationist? Be my guest! Unlike most skeptics, I don’t actually believe that there is an imperative upon everyone to be fully accepting of such things as evolution. Sometimes the costs of dispelling ignorance can be too high.

    But this guy purported to be a journalist in the field. He had a duty to his readers to not be a fool on the supposed subject of his expertise.

    If someone wears a (now, happily, defunct) power balance band, or purchases a full set of Peter W Belt paraphernalia, doesn’t worry me in the slightest. When a hifi writer buys into it on the basis of an absurd overestimation of his own listening abilities and then misleads his readers, that’s just plain bad.

  4. Mark says:

    “Plain bad” maybe but not in any way harmful as he isn’t saying buy my special hifi paper at $10 a sheet.

    You can also apply your criteria to “science teachers”, presumably knowledgable in their field, who teach pseudoscience and mislead students. Who knows how many potential scientists wind up in other fields because they lack the basics of science due to being taught nonsense?

  5. “ Now, if I were reading this quotation on some random blog, I’d think it either a lie or a parody. Surely no-one would recommend such insanity! ”

    (sigh) Ignorance rears its ugly face once again….

    I don’t know if you think you’re being original or clever in your zeal to pronounce to the world that Peter Belt’s concepts sound “insane” to you, and could not possibly work, but trust me, you’re neither of those things. You’re not saying anything new or novel here. You are simply regurgitating the same knee-jerk reaction that most people have, when they first learn about Peter Belt. Its BORING, in case you didn’t know.

    It might be more interesting to learn exactly which of his products you tested, and how you tested them. Then I might be able to say where you went wrong. Oh but you didn’t, did you? You mean you’re dismissing something you have NO experience with, on the basis that your little self can’t figure out how they can work, and therefore you can safely declare it doesn’t? How “scientific”. And you call Jimmy Hughes a “fool” who is misleading the public, when he is a well known print audio journalist with decades of experience and expertise, and extremely well practised in Beltist techniques? By extension, you must also be calling Art Dudley (of Stereophile) a fool, along with Greg Weaver (of Soundstage), David & Carol Clark of Positive Feedback, and numerous other professional audio journalists both online and in the UK press who all wrote about hearing the effect of Peter Belt’s devices.

    And who are you exactly, who claims to be more of an expert than Hughes and the rest of the audio press? A guy with a blog?? Oh, you’re a guy with a blog! I see! Well guy with a blog, *I’m* a guy with an audio blog too. One that talks all about my lengthy experiences under the science of Beltism. Like Hughes, I have infinitely more than your sum total ZERO experience in this domain. (You who does not even know the man’s name). So I’d say the fool misleading the public is you, not Mr. Hughes. Speaking of which, you claim PWB’s products are expensive. Well they start at around 20 pounds sterling. That’s no more than the price of a good dinner, and far below what most high end audio products are selling for. Even their *most* expensive product sells for far less than even a budget audiophile amp. (And arguably has a much greater impact on your sound). If you think 20 pounds is “expensive”, then you should probably take up a cheaper hobby, my friend.

    You may convince yourself you are doing a service to the public, with this rant of yours. But because Beltism is a genuinely legitimate phenomenon, you are in fact doing a disservice to both the public and to science, by dismissing scientific phenomenon you in all your uncurious wisdom have made NO significant attempt to explore. Beltism has survived the scrutiny of thousands of blind tests, including those performed by a medical college. But you swimming in your blissful ignorance did not know any of that, did you? Anyone who declares this ‘pseudoscience’ does not even understand the term.

    Please in the future have the sense to write only about things you know, and do not pretend to be an expert on subjects you know nothing about. If on other hand you ever evolve to gain a bit of wisdom, and try learn something about the subject you found interesting enough to blindly condemn, I am sure any of the hundreds of people around the world that are part of the Belt community would be more than happy to help. They’re a pretty friendly bunch (aside from me of course…). Some of us are doctors, lawyers, audio engineers. We are audio enthusiasts like you, and above all, music lovers. That is the sole basis for our interest in the products of PWB Electronics.

    Some of us even started out like you: ignorant know-nothings who were absolutely certain there was a scam underfoot in all of this. We believe in science just like you, and do NOT dismiss proven theories. Unlike you however, we are open minded enough not to dismiss unproven theories, when the fruits of our own empirical evidence support their legitimacy. So please ditch your blind arrogance and do not attempt to speak for us.

  6. Thanks for the comment AA. I do hope I haven’t called anyone a fool here. If I have, I apologise. In my opinion to accept that you can improve the sound of your system or room or music or whatever by putting bits of paper between the leaves of books in the room is due to one fooling oneself. And that is not something that only fools do. That’s something we all do.

    I myself have fooled myself too often to dare think it’s limited only to fools!

    Please do point me in the direction of the ‘thousands of blind tests’ in which Beltism has been scrutinised. I imagine that they have been reported in one of the audio engineering journals since, after all, convincing audio engineers of the value of Beltism would be a truly wonderful service.

    As for trying out Belt’s prescriptions, why? Should I take homeopathic medicine for an illness because I should be ‘open minded enough not to dismiss unproven theories’? Suggest a somewhat plausible mechanism by which these things might work. Or point to some well conducted studies which provide strong evidence that they do work, even if we don’t know how. And then I’ll get interested.

  7. Incidentally, if someone wants to charge you 20 cents for nothing, it’s expensive nothing even though 20 cents is not a lot of money.

  8. “In my opinion to accept that you can improve the sound of your system or room or music or whatever by putting bits of paper between the leaves of books in the room is due to one fooling oneself. ”

    Once again: is this opinion based on your extensive research into this phenomenon? Do I need to even ask whether you actually *have* tried bits of paper in books?
    Or are my suspicions of your article and your position correct? Which is that like every armchair audio critic that flippantly dismisses things they have zero understanding of, your op-ed piece is simply based on the fact that you’ve never read any scientific text that told you this was possible? If so, then your opinion has no value or meaning (though I’ll fight to the death your right to hold it). If you expanded your horizons a bit, you’d be surprised at how many otherwise valid concepts are for one reason or other, not in scientific textbooks today.

    Now I understand you to be simply saying that if something isn’t already established proven science (black holes, anyone?), then it does not exist but in the mind. Of course, your position is entirely unscientific and thankfully so. Because the study of nature would cease to exist if science worked as you seem to believe it does. Moreover, you are trying to prove a negative. Simply because placebo effects can exist under certain conditions with some people (to which I agree), it does not follow that anything you do not understand the effects of, or that hasn’t been scientifically validated to your satisfaction, works via placebo. Your opinion on this subject therefore, is both a common and uneducated one. From what I’m seeing, you appear to have no background in scientific research, nor show any real interest in scientific research.

    And throughout all this one glaring fact remains: in the over quarter century since it has been discovered, there is far more empirical evidence across this world to suggest that Beltism is a valid phenomenon, than there is to support your *entirely unsubstantiated position* that it can only work by autosuggestion. To avoid misleading your readers (which you accused Hughes of doing), you need to better inform yourself of those experiences before writing an article on the subject. Even going so far as to draw a final conclusion on the validity of this thing you have never researched in the slightest, and clearly know nothing about.

    One of countless examples of you misleading your readers is to use a 25 year old pamphlet purporting to be the “mechanism” by which Beltism operates, as the basis of your baseless condemnations. I mean good grief, this is really amateur hour journalism! The EMI fields theory you quoted Jimmy Hughes on, well
    Peter has abandoned that about 25 years ago! (And wisely so I might add, since I know for fact that’s not it). Now if you bothered to visit PWB’s website you would know this already. PWB’s working hypothesis for their devices is not a secret. Its on both of my Belt websites, including my Belt discussion forum, as well as on PWB’s site.

    Even though it isn’t the mechanism for Beltism, as far as humans being effected by EMI is concerned, it doesn’t even look like you got that one right. You write: “There is not now, and was not then, ‘fresh evidence that suggests electromagnetic fields can be harmful to the body’.” This too appears to simply be limited to your inability (or possibly laziness?) in doing basic research on what you write about. For example, I made a very brief foray into Google on the subject question you raised of whether EMI can affect biological processes and it suggests you really need to do more research before declaring something like “Just about every word in this is utter crap”….

    “Electromagnetic interferences on the nervous system should get more attention and research. Just like smoking was considered safe and even healthy in earlier days, EMI still is not taken seriously and many are in denial about its effects.”
    Source: http://www.biotele.com/EMI.htm

    What Dr. Hatoum suggests here is that the subject has not been studied enough, and there is enough plausible evidence mounting that EMI may have detrimental effects to human biology, which warrants serious study. Yet as with Beltism, you seem to think people should write off a phenomenon if you’ve done a quick Google search and personally can’t find documented studies in peer reviewed journals that manage to convince you otherwise.

    “Now here’s an interesting question: did music systems sound better in the late 1940s, early 1950s, or in the late 1980s when he wrote this?”

    No, I would actually call that a “dumb” question. Not an interesting one, or a particularly clever one (implying EMI wasn’t an issue in those early times). Here you’re making the mistake of thinking the Belt mechanism (regardless of what it is) would be the *only* thing that defines sound quality in a hifi system. No one ever made that claim but you. See why its dumb?

    I’m sure that Peter Belt has had more engineering experience than you’ve had years on this planet. In the past, he has produced state of the art loudspeakers and headphone systems. So out of anyone, he would know full and well that there are a lot of things that make up the sound you hear when you turn your hifi equipment on. As a designer of SOTA HE equipment, it was his job to know that. Only -one- of those thousands of things, one which he discovered quite by accident in the late 70’s, happens to be related to the ways we perceive sound and sense. Today, we call that “Beltism”.

    “As for trying out Belt’s prescriptions, why?”

    For the simple fact that you can’t purport to draw conclusions about a scientific phenomenon you know nothing about and have never even tested to see whether it is valid, unless you do. Well you *can*, of course, but it is utterly foolish to do so. Because like everyone else who fears or condemns phenomenon they don’t even understand, you have nothing but your prejudices to base your “opinions” upon. I basically dropped by just to say that. To say that while it is a person’s right to remain ignorant in life and have wrongful opinions, you and everyone else who thinks like you should make *no* mistake that your opinions are based on nothing but ignorance and prejudice. Prejudice and light-headed easy assumptions about what is actually a complex scientific phenomenon. Not facts, and certainly not science.

    “ Should I take homeopathic medicine for an illness because I should be ‘open minded enough not to dismiss unproven theories’? ”

    Yes, absolutely. And you are by far not the first to liken this thing to homeopathy (in case you thought it was an original or novel question). I’ve never tried homeopathy myself, but if I was ill, I would think my medical health is far more important than any cement-headed ideologies I was indoctrinated by since my school days. It simply does not pay to be narrow minded in life. The wider your experiences, the wider your knowledge. Even if the homeopathic medicine does not work, you’ve learned something, haven’t you? That homeopathic medicine does not work (for *you*! For even that does not give you the right to speak for others).

    I’ve done occasional but interesting experiments with water during the course of my Beltist activities, and they suggest to me that unusual things do happen on a very small scale. My experiments in biogeometry alone has taught me not to dismiss things that seem implausible or for which there is no plausible evidence on the official record. I figure since homeopathy has worked for many, what is there to be afraid of? Being wrong? Looking the fool? Learning something new about the world, God forbid?

    “A discovery would follow controlled experiments to determine whether the hypothesised effect exists.”.

    Good grief, how did you manage to get that backwards? Discoveries do not follow controlled experiments in the scientific method! Discoveries, then observations, come *before* controlled experiments. It seems you’re not just misleading your readers about Peter Belt, but about science in general. And remember that Belt is an audio engineer. Not a scientist. I’m not sure if you have any background in audio, but do try to understand that not many high end audio manufacturers have the time, the money, the staff or the training to don a lab coat and conduct sequences of listening trials and pass peer-review validation, in order to please a small percentage of hard-core skeptic scoffers that would never even be inclined to buy their products in the first place.

    If you have such a keen interest in audio DBTs, then what controlled experiments have you done before reaching *your* opinions? Its so easy to demand that others do your research for you, isn’t it? I can tell you I’ve written about some of my experiences with blind tests on Belt’s products in the past. I somehow missed reading about *your* controlled experiments that support you being able to write “Just about every word in this is utter crap. Peter Belt has made no discoveries.”? I’m also not sure I understand why you are reading a subjective audio magazine like Hi-Fi Answers, if you do not believe in subjective audio opinions?

    “Incidentally, if someone wants to charge you 20 cents for nothing”

    Except its not ‘nothing’. Nothing is ‘nothing’ simply because you think it is. So your point is utterly irrelevant. Should I now bother to ask what products of PWB’s you have purchased as a basis for you to call their entire line of products “nothing”? If the answer is again “nothing”, then you don’t have an opinion on that.

    As you might have guessed by now, I actually do have numerous products from PWB, so I’m qualified to speak on their efficacy. And I can say the truth stands at quite the opposite to your misguided views of the truth. The products of PWB Electronics are extremely good value, when you compare the effect they have on your sound with conventional products from other manufacturers at equivalent prices. Your point is especially meaningless, when I inform you of yet another fact you clearly do not know about this company: in over 27 years of service to the audiophile community, they have always had a full return policy. So no one is obligated to pay for “nothing”.

    “Please do point me in the direction of the ‘thousands of blind tests’ in which Beltism has been scrutinized.”

    How well do you read Hungarian?….

  9. “ Suggest a somewhat plausible mechanism by which these things might work. ”

    You still don’t get it, do you? The very reason you and so many others are so dismissive of Beltism (and Peter Belt in particular) is *because* of the fact that the mechanism is not “plausible”. We wouldn’t be here if everything was “plausible”. Or if you and so many others did not foolishly equate the concept of “implausible” with that of “impossible”.

    I am not going to repeat the hypothesis that the Belts have developed over a quarter century, to explain their understanding of the phenomenon they came across for you. You and anyone can read on their site. Like I said, that’s something you should have researched before writing your article. I will go out of my way though, to tell you of my own interpretation from my own experience. I don’t care what you do or don’t find “plausible” in any of it. But if you don’t find it “plausible”, then at least that probably means you’ve understood things correctly.

    FIrst, let me say my own take is not necessarily in conflict with that of the Belts, although I may come at it from a different angle. I think it is a phenomenon that is likely related to the field of quantum mechanics. Objects are made of matter, matter is made of particles. But did science declare that these particles can NOT affect us (humans) in any intangible way?

    BELTISM 101, Cliff Notes version: My own research suggests that there are energy fields (particles?) constantly revolving in very particular ways around objects. I used to think they were *on* the object, until finding out that they in fact extend out x number of feet from the object (I’ve not studied exactly how far). Applying either a Belt-ist device or a Belt-ist charge to the object, you end up changing the pattern of these energy particles. (n.b. By “Belt-ist” device, let me make it clear that the device you use to manipulate these fields does *not* have to be a product purchased from PWB Electronics. It does not even have to be specially treated. It can be nothing more esoteric than a Sharpie. However, PWB’s stuff simply works better, because *they* are the experts at this).

    So… now you’re thinking, “how does a Sharpie change an object’s energy fields, and how does THAT have anything to do with perceived sound quality?” Or for that matter… how can placing a single piece of paper among a shelf of paper (books, LP’s, CD’s etc) have any effect on anything??

    Well, you first need to understand that these energy fields are constantly in motion and constantly changing. Move an object’s direction, or move it to another place in your home, and that’ll do it. You have now made a (very subtle) change in the way your brain and biology pick up on your environment. Even if you don’t move an object, that doesn’t mean everything is static. But you won’t hear any effect from that — way too subtle.

    What Beltism attempts to do is change these fields in ways that trigger our listening threshold. (Easier said than done, with most people). As the energy travels along the row of books, just sticking one piece of paper in the way can become a boundary. It has been observed that these energy patterns exhibit distinct behaviours when they cross boundaries. I’m not sure, but I’m assuming Peter may have suggested this tweak once upon a time ago because of the odd-even rule. (Among other things, odd and even numbered applications or items can change the patterns in predictable fashion). This energy I speak of btw, imbues itself into *everything* – not just solid objects. I won’t even attempt to mention what or how, because you have a long ways to evolve here, and you’re not open-minded enough to understand it.

    So, how does particles in constant motion translate to changes in perceived sound? Well that’s where it gets tricky…. Whether its the objects or the energy fields around them creating this effect, humans are constantly reacting to them in ways that cause a kind of inner tension to build up. Its not something you would normally feel, as the effect is way too subtle and way too constant to perceive on an ongoing basis. Nor is it necessarily related to any other types of tension you may feel from day to day. The Belts have their own theories as to why this tension exists in the first place, which I won’t speculate on. I can only speak of my own experiences, and they point out very clearly that the tension itself is not theory; it is fact. (And really, the only thing I can be *absolutely* sure of, in all this mess).

    That’s because from having done so many experiments in this domain, I’ve developed both an awareness and a sensitivity to it. If, say, something is ‘off’ on the right channel, I’ll feel a heightened tension on the right side of by body – which will remain until the object is put right again. If its on the left channel, I’ll feel it on the left side of my body. Or if somehow, without my knowing it, a polarity got ‘reversed’ and an ‘object’ is no longer ‘in phase’, well that will produce yet a different knot of tension, for until the situation is corrected. That’s just one brief example of an effect that repeats itself every single time. And by that I mean *hundreds of times over a period of about 3-5 years now*. What would you attempt to call that I wonder, a “super mutant ninja turtle placebo”?

    Anyway, that in short, is the mechanism by which *all* of Beltism works. Humans are reacting to energy patterns (derived from particles of some sort?) all around *all* objects around us (yes, including walls, floors, windows, etc). The patterns (generally) create a constant tension within all of us, below the threshold of consciousness. (Its like a ticking clock — you may only notice it when it stops!). The energy fields flow in very specific ways and for some yet-to-be-understood-by-me reason, directing them in certain patterns results in a lowering of this tension.

    Once the tension is lowered, there is a direct correlation with the senses, and vice versa. This act, among other things, allows one to hear (or see) a – slight bit- better. (It can at the same time affect other senses, sense of sight, sense of taste, etc. But for me and most people, its easier to discern by listening to changes in reproduced music). The more effective your treatment, and the better your abilities to *consciously* perceive such changes, the more that “sight bit” will increase. But above all, the effect is cumulative. So it may require many, dozens perhaps, of environmental treatments before it crosses someone’s threshold of perception. If this is the case, the process of course does not lend itself well to A-B, let alone A-B-X methods of blind testing!

  10. My, you are an aggressive individual aren’t you.

    You don’t have to read my stuff. I’m happy to leave your comments up here for anyone else to read, and if anyone has made it this far I do recommend that you follow the link on AA’s name to his website.

    My job is, as I see it, to guide people towards home entertainment products that will best suit their needs given budgetary constraints. Part of that is to warn against wasting money, in particular, and time to some extent on what I judge to be pointless products and activities.

    You disagree with my judgement, and I doubt that you are alone. But it is my judgement and that’s what will inform my writing.

    I think you are fooling yourself if you believe you hear differences due to such things as putting strings of 0s and 1s into the ‘Lyrics’ field of an MP3 file, or put a piece of paper under the leg of a chair, or whatever. But I could be wrong.

    So, again, I encourage those interested in these things to visit your site and see if what you say speaks meaningfully to them. I’d just note that the human senses are frail devices, all too prone to being misled through imperfect heuristics, and extraordinarily weak when it comes to consistent perception. That’s why double blind tests are so important in trying to find whether suspected effects are real.

    I don’t propose responding further, although I will certainly continue to allow your comments to appear should you want to add any.

  11. Sorry if I came off as too aggressive for your comfort. But I was reacting to the aggressive tone that I read in your articles on Belt (ie. “Just about every word in this is utter crap. Peter Belt has made no discoveries. He has come up with a whacky idea that he may, perhaps, have subjected to a cursory subjective examination. “). I took umbrage at that for reasons explained. It didn’t help that I’d been reading blind condemnations of Belt elsewhere that evening, full of the same sort of ignorance and dogmatism we always see on the subject. None of them bothered to seriously test the products either because, well, “its just SO obvious to everyone that its snake oil, what else could it be…”.

    ” My job is, as I see it, to guide people towards home entertainment products that will best suit their needs given budgetary constraints. ”

    I wouldn’t have a problem with that if you actually researched and tested what you are advising; and those following your advice trust your listening skills are up to par. But if you haven’t done any of that, then you are in no more of a position to speak upon these products than any of your readers are. You are taking on the role of a preacher here, not a scientist.

    “I think you are fooling yourself if you believe you hear differences due to such things as putting strings of 0s and 1s into the ‘Lyrics’ field of an MP3 file, or put a piece of paper under the leg of a chair, or whatever. But I could be wrong.”

    Not only could you be wrong, but you are wrong. I’ve been playing around with Peter Belt’s products for 25 years. In that time I’ve engaged in literally thousands of listening trials. Until I have been able to reproduce specific patterns repeatedly, predicting exactly what characteristic the sound will have given a set of conditions. Moreover, I’ve subjected many people I know personally to my experiments – all have been able to hear its effects. If all that according to you contstitutes a “placebo effect”, then with all due respect, I would argue that you don’t know what a placebo effect is. And although I am not an advocate of blind tests in the audio sciences (which I don’t think you know too much about either), I also wrote an article for their newsletter describing a series of blind tests I successfully performed on one of Peter Belt’s products. As for the binary code tweak you mentioned, I even explained in the article that I don’t know if others would be able to pick up on it. I thought it was an important discovery in science, as I feel it extends our knowledge of Beltism’s parameters, which is why I decided to share my discovery. But I never considered that a good first introduction to Beltism, and probably not Peter’s paper under the chair (or amplifier) tweak either. The silver rainbow foil is usually the first point of entry (although by far, not the most effective Belt product). Because unlike blank paper, it is a -charged- object. I also have a website with over 30 different Belt tweaks, all of which are free.

    “I’d just note that the human senses are frail devices, all too prone to being misled through imperfect heuristics, and extraordinarily weak when it comes to consistent perception. ”

    Then if that’s true, there is no point in even pretending to pursue sound quality in audio. Because it means that whatever you buy, you may be deceiving yourself. And whatever blind tests that involves you (or worse) someone else, you can’t really trust because they’re using the same “extraordinarily weak” perceptions in the course of their findings. Of course the above is what all “objectivist” types in the audio community say and believe, I’ve heard it said a thousand times. Although I know objectivists mean well, your beliefs are based on a profound misunderstanding of both blind testing itself and the way the brain processes the different activities (casual listening, sighted trials, blind trials, etc). Every time I have tested objectivists on their own blind tests (a-b, abx, dbt, etc), I’ve found they have absolutely the worst listening skills of all groups of audio enthusiasts. Its no wonder they are often saying that nearly everything in audio sounds the same. While DBTs in medical applications certainly have earned their place, DBTs in audio have never been scientifically validated. That’s probably because they violate the scientific range rule (a system under test must be tested within the parameters within which it was designed to operate). Any data gathered from blind tests will not be applicable to normal conditions.

    Take John Atkinson of Stereophile as an example of that. He has a long career in audio and probably done more blind tests than you or anyone you know (as he tests his reviewers every year). And he has stated that blind tests led him to choose one audio component over another. But over time under normal sighted conditions, that component proved to be awful, soundwise. So for him, extended listening provided a more accurate assessment than blind listening does. It often seems the only purpose that a rigid belief in the “religion” of audio DBT tests is to convince a certain type of audio enthusiast to justify the awful sound of their low grade system, and reinforce this objectivist myth that every audiophile who desires spending money to achieve a higher quality of sound is a misguided fool.

    What blind test advocates fail to understand is that DBTs require a special listening skill, as you are simply not doing the same sort of listening that you would under “more” subjective conditions (let’s make no mistake that blind tests ARE subjective tests). So not only can people be misled because the tests use subjective measures, they are most likely to be misled by blind tests because they don’t have the required skills to discern differences under the stress of blind conditions. So speaking of “extraordinarily weak when it comes to consistent perception”, being good at picking out differences in blind tests is a highly specialized skill. Finally, while critical listening may not always be 100% perfect (and its certainly NOT as flawed as you think it is), its all we have. Or need. All that matters is consistency. If you’ve tested many PWB products and never hear any difference, then you know they don’t work for you. If OTOH you continue to hear improvements from a PWB product for weeks on end (or years as my case), then that’s all that matters. You don’t have to know how it works or why it works; just that it does.

    “You disagree with my judgement, and I doubt that you are alone. But it is my judgement and that’s what will inform my writing.”

    Since you appear to put objective science above everything, I would have assumed you would prefer something close to facts to inform your judgement. I actually do believe in keeping an objective and professional stance. Which is why I will not pass judgement on audio products I have never tried and know nothing about, no matter how implausible they sound. As far as I’ve been able to tell, your judgement is based on nothing other than a glance at Peter Belt’s products on a website, and a guess that they can’t possibly work. Which is based on your complete absence of any understanding of how they can or do work. Then for good measure, you slag off all the well known professional audio reviewers that have said they heard improvements from Peter Belt’s devices, on the basis that the reviews are “subjective”. But elsewhere on your blog, you stake the claim that subjective reviews are important (“Subjective assessment is a vital component in judging any piece of audio equipment.”). So let me just quote to you what Richard Lehnert of Stereophile says about your judgement:

    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

    That quote can be found at the end of my article on Peter Belt (“A Brief History of Peter William Belt”). The article is in the form of a FAQ, and it was written by me over 6 years ago. Specifically for people like you who make all of the same assumptions that you do about Beltism. It can be found here: http://theadvancedaudiophile.tk/?p=296
    (Note: This is the address of my actual site. The previous address I left here is not valid; its from an older unfinished version of the site).

    Ok, we’ll end the debate here! Thanks for allowing an opposite pov to sully your unchallenged opinions. Its rare that anyone ever sees one, when it comes to slagging off Peter Belt. (I would do the same on my blog btw!) Good day.

  12. MickyC says:

    This is awesome.

    I think it is self evident that Mr Belt concocted ‘Beltism’ after a bad acid trip, as a laugh with old university mates or perhaps with more nefarious financial goals in mind. I can’t imagine he would ever of suspected anyone would take it seriously, let alone someone who is so articulate and otherwise seemingly intelligent. It’s a shame all of the ‘thousands’ of blind tests allegedly proving ‘Beltism’ have been distilled to a singular Hungarian ‘guy with a blog’.

    I removed some belly button lint approximately half way through authoring this and I’m quite sure the tittles over the “i’s” convey more tittleness in the second half – perhaps I’ve been hasty in my conclusions.

  13. Micky, I think Belt is likely sincere, if very badly mistaken. I know someone who has had personal dealings with him, and I accept that person’s judgement in that regard.

    The powers of human rationalisation are truly awesome, and the Internet often permits a kind of ‘Chinese whispers’ effect, whereby claims are slightly exaggerated with repetition from a few people, unblinded, experiencing improvements due to Belting their systems, eventually to thousands of blinded experiments.

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