Thursday, July 30, 2009

TECHNOLOGY- James Randi Debunks the Audiophiles

I’ve ranted about the silliness of some high markup accessories sold in electronics stores before but I thought this was interesting.

FWIW, I’ve been an audiophile ever since my best friend in high school’s brother introduced me to the concept. I watched records become eight-tracks become cassette tapes. I bought one of the first CD players in the mid 1980s and took it to the electronics store I managed at the time to let my employees see the new paradigm in audio reproduction. I had Dolby surround when nobody knew what it was, owned a second generation VHS machine, bought a six foot projector when the light output was dismal that it required a curved glass beaded screen to be watchable, owned a few Laserdisc players, Betamax machines, DVD players and now two Blu-Ray players and an HD-DVD (that I have one movie for). In short, I’ve been around the block a few times.

But finally the quality got so good and the bullshit got so deep that I gave up the quest for the best thing out there. Nowadays pretty good is actually pretty damn fine. And while I still like for things to look and sound right I can’t work up any enthusiasm for upgrading my 720P DLP theater projector and will probably have my 1080P 72” rear projector in the living room for years, in spite of the fact that it’s almost 20” deep.

A lot of this is due to the overabundance of silly crap in audiophile circles. It’s always been there. Whether it was phonograph cartridges with exotic materials, or tube amps, or later edging your CDs with magic marker. But the reverence for high end cables has always taken the cake for me. How in the world would anybody be stupid enough to pay as much for a cable to hook up a disk player as they paid for the player itself? But in spite of simple logic (Do you think your $400 Blu-Ray player has $400 wires inside of it?) or numerous double-blind tests that prove even the most golden eared ‘philes can’t hear a difference, people still do.

So James Randi, famed magician and debunker of paranormal claims for over 40 years, has finally made the ultimate challenge. Prove you can tell the difference between a regular set of speaker wires and a set of $7,250 Pear Anjou speaker cables and he’ll give you ONE MILLION DOLLARS! The challenge has been out for three years now and nobody has taken the money.

Or, to quote the cut Googlephonics from Steve Martin’s album Comedy is Not Pretty:

I bought a Stereo! Wow! With two speakers!

But then I heard the quad with the four speakers and I was like this is it, so I got rid of the stereo and got the quad.

I’m listening to this thing and I’m like “Hey this sounds like SHIT!”

So, I got rid of that and got the dodecaphonic with the 12 speakers.

This was more to my liking…for a while.

But the ear gets pretty sophisticated pretty fast and I got rid of that and got the milliphonic with the 1,000 speakers.

And I’m listening to that one and I’m like, “Hey, this sounds like SHIT too! The other one was SHIT one, this one is SHIT too!”

So, I traded that in and got the googlephonic, which is the highest number of speakers you can have before infinity.

Sounds like SHIT!

So, then I said, “Hey, maybe it’s the needle!”

I had the typical diamond needle. I searched around got the moonrock needle, cost me 3 million bucks, but what the hey. So, now I have a googlephonic stereo with a moonrock needle.

It’s okay for a car stereo, I wouldn’t want it in my house.

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