Reviewing a piece of equipment, an expensive interconnect or speaker cable, or some other audiophile accessory is a tough thing to do. Is simply listening to an item in a high-end system and reporting on the results sufficient? Or should there be some investigation into the technical/scientific merits included in the opinion of a “so-called” expert? I’m naturally skeptical of claims of positive enhancements on things that just don’t seem to make sense. The whole CD Illumination thing is an example of audio snake oil, which I carefully evaluated and discovered was pure bunk (you can read the post by clicking here). The copying of a replicated CD to a CD-R made no difference to the audio fidelity despite the insistence from the person doing the “vivifying”.
I receive the Audiostream emails and have long considered the editor Michael Lavorgna a friend and knowledgeable reporter on computer audio and high-end gear. On May 26, 2015, I read “The Synergistic Research Grounding Block and High Definition Ground Cables” review in the cables and accessory review section of the site authored by Steven Plaskin. Anything from Synergistic Research always gets my attention, so I read the article. The site gave the grounding block and $395 “high-definition ground cable” (for a 4-foot cable) a “Greatest Bits” award and Steve glowed in his review of the SR products.
The SR stuff is basically doing a “star ground” setup. In many audio systems that I’ve put together, it’s often advantageous to isolate the individual ground leads from each piece of gear (or their power cords) and connect a dedicated piece (I typically use 1-12 gauge) of zip cord to a “ring” or circle of tinned wire and then connect that to a copper rod pounded into the earth. This is the way all of the studios in my building deal with ground or common grounding. It’s the way professional studios do it. It prevents line hum and guarantees that everyone is grounded in common.
I admit that I have no personal experience with the SR grounding products. But I have experienced some of their other products during demos at CES and other trade shows. I’ve been underwhelmed each time. Steven’s gave these particular SR products thumbs up! His final paragraph states, “More Than Just A Tweak”. You can read the review for yourself at Audiostream.com.
It’s hard to believe that there were “major sonic enhancements” in the fidelity of his system knowing something about grounding and electronics and having done audio professionally for over 40 years. But OK, Steven likes the products.
I posted what I thought was a gentle comment titled Professional Studios,
“It might be interesting for readers to know that professional studios do not use products from SR…and we’re the ones making the records. I sank a long copper rod in the ground behind the building and ground everything to it. Works like a charm…and costs a whole lot less than the hocus pocus discussed above.”
Michael took some offense to my posting. He wrote,
“You mean like HD recordings? Tons of people believe HD recordings are nonsense based on ‘science’ so I find your view of this review as being based on ‘hocus pocus’ to be not only ironic but ill-considered.
If you want to make that claim, back it up Mark.”
I assured Michael that I am quite dubious and quite vocal about the nonsense in the HD world. But the issue here is whether it is sufficient for a single reviewer to wax poetically on a device and some cables without facts to back up his claims? Michael places the responsibility on me to show that they didn’t improve the sound. I think he’s got it backwards. Wouldn’t the audio world be a better place if the makers of cables and accessories had to back up their claims with some actual science?
The site posts “subjective reviews”…end of story and responsibility. You can believe that SR makes solid products because Steven enjoyed what they did for him or you can walk away based on your own experience or knowledge of the products. I’m one of those guys that require the people/company making the product to demonstrate their products actually do what they say they do.
Sorry Michael, it’s on SR and Steven to make more than subjective claims.
For those that might have missed the posting of the latest rev of the diagram in the comments yesterday, here’s the last(?) iteration.
I’m still not finished with the rest of the pages, so this graphic and the entire brochure will be sent as a PDF file. When it’s done, I’ll let you know. I think I’ve included all of the wonderful suggestions and error reports. But there are probably things that can be improved.