The hucksters wasted no time in rolling out the BS machine over at the HI END Sound & Surround Group on FB. I admit to spending too much time cruising through various audio groups, looking at both left and right leaning political posts and reading posts from my friends. I don’t usually respond but there are times when it’s impossible to resist. Early this morning, Ted Denney of Synergistic Research posted a single sentence on John Lusk’s group page. He wrote, “Proper mechanical isolation, ground isolation, AC filtration and cabling is (sic) critical for the performance of any serious high resolution audio system”. Accompanying the post was the image below — a picture of isolation platforms (the Tranquility Base UEF sells for $2,250), other exotic devices, and pricey cables neatly routed between a variety of pieces of equipment. Check out the setup in the image provided courtesy of Mr. Denney. What happened to less is more?
Without rehashing the entire sequence of comments, I responded first with a “HaHa” and wrote, “I couldn’t disagree more…professional audio studios don’t embrace any of these things (with the exception of good central grounding). Getting great sound at home doesn’t require wasting money on products of dubious efficacy“.
Ted promptly replied, “Professional audio studios do not come close to the sound of the Synergistic Research reference system. This is due in large part to paying attention to factors they ignore”.
MW: “You would have unsuspecting audio enthusiasts believe that your products enhance the fidelity of an album or track beyond that achieved at the reference studio where they were produced? As a professional audio engineer and producer of real high-resolution audio, I’ll pass on your ‘reference system’. I can get better sound for less than the cost of one of your Hocus Pocus power cords. Pass”.
Well, that was enough to arouse the ire of the moderator/owner of the page. John Lusk wrote, “Mark Waldrep your (sic) in the wrong group”. And he warned me “One more flaming statement…”, which I took to be a threat to ban me from the group. His tone seemed odd to me. I didn’t regard my exchange with Ted to be flaming, aggressive, or even impolite. Most audiophiles, I thought, were already familiar with the Synergistic Research product line and the reputation of its owner Ted Denney.
So I wrote a private message to John expecting him to be an unbiased conduit of information to interested audiophiles. I don’t know John he seems like a reasonable guy. I wrote, “John, you allow a company to promote his products and yet you threaten to ban me for pointing out the fact that professionals don’t use his products or products of that type. I was respectful, polite, and truthful. I didn’t flame Synergistic Research. Do you really want to promote power cords and such that cost $20K?”
He replied, “I have experienced very expensive setups and gear. And yes, on systems where no cost, 20k power cords are relevant. Two yrs ago I took home 10k worth of Nordost Frey2 speaker cable’s, power cords and they are fantastic, matter…”
MW: “I am always polite and non-flaming in my posts. If you want to believe that spending crazy money on products from Nordost, Audioquest, or SR then you’re entitled to do so. To let purveyors of overpriced audio accesories and cables promote their wares on your FB group doesn’t instill much confidence in your policies. Sorry.”
John was polite and responded, “Mark you are a gentleman and I’m glad your in the group. This topic puzzles me but each to our own. Thanks for your message and I will remove the comment over you being in the wrong group”.
You’re welcome to read the numerous comments from both sides of the exotic cables and accessories debate. Everyone here knows that I’m not a believer…science and technology and objectivity mean a lot to me than voodoo, subjectivism, pseudo-science nonsense that passes as fact among a large percentage of audiophiles. But SR and Ted Denney — as well as plenty of others — have built substantial companies on selling products that exist on the fringe for professionals. To assert that professional, architecturally designed, acoustically tuned mixing and mastering rooms “do not come close” to a high-resolution system comprised of Synergistic Research accessories and cables is utter nonsense and they know it.
The fundamental question is who can audiophiles trust to provide accurate, unbiased advice? John Lusk and others recommend establishing a close relationship with a local audio retailer. Of course, they will always want to up sell you the latest gadgets etc. I remember talking to a custom electronic installer who always recommended Meridian and Wilson equipment and expensive cables. Why? Because the mark up on pricey gear is a percentage and the bigger the final bill, the more profit they made. Would anyone really spend $20k on a power cord and think that it would make any difference to the sound coming out of your speakers?
John acknowledged that he and Ted Denney are “friends”. No wonder he allows a post that is clearly promotional in nature on his FB page. I’m not so sure that a post about the idiocy of cables and a picture of my book would get the same warm reception and repeated defense. This is all too familiar. The “CableGate” YouTube promotion that featured various grades of AudioQuest HDMI cables and was posted by a Texas distributor (which the AQ CEO told me was not a company production and which he didn’t sponsor), the Nordost trade show power cord demos that magically increase volume (something that power cables cannot do), and the cable nonsense perpetuated by Bob Levi and the LAOCAS at his event last summer might cause audiophiles to rightfully doubt the “so called” experts. They should.
However, professional engineers aren’t without promoting falsehoods, too. I read a newsletter from a respected fellow audio engineer, friend, and fellow label owner recently. Another expert right? Well, the newsletter stated the following in describing their CD-Rs, “The gold gives it longevity and the sound is one less generation of degradation“. One generation less degradation? What?!? A digital copy of a stereo CD is identical with each generation — there is no loss. That’s the whole point — and a huge advantage — of PCM digital encoding. Marketing spin trumps all other considerations.
So welcome to an other new year. Let’s make it one of truth, happiness, health, honesty, and great sounding recordings.