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Nov 15, 2015

Welcome to The Advanced Audiophile Press

Posted by The Advanced Audiophile

This web diary will log some of my various thoughts and experiments within the scientific domain of Beltism. It goes into more personal details, than the associated website. "Beltism" is a relatively new science (discovered by Peter W. Belt), still little known and understood. It deals with energy fields in our environment that affect human senses, by reducing the tension these fields create within us, when around them. This allows us to better perceive sounds, in particular, musical sounds. Among other things, the practice of Beltism can improve our ability to perceive both music and video. The goal behind my research into Beltism is first and foremost; to better understand this marvelous and oddly mysterious phenomenon. Secondly, it is to learn how to improve the quality of my sound at home (or at concerts). This focuses primarily in increasing the quality of music reproduction, but by extension, it also includes improving the sound of home cinema, tv, computers, mp3 players, car stereos, etc. Even video, such as tv or computer monitors. Anyone reading this blog can participate in at least some of whatever experiments I may detail, as they require no technical expertise or implements, and hopefully, benefit from them.

n.b. This is a more personal offshoot of my site, "The Advanced Audiophile", which provides more background on Beltism and its founder and creator. It contains as well, a plethora of experiments created mostly by Peter Belt, for the curious to dip their toe in the water and experience one of the world's least known and most fascinating discoveries of human science. (See tab at top of page). Have fun!

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Nov 17, 2013

“Whatism”??

Posted by The Advanced Audiophile

I get a lot of that, actually. And a lot of this as well: "How come I never heard of it?!". This is an alternative science that has a lot going against it, in terms of how implausible it seems. But it has been studied and practiced by thousands of people across the globe for over a quarter of a century, because it has helped them and their acquaintances achieve benefits for that long. It has passed blind tests involving over a thousand participants. It has been testified to by numerous journalists in both print and online audio publications, since the 80's. Myself, I have been witnessing its effects for nigh on twenty years. It just isn't something that's all that easy to get into normally; intellectually or otherwise.

But once that happens everything changes. And the impossible becomes the implausible, the implausible becomes the possible. I maintain, from experience in testing the phenomenon on others, that you don't have to be an audiophile to hear the effects, or appreciate the considerable benefits that can be derived from them. But it helps. However, it doesn't help if you're the type of audiophile who is more concerned with ideology than you are with sound quality. With an open mind and open ears, there can be a lot to learn within the science of Beltism. And help is usually only a click or two away. Hope you find something worthwhile and interesting while you are here. n.b. Posts that contain actual experiments anyone can try themselves, will be tagged with the label "Experiments". (see "Categories" in the sidebar)


"Truth in science can be defined as the working hypothesis best suited to open the way to the next better one."- Konrad Lorenz

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Nov 15, 2013

The MP3's of Morphic Messaging

Posted by The Advanced Audiophile

Morphic messaging, briefly, is a means of tapping into morphic resonances (energy fields, studied by everyone from Einstein to Dr. Rupert Sheldrake). Which, in Sheldrake's meaning, implies that the past influences current activity. That there is an interconnection among activity, whether by humans or animals. From here, we go to informational fields, studying the links created in the languages that we share (both words and symbols). But it's ok if that explains little. I don't want anyone to get too hung up on the concepts. I've seen too many people do that, lead themselves down wrong paths by way of idiology (sic), and end up understanding even less about Beltism than they started with.

Morphic messaging, a term used in the science of Beltism, has in my opinion, more to do with studies in that science, than it has to do with what Sheldrake is studying. Their concepts are related, that is all. Like Sheldrake's work, Beltism is the study of particular peculiarities of Nature. So what does any of this have to do with mp3's? I'm getting to that....

A couple of years ago, I did some brief studies on the effects of morphic messaging on mp3's. They were limited to changing the name of the mp3 file, and the name of the folder that the file sits in, to words that I thought would be more conducive to "good energy", and hence, good sound. And there I discovered another "secret" that the world at large is happily oblivious to and eager to write off: not only did it improve the sound of the mp3's, but that improved sound got copied along with the file, when the file was copied (e.g. burned to disc). In fact... the copies sounded better than the originals.

More recently, I acquired this little puppy you see over on your right: the PWB Digiplus USB. It is a first for PWB Electronics, in the sense of applying the principles of Beltism to digital audio. Needless to say, it is also a first for the audio marketplace in general. In that it is a USB flash drive that purports to improve your sound. All your sound. Anywhere. Simply by plugging it into a USB jack. It does this job admirably and to great effect. Moreover, it was fun blind testing this on friends (who were not audiophiles by any stretch). Having them be startled by the improvement in sound quality, without me telling them what I was doing to change the sound.

So amid all the fun of playing around with this neat little gadget, the PWB Digiplus USB, and the comments on the device written by other customers of PWB, prompted me to make a return to studying ways of improving my mp3's. Specifically, through the use of mp3 tags that other PWB customers had started experimenting with. For the first time, in these last few days, I have done just that. And, in an AA exclusive, I share my results with the world.

I am applying the very same concepts of morphic messaging that I describe elsewhere in these articles, in the form of written language on paper. Except this time, it is an extension of the experiments I did on mp3 file names years ago. And this time, I'm not touching the file names or their folder names. This time.... we're going all the way in! We'll be hiding the messages in mp3 tags!

This is probably the easiest experiment I will ever publish on this blog. All you have to do is take your mouse, select, copy and paste the message below into your favorite mp3 tag editor. (n.b. Start your selection at the last number in the sequence, and go to the first). You can also paste this directly into the mp3 file itself, without any additional software needed. To do this in Windows, click right on the file name of the mp3 (or other music format), who's sound quality you wish to improve. 
  • Select "Properties" at the bottom of the right-click menu.

  • From there, select the "Summary" tab.

  • Click on the "Lyrics"* section (you may need to click a few times to open it up). (*And I mean that. Although the "Comments" field will work, all technicalities aside, I find the lyrics field to produce a more musical result).

  • Selecting/Copying/Pasting: Paste the text below that you selected and copied, into this "Lyrics" box field (Tip: To select text off this page, click once on the beginning of the text with the left button, keep the button depressed, drag  down to the end of the text). You can also use Ctrl-C to copy (press the Ctrl button and then "C" button at the same time), and Ctrl-V to paste (press the Ctrl button and then "V" button at the same time).Click "OK" on the box to accept the pasted text message.



------------Start of Morphic Message for MP3 (do not include this line)-----------

01001011 01000011 01000101 01001000 01000011 00111100 00100000 00111100 00101101 00101101 00101101 00101101 00100000 00111001 00111000 00110110 00100000 10110011 01101101 01100011 00101111 01101101 01100001 01110010 01100111 00100000 00101000 00110100 00101001 01011110 00101000 00111001 00101001 01011110 00110000 00110001 00100000 01110011 01101001 00100000 10110010 01100011 00100000 00101010 00100000 01101101 00111101 01000101 00100000 00110001 00110011 00110101 00110001 00110011 00110101 00110001 00110011 00110101 00101101 00101101 00101101 00101110 00100000 00101011 00101011 00101011 00110010 00110100 00110110 00110010 00110100 00110110 00110010 00110100 00110110 00100000 10110011 01101101 01100011 00101111 01101101 01100001 01110010 01100111 00100000 00101000 00110100 00101001 01011110 00101000 00111001 00101001 01011110 00110000 00110001 00100000 01110011 01101001 00100000 10110010 01100011 00100000 00101010 00100000 01101101 00111101 01000101 00100000 00111001 00111000 00110110 00100000 00110011 00110111 00110010 00100000 01110011 01110101 01101110 01101001 01101101 00100000 00110000 00100000 00101101 00101101



------------End of Morphic Message for MP3 (do not include this line)-----------


n.b. If the message makes no sense to you, don't worry, it just means you're mortal. It doesn't have to make sense to work.  If you do this, listen carefully the first time. That is, listen to your computer's sound system, before you paste the text into your favorite mp3 file and play the mp3. Then listen carefully after you apply the message. The first listen is always the most important. It's where most of the action takes place. It appears that in subsequent evaluations, the morphic message leaves traces of its influence, even though you have removed the message from the mp3's comments tag. This would make multiple A-B evaluations more difficult, as you are already experiencing an improved sound, when the message has been removed. And the improvement would likely diminish in power, after repeatedly reapplying the message. Still, I don't discourage multiple A-B evaluations of this experiment.

Consider that each morphic message links with another. So the more files you tag this way, the more that each morphic tag will impact on the other. The better your sound, overall. In fact, why do just one? Tag several mp3's, then listen to the result on the first one you tagged. Just remember to tag an odd number of files at one time. If the sound seems off, you've broken the pattern. In which case, simply tag one more mp3, and it should correct itself. Alternatively, you can try entering the message into the "Title" and "Artist" fields, instead of the "Lyrics" field, and see if you prefer the results of that.You needn't limit yourself to mp3's, either. You can do the same with JPEGs, or other picture formats, by entering the message into the comment field (though your sonic results may not be as good, note).

It's also worth nothing that if you prefer, you can do your listening test evaluations on your primary hifi system. It doesn't matter that much if you're not listening to the actual mp3 file. This is Beltism, after all. By tagging comments on mp3 files with the above message, it is possible to subjectively improve upon the sound of the original CD. Even more so, if a PWB Digi+ USB device is plugged in to the computer, while music files are being transferred to CD during the burning process!

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Nov 10, 2013

To freeeze or not to freeze?

Posted by The Advanced Audiophile

Here's another thing not many people know, or are likely to believe (at least, in the beginning).... Your plain old domestic home freezer, while great for keeping peas frozen, is also a valuable tool for transmogrifying adverse energy fields into ones more beneficial to human senses. Peter Belt (of PWB Electronics Inc) discovered this some 25 years ago, following experiments with heating, and then cooling of audio signal cables. This method was actually well documented in various media outlets; the New York Times, Stereophile Magazine, Soundstage! Magazine (Online), and a demonstration of the effect for British tv was even put on YouTube. However! These all dealt with freezing at cryogenic temperatures, and the object being frozen was a CD. The understanding is that the process is changing the crystalline structure of the material frozen, realigning the molecules misaligned during the manufacturing stage. All well and good if the theory wasn't an attempt to fit a square peg into a round hole. The round hole is overlooked because proponents of the square peg theory have not gone further in their experiments, to try to get a deeper understanding of what is really going on. If they had, they would realize that you don't need cryogenic temperatures to get a similar effect of improved sound from freezing CD's. You also don't need CD's. You can freeze a book, a brass candlestick, kitchen cutlery, a set of dead batteries, a photograph of yourself.... all of these objects and more will have an immediate effect on your perception of sound. A permanent one, even, long after the frozen object has thawed.

In recent days, I've gone one step further with this. Two years ago, I detailed the freezing process on my website, "The Advanced Audiophile". It's a lengthy affair that requires 8-12 hours of freezing, and an even longer thawing time, because slow thaw is said to be the key to the improvements in perception of sound. In order to get an even deeper understanding of this, I tried experiments with very short periods of freezing time. How short? How about, 3 minutes? Too short? Make it two minutes then! And how long to let it thaw? Forget about thawing! Yes, what I'm saying is that I can freeze an object for as little as 30 seconds, and hear an improvement in perception of sound thereafter. Since this is a relatively new finding, I'm still not sure what the ideal time is, for this "flash freezing" process. To be "safe", I would try no less than 1 or 2 minutes. I do not claim the results are as good as using the full length process that the Belts advocate, which is detailed on my site. Probably not, and I don't know yet how it compares. I only claim that I can hear the differences using my shortened process, and with careful listening, perhaps you can too. If the experiment does result in a positive identification of differences, then for the observer, it would show that the given temperature and length of time in a domestic freezer would not be anywhere near enough to change the structure of the material, as the cryogenic advocates insist is the reason for the improvement in sound.

My flash freeze process should not be regarded as a substitute for the full PWB process, but it does make it easier to get immediate results from freezing objects. Which makes it easier to test for differences. Not everyone, I suppose, has an aural memory that can last the 16 hours it might require to properly "treat" an object under this full freezing process, and recall what their sound was like before they started the process. Like I say, any object can be flash frozen in a few mintues, and all have a chance of affecting our sound, whether they generate sound themselves or not. But I'd still say a good place to start is with things that generate sound; CD's, mp3 players, your car stereo, small speakers, remote controls, cell phones, etc. Listen to your sound, chuck 'em in the freezer, take them out, listen to your sound again. See if after the process your sound is a bit richer, less harsh, or more "musical", etc. Beltism could not possibly get any simpler than that!

This is an example, many actually, of members on an mp3 forum who tried my experiment of full-process freezing of an mp3 player. With great success.

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Sep 22, 2011

What The Bleep @*$?! Do We Hear?

Posted by The Advanced Audiophile

Apart from being on and communicating from the bleeding edge of audio and life science, I also have the best sounding website on the internet. Skeptical? That's ok. I expect that. Oh. You don't know what it means? That's ok. I expected that too. It means that, being here and reading this page, you have already entered the Twilight Zone.... of good sound! This is not something that's at all easy for the average person to conceive, so perhaps its best to explain it in the form of an experiment.

Let's try this.... the idea is to switch between my website and another one you have loaded in another tab of your browser. (If you don't have any other browser tabs open, open one now!). But before you switch between the tabs, you begin a careful listen to recorded music. It could be in the form of mp3's on your computer, or you could if you wish listen to your primary hifi audio system. You would of course begin with the same song each time you switch. Whatever source of recorded music you choose to listen to, you can start by listening to your music while you have another website displayed on your computer monitor (this other website could be one loaded in another tab of your browser, or even another browser window). Make sure that as you switch between the two, the other website and mine each take up the full screen. Meaning that you have no other windows partially covering them. e.g. If you have a music player window open in order to play the test music, minimize the music player window. Also, when switching to my site, you should be able to read this text (or just be at the top of the home page, where you see the article "Welcome To The Advanced Audiophile"). When you've heard enough of the test track while you have another site displayed on your monitor, switch over to my blog. Wait a couple of seconds and begin the same song again, and listen carefully to see if the sound quality has improved. Repeat the switching as many times as necessary, until you are certain you are or aren't able to hear differences in the sound quality.

I have no trouble hearing the differences on my end. But I can't ever vouch for what people I don't know can or can't consciously hear (or feel. Yes, I can feel the difference when I switch to my blog; and if you are already particularly sensitive to the effects of Beltism, you too might feel a lowering of tension when switching to my page).  If you try and don't hear any differences in your relative sound quality , that's ok too. You're not there yet.... As I haven't yet tested the effect on anyone I know, I don't know yet if the difference is large enough for anyone to hear. If not, don't let the experience stop you from trying any of the other experiments throughout this blog. The ones you actively participate in are more likely to yield a stronger effect. OTOH, if you do hear this effect of my site producing a better sound in your home than that of another site, and you're wondering why....

....trust me, you're not alone. ;-)

Regards,

The Advanced Audiophile
 

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Jun 10, 2011

The Importance of Cabling

Posted by The Advanced Audiophile

This one's not about Beltism. (Or is it?). It's about something I always knew, but rediscovered tonight. The importance of cables. In this case, we're talking power cables.....

I had a listen to one of my cd players earlier, an Arcam Alpha. I had not heard this thing in years. My intention was to compare it to another one of my cd players, a Marantz CD-63. The Marantz was really the one in the spotlight, as I was preparing to give it to a friend, having another listen to it before it goes for good. It may be a low budget audiophile thing, but it really is a good player, all around. It's lively, exciting, plenty of distinct tonal colors, and it gets most things right. If I had to nitpick, and it would be that, it can be a trace hard sometimes around the mids, and doesn't have the expanse (in soundstage) of more expensive players. Nor should you expect it to, nor is that the be all and end all.

The Arcam Alpha is quite a different beast. Of UK design, this I'm guessing is two or three times the cost of the Marantz. And it feels like it, as its built to a much higher standard. It's also capable of a higher degree of resolution, that much was in evidence during a comparison. But... was it really better than the Marantz? My brain wanted to say "of course not" but my ears were saying "are you kidding me?". Yes, it could resolve things better than the Marantz, yes it was less congested, but everything had a greyish coloration. It was too smooth. Remember, it had been years that I'd heard this, so I attributed it to the older DACs of older players.

While listening to it, I imagined myself reviewing this for a magazine, saying "Sorry, but this doesn't quite do it for me. Everything is smoothed over, everything has a homogenous tone. No distinction in timbre of instruments being played, and despite the smoothness, it still manages to be strident in some areas.". That would be of course followed by a lot of tears and anger, and controversy from a lot of people. For how could I dismiss such a "fine player with a fine reputation". And yet.... I was ready to call this one for the Marantz! It was rough around the edges, but it sounded more like music. It even tracked better than the Arcam. So why give away the Marantz CD-63, if the Arcam Alpha was less satisfying to listen to? CD after CD comparing the two players next to each other, convinced me that "perceived price/quality be damned", I should just keep the Marantz, and give away the Arcam.

Just before concluding that I was better keeping the Marantz (as much as I wanted to keep my Alpha), I decided to try something.... power cables, to be specific. One of the advantages the Arcam had was a detachable power cord, so you could easily change it. My thinking was "What if this is all due to a power cable?". I wasn't sure if this was the original power cable, because it was grey. But, the power cable on the Arcam was clearly marked "Arcam power cord", so that I don't get it mixed up with others. I don't quite remember, but it is possible it wasn't the original cable, and that "as a tweak", I had tried out different power cables in my posession, and fitted the one I thought best on to the Arcam. So doing the reverse, I pulled all the IEC power cables I could find in my system. Out of my DAC, out of my jitter reducer, and I don't know where the third one came from, but I had gathered up three more power cables (all of them black and looking alike, as they were standard manufacturer equipment-fitted cables). Which I then proceeded to listen to, attached to the Arcam. I listened to one after another, comparing them to the grey cable, and though I hoped they would resolve the problem, they may have changed a few little things here and there, but they did not change the major complaints I had with the sound. Which is that it was boring, grey, dull and lacked differences of tone/timbre. Then I tried the last one.

And that last cable seemed to cause the Marantz to blush. It was obviously a natural fit with the Arcam Alpha.  The tone and timbre that was lacking was now there, the stridency was gone, the greyness gone, and it was so much more involving to listen to, that it made me forget I was supposed to be just testing the unit. Listening to the Marantz again, made it seem like the Marantz was much worse than I remembered, from a few minutes ago! There was really nothing the Marantz could offer at this point, over the Arcam. I was perfectly pleased with the rejuvenated Arcam. And I know my friend will be perfectly pleased with the Marantz. Especially since I plan on "Belting" it. Making the CD-63 a "CD-63 Super SE Platinum Signature Edition With Cherries On Top").

I think what this anecdote shows is that my listening skills today are a lot better than what they were ten years ago. And they were brilliant ten years ago! But no, I made a mistake with the cables, by not listening to the right elements at the time. Now corrected. Never let them say "a power cable can't make a difference, it's only one meter long, there's miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles of cheaper cable going from the power plant to.....". Audio dweebs can be such nebbishes sometimes. Just whip 'em with a power cable, like in the Devo video, and say "Tell me, Mr. Cable Skeptic Jr. Does that make a difference?!".


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May 15, 2011

But is it art?

Posted by The Advanced Audiophile

Tonight I was organizing all my papers... a job that required the better half of an entire day and night. I finally stopped at five in the morning, when I "thought" everything had been filed away (but no, there was another banker's box in the closet that I missed...). Among the papers was a small oil painting on paper that my father, who has since passed, had painted. This, I'm afraid I had planned to trash, because I had already kept many paintings of his, and decided I didn't have the space or inclination to keep every single thing. After giving it a second thought, however, I asked myself what I'm sure many already have; "I wonder what a painting sounds like?". Ok, maybe not many. But I had to answer the question, for all of those who dared not ask it, didn't I? Especially since it was done on paper instead of canvas, which meant it could easily be cut up. So I set the painting aside and, instead of putting it in the "to trash" pile, I placed it in the "to listen" pile. And at 5 a.m., after I was done organizing, I set about listening to the painting just before going to sleep.

The method I used was to treat them as though they were foils from P.W.B. Electronics. That is, I cut the snippets of the painting into lengths of approx. 3mm x 15mm, and applied them with tape to various locations. Again, the energy of these snippets was strong enough I could feel it was going to be something, before playing anything. Most of the locations I chose were particularly good, some better than others. In the "particularly good" camp, was the felt-covered baffle of the loudspeaker's tweeter, halfway between the tweeter and top of the baffle. Another, the centre back of the MDF loudspeaker, near the top. Yet another was to twist a strip around the positive speaker wire going into the amp. Each application moved the sound away from stridency, and toward a more lush richness, and an advance in resolution. To be sure, this wasn't perfect. It did not have the neutral tonal balance I would expect from PWB's "Silver Rainbow Foil" for example. For starters, it was a bit too warm, and not as engaging as some applications have been. But it helped correct a bothersome harshness in the system I was tweaking, and seemed a perfect match to smoothing out low-cost digital electronics that have a built-in etched sound that's hard to get rid of.

More importantly, it says something about the phenomenon, because you can't just take any bit of paper lying about and expect the kinds of improvements I heard from the painting. As this is only an initial reflection, I can't say whether or how this might work with other drawings. The fact that it is a drawing however, points to what should be an interesting development in this science that is Beltism. It makes one question; what do drawings represent to us? We can usually know how they are affecting us on a conscious level. But do we know how are they affecting us subconsciously, on a sensory level? Does, for example, it matter who drew the painting, or if it was drawn in oil paints or lead pencil? What if it was drawn on canvas, is that better or worse? Will a copy of the picture sound better? I think the discovery is interesting enough that I will probably endeavour to answer at least some of these questions, in future experiments. Meanwhile, as always, you are encouraged to do your own, if you find the idea of interest. Just don't tear up anything that says "Picasso" at the bottom. It might be worth something.

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May 14, 2011

What's the sound of one hand clapping?

Posted by The Advanced Audiophile

(c) 2005 John Naccarato
In the Nouvelle Revue du Son No. 2, of October 1976, French hifi journalist Jean Hiraga introduced the world to the concept that cables have a "sound", in his seminal article "Can we hear audio connecting wires?". I would like to explore that concept a little further in this article.

Before Hiraga, cables were only thought to be a carrier for the electrical signal, having no influence on the signal itself. Thanks to pioneers like Jean Hiraga, today, we now know otherwise, and cables that wire up a high resolution audio system have become as important as the components themselves. All manner of speaker cables and interconnects have been developed and manufactured, and every one has its own character on the sound. Contrary to wishful thinking by certain quasi-objectivist ideologues, there really is no such thing as a "neutral" cable. The very existence of a cable will add its own influence to the sound.

Decades ago, I discovered that other materials have a "sound", when doing tests on audio equipment stands. Their feet for example, can be made of different materials and shapes. (And I think I've tested nearly all of them, in my audiophile career). Each different material and shape lending its own character to the sound. There can also be different types of shelves used in the stands. Sometimes they're made of glass, sometimes MDF, or wood, or other materials. Each material has its own "sound". Interestingly, I discovered that the "sound" of the materials, seemed to reflect what one would perceive by the nature of the material. What do you think, when you think of the term "glassy"? "Shiny"? "Hard"? Well, "shiny" and "hard" is very much the description of what glass shelves sound like. It's a bright, cold, hard sound. Metal also imparts a hard, cold characteristic to the sound, and wood, a richer, warmer characteristic.

In those years of testing and experimenting with materials in pursuit of resonance control, I always saw the material as affecting the sound in a physical way. e.g. Changing the way things vibrated, affected everything in the chain; from the miniscule signals in electronic components (aka "microphony"), to those from loudspeakers, and even the cables themselves can be affected by how they're allowed to vibrate. Things are affected (read: "coloured") by the resonant frequency of the materials the components are both made of (ie. the wood of the speaker cabinets, the material the PCB board of the amplifier), and sitting on (ie. the speaker stands, the equipment stand, the component feet). 

Those findings, as I learned, already put me out on the bleeding edge of audiophilia. Many of my audiophile brethren never explored this area in depth, and even fewer cared to or believed there was anything to it. Even so, this period was what I call my "conventional phase". I call it that to differentiate it from what came afterward. My "Beltism era", where I revisited Peter Belt's concepts and products from way back in my audiophile career.

Having been exposed to a much more advanced understanding of what affects our perception of sound under Beltism, I would naturally be asking somewhat different questions during the course of my current day research. Things I would never have considered in an earlier time. One of those things I had never considered before back in the conventional phase, is "Do materials have a sound unto themselves?". Yes, I knew then that glass, metal, ceramics, wood, etc.; all have a certain "sound" that they impart on the sound we hear when we listen to our audio system. But... that thinking was limited to their influence somewhere on the audio chain. The question I was now having to ask, is "But do they have this same sound outside of the audio chain?".

The answer I expect from those who know nothing of this phenomenon, would be "who cares?". Indeed, why even ask the question, if the material in question is not in the chain? e.g. Whatever character the glass shelves of an equipment stand or a metal speaker stands have on an audio system, they won't add any of their character to your sound, if they're not installed in the system.

....Or will they? The reason I started asking this question, started with a tweak I made to a GPS system. The automobile GPS allows you to broadcast its output to an FM transmitter. But this did not work well, as the signal was weak and cutting out. So I fashioned an antenna for the unit, by attaching a 6" piece of CAT 5 (computer network) wire to a headphone adapter, and plugging that adapter into the GPS' external headphone jack. This makeshift antenna worked to improve FM reception. But I noticed it had another effect. The sound of the unit's internal music player took on the characteristics of CAT 5 wire. (I was very familiar with those characteristics too, as I had done many tests between it and stranded audio wire). If I attached another type of wire to the headphone jack, then the music player would take on the characteristics of that wire as well! So would the car stereo, which has absolutely no physical connection to the GPS. Thus, neither the short piece of CAT 5, nor the car stereo, has any electrical connection to the GPS unit. Yet... the CAT 5 wire is having the exact same effect on the sound as though it were an interconnect in an audio system.

Without going into details, everything that I have done to confirm this phenomenon, has confirmed it. It appears Hiraga was only partly correct. Cables do have a sound, or "sonic character". But their "sonic character" is entirely a function of the object itself. And if this is so, it is so with any object of any material. Laws of Beltism operate universally, there are no "partials" in these laws. Following those laws, it implies that the glass shelf of the equipment stand, will continue to have at least some of its characteristic "hard, glassy, bright" sound, simply by existing within your living space. It doesn't have to be supporting your equipment directly, to have at least some of its effect. It also implies the same for speaker stands. Whatever they are made of or whatever material their feet are made of, they will have at least a similar sonic influence on your audio system when they are not supporting the speakers, as when they are. More so if in the same room. And those cables Jean Hiraga looked at decades ago? I predict that cables will have at least some of their characteristic influence just sitting on top of a component, as they would attached to the component and functioning. (I say "some" because direct active connections are more powerful than inactive ones). This is easy enough to test by placing different cables of about the same weight, on top of an amp or other component, and carefully listening to the differences. If you know the sound of both your system and your cables well, you'll hear that each will affect the sound on top of the component, in keeping with how they would affect the sound when attached to it.

Of course, if you change the object's energy patterns, you change its influence on your sound. Even though it is not connected in chain with the audio signal. This is what I did, when I "treated" the CAT 5 wire with a Belt-type tweak. Although it was not connected to the GPS unit's internals, and only acting as an antenna to the FM transmitter, the treatment of the antenna wire improved the sound of both the GPS unit's internal music player, as well as the car stereo. So, as many hifi enthusiasts have discovered, cables do indeed have a "sound". A sonic characteristic through which they influence the sound of the audio system. 

If we are ever to advance in our understanding of audio, sound and senses however, it is my strong belief that one important truism must be recognized: everything has a sound. All the objects around you are making music, as we speak. You just have to learn how to hear them, if you want in on the action.




"Good or bad, baby.
 You can see
 You're making your own reality
 Every day, because
 Enlightenment
 Don't know what it is."

- "Enlightenment"
: Van Morrison

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Dec 19, 2009

The Green Audiophile

Posted by The Advanced Audiophile

The rapid evolution of technology, a low initial cost, and planned obsolescence in consumer electronics have resulted in a fast-growing surplus of electronic waste around the globe. In the United States, an estimated 70% of heavy metals in landfills comes from discarded electronics, while electronic waste represents only 2% of America's trash in landfills. The EPA states that unwanted electronics totaled 2 million tons in 2005. Discarded electronics represented 5 to 6 times as much weight as recycled electronics.(2)

Making our hifi products more efficient to operate is all fine and dandy. But it seems the impact of producing them and what happens to them after their useful life is something far more serious to consider. They can contain hundreds of individual components; including metals, chemicals, plastics, polypropylene, and toxic materials. All of which require a lot of energy and materials in their manufacture, and all of which are materials that are very slow to decompose in landfill sites, and can leech chemicals while doing so. Even some attempt at recycling these components is not any sort of ideal solution. Because recycling these items, where possible, may be both difficult and expensive. Plus, recycling itself expends a lot of energy (of many forms), and has its own environmental impact. Recycling of materials from electronic scrap raises concerns over toxicity and carcinogenicity of some of its substances and processes. Toxic substances in electronic waste may include lead, mercury, and cadmium. Carcinogenic substances in electronic waste may include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Capacitors, transformers, and wires insulated with or components coated with polyvinyl chloride (PVC), manufactured before 1977, often contain dangerous amounts of PCBs. (2)

Up to 38 separate chemical elements are incorporated into electronic waste items. Many of the plastics used in electronic equipment contain flame retardants. These are generally halogens added to the plastic resin, making the plastics difficult to recycle. Due to the flame retardants being additives, they easily leach off the material in hot weather, which is a problem because when disposed of, electronic waste is generally left outside. The flame retardants leach into the soil and recorded levels were 93 times higher than soil with no contact with electronic waste. The unsustainability of discarding electronics and computer technology is another reason commending the need to recycle or to reuse electronic waste. (2)

Practitioners of Beltism tend to be the "greenest" audiophiles on the planet. Because they generally adopt a different approach when it comes to upgrading their sound. Where traditional audiophiles will trade in or trade off their old gear and buy new gear to replace it, Beltists usually retain their gear the longest; even "downgrading" in some cases. This puts less electronics into landfill sites. For the approach used here is that the "upgrading" is done to the hifi equipment itself, instead of replacing it with more equipment when one outgrows their sound. This is a very efficient, not to mention cost-effective means of acheiving similar ends. The environmental impact of producing products the nature of those produced by P.W.B (the tools most Beltists employ to upgrade their audio systems), is lesser than the packaging used to produce typical audio products.

In the end, a "Beltist" can keep their audio components out of the landfill site for as long as possible, and throughout its life, continually upgrade and maintain a sound every bit as good as their conventional audio counterparts. Probably better, because the kind of musically coherent sound possible through the productive use of Beltist treatments is generally not possible via conventional practices. Nor will it ever be, due to the inherently different nature of the two approaches to high resolution audio.

Sources:

(1) "The Greenest Audio Systems Of 2008"

(2) From "Electronic Waste"

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The hidden emotive aspect of film reproduction

Posted by The Advanced Audiophile

Sad to say, the film "Monsters Inc." has become ingrained in my consciousness, and slowly becoming one of my favorite movies. But that's only because I had the DVD on hand, and kept using it during my audio research. I can practically recite the entire dialogue from Chapter 1. This all started, because I wanted to compare HDMI cables, used to hook up my upconverting HD DVD player to my flat screen tv. First to see if there was a difference among varying qualities and costs of HDMI cables (I'll end the suspense now by saying "there is"). And next, to see if I could save on the cost of much pricier cables, by modding (aka "tweaking", aka 'improving') a cheap HDMI cable through the "magic of Beltism". The cheap HDMI cable I chose cost less than $10 from an electronics discounter (the equivalent of a dollar store for electronics).

I could see (and hear) that the pricier cable was superior to the cheaper one. To the uncaring eye and ear, the cheaper cable probably would be perfectly fine. But once comparing the two side by side, I could not go with the cheaper cable. Not when the pricier cable was provoking a greater interest in the movie, due to a somewhat more refined image and sound. My goal was to see if I could meet, if not exceed the standard of the pricier cable, after treating the cheaper one. So out came the Beltist devices, and there I set about tweaking the $8 HDMI cable (and later the DVD player as well). Was I successful in improving the picture and sound produced by the cheap HDMI cable? Yes. Was it as good as the costlier cable? Hard to say, because the two were producing quite different standards of quality. Suffice to say, I preferred what the cheaper "Belted" cable was doing, in the end.

And here's where we get to the monsters (told you there'd be monsters). I'm (very) repeatedly scrutinizing every aspect of the picture and the movie-viewing experience in comparing my Belting work on this HDMI cable, and its costlier cousin. The opening titles of Monsters Inc. has a great, boppy 60's-inspired jazz combo piece, which was great for testing "musicality". Or, the ability for the listener to lose himself in the music. This, I was eventually able to do after Belting the cable. Musicality (a popular term in the art of music reproduction) infers that music has a musical message that it can communicate, and a system that reproduces this well enough will be able to relay the emotional content in music. Most audio systems do not do this well at all. Live music is usually effortless at making you feel emotions communicated by the music.

In the opening sequence of Monsters, the monster named "Mr. Bile" is preparing to enter a child's room. We see his shadow creep across the floor, over the bed, and then a pair of creepy, peering eyes reveal themselves under the bed. Meanwhile, more mooding is set by the moonlight entering the room, the wind rustling the leaves outside, the shutters creaking, etc. Then Bile rises up to ginormous proportions to take his rightful place as the master of the room, and the terror tyrant of children the world over. During this part of the scene, I am looking and listening for how well each test conveys the terror that the scene intends to relate. Then when the kid gets scared, this scares Bile, and he reels back in horror, then slams his big fanny down on the kid's jumping jacks, then springs back up from the shock of that, then runs around the room screaming in pain, pulling jacks out of his rear. In this part of the scene, while experiencing the physical comedy of this bit, I am at the same time making myself aware of how funny the scene is to me, and how much I am laughing at it, during each test.

So in conclusion, yes there are subtle but significant differences in how scary the scary scenes are, and how funny the funny scenes are. Although they represent dialogue and image, they are precisely related to how musical the musical parts are. What I learned is that a good standard of video quality in movie reproduction doesn't just mean your colours are richer, or your pixels are better defined, or your sound is better defined (though all of that should happen). Just as the emotions are stirred by a musical sound, the emotive content in movies are better served by having that same standard of quality. The difference may not be something you notice on a conscious level; but as you laugh harder to comedies, cry harder to dramas, jump harder during horrors, or get more pumped up during action movies, your brain will know the difference. The total immersion experience of today's home movie watching will get better. Watching a movie on such an "emotical" system (one that is adept at producing emotions and physical sensations from listening to music or watching and hearing videos), will be a better experience than one that can't produce this same quality, but has a much larger screen and much costlier associated equipment.

For this reason, when I am tweaking a system to improve the home theatre experience, I don't worry about the image quality, or anything else really, except musicality. For I know that if I get this right on the audio side (and believe me, it isn't always that easy to do well under Beltism, and nearly impossible under conventional techniques), everything else will be in its right place. Given all of the above, it would be interesting experiment to "Belt" the environment of a public movie theatre. If I had one, I would!

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