Add to Technorati Favourites
Add to

I’m starting to change my way of thinking about the so-called “Belt phenomenon”. Starting to realize that, there is no “Belt phenomenon” as such. And its wrong for me to think about it in those terms. Yes, there’s a “Belt phenomenon”, in that Peter Belt discovered this hitherto unknown(?) scientific phenomenon some three decades ago. But it’s not a “Belt phenomenon”, in that it has anything to do with, or is in any way framed or limited by PWB products. Although they are still the best tools by which to discover and benefit from this yet-to-be scientifically validated phenomenon.

But what did Peter Belt discover, after all, some 30 years ago? He discovered that a chemical on a coffee table can change the sound. Is that what he discovered? He discovered that colours also affect the perception of sound. Is that what he discovered? I think what Peter discovered was barely the tip of the iceberg, if the iceberg was the size of the universe. I say this with the utmost admiration and respect that I have for Peter Belt, that I think Peter discovered what he was able to discover. Just as we all do. He discovered what he was able to perceive. But what about all the things that might be happening around us, that we don’t perceive? That mainstream science is not even remotely aware of? What’s this all about, anyway? Where does it come from?

I’ve been trying to answer that question for years. And for years, I’ve always thought about it in terms of “Beltism”. That is, if you take a treated object, like an item from the line of P.W.B. products, or even something you created yourself (ie. the 5-pinhole tweak), and you apply it to an untreated object, your perception of sound will change. But throughout the years, throughout much of my own observations in this field, I’ve been constantly bumping into the concept that all paths diverge into one. The energy fields we’re working with don’t change simply because we are treating objects, a la Beltism. They are changing all the time, without help from anyone, for a great variety of reasons. But we don’t know any of this, because its beyond our threshold of perception. What the PWB products help to do, is create changes that (hopefully) fall within our threshold of perception. Then we can “see” (hear) what’s happening, as though something previously invisible becomes visible.

But how many people will think to do a listening test after just barely moving a sculpture on a shelf, or a pencil on a desk, or after shifting a chair, turning off a light, turning on the water, letting sunlight into the room, drinking orange juice, eating a Crunchie bar, putting a shirt on a hanger, moving an electrolytic capacitor a fraction of a millimetre, or simply touching a loudspeaker? No one will, that’s how many. You’d have to be insane to even want to. Or you’d have to be me. Because I have heard, and-or felt (same thing) the effects of most of the things I just listed. And the couple that I didn’t test (Crunchie bar, shifting chair), I can pretty much apply the same rules to anyway, as I would have already done related tests.

What I may have observed, is only a glimpse to all that is going on behind the scenes, with these constantly moving, changing energy fields. Which is why I say, I’m shifting my perception of what we call “Beltism”, into thinking of it more as the audio portion of what is indeed, if the last five years of my life actually happened, a universal phenomenon. Which may very well go beyond our borders to be part of the way the universe itself works. I am writing this to help you think about sound in a different way. In the hopes that you, the reader, will in time, learn to discover some of what I have discovered, and perhaps learn things about the perception of sound that are new or novel to you. While its a lengthy subject to discuss, I can hand out some examples of things that you might want to look at, that need to be re-thought.

Let’s start with speaker spikes. Most audio people have these on their stands or somewhere. (If so, they’re ruining your sound but, I’ll not get into that here!). You know that if you remove them, your sound will change. Conventional audio theory will talk about resonances, isolation, mechanical coupling, points of contact and otherwise very credible scientifically founded theories to explain those changes. But none of those theories will tell you why your sound will equally change via headphones, once you remove the spikes. This is where we can start to see that everything is at one with everything. There are no hard limits, there is no “Beltism”. It’s all the same thing. And it’s all “perception” of sound. There is nothing we are hearing, that isn’t already being perceived. I’m really not sure how to explain that! So I’ll offer another example.

You bring a new tube amplifier into your home. It has a certain sonic characteristic you recognize. Well, your partner’s voice will be influenced by that same sonic characteristic this amp would have, even if it is not plugged in or connected to anything. So will the telephone. See where I’m going with this?! So will anything you hear at home. But the changes in perceived sound aren’t limited to the new amp. A chair also has a sonic characteristic. So does a Mars Bar. Or a chopstick. Or a nail file. There is no difference whatsoever among these objects. When audio people talk of "sonic signatures" that various audio components are known to have, they do not realize that comfy chairs, desks, remote controls, candle holders... all such things have "sonic signatures" that are exactly the same in nature as those that we know to  characterize audio equipment. And all the objects you have will all influence your sound, with their own “sonic signatures”, made up of the materials, shapes and types of energy they are containing/emitting to all living things. Including you, your kids, your dog, your plants, insects and who knows, perhaps the broccoli sitting in your refrigerator.

If everything has an energy, and it does, everything has an influence on living senses. The most apparent of which is the sense of hearing. Probably the first time I bumped into this observation, quite some years ago, was when I needed to connect an antenna to the FM transmitter in my GPS. I used a piece of Cat 5 cable I had lying around. Now, I’m familiar with the sound of Cat 5 cable, having used it to make interconnects many years prior. I never liked Cat 5 for sound, though, and that’s why I noticed the distinctive dry sound of Cat 5 superimposing itself on the music, once I installed it as an antenna. To confirm this, I tried others and every other wire I tested as an antenna imposed the same sonic signature I would have heard if used as signal wire in a stereo system. Now we’re getting somewhere! From that alone, we can extrapolate that if you just bought fancy new Solen caps to improve the sound of your amp, they will already bear their influence on your sound as they are just waiting to be soldered in (although it will definitely be a weaker change).

For the same reasons, loudspeaker cabinets that are said to influence the sound because of the materials they are made of, will do just that.  But in the same ways they colour the sound coming out of the loudspeakers, they will colour the sound coming out of your radio alarm clock.  Just as we know PWB products to do. Understanding of this universal rule is not without its advantages. At night, when my partner is asleep and I need to test my treatments on loudspeakers, or test various speaker stand locations, I simply do my listening tests on headphones. (Everyone else does it the old-fashioned way! ;-) ). Or let's say I want to test various materials used to fill loudspeaker stands; ie. sand, lead bearings, rice, popcorn... It's very tedious to empty and fill two stands several times over for each material. Instead, I only need to take one stand, place a few grains of sand, rice, lead bearings or whatever I'm testing on top of the stand. Along with the iPhone. Listening to music on the phone will reveal what each material sounds like, and that is just as good in determining what to expect from the filled stands. Or perhaps I need to test the sonic influence of a change I made to the house electrical wiring, and I’m on a ladder and the nearest source of electronic music is two flights up…. I’ll just test it on my iPhone. Saves a lot of wear and tear on the ol’ footsies. ;)

Since this energy that influences our senses is really in/around everything, it is by no means limited to physical objects. Without getting too far into this, I can give one recent observation as a good example. At one point I was doing some tests on the hifi system, using the computer as the music source. But I thought the sound was awful. More than that, I recognized the characteristic of its awfulness. Because earlier, I had played around with the equalizer in iTunes, as the bass was distorting through the computer speaker sub. So I reduced several bass frequencies. Now, with the computer being heard through the hifi stereo system, the iTunes equalizer was ruining the bass on the stereo. I then turned off the equalizer in iTunes, and voila, my sound was back to normal. I had correctly identified the problem with the sound. Now here’s the interesting part: I wasn’t listening to iTunes at the time. I was listening to a music video on YouTube.

See what I mean, now? The next time you reduce all your bass frequencies on your computer in iTunes, and you wonder why there’s a sudden lack of bass on your portable radio…. turn off the EQ on your computer. Or the next time you are adjusting your speaker stands or speakers.... make sure you acheive a good sound, that you are happy with. Because the positioning of those speakers will not just affect the sound from the speakers. They'll have the same effect on everything from the sound of your partner's voice, to the sound of eggs frying in the pan. Not to mention your levels of tension, and other related effects. And to be sure, there is nothing special about positioning loudspeakers. The energy that is unifying everything like this does not know what a loudspeaker is. So the way you set up your kitchen table set, for example, will have a comparable effect.

Everything is everything. I never stop being reminded of that. It may take time, it may take patience... but if you don’t mind that and you endeavour to look at the ways that everything around us is connected, and you know where to look, you will see it too. Once you do, I promise, you’ll never look at the world the same way again.

"The view from the mountain
Is the same as the one from the shore
The view from an open window
Is the same as from a closed door
The fabulous sunset
Is a joy to behold
And the chains of perception
Have broken their mold

Terence Trent D’arby

Bookmark and Share