It is a long time since the last Newsletter, though developments with the forum perhaps make it less necessary for information about the ongoing work of P.W.B. Electronics to be shared in this format. Of course some of you may not access the forum, your E-mail's or even a PC, but I think the reason this paper sits in your hands is because sometimes it is just nice to be able to savour something. It is hard in the high speed, rapid response world of the forums to take in just how extraordinary some ideas and products are, more so when imagination in other forums is singularly lacking. However, before thinking about the context in which these developments exist, I thought it might be helpful to have some space to reflect upon the worlds of commerce and music, and how all is changing.
I cannot help but think the public is either becoming more wise or more cynical about the activities of large companies or performing artists. It feels more and more difficult to just swallow the commercialisation of music and many of us remain unexcited about new developments in the audio industry. Format wars continue, and even the production of that now standard carrier of music the CD is so regularly criticised, that it is little wonder many stick with downloads, illegal or otherwise, as even well recorded music will be compressed and distorted in the transfer to CD. Imaginative artists such as Prince have bucked the trend and have given away free discs of new albums, and even charged reasonable amounts for concert tickets (£31.21 of course ), resulting in 21 sell out nights at the Millennium Dome. He may have been shrewd in considering that the publicity would guarantee the concert ticket sales, but the whole process placed music at the heart of the activity, and the public seemed to like it. I am not sure if anyone is offering anything similar within the audio industry apart from Peter, and some of the tips Russ Andrews puts forward (not in the same league though). I write this because it is hard to know who does have your interests at heart, if you just want to enjoy music. The camaraderie of manufacturer and audiophile pursuing the same goal has been lost. We might bemoan the absence of direct references to Peter's work in the magazines (although it is usually there, albeit covertly, in the Hi-Fi Choice pieces by Jimmy Hughes), but it is difficult to imagine how he would get any attention now if he were introducing those early devices, which we know would not increase profit margins.
Some parallels might have occurred though in the audio industry, and though no Prince, one of the years interesting developments was the evolution of the Russ Andrews product brochure. Not only does this now contain products from the Hi-Fi elite such as Linn and Meridian, but articles by Ivor Tiefenbrun, and unusual devices such as the CD lathe and a unit that flashes light at CDs. The point of mentioning this is that it is in this area of 'tweaks', or enthusiasms, that business and pleasure can marry. The only problem is that Russ Andrew's range of products barely captures the scope of Peter's enterprise, and can only take you so far. Yet how many companies are losing out to the accessories world every day? The problem for me is that market forces and competition lead to so many and frequent changes or improvements to a product line, that anything purchased loses its value immediately and one is left wondering why you didn't wait. Are CD players really going to improve that much more? Ironically the money that you could lose could be spent on P.W.B. or similar peripheral products, especially if you buy second hand equipment, or just skip one upgrade and plan for the next, when real changes might be more evident.
I hope this doesn't come across as too cynical, and I have no nostalgia for the old days, as there was plenty of madness then too, even in the very publications that introduced Peter to the wider world.
Now though we also have the Internet to make a difference, and so it does. As reported elsewhere, never underestimate the advances that can even be secreted in the pages of the P.W.B. web site. I have been reeling all autumn from one discovery there which you can read of shortly. However, I also want to add that I have discovered yet another tip, which was completely new to me, and which as I write this, I have yet to try. It is free, in that you do not purchase anything from P.W.B., and of great interest. It simply involves putting some blue paper under plant pots or vases of flowers. Now I have no idea how old that tip is, but it has completely passed me by, and has if anything stirred my interest in plants in the home again, and what I should do about them. It sounds nuts, but if for a very small amount of money you can change the impact of your environment on your perception of sound and vision, it is astonishing. Indeed all of the free techniques listed are worth using, and there is much else to enjoy. May has written many great pieces, and there are links to some very good pieces that have emerged from different writers, written for online magazines. I also have a soft spot for old Newsletters (now nearly 15 years old!), and if you wonder what it was like to be there, try Volume 00, No.1. Some of the products have changed, but looking back, we really did have class. And for those of you who like treating magnets, another long forgotten, colourful tip.
The standard of articles remains very high, and although I constantly fear repetition, we keep the issues fresh. I would like though to particularly thank Bill Kenny for his long, searching and masterful appraisal of Peter's thinking. The influence of Star Trek might be off putting, but the rigorous consideration of the phenomena, in the light of some rather contemporary scientific ideas, leave one feeling proud to be part of a group that will not deny experience for the sake of conformity. Reading the Newsletter starts to become a privilege, the more so when Bill uses his position as a regional editor for Music Web International, to share his views. I imagine he has a number of visitors to that site who trust his views, and might get to enjoy their music much more. And I hope it is not too heavy handed to indicate that this contribution comes from someone who writes about music, not jitter, or distortion etc.
Of course all of the pieces within are worthy of your full attention, and can be chemically enhanced not just by your favourite beverage, but also by creams or liquids applied to the glass containing your favourite beverage. But there is more. When less blurry-eyed, you will find within a disc containing all the best bits from the forum, a sample of which is contained within these pages. In our attempt to reduce forest slaughter, rather than print off reams, an electronic version exists for your entertainment and instruction. It is much easier than following threads within the forum, and as I am frequently finding, it is a real resource of tips, borne of experience and not just theory.
And so, it is timely to return again to the source, and thank Peter enormously for his efforts, ably assisted by May, Graham, and those undisclosed other helpers at P.W.B. Electronics. I cannot imagine how dull life would have been had I not discovered Peter's work some 20 years ago, and if the revolution is not yet started, the spark is still waiting. Until next year.
Not without some apprehension and regret, I wanted to make the point that it is just over 20 years now since those groundbreaking pieces in Hi-Fi Answers introduced Peter to a wider world. There had already been the 'lead tubes' piece and infamous Hi-Fi Shows before that, but for many of us, it was that first Jimmy Hughes piece, supported by the then editor Keith Howard, that really led to change. Of course many will know that the excitement was extraordinary at the time, and led to free Electret Foils being attached to a magazine, and retailers selling P.W.B. products. The backlash was just as extraordinary, with key manufacturers, such as Sony, threatening to withdraw advertising from the magazines, displaying their usual 'customer first' principles.
What seems to me a little more clear now is that it wasn't the sheer efficacy of the products that disturbed, but the fact that Peter's theory at the time was just falling apart, due to more and more fantastic discoveries. For those who are less familiar with these developments, Peter's initial theories were related to a hypothesis that minute electromagnetic forces were contaminating our perception of sound. It was like an electromagnetic fog obscured perception and thus appreciation of music. Despite the detractors, there was a pleasant 19th century physics quality to this theory, and although some would quibble, it was close to the electrical engineering heart that is purported to be the core of the industry. But Peter's thinking was moving on, and I suspect it was the introduction of products where colour was significant that started the shift. Ring ties, in all their colours, were reported on with little, if any, positive remarks from magazine writers. Ignoring the inevitable mockery, the shift in thinking, from reducing electromagnetic charge to establishing a pattern which had a beneficial effect using coloured cable ties, was too much. It has never crossed the minds of any writer to my knowledge that psychological factors play a part in this failure to recognise such an effect. It seems suggestion and hysteria only play a part if you hear an effect. If you cannot conceive of how a product might work, you therefore cannot hear a change. How can a pattern of colours make a difference?
Of course colours were only the start of it. In the early 1990s, we were applying complex patterns of ink to the edges of CDs, and Violet was quite a popular colour. The patterns, initially quite complex, settled into the using Violet, Black and Blue inks, and thin pens gave way to chunky ones, but we had no easy way of explaining their use. Of course for CDs, the Stoplight pen was popular, absorbing scattered light from the red laser or so it was said. Segments of Violet ink, or inner Black ink wouldn't do that, and as I have often said, they unfortunately improve your TV picture when applied in this way to CDs. At least there was a shift though from one part of the electromagnetic spectrum to another, as light, and its effect on us came to the fore. Treating light bulbs had always been a key activity, and the introduction of Smart Metal and Morphic Liquid enhanced this process considerably, but you can already see a shift from 'Electret' to 'Morphic', and how to explain that. Still this was easy compared with what was then emerging in the work .
Peter was increasingly influenced by ideas about the evolution of life on earth, and more widely the evolution of nature. Whilst there were many pieces written around this time as to how evolution was not like Darwin had described it, but less linear, and subject to leaps and sudden changes. I think this informed Peter's interest in territory, and the different Boundary products emerged, with the application of saliva, to mark the territory and activate the device, quite necessary. Not quite something for KJ West One! However, matters went further. Our links with our evolutionary past, and fears of intruders and predators was the simple part; Peter was now suggesting that the whole universe was evolving, and language and information were crucial to establishing patterns that were perceived as either benign of malignant. We were now literally a universe away from 'minute electrical charges', and via some use of magnetic material, the work moved into using messages programmed into foils and labels, which could render a product made noxious through manufacture, less toxic to our senses. The work of Sheldrake here was very important, and opened up opportunities for 'action at a distance', which invited other possibilities. One of these was a shift from treating the location to treating discs at a distance, and we had some uncanny moments when a treated free magazine CD was the best CD heard. Indeed, I stopped playing it for that reason. Whilst there might have been a hope to encourage artists and companies to buy into such a process, again the realistic, unavoidable explanation was hard to palate.
The other trend that passed fairly quickly involved Peter's recognition that we would all prefer to have just one simple, all-in-one, comprehensive room device, that obviated the need for single device applications. This was indeed desirable, and I proved effectively that such a device could also be used in live settings, even large ones like the Albert Hall. The problem was that no matter how good this device, Peter's work was evolving, and no sooner had he finished it than something else emerged which would improve it. One of the great aspects of the P.W.B. product range is that all products can still be applied to good effect, no matter what else has been tried, and that they are also improve over time. Not good for a retailer who wants to see regular upgrades.
I remain impressed that over the 20 years I have been involved, I have come to accept some extraordinary ideas. I haven't even touched on the incredible importance of treating photographs, of writing your name in red ink, of placing products in the domestic freezer. Cryogenic treatments seem to be near standard now in the cable industry and one wonders if any developers secretly check the Web site, or read the Newsletters. It was certainly the case that one very prominent manufacturer would not remove P.W.B. devices from their listening room. Indeed, my experience of meeting May at a Hi-Fi show once showed me clearly that behind the apparent negativity was respect. Rather like the famous Jewish joke about a meal ('terrible food, and such small portions') I had a sense, as with many of my friends, that the tone was one of 'it's all a load of rubbish, but will you treat my room anyway'. This grudging dependence is rather frustrating though perhaps not unexpected.
And this is where we remain; dazzling thinking behind odd little products and processes, a million miles from electrical engineering. Whilst the journey has been thrilling, at this point I just think about what so many have missed out on, and do so on a daily basis. And that is not a pity, it is frightening.
Special One Drop Liquid or
.The Tissue Issue
This is not much of a new product review, as the product has been available for some months. However, recent developments in the technology of the 'Superwipe' have rather changed my perception of the product, which has gone from very good, to utterly astonishing. Thanks must be given at this point to Tom Marsden for highlighting just how good a tissue (bless you! ouch!!) can be.
First we must deal with the liquid. Given the ongoing miniaturisation of electrical products, there is a real need for P.W.B. products to keep up, and large labels, and even strips of foil cannot be easily applied to some items such as an iPod Shuffle. Developments in the area of creams (such as the Morphic Green Cream) and ongoing use of Morphic Liquid help considerably, but there is a feeling of disappointment when some products just cannot take much in the way of P.W.B. devices. Consequently there was quite a thrill when I opened a small packet from P.W.B., with the most tiny eye-dropper bottle inside, containing a few millilitres of a blue liquid. For those angered by the putative effects of small strips of foil, one could just imagine their wrath at finding this small bottle, whilst also reading the accompanying claims that it could make a large difference to the enjoyment of music; their loss. My complaint was different I felt sure I would want a larger bottle!
Typical of nearly all current P.W.B. products, the explanation as to how and why this product might work, was rooted in the complex thinking as to how the sense organs perceive patterns in the environment, which themselves have resulted from complex evolutionary processes. On this occasion Peter has elaborated further his thinking, introducing the importance of salt and sugar into the equation. Hinting at their connection with light, which might be easiest to understand in plants due to the processes of photosynthesis, their influence is very great. Light remains key, and the effect of transparent materials upon it a concern. In one sense this is the same principle that has applied to many earlier P.W.B. liquids, and their application to glass, mirrors and light bulbs etc. The thinking has moved on though, and I cannot do any more justice to it here, other than to say if you don't understand the theory, don't worry, you can still use the product a principle that probably applies to many products in your home anyway.
Thankfully my initial concern that too much liquid would pour out from the bottle proved to be unfounded, as the dropper bottle allows one to place very small droplets onto the relevant surface. Ideal choices for initial applications are any glass objects in the listening room, any other objects with transparent aspects, such as CDs (both sides), the backs of photographs, and onto any P.W.B. Foils, Labels or Ties. One should place a small drop onto the object, and smear the drop briefly with a finger, and dry any residue with a tissue. Surprising places to use it includes the holograms on Credit Cards, and those little glasses that never get used in kitchen, or other cupboards.
The effect of this process was very impressive, but if this muted response is to damn with faint praise, it is only because something subsequently emerged which just changed everything.
I cannot recommend to you that you look at the P.W.B. Web site frequently highly enough, as sometimes new tips slip onto it which are quite extraordinary. Whilst checking on the process for the 'Superwipe', (Black dot in the centre of a tissue, clipped etc.) I noticed that it was suggested that a piece of Foil and some Cream are added to a corner of the tissue. On the forum, Tom Marsden also added that he used the Superwipe for all creams and liquids, whilst with the One Drop Liquid the effect was amazing.
First things first. With much experimentation I settled on applying a small strip of Rainbow Foil to the corner of a tissue, applying Morphic Green Cream to the surface of the Foil. The black dot, applied by the Black P.W.B. Chunky Pen, is then clipped. I get through lots of wipes whilst treating discs, and so this proved to be the best economy. Last year's discovery that Green Cream could be applied to all Foils was now updated, in that after the cream has been applied, one wipes it off with the 'Superwipe' tissue. I suppose the process became that of applying foils, apply Morphic Green Cream, then 'Superwipe', apply Morphic Liquid, then 'Superwipe', and then finally apply One Drop Liquid, then one last 'Superwipe'. The 'Superwipe' also works well for Electret and Black Creams, plus the coloured Creams that are used with Inverting Foil.
This may sound complex, but it isn't, as it is simply the case that one is wiping off Creams and Liquids with an enhanced rather than standard tissue. There may be other enhancements possible to the tissue, but as stated above, I wanted to find a balance between economy, efficiency and efficacy.
So what does this process achieve? Well, at each step there is a significant enhancement to whatever you have applied. By the time you get to applying the One Drop Liquid, you are just going to be amazed by the results. I cannot think of a step or technique that has made so much of a difference in recent years. For myself, with that last wipe following application of One Drop Liquid , there is such a change that the volume level appears to have gone up quite a few decibels, and sound just bursts out from the speakers, full of life and vigour. It is hard to capture this increase in musical vitality, as it dispels any interest in traditional Hi-Fi values, such as ambient detail, imaging, or tonality. One is just captivated. There are similar improvements in the visual products, of the TV picture bursting with colour and depth. Indeed, this is another one of those products that cause one to slow down in terms of treatments, as the improvements are so substantial that they take time to assimilate; time and again I am just bowled over by how much a relatively small change achieves. Really.
As you can see, it is hard to extract the value of the One Drop Liquid from this process. Indeed, the tissue issue affects Creams as much as Liquids, but if you can go the distance and finally apply the One Drop Liquid, you will not be disappointed. I am not sure how to understand this, as it exceeds the expectations I have built up over nearly 20 years. I would also add that a P.W.B. Black Chunky Pen, plus some Green Cream and Rainbow Foil may enhance any Electret Cream or other Liquids to such a level that they are fantastically good value in their own right.
Not what I expected to conclude, but the 'Superwipe' is changing the rules. That wipe plus the One Drop Liquid may just be Nirvana
This Article by Bill Kenny - Who is the Regional Editor of the classical music review web site MusicWeb International - has been published on the P.W.B. home page but we have included it in this newsletter for the people who do not have a computer or access to the Internet -
Star Trek's Chief Engineer was right. Physical laws are here to stay, can't be ignored if we want to keep on living, and can't be altered because we don't like them. So at Peter Belt's workshop in Leeds UK, it's gravity that keeps his feet on the floor and the photons from his light bulbs don't break the intergalactic speed limit. Peter Belt wouldn't want anything different.
Not that you'd think so, according to Belt's detractors. With statements bordering on the libellous, he is regularly accused of peddling 'Snake Oil' by people who find his claims literally incredible - or else he's written off as next door to mad. 'Prove it,' people demand of him daily, 'Let's see evidence that your audio products work. Let's have science written down clearly. '
So what does Peter Belt claim, to fire up this Inquisition? He's neither Galileo nor Darwin, he simply talks about audio, and the gist of his thinking is this:
Cheap audio equipment can perform far better than we think it does.
All audio equipment (regardless of price) under-performs because of factors in its environment.
Environments can be fixed easily and often at modest cost.
All really interesting, you might think, but then the Life of Brian effect kicks in. Just as many public bodies in the UK, Europe and the USA banned the 'blasphemous' Monty Python film before seeing it, a fair number of Peter Belt's critics don't even try his free 'treatments.' They defy the 'laws of physics', people say, and dismiss him out of hand. The ideas really are straightforward however, and this selection is typical:
Freezing and then slowly thawing CDs improves their sound
Where people do try these things, a large proportion can hear improvements but then an Alice in Wonderland effect often seizes them. When Peter Belt and his wife May, patiently point out that no measurable changes whatever have been made to the audio pathways and assert that only listeners' perceptions have changed because Belt techniques remove adverse environmental influences, then people start talking White Rabbits and wonder if they're imagining things. It's a tough life is pioneering, and that's a fact.
Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem often paraphrased as "All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be best " is a pretty good principle for thinking about puzzles. So, after hearing better sound from Peter Belt's procedures, it's totally reasonable to conclude that this happens because you're fooling yourself, and you're completely in tune with the 14th century'sWilliam of Ockham if you do that. Choosing the simple explanation for the 'Belt Effect' keeps everything else simple too; you rock nobody's boat and you save yourself further worrying. OK, you can say, it's like complementary medicine : they feel better after acupuncture because they believe they do and the placebo effect is responsible.
Except .maybe not. As a solidly practical audio engineer and an Occam's Razor man to his core, Peter Belt has shown many times that his assertions hold up when tested 'blind'. Significant numbers of audio journalists and others have correctly chosen his 'treated' environments and audio components as producing superior results against 'untreated' samples over the years, all of which have been fully and accurately reported in trade journals. Belief and self-deception can be eliminated as the only causes for the perceived effects, since in every case the judges have had no knowledge at all about which situations are 'treated' and which are not. Articles on the PWB web site (http://www.pwbelectronics.co.uk) list many past and recent references to support these statements and it begins to look as if other explanations than massed self-deception really do need to be found.
'What If?' Questions
Even though the term 'Thought Experiment' (Gedankenversuch), wasn't invented until 1820 by Hans Christian Ørsted, this technique for working out problems has been used by philosophers and scientists from Pre-Socratic times onwards. A thought experiment typically poses carefully structured 'What if? ' kinds of question to examine propositions that can't be tested practically, ie using the classical methods of direct observation or physical experiment. A famous example from quantum mechanics is the 'Schrödinger's Cat ' experiment (Wikipedia link) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schr%C3%B6dinger%27s_cat): and another is the less popularised 'Quantum Suicide' experiment following up Schrödinger's argument from the cat's point of view (Wiki link) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_suicide)
Although he doesn't talk about his work this way, much of Peter Belt's
method of enquiry is to ask all manner of different 'What if' questions about
audio and the environment. Some early ones went like this:
Since Peter Belt is a qualified audio engineer who had marketed his own highly regarded products, he was fully familiar with all the usual electronic techniques used in equipment design (including cables and interconnects) when these questions occurred to him. Consequently, the early questions where fairly simple extensions of orthodox thinking
He wondered initially for example, whether the spinning platters of disc turntables and CD players were generating spurious and undetected EM fields, (see the first 'What if?' question above) and decided that they might be. After a long and careful series of experiments, he devised a series of products to deal with the notional influences, including the now famous (or notorious, dependent on your point of view) 'Cream Electret,' ' Silver Rainbow Foils' and 'Sol-Electret.' All of these devices were reported favourably in the Hi-Fi press for over two decades including two persuasive articles by
Greg Weaver (http://www.soundstage.com/synergize/synergize071999.htm) for Soundstage and by Positive Feedback's Roger S Gordon . (http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue8/belt.htm) Mr. Gordon describes how he arranged a 'blind' comparative test of different disc treatments on eight listeners, five of whom reported that they heard definite improvements in sound from the 'foiled' and 'creamed ' and frozen discs.
From the outset, Peter Belt insisted that his treatments had made no physical changes to the audio components receiving them. Nothing could be measured and in any case the most 'physical' example of what could be achieved freezing and slowly thawing both CDs and whole pieces of equipment - hardly explained why an entirely digital medium like the CD itself where the laser simply 'reads' a series of pits in the disc, would be improved by physical changes to materials carrying the signal. Instead, he was convinced that his devices worked by somehow improving the listener's capacity to hear the detail already present on the disc or tape or radio signal if that happened to be the source involved. Added to this however was the additional problem of explaining how coating the CD case with Cream Electret could possibly improve 'the sound' from the disc that was playing, even after the disc had been removed prior to playing so that no 'contamination' of the disc itself from 'creaming' the case. This, and many other similar instances of an effect at a distance, needed further consideration and even more difficult 'What if? ' questions.
Distant Environmental Influences
In the second (http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2005/Sep05/Snark.htm) of three articles on P.W.B. Electronics written for the classical music review web site Music Web International (http://www.musicweb-international.com/) in 2005/6, I wrote that Peter Belt's initial explanation for his results was that:
Questions like my own and the serious problem of how 'treating' elements of the listening environment at ever greater removes from the active audio equipment produced positive and repeatable effects, led Peter Belt to speculate on wider possibilities than localised 'electronic smog.' This didn't explain how treating a CD case with Cream Electret apparently improved the disc's sound or how many other similar non-local effects could work. To paraphrase twenty years' work into one simple problem, the burning research question became:
In a third MusicWeb article written last year (Brain Cramp) (http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2006/Oct06/Brain_Cramp.htm) I discussed the psychological phenomenon called Cognitive Dissonance that seems to affect many people including myself initially) when they first encounter Peter Belt's work. I said:
What didn't strike me when I wrote this, is that the same kind of problem must have hit Peter Belt himself; at least in his early years. Imagine his situation: there he is, a respected audio engineering expert who, almost before he realises it, begins to think the unthinkable. Presumably, it can't have been easy.
Discovery and Inductive Reasoning
As Peter Belt's enquiries progressed, he made discoveries so unlikely that they generated open incredulity by their sheer audacity. Take the 'Red X Coordinate Pen' for example. In Positive Feedback Online - Issue 1 reviewer Carol Clark (http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue1/beltpen.htm)
.Yes, dear reader, the pen works, and works brilliantly! Let me describe what I did, what I heard, and more importantly, what an unsuspecting outside party heard when I performed my experiments. As with any such phenomenon, hearing for yourself is believing. Do not discount what you are about to read unless you are ready to try it yourself. According to the literature I received, the simplest way to prove the efficacy of the pen is to sign your name on the outside cover of a compact disc. You use your normal signature, and write it like this: Carol Clark > O.K. You need to include the "O.K." to transfer beneficial thought patterns from yourself to the written message..
In one sense, the obvious place to begin seeking explanations was in the area of post-Newtonian physics, especially in the quantum mechanical sub-atomic universe inhabited by Schrödinger's Cat. Peter Belt was aware that Thomas Young's 'double slit' experiment (circa 1801) - which consists of letting light diffract through two slits to producing fringes or wave-like patterns on a screen - could also be performed with a beam of electrons or atoms, and shown to produce similar interference patterns. This is usually taken as evidence of the 'wave-particle duality' predicted by quantum physics although the phenomenon is quantum mechanical only when quantum particles - such as atoms, electrons, or photons are seen to manifest as waves.
This idea was appealing in terms of providing evidence that peculiar and difficult to measure energies were already accepted as real by serious physics. And when coupled with the even odder idea of Quantum Entanglement
(Wikipedia Link) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_entanglement) which Einstein had called ' 'Spooky Action at Distance '
(Wiki Link) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_at_a_distance_(physics))
seemed able to offer a generalised theoretical framework that made a least partial sense of the raft of data collected.
Peter Belt could have stopped there, but he didn't. He was keen to find a theory that fitted his data more exactly and found an unlikely but useful source in the work of the Cambridge biologist Rupert Sheldrake. To explain the action of the Red X Coordinate Pen and similar P.W.B. devices, Sheldrake's ideas about 'Morphic Fields' and 'Morphic Resonances' seemed particularly fertile. His web site is
(Here) (http://www.sheldrake.org/papers/Morphic/morphic_intro.html) for those interested in learning more, and although the content is regarded as distinctly controversial by some of his more orthodox colleagues (a past Editor of 'Nature' suggested that one of his books should be burned, for instance) he is undoubtedly a carefully trained scientist who conducts his studies with a good deal of rigour.
Sheldrake's revolutionary idea is that 'memory is inherent in nature and that the so-called laws of nature are more like habits.' He maintains that:
These 'morphogenetic' fields are not fixed forever, but evolve.
The consequences of these suggestions are that the 'morphic fields' presently organizing the activity of the nervous system in humans and other creatures, are inherited through morphic resonance, conveying a collective and instinctive memory among species. Individuals within a species however both draw upon and also contribute to the collective memory of their species. This accounts, Sheldrake says, for why new patterns of (animal) behaviour sometimes spread more rapidly over huge distances than would otherwise seem likely. Sheldrake maintains for instance, that humans in one location can learn and (digest) new ideas faster once some kind of critical mass of people somewhere else have already learned them. It's not telepathy exactly but a mysterious 'something in the air' that makes the accelerated learning possible.
Could it be that Morphic Resonance and Quantum Entanglement fit together in some peculiar way? Peter Belt thinks they may do and he also suspects that inherited evolutionary 'habits' concerned with survival, condition everyone's perceptual abilities even today, particularly when it comes to the perception of sound. This staggering assertion means that human ability to process sound is seriously impaired by defensive strategies developed over evolutionary time and inherited by all humans from one generation to the next. For every human being, everywhere: all of the time.
Thinking the Unthinkable
The idea that normal human hearing is always below its potential is clearly an extraordinary claim : one that needs further justification in its own right. Basing his thinking on Sheldrake, Peter Belt speculates that the evolution of stereoscopic sight gradually made the need for super - acute hearing increasingly redundant as a survival mechanism. Sound is obviously still important to us of course we all know that but arguably we have learned through the action of morphic resonance to depend on sight far more than hearing for most practical purposes.
It is not simply the case either (as Daniel Barenboim asserted in the BBC's 2006 Reith Lectures) (http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/reith2006/lectures.shtml) that we have become so swamped with visual images and spurious noise that we have forgotten how to listen. Additionally , we have failed to develop capacities for dealing with the increasing number of relatively modern adverse energy fields affecting hearing because to do so has yielded no particular survival advantage for us so far. Thus, we have an unidentified problem with auditory perception which we ignore simply because it poses no other threat than to our pockets, when we invest in Hi-Fi equipment.
If - and it's a substantial if as Peter Belt would agree, his audio treatments are fixing us rather than our equipment, then much of the Hi-Fi industry is barking up not just one wrong tree when persuading us to buy more and more expensive equipment to get better sound, but a fairly substantial forest. That's certainly what Peter Belt thinks these day, always bearing in mind the 'laws of physics' and the only real question for the rest of us is:
What if .. Peter Belt and his science is right ?
Bill Kenny is the Regional Editor of the classical music review web site MusicWeb International (http://www.musicweb-international.com)
The Beginner's Pack was my first investment in P.W.B products, although my first experience was thanks to Jimmy Hughes and Hi-Fi Answers many years ago - the black triangular foils and one or two free (or almost) tweaks such as mains plug screw alignment and a violet pen on vinyl record edges. I used the pen on many occasions, enjoying the bewilderment of friends as the recording seemingly improved before their very ears.
Years later - the Linn Sondek and all those LPs are now long gone. I now have some CDs, a fraction of what I used to own on vinyl, and my stereo consists of... drum roll... a Sony in-car CD/tuner with front aux input (cost £80) and a pair of tiny JBL Control 1 monitors (£50 at Richer Sounds - a bargain against the usual £200+ tag.) It's a 12 volt system because I now live on a narrow boat, my first non-rented home.
I had previously searched for P.W.B on the net, curious to see what you were up to after more than a decade and in my last bedsit I experimented with free rainbow foil. I was mightily impressed, but it was only when I got the boat and finally owned my space outright that the £50 Beginner's Kit suddenly seemed like an intriguing investment...
Well, when I set up my little £130 stereo it sounded like a £130 stereo. I mean, it was sort of all right, the music was there, but so was a veil of horrible 'stuff'. What is the name for the stuff that's there before P.W.B treatments? There's lots of it and it makes listening profoundly uncomfortable. This system had 'stuff' in spades. Thankfully I thought of the P.W.B kit within a day or two of moving in and setting up.
I can't give you a breakdown of every foil and cream application - after a bit I stopped the 'one at a time, A-B' approach and just treated everything I could! On the boat this included the domestic 12v batteries, the propshaft, the alternator as well as the Sony unit, speakers and favourite CDs. I went through a few days of continuing revelation - what an adventure.
I now have a system which sounds, well, amazing. The transformation is so great as to be ludicrous in any conventional sense. What if I had spent £500 instead of £80 on my in-car CD player? I may have gained a small percentage in quality. Could I get better speakers? Certainly, at a price. But I didn't, I spent 50 quid and it improved the hi-fi beyond all recognition! No equipment upgrade can do what Peter's products do - full stop.
My partner, Sue, was a (sceptical, initially) witness to all this. It took one foil to change her mind.
Later, after a visit to a friend's flat and listening to his system - many thousands of pounds, Mana stands, mega cables, an absurd benchmark - she stated simply that it sounded less good than mine. I won't tell him that, but I do keep mentioning that he really needs to get some P.W.B gear! Unfortunately, he's far to 'rational' to do so. Whatever that means...
The other aspect, which I'm sure many of your customers have also noticed, is nothing to do with sound quality. The boat changed from being a nice place to be, to being a really, really nice place to be and very hard to leave. Many visitors have said this in different ways, and everybody finds the space so relaxing, even other boat owners. I always tell them that much of it is down to this chap Peter...
Best wishes to you all and much gratitude for the amazing work,
A good proportion of my musical spending over the last year or so went on recordings made in the Southern United States of the 20's and 30's. I have always been curious about the musicians that inspired the likes of Ry Cooder, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, BB King, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, James Brown and a host of others from the world of blues, country, folk and soul that forms a large part of my record collection. At first, it was mainly blues artists like Muddy Waters, Elmore James and John Lee Hooker that I investigated, as well as people like Mississippi John Hurt and Woody Guthrie from the folkier end of the spectrum. It was not long before Hank Williams, Bob Wills, Rev. Gary Davis and Louis Jordan started to pull me further back in time until I eventually found myself right back at the beginning of commercial recording, with names like Dock Boggs, Charlie Patton, The Carter Family, Charlie Poole and hundreds of other artists who performed at a time when the dividing lines between what we now know as country, blues and jazz were much less defined.
Record labels such as Yazoo are now issuing large quantities of this material and cartoonist Robert Crumb, as well as doing the cover artwork on some of those editions, has put out wonderful collections of 20's and 30's recordings from his own large 78 collection, superbly illustrated throughout by the artist himself. 'Now That's What I Call Sweet Music' and 'The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of' are but two recent releases. The presentation is right up there with the best packaging of the vinyl era.
Joe Buzzard, another 78 fanatic, has put out his own set called 'Down In The Basement' as well as making his records available to Steven Lance Ledbetter - also an extensive collector who formed the Dust To Digital label for the purpose of making some of those old recordings available in the best possible sound quality. His crowning achievement is a six-disc box set literally a cedar wood box, complete with substantial book of sacred music recorded between 1909 and 1960 called 'Goodbye, Babylon' released in 2003. It takes from both the black and white tradition and it rivals Harry Smith's 'Anthology of American Folk Music' in stature.
What's great about it is that you don't have to have a religious bone in your body to enjoy the myriad of different styles found within from string bands to vocal quartets, sacred harp singing to preacher lead congregation workouts even blues men sneaking in on the act! It is, simply, some of the most unselfconscious and glorious music I've ever heard on record.
As I said in a recent forum posting regarding those early recordings, great credit has to go to the engineering that enables the retrieval of this music from within the grooves of those old platters especially as, in many cases, only one copy of the original exists. Although the computing power and software available to the engineer is immense, it is still a human judgement on the final trade off between surface noise and retaining the full impact of the performance. Great credit too must go to the collectors for, without their zeal and dedication in hunting down those rare gems, they would be lost to us forever.
As well as the musical content, one of the great joys of those collections is the information booklets included - this is particularly true of the Goodbye, Babylon set it is a musical education in itself and took years of research to put together. When we purchase a CD today, it would be unthinkable for it not to contain a wealth of artist information, track listings and composer details. In the early days of the 78, this was very different, all you got was what the label told you and this could sometimes be incorrect. For instance, if a gospel singer decided to record a few blues records on the side the Devil's music, by the way, paid better he or she would almost certainly record under a substantially changed name to avoid the wrath of theirChristian community. A similar situation held for blues men. Sometimes perhaps as a little insurance - they recorded a few gospel sides. Again, they would usually put those out under a different name this time so as not to alienate fans with more earthly pleasures.
There were many other reasons for the information on some of those labels to be suspect - not least, plain old mistakes. Some of those performers walked into a studio, performed a few songs for cash in hand and never recorded again. With no contracts signed, they would disappear back to the cotton fields or mountains and all that remained would be an entry in a recording log. Sixty years or more further on, it would take huge amounts of detective work to put some facts and old photographs together and bring those ancient performers back to life. As you flick through the book, there they are, staring out of old, long forgotten photographs, accompanied by notes to fill out who they were and recording history.
What catches you by surprise is that some of those early performers were still alive into the 60's and 70's or even later, after long active careers, whilst others seem to disappear into obscurity after cutting a few sides, with no date of their passing. Every bit of it is, though, as close to essential music as it gets.
All this rooting about in the past has also led me to the early pioneers of jazz, including Joe 'King' Oliver and, through him, inevitably, early Louis Armstrong. I have just purchased a four-disc box set of Armstrong recordings from 1926 to 1930 called 'Hot Fives And Sevens' (JSPLOUISBOX 100). I am sure jazz enthusiasts are well aware of this set but it is new musical territory to me and is simply glorious stuff. It has set me on yet another trail of discovery - only this time, back towards the 21st Century.
Now, in spite of all the love and care that goes into presenting those old recordings on shiny disc, P.W.B treatments and freezing still makes a big difference to their perception. It is particularly effective at appearing to fill in the gaps where, either limited dynamics or other limitations of the early recording process, fails to imprint a fully audible sound of every instrument. In very early recordings usually pre mid twenties it was drums and bass that seemed to suffer the worst. Following treatments, the recordings take on a more 'holistic' feel where it is possible to see or should I say hear further into, and around, the performance to the effect that sonic limitations are much less of a distraction to the enjoyment of the performance. Piano in particular seems to benefit a great deal. It is also a fuller, warmer sound and seems to deify the age of the recordings so that they are ever bit as satisfying to listen to as a modern recording more so in many cases because the performers lack the 'musical influence' baggage that many of today's musicians cannot get away from.
It is a sobering thought that, in our modern global goldfish bowl, where musical knowledge can be picked up at the click of a mouse, those early musicians grew their styles of play almost exclusively from their own communities and the immigrant cultures that seeded them. Until, that is, records - and radio - came on the scene.
This "One Drop" stuff is amazing! I've only tested it briefly, but that's my initial impression. I first tested it listening to Destiny's Child's "Survivor" on my computer. Not only could I - hear - the change, I could - feel- the change, because my body's reaction to the music was deeper and stronger. It was hard to pull myself away from the music! The entire range of sound was clearer, and I could understand the lyrics and (subsequent) meaning of the song for the first time, it seemed. (Not the first time I've observed that improvements in the sound quality of the music makes the lyrical message clearer to you, even if you already knew the lyrics).
I realize that will ring the "Placebo!" bell to most people not familiar with these revolutionary type of audio products. And indeed, if you've never experienced this sort of thing, it turns your world upside down. So even though there was no doubt in my mind it was having a considerable beneficial effect on sound quality, I to see if anyone could hear it. So my friend became the guinea pig, and I tried the effects of the product on her. Using CD's as the source, we did a run of 2 pairs of tests, one test with the One Drop, and one absent of the One Drop product. She was not made aware of whether the One Drop product was in place or not, needless to say, nor was she even made aware of what was being tested exactly.
I started the first test with the One Drop product on a CD (Elton John), then we played Elton without the One Drop product. Second test was a Peruvian music group, which I started without, then with the product. During both tests, I didn't even have to focus on anything really, to hear that there were large differences in the degree of resolution when the One Drop was present on the CD. I could see during the first pair of tests, my had her eyes closed and her head gently swaying to music.
At the end of the Elton pair, I elicited comments from my friend, and asked if she could describe the differences in sound. But no matter what I asked, she simply couldn't. Although I was surprised and even confused at this conclusion, I was beginning to conclude that she could not hear any differences at all. I asked if was any change whatsoever, and she alluded to some very abstract descriptions that had little to do with sound. I forget what they were exactly, something along the lines of "This was like a beach with the breezy summer waves, and the other was like a freshly cut lawn...". That sort of thing. I asked if she could distinctly say there were changes, and after some hesitation, she said she thought there were. During the next test, the Peruvian tracks, I could see that although her eyes were closed again, she was a lot more fidgety. It didn't look good from where I was sitting! Comments afterward, once again, were that she could not describe what had changed, and admitted that she was thinking of other things during this test, and simply couldn't say what, if any differences, there might be.
I didn't feel the 2 pairs of tests were very conclusive, because I could clearly hear differences, and I got the impression after the first test that my friend needed a second pair of tests to familiarize herself with the sound, but had lost focus during the second pair. So though not my intention, we agreed to have her test me.
This time, I wrapped a scarf around my eyes, and it was fun, so we ended up doing more tests than anticipated.
Each A/B test featured a different CD, a different musical track and artist (usually her choice). I got the first 6 tests (each 2 tracks) correct. #7 was Katie Melua's "Shy Guy", and so Katie tripped me up. The challenge here wasn't simply to identify a change in sound. It was to identify - which - change was being created by "One Drop". I was taking my cues from aspects like "stronger connection to music", "higher resolution", etc. For some reason, the playing of that song appeared to have qualities of both sounds (the sound with and the sound without One Drop). The next test after Katie, I also got correct. We stopped at 8 tests total (really 16 tests, since there were 16 tracks evaluated!). Not because I couldn't go on, but it was getting late. My total score then was: 7 correct out of 8 A/B tests.
During the entire test, there was no doubt in my mind that there were distinct sonic differences between A and B, and repeatably so.
This "One Drop" product 'works'; pure & simple! Even more amazing? I haven't opened the bottle yet. (All that was ever done was placing the unopened bottle of One Drop in the middle of a CD (clear portion); located either on the CD player, or on a desk near the player. Throughout the tests, the bottle was randomly removed, or not removed, from the room without the other person's knowledge - hence the scarf).
Thank you immensely, May! Mes meilleurs remerciements!
"feel it in the one drop
and we still find time to rap
we're making the one stop
and we filling the gap
so feel this drumbeat
as it beats within
playing a riddim, uh!
fighting against ism and schism"
- "One Drop"
: Robert Nesta Marley
We all use the reef knot in our interconnects, power cords, and all other strings, but what do we really understand about the so called reef knot energy pattern?
How and why does the reef knot work?
Is it only applicable to cords and cables?
What exactly is a Lemniscate?
Figure 1 The infinity symbol, or Lemniscate
As a P.W.B. enthusiast, there is practically no single cord in my house that has no reef knot. According to the master, this knot should be applied to all line shaped objects, because we can not cope with them. Fortunately, with a reef knot tied in, we can.
Recently, there is an increase in my country of the selling of very thin copper, figure of eight shaped, stick-ons (stickers), which should be applied to mobile cell phones. With those Lemniscate stickers, as said, you can neutralize the unhealthy high frequency radiation. The people who buy these things, say they feel a lot less stress. The explanation of the salesmen goes like this. The electrical current of the high frequencies meet each other at the junction (centre) of the Lemniscate, and cancel each other out. Yeah, right. I don't know about you, but I do not buy these kind of explanations anymore.
Then I tried to figure out how these things possibly could work? I searched half the Internet to find an answer. After some time, I stumbled into a piece of Dutch writings, where they described the working of the reef knot! Only, they did not use it for Hi-Fi, but for our well being. They did, however, speak of a Lemniscate in stead of the reef knot. The Lemniscate represents Love, of which the Universe is build of, and the influence of this sign on a human being will be very beneficial. The Lemniscate shape is widely used for ages, in all kind of health related, alternative, circles. In a small sentence they said: "You can tie this Lemniscate (reef knot) into a power cord, and then you will notice your stereo should sound warmer. This is because you send love to the electrons." In the same piece they compared old tube radio's and amplifiers, with their warm sound -because constructed by hand and with love- to the modern aggressive sounding stereo's, obviously built in a mass fabrication manner, without human love.
This was at one point of time for me the reason to consider the reef knot and the Lemniscate as the same thing, or at least, they represent the same energy pattern. Well, it's only an opinion, but I had to perform some tests to "prove" this assumption.
Here are my findings. First I simply draw the symbol, with a Red 'x' Co-ordinate pen, onto a CD. That gave very small, but noticable, changes. Then the CD-booklet, and the jewel case: still not yet what I expected. I repeated this, of course; every time with the same findings.
Hm, not entirely what I expected.
Wait, let's do the Hi-Fi system first! So, I draw the symbol onto the CD-player, the amplifier and onto the speakers (at the back, invisible for the WAF-factor:). And
Now we're talking business!
There is an increase in the deepest bass, that seemed to be absent before; the treble became even more natural, because there appears to be more ultra HF information, and, also the midrange is so to say, clearer, with an increase of information.
I repeated the trick many times, but always with the CD/booklet/case combination, or LP/inner sleeve/outer sleeve. With the CD or LP only, the effect is not so strong!
The changes in sound reminded me of the Silver Rainbow Foil. It has similarities in the midrange and in the treble. With the Lemniscate "signed", there is an extra bass boost, in this sense, that I'm hearing bass tones that I couldn't believe my speakers were capable to produce.
In the mean time the Lemniscate symbol found his way in the electricity cupboard and other key areas; all to an even greater effect!
So, I invite everyone to try to do the same. Maybe the use of Morphic Message Foil will make the effect stronger, I don't know. At least, then you can undo the changes. Oh yes, and don't you forget to tap the Lemniscate symbol with the cap of your Red 'x' Co-ordinate pen!
Happy drawing, eh belting,
Carrying on the 'retrospective theme' of this (2007) Newsletter I would like to expand on Bill Kenny's theme of "What If" - particularly on the idea that so much (musical/audio) information is ALREADY in the room - but we cannot perceive it (resolve it) correctly UNTIL ........ !!
To approach it first from the audio industry's viewpoint - that information on the disc (the recording) is fed through the audio equipment and presented into the room as acoustic information by the speakers. That this (acoustic) information is then picked up by the ear drum and processed onto the brain. THAT - in a nutshell - is the audio industry's viewpoint of "The Sound". And, from that, stems the belief that you can only change 'the sound' in two ways - either by having an effect on the audio signal or by having an effect on the acoustic air pressure waves.
Now to approach it from the hearing mechanism. I particularly find the problem of Tinnitus quite fascinating and illuminating i.e. 'sounds in the ear' or 'ringing in the ear' either whether the problem is completely unconnected with any external sounds, or carrying on long after any external sounds have ceased ! Also, from what I understand from what Tinnitus sufferers describe -- that stress can make their situation worse ! Which again has nothing to do with external (acoustic) sound stimulus !
I am personally aware that theories regarding the hearing mechanism have changed over the past 50 years.
That before the late 1970s, it was believed that the hearing process was a 'one way system'. That acoustic information was received by the ear drum, processed by the hearing mechanism, was then converted (at the base of the inner and outer hair cells) to electro-chemicals (positive and negative ions) for it's journey along the auditory nerve - to the brain.
Then, during the early 1980s, it was beginning to be suggested amongst some medical practitioners that there was a 'two way system' - that if the (acoustic) information could not be resolved sufficiently, then the brain would send instructions back down along the auditory nerve (again in the form of electro-chemicals) instructing the inner and outer hair cells to 'become more erect', to 'tune in', to get more information for the brain to make a better identification. And, alternatively, that if the sound was too loud, then the brain sent instructions to the inner and outer hair cells to 'lay flat', to 'detune'. Therefore, in the 1980s, this 'two way system' was beginning to explain some of the hearing loss in people who had worked in loud working conditions most of their working lives. If, over many years, their outer and inner hair cells had been instructed (by the brain) to 'lay flat', to 'detune' so many times, then it was hardly surprising that many of those inner and outer hair cells had ended in that position permanently, resulting in a hearing loss !!
Later (I think around the 1990s), it was further being suggested that consideration should be given for the concept of this 'two way system' to be extended. It was being proposed that a 'relay system' existed along the auditory nerve. That there are some 'relay stations' along the auditory nerve which communicate backwards and forwards with each other - and this state of affairs can continue sometimes long after the external acoustic stimulus has ceased !!! Some medical practitioners were now beginning to ask if this 'process' could be one of the causes of Tinnitus - 'ringing in the ears' or 'noises in the ears' still happening long after any external acoustic stimulus had ceased.
Whatever - the whole thing - the 'two way system' or 'relay stations communicating with each other' means CHEMICAL activity of some kind. Which could then explain why stress can sometimes be described, by individual sufferers, as making the condition of Tinnitus 'worse'.
As I have said, I find the problem of Tinnitus fascinating primarily from the fact that it is purely subjective. It relies wholly on the Tinnitus sufferer to subjectively describe their symptoms - without their subjective descriptions the medical profession would not be able to identify the problem. And, without those similar subjective descriptions being given to doctors over hundreds of years, there would have been no diagnosis, no identification of a problem like Tinnitus. There are no physical measurements which doctors can make - they have to rely wholly on a patient's subjective descriptions. They cannot identify Tinnitus by 'measuring' the patients pulse, by 'measuring' the patients temperature, by 'measuring' the patients blood pressure, by 'listening to their lungs', by 'testing' the patients blood, by 'testing' the patients urine, by 'looking at' the patients tongue, by 'looking at' the patients eyes or general pallor or by taking X rays. The only way the medical profession can identify Tinnitus is from the patients own subjective description.
Which now brings us back to audio, sound and music and which brings us back to the human being - quite possibly - reacting to their modern environment, struggling to make sense of it - and, because we cannot make sense of it (because we cannot sign it off as safe) we remain under tension and this 'tension' causes chemical mayhem - which could affect the chemicals actually involved in the hearing process - the very chemicals travelling along the auditory nerve and carrying the (musical) information !!
Generally the world of audio cannot 'deal with' subjective descriptions - people's subjective opinions have been the cause of the most controversy in audio. Repeated demands have been made and are still being made for 'measurement proof' as back up for subjective opinions. And, following that, if there is no 'measurement proof' then the subjective opinions are dismissed as 'suggestion', the 'placebo effect', 'imagination', 'audio faith healing' or 'effective marketing'. One can only imagine what the earliest sufferers of Tinnitus went through in trying to get people to understand what they were experiencing, what they were describing !!
From time to time audio magazines decide to publish an article on the actual hearing mechanism but in every such article I have read, the articles concentrate on the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear and when it comes to the part played by the auditory nerve there is usually just one or two sentences devoted to that. Last year was no exception. The British magazine Hi-Fi Choice ran three consecutive articles over three months - NINE pages devoted to the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear but only the odd reference to the part played by the auditory nerve - when the auditory nerve actually carries the WHOLE of the information processed by the hearing mechanism !!! But, the part played by the auditory nerve is non acoustic - i.e. information is conveyed along the auditory nerve by electro chemicals (positive and negative ions).
I have no problems with the articles published in Hi-Fi Choice - they were very informative - up to a point - up to the point of where the information processed by the hearing mechanism reaches the auditory nerve !! The point where there is the usual ONE sentence devoted to that aspect of hearing.
To quote from Hi-Fi Choice (April 2006 issue):-
" The role of the brain is considerably more complex. How the electrical stimulus leads to awareness is still an enigma "
The reason why I always emphasise the importance of the auditory nerve is because even if the hearing mechanism processed the (acoustic) information perfectly and presented perfect information to the beginning of the auditory nerve if, at any part of it's journey along the auditory nerve, this information was changed, then it is the CHANGED information at the end of the auditory nerve which the working memory has to attempt to resolve, in order to present a 'sound picture' to the brain !! It is the information reaching the END of the auditory nerve which is the 'Sound' to be identified !!
To quote some more from the Hi-Fi Choice articles :-
"It should be obvious by now that the design of the middle ear is no mean feat. It is a design born out of need and a requirement to adapt, by a creature that was at some time a resident of deep waters, to life on land, reliant on breathing out...... It helped that creature evolve from a hunter, reliant on instinct and using the ear for protection."
When one reads the Hi-Fi magazines, it is as though everything is known about sound and hearing but when one reads the 'hearing' text books they are written in 'hedging' language - such as "it is believed that", "it is understood that", "it has been suggested that".
But at least they are truthful! What they do not know, they say they do not know, unlike many electronic text books which give the impression that everything is already known regarding electronics.
For example from "An Introduction to the Physiology of Hearing" published 1982.
"The intracellular voltage changes of inner hair cells cause the release of transmitter at the synapse at the base of the hair cells, so activating fibres of the auditory nerve.
Outer hair cells will be omitted from the model; we have too little information on their properties, and are not sure of their role in transduction"
And quoted from "Science & aesthetics in sounding and hearing" 1985
"Much remains poorly understood about the functions of the hearing mechanism".
What they do know about the human hearing system however, has been of considerable help to us in understand the results of our research.
For example from "An Introduction to the Physiology of Hearing" regarding the auditory nerve.
"It is presumably advantageous for the current to be carried by K+ rather than say Na+. .. we must not however forget that the transducer current may also be carried by other ions, for instance Cl- and Ca2+. A second relevant property of neuronal membranes is that ionic conductances can be electronically modifiable".
If the scientists are correct in that information is conveyed along nerve cells by dilution and concentration of chemicals across a cell, and then through the cell membrane to the next cell and so on, then surely there could be a possibility that the various chemicals involved and carrying information could be 'affected' or could have their dilution or concentrations 'affected' by other chemicals produced by other (maybe adjacent) parts of the brain ? So altering the information they are carrying ?
When you consider the large air pressure waves generated by a large live orchestra or the large air pressure waves generated by loudspeaker drive units and then look at the tiny ear drum and the tiny hearing mechanism receiving that information and then experience the full beauty of the music achieved by our tiny hearing mechanism, one is humbled by any attempt to explain. So, my apologies for any simplistic approach I have used.
Also, when you consider the complexity of live music, you consider the tiny hearing mechanism, you consider the resulting resolving of the 'sound' and you consider the subjective descriptions of the effect of various 'tweaks', you begin to (or should begin to) realise that 'all is not known' about sound and how we resolve the complexity of sound.
Just a point of interest.
As far as I understand it fossil records of some early creatures show that the important bone/s, now part of the human ear, were originally part of (or adjacent to) the jaw bone and it's original purpose for being there is now lost (or not fully understood). Via millions of years of evolution we (human beings) have retained so much from the past creatures - hence the quote from the article on the hearing mechanism in Hi-Fi Choice -
"It should be obvious by now that the design of the middle ear is no mean feat. It is a design born out of need and a requirement to adapt, by a creature that was at some time a resident of deep waters, to life on land, reliant on breathing out......"
It just keeps being emphasised, over and over again, that however much the scientists know, there is still so much they do not know about what we have inherited from the most ancient of creatures !!
Which brings us back to the parallel with the audio and 'sound'. However much the world of audio knows or thinks they know, there is still so much they do not know regarding 'sound' and the perception of sound.
During the same time span I have covered, the basic 'thinking' within the world of audio has not moved much forward. Yes, there has been technical advances - such as Compact Discs and digital recording and playback but the belief structure of 'sound' is still very much the same.
i.e that you can only change sound in two ways - have an effect on the audio signal travelling through the audio equipment and affect the acoustic air pressure waves in the room.
Usually, with each P.W.B. Newsletter, we print, separately, a selection from the P.W.B. Internet Discussion Forum. However, this time we have put this selection onto a CD and we are enclosing a copy of this CD with this Winter 2007 Newsletter. This is to save on postage costs as the digest is 90 pages long. It also saves a few trees !!!
Also on the enclosed CD there are copies of previous P.W.B. Newsletters and Digests.
For people who are not familiar with our Internet Discussion Forum I have provided below some examples from our members 'postings'.
If anyone would like the current digest in printed format, please request one.
14th May 2007 From James Takamatsu.
Subject: treating speakers- Obelisk project.
I had been meaning to put down into words the step-by-step treatment of my new/old Shahinian Obelisks for several months now: It has been an ongoing project for the last 5 months or so since one of my old friends graciously gifted this pair of speakers to me in December, some 23 years after I sold them to him. I now feel I have a reasonable grasp on their performance and the effectiveness of the treatments afforded them.
My previous system, most of which my wife and I gave to a good neighbor of ours, consisted of P.W.B - treated Klipsch KG-3.5 small floor standing speakers that ended up sounding like, of all things, a lovely pair of ProAcs; something like Studio 125s or maybe Response 1.5s in their sweetness and midrange bloom, and a Sonic Impact T-amp 5066 that drove them, which also took kindly to P.W.B treatments. Our old dvd player now resides in our bedroom system as my neighbor sources his system with an iPod.
Though I loved the performance of the T-amp, especially after applying the P.W.B Portable Pack foils, I decided, after having read about the power hungry aspects of the Shahinian speakers (despite their 89-91dB sensitivity rating), to upgrade the 5066 T-amp to the Super T-amp 5062. Trying the Super T in my old system gave the system some added dynamic swing and much more gutsy bottom-end (though the power rating is the same as the basic T amp: about 10 watts into a 6 ohm load). Though this was about 1/10th the power normally recommended to drive these speakers properly, I hoped, after treatment, this little amp would provide a high quality power source to feed the Obelisks.
Then, for some reason, I decided to simultaneously upgrade the video system in our room. I ordered a Toshiba upscaling dvd player to get ready for our new flat panel Olevia LCD video monitor. I then proceeded to complicate matters by ordering a set of 24ga. gold alloy cables (which took close to 200 hours before I could begin to seriously evaluate their performance) about halfway through the speaker repair and upgrade.
I don't know how many are familiar with this classic speaker system; it has been in continuous production for about 30 years now, and was recently named on Stereophile's 25 best speakers in the last 40 years. The speaker is a multi-driver, poly/omnidirectional speaker, looking much like a short (less than 30 inch tall) Washington Monument:
The rectangular main portion of the speaker houses a front-firing 8" woofer and terminated through a diagonally-angled (no right angles inside the enclosure) transmission line to a rear 10" mass-loaded passive radiator. On this version (circa 1983), the top pyramid houses four 1 1/4" midrange domes, one on each facet of the top section, and two 3/8" super tweeters facing fore and aft. I first heard this speaker at the 1982 Winter CES; I could not forget the way this speaker illuminated the entire listening space with its huge, spacious soundstage.
When I received this speaker back from the previous owner, the Obelisk was in great outward shape (meaning cabinet and grills), but two of the four midranges in one speaker were DOA, and the rear mounted passive radiators were both without surrounds. The speakers had been sent back a few years ago to Shahinian Acoustics for the Danish woofer and crossover (MIT Multicap with high-speed bypass) upgrades, and new surrounds for the passives, but the surrounds subsequently failed again.
Carefully playing the speakers at low volumes, the speakers sounded rather spacious, but dulled in attack and compressed in dynamics. You could hear the potential, but they sounded far from what one would expect from a good pair of $5000 speakers (their current U.S. retail is $5100/pair). The speakers are also a phase-coherent design, meaning all drivers are electrically "in phase" (well, except for the passive radiators), and are quite sensitive to correct speaker wire orientation.
I managed to find a matching Dynaudio D-28 driver from one of my old buddies, and then ordered and installed new foam surrounds from SimplySpeakers.com. Prior to installing the passives, I managed to treat the midrange driver magnets with a smear of P.W.B.'s new Black Cream. I also treated all of the internal cabinet pieces with Rainbow and Safe Hole foils. I was not very successful at getting the foils to stick to the interior surfaces: I probably should have cleaned the surfaces first as I wasted some precious Morphic foils.
Playing the speakers without the passives but with the foils proved rewarding: Even with 10" wide gaping holes in the back of each speaker cabinet, the sound was noticeably less hollow and boxy, and more natural sounding. Sealing the back with the repaired passive radiators upgraded the bass and midrange substantially, though there remained an unevenness to the lower midrange-upper bass area that supposedly plagues this speaker.
I then replaced the midrange dome (the midranges are wired in a series network so when 1 failed, 2 had no output), and then noticed only a slight improvement to the upper frequencies. The top end was still muted and dulled. I creamed a small area of the top pyramid area where the midranges and tweeters reside and noticed a tiny improvement. Thinking back on my experience with the Klipsches, I applied strips of Rainbow foil and Cream Electret to the perforated plastic frame that forms the top grill: Dramatic improvement with much greater attack and detail, and a very real sense of top-end airiness. For the first time in 25 years, this pair of Obelisks didn't sound dull or slow, but fast and immediate. What a startling improvement!
I proceeded to treat the woofer and crossover, using Morphic Green, Black, and Electret Creams on the various internal components. I had applied Smart Metal to my two previous speakers to really wonderful effect, but as I was not able to reach some of the magnets of some of the tweeters and midranges, I decided not to treat the woofer magnets, for fear of unbalancing the sound (as had happened when I treated the woofers first in my old Mordaunt-Shorts). Instead, I applied Green Cream and a strip of Rainbow foil to each woofer cone, and managed to solder Smart Metal onto the binding post connections.
Yet for all the gains made to the sound, there were some things about the system that still bothered me: a certain lack of a single sound; the presentation was somewhat disjointed and unbalanced. Also, the system wasn't as pure sounding as I'd hoped.
I started treating the amp first (using Portable Pack foils) and bagged a nice improvement. Smoother and more three-dimensional and more powerful sounding. I then got around to treating the insides of the Toshiba dvd player as I had previously only treated the outside. But now I applied Morphic Green Cream to all ICs, Rainbow foil to the circuit boards, Black Cream to the internal wiring (at least where I could reach), and Smart Metal to the end AC plug prongs. A significant lowering of grittiness and hardness to the highs.
I inserted my new single strand, 24 gauge gold-silver-copper alloy wires from Aural Harmony (search eBay.com for "Cryo Gold Alloy Wires")- made up with Eichmann bullet RCA plugs and P.W.B Smart Metal- and noticed a new purity to the sound. However, the cables took about 200-250 hours playing time to fully break-in. Until then they sounded uneven in the bass and overly forward in the low-mid treble. When fully broken in these gold alloy cables display a rich and beautiful midrange- voices and instruments have a pure and round-toned elegance to them. At the same time the cables pass signals with an amazing speed and transparency with fast, extended bass- really great for the money spent.
Our new HDTV showed up about this time, and provided a nice distraction for us while the cables burned in. The picture quality was quite good, and improved with just a bit of P.W.B treatment. We got rid of our old (good sounding) Lovan equipment stand and are using my old wood TV stand (treated, of course!), but the impact of the new, larger, video system is zero; maybe even improved over the old CRT television. A wall mount for the TV and a built-in shelving system is in the works.
After the cables had burned-in, I felt I was closing in on the performance of the system, but things still didn't quite gel. I had not treated the (eight) midrange domes, not yet having decided whether to use Green or Electret Cream, or even touching the fragile domes at all. I finally decided to treat the center most portion of the domes with Cream Electret, carefully applying then very gently wiping off the excess. This was just one of those moments when everything fell into place: the midrange took on a solidity, transparency, and smoothness, with a major reduction in grain. But the most surprising part? The improvement in bass punch and cohesiveness that was totally unexpected. I'm sure P.W.B would have a really good explanation for this; I just am enjoying the sound improvement. I then applied the tiniest of smear of MGC to the midranges, just at the edge of the domes near the face plate. The midrange then took on a more rounded, tactile quality- revealing that elusive "reach out and touch" nuance seems so elusive.
A gracious sample of P.W.B One Drop Liquid showed up unexpectedly in our mailbox. I first tried it on a control CD and immediately noticed its effect. I proceeded to treat a photograph, all mirrors in our home, then eventually treating the electrical circuit breaker box and glass meter. Its effect, even on items already treated with other P.W.B devices, is one of new found purity and transparency: Fantastic!
The system was now what I had only hoped to achieve: A voluminous, beyond wall-to-wall soundstage with excellent depth, natural focus, deep, extended bass, fast, yet sweet and airy highs, and a balanced, coherent sound. And that lower midrange "plumminess" has all but disappeared. It is a system which, within the power limits of the amp, can play any kind of music. Whether it's vocals or rock, to orchestral spectaculars or live jazz, you name it. This is no longer just a "classical music" speaker as is so often the criticism of the Shahinian speakers. And film soundtracks sound spacious ("Lord of the Rings: Return of the King"- effects will wrap around behind your head) and natural, with fine articulation and clarity. Though I still must be careful about phase inverted recordings.
I left out the part about the room treatment: Over a year ago I began treating the rooms in our home with as many P.W.B products and freebie ideas as I could- Cream Electret on walls, foils on wall outlets, foil and Green Cream on appliances and fixtures, quarter round moldings, squares of paper under each component's fourth foot, etc., and recently One Drop Liquid on the glass dining table and over several previously treated items. However, no unsightly room "traps" or diffuser panels clutter our living space. Yet just about anything brought into our little cottage sounds quite good, even an old JVC mono radio we keep on the bathroom tile floor sounds richly detailed.
There are still items in the system and in the home yet to be treated. I still plan to freeze the SI amp and Toshiba DVD player, I'm awaiting Aural Harmony's new Cryo Silver Contact Enhancer, and I haven't installed the cryo'd Hubbell wall outlet. And with the impact the new P.W.B One Drop Liquid has made I will be treating many more items, even ones that already received P.W.B attention.
All in all, I'm left with a system that, I believe, both is transparent to the program material and wonderfully alive and musical. It is a joy to listen to all kinds of music. My wife and I are extremely pleased with the results of tuning this system. I can't imagine how much it would cost to build a system of this quality without the help of P.W.B.
17th May 2007 From P.W.B. Electronics.
Subject: Re: Treating speakers.
Thank you James for sharing that impressive list of treatments. I am sure others can 'pick and mix' from it to suit their own situation.
Even after all this time, it can still take me by surprise the extent to which people are prepared to "P.W.B Treat" their equipment and their environment.
Subject: One Drop Liquid: The Sound Really Is In The Room.
Hello everyone, may I introduce myself?
I'm Bill Kenny - the chap who writes for MusicWeb International (www.musicweb-international.com) and who did three articles on my experiences with P.W.B products over the last eighteen months. I have been lurking in the background for a while now and thought it was time to come clean.
Thanks to May Belt's generosity, I have been able to try out some of the more expensive P.W.B devices including the Quantum Clip which she kindly let me borrow for a month. Apart from one glitch with the special black cream (which is a long and not very interesting story) I have been extraordinarily impressed by the results of using all of the devices especially Inside Foil, Morphic Green Cream, Black Cream with Special Foils and of course the Quantum Clip. Now, I have been trying out the new One Drop Liquid with quite remarkable results.
One of my pre-occupations has been to discover a notional upper limit to what can be achieved. I asked May about this in an e-mail once, saying that common-sense dictated there should be one. She replied that while that was obviously true, common sense also said that P.W.B products couldn't possibly work. Fair comment
To try to establish what can be done though, I have been testing out the performance of a £25 white goods shop DVD player against my reference Primare DVD 30 universal disc player which cost £2100. The cheap machine has been frozen, creamed foiled and clipped, while the Primare has been only had a few processes applied, simply because I can't easily get into its innards. What I have doing most recently however has been 'clipping' the listening room and I am now certain that this is an extremely important process. After using the Q Clip on the considerable amounts of wood in the room, I reached a point where temporarily the cheap machine sounded superior to the reference - until that is, I realised that the wooden shelf on which the reference stands had not been clipped. Even so, the difference in sound from the two machines remained incredibly small.
Enter the magic blue liquid. Windows, yes. Mirrors, certainly. Clock face, of course. All very positive but not completely earth shattering. The most extraordinary thing that happened came about after applying blue liquid to the inside foils in the ports of my speakers and to the other foils dotted about the place. Then, the sound from the cheap player was 'objectively' superior to the expensive machine in some respects, a fact confirmed by my wife. We played the Berry /Ludwig / Kertesz disc of Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle at the opening of the fifth door a very loud passage (ho, ho) - and each of us thought that the singers were a notch clearer on the cheap machine, although the general depth of image was slightly better on the Primare. The cheap machine however, copes perfectly well with the extreme dynamic range of this music and disc after disc reveals musical detail previously inaudible to either of us. We are now both firmly convinced that the system as a whole out-performs a hugely expensive set-up that we listened to a while ago, regardless of the disc playing source used.
Now while most of this will be old news to members of this group, there is another clinching experience that supports May and Peter's idea that 'the sound is already in the room.' Our house has a small octagonal porch just outside the front door and after this latest experiment, it is perfectly obvious that a huge three-dimensional musical image (regardless of musical content) can be heard coming from the room by anyone standing in the porch. This certainly defies all common sense about audio performance because:
a) the listener is not only behind the speakers but cannot actually see one of them from the porch.
b) the sound is wholly stereophonic, so that musical events between the speakers and those emanating from the hidden side of the room can be accurately located.
c) the effect is equally impressive regardless of which player is used as the source and regardless too of the volume of the music being played.
I am not an audio journalist incidentally I write mostly about live concert and opera performances and because of this I know what the sound is like in some locations where recordings have been made.
The Lahti Sinfonia / Vänskä Sibelius recordings on BIS for example were done in two different locations in Lahti and it is now possible to hear the differences between the old hall and the new Finlandiatalo - the Stradivarius in a glass box as locals call it.
I would never have believed that the acoustic signatures of different venues could be reproduced so accurately by any but the most expensive equipment but they can. It's all very remarkable and I am now completely sure that Peter Belt's researches are truly innovative and that they break new ground in the development of audio and video performance. There'll be another article soonish on MusicWeb and I'll let you all know when it's done.
Regards to all of you,
PS. The care and detail that you all seem to take in 'Belting' your homes, never ceases to amaze me. Hats off to you for your diligence and dedication. If only I could have such persistence.....
15th April 2007 From Kevin Kehoe.
Subject: One Drop Liquid: The Sound Really Is In The Room.
Thank you Richard for your suggested additions to the treatment of fluorescent lamps, I really must do myself a few little idiot lists on routine but infrequent treatments around the house. Thanks also Bill for your tip regarding One Drop Liquid - my sample has now been squeezed to the very last molecule and I have just ordered a bottle. I am delighted you mentioned your conversation with May Belt regarding how far those treatments can go (is there a 'ceiling' to the whole thing?). I have posted so many sound lifts in the past few years that I started to get a bit self-conscious about it how many sound lifts can one man have? But, once again, this new addition to the P.W.B range proves I have not got there yet.
Regards to all,
20th April 2007 From Richard Graham.
Subject: Re: One Drop Liquid: The Sound Really Is In The Room.
Welcome Bill, and thanks for your eloquent account of your experiences.
What is most striking for myself, and dangerous, is your clear report of how a cheap DVD player can seem better than a good quality (and expensive) Primare player. It really turns the world of audio upside down, and can panic the whole industry (or so it did in the 1980s, when a cheap CD player did much the same). But this is what happens; lead turns into gold.
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