Why is there so much snake oil in audio?

October 13, 2017
 by Paul McGowan

4 comments on “Why is there so much snake oil in audio?”

    1. Snake oil survives because ‘better’ sound is subjective and hard to prove. Because we have hope and optimism. And because there’s lots of money floating around up for grabs.

  1. Like Paul says about other tweaks, I am not saying fuses can’t improve sound. At upwards of $150 each though, really!? Are they a good tweak or just another way for someone to lift money from your wallet?

  2. I think that this problem is exaggerated. Compared to other sectors like auto, software, smartphones, high-end audio has a pretty good track record of product safety and performance. The audio sector hasn’t had the equivalent of recalls for defects (eg. Toyota airbags), danger (Samsung Note 7 battery), or poor design (eg. Window 8).

    Yes, you can argue that the CD pen is kind of snake oil. But these kinds of products are in the minority. The people who complain about snake oil are usually the same ones who claim that cables and amps sound the same, and that tweaks like footers, equipment stands, power conditioners, fuses, and tubes don’t make a difference.

    Why judge “tweak” more harshly than components? Don’t forget the that the 1st CD players were supposed to provide “perfect sound forever”. How about the 70s solid state amps that measured so well (but sound so bad)? I’m sure that we’ve all heard speakers that deserved an early demise.

    We should use common sense but my experience is that successful new products far outnumber the so-called “snake oil”. Two recent examples are music streamers (eg. Aurender) and ground boxes (eg. Entreq, Synergistic Research Ground Box). They shouldn’t make much (if any) difference but they do.

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