Cleaning with snake oil

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PS Audio's YouTube channel has an entirely different audience than this post series. Almost 300,000 people have viewed our little videos, most just curious what all this crazy hi-fi stuff is about. While we're not as interesting as cats juggling balls, apparently we still attract some sort of interest. And then there's the comments section. Lots of comments and dialog, most of it just people being amazed that big speakers exist. But some are incredulous at what we do and lash out. One such comment cried "foul!" and asked me how I slept at night feeding the masses such utter bullsh*t about products. In particular the poster was upset about the Noise Harvester. Ahh, that product does spark people's snake oil alert buttons. Like Oxiclean commercials. Only, the thing is, the Harvesters work and Oxiclean does too. I think it's in the way they are presented that raises people's BS alerts. Let's examine this case. As an engineer we would look at the Harvester like this. A simple product designed to reduce power line noise above 10kHz. On its input there is a capacitor and a choke (inductor or magnetic device) placed across the power line, forming a simple bandpass filter. At the junction of these two elements energy is singled out at a specific frequency range. We then siphon off the noise energy and use it to fill up a capacitor. When the capacitor gets enough of the energy stored, it triggers an SCR which sends that energy to an LED and the light blinks; thus converting the noise energy to light. Bingo, the noise is removed from the line. Simple and effective removing about 10dB. We could have made this product even simpler. Instead of all the fancy capacitor and LED arrangement, we could have just converted the noise energy into heat and it would be just as gone. But then, it makes it harder for people to see the results. Every time the Harvester's light blinks you know noise is being removed. Positive feedback. Plus, it also helps find the best spot to place the Harvester by finding the point where the blinking is greatest. But in the end, we went with the light to help sell Harvesters knowing full well they would have been just as effective without the light. It's easy to jump on the bandwagon and cry fowl when you smell too much marketing going on. And just as easy to amazed when the stain in your shirt just vanishes like the commercial said it would.
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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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