How do you tell snake oil from “truth” in audio gear?

See his latest Shiit tests. He was quite pleased and rightly wrote it so.


I read this and had to chuckle since so many reviews in the high end audio press fawn over the cases made out of solid block of aircraft quality aluminum.

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Hey thats good to hear! Time to upgrade the Bifrost maybe! :thinking:

Because they’re going to fly, of course. But that means nothing without asymmetrical isolation feet!


If you only use measurements then everything “good” will sound the same. Case closed. No reason to discuss further.

“Move on. Nothing to see here. Please disperse!” – Frank Drebin

Although… there are people who like distortion so… no, never mind, let’s not go in that direction. Measurements are absolute in all things. :wink:

(I’ve said this a million times. I don’t understand posts like this. Who cares if someone is enjoying their system and no one went hungry because of it? Snake oil or not. Not everyone values engineering. Some people value other things when deciding one product over another.)


I had to laugh when I saw this thread start. Sound science “cringe” absolutism.

I completely disagree with the “eliminate your “hearing” from the equation. Nothing that measures well will sound “bad.”” part of this." It’s simply not true in all cases, because we each have our own idea of what sounds best TO US. What others say and what the measurements say might be a guide to gear but neither are the last word.

Yes, there is a lot of snake oil out there. Fools and their money are soon parted, as the saying goes.
So what, it’s their money, and if they like the way a piece of gear sounds, great. No one has to prove anything to anyone but themselves.

IMO, YMMV, LOL… :slight_smile:




@ipeverywhere - Thanks for this video :slight_smile:

But that does not change anything.

Let’s take an of the self FMC that cost €80 and a high-end that cost €500. The manufacture of the high-end FMC claims that their product do all good things that makes their product sound much better than of the of the self, Than it should be easy to show that in measurement (with the same setup + power supply). Otherwise the claims are just marketing.


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FMC as in fiber media converter?

I actually used to sit next to people who did this and you can. The cheap ones can flop all over the place but still live within tolerance to not produce errors at the receiver (which generally have very wide tolerances because of this). Then there are tunable lasers that provide far more stable power across a wider distance and will stay at a specific power level.

How would this change sound quality? Oh, it won’t. :slight_smile:
But it’s measurable.

But again… it doesn’t matter. If I want a FMC that operates within a tighter tolerance then who cares? If I think it sounds better than the cheapo d-link who cares? Why are we wasting time on this?


I like Amir. I think he truly believes in his methodology. I’d never let him put together a hifi me for me :wink:


Let’s not be naive, companies are trying to sell their stuff. So they will use any kind of fancy advertising language to persuade the buyer and make him or her believe that the product is revolutionary and great.
But I would give credit to the majority of manufacturers and saleswomen that they believe in what they produce and sell, and not deliberately lying to customers in knowing that what they are producing or selling is just crap. In audio most people are convinced about what they are doing.
Higher prices then often come from the size of the company, r&d, where it is produced, design choices and in what price range a product is fitted. And most simply: because there is a market for expensive gear.
Many higher priced hifi components are luxury products. Most of them probably sound quite good, but the high prices are justified by elegant design, fancy packaging and of course cloudy advertising campaigns.
I don’t understand why people get so upset about these products? There are many people with tons of money that buy expensive stuff for reasons of distinction alone. It is a feeling of superiority, distinction but also relatedness to a particular group you are buying. These feelings are central to modern capitalism.
My point is not to relativise this, but to question those people that say everything more expensive than 200€ for a Dac is snakeoil.
Iam actually happy that there are sooo many companies producing hifi gear from 50 to 500000 €. Isn’t that part of the fun of the hobby?
One reason I am actually willing to spend considerably more money for for a hifi product is if the product is made in my (neighboring) country and made by a small company. That is independent of measurable SQ, but a value on its own.


Many of your points are very valid however it’s not expensive “normal” audio equipment that many of us objective audiophiles (for lack of a better term) take issue with. Whether or not expensive speakers, amps, preamps, DACs, turntables, phono cartridges are worth their asking price is up to the buyer but for the most part these items are not snake oil. Sure one take issue with some of the advertising claims but very often these products are carefully designed and very well made.

The snake oil in the high end audio world is more about scientifically unproven tweaks and upgrades. For example things like hyper expensive cables and network switches. And even within this area I don’t take issue with those who spend their money and enjoy the “improvement”. No what I take issue with is them telling us things like “it made a vast and very noticeable improvement” or “well I guess your system just isn’t capable of revealing the difference”. Remember all of these discussions are happening online and we know nothing of other’s systems and past experiences. Maybe I have a fantastic system and maybe I have tried many of the tweaks and upgrades over the years and come to my own conclusions about their relative worth.

And then there is the high end audio press and online posters who are fro the most part just extensions of the manufacturers advertising team and will spout all kinds of praise and claims just for money.


I wouldn’t argue about that. I saw a poll once that said 2/3 of Americans believe in angels, after all. But the question is not really whether they are convinced, it’s whether they should be convinced.

Sad, but true. The question, again, is whether they have to be? Whether they should be? Some of us believe that “these feelings” are part of the problem, not merely an inconsequential happenstance.


This is a prime example of putting words into folks mouths. It’s more a case of taking the eyes out of the equation. I don’t think you’ll find many quotes suggesting listening is a bad idea. It’s just that ears are not always trustworthy and should be used accordingly. Not all the money spent by folk is disposable and I suspect most forum users would prefer to spend their money where it’s likely to be most effective.


Sadly another bad example to derail a discussion when someone is failing on arguments. :hear_no_evil:

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If you are on this forum, you most likely have more disposable income than most of the world.

I see forum users spending $$$ on overpriced ‘NUCs’ all the time here, when one can easily put together an off the shelf NUC for a third of the price (even with a fanless case). Who’s saving them from themselves? No quality difference other than the zeros on the price tag and an hour’s worth of time assembling.

Sorry, but this debate has been done to death, and I think we can agree that there are bad actors in the hifi industry (as I would assume there are in other luxury goods as well). But IMO the OP’s post is just more trolling, trying to “give it to the subjectivists” (and oh, “Happy Holidays!”). Can’t we just do away with the snake oil evangelism and agree that both measurements AND listening can exist together, and sometimes one gets it right and other times the other? Just painting listening only as ‘delusional’ doesn’t get us very far, nor does saying that ears (or other senses) can’t be trusted. Sure, maybe people are ‘hearing things’ that aren’t there sometimes, but ALL of the time? Give it a break. As a pro photographer, my seeing has been ‘trained’ over decades to see in a way that others might just pass over. Could the same be said for people who listen for a living, that perhaps they are more sensitive to changes?


Well, if you can accept that they’re not always trustworthy then mitigation strategies are available.

Perhaps this is the case, but reading this demonstrates that it’s not so easy IRL. It’s an oldish article now but obviously relevant and enough to dent anyone’s confidence in their own ears.


I’m not sure how this discussion is actually that complicated,

Example #1

This is snake oil

Example #2

This is Truth

Enjoy the holidays inmates :grin:


vast and very noticeable to one person is a singer standing another 2 inches behind the speakers. These are reviewers trying to make reading something interesting that, in reality, isn’t all that dramatic. Honest writing is boring writing and these reviewers would be out of a job. It’s not their fault, this is just their craft. The “marketing” gets to take this up a level. Nothing wrong with that. There are a few reviewers who do a really good job of both explaining the differences while also keeping the reality in check. But they are few.

As far as systems not capable? This is often very true. Using my example above, if singers are not already behind the speakers then a review of “deeper” is meaningless on your system. If your soundstage is not already beyond speaker width then “wider” isn’t going to be wider in your system. System set-up, room treatment, etc. needs to be there first. Then these subtle differences come though. In a dramatic “night and day” way? Usually not. But you’ve got to start from a place where such things are already present for them to get better.

Also, some people simply don’t hear this stuff. Or care to hear it. Some people actually just enjoy the music :open_mouth:


Yes, and that “craft” is a grift. There are honest writers who also are interesting. John McPhee, for instance.

This is the attitude I just don’t understand. There is something wrong with that. They are deliberately trying to mislead people, to cheat them. How can that be right?