I'm certainly not trying to usurp the place of the flat-earth audio trolls out there, but there occasionally comes a time when even I ― of all things, a known cable designer (OMG!) ― can't bear it any longer, and am quite literally FORCED to comment on some bit of audiophile voodoo that steps just TOO far over the line and threatens to give charlatans (knowing or otherwise) and the fools they prey upon a bad name.
The last time I did this was in another publication, where I poked a little gentle fun at the hockey-puck-sized wooden discs and little magic brass bowls that, for only (relative-to-what-they-really-are) an outrageous sum of money, promise to improve your system's sound if you just scatter them around your listening room.
In that instance, I even went into the math of why they can't possibly work. That was because there were so many people out there who seemed to believe in them and because the manufacturers had at least had the decency to offer what they apparently believed to be a "scientific" explanation of their claimed performance. Under those circumstances, the least I could do by way of debunking them was to be scientific in return. (Incidentally, Ted Denney's Synergistic Research company recently created quite a stir with some tiny "stick-on" system treatments that may or may not have any relationship to those other devices. I haven't heard either them or whatever explanation for them that Denney may be giving, so my comments here and earlier are specifically NOT about them. On the other hand, "If the math fits...")
In the present instance, no math and no science will be offered. These things are so absurd and so outrageously unlikely to have any effect at all on any room or any system that they might be used in or with that to treat them as anything meriting rigorous scientific examination of any kind would be to afford them a compliment far beyond their worth
And what might these wonders and glories be, upon which I am lavishing so much vitriol? I'll tell you in a moment, (or actually, I'll let the "manufacturer' tell you) but first let me quote for you some comments by their users:
"I can't believe these things actually improved the overall sound as much as they did. Is it resonance control that's lowering the noise floor? I hear greater detail in quiet passages and better front to back image definition. Very impressive!"
"...In my system these products improved the soundstage, increased the resolution and lowered the noise floor in ways no other products I have ever tried [have done] (but one must consider I have a highly tweaked out system already)." and "...my speakers disappeared even more and the vocals were much clearer. I could now understand each word sung in my reference recordings..."
The product is the Tru-Tone Duplex Outlet Cover, which SEEMS to be is an ordinary two-outlet wall plate (Yup, the thing on the wall that covers the wiring to the outlets that you plug your equipment into), but made out of a porcelain or other ceramic material instead of the more ordinary plastic or metal, and with "Made in China", "UL listed" and "AmerTac" and "6R80". Marked on its back. (One reviewer of these little beauties wrote that he had googled AmerTac and found American Tack & Hardware Co. Inc. [AmerTac], of Saddle River, N.J. http://www.amertac.com/)
The "manufacturer"(or distributor or whatever) of the product describes it differently: "Machina Dynamica's Tru-Tone Duplex Covers are special audiophile-grade covers for all duplex wall outlets; they are intended to replace all types of duplex covers - steel, plastic, wood, etc. - in the listening room -- including non-audio outlets and unused outlets. While one or two Tru-Tone Covers can make a significant improvement to the sound, 3-4 Duplex Covers in the room can yield tremendous results. Tru-Tone Duplex Covers produce a remarkable degree of focus, fullness, detail and presence", and goes on to say "IMPORTANT NOTE: When installing the Tru-Tone Duplex Cover, the screw should be loosened 1 to 1 1/2 turns from the point when it is nearly tight; never over-tighten. Tru-Tone Duplex Covers are prepared using proprietary materials-processing techniques and fit snugly on all standard duplex receptacles. Size: 1/4" thick x 2 3/4" wide x 4 1/2" high."
That's it. There's no other description or explanation of any kind; not even to tell whether the warning against over-tightening the screw is to effect some proprietary "tuning" function, or simply to prevent the thing from cracking.
Unlike its plastic equivalents, which I'm sure must be fully as effective, and only cost a buck or so, the price of the Tru-Tone Duplex Outlet Cover is listed as $30 each, but may (according to a FaceBook posting of just a few days ago) have recently been raised to $40.
One unnamed customer is quoted as saying "I tried the Duplex Covers with good results for wall outlets located on the side walls, but "night and day" results were obtained when a Tru Tone Duplex Cover was placed on the unused outlet located on the wall behind and between the speakers", and, on its Home page, the manufacture says "Unbelievable dynamics!" My guess is that only one of those two words is true.
For those of you who like this sort of thing, the manufacturer also offers (Don't blame me for the "Caps"; that's how it's written on the website): BLU MATTER, SUPER INTELLIGENT CHIP; DARK MATTER CD OPTICAL COATING; ULTRA SIGNATURE VERSION OF CLEVER LITTLE CLOCK; ORIGINAL VERSION OF CLEVER LITTLE CLOCK; CODENAME WHITE POPPY ACOUSTIC RESONATOR; FROG JUMP IN WATER SOUND TWEAK USING ORDINARY WATER; CODENAME BLUE MEANIES FOR ROOM WALLS; CODENAME GREEN MEANIE FOR ROOM CEILING; NIMBUS SUB-HERTZ PLATFORM; BABY PROMETHEAN MINI ISOLATORS; BRILLIANT PEBBLES; TELEPORTATION TWEAK LONG DISTANCE SYSTEM UPGRADE; CODENAME TURQUOISE II CD TRAY MASKING KIT; CODENAME TOP BANANA II BLU RAY TRAY MASKING KIT; SPECTRUM PURIFIER COLORING KIT FOR CDs; BLU SPECTRUM PURIFIER COLORING KIT FOR BLU RAY DISCS; DIAMOND CRYSTAL LIGHT HIGH FREQUENCY CLARIFIER; FLYING SAUCERS FOR WINDOWS; FLYING SAUCERS FOR WALL OUTLETS; SONIC TONIC ANTI-STATIC SPRAY FOR CDs, CABLES, GLASS, ETC.; CD RE-ANIMATOR STROBOSCOPIC LIGHT GUN CD ENHANCER; and MIND LAMP FROM PSYLERON.
Besides being colorfully and provocatively named, some of these do offer "scientific" explanations, some of which, in their prolixity and their loose application of the writer's version of quantum physics, remind the reader of some of the less-restrained followers of Jack Bybee.
Can it be that America, never to be outdone, has finally bred its own Peter Belt?