Getting Shun-Mooked

AR-shun2.jpgIn 1991 I first experienced a tweak that had no earthly reason to work, yet it apparently did. A company called Shun Mook had a demo at CES where they placed and then removed their Mpingo Discs on top of a CD player and I heard a difference. I wasn't the only one to hear changes. All the audio journalists who experienced this unique demo heard the same sonic improvements when the discs were placed on the Magnavox CD player.

I should mention that I have a set of Mpingo dics, and during the twenty years that have passed since that demo, I have been totally unable to hear any differences when they were installed anywhere in my own home stereo systems.

So what gives? Are the home systems I've set up over the last two decades lacking in sufficient resolving power to reveal the discs' effects? I don't think so. But every time I've tried the discs they've proved completely ineffective.

I suspect that all the folks who participated in the original CES demo were "Shun Mooked." This is a psycho-acoustic phenomenon that occurs when you are in a room full of people who believe something WILL make a difference - and it DOES! It's akin to being the only non-committed voter in a room full of party faithful - by the end of the night you will be "a believer." The psychic force of all those committed brains makes you hear exactly what they are hearing. Or not hearing.

What did the Shun Mook experience teach me? I learned that while I may hear differences caused by mods and tweaks at a trade show or demo, I will never accept the results until I can duplicate them at home on my own system. Some devices, such as the AudioPrism Ground Plane, have proven over time to make a repeatable difference with different set-ups and components in various systems. Others, like the Shun Mook Mpingo discs, have turned out to be nothing more than pricy placebos.

I try to keep my mind as open as possible without letting my brains fall out. And while I'm still more than willing to listen to any demo that doesn't involve SPLs above 95 dB, before I cry from the rooftops, "This works!" I now insist on listening to the device at home through multiple systems.

In the words of Pete Townshend, "Won't be fooled again..."

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How about instead of the politically correct open mind nonsense, reviewers start applying some good old common sense? Of course products like this don't do anything. Snake oil. Now maybe we can move on to the audio cables make a difference nonsense and the audio press can stop cheer leading for the high margin audio cable manufacturers. Or is this reviewer immune from "This is a psycho-acoustic phenomenon that occurs when you are in a room full of people who believe something WILL make a difference" when it comes to cable? Apparently the same effect is observable when cable manufacturers invite the audio press to their offices as documented in this article. Apparently, cable differences are now so pronounced that one can hear them with a lowly boombox. Heaven forbid!

I think we've all been Shun Mooked a time or two! Appreciate the honesty!

I ran across this item which seems to be the perfect combination of straddling the fence between the ridiculous and the actual. An "audiophile" listening mask! While I believe that one can become more immersed in music listening with eyes closed, I don't think someone needs to spend $45 dollars for $3 worth of plastic and Velcro found at any Wal-Mart.

John Sciacca

Couldn't help but chime in, as I've used "greenink" as a handle for many years, and still have some of the stuff left. It was very good at turning my Not much else, although it was knighted by another audio magazine as a must-have. Shakti stones, footers/pucks, tube dampers, bladder platforms, CD cleaners, contact cleaners, cable lifters, anti-static sprays, de-magnetizers, CD cutters, mystical boxes between cables and speakers, wall plugs - in 40 years of this, I have been there, done that. I could be driving a Ferrari for all of that, but then I'd just be at VIP buying flame paint or raccoon tails or whatever.
I'm in Joe Hart's camp on this one - some of this stuff works some of the time for some people (including me), so why not? When we turn from tweaks to cables, though, I think we turn from the possible to the probable. Although I have had some cables (including power cables and ICs) that have made little or no difference (from what I was using previously), that is pretty rare. I don't always like cables I try (and the Cable Co. has built a business around this concept), but there almost always is a clear difference. I tire of people trying to equate Mpingo discs and cables. True, in a low-rez system, neither will be of much value. But in any "decent" system, good cables "sound" different from one another almost all the time - although they don't always sound the same in different systems, and the amount of difference can wax and wane between systems. I also tire of people painting Audiophiles as Audiofools. As a group, Audiophiles are better educated than the general populace; it is hard to argue that all of those cable sales are generated by a bunch of hapless dunces. Possibly, there could be some real science involved, you know? Yes, some buy stupid stuff just to try it - the fringes will always attract people like me willing to spend a few bucks for an evening's entertainment - but the cable industry is just that: an industry. The sheer volume of such sales gives the lie to detractors. There just aren't that many stupid rich people out there. If you want to drive your 5k speakers with zip cord, be my guest. Most of us went in another direction long ago.

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