Synergistic Research ECT-Electronic Circuit Transducer

Device Type: Component Enhancement Accessory
Dimensions: 8 mm length with 10 mm diameter
Availability: Authorized Dealers
Price: $299 for 5 Electronic Circuit Transducers; $75 each

Synergistic Research’s latest implementation of their Uniform Energy Field Technology, better known as UEF, has resulted in a new product designed to balance close proximity electromagnetic fields in electronic circuits. The product is called the Electronic Circuit Transducer or ECT. These tiny devices, approximately the size of the previously reviewed HFT (High Frequency Transducer), are placed on D to A chips, fuses, near vacuum tubes, capacitors, transformers, op amps, and analog and digital cables. The ECTs can also be placed on the exterior of the chassis to improve the electromagnetic environment of the component. Synergistic Research states that high frequency noise is reduced with a resultant drop in the perceived noise floor. Compression of the sound is decreased with application of these devices on your electronic components. Improvements in clarity and definition, along with soundstage size and air, are claimed to improve with use of the ECTs. The ECTs convert ultra-high frequencies that are found with RFI-EMI circuit board component emissions to more musically consonant frequencies.

Synergistic Research is presently applying the UEF technology to many of their older products as well as newly introduced ones. I have previously reviewed the UEF Active Tuning Circuits (see review), the XOT Crossover Transducers, the Galileo LE USB cable (see review), and the HFT room treatment devices (see review) that have successfully implemented the UEF technology.

From Ted Denny III, Lead Designer at Synergistic Research:

“Synergistic Research’s new ECT-Electronic Circuit Transducers are based on the same technology found in Synergistic Research HFT High Frequency Transducers and XOT Crossover Transducers. UEF Technology cleans up high frequency noise that otherwise distorts harmonics in the music signal. When UEF technology is applied to electronic components or to analog and digital cables, you hear a lower noise floor, higher resolution, and a significant increase in soundstage air with improved mid-range clarity and improved low frequency control for more natural holographic sound."
Placement of the ECTs
The black cylindrical ECT with its red inverted cone is extremely easy to install. Synergistic Research provides many suggestions for its application and suggests beginning with DACs and preamps. The ECT comes with a white putty material for securing of the devices as well as two sided adhesive material for a more permanent placement. For example, one can place an ECT on fuses or a fuse holder, the top of a D to A chip, ICs, transformers, and the top of the sending end of both digital and analog cables. If one does not want to open a component, or it’s not practical to do so, ECTs can be placed on the bottom of the chassis in an X type pattern: 4 corners and one in the center. ECTs can also be placed on the front of a component near switches or the on the back panel near a power switch or AC inlet. I’m sure other successful placements will be discovered as we become more familiar with their use.

I was fortunate to have two DACs that allowed me to explore completely different approaches for placement of the ECTs; the MSB Technology Analog DAC with Analog Power Base, and the Wavelength Crimson USB DAC with Denominator board and Silver transformers. The Analog DAC and its Analog Power Base power supply required external placement of the ECTs as the cases are form fitted with individual pockets milled from a solid aluminum plate with potting of the DAC components. The Wavelength Audio DAC allows one to easily open the case and individually place ECTs on numerous internal electronic components. Also, with the Crimson’s 3 tubes, I had the opportunity to see how effective the ECTs were with tube placement.

Placement of the ECTs on The Analog DAC
I began by placing five ECTs on the bottom of The Analog DAC; one each toward the corners and one in the middle. Listening to the Mercury Living Presence recording of Howard Hanson’s Song of Democracy (dsf), I easily noticed an improvement to the sound I was hearing. Howard Hanson conducted the Eastman-Rochester Orchestra with the Eastman School of Music Chorus in this 1957 recording. Three microphones were used for this recording with a 3 track half-inch tape at the Eastman Theatre in Rochester, New York. This particular recording is very realistic sounding and is an excellent orchestral-choral demonstration piece. The ECTs expanded the soundstage and improved the focus and clarity of the voices in the choir. Removing the five ECTs resulted in a sense of compression to the sound with a loss of resolution to the choir and orchestra. I felt I had to turn the volume up to achieve what I had heard with the ECTs, but I never could capture the clarity I had lost.

I was interested to see how the ECTs handled bass reproduction, so I put on Fourplay-Fourplay (24/96). This recording was the debut album for Fourplay; a quartet composed of keyboardist Bob James, Lee Ritenour on guitar, Nathan East on bass, and drummer Harvey Mason. With the ECTs I immediately noticed better definition in the bass with more impact and a superior visceral grip to the bass. Again, the soundstage opened up with increased focus and definition of the other instruments.

The recording Tell Me Once Again (24/192) with Carol Kidd and Nigel Clark on guitar provided an excellent test to see if the ECTs could render a more quiet background to the music. With Carol’s voice accompanied only by a nylon sting guitar, I was able to perceive a deeper black background with the ECTs. The movements of Clark’s fingers on the nylon strings were more apparent with an increase in clarity to Carol’s voice.

Adding More ECTs to the Mix
I proceeded to add five more ECTs to the mix. One over the fuse on the back of the Analog Power Base power supply, one each on the output cables from the DAC (sending end) and one each on the balanced output cables from my Ayre KX-R Preamp (sending end). The result was really quite striking! Having 10 ECTs in the system seemed to be worth the extra cost. Returning to Hanson’s Song of Democracy, the orchestra and choir now seemed to move into the room with the soundstage appearing to be more holographic sounding. The inner detail and resolution of the orchestra and choir were improved with a greater sense of air at the high end.

The instruments in the Fourplay album now had an improved sense of weight and dynamic quality. As with the Hanson selection, the soundstage opened up a bit more with superior resolution of transient detail.

The Carol Kidd selection was quite impressive with the addition of an extra five ECTs. Carol and Nigel seemed to move out into the room as I perceived enhanced focus to both the guitar and Carol’s vocals. The black background of the recording was even more apparent with the addition of five more ECTs.

The Full Monty
I now added five ECTs to the Analog Power Base power supply by placing an ECT under each of the five transformers in the unit. I also added an additional ECT to the outgoing power supply cable for The Analog DAC. An ECT was placed on each balanced cable (sending end) from my Ayre preamp to my Wilson Watch Dog Powered Subwoofer. Two more ECTs were also placed on each Synergistic Research Thunderbolt Active SE cable; one from the computer, and one from my GRAID external drive library with PCM files feeding another GRAID drive with. dsf files. All of this resulted in another 10 ECTs added to the system.

The results were more than just impressive; in fact, almost astounding! The system seemed to now be faster sounding with greater immediacy and palpability from top to bottom. What struck me the most was that the sound seemed to be more transparent with enhanced transient quickness and impact. The high end just seemed to be more detailed sounding. The Analog DAC now sounded closer to the Bricasti M1 DAC in terms of high end speed and detail retrieval. I was now hearing a more delicate and nuanced sound from The Analog DAC with the ECTs in the system.

Beyond the Full Monty
Not being a conservative fellow when it comes to audio, I decided to add my last 5 ECTs to the top of The Analog DAC in the same pattern as I had previously added to the bottom. The sound from the DAC got a little bigger and seemed to improve on the qualities previously described. Quite frankly, I sat back in my chair and couldn’t believe the sonic improvements I was hearing.

The Wavelength Audio Crimson DAC
The Crimson offered me another way to apply the ECTs in a system; directly to the electronic components on the circuit boards. I proceeded to place ECTs on the D to A chip, two transformers, two chokes coils, two transformers on the Denominator board, and a fuse on the board. I then applied two ECTs on the top of the power supply over the transformer (there was no room in the case to apply them directly), a fuse, and the power wire to the DAC. I would recommend the double sided application material when applying ECTs to components that generate heat.

As with The Analog DAC, the Crimson benefited immensely with the direct placement of the ECTs. Bass definition, midrange focus, high end transient speed and detail were all positively enhanced. The soundstage was larger with a greater sense of air and ambience. I noticed greater air and bloom around the instruments and singers. The holographic quality to the soundstage that I had heard with the Analog DAC / ECTs was also observed with the Crimson / ECTs. Background silence was better with the ECTs.

Applying ECTs Next to Vacuum Tubes
The Crimson has three tubes that install on the top of the case. I placed an ECT next to each tube, but being careful not to touch the tubes. The resulting effect of the ECTs was easily heard. The soundstage opened up a little more in terms of width, but seemed to reproduce depth and height much better. The holographic effect I have been talking about was definitely enhanced with application of the ECTs next to tubes. The placement of the ECTs by the tubes provided an even greater relaxed presentation with richer timbre and texture to the music. The ECTs appeared to reduce a subtle compression of the sound from the Crimson.

A Remarkable Product
The Synergistic Research Electronic Circuit Transducer has proven to be wonderful tweak in my system. I almost hesitate to call it a tweak at this point, since its use not only brought out the best in the components where it was applied, but significantly elevated their performance. It is plainly obvious to me after reviewing a number of UEF products, that Synergistic Research has developed something that is quite special with their UEF Technology. Just applying 5 ECTs to each of my DACs improved the sound enough to more than justify the price of the ECTs. Adding more ECTs further enhanced transient response from top to bottom while allowing one to perceive an improved holographic soundstage.

Resolution and transparency of the DACs and system seemed to improve with use of the ECTs. Background silence was also enhanced with the use of the ECTs in both of my DACs. After all of my experimenting, I found the biggest bang for the buck to be 10 ECTs. But for those with expensive, highly resolving systems, increasing the number of ECTs will provide significant sonic benefits for your system. I feel that the Electronic Circuit Transducer is a truly remarkable product and will ultimately become one of Synergistic Research’s best selling products.

drblank's picture

It would be nice to show some before and after test measurements on after market tweaks to prove they actually work.

audiostream_login_id's picture

Michael, I enjoy your blog and tend to agree with your reviews. I bought the Adam A3X's for my desktop setup based on your recommendation and am quite happy with them. I like how you generally focus on reviews of products that legitimately impact sound quality.

I don't mind Steven Plaskin's 'controversial' (read 'snake oil') product reviews as they are usually good for entertainment value and relatively harmless. But now you are awarding Greatest Bits awards based on them?

I'm not going to play the poisoned apple card, but come on. The balance that existed with you performing legitimate reviews and Stevin performing 'controversial' reviews feels broken with a Greatest Bits being awarded to a placebo.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
In that neither of us can prove our position. My feeling is Steve has done a great job of reporting what he heard. It is up to each reader to make what they want of this, and any other, review.
drblank's picture

The reviews that have measurements are often more believable. It's hard to do a proper comparison when it takes a while to install the devices since you have to turn off the system, let it cool down, install the devices, then turn the system back up and it takes a while for the system to heat back up. I've never heard that much difference in the majority of these little tweaks. I think it would be better to spend money on good room treatment and get the room sounding good before these types of tweaks, I just think that room treatment is often overlooked and misunderstood since most "audiophiles" don't spend much time researching room treatment as they do gear. I guess gear is just more sexy or interesting than absorption and diffusion systems.

Steven Plaskin's picture
Fear not, I will be reviewing the exaSound e22 DAC next. Actually, I have one more component to review to finish the UEF components-the PowerCell 10 UEF / FEQ PowerCell. As for these products being snake oil, just ain't so. They are sold with a money back guarantee so none has to suffer if they don't like them. The fact is, the ECTs had a bigger effect on the sound than the USB devices I last reviewed. This is why I gave them a Greatest Bits.
BradleyP's picture

What are these made of, and what's inside them? If this is for real, then I expect crafty component manufacturers could glue $300 worth into their gear and double the price. I'm not holding my breath.

drblank's picture

I think what they do is take aluminum rod stock, cut them up into little pieces, put them in a mill and mill out a concave end and then plate/paint them red/black and stick them in a box and charge a lot of money for them. What's the most frustrating is that the mfg does no measurements of gear to PROVE that there is some type of difference in a measurement before and after. I think these audio magazines should demand measurements to prove technology they review before they even consider reviewing a product. These look just like those HFT's SR tries to push onto people only these are painted/anodized (whatever they do to make them look cool) which is why they cost more.

I don't think one box is going to work. Every review i've seen on these things, the person sticks at least 2 or 3 boxes worth inside each major component. Kind of expensive tweak that probably does very little for the money. I would contact the mfg of the product you are about to open up and put these things inside, you might violate a warranty if you open up certain gear and make any modifications, so I would definitely proceed with a LOT of caution and skepticism on these things. For me? I'd pass. No measurements to prove anything.

tubefan9's picture

This is the type of tweak that would drive me nuts. Endless possibilities of placement, tweaking, searching for the sound. I haven't listened to this product but I can picture what it's like to own it from this review. I foresee constant trips from the couch to the audio rack and back again.

ErikM's picture

These remind me of the Combak tuning strips and dots from years back, except those were much less expensive..

I wonder now much they actually cost to make.. little machined metal thingies I bet I could get them made for like $10.00 apiece from a decent machine shop..

audiom's picture

In addition to these "transducers" don't forget to plug in your old Tice clocks, paint the edges of your CDs green and re-rip them all, toss around a few Mpingo disks, elevate those speaker cables, and then listen carefully! You might just hear the distant laughter of someone heading to the bank with a load of cash.

Reed's picture

If you doubt something like this works, try this simple tweek. I know it sounds crazy, but this improved my system. This came ultimately from an audio engineer. Go to Walmart and buy the zinc plated BBs. They come in 6000 count plastic containers. This audio engineer tried several type of BBs. For instance, copper coated BBs do not have a positive effect. I also purchased small glass bowls that have a sealing lid to put them in. I filled these containers with the BBs and had a friend move them around while I kept my eyes closed. I also did the same with his eyes closed. What we found is that they have a tremendous positive effect when placed on the choke transformers of my Cronos Magnum integrated amp. I also found when the BBs were placed next to where a power cord connects to a component or plug, the sound is improved. I have my iPhono setting on top of one of these containers. The audio engineer thinks it scatters magnetic fields, leading to a sonic difference. You have to experiment, as he and we found sometimes placements have positive, some negative and sometimes no impact.

Give it a try. It will cost you next to nothing.

drlou77's picture

I'd like to try this out. Where did you get the small glass bowls with lids. How many BBs did you put in each bowl?


Reed's picture

I forgot to mention the depth of BBs. They need to be about an inch to inch and a half thick, but there isn't any benefit to going thicker. I bought small round glass bowls that are a little deeper than the plastic sealable containers for sandwiches and filled them to the top. However, if your unit doesn't get hot, or if you want to try it first, just place the container of BBs itself to test. They come in thick plastic containers that won't melt, but I was concerned about extended listening and what would happen over time. When we placed them on the top of a friends Sumo amp, there was no change. However, when we leaned the container against where the power cord attaches to the unit, the difference was very positive to both our ears. Give the different positions a try. I set them on top of my Richard Gray 400s where the cords plug into them with positive results. If you have a Rogue Audio Cronos Magnum, and place a container so it sits on the 2 transformers to the right, the effect will be immediately noticeable. It's not one of those back and forth small changes. You will notice it right off the bat.

Again, remember to get the zinc coated ones. Let me know what you find.

drlou77's picture

Thank you.


joelha's picture

When did our hobby become populated by so many people who already know something doesn't work without having heard it?
i admit, I'm skeptical about this item, but until i've tried, how could I possibly say it doesn't work, especially if I don't even know how it's supposed to operate?
Better that people laugh less and listen more.

Archimago's picture

Is it not good for the readership to act with some scepticism over logically improbable claims? Is it not good for the hobby to weed out BS from truth? Anyone still swear by the Tice clock, or maybe PWB Rainbow Foils?

Seriously, it's 2014. Technology is a part of our daily lives and obviously the readership knows a thing or two about how technology works without resorting to "magic". Furthermore, given the function and features of what abounds, it quite important to figure out the *value* of what we're supposedly paying for. Without some reasonable understanding and evidence, why should anyone even waste time pulling out the credit card, open up the gear to install this stuff, or go through the hassle of returning by post (and incurring postage costs) when we could be listening to music!?

Steven Plaskin's picture
I guess one has to have the desire to try. Your views are understandable, but the ECT does have merit. Obviously, the ECT will not appeal to everyone.
drblank's picture

to provide measurements of the equipment before and after the product is installed? There is enough test measurement equipment on the market that can be used and since AudioStream hires so-called professional reviewers that have technical background and measurement equipment, I would think ALL products should be measured and tested to validate they actually work. Same goes with the mfg. Do they measure their products during the development process? If so, why aren't measurements provided?

Also, what do the equipment mfg say about this product? If they are installed in a product that's under warranty, would installing these violate warranties? Are there mfg that would still cover their equipment even though an end user installed them on their own? I think users that want these tweaks, whether they work or not, should know this ahead of time. Are there any equipment mfg that offer these as a factory upgrade?

Would blue tacking a quarter, a rock or some inexpensive piece of metal/stone to the components do the same thing?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...have never been a part of AudioStream. The main reason is budgetary. That said, we will be publishing a set of DAC measurements performed by John Atkinson but this is a one-off deal as he does not have the time to devote to this as an ongoing feature for AS.
drblank's picture

for some of these magazines don't you?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
What is your point?
drblank's picture

you aren't part of AudioStream. Well, then how come I've seen articles in AudioStream where you are the person that wrote the article? That's being part of the magazine Michael.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
I thought you were aware of that. That's why I can say for a fact that advertisers do not get special treatment.
Ted Denney Lead Designer Synergistic Research Inc.'s picture

When did our hobby become populated by so many people who already know something doesn't work without having heard it?"

Exactly but this view from some does not surprise me. After all many people still believe power cords, interconnects, speaker cables and even amplifiers and D to A converters all sound alike simply because our limited measurements do not detect significant differences where sound quality is concerned.

What amazes me are the people who already know power cords, interconnects, and speaker cables sound very different from one another yet join in the same choir that denounces every new discovery, even when they have to defend themselves against these same people where cables and power cords are concerned. After all it was not that long ago when a power cord was just a power cord, or 16 gauge lamp cord was perfectly suitable for connecting our speakers and amplifiers.

The bottom line is simple. Audio is about the enjoyment of music and music is enjoyed subjectively. Certainly no sane person would ask another to defend their subjective enjoyment of music with measurements. The same should hold true for audio and I’m not talking to the if you can’t measure it it does not exist crowd. I’m talking to level headed audiophiles and music lovers who enjoy and appreciate what a good power cord or a pair of interconnects and speaker cables can do for the sound of their systems. This is why we go out of our way at SR to offer our new products based on concepts that are as new today as our original AC Master Coupler power cord was when we first introduced it over 20 years ago.

Reed's picture

It nice to see this type of product finally emeging. Presumably, the effect is similar to what I'm experiencing with the zinc BBs, as the sound improvements are very similar to the improvements described here. The effects I notice are NOT subtle. What I like about this product is that you can surgically place them for what I presume allows for a more profound effect.

One question I have is related to the choke power supply. This gets very hot during the operation of my amp. This is why I put the BBs in glass tubs. Would extreme heat damage them in any way? I'm not sure about using any adhesive or putty on them as, as I'm afraid the heat would cause a mess.

I'm definitely going to give them a try.

Ted Denney Lead Designer Synergistic Research Inc.'s picture

We used a Rouge Audio Cronus Magnum at RMAF two years ago. I was personally so impressed with its performance that I purchased the unit after the show and took it home where I use it in my media system (I LOVE Rouge Audio products). In fact this was the first tube amplifier I used to gauge the effectiveness of ECTs when used with tube electronics. On my Cronus Magnum I simply place 1 ECT each directly on top of each of its 4 transformers and let gravity do the work; no putty needed and no need to worry about heat becoming an issue. I also place one ECT adjacent to each of the Magnum’s 9 tubes also with nothing more than gravity to keep them in place.

Where I do use the ECTs included glue dots on my Cronus Magnum is when I place 2 ECTs between its 4 fuses. Since the fuses are closely lined up one next to the other it’s not really necessary to use one ECT for each of the 4 fuses. I simply place the included glue dot on each of 2 ECTs and then stagger 1 ECT between two fuses to good effect. Obviously if I were to simply allow gravity to do the work an ECT could conceivably get jostled or dislodged. Since I don’t want one rattling around inside of my amplifier, or any electronic component for that matter, it is necessary to secure ECTs when used internally inside your electronics. When in doubt discuss how to secure ECTs with your authorized SR dealer.

Ted Denney Lead Designer Synergistic Research Inc.'s picture

Correction: The Cronus Magnum has only 3 external transformers so I use 3 ECTs to treat its 3 transformers, not 4.

drblank's picture

has your company done to objectively see differences? Don't you think it's important to perform measurements first to validate through that methodology before marketing products? All of the engineers I know perform objective measurements first.

With cables, there are companies that have performed and shown measurements to validate the technology. I sure wish more of them showed measurements.

From my personal experience, I only buy cables from predominately one company and that company has various white papers that include measurements to prove their technology works when it comes to cables. Then I just decide which cables I can afford and i still might do some listening tests to decide if the improvement is worth the money. But cable technology has been proven because of test measurements.

Obvisously, the industry has a difficult time showing sound quality measurements because it's hard to prove how a product's soundstage/imaging or some sonic difference because of the lack of measurements in SOME areas of audio, but there are other tests that can be performed like signal to noise, damping, frequency response, THD, etc. etc. I would think that if a company is going to introduce a new product that's not been done before that there should be tests to validate the technology.

For instance, with the HFT/FEQ, they are being sold as "room treatment". In room acoustics, there are TONS of tests that are performed to determine how room treatment will change the room acoustics. I would like to see an actual certified acoustic engineer perform unbiased measurements with and without the HFT/FEQ before I would try them. But I would at least know what they actually change and how effective they are because there might be another product that does the same thing, only more effective. I know what different absorption products do and I can compare absorption curves, I also know what quadratic diffusors do, so it's just figuring out what products and then figuring out placement in a particular room to achieve optimal performance within a certain budget, but placing little aluminum dots and box into the wall doesn't seem like room treatment from the purist sense. I have not talked to any acoustic engineer that has test data to validate whether the HFT/FEQ actually works or better than traditional types of room treatment that's a lot more predictable in their effectiveness.

For a company that sells a lot of products and makes a lot of profit from these products, providing test measurement data shouldn't be a problem. So, for me, please provide test measurements to validate the technology first and then maybe I'lll try the products.

Only sane people ask for measurements to validate a product. Serious car enthusiasts look at measurements of cars before they buy a car, and car magazines test cars on test tracks with sophisticated measurement equipment to validate the car's performance and compare to the mfg.'s claims all of the time.

Certainly no sane person would ask another to defend their subjective enjoyment of music with measurements" That sounds like a cop out to tell people that you just don't have any or know how to perform test measurements to validate your products. Engineers usually look at objective test measurements FIRST and subjective second. try peddling your BS elsewhere Ted. I grew up around lots of different types of engineers and they would be simply offended by your statement.

Ted Denney Lead Designer Synergistic Research Inc.'s picture

The cable measurements you refer to are irrelevant to the reason people buy cables- to make their systems sound better. To this end we offer all SR cables as well as all other SR products with a no risk in home audition policy through authorized SR dealers. As for measurements proving that one cable sounds better than another again I've got to call you out. Your claim that one brands measurements proves they are superior to all others just ain't so unless you don't actually listen and instead make ‘deaf' purchases based on spread sheet data as opposed to actually hooking up a set of cables and listening to them in your system. At SR we are more than confident in the subjective and objective performance of our products compared to our competition. Given our success and continued growth, I'd say our customers agree.

drblank's picture

People buy cables for many reasons. I just look at the testing methodology to see if what they are doing actually makes a difference. The problem is that MIT has some specialized testing software that is proprietary to them and it was co-developed by them and HP (now Agilent). HP/Agilent doesn't put out BS test equipment or software, do they? NOPE.

How do you test your cables to determine the final design? You just listen to them?

MIT was the cable mfg that pioneered the use of articulation measurements. That alone is probably the single best test to figure out how the cable is going to sound.

I see more top end recording and mastering studios using their cables than yours. They've been around a lot longer than SR, so in terms of successfulness, I think they've done quite well.

I don't see any problem in what they are doing and their testing methodology. They have several engineers that are going through every possible way one can test a cable and they compare it to other cables on the market. They are also looking at other newer ways to measure how they can make cables even better by looking at the harmonic structure of musical notes being played. To me, that might be amongst the best tests. If the harmonic structure of the musical note doesn't change as it passes through the cable, then it's not destroying the signal, which is basically what a cable is supposed to do.

They don't JUST look at spreadsheet data. They look at both various frequency response curves, phase, etc. AND they have a variety of people they give prototypes to LISTEN to the finished product. Amongst them are people that make high end audio equipment and recording/mastering engineers that deal with first and second generation recordings, so they do both objective and subjective measurements. If your products aren't done with any objective test measurements, then your company is BS. You HAVE to do objective measurements if you are going to design audio equipment so you can see OBJECTIVELY what differences there are with different product designs.

What OBJECTIVE performance measurements do you have that will compare YOUR cables to other brands. Let's see them?

Given MIT's success and continued growth, THEIR customers agree.

Steven Plaskin's picture

I'm sorry to say that you obviously have an axe to grind with Ted Denney. What MIT does has absolutely nothing to do with my review of the ECT. You have tossed around unjustified insults in this forum. And you don't have a clue in hell how an ECT effects the sound of a tube with proximity placement.

drblank's picture

any test measurements to prove that an ECT effects the sound of a tube with proximity placement. So where are your measurements? If you can prove your THEORY with measurements, then let's see them. Otherwise, I think you are just another person that's more influenced by the mfg than the consumer. i'm a consumer, not another mfg or some reviewer trying to get free loaner equipment and to try to act like an expert.

here's my beef with Ted Denney. I have various people that ARE acoustic engineers and some of them have patents and have designed room treatment products that have been PROVEN to work more effectively than another well respected product. I told them about the HFT/FEQs and asked what their opinion was. The answer I got back was just a bunch of laughter. In the world of room treatment, there is a battery of room measurements that are done by acoustic engineers to prove whether or not something is going to change the room acoustics. Since Denney hasn't proved ANY test measurements, then how can he say it's even a room treatment product? Without any objective measurements, how is the consumer supposed to know what is going to fix a known issue with room acoustics?

It's UNPROVEN technology. Now, sticking some pieces of aluminum might do something since it will probably have some heat absorption since aluminum is widely used for electronic equipment for absorbing heat, and placing something on top of a component might reduce resonances, but I'm sure that just buying the same diameter aluminum stock and cutting into similar sized pieces will probably cost pennies on the dollar compared to the SR ECT's and do basically the same thing. The problem is that in order to test a product, there SHOULD BE objective measurements to at least prove SOMETHING is changing BEFORE you start to perform subjective measurements. And to discard objective measurements completely is just dumb and fuels the Snake Oil meter.
What's WRONG with asking for objective measurements to prove a company's technology? I see NOTHING wrong with that. What I see wrong is when someone asks and the person gets defensive about it and tries to act like it's not needed. That's when the BS meter moves. Do you understand? Some of us have been around for many years and are kind of tired of the constant lack of objective measurements, which I've seen NOTHING from SR on any of their products.

I don't use tube electronics because of the inherent flaws in tube technology. I've owned high end tube equipment before, but i don't like having to replace tubes every so often and the time it takes for the product to get to optimal level due to the product has to have a warm up period. So for me, I could give a rip on how it effects a tube with placing it right next to it. I just don't see any logic to that. You just simply say you hear a difference. I'm asking for test measurements to PROVE their is a difference which you have provided NONE. Go back and get some test equipment to prove that there is a difference and then maybe I'll start believing half of what you are saying.

Steven Plaskin's picture
You obviously don't get it. I don't owe you a test. You're at the wrong place.
drblank's picture

from a PHYSICS perspective on what these devices actually do in the various placement of the devices in various equipment you are using. I would think that placing them on top of a electronic component is going to be a little different than placing at the base of a tube since the technologies of the component are different. How about comparing these devices to those tube "socks" or whatever they call them. At least I know what those do, they damp the vibration of the glass, which makes some sense. Nor have you compared them to just a piece of solid aluminum rod stock with the same diameter and length, which i would compare if I was going to do a professional review.

I guess I'm asking for too much. Yeah, asking a professional audio reviewer of some tweak product to show test measurements. And what would John Atkinson say if I asked him for test measurements if he was going to review these things? He usually does a variety of tests measurements on other products he reviews, which help the consumer understand the product better.

I get it perfectly. You don't have test equipment, or you don't know how to measure these things, you can't explain them other than what you THINK you hear and then when someone asks for a more detailed explanation or test measurements, you get your panties in a bunch because the bottom line is that the more you talk the more I feel you are unqualified to review these products and if I want a more comprehensive review that you aren't capable of doing that. I guess I'm in the wrong place. Shame on me for asking for something that is within my right to ask and within my right to expect from someone that's SUPPOSED to be a reviewer of very expensive audio equipment. I guess the laws of physics, looking at technology from an objective perspective ceases to exist in your world. Well, these things exist and either you break out proper test equipment or step aside and allow someone more qualified to review products.

CG's picture

What's changed your mind?

Aren't you the same commenter who waxed passionately about how simple tests and analysis couldn't begin to describe the effects of USB cables on how a system sounds? (Audioquest Diamond USB cable back in December on the Stereophile web site)

Personally, I have no clue about these gadgets. For all I know, they cast a magical spell on everybody in the listening room. But, from what I can tell, quite a few people have fallen under the spell. At least they've offered the same observations as described above. Are all these people delusional? Even the ones who heard the effect but decided that the price was too high for their budget? What part do they play in this conspiracy?

Measuring system performance is a huge challenge, and not just in audio. Even if the instrumentation was in place, I'm not sure that there's anybody around who could interpret the results in a way that applies to everybody.

Since I do this as part of my day job (not for audio, I confess), I'd be most interested in what you'd measure, how you'd measure that, and how the measurements can be mapped to listener's aural processes.

Help us out here, please.

drblank's picture

have both power and data running side by side, some are better at reducing the amount of noise from the power side leaking into the data side. Data HATES noise. There are other things with USB cables that they worry about. AND? I am all for ALL cable mfg to publish tests to prove their respective technology. I think it's important and the more they do this, the more credibility they will have.

Yeah, I took two USB cables (one from a high end audio mfg and then a stock USB cable from Best Buy) and ran disk speed tests on an external hard drive just to see if one would perform better than the other. Guess what? The $100 USB cable performed about 40% better in terms of both read/write tests on an external HDD, so that was a PROVABLE test even though it might not have anything to do with audio per se since audio streaming is not exactly the same thing as file transfers since timing is far more important with audio streaming, but it at least shows one repeatable test between a cheap cable and a more expensive cable.

I have no problem with people doing listening tests. But if there is some technology or tweak to an existing product, it would be nice to see some measurements and some explanation as to what the heck is going on that's not some fluff nonsense. I expected a much better review in terms of proving what the product does and it would be nice to compare to a similar size solid aluminum rod stock. Just to let you know, one can buy a 4 foot length of 1/2 inch diameter aluminum 6061 rod stock for $5.50 and then buy a saw to cut it to length and try that. It'll cost a LOT less money. One could spend probably less than $20 for the tools, rod stock and blue tack to do these things on their entire system.

There are tests that can be done to see if something works or not. Obviously everyone's equipment is different, etc., but at least it PROVES the technology.

Steven Plaskin's picture
What is the proper test equipment that would correlate with what I am hearing?
drblank's picture

you should already know if you are supposed to be a professional reviewer. Maybe talk to an audio engineer that tests audio equipment that has high end precise equipment. Maybe John Atkinson knows, he has a bunch of test equipment and knows a lot of tests to perform.

Steven Plaskin's picture

This is the rub. You have been arrogant, insulting, and obnoxious demanding something that you feel entitled to but can't articulate.

CG just pointed out that measurements mean nothing if they can't explain what we are hearing. This is not a simple measure of frequency response or harmonic distortion.

I speak to a number of engineers, some involved in audio design. They will have a very difficult time fulfilling your request.; this I do know.

Of course, you could simply listen to the ECT, but that isn't what all of this is about... Is it?

CG's picture

Gotcha on the USB cable test. Clever approach...

I confess I'm at a loss to what you want here in this case. You've already stated that you don't know what the right test methodology might be, so conceivably anybody could publish any test measurements and they would be outside your current knowledge level. Since not everybody is an expert on everything, that's entirely understandable.

I'm not sure that what you're demanding here actually exists. Certainly, if it does, there hasn't been much published about the test or the equipment. (If you have any links to them, I'd very much appreciate you sharing them.)

Anyway, these reviews are just one person's description of what he or she observed. An opinion, if you like. A lot like a restaurant review. I haven't read too many restaurant reviews that provides a chemical analysis of the food, and I don't think I could interpret a word of it if they did. I'm not sure why this kind of audio review would be any different, but that's just me.

Good luck on your quest.

drblank's picture

I would sit down with whom I respect as being "experts" on cable technology. I've read countless reviews, interviews with cable designers, read countless articles posted on various mfg web sites, and have sat down and talked to a few. I've asked a couple of cable mfg some questions.

Heres's MY perspective. I'm not saying this for any other reason than what I have concluded. In my opinion, Bruce Brisson is probably the most qualified to discuss how to measure cables. Not only was he the first person to conduct research and testing of audio cables back before high end cables emerged, but he actually went to HP to find out if they had any sort of test equipment to perform tests he wanted to do and there wasn't anything on the market to do these types of tests, He then worked with HP to make these high res impedance test equipment back in the early days and then he went into articulation measurements, also went to HP to co-develop software, and has probably done more research in the area of testing cables than probably anyone. I've talked to him a long time ago and the guy is about as anal as you can get when it comes to testing cables. He also is constantly finding new tests to perform because his goal is to make the most neutral cable. I think his high end stuff is linear down to something like 10Hz, or somewhere in that region. Yeah, most systems don't go down that low, but some systems do. Obviously, his cables may be out of reach for most people, but if you want to know about how to test cables, he is probably the most knowledgeable. Unfortunately, some of testing he can do and the software is proprietary so it's not something anyone can get their hands on and unfortunately, he's not in business to tell others how to make or test cables. But if you had questions, he's probably the best person to ask. At least, that's my conclusion. I've seen interviews with others that also make high end cables and everyone is trying to do their own method of making a cable and it also boils down to personal preference and how it integrates with your equipment. From a purist standpoint, we want to not have the equipment effect the signal coming from the source to what we hear. But unfortunately, we may not have enough money to get the equipment that is in fact, neutral. But their approach is to have the most neutral cable and to do the least amount of damage to the signal from one end to the other. At least in principal that's what a "perfect" cable is SUPPOSED to do. But from a practical standpoint, it's very difficult to achieve.

Personally, I think articulation measurements might be one of the best tests to perform. I've never done them, but I know guys like MIT Cables have been looking at articulation. Articulation was first researched by Bell Labs with regards to speech with phone systems. If everything is articulating properly, we can hear what the other person is saying, but we can better determine whether it's a male or female voice or even WHO the voice belongs to. Take this a step further and apply it to music. If the system articulates properly through the chain, then we are hearing closer to the actual source. At least in principal I think it would be interesting if SOMEONE applied articulation measurements to ALL components and the entire system rather than just cables that MIT is doing. Some acoustic engineers perform articulation measurements when designing/treating rooms so that the listener in the audience can better hear the voices/instruments properly. So, I think there should be a lot more research in applying articulation measurements to audio gear/systems. But that's just a personal observation.

Also, let's say we had notes played on a variety of instruments through their range and we could look at the harmonic structure. Look at the same harmonic structure before it enters a piece of gear (whatever it is) and then measure the harmonic structure AFTER it exits the piece of gear and compare, if there is no difference then that piece of gear isn't altering the harmonic structure. This is time consuming and I don't know how practical it is and if reviewers are going to do this, but this is another test that could be done.

With digital cables, I think Wireworld posted a data file that was transferred through different USB cables and they did a comparative difference between the same file and showed how much less difference there was to the original file from those that went through different USB cables. That's another potential test to PROVE that the data is not being altered.

CG's picture

From what I've read in the literature and from one of the guys who used to do this at Bell Labs, much of that work was based on listening tests. Take that for what it's worth.

The problem I see with your plan is that it's for testing individual components.

Not good enough.

All these individual components interact electrically with the others, and that distorts everything. The acoustic parts interact with the environment and that distorts everything (as you noted). On top of that, there's acoustic interaction with the electronics that causes microphonic distortion. Just to name a few...

Expecting every manufacturer to make all their gear totally immune from all these conditions may be impractical. It almost certainly is impractical at the prices most people are willing to pay.

Expecting every reviewer to perform detailed tests like MIT has accumulated over a couple decades - just on their cable designs - is unreasonable. Think of the time required. Think of the cost. Come on!

Why not just think of audio reviews like movie reviews? They're there to pique your interest and entertain. Any purchase decision should be based on your own test drive. Even if some car had magnificent specs, I'd never buy it if the driver's seat didn't fit me and I couldn't see out properly. That circles back around to the listening tests performed at Bell Labs, doesn't it?

Some researchers are using modern brain scan techniques to examine how people react to sound and music. At some point, it'll be possible to measure sound systems. Not yet, I don't think.

drblank's picture

Look at microphones to measure room acoustics and systems. Earthworks has microphones that are linear from 3Hz to 50kHz, and microphone pre amps that are linear from 1Hz to 200kHz, so microphones/pre amps to test equipment certainly has vastly improved in terms of capturing what is coming out of a system. AD converters to feed the microphone input to a computer to process the data are also getting better.

It's all about making incremental improvements. EVERYONE is constantly looking at ways to improve the QoS anyway they can and unfortunately some of it is so ridiculously expensive that it's impossible for the average audio geek to afford it. This is precisely why a lot of these so-called tweaks are kind of worthless. $.50 worth of aluminum for $300? Seriously. WHY? Because someone says it sounds better but has no test measurements to prove it? Any difference is probably so negligible I would rather spend that kind of money on better room acoustics by getting low frequency absorption systems, quadratic diffusors, and midrange/high frequency absorption and getting the room to sound right. You wouldn't believe how less you have to turn up your system with good low frequency absorption in your listening room because of low frequency issues that practically all small rooms possess. What does the average person do to hear low frequencies? Get bigger speaker systems, sub woofer, turn up the system louder when all that was needed was some really efficient low frequency absorption so that the low end wasn't bouncing around within the room and room modes building up. A great sounding room makes your equipment sound better without having to turn it up. That's what I've seen as the biggest issue MOST people have.

CG's picture

One more thing that I meant to address previously...

Whether a product works is a different question from whether you find it overpriced or worth the money. One is a technical question determined through testing and/or observation, the other a personal economics judgement.

It's too easy to conflate the two.

drblank's picture

a $300 for 5 pieces of aluminum that costs about $.50 where the mfg can't explain what it does from a physics standpoint and has no measurement tests to let the consumer know how effective they are in fixing whatever problem they think you might have. Oh, and for your entire system, you'll probably need at least 4, 5, or maybe even 6 or 7 or more sets of these things to stick on every component, circuit board, etc. on every piece of electronic equipment you have. I understand quite perfectly.

It's an economics judgement as well as no test measurements to prove their effectiveness. That's what I'm looking at. I will still argue that there probably isn't going to be that much difference, if at all, from hacking up some solid aluminum rod stock to the same dimensions and applying them in the same manner and for pennies on the dollar. What would you say if there was no difference in perceived sound from the DIY method that probably costs about $20 to $2,000 worth of ECTs?

Sorry, but I'm just not going to bite on that proverbial hook. But if you want to, that's your decision.

drblank's picture

get three identical units of some piece of electronic gear. A DAC, pre amp, power amp, etc. and put the ECTs in one unit, the hacked up DIY versions in another, and then nothing in the third. Button up the unit so the listeners can't tell which one is which and then let a group of people spend as much time as they can listening to various music over the course of a month and see which one they pick as the best version and keep everyone away from seeing other people's results and the actual units. Then at the end of a month, look at who thinks which one has what inside and see if you can get a large sample of so-called "expert" listeners figure out which one is which. That would be an interesting study.

drblank's picture
[Consider yourself warned. One more offensive remark and your account will be blocked. ML, Editor]
fmak's picture

What a mess! If the 'transducers' do what you say, then cleaning up the cables first will probably help as a first step.

CG's picture

What does that mean?

Move cables further apart at optimal angles to minimize capacitive coupling?

Tightly wind all the wires together to minimize the area of the current loops? (Ampere's circuital law)

Use a feather duster and/or a damp rag?

A simple universal guideline would be appreciated.

Steven Plaskin's picture
Most of what you are seeing are disconnected USB cables. Also, there are the active shield power cables. The fat cable is a Shunyata AC cable to my preamp. I need to replace this with a Synergistic :)
bobflood's picture

may indeed work but in a way it is depressing to think that after spending $10,000 on a DAC that these would make a noticeable improvement. It is just another reminder to me why our hobby remains small and frequently ridiculed. I have been at this for 50 years (Dynaco, AR3, and so on) and have seen so many of these types of products come and go. Many have had merit, many not, but at the prices of today they should be engineered into the product by the manufacturer.

drblank's picture

I think any improvement would be minimal at best. I wonder how much different blue tacking a stack of quarters, a little rock, or something similar in size/weight would do? It would certainly be a LOT cheaper. Damping an electronic component doesn't seem to be that difficult to do.

I think mfg should provide some test data to validate their products then we could then determine if we need it or want to spend the money on it.

I just don't like buying audio equipment without seeing some valid test data first.

bobflood's picture

should not be very difficult to do and if we were talking about inexpensive, mass-produced gear and these dampers were priced reasonably we would not have much controversy. But, the gear Dr. Plaskin used is very high priced custom gear so if damping would make an improvement of the magnitude that he hears then at these prices, the manufacturer should either engineer out the reason it does or incorporate the damper into the design. What you are seeing in some of the responses here is actually anger that after spending over 10,000 on one piece of equipment that a simple damper can make such a difference. At these prices, that just should not be the case. By the way, 10,000 is conservative on the pieces used in the review, they can be more with options.

Steven Plaskin's picture

A good point Bob.

If you notice, I elevate The Analog DAC from the Power Base. The bass sounds better defined this way with less added warmth in the midrange.

WarrenM's picture

Not so depressing! I thought it worth a trial to add a "Magic Dot" - in this case a PHT - to my Lyra Kleos cartridge. Once I played around with it for a while, using and removing the two alternative PHT dots, I found myself preferring the Kleos with the "Black Widow" PHT, with more precise positioning of singers and instruments in the sound stage. I don't know how it does what it does, and, frankly, I don't care. The "Black Widow" PHT is now a permanent addition to my $20,000 turntable system. If I need to remind myself why, I simply remove it and listen to the same record.

fmak's picture

No, it is the picture of the inside of the Analog DAC that I am talking about

CG's picture

There is no picture of the Analog DAC interior.

Michael Lavorgna's picture of the Wavelength Crimson DAC.
Steven Plaskin's picture
That's because The Analog DAC components are potted. I had to use the external placement of the ECTs due to this design.
Steven Plaskin's picture
fmak, 2 of the cables you are seeing in the Crimson are hanging in the air since I had to disconnect them from the battery for the ESS Sabre.
derneck's picture

I can testify the improvement isn't (that)subtle. However... tweaking has to stop at some point. Do yourself a favor, figure out just how good you want your system to sound, achieve that and then start enjoying music. Forget about the endless stream of *expensive* tweaks such as these, music is cheaper and far better for your soul.

fmak's picture

What's the pic immediately below? This is what I am on about.

Steven Plaskin's picture
Wavelength Crimson
drblank's picture

Placing the ECT's next to the tube? Come on, this insults my intelligence. i can see putting a sleeve around the tube might do something, but next to the tube?

Without test measurements, I simply won't buy into your findings. Thank God I don't use Tube based equipment. :-)

CG's picture

My question still stands...

The damp rag part may not be appropriate inside a piece of electronic equipment, though.

Steven Plaskin's picture
The 4 equipment pictures; 1. The bottom of the Analog Power Base-The Analog DAC power supply 2. The inside of the Wavelength Crimson 3. The exterior of the Wavelength Crimson 4. The Analog DAC sitting on top of the Analog Power Base
The Doc's picture

If you've ever wondered why the rest of the population think audiophiles are deluded bullshitters, here's your answer!

Anyone who buys this snake oil should be placed in a stockade with a "Deluded Bullshitter" sign over their head.

Unbelievable... just unbelievable!

thoughtful's picture

Congratulations. You have just made a laughingstock of yourself.

Archimago's picture

Sorry to bring this up but it appeared quite obvious...

ECT = 'ElectroConvulsive Therapy"

Sadly, some people seem to *need* this.

A most unfortunate acronym.

Perhaps it's some kind of inside joke between Denny & the "Asylum" members.

Steven Plaskin's picture
I am hardly surprised at your reaction to this review. Given your well documented inability to hear differences in components, coupled to your flawed pseudo-scientific approach to analysis, these comments are understandable.
drblank's picture

I can hear differences using some products. I have heard differences in SOME cables, but I at least read up on cable technology to actually see some test measurements that actually prove that there is going to be some sonic differences in cables. But, I only use cables from mfg that have PROVEN some how that there technology actually does work first. My first interaction with cable mfg was with MIT Cables, they have white papers discussing how they OBJECTIVELY test cables to see if there is a difference and they show actual test data to prove there is a difference. I tried the cables to see if I could sonically hear a difference and I could. That's why I buy MIT Cables and just buy the products I can afford and justify for my particular system, but at least they discuss from an objective standpoint their technology and compare against other products to prove their effectiveness. I wish more cable mfg would do this, which is why I stick with MIT Cables.

I think the audio magazines should apply more pressure on the equipment mfg to provide test measurements that can and are validated by the magazine reviewers. It would certainly cut down on the snake oil BS in the industry and it would certainly give more credibility.

By not doing this, all this article does is give readers the sense that all the reviewer is doing it regurgitating some marketing BS because companies like SR are paying money to the magazine for advertisements. If SR didn't spend a dime with AudioStream, would you even review their products in the first place? Would you give favorable reviews if they didn't spend any money on advertisements, give away free product or give industry discounts to reviewers?

I think some reviewers actually know what they are doing and some don't.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...has absolutely no bearing on whether or not their product gets reviewed.
Steven Plaskin's picture

Synergistic Research has never advertised here. As for free product and discounts, most manufacturers offer discounts. Most of these discounts are just a little better than what I got from my local dealers before writing here. I wish there were gobs of free products:)

As for not knowing what I'm doing, I won't try to change your mind. After all, you know what's best for all of us.

drblank's picture

owned by Sterephile? I've seen LOTs of ads by SR with Stereophile mag. I have the last two issues and there are plenty of ads by SR in Stereophile magazine.

The journalist that reviews products job is to validate or invalidate the product. The first and ONLY REAL method is by objective measurements. PERIOD.

Go buy a car without driving it or looking at any performance tests. Do you buy cars simply by someone's subjective reviews without looking at any performance tests like acceleration, braking, mpg, lateral acceleration, etc.? Seriously, audio mfg buy test equipment and they perform a battery of tests and many of them post their test data on their site. Some do a better job than others, but they typically post some test data. I will agree that just looking at test data doesn't necessarily mean you will like a product better or worse than another, but there are tests to validate the product.

With these devices, it wouldn't surprise me that blue tacking a stack of nickels, quarters or a little rocks to the same components might sound very close to these devices since they just seem like they are just eliminating resonances with certain components. it would certainly be a LOT cheaper to blue tack a small stack of coins or a small stone to the components vs buying $300 sets of these things.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
But I'll clear up your point - whether or not someone advertises with any of the T.E.N. publications has no bearing on whether or not we review their products.
drblank's picture

and when I read Stereophile magazine and other audio publications owned by the same group, some of these other reviewers actually perform measurement tests which helps the consumer figure out if they want to investigate the product further. Without that, the consumer can be easily mislead, especially when the mfg and the reviewer gang up on consumers that are simply trying to figure out if we are going to spend our hard earned money on something.

I still don't know why YOU and the reviewer are getting bent out of shape over a consumer trying to get some sort of validation that's objective and measurable on whether a product works or not. Is that too much to ask for? If it is, then I will simply disregard anything you guys say and choose to only read and consider reviewers that actually perform test measurements and disregard others that don't. is that what you want? You'll get more credibility and get more readership if you do more when reviewing a product and not try to gang up on a consumer that's simply asking for measurements and validation on a product that's objective rather than just relying on subjectivity.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
The main reason being budgetary. That said, it is my belief that the best way to determine whether or not we prefer listening to something is to listen to it.
drblank's picture

That's too bad.

CG's picture

This seems like a golden opportunity to start your own web site.

drblank's picture

But, i don't think i can devote that much time to it. hey, maybe I could get some free loaner HCTs and HFTs. Just joking. :-)

CG's picture

But... You've just written hundreds of words espousing how important it is and implying that it should be easy.

drblank's picture

What are you referring to as far as being easy?

CG's picture

Well, if part time reviewers at a hobby magazine can or should perform these tests, then it must be relatively easy.

Unless there is something going on that I don't know about, neither Stereophile, The Absolute Sound, Enjoy The Music, Soundstage, The Audio Beat, Positive Feedback Online, nor the rest are either research institutions or well staffed and funded engineering labs.

If they are and they are withholding detailed and instructive measurements, shame on them!

drblank's picture

Let's first look at a transformer. Some companies put their transformers in an aluminum case to completely shield the transformer. Obviously, not all companies do this. But I would contend that this type of practice is going to yield a far better performance than sticking little pieces of aluminum on top of a transformer.

Now, let's look at tubes. There are aluminum shields that one can buy for about $15 or so that are widely used in military applications or other applications like guitar/bass amplifiers where they travel a lot and they not only clamp the tube to the socket so they won't move around, but they provide a metal (aluminum) which also protects the tube from getting hit and breaking. I'm sure since the tube is encased with aluminum to shield the tube completely, that there is probably going to be some small amount of sonic improvement. How much? I have no idea since I've seen no testing on this type of product to validate that it's for better sound quality. If EMI is a problem with tubes, them maybe there would be a sonic improvement.

ICs and circuit boards. For certain applications where aluminum shielding is critical, companies will get an aluminum shied to encase the section of electronics that needs to be shielded. This is done in TVs, computers and other devices because shielding is need. I'm sure their might be some sonic benefits from this, but again, the component(s) would have to be completely shielded.

I honestly don't see how a small piece of aluminum is going to properly shield an entire component like a tube, transformer or IC since it's just a small piece of aluminum.

To completely shield a tube only costs about $15, not $60 or $75 which is the cost of these ECTs. So, if there is any validity to sonic improvement, my guess would be to buy a $15 tube shield and completely shield each tube and end up actually shielding and protecting the tube with something that's commonly available rather than spending 4x to 5x that doesn't completely shield the product and doesn't provide any protection.

Transformers is another ball of trouble in finding a good shield to encase the transformer. One might have to either fabricate them, or see if there is anything on the market that will completely shield the transformer.

For ICs, same thing, if you need to encase the IC with an aluminum shield, then you might have to buy some thin aluminum sheet metal and cut and bend it to fit the desired area. There are plenty of DIY sites out there to find out how to do this.

If you want an aluminum heat sink to attach to the top of an iC, you can buy actual aluminum heat sinks for a couple of dollars and then the thermal glue to permanently affix them to the IC to provide heat dissipation and since they are made of aluminum, it's providing just as much, if not more shielding than sticking an ECT on top and it's certainly a LOT cheaper than the ECT.

This is my quick assessment of these things and how there are other alternatives that are far cheaper and actually will provide a LOT more shielding from EMI than these little tiny pieces of aluminum.

The other method is just buying solid rod stock of the same diameter and hacksawing your own, I don't think there is anything about these devices that would be any different other than it won't look the same and it won't be the same price.

CG's picture

With all due respect, I think your shielding comments are venturing outside the realm of your areas of expertise.

But, forget that... Just what makes you think that

A). These products are designed to shield?

B). These products are just cut off pieces of aluminum? (There's close up pictures available on this very Internet that shows that they are more than that.)

Note again: I have no opinion on whether these parts work or how they might.

And, know what? I *could* buy a set and test them way beyond the capabilities of anything that MIT (the cable folks, not the school) or the rest could. Right in a calibrated RF anechoic chamber - just down the hall, in fact.

I have no interest in that.


This is a hobby, largely based around individuals' own aural perceptions. That's it. What might work for one person may be awful for another, just as few people's tastes in music align. That's life as a human. Personally, I'm not interested in arbitrating people's desire and tastes. I don't go around telling people that their boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband/son/daughter is ugly, either. To them, my opinion does not matter, nor should it.

Besides, I'd be willing to wager that no amount of testing would sway the majority of people's opinion on this sort of product. If I showed that these gadgets reduced EMI in the 9.2 MHz band by 7 dB (or, pick a number at some frequency) people would argue over the validity of that. Not only the test itself, but the effect.

People should try these and other audio products for themselves. If they like the product and they fit within their own personal constraints, I say go for it! If not, then don't! Pretty simple.

drblank's picture

it discusses briefly the devices are for "Synergistic Research’s latest implementation of their Uniform Energy Field Technology, better known as UEF, has resulted in a new product designed to balance close proximity electromagnetic fields in electronic circuits." What the F does this actually mean? I've never heard of someone BALANCING close probity electromagnetic fields in electronic circuits. But I have heard of EMI shielding. Who the F balances EMI fields? seriously. Get your THINKINIG cap readjusted.

So go ahead and waste your money and test them in an anechoic chamber, which by the way is only used for certain types of tests and there are a vast amount of test equipment that can be used to do other tests that don't require an anechoic chamber. Anechoic chambers aren't usually required to test a EMI device. But go ahead, waste your time and see if you can conjure up a test that will actually prove that these devices do actually work. I'm all ears.

drblank's picture

does NOT require an anechoic chamber. Speakers, microphones, sure, absolutely should be done in an anechoic chamber, but some tests don't require it. I've seen some tests being done either outside in a rural area with no wind (I wasn't excited that they did that, but the mfg of the measurement equipment used didn't have a problem with that environment), but to test cables, power amps, pre amps, DACs, NOPE. You don't need an anechoic chamber. At least I've never heard ANYONE using an anechoic chamber to test electronic equipment in one, so that would be first. They typically just throw these things on a test bench with a variety of test equipment, signal generators, scopes, etc. etc. and do a bunch of different types of tests, but no anechoic chambers. Where did you think that you need one? What's your background in this? Are you a college student that attends a school with an anechoic chamber or are you an EE that works for a company that has one? Aluminum is probably the most widely used material for shielding purposes. They use it extensively in cable where shielding is required, they use it in all kinds of electronic equipment for shielding purposes, so where do you get off thinking I don't know anything about EMI shielding? I'm not an expert that knows everything, but there is a lot of common knowledge information and that's what this falls into. COMMON knowledge. Countless articles on how aluminum shielding is used in various types of equipment. What specific frequencies they are trying to shield against is another discussion.

We're just talking about EMI in general as that's what these devices are touted in "balancing", which I still have a tough time swallowing.

Who is talking about what is ugly or not? In the audio equipment industry, some companies (the higher priced stuff mostly) is greatly interested in sound quality, build quality but also esthetics. So, for people that buy the super expensive stuff, they want their equipment to LOOK nice and they might find aluminum tube shields affecting the esthetics of the equipment, but they are widely used in some equipment, especially pre amp tubes for guitar amps. Plenty of companies have been using these aluminum shields in guitar and bass amps (pre amp mostly) for many, many years. Some audio equipment mfg have used them, but I don't see them used as much any more and I don't know why other than they THINK they maybe they don't need them or maybe it's for esthetic purposes since they aren't typically the most attractive looking things in the world and most "audiophiles" that buy tube gear like to look at their tubes glowing. It's part of the mystic of having tube equipment.

CG's picture

This is my last reply, because I'm beginning to feel embarrassed for you.

I really don't want to go into details about my background, but I'll give you a quick summary since you're interested and were rude about it:

Physics degree from a snotty school in the East

A couple decades conceiving, designing, and testing equipment for the telecommunications industry, primarily RF and optics. (Over a billion in revenues where I was the main architect and designer)

One of those exalted fancy technical titles at a large telecommunications product company.

Patents, etc.

Enough of that. Happy, now? (To everybody else, I really apologize. People's thoughts should be examined on the basis of their merits, not based on some pedigree.)

If you want to actually measure rf shielding and emissions performance - especially for compliance testing - you need to use an RF anechoic chamber. That's the standard and them's the rules. Otherwise, you have no way to know for certain just what emission is coming from where. You need to use antennas with a calibrated pattern and calibrated gain. You need to use feedlines with calibrated and measured loss. Obviously, you need to use test equipment of a certain performance level as well.

I am sorry to say that most audio reviewers don't live in this environment. They also don't live in a perfect acoustic environment.

Instead, they offer their listening observations. Personally, I am thankful for that.

drblank's picture

of your rudeness to me first.

OK, so your background has no audio equipment background. OK. Well, I've never heard of audio gear like this to have to go through RF compliance testing since they aren't devices to do anything with telecommunications, so these types of products that the ECT's are meant for are audio equipment, not cell phones or some type of telecommunications equipment. They use traditional anechoic chambers to perform tests on speakers and microphones typically. But generally speaking, audio gear like a power amp, pre amp, DAC doesn't require RF tests. All they are really trying to do is minimize their products picking up EMI from other devices getting into the audio signal and things like that. But I have no idea how these little pieces of aluminum are going to do anything to shield against EMI noise in audio equipment.

But if you want to drag in audio equipment into a RF anechoic chamber, go right ahead.. I don't think you are going to find too many audio equipment mfg doing this. But be my guest.

I do know that aluminum is widely used for shielding and that most companies in the audio industry don't have to have their products dragged into a RF anechoic chamber since they aren't telecommunications based equipment.

I personally think you are out of your element in terms of audio gear. You have a telecommunications background and you are trying to act like you know how to test audio gear. I'm feeling sorry for you now.

I wouldn't say that an anechoic chamber is a PERFECT LISTENING ENVIRONMENT. It's a totally dead room for measurement tests and that's what anechoic chambers are used for. You definitely don't want an anechoic chamber to listen to music for pleasure or even for a recording studio control room. To think that an anechoic chamber is a PERFECT ENVIRONMENT is completely ignorant and now I'm feeling sorry for you as you are exposing an enormous amount of ignorance.

CG's picture

You asked about the RF part. I answered.

I left out the time spent designing audio and video gear for broadcast. And the stuff that was used for concert feeds. And the hundreds of hours in front of the Audio Precision test gear. And, well, never mind.

You were the one that said that these products were used for shielding - not me.

Please do feel sorry for me. Leave me alone.