Balderdash of the day

I've just had digestion of my Christmas lunch interrupted by discovery of the Nordost VIDAR, a "cable conditioning" device.

You plug audio cables into it and it, um, conditions them.

Apparently it's been around for a few years now.

According to the ad in the newspaper gadget supplement in which I found it, "both new and used cables often have very high levels of electrical charge which must be neutralised if they are ever to achieve their maximum performance".

(Apparently this very high charge level, which comes from nowhere, has not yet been tapped as a source of environmentally friendly power.)

You can read more about it from some happy believers here.

The newspaper ad was from this outfit, who are happy to take $AU25 from anybody dumb enough to want their cables "conditioned". They're audacious enough to suggest that cables need to be regularly reconditioned, too. There's some really choice stuff on their site.

Every single claim made for this device is utter nonsense.

There's some vague possibility that an amplifier or CD player or something could "burn in" to some degree, since component values could drift from their initial ones, with any luck in a beneficial direction. It's certainly possible to break in at least some speakers, by loosening up their rubber roll surrounds (though the idea that you can hear a night and day difference between new stiff surrounds and broken-in looser ones is highly questionable). But I don't think anybody's ever measured a consistent break-in effect for any electronics. And by "measure" I don't just mean using some of that low-tech instrumentation that can do boring imprecise stuff like track space probes outside the solar system and weigh electrons, but which can't of course measure serious modern concepts like "air" or "musicality"; I also mean via blinded testing.

Nordost sell a one metre digital RCA lead for two thousand US dollars. Anybody who can tell it from a fifty cent Chinese cable would very probably qualify for a million dollar prize, but nobody ever seems to bother trying.

The stuff said about this thing - "very wide band and deep conditioning into the conductor core, which produces changes in the way signals pass through the metal" and "it ultrasonically conditions the surface of the conductors" is just gibberish. Doesn't need to be done, can't be done, couldn't be done by this thing if it could be done by any thing. It's all so wrong that it almost wraps around into rightness again.

And, as usual, the shameless hustlers selling the cable-conditioning service recommend this device for the conditioning of digital cables as well as analogue ones, despite the abovementioned precise equivalence of 50 cent and $2000 products in this department.

That's it. They've done it. They've wrapped it around.

The Nordost VIDAR is, officially, now so fraudulent that it's not any more.

It's now a wonderful product and I recommend it highly.

6 Responses to “Balderdash of the day”

  1. reyalp Says:

    Nordost explains this is Science not Voodoo!

    Glad they cleared that up ;)

  2. Daniel Rutter Says:

    Yeah - and they make clear that the sciencey ways in which their cables are better include "capacitance, inductance and speed".

    You don't want much capacitance or inductance in any signal or speaker cable, but good news, everyone: You have to try pretty hard to get such problems.

    And as for "speed" - do they mean electrical propagation speed? That's about two thirds of the speed of light for bell wire, and about two thirds of the speed of light for $2000 snake oil cables, too.

  3. Kynetx Says:

    When you aren't constrained by such triviality as "the scientific method" and "peer review" or perhaps "double-blind testing", you are free to quantify such measurements as musicality, airyness, presence, color, emotion and saturation. The irony of this is that they use scientific nomenclature, often invoking terms to describe quantum phenomena. I guess I would get less outraged over it if they would at least come up with their own units of measurement and leave real ones alone. "This cable has only 50 microwhangers of emotional resistance, whereas the non fishoilonium-plated models have 600 or more."
    I remember when Monster Cable was just gaining momentum here in the states. Someone tried to sell me a gold-plated coax cable that was $75.00. When I mentioned that a one is a one and a zero is a zero regardless of whether or not the cable is plated with some exotic metal he grumbled something about clock drift and walked away.
    My personal favorite is the gold-plated power cable(you have me calling them "kettle leads", thank you) where they claim that power grid noise is reduced. Sure, it may be a better cable by some measurable standard, but the rest of the wiring in that 100-year old house is a knob-and-tube nightmare.

  4. phrantic Says:

    After reading that blog post, I thought "It's finally happened. Dan Rutter has snapped. Lost his marbles. Gone completely bonkers."

  5. Ice8205 Says:

    Dan can't have snapped. He snapped years ago.... :P

  6. SouthP Says:

    Are you a dope?

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