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Old 07-01-2006, 19:15   #1
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If this isn't just a £30 kettle lead, I'll eat my hat

My new year resolution is to have more Johnny Ball home science experiment moments. Which brings me on to reader David Stafford. "Today, I received a catalogue from a UK hi fi company called Russ Andrews," he begins. You can find their web site at www.russandrews.com. On the front page is a power cable that costs £29.95. "If anyone buys this," he says, "they will need their heads examined."

The American philosopher George Gale identifies two types of science: "cookbook science", which works out, perhaps by trial and error, whether something does work; and "explanatory science", which seeks to offer explanations and mechanisms for the observed generalisations of the cookbook stuff.

The "YellO Power" is indeed a 30 quid power cable, of the type that you might colloquially identify as a kettle lead. It's about a metre long and has a 3 pin 240v plug. This is their claim for efficacy, verbatim: "Replacing the mains cable to any of your hi-fi or home cinema components means they perform better, giving you less distortion, clearer pictures, and more musicality, so that you enjoy your music and movies even more!"

So how do they reckon it works? "The key to the success of the Russ Andrews mains cables is the unique Kimber cable weave. The woven mains cable has been proven to dramatically reduce sound-degrading radio frequency interference on the mains supply and to reject further pick up of RFI."

Let's think about how electricity gets from the national grid to that wall socket, where you plug in the kettle lead that powers your stereo. It zooms along huge cables between big pylons (at very high voltages, because higher voltages can get down long lines with less waste) and then gets turned into 240v at your local substation. Then it travels a fairly long distance from the substation to your house before it comes through the metering stuff. Then the power has got to go up the stairs, around the walls and under the floor to the socket next to your stereo. All of these voyages are fabulous opportunities for the cable to act as an antenna, and pick up radio frequencies that could present themselves as noise in the final sound coming out of your speakers. The cable might stop the last metre or so from picking up radio noise, but if radio noise really is a problem, it will probably be there already, from the huge length of preceding cables. I can't imagine how this expensive kettle lead is going to filter it out.

I'm told that Russ Andrews is away but that he will show me measured proof on his return. If I'm wrong I'll eat my hat, but I am unaware of any published evidence that an expensive power cable can make your hi-fi sound better. If I'm correct, and such evidence does not exist, then what we have here is an important gap in the research literature. More important, possibly, than both a cure for malaria and a fix for global warming. So I have a challenge: if there is somebody out there, somebody who sells power cables for £30 perhaps, or who works for a hi-fi magazine, and they reckon they can tell the difference, significantly more consistently than would be expected by chance, in a robust, double blind, randomised trial, head to head, of these expensive power leads, up against a normal cheap-o kettle lead which I shall provide, then let them come forward.

James Randi has a million dollars on offer for anyone who can demonstrate empirical evidence for their incredible claims under laboratory conditions. If you can spot the difference here, under sitting room conditions, I'm offering you the glory, the warm glow that comes from contributing empirical data to the sum of human knowledge, and a free bogus PhD in the subject of your choice, as long as I can find one cheap enough. I'm absolutely serious and I'm itching to be proved wrong. Please send your bad science to bad.science@guardian.co.uk

http://www.guardian.co.uk/life/badsc...681151,00.html

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Old 07-01-2006, 19:39   #2
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That site actually has a 1m component cable on sale for £789!!!

I wonder how stupid the person who buys that actually is.

Last edited by Baz; 07-01-2006 at 19:40.
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Old 07-01-2006, 20:04   #3
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The same people who'll buy HD-DVD or BluRay this year?

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Old 13-01-2006, 19:24   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deaks
The same people who'll buy HD-DVD or BluRay this year?
Maybe HD-DVD but there's no way you could compare Blu-ray owners to people who spend £700+ on a cable! The difference you'd see is probably hundreds of times that even the best cable could manage and for less money
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Old 07-01-2006, 20:11   #5
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Good job they didn't see the £430 mains cable

Mind you, it is reduced from £540, so maybe it should be in the Bargain Forum?
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Old 07-01-2006, 20:34   #6
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Those prices are mental aren't they.
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Old 07-01-2006, 20:46   #7
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This one makes me laugh:

http://www.russandrews.com/product.a...HSEGTZGBBDIFZO

£546 for a cable that carries a 6Mbit signal! I work in the broadcast industry any broadcasters pay about 80p/metre for a cable thats used to carry a 1500Mbit/s signal.

I'm surprised they haven't got a Russ Andrews precision haircut for optimising the frequency reponse of your ears.
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Old 08-01-2006, 00:24   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stephen
I'm surprised they haven't got a Russ Andrews precision haircut for optimising the frequency reponse of your ears.
Close. They sell one of these

EDIT
Surely this is a wind up and people don't really buy this stuff. Do they?

Last edited by Malabbey; 08-01-2006 at 00:27.
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Old 07-01-2006, 20:55   #9
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If you think that's nuts then $800 buys you one of these

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Old 07-01-2006, 21:28   #10
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Do you think all the customer testimonials are made up?

Or maybe it's just some mugs with more money than sense, who who have paid a small fortune for some fancy length of cable that doesn't really make any noticeable difference, but are too up their own arses to admit it to themselves for fear of not being a true "audiophile"?

The same sort of people who claim that they can tell the difference between a CD and an MP3 recorded at 320 kbit/s.
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Old 08-01-2006, 00:19   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abarthman
Do you think all the customer testimonials are made up?

Or maybe it's just some mugs with more money than sense, who who have paid a small fortune for some fancy length of cable that doesn't really make any noticeable difference, but are too up their own arses to admit it to themselves for fear of not being a true "audiophile"?

The same sort of people who claim that they can tell the difference between a CD and an MP3 recorded at 320 kbit/s.
You should pop over to the av forums one day to see how many members there rave on about Russ Andrews products
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Old 07-01-2006, 22:02   #12
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I think this beats them all though:
http://www.machinadynamica.com/machina31.htm

Quote:
One Large BP (pebble) on satellite TV receiver produces considerably better image density, resolution & color saturation.
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Old 07-01-2006, 22:07   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrew1810
I think this beats them all though:
http://www.machinadynamica.com/machina31.htm
http://www.machinadynamica.com/machina19.htm

Customer comments therein

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Old 07-01-2006, 23:48   #14
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I know someone taken in by all this who goes on about what a difference his £50 power cables made. Rather sad really.

I find the mains extensions section even more hilarious - a Megacube at £100 that appears to be a £2 adaptor with a sticker on it, and the mains blocks look uncannily similar to ones we have in the server rooms at work!
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Old 08-01-2006, 00:46   #15
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It must be a joke surely - adding an extra earth to your sockets will improve bass performance:

http://www.russandrews.com/product.a...SIRF%20%20alt=
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Old 08-01-2006, 01:47   #16
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The Truth About Interconnects and Cables

"* Power leads will rarely (if ever) have any effect on the sound, provided they are of reasonable construction and are not inducing noise into (unshielded) interconnects. The only exceptions are those that use filters of some sort, which will reduce the noise floor in areas where interference is a problem.

Some leads are of flimsy construction, and may reduce the available power for sustained loud passages, however, the difference will rarely exceed 1dB in most cases.

* Speaker cables can (and sometimes do) sound different with a given amplifier and loudspeaker combination, even where they are well designed and of reasonable gauge. Excluded are very thin or extremely silly combinations - these will always do something to the sound, rarely good.

* Interconnects might sound different, but only if they use odd construction techniques. Generally speaking, all properly (sensibly) designed and well made interconnects will sound the same - excluding noise pickup which is common with unshielded designs."


I wonder what the author of that article would think of Russ Andrews's products?
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Old 08-01-2006, 21:30   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stephen
It must be a joke surely - adding an extra earth to your sockets will improve bass performance:

http://www.russandrews.com/product.a...SIRF%20%20alt=


Choosing the earth terminal option lets you add an additional earth for your system, improving bass performance and the soundstage.
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Old 13-01-2006, 10:41   #18
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Choosing the earth terminal option lets you add an additional earth for your system, improving bass performance and the soundstage.
Yes - that's just in case the original earth becomes polarised....
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Old 13-01-2006, 12:58   #19
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Yes - that's just in case the original earth becomes polarised....
Happened to me once. Next thing I know there was a discharge of 1.21 gigawatts and my AV kit ended up in 1955.
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Old 13-01-2006, 17:04   #20
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Happened to me once. Next thing I know there was a discharge of 1.21 gigawatts and my AV kit ended up in 1955.
You too?
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