Hucksters have been selling some form of snake oil for years. Our industry is no different in the amount of oil peddled to people, but I think we differ in intent.
A true snake oil salesman is purposefully trying to sell something of no value to unsuspecting people. High-end oil is different.
High-end oil is usually applied to legitimize something we hear but don’t understand – which is unfortunate because the products are typically effective – the application of the snake oil turns off prospective buyers.
I remember one CES years ago where the Bedini Brothers were demonstrating their new interface blocks to an excited crowd. They had a pair of Sequerra Metronome loudspeakers powered by one of their amps and connected through their magic interface blocks with the tinniest speaker cable I have ever seen.
The pitch was that these magic blocks enabled the power of their amplifiers to be transferred to the loudspeakers “without the need for wires”. The tiny wires that were used in the demo, between the two blocks, merely pointed out the correct path; lest the energy be lost in the ether.
I was standing in the back of the crowded room listening to the demo and trying not to interfere with their presentation. The sound from the speakers was excellent and indeed impressive.
John Bedini spotted me and turned everyone’s attention to me. Horrors.
“Paul, aren’t you impressed with this new invention? Isn’t it amazing?”
“Well John, the demo sound you’re getting is very impressive and even more so through those skinny little wires.”
“You see? Even Paul McGowan is a believer. Proof this works!”
“Whoa, hold on. I didn’t say it worked, I just said the sound was impressive. If you want to prove it works, take the blocks out and let’s hear what the system sounds like without them. If it’s a lot worse, then I am sold.”
Heavens. A tirade of “non-believer”, “trying to upset my demo” ensued to the point I just quietly left the room shaking my head.
Every time I passed by their room, the crowds were enormous – everyone wanting to hear the amazing trick of delivering audio without wires. No one seemed to notice the wires as John skillfully redirected attention to the great sound.
To this day I have no clue what they were doing – the snake oil explanation given for what we heard turned me off completely.
‘Tis a shame because it sounded really good.