[SoundStage!]Synergizing with Greg Weaver
Back Issue Article
April 1999

Itty-Bitty UK Foil

No "gottcha"

Folks, although this will be initially posted on April 1st, let me assure you that it is no prank. There will be no "April Fool’s" announced when you finish. So if you’re waiting for it -- given the nature of the subject matter this month -- I am telling you now that it isn’t coming. What you are about to read is entirely real. Now, I know some of you will take issue with this month’s subject, but I will ask you to just think back to all the other columns you’ve read here, and how logical they were -- for the most part. This one isn’t! But I swear, everything you are about to read is true. Go over to the locker there in the corner, take out your regular analytical brain, switch it for the open-minded one you have stored there for just such occasions, and read on.

The UK sound police

It began normally enough; my workday had been too long and not too terribly exhilarating. The usual batch of e-mail showed up as I opened my browser when I sat down at the ol’ workstation and prepared for the day’s onslaught. But one message caught my attention in its singularity. It was from one Chris Belt of England. It was simply subjected "An Introduction" and read as follows.


Dear Greg,

As you are someone who is interested in, and has written widely about audio, I have taken the liberty of writing an unsolicited letter to you in order to introduce a very unique and original discovery made by my father Peter Belt.

My father has been working on a new (and literally "revolutionary") concept for several years, which has reached a quite advanced stage. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to explain in a few sentences how it actually works, but basically he has discovered that ALL objects in our environment have energy patterns that adversely effect our subjective perception of sound. This includes audio equipment! Thus, as we listen to music our body and senses are somehow "under stress" and our perception of sound is attenuated. I know that this sounds ridiculous and totally unscientific, all I can say is that new and challenging ideas do so at first.

My father has designed some very simple looking easily applied devices, such as strips of "specially treated," sticky back foil that can be placed on any object thus negating the adverse energy patterns. The resulting change in the perception of sound quality is truly astonishing! Again I sympathize with your reservations but I strongly urge you to try these products out anyway.

I would suggest that all the "Tweaks" presently used by audiophiles are not producing an improvement in sound quality through, for example, the reduction of vibrations as conventional theories would have us believe, but are in fact reducing the adverse effect of these energy patterns.

As I mentioned before, the improvement that can be simply attained is truly astonishing. If you are willing to suspend your disbelief and skepticism and experiment a little, I will be happy to arrange for a free sample of one of my father's commercially available products to be sent to you for your assessment.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Chris Belt


Well, that certainly got my attention! Now, I’m not one to scoff at anything, especially when the jury is still out. But this sounded a bit too metaphysical or paranormal, even for this synergizer, and I openly stated my skepticism. Although I’m no engineer, I place most of my understanding in science rather than dogma. But, curiosity piqued, I asked for a bit more information. What follows is what I received next.


A Brief and Simplistic Explanation of Our Theory

We believe that human beings have retained in some imperceptible way the primordial ability, acquired by life forms throughout early evolution as a survival mechanism, of recognizing threats of danger in the environment as energy patterns. When faced with such energy patterns, life forms then and now "go on the alert" or become "alarmed." As a result of empirical research, we have concluded that modern objects such as electronic devices, electrical equipment and plastics, are reproducing these energy patterns. In response to this, human beings have developed a way of modifying their physiological state so that we are able to live surrounded by these objects. In this suppressed physiological state we are unable to hear the subtleties of sound. Further more, through the work of Rupert Sheldrake and his theory of "Morphic Resonance" we believe all objects are "linked" and therefore, all adverse energy patterns are "linked." Our products incorporate beneficial energy patterns which when attached to an object, negate the adverse energy patterns and superimpose beneficial "friendly" energy patterns. Our physiological state is then able to "relax" and we are able to appreciate the subtleties of sound. The more objects you "treat" the greater the liberating effect on our physiological state, and the greater the perceived improvement in sound quality.

We believe the veracity of the theory can be "proved" very simply by attaching one of our products (e.g. a small strip of Silver Rainbow Foil) to an object in the listening environment not related to the audio system and experiencing/perceiving an improvement in the quality of the sound. Such an object (and this is only one example) could be the battery (or batteries) inside a remote control unit for a television or video. If an improvement is heard, there doesn't seem to be an adequate "conventional" explanation for it.

Recommended Reading

The Presence of the Past by Rupert Sheldrake

Best regards,

Chris Belt


"Oh my God, what have I gotten myself into?" was the first utterance to fall from my lips as I filed the correspondence.

A lesson in healthy skepticism!

041999foil.jpg (25121 bytes)When the P.W.B. Electronics envelope arrived from England containing its precious cargo of P.W.B. Rainbow Electret Foil, I opened it with my normal level of skepticism. After reading just a bit of the enclosed information, and looking at the TINY little piece of rainbow reflective foil in its own little ziploc bag, my level of incredulity rose acutely. The whole thing was only 55mm long and 15mm wide, fer cryin out loud! What could it possibly do?

Well, I had promised Mr. Belt that I would examine his product, but this just seemed too absurd. I wanted to wait until I had enough time to really look into the shiny stuff. After an e-mail from him inquiring as to whether or not I had received the package, and after assuring him that it had indeed arrived safely just several days previously, I once again pledged my open-mindedness, tempered with a healthy dose of skepticism. On the first opportunity I had to spend some serious, uninterrupted time in front of the system, the games began.

Rainbow on silver

The included instruction sheet said that any small size, from 1mm to 3mm wide and the entire massive 15mm length would be adequate. What? You mean there was enough here to treat more than one disc? What the heck? So being the good compromiser that I am, I measured the thing into 2mm-wide sections and proceeded to cut off about 26 strips. The first disc to fall under the hand of experimentation was one of my all time favorites, Dire Straits Love Over Gold [Warner Bros. 9 23728]. I proceeded to pull out both CD copies I had on hand and play several key cuts on both to reacquaint myself with the fact that they both sounded identical. I then applied one of the freshly cut miniscule adhesive-backed 2mm-by-15mm foil strips. In went the newly treated disc, and I parked myself in my sacrosanct chair and punched the play key on the remote control.

Let me tell you right now synergizers, you’re probably not going to believe this. Hell, I’m not even sure that I do! It just doesn’t make sense. No, strike that. It goes contrary to all common sense and scientific theory that I am acquainted with. But it happened! Those of you who know me, or have come to try the suggestions in this column over time with some degree of success, will likely think I’m a couple cans short of a six-pack. But I swear, what I’m about to tell you is absolutely true, repeatable, amazing and -- to my satisfaction at this time -- totally unexplainable.

Well, to say that my jaw dropped would be an understatement. There was just "more" there. It was as if some higher level of resolution had been unexplainably imparted to my system. Cymbal attacks were more clearly defined, voices more apparent, details more delineated, timbre more correct-sounding. Keep in mind, music fans, I was predisposed to discover that this stuff couldn’t and wouldn’t do squat and thank Mr. Belt for his time! But I heard it. Spaces seemed more defined while instruments and voices took on new body and solidity therein. The whole presentation seemed more vibrant. I must be cracking up. It was just tin foil!

Out came the "treated" disc and in went the "untreated" control disc. What the...? There seemed to be more haze to just about everything. Sounds weren’t as defined, as focused or as vibrant. What the heck was going on? Back in went the disc with the teensy, tiny, little strip of foil. Sure enough, it sounded as if the disc had somehow been clarified! OK, out came the foil-treated disc, off came that bloody little foil strip, and back in we go. Damn! That heightened clarity was lost again. Time for a brandy. I had to sort this out.

After a brief recess, I queued up the eponymous Blues Traveler [A&M 75021 5308-2]. Into the tray, play, reacquaint, out of the tray, on with the foil, back into play. This wasn’t funny anymore! What the #*@% was going on? It was as if some all-encompassing haze or fog had been suddenly stripped from the system, allowing more vitality and truth to emerge! It wasn’t that there were higher highs or lower lows, there was just more life to everything. Bass lines were more defined and pitch definition was enhanced. Treble was more bronzy sounding with less of that common whitish flavor. Space was enormous! There was a level of understanding to the music previously unrealized.

Next up, a 26-year-old favorite from Rare Earth, sporting one of the most unique pieces of cover art in the annals of rock, Ma [Motown 31453-0279]. Sheez! Though not as pronounced as on the two previous works, the sense of space was heightened dramatically. Again, the cymbals, far from flawlessly recorded on this work, lost much of their pasty whiteness. Bass lines were once again more defined. And that overall clarity reared its head once more.

Staying within the year 1973, I moved to Bang [Atco 7073], the finest work from the James Gang lead by the stylized guitar work of Tommy Bolin. Now I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but.… On the opening cut, "Standing In The Rain," cymbal detail was much better delineated and less harsh. And the spatial detail was again enhanced. On "Rather Be Alone With You," a Bobby McFerrin-esque a cappella track (a very brave choice for inclusion on a "rock" album in 1973), the liveliness of the studio was much more obvious. The handclaps bore more of a fleshy feel. This was really quite amazing!

Rainbow on black

I dug back into the information package and the e-mails and absorbed a little more information. I pointed my browser to the P.W.B. Electronics home page and scanned some of the archived newsletters. These shiny little devil-strips are supposed to work their effects just by placing them on pretty much anything in the system -- or the house, for that matter. Suggested application included batteries in remote controls, clocks, and calculators, mains plugs on amplifiers, CD players, tuners, televisions, computers, even fax machines, light switches, transformers, auxiliary power sources, central-heating radiators or air-conditioning units, even equipment casings, lids, and LED displays. While I didn’t seem to note very much success treating the above devices or surfaces (I had a limited number of them, remember), the notes said that it was supposed to work on records too. Hummm, time to fire up the Linn and spin some vinyl.

I’m a bit uneasy playing the same record several times in a row, but have lots of duplication of many titles, and this just was begging to be done. I grabbed my third copy of Steely Dan’s Aja [ABC AB-1006]. I played the title cut, Aja, then removed the record clamp and stuck one of the diminutive foil slices on the label, just covering the small lettering indicating that this was Side A under the catalog number on the right side of the label. Dropping needle to groove caused me to become very perplexed. It sounded better. Not to the same degree as the CDs under evaluation, but the same overall effect was manifest. Triangles and other delicate voices were more enunciated and apparent where before they were recessed. Bass was perceived as "faster" and more correct. Space was better defined, not just in its expanse, but in its rendering as well.

Off with the clamp, off with the foil, back down with the needle. Unmistakably, the newly noted effects were nullified. Had I completely lost it? Was this stuff for real? HOW COULD THIS BE HAPPENING?

Application to the Eagles Desperado [Asylum SD 5068] brought about a better demarcation of instruments and voices throughout the stage, while fleshing them out better at the same time. Bass licks were more rounded in their presentation, yet not in the sense of being bloated or fattened, just more real sounding. There was a lessening of the "whiteness" and a greater bronzy flavor to the ride cymbal. Voices took on a more breathy, "there" attribute. The harp (that’s a harmonica for those of you who are instrumentally challenged), while retreating into the stage further, was actually recreated in a more spotlighted fashion.

The spacious presentation of Roger Waters’ Amused to Death [Columbia 468761-0] completely enveloped the room after attaching the ridiculously small strip of funky foil. Besides sharing all the previously mentioned benefits, the Q Sound effects of barking dogs, growling large cats, droning televisions, dripping faucets, roving thunder claps, solo pianos and cellos, ringing phones and horse-drawn sleighs with their bells jangling, were better localized. Voices were both better separated, yet more finely outlined in their location. Oh yeah, all the other aforementioned effects were there in spades as well.

I decided to put two of the little strips directly on my J.A. Mitchell reflex-style record clamp to see if that would eliminate the need for application of a strip to each and every album. The results were there but, believe it or not, they compounded positively when the record under evaluation was treated to some foil as well.

Folks, I cannot offer any suitable explanation for what I am hearing with this magic foil. I know I’m gonna take some hits on this one. If you have tried any of the other tweaks I’ve shared with you and found them to be worthwhile, don't write this off -- or me either, for that matter. This is something that, though I cannot offer ANY explanation for at this point, is real! I’ve talked to others who have played with this foil and they too were both able to observe the same effects AND are as lost as I am about how to explain the resulting improvement.

And now, for something completely different...

The following paragraphs are an attempt at an explanation as to why the P.W.B. Electronics Electret Foil works, as explained by Mrs. May Belt, reprinted verbatim from one of our e-mail exchanges.


Greg,

To understand what is happening, you have to be able to "throw an intellectual switch" and look at it another way - that you are not improving the information on the disc but that you are reducing an "adverse effect." The untreated CD is causing an adverse effect in the environment, which we (human beings) are reacting to, causing us to go under tension. As the adverse effect is reduced (by our treatment) we are then under less tension, therefore we can perceive the information better - therefore the perceived sound is "better."

To understand further, you now have to go into evolution.

We (human beings) are the product of millions of years of evolution. Over these millions of years, each generation of creature (from the earliest of creatures), had to be able to sense different energy patterns in their environment, to make sense of those energy patterns in order to know what action to take, in order to survive, so it would not be at all surprising to realize that human beings have retained those abilities.

Peter and I believe that in the modern environment (electricity has only been with us just over 100 years and plastics only since the 1930s), there are energy patterns that we are sensing but are interpreting them as meaning "watch out, there's a predator/intruder about." OR, that we cannot resolve them and any energy pattern that we cannot resolve we stay under tension until we can resolve it. (edit)

During one set of listening experiments, we had a short coffee break. In the listening room was a small wooden table which had had something spilt on it, causing a nasty stain. Peter decided to treat this stain and applied a chemical to it. No success - the stain was just as bad. Peter shrugged his shoulders and said "Oh well, we will just have to live with the stain, at least I have tried to remove it." After the short coffee break we returned to the listening tests. The sound was dreadful, it was absolutely appalling! Peter tried everything he knew but could not get the previous "good" sound back. He knew that the only thing he had done in the past half-hour was to apply a chemical to the stain on the small table. He took the table out of the room and listened again. The "good" sound was back ! - with the table returned to the room, the sound was dreadful again. Peter remarked " There is no way we can carry on with our listening tests with that table in the room" so the table was banished to the garage. We had no explanation for what had happened but we remembered this incident because it was so surprising and startling. It was a few months later that I happened to be reading an article - an article on plants !! In the middle of this article it stated "and when the (???) plant is under stress, it produces the chemical ???? - this was the chemical we had applied to the small table!!! I read this article out to Peter and we looked at each other. Here was the chemical we had used being described as a "stress chemical." Peter then began to reason out "I wonder if it was us (Human beings) who were sensing this "stress" chemical and going under tension - and this was the reason why the "sound" was perceived as "dreadful"

He brought the small table back into the room and listened again - the sound was back being "dreadful" again. Peter began to reason out "If there is such a thing as a "stress" chemical - could there be such a thing as a "friendly" chemical? We did what all good experimenters do - we searched every cupboard, every shelf, every drawer, tried every chemical we could get our hands on. Nothing we tried brought the "good" sound back until one day, we tried Chemical X! This time, we judged not that we had the "good" sound back but that the sound was better than we could remember it being. Peter then began to reason out further. If applying Chemical X to a small table can "improve" the sound, what would happen if we applied it to other objects in the room - other items in the room as well as the audio equipment - items such as a piano, a central heating radiator, wall lights, windows etc. We did this and ended up with the best sound we had ever had!! Peter was devastated. You would think he would be thrilled to bits, but he was devastated. When you have spent the previous thirty years of your life trying every which way to get good sound and you suddenly find you have the best sound you have ever had - by applying a chemical to the central heating radiator - to the wall lights etc. etc. - then this is indeed devastating!! (edit)

When you now look at a Compact Disc and your experience with our treatments. The standard CD is a plastic/aluminum/plastic layered or a plastic/silver/plastic layered object in your listening environment. You are sensing an energy pattern from it which you cannot resolve and therefore are under tension. By applying a strip of our "treated" foil or applying our special Cream to the CD, you are superimposing on the CD a "friendly" energy pattern. You are then sensing a friendly energy pattern and are therefore under less tension and can therefore perceive more of the information which is coming from the CD. Ditto treating other objects in the listening environment. Obviously you cannot be altering the actual information on the CD - the additional information (in the form of more "open" sound, more definition, less harsh, much cleaner, much clearer) you can perceive after carrying out our treatments MUST HAVE BEEN IN THE ROOM ALL THE TIME - you have just not been able to perceive it!!

It is this last concept that is one of the most difficult for engineers (and many audiophiles) to come to terms with. Practically the whole audio world believes that we can "hear" all that the equipment can offer - that the only restriction is due to the expertise of the engineering (or lack of it).

In my experience, another concept that engineers do not seem to understand is this. That the working memory upgrades itself completely automatically - you cannot stop it doing so, it is part of the survival mechanism. So, when an improvement is made (in the sound) the working memory upgrades itself and does not like being taken below that standard it has just become accustomed to. If that new standard is then reduced, we cringe ! The cringe is the working memory shouting, kicking and screaming because it has been given a standard less than the standard it has just become accustomed to. Engineers believe that if one described a previous standard as "good" and then, after using our treatments describe the improved standard as "excellent," that after removing our devices one can still go back to describing the previous standard as "good." You cannot. Taking the working memory back to the previous standard just results in us cringing ! edit)

All this has, by necessity, been described in a simplistic manner. In actuality, it has taken 18 years to acquire all the knowledge we have done. Peter has been down all the conventional paths -- the "vibrations" path, the "antistatic" path, the "electro-magnetic" path, the "RF interference" path, the "altering the capacitance/resistance/inductance/dielectric" paths - searching for explanations.

But you will begin to appreciate the polarization that takes place in the audio industry. Most of the engineers cannot understand how our devices could possibly improve the "sound" and they accuse anyone who says that they do as "falling under the spell of autosuggestion" and the people who have experimented and heard our devices improve the sound are therefore "isolated" and "ridiculed." And the engineers certainly cannot understand how anyone can "improve" the sound by treating objects in the listening room which are totally unrelated to the audio equipment!!.

But, as you carry out more experiments with our devices, other reports regarding other phenomena that you will have read in Hi Fi magazines over these past years regarding "things changing the sound which the journalist/s could not explain" will begin to make more sense. (edit)

What I have described is just a tiny fraction of our discoveries. Another giant leap forward took place when we realized just how right Rupert Sheldrake is with his concept of Morphic Resonance. Rupert Sheldrake is a scientist and teaches biology at a London University. His concept is that everything that exists has a "morphic resonance pattern." That things that are identical share the same "morphic resonance pattern," are therefore linked and "know" the existence of each other. That the more things that are identical, the stronger that particular "morphic resonance pattern" will be.

This concept and our own experiments have given us a greater understanding of how the world (and everything in it) must function. But, that is another long story!!

Kind Regards,

May Belt


What Now?

Do I believe all that? I don’t know. Do I have a better explanation? Nope. Does the stuff really work? Absolutely. All I know for sure is that it REALLY DOES WHAT IT CLAIMS. So had I just been brainwashed into "hearing" these very desirable effects? Was it possible that I was somehow imagining all this magic, even though I had started out this experiment certain that this couldn't have any effect?

Just to verify that I wasn’t completely looney (I had already called the local hospital and made a reservation for a rubber room), I tried it out on an unwitting visitor. The Mick-Meister dropped by for a casual evening of listening, and I put it to the test. He noted the differences within five seconds of replaying a track he had first heard "nude" after the application of one of these tiny little strips of eerie foil. I’m beginning to wonder if all this doesn’t have something to do with the enhancement noticed by turning off things like computers and CD players while listening. Some, like our own savvy technical editor Doug Blackburn, for example, don’t think it has much to do with "digital grunge" reverse injected into the system.

Common to all my experiments with CDs at this time are the heightened focus and speed of the bass, the reduction of "whiteness" on cymbals, a general imparting of rightness to timbre, the opening up and higher definition of the acoustic and the overall sense of heightened clarity. With vinyl, although the degree of enhancement was not always as great as with CDs, the results were overall very similar. However, the degree of variance from album to album was much more diverse and unpredictable.

Dear synergizers, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to risk my credibility here by writing about this unexplainable but HIGHLY effective application. But this is so real and so fascinating that I cannot put it to rest. It is repeatable, time after time, disc after disc. I had to take the risks involved and let you know about it. And, guess what? May Belt was kind enough to offer a FREE sample of the rainbow foil to any reader who e-mails inquiries (based on this column) to foil@belt.demon.co.uk. So, synergizers, what do you have to lose? Fire off an e-mail right now and be sure to mention that you saw the offer here! One of these tiny 55mm by 15mm pieces of Rainbow Electret Foil will be winging its way to you in no time. I cannot thank May enough for her kind offer, so I ask that you be sure to do so when you write her requesting your sample. You can check out their website for access to their newsletters and much more information at www.belt.demon.co.uk . Let me know what you hear!

Oh, by the way, this is just one of a whole family of products from P.W.B. Electronics. On my doorstep tonight, a little sample of the Cream-Electret greeted me with a nod and a wink! Stay tuned.…

...Greg Weaver
gregw@soundstage.com

 

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