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Positive Feedback ISSUE 37
may/june 2008


An Alternative Look at Sound and the Perception of Sound, Part III
by May Belt


From the conclusion of Chapter Two:

So, we are now left with additional information GHI + JKL + MNO being heard after the various 'tweaks' had been applied, but with no understanding as to why this same information had not been heard last Sunday. If it was there, available, already in the room, supposedly reaching the ear drum as air pressure waves, then why was it not heard last Sunday?

We shall approach an answer to that question in Part III.

Chapter Three: Possible Explanations.

First I would like to bring into the discussion a thought by David Aiken (on the Audio Asylum) on the subject of the Acoustic Revive RR-77 device.

I wonder if an audiophile who was into Schumann resonances for health reasons stumbled onto the audio effect and that serendipitous happening was the source of both the RR-77 as a product plus the explanation.

Precisely—that IS what has happened so many times throughout the history of audio—that someone has been working on something for another reason and suddenly finds that it affects 'the sound'!

If David can understand that this happens in real life and some other people can understand that fact also, then why should so many other people react so vehemently when I describe what Peter discovered when he tried to deal with a stain on a coffee table and by doing so ruined his sound? And from that experience, from realising what must be 'going on', he went on to discover a whole new world associated with audio and sound.

Another quote from the estimable David Aiken:

I wonder whether Jeff's impressions of the effects of the device on his sense of space stem from the fact that the brain interprets the sound of the resonance as being related to a room mode from a much larger room but the decay characteristics of the music being played are still largely being generated by his room, giving him an experience of 2 different acoustic spaces being overlaid on each other since that's the way I read part of his description of what he heard.

This is an interesting concept which David has put forward—showing someone (David) attempting to find some rational explanation instead of the typical knee jerk reaction of, "It must be imagination."

If I read David's concept correctly, he is suggesting that because the RR-77 is actually generating something (a Schumann resonance) then this effect is providing the (perceived) equivalent of a sub-bass and is tricking the brain into believing that it is actually hearing far more information than is actually available from the recording. In other words, David seems to be suggesting that the RR-77 is ADDING something into the room rather than the human being 'hearing' more information from the recording!

Now, we have a reply to David Aiken from Stephaen on Tweakers Asylum:

But, I never experienced the sense of relaxededness that the RR-77 promotes with only a far-reaching sub added to the system .

That is a very valid observation—far better in explaining the other journalists' descriptions of the improvements THEY heard when using devices, in the room, and the relaxation THEY felt—but by using devices which were NOT generating something in addition to what was there!

Another example

Now, looking at Stephaen's experience with the RR-77, he describes how much more relaxed he is on the Monday—after connecting the device but that means that he was not relaxed last Sunday !! He did not know that he was not relaxed last Sunday until he had experienced the contrast of what it feels like to be more relaxed. But then one has to ask the question, "Why was he not relaxed last Sunday?" What was preventing him from being relaxed—it was exactly the same disc he was playing, it was exactly the same hi-fi system he was using, it was exactly the same room he was playing it in so why wasn't he as relaxed last Sunday?

You can look at this from two different angles. You can ask:

1) "What was preventing him from relaxing last Sunday—and what was preventing him hearing the additional information which must have been available in the room?"

Or you can ask:

2) "What enabled him to be more relaxed on Monday which, in turn, allowed him to hear more of the available information?"

The problem with answering the second question (the obvious answer being, "It was the RR-77 that allowed him to relax.") is that such a reply does not answer the first question. It only answers the second question "What enabled him to be more relaxed on the Monday?" The first question, "What was it that prevented him relaxing last Sunday?" remains unanswered. But, an answer to the first question may well lead us to an answer for the second question.

If it can be presumed that all the information ABC + DEF + GHI + JKL + MNO was in the room last Sunday and DOES reach the ear drum perfectly fine as acoustic air pressure waves, WHERE along its journey through the hearing mechanism does it become affected, HOW does it become affected, WHY does it become affected and WHAT affects it?

And now, ladies and gentlemen…

The answer I would advance is that because of the modern environment we human beings just cannot relax. That we human beings are programmed, by evolution, to be reading/sensing our environment every second of every minute of every hour of every day of our lives—checking for danger/predators/intruders—and trying to 'sign off' our environment as 'safe'. But, because of what is now happening in the modern environment, we cannot 'sign off' our environment as 'safe' so we remain under tension (i.e not relaxed). But, we are also programmed by evolution to be constantly searching for reassuring/relaxing signals (i.e. "It's OK, you can relax, the danger has gone away.") And Nature has developed different techniques throughout evolution which, once you understand what some of them are, you can 'tap into' them and use them to advantage. And it looks very much as though the people who have developed such as the RR-77 have stumbled onto one of those techniques!

Peter Belt, 25 years ago, discovered many more of Nature's techniques and the British journalists, 20 years ago, describing the effect of the Belt devices and techniques are practically identical with their descriptions to the descriptions by the journalists I have referenced earlier to the effect of such as the RR-77 and the Franck resonators!

Unfortunately, 20 years ago, the audio magazines of that time were not available to read via the Internet (as many magazines are now) so are only available to read now via treasured, archival, traditionally-printed back issues. (See Appendix)

Some examples of the British journalists describing Peter Belt's techniques; note the similarities of expression to those for the RR-77:

Jimmy Hughes, Hi Fi Answers, December 1988:

All I can say isboy, do they work. They confirm what is becoming more and more obvious to me with each passing day; namely, that most of our problems with sound relate directly to the presence of adverse conditions.... These possibilities are very exciting, since they will ultimately make it possible to achieve standards of musical reproduction hitherto thought impossible. At the same time, they give me problems as a reviewer, not the least of which is having to carry on looking at products in conventional ways while knowing all the time that the truth lies elsewhere.

Alvin Gold, Stereophile, 1987, after having been given a demonstration of Peter Belt's devices and techniques:

The system had an almost elemental quality, as though the soul of the music was stripped bare. It had all the qualities we struggle to achieve with expensive gear, but fail because it is too complicated for its own good. There was no question of artificiality. There WAS soundstagingwe were sitting in itbut most of all we were immersed in interpretation and performance in a way that parallels live music making... I guarantee you have never heard anything so musically valid from a roomful of Audio Research and Infinity IRS.

Peter Turner, Hi Fi Review, November 1990:

I have been spending many weeks, off and on, on just about the most subjective pursuit of improvement one can find: the use of the various treatments provided by Peter W. Belt. There can be no need for me to remind you that this extraordinary man (I mean to say, if, as some contend, the whole Belt business is a con-trick, the man who brought it off is of no common stature) has set the audio world on its head by asserting the existence of effects within the environment which affect us in a way as to hamper our ability to hear the sound which is being produced by our systems. These effects, according to Belt, can be overcome by various techniques, thus enabling us to appreciate the sound which is always present in reality, but as it were kept away from us by forces which inhibit our aural responses... My conclusion is that belting does indeed produce an effect; that that effect can be profound; and that it can equal or exceed that produced by costly upgrades.

Another article which is only available from library archives but which is as relevant today as when it was written 21 years ago is Enid Lumley's article in the The Absolute Sound where she describes the numerous "gremlins" in her environment having an adverse effect on her sound.

Quoting (permission granted) from Enid's article, well worth one's time to read again, in the January/February 1987 Issue No 45, Volume 11 of TAS:

I have also noticed many other flying Gremlins in my house and decided to chase them down and stomp on them, in hopes of getting better music from my system. I hope to help you get same from yours too. These damned Gremlins are everywhere...

Virtually everything. If it's not busy radiating an electromagnetic field, it's busy radiating an electrostatic one. Even your drapes, the paint on the walls, paper, your records, the record jackets, the turntable dust cover - all are doing their thing to your stereoand it's audible. Being aware of these offenders and what they do to your sound is the first step toward controlling them.

The sonic effects the Gremlins have are unpredictable, and so I cannot describe to you a set of individual symptoms to listen for in hunting down each one. One thing that is a constant: the degradation of true transparency, that is, images of instruments and voices that are palpable in a palpable space containing the air of the hall. The feeling that you are there.

Enid on cords:

I have one extension cord with no load attached to it (and thus no current is flowing) that gives a dulled high end and loss of detail and another cord placed nearby that causes glare in the highs. Both cords are located 30 feet away from the system and needless to say, both are unplugged at the wall socket when I listen to music. Whatever, the real point is that Gremlins galore lurk in lamp cords, extension cords and the like.

Enid on numerous other things:

We've just gotten started. How about all those metal objects in the house, for example, the sinks, the faucets, the fridge and stove, the metal frame in your listening chair, the metal fencing in the ASC Tube Traps so popular with most of us...

From personal experience, all of these things degrade the sound.

Your main components themselves are potent sources of radiated fields, both electrostatic and electromagnetic...

For your own ears, turn on a CD machine whilst playing your analogue records on the turntable and hear the junk put into your music. The CD player is not even hooked into the system. It's just sitting there, playing a CD. If you want to hear something really grotesque, try playing a string quartet or massed violins on your analogue turntable while the CD is operating.

You may decide to remove components not in use rather than just unplugging them. Listen to your big stereo as you remove that unused component from the room entirely.

Do not try shielding these sources of interference by using metal of any kind, as you will see why it is wrong to do so in the next issue.

Have fun. If nothing else, it should be a learning experience and should open your ears.

Enid, way back in 1987, had to try to find an explanation as to why there were so many things adversely affecting her sound and she chose to place the blame on static, electromagnetic interference and RF interference and assumed that any such effect must be on the audio signal traveling through the audio system.

I would alternatively suggest, as I have done earlier, that all these things and their possible effects had more to do with not allowing Enid to 'sign off' her environment as 'safe', leaving her still under tension, therefore not enabling her to correctly resolve the information already in the room. But, then, as she began to 'deal with' those 'gremlins', the adverse effects were lessened and she was able to resolve the already available information, much better.

If we are now to consider that, on the Sunday, all the information ABC + DEF + GHI + JKL + MNO has been handled perfectly adequately by the hifi system, presented into the room by the loudspeaker system as acoustic air pressure waves, and has reached the human ear drum then we have to seriously consider—WHERE along it's journey through the hearing mechanism does it become affected, HOW does it become affected, WHY does it become affected and WHAT affects it? Because, somehow or other, last Sunday, it had not been resolved correctly by the journalists Marja and Henk, Jeff Day and Stephaen I have referred to earlier.

We shall address those questions in Part IV.

May Belt

Belt Home Page:

Part 1, Part 2,