The $650 wooden block

Discuss

42 Responses to “The $650 wooden block”

  1. dvandok says:

    I don’t get it; how is this better than $0.10 worth of styrofoam?

  2. Gulliver says:

    The lumber yard is your friend.

    I prefer rosewood for audioblocks, though. But heck, you could make them out of bloodwood and still come out well ahead of those prices. At $650 they ought to be made of agar!

  3. nixiebunny says:

    If you’re looking for an opportunity to spend money, why not a block of wood?

  4. dougp says:

    It’s expensive so it must be good!

    • Eye Open Doors says:

      It’s expensive so the other fools who waste their money to delude themselves with status will be jealous when I show it to them.

  5. alllie says:

    The sad thing is I want to buy it. To dampen the vibration that gets to my turntable. It won’t take many fools like me to give them a profit.

    Luckily, I can’t afford it.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have an old phone book that will work even better. I’ll sell it to you for $1000. That means it is $350 better.

  6. noonereallycares says:

    I much prefer the full-sized version:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hP0kWqJJZa4

  7. CastanhasDoPara says:

    Ah, morons… I mean audiophiles. Always good for a laugh, and not the cheap kind either. Makes me want to ‘invent’ some almost reasonable BS to make a killing off of these chumps. But that would be slightly less ethical than just laughing at their expensive follies.

  8. Jerril says:

    I think the only way they could possibly remotely justify that price for such a simply made chunk of varnished wood is if the used high end imaging to check every piece to make sure there weren’t any knots, internal wobbles, or inauspicious twists in the grain that would somehow disrupt your “audio chi”.

    It would still be snake oil, but at least they would have put some effort into it.

    I hope it’s at least a *well made* simple chunk of varnished wood…

  9. davejenk1ns says:

    A few months ago, my wife and I were walking through the bookstore in downtown Tokyo. On the 4th floor, a wood craftsman had a table set up, and he was carving little wooden doo-dads and hawking his stuff. Most of it was wooden fountain pens, business card holders, tissue boxes– things I would expect (but wildly expensive). At the back of the table were two little tweeter speakers encased in some rosewood. Price? USD$2500. I blinked and blinked again, and then I crassly asked him if the price was correct. It was, he said, and he sells quite a few of them.

    There are quite a few audiophiles in Japan (probably the same as anywhere else, I’m convinced it’s a psychological issue combined with some genetics toward sensitive ears).

    There is also a huge obsession with wood. Wood is pure, wood is traditional, wood is the True Art before the westerners arrived with their metal and plastic and cheap pursuits. Anyone with money will have a 和室(washitsu – Japanese room) in their house that is all wood, bamboo mats, and the Buddhist cabinet containing the photos and memories of their ancestors. Often, these rooms have a huge chunk of polished wood in some interesting shape. These objects can go up to USD$20,000 in some cases.

    So, combine those two obsessions, and it makes sense this guy makes bank selling wood-enclosed speakers. It also makes sense that people would pay good money to invoke the “purity of wood” into their stereo sound system.

    • AnthonyC says:

      Obviously, the block of wood described here is absurdly expensive, but $2500 isn’t necessarily overpriced for a pair of speakers. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard $100k speakers I thought sounded like crap, but sometimes the $20000 pair of speakers really is much better than the $5000 ones.

      I’m not an audiophile. I don’t care that much, it isn’t worth it to me. But my dad is, and I’ve learned a lot from him. If you take the time to program your equipment to know how far you are from each speaker, and carefully angle each (200 pound) speaker half an inch and a few degrees back and forth, you really will notice the change. Sometimes a small piece of sound-absorbing foam, carefully placed, makes a huge difference.

  10. AudioTherapist says:

    I’m really hoping the post is ironic but I fear it may not be

  11. Summer Seale says:

    It certainly is absolutely laughably ridiculous…

    …but I sure as heck wish I had thought of it. I really have to find a way to part rich fools with their money.

  12. AudioTherapist says:

    Phew, having clicked on the link for http://boingboing.net/2005/11/07/astronomically-overp.html I’m now 99% sure irony was involved in the post

  13. MattF says:

    Grr. This makes a mockery of actual artistic woodwork. You can do the audiophile thing and pretend you hear a difference between identical sounds– or you can purchase gasp-inducingly beautiful stuff for $500 and support a real artist. It’s your call.

    • Gulliver says:

      All my floors are wood, so I had to build something to dampen the speaker cabinets I built. There’s no reason on Earth to spend that kind of money though. You can get or order blocks of better wood at any decent woodworking shop and pay a fraction of the price. Even if you don’t want to go the DIY route, there are lots of artisans willing to build you a base for way less, and you can tell them what you’d like. But yeah, most audiophile stuff is pure %100 snake oil, and when, like me, you love music but aren’t loaded, you improvise.

  14. the lurch says:

    I’ve always LMAO when products like this appear. I particularly enjoy the pseudo-science behind how they work. High-end audio is filthy with things like this. I don’t know who to laugh at more..the people designing/selling this crap, or the rubes *actually buying* it.

    I’m particularly fond of shredding most of what can be purchased here. http://www.shunmook.com/text1.htm

    I know that 15 years ago the discs were $50 each. And the record clamp was almost $900.00. P.T. Barnum is LHAO somewhere.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Why all the grief for audiophiles? I love music, especially that old school warm analog sound. Personally I’ve seldom invested in audio tweaks, but I can certainly hear the difference between brands of stereo components, speakers, and — more subtly — cables. I figure it’s all about a harmless pursuit of happiness and appreciation of performance art. Besides, the money goes somewhere… into some small business or perhaps your local economy. On some level, paying $650 for a piece of wood is probably less detrimental to society than buying $100 worth of carcinogenic plastic crap at Walmart.

  16. Anonymous says:

    If you sand off the varnish it’d make a half decent chopping board.

  17. KaiBeezy says:

    .
    lots more in
    audio cable aficionado
    http://kaibeezy.tumblr.com/post/6495196882
    .

  18. Anonymous says:

    Even more great questionable tech here: http://www.machinadynamica.com/machina5.htm
    And here’s their answer to your turntable problems: http://www.machinadynamica.com/machina24.htm (wish I could find pricing)

  19. Anonymous says:

    A great investment so you can hear your low grade mp3′s or your dusty, popping vinyl lps.

  20. muteboy says:

    ALL NATIONS LOVE LOG

  21. exile says:

    …. or, you could spend half that on a visit to an Audiologist, who would save you money by proving that your ears are measurably incapable of hearing the difference.

  22. Mister44 says:

    Audiophiles have a lot in common to the new age enthusiast, with their crystals and orgone collectors or what have you.

    I have no doubt some of the high end speakers and the like are superior (though at some point the added costs are disproportionate to the added quality).

    Then there are some products that are snake oil – pure and simple. I have an uncle who is an audiophile, but not stupidly so. He likes to show me the ‘idiot product of the moment’ from one of his magazines. His best stories involves friends who shell out money for some of them.

  23. sdmikev says:

    Audiophile snake oil is the best snake oil I want to buy!
    I got into a semi-heated discussion with someone who is in love with very high end audio equipment a while back. They are very passionate about their stuff.
    At one point, I asked how a 20,000 dollar two channel tube amp for playing records can possibly be worth that kind of dough, when a: the guy uses printed circuit boards, and b: I can buy a handmade guitar amp using a hand wired board and the best quality caps, wire, etc, for not much more than a 10th of that that.
    She fumbled but ultimately failed.

  24. Don says:

    “Warm analog sound”? Hardly.

    I did the audiophile bit on a low budget. Thirty and forty years ago superior sound cost more money. Today it doesn’t. Incrementally better sound and its concomitant cost are akin to the speed of light and the absurd amount of energy one would be required to expend to reach light speed.

    The “warm analog sound” was never my aim. Pops, clicks, snaps, buzz feed, and feed back were what one was trying to keep out of the listening experience.

    Those who think that digital copies of analog originals are somehow inferior misunderestimate the mathematics behind limit theory.

    I am pretty happy to be living in an era where nicely middle of the road priced gear generates a superior listening experience.

    • Anonymous says:

      The use of the non-term “misunderestimate,” apparently without irony, is hilarious. One can only wonder, “Is our children learning?”

  25. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if audiophiles consider the fact that they may be spending lots of cash to get extremely accurate replay of recordings that were probably done on average recording instruments. For all you know that great symphonic album was done by near amateurs on cheap equipment. Now you are spending out the wazoo to try to reproduce every mediocre second of it.

    There is also the matter of how the masters were made and the copies made from that. I doubt they were made using $100 an inch cables.

  26. benenglish says:

    I don’t get why audiophiles buy this stuff.

    Yes, it’s well-understood that vibration-damping, judiciously applied, can make your stereo sound better. But why overpay for something, the benefits of which could probably be replicated for dimes on the dollar? It just ain’t smart.

    Protip to my tech-oriented friends – “Music servers” are the currently hot segment. A music server is a fairly low-spec Linux computer with some open-source software, some custom software, a nice interface, and a pretty case to hold it all. They should sell, based on average specs, for less than a grand. They are flying out the door at ten times that price. Best to move into that market now, before the rubes wise up.

    Side note to audiophile haters – Be more open-minded. In audio, everything makes a difference.

    Remember when science had proved it impossible for the human ear to hear anything that wasn’t being sampled for the production of CDs? Remember the slogan “Perfect Sound, Forever”?

    That turned out to be a crock because people were willing to say “I don’t care about instrumented measurements. I don’t care that A measures perfect and B measures like crap. My ears tell me that A sounds awful and B sounds OK, more like music.”

    Some of those people who heard a difference, who felt that CDs sounded awful despite their demonstrated perfection, were engineers and scientists. They did the work and found that things like jitter and inadequate error-correction existed, could be measured, and, when fixed, made the recordings sound better.

    All that, despite the fact that the original CDs were supposed to be perfect.

    I was there, a grown man in the early 80s when CDs hit. I read, over and over and over in newspapers and magazines, that “those stupid audiophiles who think they can hear problems with the sounds of CDs” were idiots and that all their claims had been scientifically proven false. I got caught up in the hype, believed it, and bought a CD player even though I didn’t have a stereo at the time. Then I went shopping for amps and speakers. I went to a bunch of places, always taking my own CD so that I heard the same music, listened to all sorts of equipment, and got more and more confused. Something didn’t sound right. I had spent too much time sitting in the middle of large groups of musicians, the double reed buzzing in my head as my fingers flew over the keys of my bassoon. I had an idea what music sounded like. And this was NOT it.

    I will never be able to express my gratitude to the saleslady at AudioProphiles, a long-gone Houston establishment, who let me play my CD on a Phase Linear player, through Krell electronics, with sound output by the original Apogee speakers.

    Less than a bar past the entry of the strings (The Four Seasons, on Telarc), I was screaming at her to turn it off, fingers firmly inserted in ears to block that awful, awful noise. Here I was, with a PERFECT source playing through some of the finest audio equipment in the world, and the sound was indescribably horrible.

    She took pity on me and simply gave me the room for the next couple of hours after she had showed me how to cue up records on the Goldmund Reference turntable (first one in the country, bought off the floor of the Consumer Electronics Show). For a couple of hours, I was in heaven. Violins sounded like violins, not instruments of torture. Rock records sounded like music.

    When she returned with another customer I had to leave. I expressed my dismay and confusion. “Why do all the CDs sound so bad?” “Because they’re digital.”

    She gifted me with a copy of The Absolute Sound and showed me to the door. From that moment, I knew that I couldn’t trust the people who had an ideological stake in how things should sound. I knew I couldn’t trust anyone who was trying to sell me something. I knew I could only trust my ears.

    The progress of audio over the decades has always been the same. People who listen say “I hear a difference”. Rational people respond “Stupid audiophile! There is no difference! It’s scientifically impossible!” A few of those people who heard a difference do the work, come up with a theory, find the reason, come up with a way to measure, and improve the state of the art.

    The process repeats over and over and over again, ad infinitum.

    Today’s big deal seems to be cables. I don’t hear a difference but I’ve gotten old and my ears are bad. Lots of people, though, claim to be able to hear a difference between speaker cables or interconnects or even power cables. Lots of other folks are busy putting their fingers in their ears and humming loudly, stopping occasionally to shout: “Stupid audiophiles! There is no difference! It’s scientifically impossible!”

    Other people are doing the work, coming up with some fascinating theories, and trying to do the needed testing/experimenting.

    The cycle repeats. We’ll see how it turns out.

    tl;dr – $650 wood blocks are stupid. Not all audiophiles are. Audiophile haters, otoh, turn out to be wrong more often that most people realize.

  27. Anonymous says:

    You all miss the point. The objective is not great sound – the objective is the visceral experience of feeling smug, and superior to those “not in the know”. The price tag is an essential component in the formula that makes up this experience – without it, the whole endeavor would be plain, common, pedestrian… the antithesis of “superior”.

  28. adamnvillani says:

    At a certain point, wouldn’t it become cheaper for these guys to just get an annual subscription to their local philharmonic orchestra? Or if their local one isn’t any good, monthly plane tickets to a town where the orchestra is good?

    • billstewart says:

      A housemate of mine in college had a functionally similar audio block. We’d been repairing the slate walk out front, and ended up with a slab about six inches thick and 2-3 feet across. Stood it up on some cinder blocks, put the turntable on top, and you could dance in the room without the record skipping. He was an audiophile who liked classical music, but his stereo wasn’t that expensive – it was good enough to hear what the orchestra was playing, and it was much more cost effective to buy better recordings of better orchestras with better conductors than to get a little less distortion so you could hear an uninspired performance better.

  29. Bubba says:

    I’m holding out for the Monster version, I hear they’ll be using the quantums.

  30. bolamig says:

    “Connection Revitalizer” reminds me of Caig’s Pro-Gold connection cleaner, which I am ashamed to admit I purchased a bottle of after a smart audiophile extolled its virtues. When I tried telling a bunch of electric vehicle enthusiasts to try Caig’s Pro-Gold on their battery connections, I learned how easy it is to fool even skeptical folks like myself.

  31. shanealeslie says:

    Makes me want to find a wounded tree and harvest sap to mould into amber platforms for audiophiles to put their speakers on

  32. Anonymous says:

    I swear, some things are just plain useless (not entirely, but useless with that price tag attached to them).

  33. Anonymous says:

    Does anybody question where this wood is coming from? I LOVE wood. wood everything. But we really are the generation that is now responsible for asking where our wood products are coming from. The more we ask, the more pressure industry will feel to only buy sustainable.

    • Brainspore says:

      Does anybody question where this wood is coming from? I LOVE wood. wood everything. But we really are the generation that is now responsible for asking where our wood products are coming from.

      If deforestation is your worry you may take some solace in the knowledge that one tree should be enough to make enough of these overpriced chopping blocks for every nitwit who has the budget and inclination to buy one.

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