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Wooden Knobs For Your Stereo
Status: Dubious product
image This seems like it should be a joke, but I don't think it is. Reference Audio Mods is selling wooden knobs for Silver Rock stereo equipment (to replace the standard metal knobs). They claim these knobs will greatly improve sound quality:
The point here is the micro vibrations created by the volume pots and knobs find their way into the delicate signal path and cause degradation (Bad vibrations equal bad sound). With the signature knobs micro vibrations from the C37 concept of wood, bronze and the lacquer itself compensate for the volume pots and provide (Good Vibrations) our ear/brain combination like to hear... way better sound!!
And they're asking $485.00! I refuse to believe that wooden knobs would make any difference in the sound quality of stereo equipment.

Related Posts:
Nov 08, 2005: Altmann Tube-O-Lator Lacquer
Categories: Technology
Posted by The Curator on Wed Aug 02, 2006
Comments (34)
James Randi had an extended rant about this particular scam at http://www.randi.org/jr/123104my.html

It would qualify for the $1,000,000 prize, if it produced a detectable difference in a double blind test, but the manufacturers are too busy to apply.
Posted by Terry Austin  in  Surf City USA  on  Wed Aug 02, 2006  at  11:38 AM
I refuse to believe that wooden knobs would make any difference in the sound quality of stereo equipment.

That depends. Do the wooden knobs go to eleven?
Posted by Chris Carlisle  on  Wed Aug 02, 2006  at  12:53 PM
I am not enough of an audiophile to completely understand the whole "potentiometer" bit but looking around I see that the equipment these knobs are made for is pretty high end stuff.

Look at

http://www.audio-consulting.ch/sr_pot.htm

and

http://www.audio-consulting.ch/C37_wooden_knobs.htm

So while I reserve judgement till a later date, I will say it's not as ridiculous as it might seem at first glance.

Also, the only people the have the type of equipment these knobs are made for would not be an audio "newb" so they should have a fairly good idea of what they are getting into.

Also, no one is suggesting that replacing your old Sony stereo's knobs with custom wood ones will make any difference....this seems to be a specialized application directed at true audiophiles.
Posted by Chuck  in  Rhode Island  on  Wed Aug 02, 2006  at  04:15 PM
Chuck, that is not necessarily true. They could be catering to the wealthy but otherwise ignorant who want to be "up to date" and have "the best". You just have to convince them that they need it, and they'll do the rest for you. A placebo effect.

The link posted by Cranky Media Guy in the Tube-O-Lator Lacquer comments (http://www.ilikejam.dsl.pipex.com/audiophile.htm for the lazy,) has them listed as frauds, though obviously that doesn't mean much, what with it being the web. Still, logically, what are they going to do? Vibrate less? Not distort the sound waves that happen to pass through the knob quite as much as a metal knob would? I certainly wouldn't have pegged them as making the sound "much more open and free flowing with a nice improvement in resolution".

I don't claim to have particular knowledge on the subject, however, there doesn't seem like there would be enough of an audible difference to justify paying upwards of $900 for these (2 knobs. $7100 if you include the box), if one at all.
Posted by DarknessDragon  in  New Jersey, Joisey, your choice  on  Wed Aug 02, 2006  at  05:59 PM
Chuck said:

"Also, the only people the have the type of equipment these knobs are made for would not be an audio "newb" so they should have a fairly good idea of what they are getting into."

Chuck, you seem to be operating on the assumption that people who have the disposable income to buy very high-end stuff automatically know what they're buying. I wouldn't say that that is necessarily correct. I think there are a LOT of products on the market which have bells and whistles to justify a high price but don't actually work any better than their cheaper counterparts. For salient examples, check out Sharper Image or Hammacher-Schlemmer.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed Aug 02, 2006  at  08:57 PM
They could simply be operating under the 'at this price, I only have to sell one', policy...
Posted by Robin Bobcat  in  Californian Wierdo  on  Thu Aug 03, 2006  at  01:15 AM
I'm with Darkness and CMG on this one. It's the "newbs" with the money they are gearing this product to. The true "audiophiles" that actually have knowledge in this area know straight away that it's a complete scam.
Posted by Razela  in  Chicago, IL  on  Thu Aug 03, 2006  at  02:05 AM
What a fantastic hoax this is. It must be such fun to design and make all this do-it-yourself audio stuff, a lot of work too. Come on you hoax watchers, have a better look at the philosophy at http://www.audio-consulting.ch/ and the photographs of all their products being hand made in Switzerland. Their discman and dvd player for example are hilarious! And those wooden knobs... I just can
Posted by Johnny  in  amsterdam  on  Thu Aug 03, 2006  at  07:23 AM
Newb's with money may be the target demographic of this product or they may not, I simply don't know for sure hence saying in my previous post that I reserve judgement....I don't know enough on this subject to say either way and I don't think most of you do either.

The main reason I assumed this product was not targeted at newbs with money is that most newbs with money simply go to a high end electronics store and purchase whatever is the latest and greatest. They do not, I repeat, do not build their own freaking stereo systems although they might hire someone to build it.

Bottom line, if you don't know, then you really shouldn't pass judgement. I found this site that seems pretty informative but haven't had the chance to look into it too much yet.

http://www.audioholics.com/techtips/audioprinciples/index.php
Posted by Chuck  in  Rhode Island  on  Thu Aug 03, 2006  at  09:19 AM
Audiophiles in general are delusional.. this is nothing more than a scam..

what all these audiophile gimmicks fail to remember, is they're using the same source material.. either vinyl, or cd (!)

were wooden knobs, and other gimmicks used in the recording studio?

garbage in, garbage out.
Posted by mike  in  vancouver wa  on  Thu Aug 03, 2006  at  09:48 AM
There actually is one good reason for these knobs. Static electricity. I'm sure all of you, at least once, have grabbed the volume knob and recieved a shock. I've often thought of modifying kichen cabinet knobs for the task. As for the price.... $5 at Home Depot or $500 at BenDover Audio? Choice is yours....
Posted by Dave  in  Winnipeg, Mb  on  Thu Aug 03, 2006  at  10:58 AM
I disagree with the idea that this is marketed to n00bs only. I've known a few 'audiophiles', and it's staggering the amount of money they will blow on useless crap. One of them has been an 'expert' for probably 20 years now, and he once spent $10,000 on gold-plated speaker cable that sounds exactly like the cable that came with the system. He refused to allow us to perform a blind test of his ability to distinguish between the two.

Frankly, the high end audio market is about at reliable as any other pseudoscience.
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Thu Aug 03, 2006  at  01:04 PM
Wooden knobs don't make a difference. Quality potentiometers do. Better spend your money on those.

Professional audio devices not only have good quality pots (smooth electrical resistance graph, no particles (= the static when turning a volume knob)) but their other parts are also of high quality (resistors, filters on seperate boards, ...) All of these will create some static while some filter it out.

So any static still present, from a potentiometer, is so small that even if a wooden knob would work, the change would still be beneath the audio resolution of any recording device or speaker (and thus inaudible).
Posted by FrostBird  in  The Old Continent, Chaos Kingdom  on  Thu Aug 03, 2006  at  02:02 PM
"Bottom line, if you don't know, then you really shouldn't pass judgement."

Sometimes the truth is so obvious to the casual observer that you don't really need to be in the "know." However, if you feel so strongly about it, I'll give some of my friends in the music production business a call today and ask them what they think about this product.
Posted by Razela  in  Chicago, IL  on  Thu Aug 03, 2006  at  02:10 PM
It may well improve sound quality a tiny bit, but is it worth $485? I thought not.
Posted by Owen  on  Thu Aug 03, 2006  at  02:19 PM
"Bottom line, if you don't know, then you really shouldn't pass judgement."

Passable point perhaps. Anyway I do know and my judgement is that this is a nonsense.

There you go, just saved you $500 or so. No need to thank me sir, it's my job. smile
Posted by Peter  on  Thu Aug 03, 2006  at  03:38 PM
lmao, well at least some of the previous responses seemed to come from knowledgable sources. My own excluded of course as I have already admitted my lack knowledge on the subject.

Peter, I am perfectly happy with my low end set up and was not contemplating wooden knobs for it but all the same, it is very kind of you to look out for us simple folk smile
Posted by Chuck  in  Rhode Island  on  Thu Aug 03, 2006  at  04:43 PM
OK, here's a question for you audio-knowledgeable types:

Supposing that using wooden knobs on a high-end stereo outfit really does somehow make the sound better, why couldn't I whittle my own from a piece of scrap lumber at a total cost of ... nothing?
Posted by Big Gary  in  Possum Kingdom, Texas  on  Thu Aug 03, 2006  at  06:24 PM
Another good example is the Golden Sound Intelligent Chip: http://www.machinadynamica.com/machina27.htm

The audiophile market is similar to the wine connoisseur market in that it includes a percentage of pretentious dingbats who exercise little or no judgement or critical thinking when introduced to gadgets like gold-plated speaker wire, fancy-shmancy power leads, wine magnets, etc.

A lot of high end audio gear these days doesn't use potentiometers. The knobs are connected to little optical encoders that send digital pulses to the logic to increase or decrease gain in a circuit. Changing the knob will have no more effect on the detectable sound than changing your shorts.

The real giveaway is that none of these people (or the twits who endorse their products) are willing to subject their products to a real double blind test. There are forums full of their nonsensical arguments about why double blind tests wouldn't prove anything or "aren't fair". If there actually were any real, objective tests to quote from they would let you know loud and clear. Instead all you ever see is testimonials from satisfied suckers, sorry... I mean customers, and condescending "experts".

The bottom line is: if you can't tell the difference why waste your money?
Posted by Blondin  on  Thu Aug 03, 2006  at  11:41 PM
I don't know about audiophiles, so much, but I think there is a basic principle being overlooked in this entire thread. The music doesn't become sound until it reaches the speakers, folks. Until it is converted into sound in the speakers, it is nothing but a stream of signal being passed down the wires, or nowadays, thru a wireless transmission, sometimes. In either case, it is just ordinated energy pulses that are transmitted to the speakers, and there translated into audible sound. The stereo knobs have nothing to do with the sound generation or resonance, that is all done by electromagnetic wizardry - in the Speakers! If you want to mute any distortion coming from those devices, it might serve you well to place wooden planks in front of your woofer and tweeter sets, but I wouldn't recommend it for aesthetic sound quality.
Posted by stork  in  the spiracles of space  on  Fri Aug 04, 2006  at  12:34 AM
I can't believe that there has not been a single knob joke in this thrtead to date. What are you people - grownups?
Posted by outeast  on  Fri Aug 04, 2006  at  03:16 AM
Knob knob knobbin
Posted by johnny  in  amsterdam  on  Fri Aug 04, 2006  at  06:35 AM
Big Gary said

OK, here's a question for you audio-knowledgeable types:

Supposing that using wooden knobs on a high-end stereo outfit really does somehow make the sound better, why couldn't I whittle my own from a piece of scrap lumber at a total cost of ... nothing?
_____________________________________


Gary, I have already admitted my lack of knowledge so I don't really qualify as an "audio knowledgeable type" but I can refer you to a page I linked to previously.

http://www.audio-consulting.ch/C37_wooden_knobs.htm

Scroll to the bottom and you will see some unfinished knobs. I don't see any reason a halfway decent carpenter couldn't make them. The onlt specs seem to be the type of wood (solid beech in this case) as well as a bronze core which they claim achieves much better sound than any other metal or plastic.
Posted by Chuck  in  Rhode Island  on  Fri Aug 04, 2006  at  10:05 AM
Stork said:

"The music doesn't become sound until it reaches the speakers, folks. Until it is converted into sound in the speakers, it is nothing but a stream of signal being passed down the wires, or nowadays, thru a wireless transmission, sometimes."

Exactly correct, Mr. Stork. This whole "wooden knob" thing is a big joke on people who think that the most expensive thing must automatically be the BEST thing. Like another poster said, these would have about as much impact on the sound coming out of your speakers as changing your shorts would.

Although Barnum never said, "There's a sucker born every minute," the guy who DID was about 30 seconds off. Or as Frank Zappa said, hydrogen isn't the most common element in the Universe, stupidity is.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Sat Aug 05, 2006  at  04:23 AM
Charybdis said:

"One of them has been an 'expert' for probably 20 years now, and he once spent $10,000 on gold-plated speaker cable that sounds exactly like the cable that came with the system. He refused to allow us to perform a blind test of his ability to distinguish between the two."

Isn't that interesting? Why, it's almost as if, on some level, he KNEW that his ridiculously expensive cable didn't do squat to the audio. I mean, if they were worth $20k, why wouldn't he want to PROVE to you that he knew what he was talking about? The ability of the human mind to bullshit itself is amazing, isn't it?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Sat Aug 05, 2006  at  04:33 AM
One word: poppycock!!
Posted by the Brit  on  Mon Aug 07, 2006  at  08:49 PM
Cranky Media Guy - Thanks for validating what I thought all along. I know you're a pro.
Posted by stork  in  the spiracles of space  on  Mon Aug 07, 2006  at  09:44 PM
You're welcome, Stork, although you hardly needed my validation. This thing has "Emperor's New Clothes" written all over it.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Tue Aug 08, 2006  at  07:14 AM
Har it's funny. Regardless of electromagnetic or digital signals and the effect of wooden knobs on their transmission, I find this whole thing even funnier because... if the metal volume knob on your stereo has such a profound effect on the sound of your system, what effect does the huge metal amp case have on the sound? If changing one knob to a bit of wood makes such a difference, then surely what you REALLY need to do is eliminate the big clunky steel box which contains all the electronics...

I might start producing high-end audiophile equipment made out of lovely polished wooden boxes (just like the old days). Wow, what could I charge for a wooden amp?
Posted by Mark D  in  Scotland  on  Wed Oct 04, 2006  at  07:19 PM
People are like this, always. They are narrow-minded like the topicstarter and most of the crowd who replied, too stupid to figure out how it is possible, and too protective for their tiny, narrow-minded world by refusing to even think. Keep doing this, that's great, the less people use their brains, the easier it is to live well for those who do.
Posted by D.R.Norman  on  Tue Dec 05, 2006  at  11:02 AM
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