Friday, November 23, 2007

Is it a rip-off, or just a remarkably clever business model?

I think most people are aware that, should you so desire, you can spend unimaginable amount of cash on audio equipment, and you may well get some nice gear along the way. However, there are some audio companies that take this to an extraordinary degree of geek-ish-ness. Case in point: Anjou cables from Pear Cables.

Take a couple of minutes to read their product description. It's laced with a goodly mixture of science, pseudo-science and just plain hokum! And the price? $7250 for a 12 foot pair! Just to get an electrical signal from your stereo to the speakers. That's just obscene.

And I'm not the only one to think so. Techdirt (a tech blog I read regularly) have this article on the on-going discussions between James Randi (a professional debunker & skeptic) and the general audio-extremo-phile community. He wants someone to prove that Anjou cables give an audibly perceptable improvement in the sound emanating from the speakers, than using Monster cables (another audiophile supplier of cabling, but without quite the same obscene prices: just $80 for a pair of HDMI cables).

Now my question. Is the Pear Cable company having a laugh at the expense (pun quite intended!) of the audio-phile community? Are they deliberately trying to make a fortune out of mis-guided snobs, who's knowledge of physics comes from the back of cereal packets or the inside of an audiophile magazine like Positive Feedback Online? Or are they serious.

Surely someone who has the technical nouse to be able to manufacture decent cables (which, admittedly, the Anjou ones appear to be, though not quite to the degree suggested) must have the technical knowledge to know that most of the claims are pure snake-oil?

The final word, however, goes to Gizmodo with the excellent post that first brought this subject to my attention, and to their most recent post on the subject of the James Randi challenge: Pear Cable Chickens Out of $1,000,000 Challenge, We Search For Answers.

Perhaps someone at Pear has realized the idiocy of their claims? Well, they're still selling the cables, so perhaps not.

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