Pear Cables Offered JREF Challenge

Pear Cables has been offered the One Million Dollar JREF Challenge to prove their claims that an audible difference can be heard between their $7,250 cables and Monster Cable.

*UPDATE 10/24/07 – Response from Michael Fremer in comment on this post. Recommended reading*

Email exchanges between Michael Fremer and James Randi have gotten quite heated. You can read it for yourself on direct links supplied below. But Pear audio has definately and specifically been offered the One Million dollar prize. It will be very interesting to follow this.

LINKS TO INFO:
JREF Pear Cable Invitation – READ
JREF Website
Pear Cable Website

JAMES RANDI WRITES TO FREMER ON THE JREF WEBSITE:

Mr. Fremer, for further clarity, here is the essence of what the JREF will accept as a response to our challenge: We are asking you – and/or Adam Blake – to significantly differentiate between a set of $7,250 Pear Anjou cables and a good set of Monster cables, or between a set of $43,000 Transparent Opus MM SC cables and the same Monster cables – your choice of these two possible scenarios. We will accept an ABX system test – if that is also acceptable to you. This would have to be done to a statistically significant degree, that degree to be decided.

I can see many more possible ways for you to continue balking, so let’s get along with it, Mr. Fremer.

************************

One reader writes: “The skeptics have addressed the pseudoscience of high end audio in a past issue of skeptic magazine. For example, the superiority of vinyl records and vacuum tube amps are favorites of true believer audiophiles. Basically, anything that is difficult to detect and leaves a lot to interpretation gets the gullible out with their wallets. That goes for just about anything including alternative medicine and religion.”


FROM THE JAMES RANDI WEBSITE:

There is a case to be made for having quality components, but the claims we’re dealing with here result from the “audiophools” who prefer expensive toys over actual performance, and assume superior personal sensitivity that is simply not there – all of which is of course encouraged by the vendors of the toys and supported by the small army of self-appointed “experts” who turn out reams of dreamy text extolling such nonsense, safely snuggled away in their Ivory Towers.

The JREF has put its money where its Internet mouth is.

I must thank those concerned readers who sent me informed warnings about the possibilities of fakery and the actual parameters of audio performance – not wanting me to wander out of my sphere of expertise. As I’ve said before, I know two things with considerable authority: how people can be fooled, and how they can fool themselves. The latter of those is often the more important factor. In designing double-blind testing protocols, I have always seen to it that the security, randomization, isolation, statistical limits, and information-transfer elements are carefully set up and implemented. Designing an appropriate protocol is not outside of my abilities, and I feel quite secure with this. All my life, I’ve been involved in the fine art of deception – for purposes of entertainment – and I daresay that despite my advancing age, I can still do a few dandy card tricks and make a couple of innocent objects vanish from sight, if pressed sufficiently. When that acuity degrades, it will be time to call in appropriate assistance…

******************************

FROM THE PEAR CABLE WEBSITE:
Info Found At: http://www.pearcable.com/sub_faq.htm#3

What makes Pear Cable different from all of the other cable companies out there?

This is difficult to sum up in a single paragraph, but certainly one of the biggest differences comes from our fundamental approach to cable design, which is to begin with basic science and engineering. Although it is a bit shocking, MOST cable companies do not share this fundamental design approach. There are probably three main categories of cable designers out there: ones that utilize pseudo-science or other types of faulty design principles, empirically driven cable designers, and designers that begin with real engineering and science. Unfortunately, the use of pseudo-science is probably the dominant cable design platform, with proven engineering principles being the least prevalent design platform. The cable companies that utilize faulty scientific conclusions can be spotted by the factual errors presented in their design philosophy, or misuse of otherwise sound engineering principles. Cable designers driven primarily by empirical listening results have great intentions, but are unlikely to ever reach the highest levels of performance due to a tremendous number of design factors. The few companies out there who actually utilize sound cable design principles often focus on only one design element, or fall victim to marketing pressure, only to end up with mediocre products. Pear Cable has the utmost confidence in the products that we offer, and the products have all had their scientific principles verified by human listening. We can stand behind all of the design principles that we utilize; can the other guys do that?

Do I need to be an audiophile to hear the differences between cables?

No. Anyone can appreciate the differences that cables make. A casual music listener may not be able to describe why a poor quality sound system doesn’t sound good, but they know that it doesn’t sound anything like live music. Improve the quality of the cables and the same listener may not know why the sound is better, but they know it is better. If you listen to music, you can benefit from the improvements in accuracy that accurate cables will enable.

5 thoughts on “Pear Cables Offered JREF Challenge

  1. Do you always reproduce half stories and half truths? Apparently so if what’s here is typical. What about my side of the story? Is one side your idea of “objectivity?” Perhaps so, so I’ll have to give my side here.

    I’ll get to the cable challenge in a moment. Mr. Randi has often attacked me with outright lies. For example I was sent a device that claimed to be able to demagnetize vinyl LPs. This made no sense to me since records are PVC and PVC cannot be magnetized (obviously). But I tried it and it was easy to hear a difference (please wait before saying I deluded myself, thank you).

    I have a pretty good track record of having my observational skills corroborated by measurements if you’ve read any of my loudspeaker reviews where I predict the frequency response measurements with specificity and I’m usually pretty close.

    In any case, I did some research as well as listening to the claims of the manufacturer of the device and guess what? It’s not the PVC that gets magnetized, it’s the carbon in the carbon black that’s mixed in with PVC to give records their black color. Carbon? Magnetic? Yes:

    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/print/20627

    Now, Mr. Randi mocked me in print about this story, which he’d obviously not read, yet when I sent him this information, did he correct his story? No. He was happier to leave his acolytes believing that I had suggested that PVC could be demagnetized. Randi is not interested in truth or even good behavior.

    Now, as for the cables. He offered this cable challenge. I have heard cable differences and that cables can sound difference is not “paranormal” or “pseudoscience.” In fact, in his communications to me, Randi admitted that “anyone” can hear the difference between zip cord (16 gauge lamp cord once commonly used as speaker cable) and “Monster Cable.” That was a big admission from Mr. Randi since when Monster Cable was first introduced, folks like Randi dismissed it as a fraud.

    The way Randi’s challenge works, is, you negotiate the test protocol with Randi and when both sides are in agreement as to what that is, you sign an agreement and take the test. But before doing so, Randi rightly suggests that one “rehearse” to see if one can actually perform as contended.

    Pear Cable had agreed to supply their cables for this test. That’s when I heard about it and that’s when I jumped in. I know I can hear cable differences (even Randi claims he can as well). But I’d never heard Pear Cables. So at the beginning of my negotiations with Randi, I first got him to agree to remove all talk of “paranormal” and “ESP” and the other gobbledegook because I don’t believe in any of that and I don’t claim to have any such abilities.

    I asked Randi to specify which Monster Cable he wished to use in the test since there are about a dozen, and then offered Randi one of 3 choices.

    Here is a paste and cut from the email:

    Since I have not heard either the Pear Anjou or the Transparent Opus, and since I don’t necessarily think that “expensive equals better,” there are three options:

    1) I request a set of Pear Anjou cables to hear what they sound like and then decide whether i can hear the difference between them and whichever set of Monster cables you identify as “good.”

    2) request a pair of Transparent Orpheus cables to hear what they sound like and then decide whether i can hear the difference between them and whichever set of Monster cables you identify as “good.”

    3) have you sign off on okaying me to use my reference TARA Labs Omega cables ($16,000 pr.) versus whichever set of Monster cables you identify as “good.”

    Once this is clarified we will take it the next step and I will state clearly what abilities I intend to demonstrate.

    Here is Randi’s response:

    “On Oct 15, 2007, at 7:53 PM, James Randi wrote:

    I think I’d go with option 3, for simplicity, but I’ll have to consult with my advisors, first…

    And perhaps the Z2R ML 10/10 – if a 10’ cable is okay with you.

    All subject to advisors…”

    Fair enough, right? Never mind that on Monster’s sight the claim for Z2R ML cable is that the highs travel through the thin strands and the lows through the thick ones! That’s B.S. no high end cable manufacturer would ever throw.

    That is the last communication I have had with Randi. I was waiting for his advisors to get back to him and he to me so I could take the next step.

    In the meantime, Pear backed out for whatever reasons. They emailed me and told me. I told them to please tell Randi directly.

    Next thing I knew, Randi was back at it on his site, calling ME a “blowhard,” claiming I had found a way to weasel out of the test, that “..the matter was over,” and that he’d now look for the next candidate to claim to be able to hear differences and then back down.

    Of course his “fans” responded by calling me all kinds of names, and I responded very angrily. And for good reason. I was blindsided. I was negotiating with Mr. Randi in good faith to take a test to see if I could, under blind A/B/X conditions differentiate between $200 Monster Cable and either $7000 or $16,000 cables.

    Now, please, leaving aside the price of the cables (or $20,000 watches, of $300,000 cars, or whatever), I was prepared to take the test and prepared to admit it if I failed to hear the difference

    It’s important to have pre-conceived notions tested. And that goes for people who think high end audio is “pseudo-science” and who think CDs actually sound more like real music than LPs (among those who think LPs sound more real are many recording engineers like Roy Halee who recorded all of Simon and Garfunkel’s albums, and albums by The Byrds, Dylan, The New York Philharmonic, etc. so please, no one respond to that claim with your engineering bona fides….

    So that’s where it stands now. Clearly my story is somewhat different than the one sided, totally unfair one you’ve excerpted above for the amusement of your readers and the abusement of me.

    -Michael Fremer
    senior contributing editor, Stereophile

  2. Mr. Fremer,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to add information. This story is of interest to myself and others for several reasons.

    It is of interest to myself firstly because I am in the audio/music field and also a long time reader of James Randi and his JREF Challenge.

    It is also of interest because this is the first time I am aware that his challenge has been specifically offered outside the realm of the paranormal. As Mr. Randi has stated publicly, many regular readers have wondered about this and are following the article closely.

    It is true I personally am a “fan” of James Randi, this does not automatically make me a “hater” of you. I am just following the story and wanted to see discussion on it.

    We are extremely curious about the outcome of all of this.

    I consider it very possible that James Randi could be correct that there is no audible difference and he is calling the claims out in good faith. I also consider it very possible that Mr. Randi has gone outside his area of expertise and you may very well be the one to snatch the one million dollars. This has been brought to Mr. Randi’s attention and he stands firm in his convictions.

    That is why it interests us so much.

    Again, thank you for taking the time to personally respond. Much appreciated.

    Conrad Askland

  3. Thank you for your courteous response. I have spent a week of my time on this and probably am finished with it. I received an email from a magician who had a ‘run-in’ with Mr. Randi and his experience was not pleasant and mirrors mine. I entered “Randi-world” with good intentions even though he’d already unfairly singled me out for ridicule months earlier with the record de-mag story, which he’d not read, and clearly mischaracterized. That should have told me to be careful but I jumped in anyway. Randi’s name calling is repellent. But people who enjoy high performance audio are used to it. For some reason, gourmets, exotic car owners, oenophiles, etc. are respected as are the producers of fine wine, food and cars, but for some reason, producers of high performance audio and the people who own their products are singled out for derision (audiofools, etc.). There’s a stereotype out there, that angry guys like Randi are happy to exploit in the name of “consumer protection, but really it’s for their own self-aggrandizement. What’s funny is that on one side are the derisive cynics who think the industry if run by charlatans who fool the gullible and then there are the consumers and readers with whom I communicate on a regular basis. Who are they? Chiefs of Radiology at major hospitals, doctors, money managers, CEOs, successful lawyers and other powerful people who have accomplished much in their lives and are smart and not easily fooled. Having a high performance audio system is a terrific stress reliever and brings these people tremendous joy. I also communicate with cops and firefighters and postmen who share the enjoyment and though they can’t spend as much, enjoy as much and often obtain better results with far fewer resources. I also know some who manage to buy the really expensive high performance gear by sacrificing in other areas. That’s how important an immersive music experience is for them. Why should these people, or any of us be subjected to the snarling, name calling, lie-filled abuse of people like Mr. Randi? Why doesn’t he snarl at people who spend $500 on a bottle of wine and then drink it, and it’s gone? I don’t get it while he singles out audiophiles. If a guy or gal wants to spend $20,000 on a watch that tells time with no greater accuracy than a Swatch, so what? If they’ve got the money. Same with audio. Meanwhile, look where all of the attacks on “audiofools” have led: MP3s, plastic computer speakers, and the marginalization of music in people’s lives. People don’t listen to music anymore for the most part. They hear it while cooking or cleaning or driving or working out but do they sit and really pay full, undivided attention to it anymore? Few do. Audiophiles do. They sit down turn off the lights and pay attention. What is wrong with that? Why should they be singled out for abuse? In Europe, where I attend hi-fi shows, the crowds are big and the demographic young. Owning a good audio system is an aspirational goal for kids there. They appreciate good music. America’s been poisoned in that regard. Guys like Randi are part of the problem. I took the bait in good faith, I was abused and blindsided by Randi and I reacted (overrreacted). That allowed Randi to come back as if he was the aggrieved party—this is after he called me a “blowhard” and insinuated that I’d backed out of his challenge, when in fact I hadn’t. Based on his first unprovoked attack on me I should never have engaged him in the first place. He’s a liar and a phony and that’s a fact. I have better things to do with my time than to try to engage him again and be abused again. He’s called me names before I contacted him, and during our communication when I attempted in good faith to engage him. He’ll continue now claiming I’m a “blowhard,” a charlatan, a phony, a liar, etc. Nothing’s changed except that I won’t be wasting my time on him. Thanks for listening. As for the audio arguments, look, there are people who prefer CDs to LPs and vice-versa, though understand there is a vinyl resurgence right now worldwide that’s amazing and it’s engaging a young generation of kids who grew up listening to files. I talk to these kids all the time. Some people like tube gear, some don’t. Whatever. None of these preferences should cause anyone to be subject to attacks. It’s ludicrous. I know engineers and mastering guys on both sides of all of these arguments and we’re all friends. We’re all on the same page trying to improve the sound of recorded music….and that’s all I have to say..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.