Snake oil

Snake oil: 4K displays on smartphones

The screen resolution of smartphones has increased dramatically over the last ten years. Have we reached a point where further improvement is just a waste of money?

Categories: snake oil

Snake oil: balanced headphones

Do balanced headphones provide an improvement in sound quality over conventional, single-ended designs? Unlikely. In fact, the increased complexity of these designs may actually reduce the accuracy of sound reproduction.

Categories: hifi, snake oil

Do different CD transports sound different?

Bits are bits, right? If a CD transport just sends digital data to a DAC, is it even possible that different transports sound different?

Categories: hifi, snake oil

How flat-earthers use misrepresentations of scale to promote their ideas

Misrepresentations of scale are common in the literature of organizations that seek to deceive. However, it's sometimes difficult, or unhelpful, to draw diagrams to scale. This article tries to explain the difference between benign and pernicious distortions of scale. I'm picking on the flat-earthers for the purposes of illustration, but the presentational devices they use are common in business and politics as well.

Categories: science and technology, education, snake oil

Is your fitness watch lying to you?

People are increasingly using smart watches and fitness watches for tracking health metrics. Is it wise to do so? (Short answer: probably not.)

Categories: science and technology, snake oil

Why you can't improve your hi-fi system by upgrading the mains cable

You really can't improve your hi-fi system with a fancy mains cable. But why? And why do people think you can?

Categories: hifi, snake oil

Is high resolution audio really worth the effort?

The availability of better than CD audio recordings is driving, and being driven by, more expensive and elaborate audio hardware, even in the consumer market. Is this a good thing?

Categories: hifi, snake oil

Homeopathy: flushing science down the lavatory

My purpose in this article is not to explain that homeopathy doesn't work -- for all I know it might -- but that widespread acceptance of homeopathy is damaging to the scientific enterprise, and ultimately to society. I will also make the suggestion that the increased interest in homeopathy, and in other forms of alternative medicine, is a reaction to a dissatisfaction with modern medical practice, rather than a conviction that homeopathy is actually efficacious.

Categories: science and technology, snake oil

Does it matter how we rip audio CDs?

Copying an audio CD -- perhaps to a portable music player -- is a common enough operation. There are strong opinions on how to do this, and what software to use. But does it really make any difference? Or is one bit the same as any other?

Categories: hifi, snake oil