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Pear Cables Earns Honors in Yahoo's Worst Tech Products of 2007

by January 03, 2008
The skeptic and the oil salesman face off

The skeptic and the oil salesman face off

The story of Pear Cable has become quite the saga since we last tuned in.  The latest chapter for Pear is the dubious distinction of making Yahoo’s list of the worst technology products of 2007 as a contender for tech rip-off of the year.

Oh, the Melodrama

Gadget website Gizmdo has been following the complete speaker cable saga.  This colorful story begins with a Dancin' Fool by the name of Dave Clarke, a man who dances to the sound of cables, but apparently not to music:

"In extended listening sessions, I found the cables' greatest strength to be its PRAT.  Simply put these are very danceable cables.  Music playing through them results in the proverbial foot tapping scene with the need or desire to get up and move.  Great swing and pace—these cables smack that right on the nose big time.  In this area, they are simply way better than anything else I have heard prior to their audition."

Anjou speaker cables, Dave Clark, Positive Feedback Online

Gizmodo’s opinion:

"Bullshit. Total bullshit. Danceable? Dance, fool, dance."

Gizmodo: $7250 Speaker Cables turn you into a dancin’ fool 

Normally it is music that is danceable, irrespective of what one listens to it with.

Apparently, without the Anjou cables, the music Clark chose for the review must not have been danceable on its own.  The cables did it for him.

By the way, what the heck is PRAT?

I must’ve gotten rusty on my audiophile speak, so I looked it up: Pace Rhythm and Timing.  Again, this would normally be a function of the music, but there are some who think it is a function of the soulless electronics of reproduction and not of the musicians who performed the music.

Gizmodo may in fact have lead to Pear’s dubious notoriety when word of this miraculous, spontaneous, cable induced dancing made its way around to James Randi, noted caller on BS, following Gizmodo’s send up.  Randi threw down the $1 million gauntlet for anyone to prove that these cables are in any way extraordinary to justify such an extraordinary sum and that they can be distinguished from ordinary Monster Cable.  Actually, the challenge is not even that dramatic, just show that the cables can be identified in double blind testing; they don’t even have to sound better.

All of this attention got Pear Cable CEO Adam Blake into somewhat of a tizzy.  The tizzy apparently consisted of Blake calling Randi's challenge a hoax, doing some name calling, and other less than professional things based on an email from Blake that Gizmodo apparently got their hands on.  Mr. Blake disparages Mr. Randi’s level of education, occupation, and for calling BS on Pear’s pseudo scientific claims.  Blake doesn’t like high school educated Randi calling his cable science junk and states that Pear’s claims are backed by measurements, a wealth of scientific information, and expert opinion.

Then Stereophile writer Michael Fremer steps up to take Randi’s challenge and Pear Cable issues a press release announcing their support, albeit merely a loan to Mr. Fremer of their precious, precious cables.

$1 Million Speaker Cable Challenge Accepted
Audiophile Reviewer Michael Fremer Agrees to Double-Blind Loudspeaker Cable Test

Newton, Mass. - October 15, 2007 - Responding to accusations that the high-fidelity Pear Cable Anjou loudspeaker cables could not be differentiated from typical equivalent Monster Cable, Michael Fremer, writer for Stereophile Magazine and musicangle.com, has agreed to double-blind listening tests to prove that cables can be differentiated sonically. Accuser James Randi has claimed to offer a $1 million dollar prize if the high-fidelity cables can be detected.

While Pear Cable remains highly skeptical that the challenge is genuine, full support for Michael Fremer's effort has been offered. Although the cables to be used in the test have not yet been selected, Pear Cable has offered to loan Mr. Fremer any Pear cables necessary to conduct the test if he desires to use them.

To date, James Randi has provided no scientific evidence of any kind to support his accusations. No test protocol for the challenge was stipulated in the original accusation, however James Randi reserves the right to change test protocol in any way he personally desires.

Official rules for the James Randi Educational Foundation challenge state that $1 Million will be paid to "any person who can demonstrate any psychic, supernatural or paranormal ability." Michael Fremer has expressly stated as a condition of his challenge acceptance that he does not possess any psychic, supernatural, or paranormal abilities, and that he does not believe he has above average hearing. Fremer has also asked that interconnects be tested in addition to loudspeaker cables unless James Randi will concede that they affect sound quality.

Gizmodo: Journalist Accepts $1 Million Challenge

Pear’s response claims Randi has not offered any scientific evidence to support his criticisms of the Anjou cables.  That’s interesting; I would have thought that the onus is on manufacturer to show why one should spend seven grand on wires, not the other way around.

James Randi is simply asking for that proof of Pear’s claims of product superiority and does not need to provide proof as to why he needs proof.

But then Adam Blake gets cold feet and backs out of Randi's challenge.  Pear will not loan Mr. Fremer any Pear cables, but he is free to buy them if he so chooses.  Gizmodo interviewed the various parties to the challenge and asked Blake why he backed out but all they got were sideways answers and more claims of Randi’s challenge as an unwinnable hoax.

JREF: Blake Withdraws from Pear Cable Challenge, October 20, 2007:

At the request of Michael Fremer, with whom we have been communicating regarding his challenging of your assertions regarding high-end audio cables, we would like to inform you directly of Pear Cable's decision to not participate in your claimed challenge. While we support Mr. Fremer's efforts, and believe firmly in the performance of our products, we prefer that he simply use his own reference cables in his proposed test.

While we had initially planned to loan cable to Mr. Fremer for the test, upon consideration of your communications with him, as well as our doubts about the legitimacy of your misleading challenge (including the fact that you now personally claim that almost anyone can tell the difference between Monster cables and zip-cord), we do not wish to be involved. We do not expect this to hamper Mr. Fremer's efforts in any way.

Adam Blake, Head Pear

Head Pear, Adam Blake believes strongly in his products.  So strongly, in fact, that he will not subject Pear Cables to a public flogging on the rack of a double blind test.  Rather, just accept Adam’s word that Pear Cables are worth over seven grand.

See, look, he wrote papers that says some sciency sounding words that say Pear Cables are good, isn’t that proof enough?

Pear Cable design philosophy reads like the Top Ten Signs an Audio Cable Vendor is Selling You Snake Oil, but more on that one in the upcoming Part 2.

About the author:
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Professionally, David engineers building structures. He is also a musician and audio enthusiast. David gives his perspective about loudspeakers and complex audio topics from his mechanical engineering and HAA Certified Level I training.

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