THE FINAL WORD BECAUSE IT'S OUR BLOG AND EVERYTHING Thank you, Mr. Fremer! And there was me thinking you guys sit there listening to the THX surround sound noise over and over again. Most high-end gear is audibly better than even decent equipment, and Fremer is right to point out that mainstream skepticism encourages listeners to be cynical about it. Moreover, it doesn't take an audiophile to prefer a good platter over joint-stereo 128kbps MP3 files and badly-mastered CDs. We skeptics also sometimes confuse those areas where extreme quality can make a difference (amps and long cable runs, for example), with those areas that are pure snake oil. (Such as little maple blocks placed strategically around the listening room.) My "attack" on John's piece was really about the lack of rigor involved in tests of specific gear, like AC cables, which I do think are snake oil. They're either (a) doing nothing worthwhile or (b) doing nothing that couldn't be accomplished with much cheaper stuff. Take the water filtration example Michael poses: as filthy as tap water can be, will a $4,000 filter clean it better than a $3,000 one?