Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Audio Files: Can Exotic Accessories Improve Your Sound?

With accessories, the differences are debatable

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Audio’s most contentious debate began about the time Wynton and Branford Marsalis joined the Jazz Messengers. It’s the argument about whether various accessories can improve the sound of an audio system. Browse a few high-end audio sites and you’ll find loads of these accessories, from fancy cables, to devices that clean up AC power, to vibration-isolating platforms and feet. Most advertise audible sonic improvements, such as lower noise and enhanced clarity. These claims are routinely confirmed by audio reviewers. However, many cannot survive scientific testing, which is always done “blind”—i.e., the listeners don’t know what products they’re hearing.

I’ve been performing blind tests of audio products for about 25 years. In that time, I’ve found a few accessories that did seem to improve sound quality—plus some that seemed to do nothing at all and some I’m still not sure about. While covering the entire range of audio accessories could fill an entire issue of JazzTimes, I’ll share my findings about a few basic categories.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.

Brent Butterworth

Brent Butterworth has been a professional audio journalist since 1989, and has evaluated and measured thousands of audio products. He is currently a writer at Wirecutter and editor of the SoundStage Solo headphone site; served as an editor at such magazines as Sound & Vision and Home Theater; and worked as marketing director for Dolby Laboratories. He also plays double bass with several jazz groups in Los Angeles.