If you want your stereo to sing, Belt it

C, F and G ::: which atom ::: improvise for real ::: links

Some folks really like good sounds.

I do. I’ve been interested in hi-fi since early teenhood. Vinyl for years and, over time, a pretty expensive record deck and system. Later CDs (My LPs were gone by then) but I wasn’t that happy with them for a long time.

Moving on to the boat meant getting a new system, 12 volt. I bought a Sony in-car CD/radio for £90 and JBL Control 1 mini-monitors for £50 (RRP was £200, I think). It would be hard to improve on either of them, sound-wise, without spending much more. I had soaring hopes of adequacy but when it was installed it sounded awful. I thought I was doomed to Radio 4 and I couldn’t see a way of upgrading out of it. I sought out someone I’d read about many years ago, long before the internet, that maybe could help. He did, it worked.

Peter William Belt

PWB Electronics don’t make electronic things, as such, any more. Peter Belt was first introduced to the wider hi-fi world in the late 1980s via British Magazines like Hi-fi Answers and Hi-Fi News. Peter, from Leeds, is a skilled and experienced hi-fi engineer with long experience in the industry who followed a trail of anomalies. These were frustrating and concerned things that were affecting the sound quality but seemed to have no reason to do so, such as cleaning chemicals or wire colours. Lots of this, it seems, isn’t what we think it is at all. The result of decades of entirely unique work is a large assortment of devices. These vary widely in appearance, application and price. Examples are a meter of Smart Metal specially treated solder for £10 right up to the Quantum Clip at £500. Others are foils, pens and creams at a great variety of prices.

Free Silver Rainbow Foil

I was released from a talk radio future with the very first PWB treatment. Anyone can try some of the Silver Rainbow Foil for free by just sending your address to PWB. This normally goes on CDs or records and is enough to treat 20 or so. A full pack (£20) will treat about 400. The foils, which you cut into tiny strips, can be removed and replaced for comparison. If you hear any noticeable change to the sound with the foil in place or some dis-ease at going back to without the foil then you’ve just gently bumped your hull on the tip of the Peter Belt iceberg.

My first purchase was a £25 Beginners’ pack. The range of products can look bewildering and this is an easy way to start. It can be used on any system or components and it’s generous. Cream, foils, clips—for days and weeks I would think of more ways to apply them around the boat’s system and environment. The products are all amazing value. I have extensively treated not only my own system and home but also systems of some sort or other for several other people over a few years, just with bits left from what I had ordered for myself anyway.

Removing veils

The improvements have been cumulative and every pound spent with PWB has brought music more thoroughly through the system. This is not upgrade roulette, it is very like a process of removing veils from the music. It becomes irresistable. This is the quality that PWB treatments release in a music system. At best, goosepimples.

It works on portables too. One of these prompted one of the most memorable confirmations that the Belt effect is not a placebo. This was when the stereo owner’s daughter opened the door and the first thing she said was—oh, do you have a new stereo?

I recently changed the power-hungry in-car for the sips-power-through-a-straw D-Class Sure digital amplifier and a used Sony CD Walkman. Up until that point all of my upgrades had been PWB. These, too, were immediately Belted, of course.

Clearer and louder

The quality of space is present in any system that’s been PWB treated, the ability to separate out a dense or complex piece, for a tiny 2″ radio speaker to somehow give access to every section of a classical orchestra and also better dynamics, timing and presence. Normally apparent also is that the system will go louder than before without sounding harsh or edgy.

My little system has a deep and articulate bass and a clear spacious mid and treble and you can follow any instrument in pretty much any recording. Instead of mumbling radio off at the end of the 26 foot long cabin it floats Jimi’s guitar around the walls and John Martyn’s low strings quiver down the floor boards. It swings or it murmurs. It exceeded any quality I may have foreseen a while back and, like other Belters, I don’t know if it has a limit or not yet. The PWB tweak I most wish for is a before and after switch, so I could demo for people all of the treatments, on and off.

…or your money back

If you particularly value your music equipment, whether an ipod, an AV system or something esoteric and rarified, or if you know that there’s a better quality sound available but think it’s maybe the room or some item of equipment that’s a problem, don’t change even a cable until you’ve investigated the PWB effect. And, goodness knows, if you’re one who’s spent a fortune on equipment and music then you really owe it to yourself to try what amounts to some relatively inexpensive tweaking. Beyond the free foil, all purchases have a 21 day money back guarantee, something I’ve never used, incidentally.

I’ve swapped a lot of components over the years but leaving them alone and stepping instead onto the Belt path has actually done what upgrade roulette and room-acoustics ker-plunk didn’t even get near, consistently and at a fraction of the cost. It also completely stopped me missing vinyl. It just slipped away quietly and one day I realised that I just didn’t any more. The best vinyl system I ever had, lovely as it was, couldn’t do what this very humble CD system does. I wouldn’t have believed that could be possible.

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