The grumpy old chap in the picture is a retired university lecturer, who was also a part-time classical music critic for some years. In his time, he sang in a fair number of decent small choral ensembles, and still has an acute appreciation of the quality and definition of musical sound. He writes:
‘If Nigel Twinn (NT) is something of an expert dowser, then I suppose that I’m something of an expert listener. More than fifty years ago, I started ‘dowsing for sound.’ I called it ‘tweaking my hi-fi system’ then, but I’m certain now that what I was actually doing was mostly deviceless dowsing.
‘I had caught the classical music bug at an early age from a BBC Childrens’ Hour radio play, which used the first section of William Walton’s score for the 1944 film of Shakespeare’s Henry V as its theme music. That was it: I was hooked for life, so I learned to read music, joined some choirs after my voice broke, and spent every spare penny on concert tickets, records and audio gear for far too many years afterwards
‘When people asked me why I kept on upgrading my hi-fi system, I usually said that I liked ‘hearing all the notes’, which was actually true up to a point. However, I soon realised that what I really wanted was to find some way of hearing ‘all the notes’ played expertly on high quality instruments (including human voices) within the best possible acoustic. I was in fact searching for a way of creating the illusion of a decent concert-hall or opera house in my own home – a tough and expensive proposition.’
‘In the early 1970s, the UK hi-fi press was buzzing with news of a perfectly respectable – and actually much respected – audio engineer called Peter Belt. With his wife, May, Peter had started up a conventional manufacturing company in Leeds in the 1950s, but later switched away from making hi-fi equipment as such, and instead started producing ‘sound improvement devices’ that apparently enhanced the performance of orthodox equipment both markedly and cheaply. They also published some free ‘tweaks’ that anyone could try out for themselves. If I say that two of them were tying reef knots in connecting cables and power cords, and turning up one corner of a domestic curtain with a safety pin, you will catch the flavour of what they were doing!
‘One early idea was that stray and unhelpful electro-magnetic fields – a sort of electronic smog – were inadvertently caused by some of the traditional design elements of most hi-fi equipment. For example, the actual spinning of a record on the turntable – and subsequently the rotation of CDs – was cited as a problem and, since that was a necessary evil, Peter Belt gradually produced new devices, to counter such problems. The list of PWB products increased over the years, but the Belts found themselves increasingly marginalised by both orthodox manufacturers and by the audio press. They were kept going, however, by a loyal band of supporters – and I was one of them.
‘It was Mrs Belt who introduced me to the work of the biologist Rupert Sheldrake, and so inadvertently reawakened my interest in dowsing. I am glad to be able to report that the Belts are still in business after all these years, with the help of their son Graham.’
Over the decades, Bill has tried out and refined some elements of the Belts’ early innovations with labels that improve the apparent sound from hi-fi equipment, and with sufficient success to justify carrying on doing it. In a manner similar to the late Dr Masaru Emoto’s work, using messages stuck to sample bottles containing ice crystals from different water sources, fixing labels containing ‘invisible’ messages on audio equipment and system cables has long been one of Bill’s (admittedly rather peculiar) special interests. He has upward of several hundred different trials of various types of label under his own ‘belt’ all in the cause of trying to tease out how they might ‘work.’ That’s enough research, he reckons, to qualify him for an ‘Advanced Geek’ Badge (First Class) from the Misadventure Scouts of North Devon.
Bill Kenny and Nigel Twinn 2015