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SV vs. What the Puck?

Back in the old days of high fidelity stereo systems, you could go to a showroom and directly compare equipment. There would be a large "patch panel" and the salesman (back then, it was always a man) would switch while you listened to music of your choice. We would show up with our minds filled with signal to noise ratios, total harmonic distortion measures, etc. and listen to the difference between one amplifier vs. another. I bought into all of this, and to this day own some fairly expensive stereo equipment. Ultimately, however, I learned to listen to my wife who suggested that I not buy anything I couldn't hear. If I am being honest with myself, the only time I could actually hear a difference in those side by side listening tests was when comparing speakers.

So now on to shaving soap. Scent aside, is there really a difference that I can feel between my most expensive soap, Asylum Shaveworks Flying Mango made by Saponificio Varesino (SV), and my least expensive soap, RazoRock What the Puck Gold Label? Have we simply substituted categories like slickness, cushion, etc. for the old high-fi signal to noise ratios, etc.? To answer this, I lathered one side of my face with Flying Mango and the other side with RR Gold Label. I used two very similar synthetic brushes and face lathered as I often do. I did my normal two pass plus touch-up shave with my Blackland Dart razor. Did I feel any difference between one side and the other as I shaved? No. When I looked in the mirror, could I tell that I hadn't used the same soap on both sides? No. After my shave, as I always do, I applied an after shave balm. Following that, as I sit here an hour or so after shaving, can I feel any difference between one side of my face and the other? No, both sides are equally moisturized and wonderfully smooth.

I am not saying that there is no difference; I am simply saying that I cannot detect any.
 
I've never tried Razorock brand soaps before, but I know many people really like them. My understanding is that they're made by TFS (correct me if I'm wrong), who knows a thing or two about shave soap. It's possible you just happened to sample one of those great "budget" soaps that really don't compromise on performance in a terribly meaningful way.
 
Really? I can hear a distinct difference between different amplifiers, different pickup cartridges etc. This doesn't always mean higher price equals better performance. Same goes for soap.
The shops I described did not carry low-end items which I might have been able to distinguish by listening, but when comparing moderate to expensive electronic components, I couldn't hear any difference. Pickup cartridges, like speakers, are different because they are not only electronics. So, yes, I can distinguish one cartridge from another.
 
Tube vs. Solid State, I can hear the difference. Tubes have a more pleasant type of distortion. Speakers make a huge difference. The audiophile world lost me when people started debating about speaker cables that could have been used to jump start a car.

SV is great shaving soap, but kind of goes against my value-for-money philosophy. It used to be under $22 per puck which I might have considered for an occasional indulgence. I would say soaps like Speick, Haslinger, MWF, Tabac, Cella Bio, etc. are in the sweet spot for price/performance. The WTP soaps to me are not quite as nice as Provence Sante or Pre de Provence, but they really knock it out the park for price/performance.
 
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My screen name isn't tube_guy for nothing. :biggrin1:

I can also discern a pretty big difference in many shaving soaps, and it's not based on scent at all.
 
My screen name isn't tube_guy for nothing. :biggrin1:

I can also discern a pretty big difference in many shaving soaps, and it's not based on scent at all.
I don't dispute that some folks can hear differences in high-fi components that I cannot. Similarly, I don't dispute that many folks can discern differences in shaving soaps that I cannot. My point is that one's buying decisions should be driven by what you can discern, not what others may claim.
 
SV is great shaving soap, but kind of goes against my value-for-money philosophy. It used to be under $22 per puck which I might have considered for an occasional indulgence. I would say soaps like Speick, Haslinger, MWF, Tabac, Cella Bio, etc. are in the sweet spot for price/performance.
I have too many soaps, but most of them I bought because of their scent, or just out of curiousity. The Flying Mango was acquired in a trade; it is more money than I would choose to spend.
 
WTP series is an entirely different soap line from a different maker. It is a very good value and lasts a long time. Even the RR croaps are not all at the same level.
I just looked, and I have six pucks of RazoRock soaps, and all of them perform very well for me. Clearly the WTP hard soaps are the bargain of the bunch, but I also enjoy the soft soaps like Emperor, Son of Zeus and Essential Oil of Lavender.
 
Back in the old days of high fidelity stereo systems, you could go to a showroom and directly compare equipment. There would be a large "patch panel" and the salesman (back then, it was always a man) would switch while you listened to music of your choice. We would show up with our minds filled with signal to noise ratios, total harmonic distortion measures, etc. and listen to the difference between one amplifier vs. another. I bought into all of this, and to this day own some fairly expensive stereo equipment. Ultimately, however, I learned to listen to my wife who suggested that I not buy anything I couldn't hear. If I am being honest with myself, the only time I could actually hear a difference in those side by side listening tests was when comparing speakers.

So now on to shaving soap. Scent aside, is there really a difference that I can feel between my most expensive soap, Asylum Shaveworks Flying Mango made by Saponificio Varesino (SV), and my least expensive soap, RazoRock What the Puck Gold Label? Have we simply substituted categories like slickness, cushion, etc. for the old high-fi signal to noise ratios, etc.? To answer this, I lathered one side of my face with Flying Mango and the other side with RR Gold Label. I used two very similar synthetic brushes and face lathered as I often do. I did my normal two pass plus touch-up shave with my Blackland Dart razor. Did I feel any difference between one side and the other as I shaved? No. When I looked in the mirror, could I tell that I hadn't used the same soap on both sides? No. After my shave, as I always do, I applied an after shave balm. Following that, as I sit here an hour or so after shaving, can I feel any difference between one side of my face and the other? No, both sides are equally moisturized and wonderfully smooth.

I am not saying that there is no difference; I am simply saying that I cannot detect any.
Mr. @Steve_in_CT , congratulations on objectivity.
Did you mean that you can get a very good quality shave, with an expensive soap like SV but also with a soap 6 times cheaper than RR What the puck? Isn't that blasphemy?
I'm glad there is still talk here, and about cheap and good soaps. Congratulations.
 

shavefan

I’m not a fan
Really? I can hear a distinct difference between different amplifiers, different pickup cartridges etc. This doesn't always mean higher price equals better performance. Same goes for soap.

Unless added distortion was part of the design, a properly designed SS amp is audibly transparent. Tubes are another matter.

@Steve_in_CT Did you level match both shave soaps? :lemo:
 
I don't dispute that some folks can hear differences in high-fi components that I cannot. Similarly, I don't dispute that many folks can discern differences in shaving soaps that I cannot. My point is that one's buying decisions should be driven by what you can discern, not what others may claim.

You are 100 percent spot on correct!
If two different soaps of vastly difference prices serve you equally as well, it would be foolish to spend the money on the more expensive product "just because".
Some people can detect a difference between products, that is not in dispute.
Some people just like the prestige of high end products, that is not in dispute.
Spending more money on a product that gives you no more pleasure than a cheaper alternative is a waste of your money, that is not in dispute.
 
I tend to look at both stereo gear and shave soaps in a holistic fashion. That is, rather than break things down into characteristics, I ask myself: how do I feel about the whole experience?

So my amp + speakers combo is not something I assembled, but a system I heard at an audio show, and knew "that's the one!" The amp uses tubes. At the same show, I listened to a hyper-expensive system in a large room. It was amazing. It felt like the piano was in the room. Every nuance was there. But the experience of listening to that ultra-detailed sound was harsh and unpleasant to my ears.

SV is my favorite shave soap, because when I shave with it, I think "damn, that's good." It's expensive for a shave soap, but not so much when you think of its price per shave. Worth it for the happiness it brings me.

My second-favorite shave soap, luckily enough, is Mitchell's Wool Fat, which is much cheaper.
 
There sure are good soaps out there for not much money.

And they do sit right next to expensive ones on the performance charts.

Sometimes guys do appreciate the nuances, and don't mind paying a little extra.

But I think often the more expensive soaps have more interesting scents which for a lot of guys matters a lot.

And in either case, SV soaps last a very long time. So the extra cost divided over that long period just isn't all that much.

But if you love the scent of one of the cheap options, you just don't care, or you're a purely practical shaver.... Then you're golden, and will be happy with a high performing yet inexpensive soap.
 
I tend to justify it as a package deal. For instance Arko on its own = little bit of dryness and skin damage and irritation after a while. Arko with pre-shave cream or oil = perfectly fine. I'll still prefer higher quality product though with nicer ingredient lists and scents I prefer. I think many (read as most) tend to dilute the actual properties of shaving product with what they wish it did. No matter how amazing the shave soap, it IS still just shave soap. Unless you react to something, you're always going to be quite satisfied with a product as long as the price/performance/longevity is ok. Not great, not bad...just ok. Few truly need more than that.
 
to my limited experience> If I can make a good lather with it, that's gonna be a good soap to shave with, regardless of the price.
I go with the scent really and soaps are not that complicated to make, humans doing it for several millennia. Since advanced consumerism kicked in, we have the luxury to consider other factors than practical ones, from omitting non-ethical ingredient to natural scents instead of artificials, etc.
Technically you can live with the cheapest one which works. But it's a hobby too and I find entertaining to try different soaps.
 
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