I know, I know. Ted Denney and his Synergistic Research products are a bit controversial in the world of high-end audio. Every time Part-Time Audiophile publishes a review or a show report concerning Synergistic Research products, Ted’s detractors all chime in with angry comments about our listening skills–or lack thereof. And yet…am I a journalist or not? None of this should be an issue to me since I’m trying to be as objective as possible.
I first sat down and reported on a Synergistic Research room, via coverage of Scott Walker Audio‘s eight rooms at T.H.E. Show last year, and for the first time I experienced a somewhat ambitious demo conducted by Ted himself. I say ambitious because I considered what he did as the ultimate A/B comparison, one I’d never seen before. Ted had assembled two identical systems in two rooms–identical except for the fact that he used Synergistic room treatment products in one room and not the other. He led groups of people from one room to the other and back again so everyone could hear the differences. Unfortunately, I couldn’t hear the differences well because the room was very crowded and I couldn’t get enough time in the sweet spot. Still, I was determined to revisit a Ted Denney demo and I was finally able to do so at the Florida Audio Expo.
This time there was only one Scott Walker Audio room for the demo this time, but Ted was able to quickly switch his products in and out. These products included the Synergistic Research Black Box ($1995), PowerCell SX ($8495), MiG SX ($995), Tranquility Base XL UEF ($3250) and much, much more, including a full complement of Galileo and Foundation cabling. The rest of the system was quite lofty–MSB digital front end, Acoustic Signature Thunder turntable with a Soundsmith Hyperion cartridge, Rockport Atria speakers and Constellation Audio amplification. As Ted added and subtracted his components, and also some products from other manufacturers, I heard distinct differences in the sound each time.
One of the trickiest parts of using accessories and assorted “tweaks” is that you might hear a difference, but is it really an improvement? I noted that I didn’t always agree with Ted’s assertions that Synergistic Research products provided a marked improvement, but that’s not the point. I remember a few veteran reviewers saying things over the years about Ted, but they were of the “I heard something, but I’m not sure WHAT” variety. My particular opinion is different–these are tuning devices. You can play with them and try different combinations and determine for yourself what is better and what isn’t. And there many times when Ted was absolutely right–especially with his record clamp that uses his UEF technology.
I’ve sort of wandered into this gauntlet–the word is, I’m going to have a chance to review some of these products for the first time and I will be the “good” reviewer who honestly tries to evaluate this innovative technologies for myself. I’m especially intrigued with the PowerCell SX–it’s a gorgeous piece of equipment and that blue meter against the front panel glass is the coolest thing I’ve seen in a long time. Stay tuned!