Ted Denney's Excellent Adventure

Ted Denney at the 2003 CES. (Photo: John Atkinson)

As I had been impressed with Ted Denney's Synergistic Research cable, I thought that asking him for 25,000 words on his thoughts on cable design and performance would be an appropriate accompaniment to my Symphonic Line Kraft 400 amplifier review.

Ted Denney: Two important things to start off with: First, no one cable can perform musically in every system; second, price is not a guarantee of performance. For example, in your system, Jonathan, I recommended our Phase 2 Mk.V—not the more expensive Resolution Reference—to run to your amps, because they're more suited to that application. The Reference interconnect is designed for a different kind of component, like the tubed Jadis JA 200s.

You have to find a cable that works with a given set of components, so what we do is develop different sets of cables designed to complement or bring out the best possible performance for these different types of components. In some cases, our entry-level cable, the Alpha Series, can outperform our most expensive cables, provided they're properly matched.

Jonathan Scull: How does your customer typically choose the right cable at Synergistic Research?

Denney: We have a book available at all of our dealers called The Synergistic Research Explorers Guide. Your readers can give us a call and we'll send it out to them. It outlines every cable we make and which components and price level they're designed to work with. The other thing we do for our customers is, when you go to an authorized Synergistic Research dealer, you can fill out a form that allows us to run a diagnostic on your system.

Aside from determining the equipment, we ask important questions about the way the system sounds: how it soundstages, its general timbre, if it's forward, dark, bright, the placement of the speakers, and the general acoustics of your listening room. The dealer faxes this information to us, and, based on the information provided, we fax back a recommendation of what will work given that particular system. So, in essence, we'll match a complete set of cables to anyone's system, and do it right here at the factory.

You see, it's not a question of price points, or the more money you spend, the better it gets. Designing at progressively higher price points is inherently a flawed concept. It's true that, as the associated equipment gets more expensive, it allows us to do more—either by hand-building them or by careful materials selection. You can't do that at a lower price point. But anyway, since we optimize the cable for a particular application, you can get a cable that works best for your system without spending a ton of money!

Scull: Let's hear about the materials selection.

Denney: First, we select cable geometries for a given cable based on the engineering requirements or the transfer characteristics of the target components. For example, if we supply an interconnect for a broad-bandwidth solid-state amp, like the Kraft 400s, we'll make a heavily shielded cable. If we're going into a tube amp, we'll do an unshielded cable that's extremely low in capacitance. Then we build several versions of that cable using different materials, listening for their contribution to the sound. With us, there isn't a standard hierarchy of materials, with silver and Teflon, for example, at the top of an almost infinite list of possibilities.

Scull: What are the typical materials found in your products?

Denney: We don't use any pure silver or copper in our interconnects—it's all alloys. They have better measurable characteristics at 1GHz than do silver or copper, and in subjective listening tests seem to have a more developed midrange and are texturally more complete. We picked up that technology by working with aerospace engineers.

Scull: Is the wire silver-plated?

Denney: It's coated with a preparatory alloy that prevents it from oxidizing. It also improves high-frequency transfer at the surface, where these frequencies propagate. However, our speaker wires are pure copper—it simply sounds the best.

Scull: How about the dielectric?

Denney: We use foamed polypropylene and modified polyethylene.

Scull: 'Scuse me, Ted?

Denney: Yeah, we've changed the chemical compounds slightly. We like polyethylene because it has a dielectric constant almost equal to that of Teflon; but in our listening tests, it sounded much more developed both spatially and texturally, where Teflon alone sounds somewhat thin and bright by comparison.

Scull: And the jacket material?

Denney: On our more expensive cables, we use a handmade, woven jacket that acts as a dissimilar surface that dissipates vibration. We also use polymer cores and cotton shafts to suppress conductor resonances. On the lower-cost Alpha Series, the jackets are vacuum-sealed over the conductors and dielectrics to suppress the conductor resonances.

Scull: In what configuration do you make your cables?

Denney: We use solid-core, stranded, and Litz conductors, combining them to get the best performance. You know, Jonathan, you can't build a symphony with just one instrument!

Scull: Can I quote you on that, Mr. Denney?

Denney: Yeah! You get a more complete presentation by combining different technologies—that's why we use subjective listening tests when selecting materials. Earlier you asked about the dielectric—I want to tell you that sometimes we actually pass the signal through two separate modifications of a polyethylene dielectric. In many of our interconnects, one type seems to have the right character for upper frequencies, while another will flesh out the bass and the lower midrange.

Scull: I see...

Denney: And, you may ask, why do we build some of our cables by hand?

Scull: Yes, I may ask that...

Denney: Well, we make the less expensive Alpha interconnect on a machine—the Alpha Sterling goes for $150 with silver, and I want to tell you, it costs as much to build as anyone's silver cable, which they might sell for $500 or $600. Just because you build a cable out of silver and Teflon doesn't automatically make it worth 10 times its weight in gold! But we also make handmade interconnects that take over an hour to build just for one pair, which we then run through some tests and give a serial number to.

When we build 'em by hand, we can scrutinize the materials through listening tests before putting them in the cable. Whenever I get a new spool of conductor material, we build a test assembly and listen to the signal in one direction, then flip it around and listen in the other direction. I mark the spool with the direction of the cable. What direction they wind up in the cable itself is dependent on which cable it's going in. It may run in either one direction or another! In many cables, we'll run it in one direction in 6'-and-under lengths, and flip it around for longer lengths. If we made it all by machine, we couldn't do any of this.

Another thing: We may run the signal wire in one direction and the ground wire in the other. Whatever sounds best. When we build our most expensive stuff, the Resolution Reference, sometimes it's murder to find a spool of cable or conductor material to build it with. People want 'em, but we can't get the materials that have the sound for it.

Scull: Okay, Ted. That's 24,998 words—two to go!

Denney: Thanks, Jonathan.

Scull: That's it!

GeorgeHolland's picture

and he's still in business selling his crap. Thank you the ill informed for keeping such a person in business.

ChrisS's picture

"...does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown."  - Broca's Brain (1979), Carl Sagan

How many billions of dollars have you saved from not buying any high-end audio products since 1995, Georgie?

GeorgeHolland's picture

Gosh look at that impressive quote. So you are saying that Ted is a genius? How many of Ted Denney's products have you bought?  Oh is that a big fat zero? Why not? Come on and help the poor guy out. You seem to endorse his stuff yet own none of it?  Just another "I own none of this yet feel compelled to defend his right to sell it". Hooray for scams.

ChrisS's picture

He's not the genius I was referring to, Georgie.

Glotz's picture

and an idiot. 

A tin-eared, hate-filled, mistrustful, idiot.

ChrisS's picture

I thought he was a pink bunny!


Alexei Petrov's picture

I thought George was supposed to be the hater according to yourself. In my opinion he brings a lot of good questions to discussions. Do you always trust what you read or do you question why thngs are the way as claimed? Simply posting hate filled diatribes like yourself and ChrisS do doesn't earn you any respect. In fact it just shows everyone that reads them how little you have said that's worth reading.

So do you Glotz own any of Ted Denney's products and wish to comment on how great they are?

John Atkinson's picture

Alexei Petrov wrote:
Simply posting hate filled diatribes like yourself and ChrisS do doesn't earn you any respect.

All of you, please address points made by other posters, not the posters themselves. I like to apply a light moderating hand on this site, but I am growing weary of trolls and flamebaiters.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile


ChrisS's picture

Most, if not all, Georgie's questions are rhetorical and his posts challenging, since he references neither good scientific information nor personal experience.

GeorgeHolland's picture

and your replies sre SO educational. Sorry if you find my posts challenging. I fail to see any good scientific information or personal experience in Ted Denney'd products. If you wish to defend his products then please at least own some and have personal experience. It doesn't take personal experience to read what a load of BS he sells but it does take personal experience to defend it. If you think quantum whatever and magic bowls are relevant selling point then show us why. Simple 2 or 3 sentence replies doesn't cut it.

ChrisS's picture

You base your criticisms solely on marketing information.

It's not a matter of 'sorry', do some good research and/or just listen.

Do you also believe that Ford makes the best trucks in the world?

GeorgeHolland's picture

I base my criticisms of Ted Denney's products based upon what he has posted and claimed not only in Stereophile's forum but other audio forums, looked at his website and tried to make sense of all the clap trap on it, read carefully his claims and decided it's mostly if not completely 100% BS and not one shred of good basic science or proof in any of it. It's all marketing and flashy words/pictures.

In other words I used commom sense and wasn't suckered into believing his psesudo science. Quantum tunneling. magic bowls, directional cables, his ability to come up with "new" products year after year because he knows so much that others don't?  PUHLEEZ.

Why listen to things you know don't make any difference?  Have you listened to Tice Clocks, Magic Pebbles,green marker pens on CDs, crystals on power cords and other similar things?  NO, because you already know it's BS and a waste of time, or at least I hope you do.

The best truck in the world is made by Toyota and i own it already wink

ChrisS's picture

I have no issues with Ted Denney or his products.

Are you holding your breath, Georgie?

ChrisS's picture

Railing against any product because you don't like or can't understand the "science", the hype, or the sloganeering, is like railing against Ford advertising and vowing to never, ever own or drive any of their products.

There's absolutely no weight to your argument.

Even another poster, who normally supports you, has said of your criticism of another product, "As much as I appreciate and respect (George Holland) your comments in your posts, I have to say that if anyone hasn't tried this unit with their own records or a demonstration of its sonic benefits, then one is undermining their own position by criticizing it."

To be in business for almost 20 years is quite remarkle in the high end audio world these days, you can't keep going on hype alone. BS products have short shelf life, get shot down quickly and die a fiery death.

So how does Ted Denney do it? There must be something about these products beyond your understanding Georgie that makes people plunk down their overburdened credit cards to acquire those Synergistic Research products (oh, the Audio Desk Systeme Vinyl Cleaner, Nordost Valhalla cables, and others, too). Some don't even care about the science or the hype, but are willing to try and buy (not always in that order).

So a few more sentences for you, Georgie. Basically you put yourself into an untenable position, since you are merely expressing an opinion in a rather ill-mannered way.

GeorgeHolland's picture

Pseudo science, learn the difference. There is'nt any real science involved in these scam products just marketing. Fancy words made up to fool those not educated enough to know the difference. "Hype" is correrct. It isn't even close to science.

Who railed against Ford? I just happen to own a very dependable Toyota product.  I think it's you that doesn't have weight to your arguement.

So someone else thought I was wrong. What a shock, how will I sleep at night now?

BS products have a short life? What about Magic Pebbles and Nordost?wink

Yes you are correct, some do not even care about the science, which is the whole problem.

As to your last statement, so using basic good sense and good logic and not falling for snake oil is not the way to evaluate what is possible and what isn't? I shall inform the school systems that education is no longer needed then. I find it rather amusing you basicly said nothing and used more sentences. Way to go.

So once more let me ask you, do you own any of Denney's products? if not then how do you know they are what they claim or are you just once more expressing an OPINION? Not a very good arguement you are trying to make huh?blush

ChrisS's picture

All school kids who understand scientific methodology know that good science requires testing and validation. Your ideas and opinions never leave your head, Georgie! That's not science.

GeorgeHolland's picture

So show us the testing and validation of Ted Denney'd products. You can't because no one has done any valid testing of his crap.

ChrisS's picture

Being in business for almost 2 decades, people buying and enjoying his products for that amount of time is more than enough validation.

The market place is a tough testing ground.

Your opinion doesn't change that...

GeorgeHolland's picture



Yep no one stays in business for long selling scam products surprise

Shall I keep listing such companies or is this enough?

Oh yeah forgot to link Ted Denney's website, it's great for laughs.

ChrisS's picture

It's your opinion that these companies and products are scams. Those who buy and use their products have different opinions.

GeorgeHolland's picture

How many have you bought?  Please tell us of the many you own, details please.

ChrisS's picture

Why do you need to know, Georgie? There's a whole world outside of your head, Georgie, where people try and buy stuff all the time.

Even Ford trucks.

GeorgeHolland's picture

So you have zero experience with all these products yet feel compelled to defend them as being "real" and you try and buy nothing yourself? blush Figures.

ChrisS's picture

Where in my posts have I defended anything?

Do you buy stuff just to validate yourself, Georgie?

GeorgeHolland's picture

Useless responding to a broken record. have fun listening to the voices in your head. Adios.

ChrisS's picture

Glotz's picture

and Georgie and Alex have not.  An opinion you have not.  

They ARE fantastic sounding products, and I hope to own an entire loom of those products.  I have more than enough to spend on new analog and digital components, but all in due time. 

No, they are not cheap, nor are they cheaply made.  There are many listeners that agree they sound great, but then again, you neither of you can make that assertion, CAN you? (The answer is NO- you haven't heard them.)

You keep telling everyone is wrong, but everyone has more experience listening to, using and sharing thoughts about these products (along with all of the other tweaks and products you maligned), and their opinion DOES matter MORE than yours, because they ACTUALLY listened to or through them, UNLIKE YOU.  That automatically invalidates your opinion.  (Where is Ivor when you need him?) 

So, I stick to my original comments.  I, too, grow tired of trolls and flamebaiters, and they have no place on Stereophile's site, no matter how fair the administrators are.   

Sorry JA, and AB.. A momentary lapse of muscular coordination... 

GeorgeHolland's picture

The subjective "oh this sounds great because Ted says it works"? or have you done any SBT or DBT of them to make sure it's not just yourself being influenced by sighted bias?Were the listening session done at a demo by Ted and what products did you listen to and what did you compare them to?

"Many listeners"?  So far you are the only one admitting that you have listened to them. Lets not get carried away now.I like how you keep saying "everyone" when in fact it's just yourself you are speaking about.

Wow so any silly tweak is validated by the person who listened to it, no matter if it's bogus or not?  Sorry but the "I know what I heard!" subjective drivel doesn't cut it when trying to provide proof.

So you admit to not owning any of Ted's products? Why not?  If they are so great then buy his magic bowls. How can you enjoy the music you have otherwise.

Nah you just want to snuff out anyone's opinion that YOU don't agree with and that's not how it works.

ChrisS's picture

The way you propose to do blind testing doesn't prove anything. Do you know anyone who blind tests anything before buying a product of any kind?... Your disbelief and expectation of failure is also subjective.

Look around you, Georgie, get out of your head! There's a world of people who try/buy these products all the time. You're the one who doesn't.

You can have an opinion, it just doesn't matter to those who use their own experience to determine whether to buy a product or not.

GeorgeHolland's picture

Glad you brought up "expectation"  a really wonderful term for those expecting a pricey product to perform as claimed so no need to validate anything hmmmmmm?

Why yes thank you for placing me into the sane catagory of those that don't buy such BS.

Yes you are correct, my opinion is my own and it doesn't matter to those that are gullible and have open checkbooks. Do I care of they spend thousands on wire? Nope not at all, it's not my money BUT I do take issue with Ted Denney making foolish pseudo scientific claims with ZERO ability to back them up.

 I recall when he posted in the forums a few years back and an objective skeptic said flat out that he was a fraud and Ted took issue with that and hinted at legal action and the skeptic told him in so many words to sue him if he thought he could win. Of course Ted never did because that would require him to SHOW and PROVE his products actually worked in a court of law wink Funny how that worked out.


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