Synergistic Research’s HFT and FEQ Transform Bose Wave Radio

With up to 75 rooms to cover on multiple floors of the Marriott’s tower, I decided to check out Synergistic Research’s much-heralded new products before the show officially began. Inventor Ted Denney decided to dem his new babies, not with the expected megabuck system, but rather with a Bose radio. Positioned atop one of his Tranquility Bases, used as shelves on a Solid Tech rack, the radio played a vocal track by Anne Vada and Aki Fukakura as Denney demonstrated the cumulative effects of his tiny aluminum passive HFTs (High Frequency Transducers, $299/5 pack), active FEQ (Frequency Equalizer, $750), and Tranquility Bases. (In the photo, Ted is pointing to the HFT affixed to the front of the radio.)

My initial impression, with everything in the system, was that despite the radio’s glaring limitations, the room-filling size and depth of the soundstage were pretty amazing. As Denney progressively removed the 20 HFTs he had positioned around the room (including two on the front and back of the radio, and one on his Synergistic Research active FireWire cable), then the FEQ which rested on a table behind the equipment rack, and finally the Tranquility Bases, the soundstage shrank, bass lost impact, music became localized in the radio, and, most important, the listening experience became less compelling.

Activating just the Tranquility Bases made the bass more solid and the picture more dimensional. Even with just two out of the 20 HFTs returned to the front and back of the Bose radio, sonic depth increased. The more HFTs Denney added—there are five levels of treatment, each comprised of five HFTs—the larger and more room-filling the soundstage became. With everything restored, percussion seemed to be coming from all over the place, color increased, and the three-dimensional illusion was pretty uncanny.

Having said that, I wish I could have heard this experiment on a far more refined system. After all, a Bose radio can do only so much, no matter how much help it gets. Regardless, the demonstration sure whet my appetite to hear the HFTs and FEQ again, and experiment with them in my reference system (currently in storage [sigh] pending a move to new house).

Share | |
Comments
Richard Blade's picture
What's the fuss?

Do a search of "Synergistic Research" on Stereophile's website. You see a handful of people who waste no time spaming any positive mention of Synergistic's products through a parade of sockpuppets that all speak in one distinct voice. The real question is why? Why do they feel compelled to single out Synergistic Research? Is Synergistic Research the only company that builds high end powerconditioners, tweeks and cables? Why do they feel compelled to ridicule everyone who has heard Synergistic Research and likes their products? Do they feel they are the only ones who can discern quality from crap? Do they presume to think for us all?

It's as if they Google "Synergistic Research" on a daily basis looking for any mention of SR products that also has a comment section to poison. No matter the fact they have zero experience with the products in question, they know better then those with first hand knowledge and are hell bent on throwing as much shit as possible.

Now to Synergistic. Their actions show they have absolute confidence in their products as they offer a 30 day no risk money back guarantee. No matter. The spoiler(s) must administer a "blind" test as presumably only their findings are valid. And what of the fact anyone who wishes can apparently audition SR products for 30 days risk free?They seem to be saying, "don't trust your ears, you don't know how to listen, trust us, trust our ears". All of this begs the question; why the fuck would anyone purchase anything for their personal enjoyment if their personal enjoyment cannot be trusted?

Sorry for this rant but SR bashing on Stereophile blog's is long in the tooth, and the motives behind what amounts to years of violent attack from the same malcontent(s) seems suspect.

Whoo, now I feel better :)

eugovector's picture
Well, since you asked... I

Well, since you asked...

I put myself in the place of speaker designers whose products are featured along side products like SR.  Now, I don't have to feel to bad for Dr. Bose, or now MIT, as I think they'll be just fine, but folks who are putting their blood, sweat, and tears into the science behind designing great core components: spearks, amps, and source devices.  Their busting their humps to drive the quality of sound forward while feeding their family on the knowledge and expertise.

Imagine the pride one of these designers must have in seeing their work featured in a dealers room, and the hope that they will sell a few pairs so that they can take care of their families and keep building speakers.  Next to their speakers sits one of these little silver buttons, which all their education and expertise tells them should have no effect on the sound of their speakers.  Then, the people come in...

"Wow" they say as the huckster uses his syrupy tones and slight of hand to convince the audience that the great sound they hear is atttributable, not to the great speakers and core components, but to this shiny little buttons.

The buttons sell, the speakers sit, and the engineer starves all because of the huckster.

No, maybe that's an extreme, but find me a speaker/core component engineer who endorses these and I'll start listening.  How about Andrew Jones?  Paul Barton?  Floyd Toole?  Sean Olive?

What would Amar Bose have said had he been sitting in the room, or any of the MIT grads who will benefit from his generous gift?  I mean, his company embraced marketing mojo like no other, but every one of his products actually made sound.  Even Bose hasn't gone so far as to sell silver buttons.

It seems the only acolytes are the end user, and the only evidence anecdotal.  You can't claim your own brand of science (claim: these effect ultra-high frequencies) while dismissing every other brand.  It flys in the face of reason and deserves examination.

Look, it's not all altruism.  Yes, I want the folks who are designing equipment that matters not to have their efforts eroding by do-nothing products that are far from a trivial expense.  But yes, some of it is the blatent disreagard for reason and science.  I don't have faith in this product.  I don't believe.  But I'm willing to try.

Richard Blade's picture
Excellent

Excellent post Joel

Richard Blade's picture
Yes I own Synergistic Research products

Dear eugovector and SergioLangstrom

Question: Do you believe all cables sound alike? Do you believe all power cords sound alike? Do you believe all digital cables sound alike? How about solid state amplifiers, do they all pretty much sound alike? How about DACs do they pretty much all sound alike? I think before we go any further it would be helpful for all concerned to know where you stand on the aforementioned items.

Also what brand of cables do you have in your system? Ditto for power cords.

eugovector's picture
Various JBL Studioii

Various JBL Studioii Speakers, SVS PB12 NSD, Onkyo TX-SR706, Stock power cables, 14AWG Copper Wire, Homebuilt HTPC connected via HDMI, Belkin PF60 Power Distribution.

I don't believe that all cables sound a like.  I do question the effect that the last 3 feet of power cable can have when there is miles of cable before that point.  I don't believe all SS Procs/amplifiers sound alike, though I de question audibility within their distortion-free power band with all excess processing turned off (which still leaves a lot of room for variables).

I also reject Satan and all his minions, if that matters.

The point is, I'm confident enough in my beliefs to back it up with non-sighted listening (unless you need your eyes to listen) and am willing to admit when I'm wrong.  Are you?  If so, you are also invited.  I will treat you warmly and hospitably as a guest in my home, provide food and drink, and look forward to your listening impressions.

Richard Blade's picture
eugovector, Thank you for

eugovector,

Thank you for your straight forward answer however I still need to know where you stand on digital cables, do they all sound alike? How about DACs, do they all sound pretty much the same (to you)? It's important we establish a frame of reference before we can engage in a meaningful discussion. Otherwise we will simply talk past one another without ever understanding where we really stand. Two people of different minds joined by a common language with ambiguous definitions, if you will.

eugovector's picture
Digital Cables:  Yes, either

Digital Cables:  Yes, either they pass the ones and zeros, or they don't.  If they sound different, that is a flaw and should be a noticable one.

Re: Digital Audio Cables, I'm not dismissing the existance of jitter, only it's audibility.

Dacs:  The results of different designs will be different, but not audibly so unless something has gone terribly wrong or someone has gotten "creative".

Also, You can call me Marshall, if you'd like.

SergioLangstrom's picture
"Dear eugovector and

"Dear eugovector and SergioLangstrom

Question: Do you believe all cables sound alike? Do you believe all power cords sound alike? Do you believe all digital cables sound alike? How about solid state amplifiers, do they all pretty much sound alike? How about DACs do they pretty much all sound alike? I think before we go any further it would be helpful for all concerned to know where you stand on the aforementioned items.

Also what brand of cables do you have in your system? Ditto for power cords."

YES unless the manufacturer has intentionaly designed the product to alter the frequency response in some way like the certain tube amp Stereophile recently tested and reviewed that JA thought had horrible specs (and it did) yet two reviewers loved it. So much for relying upon the reviewers opinions when they can't even tell when the high end is rolling off and the distortions were terrible.

I have listened to numerous components side by side and when they are adjusted for loudness so that they match and aren't over driven and have resonable distortion, I have never heard a difference.

Speakers, room acoustics and vinyl playback cartridges have always sounded different though.That's because the frequency, phase and distortions are large enough to be heard.

My cables are what I made myself, nothing exotic and not made with some "quantum" BS label. Power cords are power cords. They transfer power to the components and that's their job. They aren't going to do anything else.

Some one else I talked to online summed up Ted Denney's products pretty well, he said:

"Always good to get your retaliation in first, so when peddling snake oil you need both an 'explanation' of how it works and an 'explanation' as to why the effect can't be detected using normal science. If you can combine these two so much the better. Alleged ultrasonics (or infrasonics) are possibilities to explore.

Round it off with the usual customer-ego-polishing of 'people with normal ears/brains/equipment/rooms won't hear the effect so don't listen to the naysayers; you are superior to them and have proved it by having so much disposable income that you won't mind sharing it with me'."

Oh and by the way calling those that oppose Denney's snake oil as sockpuppets doesn't help your cause. If you like spending monsy on his snake oil then please do so but don't try to convince those that hear no difference and know his products are snake oil that we are sockpuppets. You'll just come across as being pushy and representing the company which I'm sure you wouldn't want.

joelha's picture
"If you like spending monsy

"If you like spending monsy on his snake oil then please do so but don't try to convince those that hear no difference and know his products are snake oil that we are sockpuppets."

 

And your proof for knowing these products are "snake oil" is?

 

Joel

 

P.S. By the way, I own none of Ted Denney's products.

SergioLangstrom's picture
If you have proof I am not

If you have proof I am not Sergio Langstrom then please show it [flame deleted by John Atkinson]. I do not know if I should be afraid or just laugh my ass off about this inquisition . I do not know this David L but thanks for the links It seems there are plenty of others that think this snake oil mess is plain silly.

If you cannot prove I am David L then don't make accusations. Similar to if you can't prove Ted's products work then don't claim they do wink

Richard Blade's picture
DavidL aka SergioLangstrom

"I do not know this David L but thanks for the links It seems there are plenty of others that think this snake oil mess is plain silly. If you cannot prove I am David L then don't make accusations"

You don't know who DavidL is? OK here goes...

Several posts up you posted the following in italics under the name SergioLangstrom

"Some one else I talked to online summed up Ted Denney's products pretty well, he said:

"Always good to get your retaliation in first, so when peddling snake oil you need both an 'explanation' of how it works and an 'explanation' as to why the effect can't be detected using normal science. If you can combine these two so much the better. Alleged ultrasonics (or infrasonics) are possibilities to explore..."

Someone else YOU talked to? Your words, not mine. The next step was easy. I simply Googled the following text string from your above post. Google: "Always good to get your retaliation in first, so when peddling snake oil you need both an 'explanation' of how it works and an 'explanation' as to why the effect can't be detected"

And this is what you find: http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/lounge/234829-funniest-snake-oil-theories... see post #2716

Now scoll up from post #2716 to post #2714 and guess who we find? None other then DavidL. See: http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/lounge/234829-funniest-snake-oil-theories...

You can actually read word for word the conversation they had including the above quoted text from DavidL aka SergioLangstrom

Now that we have established DavidL is also SergioLangstrom what to do? If I'm not mistaken DavidL was banned from Stereophile a few years back for excessive abusive posts.

Frankly bullies with an agenda are not the readers Sterephile should be concerned with.

SergioLangstrom's picture
Oh look we have another

Oh look we have another "Columbo" on here.  *sigh*

For your info [...] the person I talked to online wasn't on that forum. I spoke to him and he directed me to that link.He did say it word for word but he was quoting the other person cheeky

[flame deleted by John Atkinson]

Oh and while we are at it look at this link http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/lounge/234829-funniest-snake-oil-theories-273.html

Post # 2722 by DavidL . Maybe you should take him up on the invite and explain to them all why Ted's products are all so swell wink

Ken Harley's picture
I Checked It Out

and Mr Blade never bothered to make an appearance on that forum. I would have thought he would have wanted to prove his point, oh well.

Richard Blade's picture
One last question...

Thank you Marshall.

I now feel I have a pretty good understanding of where you stand regarding audio components and cables, digital and analog. One last question. What do you set your components on? Do you use any special stands or attempt to control or dampen mechanical resonance, or do you find most components sound pretty much alike regardless if they are set on special footers or stands? In particular I would like to know what steps you take, if any, to control mechanical resonance or to drain mechanical vibration to ground.

By the way, it's refreshing to carry on a conversation with the "other side" without all the vitriol. Hopefully we can have a meeting of the minds, even if we don't exactly see eye to eye.

eugovector's picture
IKEA Besta furniture.  I'll

IKEA Besta furniture.  I'll leave it to you to determine what you see as the relevant mechanical properties compared to other furniture.

Center speaker sits on Auralex MoPads.  HTPC has a few styrofoam bits to keep audible noise due to vibration down.  No other moving parts in the system but the HTPC drives (fanless design, and the Onkyo fan never kicks on).

Richard Blade's picture
Here's the thing

Marshal here's the thing, you and I approach audio from two very different view points and with very different findings (I suspect). In my experience I have found interconnects, speaker cables, digital cables and especially power cords to make up at least half of what my system will ultimately sound like, acoustics aside. I also hear a significant difference when comparing DACs as well as different pre-amplifiers and amplifiers. Ditto for speakers and for the record, my system is comprised of YG Acoustics speakers with a full loom of Esoteric electronics, both digital and analog.

Additionally I have found what I set my components on plays a major role in what I hear every time I drop the stylus into the groove, or select a file on my iPad that controls my server which in turn feeds my DAC through an Active digital cable; all of which effect the sound (iPad excluded).

As you can see, we approach audio differently and this is important for others who read this site to understand. For people who relate to audio and audio equipment and accessories as you do, your findings and opinions will hold more weight then someone who views audio as I do. On the other hand people who share my experiences will likewise hold my opinions in higher regard. I honestly don't know if the average Stereophile reader is more in the camp of everything in the audio chain seems to matter, or if the majority of Stereophile readers are of the view that so long as components measure the same, or very nearly the same, then they should sound the same, or very nearly the same. Personally I have never found the latter to be true nor do I think Stereophile was founded on such a premise but I digress.

The real point is the way in which different people, who hold different view points, treat one another. I frankly do not understand the tone or tactics of some from the objectivist camp when discussing topics or when addressing those of us on the subjective side of the equation. But I am certain most readers, and this includes people on both sides of the debate, would prefer not to have other peoples opinions shoved down their throats or to be ridiculed or have their favorite brands belittled regardless of circumstance. It is one thing to state one's opinion and quite another to engage in a campaign to squelch debate and participation.

Look at it this way, were this a forum for Ferrari enthusiasts would it be acceptable for people, most of whom do not even own a Ferrari, to consistantly shout down Ferrari owners simply because they think their Corvettes or Mustangs are just as good and a whole lot cheaper? What would be their rational for doing such a thing? Are they trying to hurt Ferrari's sales or do they simply hate Ferrari owners? Personally I have always seen Stereophile as a "Ferrari of audio" magazine, not a cheerleader for mediocrity nor a refuge for the abusive.

eugovector's picture
I would agree with you about

I would agree with you about the tone of the argument, and have admitted my own part, but let's face it, your first post in this exchange was no better, and I won't even begin to adddress some who should know better, insulting Stereophile subscribers (SHOCK!) with the label "troll".  Fact is, I've attended audio shows.  I've compared tube and solid state at said shows.  I've even interviewed Michael Fremer (double SHOCK!) agreeing with him on many points re: the superiority of vinyl (I just SHOCKED my pants!), though for different reasons I suspect.  So, let's not put all the blame in one camp.

As for squelching debate, I'm suggesting quite the opposite with a blind test.  The question is, "who will get in the boat?"  Wouldn't someone looking to read about Ferrari's want to have the 0-60 times measured?  When a certain engine additive promises more power, or a spoiler promises better handling, wouldn't they want to see these variable proven rather than just told by the manufacturer.  It seems to me that an enthusiast would explore the many options rather than trust what is convenient.  The fact is, this isn't Ferrari vs. Corvette.  This is Ferrari vs. Red Ferrari, and the claim that red is the fastest color by the folks that bought the red one and the guy that sells the paint.

Richard Blade's picture
Red Ferrari vs. Ferrari, or Mustang?

Marshall I do appreciate the new tone so I am responding in kind but, and please do not take this the wrong way, in my book JBL speakers with whatever amp and DAC have the "right specs" is not a Ferrari vs. Red Ferrari. More like a Mustang vs a 458 where the Mustang driver thinks he is in the same ball park as the Ferrari due to specs (horse power, torque, power to weight ratio, etc). As for conducting a blind test knock yourself out. Hell you could even do it with your significant other if you want to make it really interesting :0)

The thing I take issue with is your belief that people who are spending their own money, and are doing so with a 30 day money back guarantee, are somehow not going to reach a valid conclusion because, presumably, they lack your test methodology. That is pure bullocks in my book and goes against everything I value in audio and life in general. I've never felt the need to blind fold myself before making any purchase, audio or otherwise and I am 100% confident and satisfied in my purchases for if not, I don't purchase in the first place. But for fun I do perform non sighted tests for my friends. Things like turning off the Active Shielding on my Synergistic Research cables, or the Active Tranquility Bases in my system. Hell they don't even know what I'm turning on or off or when but they always reach the same conclusion- it works.

So what do you want to prove with this test of yours? A test that is being performed in a less than high end system? That people who have 30-days to reach a conclusion of whether or not they want to spend their money on a product can't be trusted to make the right call? That they should instead trust you? Going back to the car analogy, I would think the average enthusiast would rather test drive a Ferrari for 30-days on their own terms and not for a limited time on someone else s track, especially when that track is of lower quality than the track they normally drive. Not trying to be a dick but yea, my first name is Richard.

eugovector's picture
So, what class of Audio would

So, what class of Audio would you put the Bose Waveform Radio in?  The HFT worked there, without question, didn't they?  Sure my JBLs are as good as the Bose?

SergioLangstrom's picture
Eugovector don't be trolled

[flame deleted by John Atkinson]

Go ahead and set up the blind test and invite as many people as you wish. You can post the resluts on another forum

[flame deleted by John Atkinson]

eugovector's picture
I'm no evangelist, and I'm

I'm no evangelist, and I'm not trying to "save" or "be saved", but I am on a shared subscription and lament the demise of quality publications in our hobby.  I think Stereophile could be that publication again, which is why I'm a subscriber (well, shared subscriber) to Stereophile and Sound and Vision, among others.

As previously posted, I also have the upmost respect for the manufacturers of core components (and competent installers/room engineers) and hate to see their hardwork be over shadowed by magic talismans.  Notice, I wasn't asked any questions about my room or acoustic treatments, because those are seen as secondary to convenient treatments like little metal bowls and fancy power cables.

Because I love analogies:  This would be like saying Usain Bolt's morning shave is responsible for his world records.  His nike shoes have the equivalant of "inaudible" effects on his performance.  His heart is the source system, his lungs the amp, his legs, the speakers.  His shoes are the cables, his shave is the decal.  Doubt that?  Put on his shoes and try to set the world record.  It'll never hapen, but for a moment, you might think that you could.  That's like trying to make a Bose Waveform sound like JBL Everest Speakers with the HFTs.

For what it's worth, I think everything makes a difference, but is the composition of my couch, the thickness of my carpets, or the gloss of my paint less consequential than a tiny disc?  And, is any of it truly audible, or is it all psychological chicanery?

Did I mention I like magic?  I love David Copperfield, but he didn't really make the statue of liberty disappear.

 

 

 

Richard Blade's picture
Missing the point, obtuse, or something else?

The point is not that your stereo is lower than a Bose Wave radio, far from it. The point is people with higher end systems than yours (or not) hardly need to drive or fly to you in order to find out if these devices work for them. Why would they need to do this? Doesn't Synergistic Research offer a 30-day money back guarantee? Anyone interested can draw their own conclusion in the privacy and comfort of their homes on the only sound system that matters, the one they listen to every day.

Your harassing posts show a long pattern of ill will for not only Synergistic Research, but for those of us who enjoy SR products. Clearly you have an agenda.

To anyone reading this, simply search "Synergistic Research" on the Stereophile website and you find the same bad players engaging in the same smear tactics we find here, article after article. This latest attack is nothing new, nor sadly will it be the last.

eugovector's picture
I'm sorry that you feel my

I'm sorry that you feel my posts are "harrassing", and won't make any other points in direct relation to our conversation.  You are welcome to have the last word.

Regardless, you're still invited, and I'll be happy to provide food, drink, shelter (if needed) and an unbiased listen.  I encourage you to check out audioholics as I try to make this listening test happen.  I'd post the link, but I don't want to be accused of anything.

Richard Blade's picture
Again why should I...

Why should I or anyone else drive to you when we can perform the same experiment in the comfort of our own homes? Isn't the real test the test that shows us how a product performs at home in our listening rooms?

Again Marshall why would anyone need to go to your test when the real test is how a product performs in our homes with our systems? This is not a rhetorical question by the way.

eugovector's picture
If you're trying to assert

If you're trying to assert results free of psychological bias, and are willing to do blind testing to limit this bias, then there is no reason.  Have a friend, neighbor, stranger switch out your variable, and you can be the subject.  Of course, multiple subjects would give a broader more reliable data group.

But, as soon as you do sighted listening, you are introducing psychological bias.

http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2009/04/dishonesty-of-sighted-audio-product.html

 

Be sure to read through to the quote at the end, and I think you'll have a better understanding of the Stereophile that I grew up with.

Ken Harley's picture
Great Response!

It's a shame so many audiophiles refuse to belive in sighted bias and can't enjoy their music unless they are looking at all the expensive components.

June McArthur's picture
Hello All

This is my first post here. Normally I stay out of controversial subjects due to the nature of the internet and the arguements that develope but since I do have experience with at least one of Ted Denney's products I wanted to tell you my opinon.

I read online a couple of years back about the Acoustic Art bowls and was curious as to the claims.Having a modest but good sounding system I borrowed a set from a local audio dealer. Local meaning they were sadly 80 miles from my home. I set them up and listened to music both before and after installing them. I removed and installed them about 10 times but I couldn't tell any difference at all. Not wanting to think I didn't know what I was supposed to be hearing or not hearing, I invited friends over and they also heard no difference. Needless to say, I returned the bowls. When the dealer asked me to take home another product made by the same company I declined. He did demo it at the showroom but again I couldn't tell any difference at all. I think it was called a power cell or something like that. I understand the reluctance of those on here to accept these new devices as anything that does change the sound. Perhaps Stereophile can test these?

eugovector's picture
An excellent question.  The

An excellent question.  The speaker measurements done by Stereophile are really quite wonderful and beyond what many other publications do.  I think they are universaly applauded in this regard, and it would be great to see the same scrutiny applied to other products before they are recommended.

SergioLangstrom's picture
Hello June

Sorry you had such a bad experience with the magic bowls but no one has tested those on here and they may not ever. Not any of Ted's products in fact, just raving reviews instead that do not require any proof. I know the frustration you must have felt being led on like that and finding out for yourself that they do nothing.

Site Map / Direct Links