The Art of Tuning

Go forth and find ye cables, tweaks, power products, and low-cost amplification, saith the Lord of Atkinson. Little did I realize how much fun my assignment would be. While I didn't run across any low-cost amplification on my first day at CES, there were cables and tweaks galore.

As luck would have it, the Stereophile outpost in the Venetian was virtually across the hall from Ted Denney's Synergistic Research Inc. Given that the thread on the magazine's website forum about Ted's Acoustic ART Real-Time Analogue Room Treatment now amounts to well over 40 pages, I was delighted to discover that he was prepared to do a demo before the show officially opened. While not even Ted could compensate for my absentmindedness, which led me to abandon his literature somewhere on the 29th floor, I found the demo so convincing that I took copious notes.

For those unfamiliar with this fascinating system, Ted developed it after spending three years sailing the Pacific on a vision quest of sorts. Stopping at Tibetan Buddhist temples along the way, he became intrigued with the use of Tibetan bowls to control and tune sound in the sanctuaries. The result is a tuning system that consists of a suspended blue Vibraton sphere that looks a bit like the planet Saturn, topped by removable tiny magnets; the Gravitron and Magnatron Satellites (small carbon steel bowls that have been zapped by a 2 million volt Tesla coil) that sit atop either magnetic or non-magnetic bases affixed to walls), and a spiked Bass Station that sits on the floor.

In the course of various positionings, removals, and repositionings, I heard the components of the ART system focus and tighten percussion, render a soundstage considerably more three-dimension, clarify a musical presentation rather than leaving it muddy, and considerably tighten and control bass. The active shielding on Ted's cables have an equally remarkable although different effect on clarity. I can understand how the entire set-up might push some audiophiles past their woo-woo threshold, but my ears tell me Ted's products amount to breakthroughs in the field of resonance control, room tuning, and musical expression.

Ted also exhibited his Tesla PowerCell, an AC conditioner that limits neither current nor dynamics. Given how convincing Ted's demos were, I regret that there was no easy to conduct a before and after comparison.

Max's picture

I listened to the Synergistic Research Acoustic ART Demo. Short and to the point- this is the next BIG THING. The demo was nothing short of amazing. The entire system opened up, air transcended the listening room, the bass became tighter and more extended, and mid-range liquidity to the point of swimming in a sea of beautiful music. If you have not heard the Synergistic ART System, you are missing a landmark in audio. This is on par with the invention of high-end cables and power cords.

John Atkinson's picture

Much to my regret, I heard a significant improvement when the Synergistic devices were moved into the CES dem room and a degradation when they were removed. :-(

Stephen Scharf's picture

John's right....I personally conducted my own test at my local audio store, and this system does work. LIke John, I started with the system up, and then took it down, and there was a degradation when I took down the bowls.

Ken's picture

I listened, on three occasions, to the Acoustic Art demo. Not sure why or how this works but the results were remarkable when the system was in play...more sound stage, more depth, more clarity.Brought audiophile friends back to listen and all were amazed. Didn't seem to be any trickery here, just astounding, clearly discernable results.

Ted B's picture

This is the second show (RMAF and CES) that I've heard the ART, and it is quite effective, way more so than the RMAF rooms IMO. I heard all that is being mentioned here.In speaking with the Ted and the SR folks both here and at RMAF I get the impression that Ted is very complimentary of Frank Tchang. I never got the feeling that he believes he "invented" this approach, just maybe refined it.

Frank's picture

total scam. you won't reinvent the law of physic. It is really fun to believe in magic. still, it does not exist. all those comment up there seem like part of the scam....

Ted Denney III's picture

Dear Frank- We are not reinventing the laws of Physics, merely using different physics then have been used in the past to tune room acoustics. If you would like, may I suggest you visit our factory in Southern California or if that is not convenient, one of our stocking Acoustic ART dealers for a demonstration of the Acoustic ART System? You may be surprised at what you discover. Ted Denney III Lead Designer Synergistic Research Inc.

John Pretrova's picture

Hey, it look great! i wonder if it's as good as my acoustitek lab treatment. I am already really satisfied with it, but i would like to listen how it sound like!

John Marks's picture

I recently got a set of these in my listening room for audition from The Cable Company. Guess what? They really work! I can't believe how expansive my sound field has become or how tight my bass now sounds. I have no idea how or why they work, they just do and thats good enough for me. If you have the means, by all means give them a try with one word of caution. Don't try them if you cannot afford to keep them because once you set the ART System up in your listening room there's no turning back.

John's picture

OMG how many times do people from the company post "glowing" reviews of this junk all over the internet Seriously this has to be as funny as the Peter Belt crap that came out years ago. Just goes to show how gullible some people are.

George Flanagin's picture

I just saw these in a store. It took me a while to realize what day today is, but when I got home I had to look it up to see if this were only a one-day joke.I enjoyed the manufacturer's comment: << We are not reinventing the laws of Physics, merely using different physics then [sic] have been used in the past to tune room acoustics. >> I'm sure the best thing about the product is the profit margin.

George Langley's picture

Yikes this is too funny to comprehend! The old saying "A fool and his money are soon parted" rings true in this case.

chayanto's picture

I'dont know if the guy looks like a used car saleman or not. All I know this stuff it's work!By the way in the audiophile's world, the money isn't an opject! for me 3k it ought to seem like a chicken feed.Try it. If your lie' ear cna't hear the difference, you probably not belong to the world of stereophile.

Aslan's picture

I have the system and it works as advertised. Really I don't understand what all the fuss is about. It is very easy to hear the difference and if it had not worked forme I would have taken it back to my dealer.A link to a review that pretty much sums up my experience with Acoustic ART.

Foohonyou's picture

Aslan seems to be everywhere promoting this garbage lately. Part of the company or getting some kick back? I gave this stuff a listen and it's all foolishness. Save your money for better speakers and real room treatment.

Pundit's picture

Links to waterfall graphs for the Acoustic ART System:

Jessie James's picture

Yes Pundit and please let it be known that ted admitted that those graphs are worthless because of HIS "mistake" of including 500mS delay in the second set of after graphs. oops hahahahaha

Ferd Burfel's picture

Did someone say those dinky HS shop class projects next to the empty suit sell for $3000? PT Barnum had it right. Now that's capitalism at it's finest.

Pundit's picture

Excellent review from an old hand who knows acoustics and live music. Scroll down the review to get to the Acoustic ART portion of the review.

jean-Philippe's picture

Most of the time, room quality is defined by its impulse reponse function. And to get it as neutral as possible, it is recommended to remove any resonating device that could induce secondary sound source through their own resonancesI If understand the way it works, this systeme is a simple and very expensive resonating device that can be tunesd at specific frequencies depending on your room dimensions. Then how can you call that High FIDELITY !Where is the fidelity here ??That is a nonsense !For those who like this kind of thing, you can use any old saucepan from your kitchen. Properly tuned, it will do the same !

William G.'s picture

I find it strange that these comments get so aggressive. What's the big deal? I've heard the ART and it was a pretty big difference. Made the music sound more like 3D, airier, like there was a natural reverb to it. So it's $3k, compared to some audiophile stuff that's cheap. Compared to a frying pan it's really expensive. If it's too expensive, don't buy it, but why knock it? It's like saying a Levinson amp sounds like crap just because it's not affordable. Huh?The ART works, as evidenced by all of the people who have actually heard it. Including some of the most respected names in the audiophile space. For whatever reason some people who have never heard it seem hell-bent on proving that it doesn't. Odd behavior. Didn't stop me from buying it...

Dan's picture

You know, as hard as I try....I just cant get worried about it. You know what I'm saying Poncho

Fiji555's picture

"For whatever reason"William the "reason" is as you state, it “works” and this has many in the traditional acoustics field nervous as evidenced by their shrill cries of shill, and fraud. After all if it did nothing there would be far less acrimony from those who have never heard the ART System; not to mention all the positive reports from those of us who have (can you imagine the BS that will ensue from the oil industry the minute an alternative to crude oil is found to power our automobiles?)BTW I have a set, it works.

Fiji555.1's picture

PS. I just read the entire spew of hate above. So we are to believe all positive reports are either from industry shills, or direct payola to the magazines? REALLY?!! Take a look at the following link to a review of the Acoustic ART System. You'll have to scroll down near the end of the review. To my knowledge Synergistics does not advertise on this site (I have never seen an advert there. Come to think of it, I have not seen an ad for Synergistics in Stereophile in years) I’ll tell you what pisses me off, industry shills engaging in a smear campaign to prop up yesterday’s technologies.

Jerry Philtow's picture

I gave these a try just out of curiosity. WOW! Let me tell you right now that they..............did nothing. Zip.Nada.ZERO. The salesperson wanted me to move from one spot AFTER he had removed the ART system. I told him it would sound different if I moved due to different standing waves in the room and he got angry! Pffffft yep so I stayed in the same spot and there was NO difference in the sound. Waste of time and money.

Synergistic Research Inc.'s picture

I now see Ethan Winer of RealTraps is resorting to posting under various names (my opinion based on long documented facts pointing to Ethan denigrating the Acoustic ART System on other threads) claiming to have listened to the Acoustic ART System and to hearing NO EFFECT. While I have little doubt some will not hear their effects (just as some, Ethan included, claim all amplifiers (over $1,000 in price), audio cables, and power cords sound alike, while power conditioners and isolation platforms and cones have NO EFFECT). At the end of the day if you are a user of high performance audio cables, power cords, and all the other things Ethan would have you believe to be of no value, and YOUR experience tells you they are of value, you may wish to try the Acoustic ART System; if you don’t like it, return it. In case you are wondering who wrote this response, I am Ted Denney III, Lead Designer and owner of Synergistic Research Inc.

Buster Brown's picture

Awwwwwwww Stereophile has deleted some reviews on here.Protecting the guilty are we ? Hahahahah way to go loserville. Ted's crap is dishonest and a scam.

Stephen Mejias's picture

Hey Buster Brown: FYI, I deleted the posts because it became obvious that they were phony testaments from phony users -- a low-down, pathetic thing to do, and an abuse of our hospitality. I will continue to delete any similar posts.

Not Impressed's picture

Gosh Mejias you must be GOD to know what posts are "phony". Unlike all the "positive" replies on here from "actual users" Funny stuff.I'm betting 90% of those are the manufacturer's friends and family. Well let me tell you that I tried listening to the ART system and I found that it didn't do anything at ALL. Yep, no difference. NONE. Are you going to delete THIS post now because it's "phony"?

Stephen Mejias's picture

Not Impressed: I'm not God, but I do have a comment admin tool.I've now deleted several new posts because our website should not be used as a venue for the ongoing dispute between Ethan Winer of RealTraps, Ted Denney of Synergistic Research, and others. I understand that these men have some differences which they'd like to discuss, but feel that they should do it elsewhere.

John O&amp;#39;Brien's picture

I gave these a whirl and didn't notice any change in the sound field. I really wanted them to do something to the sound but I guess you get what you don't pay for in this case.

Audiophile's picture

Hmm,I heard the system at my dealer (Scott Walker Audio) and then auditioned the Acoustic ART System in my carefully set up home system (Ayre Acoustics electronics and Magico V3 speakers). The system improved every aspect of my system. Larger soundstage, deeper tighter bass and clearler more transparent highs. For me this was the best $$$ I've ever spent on audio gear (I've spent pleanty). Highly recomended for anyone looking to take their system up several notches. They're certainly worth a listen.

François Thompson's picture

As an ingeneer, this system can't work. It is against all law of science. This is just using ignorance of people to sell them crap. It is like using a flower to bring peace to the world, you got to believe! The sound industrie is mainly like this, selling crap. Sometime it is useless but good thing kind of crap, like 99.9% copper cable 1 inch diameter, sold for around 1000$ for 2X 20foot cable witch can be proven by easy calculation that at that power(between poweramp and speaker) the possibility of hearing a difference is less than 1/100 of the ear sensivity. The cable is great! but on 20 feet, it is useless. But those bell and stuff is just a scam. Anyway, stealing people is the reason of most of sound business since decade.

John O&amp;#39;Brien's picture

I honestly tried these out at my local dealer and heard no difference at all. None.I noticed that John Atkinson failed to test these as promised also. I guess that says more than anything else about this product.I spent my $3000 on better speakers and glad I did.

George Haley's picture

After reading about these bowls online, I decided to try them out.Lets just say I didn't buy them. Maybe some people hear things that aren't there so in that case spend your money as you wish. I find it strange that Mr. Denny can't provide any measurements of any sort yet he claims to be able to hear an audible difference. I think he's blowing smoke up our butts.

Ted Denney's picture

We will be demonstrating the Acoustic ART System along with new cable and AC technologies at this year's RMAF. I invite everyone attending the show to stop by our room and decide for themselves. With what we have planed, this year’s demonstration should send the nay-sayers into a tailspin; you be the judge. Ted Denney, Lead Designer Synergistic Research Inc.

George Haley's picture

Ted you can give all the demos you want but you can't even supply any measurements? You had over 2 years to show us what your bowls could do, yet you never bothered to do anything other than turn tail and run. Good luck fleecing the public, I'm sure your great at that.

Pundit's picture

George,What is your take on audio cables and power cords? How do you measure the affects of cables and power cords on a system? I've used them for years to elevate my systems performance far beyond what is possible with cheap cables but I've never seen measurements that quantify why one cable or power cord is better then another. I'd like your take on what we audiophiles know to be true- namely that not everything that can be heard can be measured.

George Haley's picture

"Pundit" or TED (how about using your real name instead of hiding?) Mr.Denny has had 2 years to show us measurements. Remember the REW graphs he strutted around the forums as "proof"? He obviously thinks they can be measured yet turned tail and ran off when confronted that the "proof" was either an error or just plain fakery. So you are saying the bowls can't be measured YET the acoustic results to the listener is so obvious? LMAO nice try bringing up power cords and audio cables since it seems NO ONE bothers to measure those either. So what's the big secret demo Ted is going to do at the RMAF that's going to WOW everyone? yeah right.