Von Schweikert Audio, VAC, Synergistic Research, and Scott Walker Audio

On the third and last day of the Florida Audio Expo, I realized I hadn't listened to Von Schweikert speakers in donkey's years. With only 35 minutes to spare till closing time, I made my way to the third-floor room where, according to the show literature, I should hear a pair of Von Schweikert Endeavor floorstanders ($31,000) being driven by a generous complement of multikilobuck tube components in a room cosponsored by Scott Walker Audio. Sure enough, the candy-apple-red speakers were there, tethered to a VAC Master Signature preamp ($44,000 with a phono stage) and VAC Master 300 monoblocks ($74,000/pair). The $36,000 VPI Avenger Direct turntable was in repose when I arrived, ceding front-end honors to a $28,000 Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Reference 3.

What I hadn't reckoned with was that the room was mostly a showcase for Synergistic Research, a company owned and run by inveterate inventor and megatweaker Ted Denney. Synergistic is primarily known for high-end cables that sell for a small fortune (its new SRX Slimline speaker wires start at $17,500), but that's not where Denney's quest for audio improvements stops; it's where it begins.

I'd hardly settled into my chair before he demonstrated the effect of his $1500 "Vibratron," a roughly six-feet-tall metal rod with two baseball-sized spheres, one gold-plated (for warmer sound), one silver (for brighter sound; mix and match to taste). They're resonators, which Denney modeled after "forgotten Greek and Roman technology." To hear him tell it, the ancients knew how to use rounded vessels to improve room acoustics and intelligibility.

Next, we were on to the benefits of his MiG SX bidirectional equipment footers, $995 for a set of three, which you can install pointing up or down according to the sound signature you prefer. The MiGs are claimed to "improve nearly every aspect of system performance," starting with a "denser soundfield." I could hear the difference, couldn't I?

I told my host I thought I did, but that I wasn't committing to a final opinion. It's not that I don't trust Denney. Rather, we all possess the capacity for suggestibility and self-delusion. Humans have every reason to be skeptical of their own senses. I'm sure Denney had heard that before, so my Doubting Thomas persona didn't faze him. In fact, he offered to make his case by driving from New York to my state (Maine) sometime this summer to personally make radical improvements to my system with the aid of Synergistic products. The man is nothing if not confident. We'll see.

At a minimum, no Synergistic cable or tweak got in the way of the music that the VACs and the Von Schweikerts were pumping out with gusto and finesse. When he heard I like Yello, Denney obligingly played one of their tracks and then introduced me to the Kruder & Dorfmeister dub of Bomb the Bass' "Bug Powder Dust," one of the most enjoyable pieces of power electronica I've heard in years. The system was equally surefooted in painting Ben Webster's lyrical sax work on "The Man I Love." I left in a good mood.

Ortofan's picture

... in a good mood, since he now has the justification to write off the cost of a summer vacation in Maine as a business expense.

Archimago's picture

After all these years, as a mainstream audiophile magazine, why are you still covering Ted Denney III's ridiculous circus act?

"Forgotten Greek and Roman technology"? Gold = warm? Silver = bright?

There are some seriously weird things and people in this world that need not be promoted for the health of the hobby IMO unless they can come up with some rationale for their products.

Indeed "we all possess the capacity for suggestibility and self-delusion", so let's see some scientific evidence first which will also give us some basic principles by which this man does his "inventing"; that these things even do anything resembling their attribution theory. The only number being presented to readers about Synergistic should not be a 4-5-figure price tag.

Articles about Synergistic belong in the pages of the National Enquirer rather than a reputable audiophile magazine.

ChrisS's picture

...a Recaro Sportster CS Nurburgring Limited Edition Driver Seat might get at a car show.

Why do people still drive Fords??

RH's picture

Except a sports car seat will actually do what it says it will do:
You can sit in it; it will hold you up.

If Recaro were claiming it's car seats used anti-gravity to hover you off the ground, based on "science from the ancients," then you'd have something more similar to the claims made for these type of products.

ChrisS's picture

...are you, RH?

If an item fits, if it's the right color, you like how it looks, you're satisfied with what it does, it's on sale, etc., you buy it. Right?

If none of the above, or the item is way out of your price range, or the sales pitch is suspicious, or the service is lousy, etc., you don't.

If it's not what you want, you walk away.

What's so hard about that?

Maybe you guys are just lousy shoppers!

RH's picture

"or the sales pitch is suspicious"...."you walk away."


"What's so hard about that?"

It's not hard at all.

"Maybe you guys are just lousy shoppers!"

Because we apply critical thinking to sort out legitimate vs suspicious products?

What a weird comment.

ChrisS's picture

...out your brain!

Now how much do we owe you?

ChrisS's picture

...I'm interested in kicking some tires.

And doing some shopping.

RH's picture

Great. No one is stopping you. Knock yourself out.

ChrisS's picture

...Knock yourself out!


ChrisS's picture

...to Mars, I'll bring you guys along.

Please let me know when you are available.


RH's picture

Enjoy Mars. I'll keep my feet on the ground.

There are a great many vendors who appreciate such open-mindedness.

If you are sick of paying for electricity, I know a guy who'll sell you a perpetual motion machine ;-)

ChrisS's picture

...in red?

With a slight metallic sheen?

And sparkles?

Yeah yeah, sparkles!

RH's picture

No silly: the machine comes in either Gold (for warmer power) or Silver (for cooling power).

It's pricey stuff, but you are paying for technological Secrets From The Ancients.

When you are truly "open minded" the world's your oyster! Enjoy!


ChrisS's picture

...No deal!

Is the oyster breaded?

Does that come with sauce?

ChrisS's picture

You want me to enjoy your S'long!!!

How Dare You!!

ChrisS's picture

And not Coke Zero either!!

No one should be allowed to drink either!

Or drive Fords!


ChrisS's picture

...vs suspicious products?"

That's a guy-way of shopping, is it?

How fucking embarrassing!

A guy man-splaining to another guy how to shop!

"With my Big Brain and Superior Intellect I will conquer the fruit aisle!"

How fucking silly can it get!!

ChrisS's picture

...a very suspicious banana you have there..."


es347's picture

..no comment regarding its efficacy but it must be quite something noting that the price jumped from $1500 to a cool $3995…gotta keep Ted in those ultra expensive EDCs..LOL