Synergistic Research & Scott Walker Audio

"Let me turn off the Tranquility Bases and you'll hear what I am talking about," said Synergistic Research's Ted Denney.

I sighed inside. Ted had been subjecting me to the improvement on room acoustics wrought by his ART Acoustic bowls for the past few years and despite my skepticism, I kept hearing that improvement. Now he was talking about his series of Tranquility Bases. Ranging in price from $995 to $2995, these powered platforms have a ground plane and generate beneficial electromagnetic fields that are said to condition the signals passing through the components sitting on them and drain away the bad fields to ground. Yeah, right!

The system in this air-walled ballroom, with inherently unfriendly acoustics, included YG Anat III Signature speakers driven by Esoteric amplification, with source a Mac mini feeding USB data to Synergistic's D/A converter. All the active components sat on Tranquility Bases.

Ted turned off the Bases. Both on a Bach Cello Suite and Bela Fleck's "Flight of the Cosmic Hippo," the sound became muddled and the relationship between the direct sounds of instruments and the surrounding ambience became less clear. To be honest, this was what I was expecting from these terrific speakers set-up in this poor room.

Ted turned the Bases back on. The sub-optimal room acoustics seemed to recede, the soundstage acquired better focus, the music flowed more easily.

At my request, Ted repeated the comparison. With the same effect every time. I have no explanation for what I was hearing. I left this room shaking my head.

JohnnyR's picture

Hey buddy rememeber me? Of course you do.

Funny how short your memory is when it comes to dealing with Ted Denney. As I recall and I'm sure others do also that read the forums, you and Ted were going to prove to the world how grand his magic bowls were and after 2 years of endless excuses and debate in the forums ......(Anyone can search for Ted Denney and the magic bowls and find exactly what I am refering to) "gave up" and never even gave testing them a shot. Your excuse? That Ted never sent you any bowls to be tested and that the "special engineer" you had in mind to test them backed out because of ONE lone person on the forums questioning the whole thing. Also Ted Denny NEVER bothered to show us any proof other than that sad sad sad error filled REW chart that ended up being shown to be either a deliberate attempt at fraud or Ted is so dumb that he doesn't know how to use a simple acoustic test software package.

Also readers can search for Eric Arjes on your forums and see what a con job he did on you with his "review" of the magic bowls. Funny how it seems his sole reason to join the forum was to praise Ted's bowls over and over THEN surprise surprise his "review" showed up on Ted's website.Soon after, "Eric" never posted anything again. A plant from Ted to get some free advertising through your forum courtesy of "Eric"? I'll let the readers decide that themselves.

Fast forwad now to this year and you have the audacity to even go to a show where Ted  is showing his "products" then once more you sing the praises of his snakeoil products?  I'm guessing and I'd put down $1000 at the Los Vegas bookies, that you don't have ANY plans on testing these products either. Prove me wrong and do some detailed tests for once Mr Atkinson instead os writing these drivel filled "reviews" for Ted's benifit.

Ted turning on and off a switch that he has wired up himself, proves NOTHING. That switch could be turning on and off any number of  devices that alter the frequency response or phase of the system.....and once more, you Mr Atkinson fell for his sleight of hand. For shame,

burnspbesq's picture

It occurs to me that you might want to actually go check the things out before you start gratuitously ripping on Mr. Atkinson. Trust your ears. They will tell you everything you need to know.

JohnnyR's picture

PLEASE, how about YOU doing some research in the Sterophile forums like I suggested and READ for yourself what went on the past 3 years concerning Ted's foolish magic bowls. I'm betting you are really employed by Ted Denney or you are Ted himself trying to do damage control. Your fearless leader Mr Atkinson has failed year after year to do any real testing on those fraudulent magic bowls. he won't and never will do any testing on them because he KNOWS they are crap, yet he will write nonsense like the above "review" and give Ted another chance to fleece the gullible. What a sad world this is where money rules and facts come last or not at all.

JohnnyR's picture

Notice how Atkinson gives Ted free reign to reel in the gullible. Even after numerous comments below the article about the bowls being pure fraud, Atkinson will allow even more fraud products to be "reviewd" like the Tranquility Bases. You know what the best proof is of Ted making pure BS?........just go to his website and see what he "makes". It's laughable.

drblank's picture

are based on the Helmholtz resonator concept, which has been proven, but not widely used in room treatment.  But the problem with ALL room treatment is that in order to really understand a product, someone with proper room measurement equipment, knowledge of how to interpret the test results and understand what room treatment is needed for a particular room to improve the SQ.

What I hate about the SR's marketing of the Room Treatment products is the lack of unbaised measurements conducted by a certified acoustic engineer that knows and specializes in room treatment and how to evalatuate those products and inform the consumer as to what works, what doesn't, when to use it, when not to use it, etc. etc.

Maybe under the right conditions, they work, but there are NO room measurements on before and after to draw from on SR or anyone else's site that I can find.  That to me tells me not to buy it.  

Acoustic engineers look at room measurements and then they pick the proper room treatment to fix the problems.  Helmholtz resonators CAN fix certain problems, but they aren't what I would refer to as something you run out and buy and then put all over your room without getting advice from experts on acoustic room treatment.

Personally, I think there are other more tried and true methods for improving the SQ in a room that any variety of mfg offer that were designed by acoustic engineers and they can offer guidance as to what is needed to fix a room.   There's the cheap and dirty free advice, which for many of us is all we need or can afford, or there's the cost no object which requires a great deal of attention to room measurements and a time and money consuming proposition to solving all of our room problems.

I just don't think these things are really the answer.

As far as the Tranquility Base?  I dont know, it's possible that they work, but I haven't seen them in person and heard them.  I don't know if they would work on my current system which is an iMac with a Meridian DIrector DAC.  Maybe when I get a MacMIni to use as my media server, maybe I might be inclined to try one, but I will be VERY skeptical if I ever do.

I just wish SR would have had their products independantly tested by certified acoustic engineers and some guidlines generated and posted as to if they are needed, under what conditions, etc.  The problem is that room treatment is such an important thing, it's always best to work with someone that is really credible to offer advice as to what to use, not use, when and how.   That's where SR fails.  They just seem to want to sell you the product.  I've run into someone that bought the Bowls and didn't hear any difference and actually did run some room measurements and saw not measurement changes, so that's just one scenario where they missed the point.

I'm also waiting for a consumer to post a Tranquility Base video where they give an accurate scenario where they turn it off and on and let you audition a variety fo content where it's possible to hear any differences.  I saw SR's videos on YouTube and I just couldn't hear the difference.  I didn't really get a good impression that they worked from the video other than Ted's glowing enthusiasm for his own products.

It would certainly be more credible if they could measure the before and after they turn on the Tranquility base to show measurements that are undeniable that they work. That's what is missing with a LOT of tweak products.  I wish companies would take a more objective approach first and THEN perform listening tests once it has been proven that the product works and then freely share that information by posting or distributing real measurements that also explain what the measurements mean and how it improves the SQ.