I Hate When That Happens

One of the first rooms I visited at RMAF was the one shared by Luxman and Vivid distributor On a A Higher Note and cable manufacturer Synergistic Research. Auditioning the South African Vivid Giya speakers ($58,000/pair) had been a highlight of the 2009 CES and I wanted to repeat the experience before the speakers wended their way to Wes Phillips' place for a forthcoming Stereophile review.

The sound of the system, with the new Brinkmann "Bardo" magnetic-drive turntable ($7990) and Luxman CD player and preamp sitting on a Stillpoints rack, driving Luxman monoblocks via Synergistic's Galileo multi-conductor, actively shielded cables—those are the cables supported by acrylic discs to the front of the photo—was impressive on a DIana Krall cut. (I love Diana Krall.)

But the disturbing thing was when Synergistic's Ted Denney (photo) removed the tiny ART room-tuning devices that were fastened to the walls. I know these cute little metal bowls are too small to affect sound with a frequency below 10kHz or so. But without them, the system sounded more confused and lumpier in the bass. Replacing the ART devices brought the soundstage back into focus and the tonal balance back into coherency. I hate when that happens!

suits_me's picture

Well, John is not likely to forget _now_. ; >

M.'s picture

Acrylic discs to support cables! How sillier can high-end Hi-Fi get?

Artie's picture

So Steve, I think we got it!JA, I've enjoyed your reviews over the years, but your "love" of Diana Krall puts things in a new light. As Art Dudley has stated, opinions of equipment based upon the audition of trivial, lite music are not to be trusted...

Steve Dodds's picture

Perhaps you should use some ART devices on your computer.

Se Como?'s picture

Geez, reads like an ad. Change the names and wording and you've got it!JGH would be proud.

Aslan's picture

Wow 17 duplicate posts from Stephan to Zero?Anyway the Vivid / Luxman / Synergistic room sounded awesome. I doubt very seriously that anyone could profess to not hear a marked improvement in the sound of the system with the ART System in place. Perhaps JA can perform some with and without measurements in an upcomming Stereophile review? That would be very interesting along with measurements of conventional room treatments and subjective compairisons and conclusions.For me the cats already out of the bag. 

Stephen Scharf's picture

Yeah, I don't know why my *one* post was replicated 17 times, that must have been a web server glitch.Why it was deleted completely I have no idea about eithers, as all I had posted was to affirm JA's observations that the ART system DOES work; I did an A/B with it almost a year ago. Surprising that John hadn't heard this previously.

Stephen Mejias's picture

Hey Stephen. Sorry about the trouble. There was a glitch, and it wasn't something I was able to fix myself. IT got on the case, took care of it, but accidentally deleted your post. We've asked them to retrieve it; not sure if it'll be possible.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Earlier this year, Ted Denney conducted two very convincing demos of the ART system in my home for members of the Bay Area Audiophile Society (http://www.baasnotes.com). I subsequently reviewed the set-up for another publication. I always listen to music with ART in place. Given that my room is large, with lots of alcoves and places that trap sound, also use four Shakti Hallographs, which work synergistically with ART. The combo continues to amaze dealers and reps who visit and hear differences with slight shifts in position and angle of the devices.

Stephen Scharf's picture

Hey Stephen,Don't sweat it; I recapped my original points about JA's comments regarding the ART system above. On an incidental note, I heard the one of the Cable Company guys say that the first time he saw the ART system, he really didn't want it to work, but...it does. I first heard the ART system in Berkeley in December '08 and conducted my own A/B demo. I was extremely skeptical when I first saw it, but my tests convinced me.

John Paul's picture

I attended the RMAF and Mr Denney's presentation and found it lacking in credence or facts. There was only him telling the attendees what they should be listening for, which we all know is coaching and not ethical. I didn't hear any difference and found the whole thing rediculous. I'd much rather spend my money on products that work.

John Gault's picture

John Paul I too heard the demo and Ted did not coach us in what to hear. He simply played music with and without the ART System in place. The difference was anything but "rediculous". With the ART System in place the soundstage was expansive, the bass was tighter, the mid-range more layered, and highs were airier and more musical. Without the ART System in place the bass was "boomy" the soundstage constricted and confused and the highs were a bit harsh. I am not certain what you heard but it seems from your account you had a bias while I simply sat, listened, and formed my conclusion based on what my ears told me. To each his or her own but I can assure you no one is forcing anyone to spend their hard won money on anything they cannot quantify for themselves.

Frank G's picture

Sorry John Paul but I, and many of my friends (all who were in attendance) clearly heard the benefits of the ART System when in place, and a degradation to the sound field when it was removed. You may be able to sway people who were not there, but for those of us who were, your post comes across as an obvious rant. On a different note, I have been looking for a pair of state-of-the-art speakers for my home. Prior to RMAF I had not been too impressed with the Vivid G1's. Now I am seriously thinking of making these the last pair of speakers I will ever need. At less then half the price of the rather ugly robotic looking speakers I had been considering, I will have money left over for "products that don't work" as well as a happy wife (she hated what she called “R2D2” on steroids). A great sounding room and a very convincing demo.

Mr Roberts's picture

All these fake letters of support are so laughable. Must be the company sending them in. God please don't let it be gullible people throwing away their hard earned cash.

tomcollins's picture

i have to join the bandwagon. though not at the show, i had the chance this week to buy 3 argent room lenses. these divices look like 3 5 foot pipes in a base and are helmholtz resonators. i got them for $100, so who cares right. they usually go for 3-500 used and are no longer made but were 1200 new. the difference in soundstage and clarity would be impossible to not hear. an added bonus is being able to play at lower volume levels while maintaining clear resolution. so, count me in as one of those people who would have to hear the ART devices, but definitely believe they can work given this recent experience. i don't know if these were worth 1200 new, but definitely worth the regular used price.

Bob S's picture

I really liked this room. The sound was powerful but with finesse and never hi fi. In particular I enjoyed the big Vivids as they never fail to create beautiful music. What I do not agree with is the assertion that this room fell short when the ART system was removed. True it did sound better when in place, but it still sounded fabulous either way.

JR's picture

Your ears "hear" the difference because your brain told them to. This is an example of psycho-acoustics, or in other words the power of positive thinking or self fulfilling prophecy. Try the same "listening test" in a blind test then see how big the "improvement" is.If "the bass was 'boomy' the soundstage constricted and confused and the highs were a bit harsh" you might want to consider changing some of the components.But I do agree let's have JA measure it.

Danielle W's picture

I was at the demo too and yes, me and my husband both noticed the same differences Mr Gault and Frank did. In fact I came home with an ART basik system to replace my room tunes 'pillows'. I'll also echo that Ted never told anyone what to expect. He did ask people if they heard a difference and took feedback. JR... I take it you believe that room acoustics has no affect on the sound whatsoever then? You could have the best system in the known world but if your room sucks even a little you won't being hearing the components at their full potential. The room is part of the system as well.

George's picture

And "audiophiles" mock Bose. HAHAHA. Previously $1200. But at the "used" price of only $100 they are certainly worth it. More Ha Ha's. Gullible Fi. My new magazine.

Gord's picture

So many fake letters from people who are naysayers are so laughable. It is such a set up. It must be from competing companies. See, Mr. Roberts how easy this is.

Bill's picture

I was there, I listened, and the difference is NOT small.This despite my knowing and hoping I'd hear no difference from the "Christmas Ornaments" on the walls.I don't know HOW they work, but they DO.No, I don't work for Synergistic Research.