Synergistic Research system tuning (Part 1)

Room treatments

Now to the HFTs. These little metal cylinders are used next to transducers and ports on your loudspeakers, as well as one dot along the mid-section of any length of the loudspeaker cabinet. So, you will likely end up with one HFT close to any driver, one near any rear port, and one each on the side and top faces of each loudspeaker. And listen again, and once more the sound is just more realistic and ‘there’ in the room. Some major headscratching will take place at this point, because you start to realise just how far you’ve pushed your already good system, and you start wondering just how deep this rabbit hole goes.

This treatment system has proved popular with some studio engineers, who use it in tandem with lots of acoustic treatment to improve the resolution in the studio and control room. It’s more of a backroom thing, but one that has contributed to the quality of Grammy winning studios and recording engineers.

The difficulty with this kind of equipment is not explaining the end result – that’s actually the simple part; it makes your system sound better in specific and predictable ways described above. The problem comes with explaining ‘how’ and ‘why’ it does what it does. The pads look like they have a sandwich construction, with a sticky plastic back, a fabric covering, and some kind of darker material that constitutes the UEF ‘stuff’. The HFT dots look like little aluminium cylinders with a cone shaped space at the top of the cylinder. The UEF panels look like black picture frames where someone forgot the picture. That’s all fine. What they do is work on frequencies beyond human hearing and energy fields beyond our perception, which echo back into the purview of our relatively limited sensorium. How they do that is one of Synergistic’s trade secrets.

Note that although we have added panels, pads, and dots around the room, and now on the loudspeakers and speaker terminals, everything thus far has been a passive treatment, and has no direct electrical interaction with the system itself. And there is still one more step to make before we begin to go down that route (which will be the subject of a ‘Part 2’ for a future issue). Now we introduce… the Black Box.

This, as the name suggests, is a black box sitting on three spikes designed to sit in between and just in front of your loudspeakers, at least a metre from the rear wall. It has no active components so there are no plugs or batteries. According to Denney, this is a low frequency stabiliser in a resonator array designed to solve bass node issues, although by conventional acoustics models, the device needed to successfully achieve this goal would be about 20 times larger.

Conventional acoustics be damned, this thing works! The bass is less wayward, with bass notes having a distinct beginning, middle, and end, and a level of pitch precision that simply wasn’t there before. Despite a loudspeaker that – although very good – is not a full-range design in the high-end sense, it developed the sort of low-end authority and credibility that normally only comes with full-range loudspeakers. But perhaps more importantly, this brought the bottom end into line with the effects the UEF and HFT materials had on the mid and upper registers. Suddenly, the Synergistic name didn’t sound so far-fetched; there was a synergy across the frequency range that rarely happens in audio unless the system is extremely well sorted.

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