Show Report: T.H.E. Show Newport Beach 2013
Robert Harley, The Absolute Sound: “This was one of the biggest and most open soundstages I’ve heard from a hi-fi system”
Jason Victor Serinus, Stereophile: “A fabulous soundstage and air for days… I heard, as well, an easy and relaxed flow with room-filling images and impressive dynamics”
John Atkinson, Stereophile: “Prince III electrostatic kicking major low-frequency bootie, and without too narrow a sweet spot, the other Achilles’ Heel of big panel speakers. Surely this wasn’t all due to the presence of Synergistic’s little ART bowls in the room?”
Audio Circle: “He paused the music and removed the tuning cups from all three of the positions in the back of the room.. Much of the ambient goodness in the rear of the room went away… When he replaced the cups the goodness returned”
Our lead designer Ted Denney talks about this year’s T.H.E. Show Newport Beach system:
“I grew up in Huntington Beach, one city away from Newport Beach, poor cousin to the rich and glamorous cities of Newport, Corona Del Mar, and Laguna Beach. Later, while attending college in the ’80’s, I spent a lot of time in Newport Beach, or as we called it then, New-Porsche Beach. There were also a lot of BMW’s, Ferrari’s, and THE car to have in the ’80′s, Lamborghini Countachs prowling the streets in my formative years. I can still recall thinking to myself, ‘I want to build a world class product right here in the USA. Something on par with the best of European engineering.’ With this in mind, I set out to make this year’s system as bold as the cars that inspired me to break from the mold and pursue my dreams. I wanted to assemble the very best American electronics and speakers I could find to complement what is to date, my highest performance cables, Galileo LE interconnects, speaker cables, and power cords.”
“After exceptional results from last year’s budget all-tube RMAF System, I wanted to see how far we could take tubes without regard for price point. While our RMAF system (now my home AV system) cost $25k for everything- electronics, Mac Mini, DAC, cables, power cords, Tranquility Bases, speakers, REL sub-woofer(s) etc., this year’s T.H.E. Show system needed to be as big as the memory of the cars that inspired me so long ago. Luckily I was approached by our Orange County dealer, Scott Walker of Scott Walker Audio who just so happens to sell some of the finest names in American Hi Fi. After a brief discussion Scott and I selected VAC’s Statement Series 450 pure tube mono-blocks, VAC Statement pre-amp, and VAC Statement Phono Section. For our digital front end I used my Synergistic Research “The Music Cable” which is actually 5 components in one: DAC, Active SE USB cable, Active Element Tungsten IC and a built in micro PowerCell to clean incoming power and micro Galileo IC cell to filter the outgoing music signal. The Music Cable was plugged into a stock Mac Mini with an internal solid state HD and directly into the VAC Statement Pre-Amplifier at the CD input. Over 100,000 music files were stored on a standard Western Digital 2 TB hard drive connected by my Active Firewire 800 SE cable. The entire digital front end rested atop one Tranquility Base XL active electromagnetic platform. For analogue, we gave a nod to European and Japanese engineering excellence with the German JR Transporter turntable, a British SME V tone arm, and Japanese Air Tight PC1 moving coil phono cartridge.”
“Cables for the system were our new state-of-the-art Galileo LE interconnects, speaker cables, and power cords; the highest performance cables Synergistic Research has ever built. Running between the VAC Statement phono stage and VAC Statement pre-amplifier was the Galileo LE Source to Pre-Amp interconnect. Connecting the VAC Statement pre-amplifier and 450 Watt mono-blocks were the Galileo LE pre-amplifier to power amplifier interconnects. Each interconnect is voiced to its intended task with the source component to pre-amplifier interconnect voiced slightly warmer and weightier, while the pre-amplifier to power amplifier interconnect is engineered and voiced to sound as good at 8 meters as it does while spanning a 1 meter distance. Speaker cables were the new Galileo LE running from VAC mono blocks to the high frequency binding posts on the Magico Q7 loud speakers. And because the Magico Q7′s are a no holds barred bi-wire design, we built a special 1.25 meter Galileo LE speaker cable to connect the high frequency binding posts to the low frequency binding posts”
Active Shielding was handled by our EnigmA valve power supply. This unique hand-made limited production work of art employs two Western Electric JAN 394A Electron Tubes. Originally 394A’s were used in allied aircraft, naval vessels, and ground force radios and electronics during the Second World War. Our supply of these amazing tubes are “New Old Stock” built between 1942 and 1953.
EnigmA valve power supply for Active Shielding and “The Music Cable” plug and play DAC for computer audio, MacMini and Western Digital 2 TB hard drive with Tranquility Base XL Active EM isolation platforms
EnigmA valve power supply for Active Shielding:
The EnigmA valve power supply for Active Shielding is actually three separate power supplies in one. First there are two power supplies for charging Active Shielding on interconnects, speaker cables, and Tranquility Bases. The first is a mercury vapor rectifier valve power supply, the second is a high speed solid state power supply. Then there is a totally separate third solid-state power supply for charging Active Shielding on power cords with its very own power cord at the back of the EnigmA.
Synergistic Research users wishing to experience the difference in sound between solid-state and mercury vapor tube Active Shielding need only flip a switch to hear this not so subtle difference. Given Active Shielding takes place outside-the-signal-path, there is an amazing difference between 30-volts of DC power generated by Mercury Vapor tubes compared to 30-volt solid-state powered Active Shielding. This is also why the Enigma’s power cord section is all solid state, due to tighter and punchier low frequency performance for solid state powered Active Shielding on power cords. In fact, the difference in sound is exactly like the difference you hear between tube and solid state power amplifiers. With the EnigmA valve power supply for Active Shielding, Synergistic Research users with otherwise pure solid-state systems get the warm sonic glow of tubes without sacrificing the low frequency benefits of their solid state components- the best of both worlds!
To fill the Hilton’s enormous Crystal Ball Room D with wall to wall sound, Scott Walker Audio provided one of the highest performance speakers in the world, Magico’s amazing Q7
Ted talks about system set up:
“Positioning the Q7′s in a massive 30 x 30 foot ballroom would be no minor task, so set up started at 1 pm on Wednesday; by 8pm we had music running through T.H.E. Show’s most ambitious system. To start, the Q7s were positioned one quarter of the way into a square room and one quarter of the way between each side wall with very little toe in. Knowing the system’s sound would shift steadily over the days to come, and erratically during the first 14 hours, we sent test tones through the system for 14 hours to allow the electronics, speakers, crossovers, DAC’s, and cables to warm up and stabilize before starting the process of speaker positioning, treating room acoustics, voicing the Actively Shielded cables with Grey and Silver Enigma Tuning Circuits, and fine tuning MiG ambient and pin-point positions beneath VAC Electronics and Active Tranquility Bases. Sadly, on the following day, the sound was shifting from dark to bright and the sound stage had yet to stabilize. This made speaker placement and voicing Active Shielding problematic, given the nature of the system being a “moving target.” Normally we build cables well in advance of a show to allow for at least one month’s time for all cables to stabilize, first with 300+ hours on our custom cable cooker followed by two weeks of running the cables in with the electronics and speakers they will show with. Unfortunately we were still making final determinations on the exact composition of the new Galileo LE interconnects and speaker cables and had only finalized their design 3-weeks prior to the show. By the time we built the final cables there was only time for 100 hours on our cable cooker and zero time running music with the VAC electronics and Magico Q7s before putting the whole system together.
I spent the next 16 hours and well into the night positioning and repositioning the 750 lb speakers, ART resonators, and Enigma Circuits as the system’s sound continued to shift. On the first day of the show the sound was very good, if not a tad bright, and while the sound stage was massive on full orchestral recordings, it still did not have the effortless ease I knew it would by show’s end. I stayed late after the first day to continue fine tuning of the system, mainly getting just the right balance of warmth and detail through careful Enigma Circuit selection as the system’s sound continued to shift – approx. 60% Grey and 40% Silver Enigma Tuning Circuits at the end of day one.
Saturday morning on Day Two, I added a few more Silver Enigma Tuning Circuits to the system as it had begun to settle in and could handle the added resolution of a few more Silver Bullets. By Sunday, the last day, the system had fully settled in with a lush mid-range, extended and airy highs, and deep tight bass. The sound stage had likewise stabilized and was capable of projecting a full orchestra in accurate scale while preserving the delicate detail of a solo female vocal and guitar. By this time the system had an approx mix of 30% Grey and 70% Silver Enigma Tuning Circuits without a hint of brightness or glare. In fact, this is one of the most amazing systems I have ever assembled under show conditions and I am seriously considering replacing my current reference loud speaker with Magico Q7s.”
Press coverage for Synergistic Research at T.H.E. Show Newport Beach 2013
The Absolute Sound – Robert Harleyhttp://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/the-newport-show/?page=2
Synergistic Research’s Lead Designer Ted Denney and Scott Walker of Scott Walker Audio
“ Scott Walker Audio and cable manufacturer Synergistic Research teamed up to put on one of the show’s most elaborate and ambitious systems”
“… Magico Q7s driven by top-of-the-line VAC amplification, all wired with the new Synergistic Galileo LE…”
“…the new Synergistic Galileo LE… incorporates the technology of the $50k Galileo that Jonathan Valin reviewed so favorably, but in a more friendly form factor and at less than a third the price”
“ I returned late on the last day for an extended listen and was floored by the way the loudspeakers and room vanished. This was one of the biggest and most open soundstages I’ve heard from a hi-fi system”
“The sense of immediacy and presence was hair-raising. Synergistic’s Ted Denney then demonstrated the effect of the Tranquility Bases and of the active biasing of the cable shields, both of which contributed significantly to the system’s overall sound”
The other system that knocked my socks off couldn’t have been more different. Orange County retailer Scott Walker Audio and cable manufacturer Synergistic Research teamed up to put on one of the show’s most elaborate and ambitious systems. The huge room housed Magico Q7s driven by top-of-the-line VAC amplification, all wired with the new Synergistic Galileo LE. This new cable incorporates the technology of the $50k Galileo that Jonathan Valin reviewed so favorably, but in a more friendly form factor and at less than a third the price. The room was also loaded with every Synergistic technology available, including Tranquility Bases under every component and Synergistic’s room-tuning devices. I heard the system briefly the first day and was disappointed that this magnificent loudspeaker wasn’t shown in its best light. I returned late on the last day for an extended listen and was floored by the way the loudspeakers and room vanished. This was one of the biggest and most open soundstages I’ve heard from a hi-fi system. The sense of immediacy and presence was hair-raising. Synergistic’s Ted Denney then demonstrated the effect of the Tranquility Bases and of the active biasing of the cable shields, both of which contributed significantly to the system’s overall sound.
Stereophile – John Atkinsonhttp://www.stereophile.com/content/affordable-audio-king-soun
“the Prince III electrostatic kicking major low-frequency bootie, and without too narrow a sweet spot, the other Achilles’ Heel of big panel speakers. Surely this wasn’t all due to the presence of Synergistic’s little ART bowls in the room?”
It appears I couldn’t go for an entire show without hearing Bela Fleck and the Flecktones’ “Flight of the Cosmic Hippo”—one of the last rooms I went into on the Sunday afternoon, shared by Affordable Audio and speaker manufacturer King Sound featured the unmistakable sound of Victor Wooten’s deep-voiced bass guitar! “Electrostatics don’t have bass?” asked Kingsound’s Roger du Naier, “Listen to that!” And Roger was right, the Prince III electrostatic kicking major low-frequency bootie, and without too narrow a sweet spot, the other Achilles’ Heel of big panel speakers. Surely this wasn’t all due to the presence of Synergistic’s little ART bowls in the room?
Stereophile – Jason Victor Serinushttp://www.stereophile.com/content/ayreparasoundrega-ortofonsynergistic-researchwilson
“A fabulous soundstage and air for days distinguished an already-distinguished recording of the great Shirley Horn”
“A fabulous soundstage and air for days distinguished an already-distinguished recording of the great Shirley Horn. Ms. Horn, who was making beautiful music in several rooms at the Hilton, seemed especially at home in the second room sponsored by Tim Miner’s Pacific Coast Audio Video, where Wilson Audio Sophia 3 loudspeakers ($17,900/pair) mated beautifully with Ayre’s new AX-5 integrated amp ($9950) and QB-9 DAC ($2750); Parasound’s Halo JC 3 phono preamp ($2395), Rega’s RP8 turntable ($2995) outfitted with Ortofon’s Redondo Blue cartridge ($879), and Synergistic Research’s Element Series cables, Tranquility Base, and Acoustic A.R.T. System”
Stereophile – Jason Victor Serinushttp://www.stereophile.com/content/synergistic-research-goes-whole-hog
“Scott Walker/Synergistic Research/VAC/Magico system delivered some of the best sounds at the Hilton”
“…Synergistic Research guru Ted Denney makes no secret of the fact that it takes his cabling two weeks to fully settle in, by the time I arrived, …the new Synergistic Research Galileo LE cabling and PowerCell were capable of transmitting a huge amount of overtones and harmonics. On Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me To the End of Love,” for example, I heard, as well, an easy and relaxed flow with room-filling images and impressive dynamics”
“Switching to John Campbell’s “Down in the Hole,” I was deeply impressed by the different and varied colors of guitar and drums. In the classical genre, I noted the many colors of Angela Hewitt’s keyboard as she played Bach, and the colorful and impressively weighty sweep of a full symphony orchestra in music by Albéniz”
Ever since I learned that Synergistic Research planned to partner with Magico, VAC, and Anaheim, CA retailer Scott Walker Audio, I found myself extremely eager to visit the huge, Crystal Ballroom D exhibit on the Hilton’s ground floor. My reasons were many. First, I’m accustomed to hearing Magico displayed with MIT cabling, which combination, to my ears, yields a dark sound that emphasizes layering in the lower octaves. How different, I wondered, would the mighty Magico Q7 loudspeakers ($185,000/pair) sound with Synergistic Research cabling and devices?
Second, it was the first opportunity to hear the show premiere of Synergistic Research’s new top-of-the-line, all-silver Galileo cabling. The line, which consists of the Galileo LE interconnects ($7500/pair), Galileo LE speaker cables ($15,000/pair), and Galileo LE AC power cords ($5600/5 ft), with differently voiced cabling for different places in the equipment chain, took its place in an impressive Synergistic Research array that included SR’s “The Music Cable” complete computer front end ($3695) connected to a Mac Mini running Amarra, SR “EnigmA” tube power supply for the company’s actively shielded devices ($10,000), new Galileo PowerCell LE ($10,000), a complete Acoustic ART system ($9300—you can see the bass stations on the floor in front of the speakers and farther out, aligned with system center), no less that 12 Tranquility Base XLs ($2995/each), and 14 sets of MIG Isolation Devices ($150/set). How would all this sound, and how would others experience it?
Finally, I was more than curious to see how the Magico Q7/SR set-up would mate with VAC’s 450 mono-amps ($116,000/pair), Reference preamp ($46,000), and not auditioned Reference phono preamp ($50,000). (A JR Transrotor turntable ($26,000) with Air Tight PC-1 cartridge was on hand for the latter.) As far as I know, Magico’s Alon Wolf favors solid-state designs. What would this major change to the Magico neighborhood sound and feel like? Would I still hear all the detail and control that I’ve heard when Magico has paired with Spectral and Soulution?
The news is very good. Although Synergistic Research guru Ted Denney makes no secret of the fact that it takes his cabling two weeks to fully settle in, by the time I arrived, one half hour before the show opened on Saturday morning, the new Synergistic Research Galileo LE cabling and PowerCell were capable of transmitting a huge amount of overtones and harmonics. On Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me To the End of Love,” for example, I heard, as well, an easy and relaxed flow with room-filling images and impressive dynamics.
Switching to John Campbell’s “Down in the Hole,” I was deeply impressed by the different and varied colors of guitar and drums. In the classical genre, I noted the many colors of Angela Hewitt’s keyboard as she played Bach, and the colorful and impressively weighty sweep of a full symphony orchestra in music by Albéniz.
The cabling was still opening up, and Ted needed to carefully apply his silver, gray, and black tuning bullets to keep up with the sonic transformations that were occurring. I expect a lot more light entered the system by show’s end.
In the best of all possible worlds, the system would still be up and running two weeks after the show closed, Southwest Airlines would be all too eager to fly me to and fro for free, and I would be able to report on everything that this equipment combination can deliver. As it was, the exhibit provided a major preview of what this extremely expensive system can deliver under ideal circumstances. Even before it had fully come into its own, the Scott Walker/Synergistic Research/VAC/Magico system delivered some of the best sounds at the Hilton.
Tim Miner of Pacific Coast Audio Video in Corona Del Mar discusses the Synergistic Research Acoustic ART System with Audiocircle.com forum membersBest Vendor Demonstration
The salesman in the room went above and beyond to give us a demo on what most of us consider to be snakeoil. Synergistic Research Bass Station. We have all seen the small room tuning cups. I don't remember the name of the room sponsor we were in. One of our group, who will remain nameless, asked if you can drink single malted scotch out of the room tuning cups. A discussion began about their effectiveness.
Right in the middle of a busy event our hero posted a person outside the door to stop traffic, and clearly defined for us how well this product worked. He played a cut of music for us and asked us to pay attention to the sound in the rear of the room. He paused the music and removed the tuning cups from all three of the positions in the back of the room. He resumed the music. Much of the ambient goodness in the rear of the room went away. He stopped the music again. When he replaced the cups the goodness returned. Was it a mass hypnotic trick? We all agreed on what we heard. The room clearly had more depth and musical spaciousness with the cups employed. Without the cups it sounded like we were all sitting too close to the back wall, which were were.and were putting up with that reflective nastiness. The unknown salesman changed the music to some bass heavy Stevie Ray Vaughn. We listened and got comfortable with the piece. He paused and removed the tuning cups directly in front of the woofers of the Wilson speakers we were listening to. When the music started the bass was as woolly as grandma's sweater. When the music started a third time with the cups in place the bass tighten up and was articulate and firm again. Congratulations this vendor (Pacific Coast Audio Video) was taking a demonstration to the next level.
T.H.E. Show After Hours
So dramatic was the transformation of this year’s system that by the time the show was over we could not bear to break it down until the following day. These pictures were taken as we listened to our favorite tracks and records late into the evening on the last day after the show had ended. It’s not everyday one gets to enjoy a $700k + system with good friends.
Magico Q7s, VAC Statement electronics, and Synergistic Research after hours
Scott Walker basking in the warm glow of tubes and music
The Cable Company’s Ethan Wood and Synergistic's Peter Hansen enjoying the moment
Scott Walker rejoices as the music rocks!
Our Lead Designer Ted Denney III - “This is why I started Synergistic Research 21 years ago - to enjoy good music with good friends”
T.H.E. Show Newport Beach 2013 System:
- Magico Q7 Loudspeakers – MSRP $ 185,000.00
- VAC Statement 450 Mono–Amps – MSRP $ 116,000/Pair
- VAC Statement Pre-Amp – MSRP $ 46,000.00
- VAC Statement Phono Pre-Amp – MSRP $ 50,000.00
- Synergistic Research “The Music Cable” Complete Computer Front End – MSRP $ 3,595.00
- Western Digital HD 2 Terabyte - MSRP $ 200.00
- Synergistic Research Firewire 800 - MSRP $ 595.00
- Apple Mac Mini with Solid State HD running Amarra and iTunes graphic user interface - MSRP $ 1,000.00
- JR Transroter Turntable – MSRP $ 26,000.00
- Tone Arm: SME V
- Cartridge MC: Air Tight PC1
- Synergistic Research “EnigmA” Tube Power Supply for Active Shielding – MSRP $ 10,000.00
- Synergistic Research NEW Galileo LE Interconnects – MSRP $ 7,500.00/Pair
- Synergistic Research NEW Galileo LE Speaker Cables – MSRP $ 15,000.00/Pair
- Synergistic Research NEW Galileo AC Power Cords – MSRP $ 5,600.00/5 ft
- Galileo PowerCell LE – MSRP $ 10.000,00
- Acoustic ART System – MSRP $ 9,300.00 (Complete System)
- Tranquility Base XL’s – MSRP $ 2,995.00 Each (12 Each in System)
- MIG’s Isolation Devices – MSRP $ 150.00/Set (14 Sets in System)