Is There Such A Thing As "SYNERGY" Between Components In An Audio Chain?

RBFC

WBF Founding Member & Super Moderator
Apr 20, 2010
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#1
Many discussions here and elsewhere revolve around the careful matching and selection of components for an audio system. The question arises:

Is there such a thing as SYNERGY between components in an audio chain?

Please discuss! All members are invited to respond!

Lee
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#2
Many discussions here and elsewhere revolve around the careful matching and selection of components for an audio system. The question arises:

Is there such a thing as SYNERGY between components in an audio chain?

Please discuss! All members are invited to respond!

Lee
Well I have gone on record as stating my belief that synergy can and does exist between some components. Case in point for me is the synergy between Wilson Speakers and Lamm amplification. Over the years I have used Krell Mcx 750, ARC Ref 600 Mk lll, Lamm ML 2.1 and now the Lamm ML 3. It wasn't until I integrated the Lamm amp that for me the magic began. In fact Vladimir Lamm didn't like Wilson speakers until he heard them with his amps (I suppose you can call that bias but for me I had none)

 

RBFC

WBF Founding Member & Super Moderator
Apr 20, 2010
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#4
Now the question arises, Is synergy an effect of electrical compatibility or of complimentary colorations?

What do you feel is the cause/effect relationship of components that mesh well together and those that don't? Why does "AMP #1" Sound great with "SPEAKER #1", but not so good with "SPEAKER #2"?

Lee
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#5
For me the question is "who doesn't believe there can be a synergy between components and why not"

I know PP suggested he didn't believe there to be a synergy between components
 
#6
Now the question arises, Is synergy an effect of electrical compatibility or of complimentary colorations?

What do you feel is the cause/effect relationship of components that mesh well together and those that don't? Why does "AMP #1" Sound great with "SPEAKER #1", but not so good with "SPEAKER #2"?

Lee
Hi Lee,

Some of this may be due to such things as a preamp and an amp by the same maker that may be due to using similar or the same parts in both units. But, I suspect tha there may be some electrical compatibility issues for some components.

As to such things as amps and speakers that can be a very interesting question. One that comes to mind was the old Dahlquist DQ-10 speakers which could sound quite good with either tubes or solid state. But, for the speakers to really "sing" they needed have amps with high current output. So there may well be current issues with more modern components and speakers as well even today.

Rich
 

Johnny Vinyl

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
May 16, 2010
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#7
The only synergy between components I can speak off is that between my turntable/cartridge and my speakers. The AVR is a temporary fix, so it doesn't mix into the equation. I think as a result of my careful auditioning processes I was able to decide that for the type of music I listen to, my Nottingham/Grado combo with Totem Sttaf speakers offered a sound that hit the mark. The synergy I speak of thereby includes careful consideration of the music and type of media I prefer listening to.

John
 
Jul 8, 2010
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#8
Is there such a thing as SYNERGY between components in an audio chain?
I may be in the minority, but my opinion is definitely not. Well, with one exception. If one component has a frequency response error that is countered by the exact opposite error elsewhere (highly unlikely), then I suppose the two errors would cancel. Now, one might like the coloration from some piece of gear, and that's fine. And you might like the coloration from another piece of gear too. But in that case each coloration has its own identity. My approach is to have quality components that each have excellent fidelity, which includes having a flat frequency response. This has always yielded the best results for me. But I'd be interested in reading a logical explanation from others as to how two different flawed (by definition) pieces could act together to give a superior result.

--Ethan
 
#10
Many discussions here and elsewhere revolve around the careful matching and selection of components for an audio system. The question arises:

Is there such a thing as SYNERGY between components in an audio chain?

Please discuss! All members are invited to respond!

Lee

Dear Lee: IMHO your question arises for more than one answer, let me explain my take on the whole subject:

from the electrical point of view synergy is a must to have, example we need matched electrical impedances between speakers electrical impedance curve and the amplifier output impedance where we look for a very low amplifier output impedance: 0.1 ohm or lower. We can " analize " the high output impedance in the SW Lamm's that are one of the worst amplifiers to handle the electrical impedance curve of the Wilsons due to that high output impedance that instead to reproduce a linear/flat frequency what we have are frequency deviations all over the frequency range that are not on the audio signal, so here the Lamms are adding distortions/frequency deviations instead to reproduce a linear frequency to honor the audio signal ( that Steve likes it is not the subject, he likes those distortions/frequency deviations. ).
We need matched impedances between phono cartridge and phono stage impedance load to the cartridge, with out this electrical matched impedances we have frequency deviations ( similar on what occur between speakers/amplifiers. ).
We need matched impedances between a line preamp output and amplifiers, with out this matched electrical impedances we are adding degradation/distortions/frequency deviations to the audio signal.

There are many other examples of the importance for synergy at electrical level on audio devices. So from a electrical point of view synergy is a must between audio devices. Obviously that this electrical synergy can't tell us per se that what we will hear will like us but at least can tell us that we are adding/degrading the less to the audio signal.

Now, if we take speakers as an example we have to take in count how those speakers were voiced by the manufacturar/designer because is trough that speaker voicing that the manufacturer put the speaker signature. What if a speaker was voiced with tube electronics only: that is possible that that speaker could not be well matched with SS electronics even if the impedances are matched. A good speaker design has to works good with almost any kind of electronics and in theory the only differences could be due to mistmatch on impedances and of course the amplifier own signature sound.

In a perfect world the differences between amplifiers running the same speaker will be each own amplifier sound " signature " due to differences in the amplifier design/parts: colorations but no frequency deviations or induced distortions.

I understand synergy in audio as a concept that permit me not only a good quality performance ( that like me what I'm hearing. ) but synergy that permit me to be nearest to the recording loosing the less and adding the les to the audio signal through the audio system chain and all these means that I need: a well electrical matched system, a well designed audio items, accurate audio items and low very low colored audio items.
These are the targets to build my audio system trying to fullfill my priorities.

I can't understand and make no sense to me advises in audio like many that audio reviewers gives: " this speaker is a little on the bright side so it needs a little shaded amplifier " or " this cartridge is so mellower that you will need a SS electronics " or the like. Synergy on colorations are not in my " vocabolary ", for me is a mistake try to compensate errors somewhere in the system with other error somewhere in that system. At the end what we are doing with those kind of colorations compensations/synergy is not to be nearest to the recording but far far away from there.

Of course that you always can say: I don't care about, what I have is what I like it. Nothing wrong with that but that you like it does not means is right because sometimes is wrong. So our music/sound reproduction priorities and music/sound reproduction know-how level is very important when we are talking about audio system synergy.

So: which are your audio system whole targets????????

Regards and enjoy the music,
Raul.


Ps: Lee I try to email you but your mail-box is full.
 
Last edited:

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#13
Raul

IIRC in past posts you have been very critical of people making comments on gear that they have either never heard or based on measurements only. I feel you have been guilty of the same . My question to you is whether you have heard the Wilson speakers with the Lamm ML3 or are you basing your comments on measurements of both components.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#14
Synergy, in general, may be defined as two or more agents working together to produce a result not obtainable by any of the agents independently.


As an aside, is there a synergy between Spectral gear and MIT cables
 
Jul 1, 2010
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#15
For me the question is "who doesn't believe there can be a synergy between components and why not"

I know PP suggested he didn't believe there to be a synergy between components
I would qualify that a bit. I don't believe there should be synergy issues between electronic components if they are essentially flat in frequency response and engineered to accepted input/output standards. None of the above is, evidently, difficult to accomplish, as Yamaha manages to do it in dirt cheap AV receivers. The high end often seems to be challenged by this one, however, and so we have the quest for synergy.

The other qualification: All bets are off when you get to transducers. Now, if speakers had accepted standards for impedance curves and efficiency, you could expect them to sound pretty much the same with equal amps of equal watts/current. But there are no such standards, written or assumed, that I'm aware of, so you have to be aware of not just a speaker's impedance and efficiency ratings, but what its impedance looks like across the spectrum it will be challenged to reproduce. Of course there is a simple solution: Over-engineering. Give it more power and current than it is ever likely to need and be careful with the volume knob.

All of the above assumes, of course, that the electronics' response is essentially flat. If it is not, you may find yourself attempting to compromise for the amps "warmth" or "PRaT" with speakers that are bright or lower mid range heavy. And if the components in the chain are not engineered to standards, you may find yourself searching for compensation there as well.

And that, attempting to compensate for the errors of one component with the errors of another is, IMHO, what we call "synergy."

I would suggest that the happy pairing of Steve's Lamm amps and Wilson speakers is a matter of taste, not synergy. The Wilson's I heard were being driven by solid state amps, and they had as clear and open a midrange as I've heard in a passive speaker. I loved them. I might love them more with the Lamms, but everything I've read/heard about them tells me that's not likely. I'm a big fan of midrange clarity, coherence and transparency. If I'm in the mood for "warmth," I'll put on an appropriate recording.

P
 

RBFC

WBF Founding Member & Super Moderator
Apr 20, 2010
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#17
So, it seems that most of the replies center around the "complimentary colorations" camp.

Therefore, with measurements and specifications the same, any amplifier of sufficient power should sound the same through a given speaker..... what do you think?

Lee
 

terryj

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Jul 5, 2010
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#18
For me the question is "who doesn't believe there can be a synergy between components and why not"
one of the most useless weasel words in the entire audiophile vocabulary, worse (believe it or not) than PRAT.

At worst it is simply a deep and meaningful sounding (well, to the user anyway) 'I like it', at best an admission of some underlying engineering compatability between components that the user does not understand.

It does nothing other than show the person is well versed in magazine hi end audiophile speak.

It implies magic, some mystical property that somehow simply manages to materialise only thru dumb, blind trial and error. That is my problem with it, it continues the myths in audio.

And what use is it to anyone?? It is magic, a product of an unpredictable and unknowable 'force' in nature, therefore cannot be extrapolated or applied to any different circumstance other than the specific one being woo-ed and ahh-ed about. So why tell us???

The review in the mag, revealing this synergy between components (we don't understand nor can we predict it remember) is therefore rendered completely useless to anyone else (it is not good compatible engineering that is producing the result remember, it is this unpredictable surprise package of synergy that emerged) and if it is therefore useless to anyonme else, why write it?? A review by definition is supposed to guide and help us in making choices in gear, once we enter the realm of magic.....

Synergy. The unpredictable way in which components complement each other...which we cannot predict beforehand....all done blind and willy nilly. Now, this is what I have never seen explored before by the proponents of this concept.

We may get a statement like 'Ooh, but when I introduced interconnect A into my new chain, yada yada yada' (being first thing in the morning here I'd prob start to feel nauseous if I pretended to use auidophile speak, so just used yada yada for safety).

HOW DOES HE NOT KNOW THAT HE WOULD HAVE A GREATER LEVEL OF SYNERGY IF HE WERE STILL USING THE SPEAKER CABLE FROM TWO SWAPS AGO??

See? It is completely unpredictable, a lot of audiophiles swap components often (looking for synergy) but AS it is unpredictable and unknowable it is basically nothing more than random swapping (if the belief is that it is something OTHER than engineering) so if you change ONE component you MUST try swapping every other component in the chain to see if you can get greater synergy.

'How do I know that the preamp I had two iterations previosuly would not be better with this IC? Engineering will provide no clues here, I have no choice but to try it, pity I sold it....'

start working out all the possible permutations required in a chain consisting of source, pre, amps and speakers with all the connections between them and it is clear that the person who has found synergy has simply stopped at a point where he can say 'hmm, I like that' because it is as sure as hell he has NOT found maximum synergy yet.

IF, that is, he uses the word synergy as used by the audio mystics, something descending from above without warning and gratefully received by the supplicant to the audio gods.

And that is just about normal audio hardware! We have not even begun to enter the woo-woo world of machina dynamica and others.

Synergy. Completely useless word and concept. And as guilty as any other idiotic audiophile word which tends toward the lamentable state of hi end audio with it's mingpo discs and dots on speaker cones and little magic buttons on the ceiling to help with schuman resonances and filthy quantums in our speaker leads.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#20

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