Von Schweikert Audio, VAC, Synergistic Research, and Scott Walker Audio
On the third and last day of the Florida Audio Expo, I realized I hadn’t listened to Von Schweikert speakers in donkey’s years. With only 35 minutes to spare till closing time, I made my way to the third-floor room where, according to the show literature, I should hear a pair of Von Schweikert Endeavor floorstanders ($31,000) being driven by a generous complement of multikilobuck tube components in a room cosponsored by Scott Walker Audio. Sure enough, the candy-apple-red speakers were there, tethered to a VAC Master Signature preamp ($44,000 with a phono stage) and VAC Master 300 monoblocks ($74,000/pair). The $36,000 VPI Avenger Direct turntable was in repose when I arrived, ceding front-end honors to a $28,000 Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Reference 3.
What I hadn’t reckoned with was that the room was mostly a showcase for Synergistic Research, a company owned and run by inveterate inventor and megatweaker Ted Denney. Synergistic is primarily known for high-end cables that sell for a small fortune (its new SRX Slimline speaker wires start at $17,500), but that’s not where Denney’s quest for audio improvements stops; it’s where it begins.
I’d hardly settled into my chair before he demonstrated the effect of his $1500 “Vibratron,” a roughly six-feet-tall metal rod with two baseball-sized spheres, one gold-plated (for warmer sound), one silver (for brighter sound; mix and match to taste). They’re resonators, which Denney modeled after “forgotten Greek and Roman technology.” To hear him tell it, the ancients knew how to use rounded vessels to improve room acoustics and intelligibility.
Next, we were on to the benefits of his MiG SX bidirectional equipment footers, $995 for a set of three, which you can install pointing up or down according to the sound signature you prefer. The MiGs are claimed to “improve nearly every aspect of system performance,” starting with a “denser soundfield.” I could hear the difference, couldn’t I?
I told my host I thought I did, but that I wasn’t committing to a final opinion. It’s not that I don’t trust Denney. Rather, we all possess the capacity for suggestibility and self-delusion. Humans have every reason to be skeptical of their own senses. I’m sure Denney had heard that before, so my Doubting Thomas persona didn’t faze him. In fact, he offered to make his case by driving from New York to my state (Maine) sometime this summer to personally make radical improvements to my system with the aid of Synergistic products. The man is nothing if not confident. We’ll see.
At a minimum, no Synergistic cable or tweak got in the way of the music that the VACs and the Von Schweikerts were pumping out with gusto and finesse. When he heard I like Yello, Denney obligingly played one of their tracks and then introduced me to the Kruder & Dorfmeister dub of Bomb the Bass’ “Bug Powder Dust,” one of the most enjoyable pieces of power electronica I’ve heard in years. The system was equally surefooted in painting Ben Webster’s lyrical sax work on “The Man I Love.” I left in a good mood.
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