Synergy...over rated?


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Feb 7, 2009
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Just curious what people think about system synergy. I define "system synergy" as the ability for the components in your system to compliment one another such that the result is sonically optimal.

Do you consider this highly important to creaing great sound or over rated? Do you think that great components are always great or do they need to be complimented by the right components in the rest of the system?
In my experience, system synergy is very important. When I compared Yamaha RX-V1900 & Pioneer SC LX72 to go with my Monitor Audio Radius HD speakers, I hated the Pioneer but loved the Yamaha. Monitor Audios are slightly bright sounding, & so a warm receiver like the Yamaha sounded better than the bright sounding Pioneer to me.
System synergy is the first thing I look at before I listen any piece of kit. IMO, you can have the greatest individual components, but unless they have a sonic chemistry they tend to sound 'off the pace'.

Going back to a football analogy: Why do Man Utd win so much when they don't have the most talented individuals?


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Synergy is absolutely crucial to the success of a system IMO and it's importance cannot be over-estimated. I've heard some talented kit made to sound pretty uninspiring through poor matching and, likewise, some merely average kit made to sound alramingly good through careful attention to synergy. It can make this whole hi-fi hobby frustrating and fascinating at the same time!


Synergy in hifi terms is not as important as people like to think it is IMO. Once an amp has sufficient power to drive a pair of speakers it will be fine regardless of brand, and cdp's/dacs are less important as they barely differ regardless of price or brand.

Room acoustics and positioning are far more important than synergy once power requirements are met.

the record spot

I think it's a comination of winstonj's posts and matthewpiano's. With separates, I do believe in synergy however. There's definately a balance required. I tried a Harman Kardon HK990 which is a fine amp and one I'd heard about a year ago. Had one at home and it wasn't a great balance with my current stereo, yet, it has ample power (150wpc) and my speakers are well positioned at home.

With Dali Ikon 5s and the company's own HD990 CDP, the 990 amp is a tremendous buy with all the power and scale you'd want. With my leaner sounding speakers and source, it's too much of one ingredient and although all the music is 'there', it didn't tick the boxes in my setup.

Likewise, I found the DACMagic too bright; it made music sound too clinical. The Spitfire II DAC from Firestone Audio is far better and makes for a more cohesive sound. Oddly enough, I'm using a 30w amp just now and it sounds incredibly good - perhaps it's all the distortion, I don't know. I think, now, it's just easier to go with what your ears like than what the specs tell you on the paper.


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Jun 2, 2008
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the record spot said:
Oddly enough, I'm using a 30w amp just now and it sounds incredibly good - perhaps it's all the distortion, I don't know. I think, now, it's just easier to go with what your ears like than what the specs tell you on the paper.

Eek! Who abducted the real record spot? :)


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Sep 10, 2008
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Lack of system sinnergy is the reason why we are in these forums most of the time....

If it was me I would force companies selling separates to list the products/brands which are compatible and make a good combination. Same as with cars when you go to purchase a certain piece it tell you for which brands and model it can be used.


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Aug 21, 2009
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Given that Hifi / AV often has to be carefully integrated into a family room, and has to pass muster with the OH.....there is usually little room to manoevre re acoustics.

This is where synergy is key....... and the likely effects of the enviroment are taken on board during the buying decision ie Synergy with the room as well as with the other componants.

Sliced Bread

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If synergy wasn't important, the best systems would simply be 3 sets if 5 star products stuck together.

Just look at the whf group system tests. How many of the higher rated systems are made up of all 5 stat products. Some are but more often then not there is at least one piece of "lower rated" kit. Usually because the items "weakness" is a strength in that particular system.(I.e. slightly dull speakers to counter enthusiastic electronics) and the strong points if each compliment each other.
I don't think you can over-rate synergy, if you are seeking the very best sound.

Sure, a competent amplifier will drive decent speakers properly, but only in an electrical sense. Whether they work well together is entirely different.

For a contemporary view, look at the debates about Focal speakers with Naim electronics, following the recently announced merger. It isn't a combination widely favoured today, though there are some notable exceptons.

My own Krell/Sonus faber combination was a popular one a decade or so ago; strong and lucid amplifiers blended with smooth and musical speakers. There are many other examples.

Best of all, good synergy in a modest system can be way more satisfying than a less well matched combination of more costly items. That means you can be very happy with something less exotic. And it explains how upgraditis can easily be caught, when changes unblalance a system, leading to further expenditure to restore the previous synergy.


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