What does synergy mean?

Page 2 - Seeking answers? Join the What HiFi community: the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products.

Overdose

Well-known member
Feb 8, 2008
279
1
18,890
Whether or not you subscribe to the idea that all properly designed amps sound the same, a competent amplifier with enough headroom to correctly drive the speaker in question, would therefore have 'synergy' that would not exist with a less capable amp, so synergy must exist in some form.

To me, a system has synergy, if its components are complimentry to each other.
 

matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
494
330
19,270
It would be a good idea to keep this thread on topic. It is an interesting topic after all, so lets not have it end up in a blood bath. The forum has been a more pleasant place in the last week and it would be a shame for that to change.

To me synergy is about having a combination of components that work well with each other to produce a pleasing sound. Whether your own definition of pleasing sound is a low distortion sound or a more coloured sound is really irrelevant to the definition.

On a simple level synergy, IME, covers the ability of the amplifier to efficiently drive the chosen speakers amongst other things.
 

BenLaw

Well-known member
Nov 21, 2010
475
7
18,895
matthewpiano said:
It would be a good idea to keep this thread on topic. It is an interesting topic after all, so lets not have it end up in a blood bath. The forum has been a more pleasant place in the last week and it would be a shame for that to change.

To me synergy is about having a combination of components that work well with each other to produce a pleasing sound. Whether your own definition of pleasing sound is a low distortion sound or a more coloured sound is really irrelevant to the definition.

On a simple level synergy, IME, covers the ability of the amplifier to efficiently drive the chosen speakers amongst other things.
I agree with this and don't see how anything can constructively be added. Anything further will either be a rephrasing or attempts at agitation.
 

steve_1979

Well-known member
Jul 14, 2010
231
8
18,795
matthewpiano said:
It would be a good idea to keep this thread on topic. It is an interesting topic after all, so lets not have it end up in a blood bath. The forum has been a more pleasant place in the last week and it would be a shame for that to change.
+1 :)

Is there any chance the forum modorator could tidy this thread up a bit please? I would like to keep this constructive and friendly.

matthewpiano said:
To me synergy is about having a combination of components that work well with each other to produce a pleasing sound. Whether your own definition of pleasing sound is a low distortion sound or a more coloured sound is really irrelevant to the definition.

On a simple level synergy, IME, covers the ability of the amplifier to efficiently drive the chosen speakers amongst other things.
So basically you're saying it's all about having low distortion matched with a tonal character that you find favourable?

Mods - Thread purged of off-topic comments from both sides. Let's play nicely!
 

BenLaw

Well-known member
Nov 21, 2010
475
7
18,895
steve_1979 said:
matthewpiano said:
It would be a good idea to keep this thread on topic. It is an interesting topic after all, so lets not have it end up in a blood bath. The forum has been a more pleasant place in the last week and it would be a shame for that to change.
+1 :)

Is there any chance the forum modorator could tidy this thread up a bit please? I would like to keep this constructive and friendly.

matthewpiano said:
To me synergy is about having a combination of components that work well with each other to produce a pleasing sound. Whether your own definition of pleasing sound is a low distortion sound or a more coloured sound is really irrelevant to the definition.

On a simple level synergy, IME, covers the ability of the amplifier to efficiently drive the chosen speakers amongst other things.
So basically you're saying it's all about having low distortion matched with a tonal character that you find favourable?

Mods - Thread purged of off-topic comments from both sides. Let's play nicely!
That's not what he said. He didn't say it's all about having low distortion.
 

matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
494
330
19,270
BenLaw said:
steve_1979 said:
matthewpiano said:
It would be a good idea to keep this thread on topic. It is an interesting topic after all, so lets not have it end up in a blood bath. The forum has been a more pleasant place in the last week and it would be a shame for that to change.
+1 :)

Is there any chance the forum modorator could tidy this thread up a bit please? I would like to keep this constructive and friendly.

matthewpiano said:
To me synergy is about having a combination of components that work well with each other to produce a pleasing sound. Whether your own definition of pleasing sound is a low distortion sound or a more coloured sound is really irrelevant to the definition.

On a simple level synergy, IME, covers the ability of the amplifier to efficiently drive the chosen speakers amongst other things.
So basically you're saying it's all about having low distortion matched with a tonal character that you find favourable?

Mods - Thread purged of off-topic comments from both sides. Let's play nicely!
That's not what he said. He didn't say it's all about having low distortion.
What I said was that synergy is about how well your components work together, but depending on whether you are more interested in low distortion or a particular type of coloured sound, the concept of 'good' synergy is something of a moveable feast.
 

BenLaw

Well-known member
Nov 21, 2010
475
7
18,895
[UNPUBLISHED]

matthewpiano said:
BenLaw said:
steve_1979 said:
matthewpiano said:
It would be a good idea to keep this thread on topic. It is an interesting topic after all, so lets not have it end up in a blood bath. The forum has been a more pleasant place in the last week and it would be a shame for that to change.
+1 :)

Is there any chance the forum modorator could tidy this thread up a bit please? I would like to keep this constructive and friendly.

matthewpiano said:
To me synergy is about having a combination of components that work well with each other to produce a pleasing sound. Whether your own definition of pleasing sound is a low distortion sound or a more coloured sound is really irrelevant to the definition.

On a simple level synergy, IME, covers the ability of the amplifier to efficiently drive the chosen speakers amongst other things.
So basically you're saying it's all about having low distortion matched with a tonal character that you find favourable?

Mods - Thread purged of off-topic comments from both sides. Let's play nicely!
That's not what he said. He didn't say it's all about having low distortion.
What I said was that synergy is about how well your components work together, but depending on whether you are more interested in low distortion or a particular type of coloured sound, the concept of 'good' synergy is something of a moveable feast.
You were perfectly clear the first time. The only explanation is that Steve was deliberately misunderstanding you.
 

simonlewis

New member
Apr 15, 2008
590
1
0
steve_1979 said:
matthewpiano said:
It would be a good idea to keep this thread on topic. It is an interesting topic after all, so lets not have it end up in a blood bath. The forum has been a more pleasant place in the last week and it would be a shame for that to change.
+1 :)

Is there any chance the forum modorator could tidy this thread up a bit please? I would like to keep this constructive and friendly.

matthewpiano said:
To me synergy is about having a combination of components that work well with each other to produce a pleasing sound. Whether your own definition of pleasing sound is a low distortion sound or a more coloured sound is really irrelevant to the definition.

On a simple level synergy, IME, covers the ability of the amplifier to efficiently drive the chosen speakers amongst other things.
So basically you're saying it's all about having low distortion matched with a tonal character that you find favourable?

Mods - Thread purged of off-topic comments from both sides. Let's play nicely!
Awww pizza in the oven a few cans in the fridge, settling in on a sunday night, never mind.
 

steve_1979

Well-known member
Jul 14, 2010
231
8
18,795
matthewpiano said:
What I said was that synergy is about how well your components work together, but depending on whether you are more interested in low distortion or a particular type of coloured sound, the concept of 'good' synergy is something of a moveable feast.
Sorry I should have explaned what I ment a bit more clearly. :)

I was refering to tone and distortion as two seperate things. By distortion I was refering to sounds such as clipping or limited dynamic range. Tone isn't really the same as other types of distortion though because some people prefer listening music using a system that has a particular tonal character. For example I personally like a neutral sound most of the time but sometimes I prefer a warm sound.

This is why I ask the question "Does good synergy mean having low distortion matched with a tonal character that you find favourable"
 

matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
494
330
19,270
steve_1979 said:
matthewpiano said:
What I said was that synergy is about how well your components work together, but depending on whether you are more interested in low distortion or a particular type of coloured sound, the concept of 'good' synergy is something of a moveable feast.
Sorry I should have explaned what I ment a bit more clearly. :)

I was refering to tone and distortion as two seperate things. By distortion I was refering to sounds such as clipping or limited dynamic range. Tone isn't really the same as other distortions though because some people prefer listening music using a system that has a different tonal character. For example I personally like a neutral sound most of the time but sometimes I prefer a warm sound.

This is why I ask the question "is good synergy mean having low distortion matched with a tonal character that you find favourable"
Clipping is an obvious distortion and I think modern hi-fi equipment is at the stage where, unless the user abuses the equipment at unsuitable volume levels, it isn't a major issue. To me these obvious distortions are more about the suitability of the chosen equipment for its intended use.

Any preferred tonal character can, of course, be seen as a form of distortion if it isn't true to the original recording. Whether that bothers you or not is a personal thing, but I'm not sure how you can have low distortion AND a tonal character that is superimposed on to the music by the equipment.
 

Electro

Well-known member
Mar 30, 2011
43
3
18,545
My interpretation of equipment synergy is when two components are put together in a system and for no obvious reason they perform much better than would be expected when they are combined but without any real technical explanation as to why.

It does not happen that often but when it does it could be described as "magical" for want of a better description :)

Merely putting a warm sounding amp with a bright sounding speaker or a low powered valve amp with a high efficiency speaker is called common sense not Synergy :grin:
 

steve_1979

Well-known member
Jul 14, 2010
231
8
18,795
matthewpiano said:
Clipping is an obvious distortion and I think modern hi-fi equipment is at the stage where, unless the user abuses the equipment at unsuitable volume levels, it isn't a major issue. To me these obvious distortions are more about the suitability of the chosen equipment for its intended use.

Any preferred tonal character can, of course, be seen as a form of distortion if it isn't true to the original recording. Whether that bothers you or not is a personal thing, but I'm not sure how you can have low distortion AND a tonal character that is superimposed on to the music by the equipment.
Does this mean that you can take any system that doesn't have any obvious distortion (such as clipping) and use a graphic equalizer to adjust the tonal character until it has synergy?

If this isn't right why is it not right?
 

matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
494
330
19,270
steve_1979 said:
matthewpiano said:
Clipping is an obvious distortion and I think modern hi-fi equipment is at the stage where, unless the user abuses the equipment at unsuitable volume levels, it isn't a major issue. To me these obvious distortions are more about the suitability of the chosen equipment for its intended use.

Any preferred tonal character can, of course, be seen as a form of distortion if it isn't true to the original recording. Whether that bothers you or not is a personal thing, but I'm not sure how you can have low distortion AND a tonal character that is superimposed on to the music by the equipment.
Does this mean that you can take any system that doesn't have any obvious distortion (such as clipping) and use a graphic equalizer to adjust the tonal character until it has synergy?

If this isn't right why is it not right?
No. Like I said, depending on how you view hi-fi and the whole subjective/objective debate, 'good' synergy is a somewhat fluid concept. You can either view it as a question of whether the components chosen work well together electrically OR you can view synergy as a form of black magic that encapsulates the ability to combine components so that the whole performs above the sum of its parts. This may include the introduction of tonal aberrations, depending on your personal view of what makes a good sound.

I'm not stating where my views sit here, merely outlining the fact that so much of this is down to semantics and the context of an individual's overall approach to hi-fi. As such there is no chance that everybody will ever agree on this matter and there has to be some acceptance that 'good' synergy is impossible to define universally.
 

steve_1979

Well-known member
Jul 14, 2010
231
8
18,795
Electro said:
My interpretation of equipment synergy is when two components are put together in a system and for no obvious reason they perform much better than would be expected when they are combined but without any real technical explanation as to why.
While there may be no obvious technical explanation why certain components sound good together there must still be some logical scientic reason for why this happens. What I'm interested in undertanding what this technical explanation could be.

Electro said:
It does not happen that often but when it does it could be described as "magical" for want of a better description :)
I agree that certain combinations of equipment can sound very good. What specifically about this sound is 'magical' though? Could it just be low distortion combined with a tonal character that the listener likes or is there some other quality?
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
matthewpiano said:
steve_1979 said:
matthewpiano said:
Clipping is an obvious distortion and I think modern hi-fi equipment is at the stage where, unless the user abuses the equipment at unsuitable volume levels, it isn't a major issue. To me these obvious distortions are more about the suitability of the chosen equipment for its intended use.

Any preferred tonal character can, of course, be seen as a form of distortion if it isn't true to the original recording. Whether that bothers you or not is a personal thing, but I'm not sure how you can have low distortion AND a tonal character that is superimposed on to the music by the equipment.
Does this mean that you can take any system that doesn't have any obvious distortion (such as clipping) and use a graphic equalizer to adjust the tonal character until it has synergy?

If this isn't right why is it not right?
No. Like I said, depending on how you view hi-fi and the whole subjective/objective debate, 'good' synergy is a somewhat fluid concept. You can either view it as a question of whether the components chosen work well together electrically OR you can view synergy as a form of black magic that encapsulates the ability to combine components so that the whole performs above the sum of its parts. This may include the introduction of tonal aberrations, depending on your personal view of what makes a good sound.

I'm not stating where my views sit here, merely outlining the fact that so much of this is down to semantics and the context of an individual's overall approach to hi-fi. As such there is no chance that everybody will ever agree on this matter and there has to be some acceptance that 'good' synergy is impossible to define universally.
Great post, MP..
 

WishTree

Well-known member
May 18, 2010
107
1
18,595
May be another way to explain synergy to you is take you AVI to a friend's place and listen to it there. In all probability they should sound a little bit different than your home. That is the synergy of the equipment to the room they are in.

Extrapolating it to individual components is the same. If the AVIs have an analogue input, then borrow a DAC and connect it to your AVI to see how it is different, if it is different.

I am not sure what was your previous experience with HiFi equipment but if you had none and AVI is the first equipment you bought then it is even trickier to explain. It is like explaining to one of my friends who bought a Bose Dock as sales person told him Bose is the best. He has nothing else to compare and the sales person has his own reasons to recommend Bose but when I invited this friend to our home where he heard our main system as well as the Zeppelin Air, he understood what else is possible. He knows that there is more out there but he thinks his Bose dock is good enough for him which is only fair.. but I digress.

You need to step out and listen to more equipment, if not done, to know what synergy is.

And IMO, EQ is too powerful tool (and distortive in analogue domain) to address synergy. It is not impossible if there are let us say 32 band digital domain but it is more like a knife in the hands of a child, for lack of a better comparision.
 

steve_1979

Well-known member
Jul 14, 2010
231
8
18,795
matthewpiano said:
steve_1979 said:
matthewpiano said:
Clipping is an obvious distortion and I think modern hi-fi equipment is at the stage where, unless the user abuses the equipment at unsuitable volume levels, it isn't a major issue. To me these obvious distortions are more about the suitability of the chosen equipment for its intended use.

Any preferred tonal character can, of course, be seen as a form of distortion if it isn't true to the original recording. Whether that bothers you or not is a personal thing, but I'm not sure how you can have low distortion AND a tonal character that is superimposed on to the music by the equipment.
Does this mean that you can take any system that doesn't have any obvious distortion (such as clipping) and use a graphic equalizer to adjust the tonal character until it has synergy?

If this isn't right why is it not right?
No. Like I said, depending on how you view hi-fi and the whole subjective/objective debate, 'good' synergy is a somewhat fluid concept. You can either view it as a question of whether the components chosen work well together electrically OR you can view synergy as a form of black magic that encapsulates the ability to combine components so that the whole performs above the sum of its parts. This may include the introduction of tonal aberrations, depending on your personal view of what makes a good sound.

I'm not stating where my views sit here, merely outlining the fact that so much of this is down to semantics and the context of an individual's overall approach to hi-fi. As such there is no chance that everybody will ever agree on this matter and there has to be some acceptance that 'good' synergy is impossible to define universally.
So if it's not just a case of tonal character and low distortion what else is there?
 

John Duncan

Well-known member
Jan 8, 2008
2,027
13
19,695
Steve, do you agree that one of the advantages of active speakers is that the manufacturer can closely match the characteristics of an amplifier with the speaker?
 

Electro

Well-known member
Mar 30, 2011
43
3
18,545
steve_1979 said:
Electro said:
My interpretation of equipment synergy is when two components are put together in a system and for no obvious reason they perform much better than would be expected when they are combined but without any real technical explanation as to why.
While there may be no obvious technical explanation why certain components sound good together there must still be some logical scientic reason for why this happens. What I'm interested in undertanding what this technical explanation could be.

Electro said:
It does not happen that often but when it does it could be described as "magical" for want of a better description :)
I agree that certain combinations of equipment can sound very good. What specifically about this sound is 'magical' though? Could it just be low distortion combined with a tonal character that the listener likes or is there some other quality?
If I new the answer to that question I would be far wealthier person that I am :)

If there was an obvious technical explanation then it could not be described synergy it would become logical .
 

matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
494
330
19,270
steve_1979 said:
matthewpiano said:
steve_1979 said:
matthewpiano said:
Clipping is an obvious distortion and I think modern hi-fi equipment is at the stage where, unless the user abuses the equipment at unsuitable volume levels, it isn't a major issue. To me these obvious distortions are more about the suitability of the chosen equipment for its intended use.

Any preferred tonal character can, of course, be seen as a form of distortion if it isn't true to the original recording. Whether that bothers you or not is a personal thing, but I'm not sure how you can have low distortion AND a tonal character that is superimposed on to the music by the equipment.
Does this mean that you can take any system that doesn't have any obvious distortion (such as clipping) and use a graphic equalizer to adjust the tonal character until it has synergy?

If this isn't right why is it not right?
No. Like I said, depending on how you view hi-fi and the whole subjective/objective debate, 'good' synergy is a somewhat fluid concept. You can either view it as a question of whether the components chosen work well together electrically OR you can view synergy as a form of black magic that encapsulates the ability to combine components so that the whole performs above the sum of its parts. This may include the introduction of tonal aberrations, depending on your personal view of what makes a good sound.

I'm not stating where my views sit here, merely outlining the fact that so much of this is down to semantics and the context of an individual's overall approach to hi-fi. As such there is no chance that everybody will ever agree on this matter and there has to be some acceptance that 'good' synergy is impossible to define universally.
So if it's not just a case of tonal character and low distortion what else is there?
Ultimately I think that IS the crux of synergy. You are defining what synergy is about, I am going one step further and outlining how hard it is to make a universal value judgement as to what 'good' synergy is.

Of course, the concept of synergy could be expanded beyond the choice of components to include interactions with the room - essentially the speaker/room interface. Then there is the synergy between the system, the room, and the listener and that listener's own particular hearing.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts