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Room Acoustics: First look at Synergistic Research's Acoustic A.R.T. Room Treatment System

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Customer email newsletter dated: November 4, 2008.


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Room Acoustics: First look at Synergistic Research's Acoustic A.R.T. Room Treatment System

                      New from Synergistic!

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The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest ("RMAF"), held each October in Denver, is a cornucopia of almost exclusively high end audio products. Because of this focus on the high end, it is fast becoming the best show for audio "purists," at least in the US, maybe in the world.

A list of interesting rooms could go on for pages. If interested we would suggest visiting some of the audio web-zines for their show reports and for a general overview.

Time will tell, but of all the new products at this year's RMAF, one could speculate that the most significant of all won't be this new amp, or that new speaker, but will end up being the unexpected Acoustic A.R.T. Room Treatment System from Synergistic Research. The A.R.T. is one of those products at which skeptics will just shake their heads and say, "No way can this work," but for you open minds out there, read on about a breakthrough approach to the treatment of room acoustics.

What is A.R.T.?

Synergistic's A.R.T. is a surprisingly small, 5 piece room treatment kit. The central unit, called "Vibratron," consists of a two part metal sphere with a metal disk placed between the halves, the whole assembly somewhat resembling the planet Saturn. A vertical stack of magnets tops off this module. The Vibratron is placed on the front wall behind the speakers and centered between them.

Next is the "Bass Station, " which is a wood platform on spikes supporting a metal "bowl." The Bass Station should be placed on the floor, near the back wall beneath the Vibratron and also centered between the loudspeakers.  As you might expect from the name, this part of the system  has the primary impact on bass response.

Finally the three "Satellites" are wood triangles with flat tops that mount on the wall using poster putty (a.k.a. Blu-Tac). A holder protrudes through the top of the satellites, and each holds another of these (slightly smaller) metal "bowls" in place. Place two at the first reflection points, and one on the wall behind the listener, up higher than the other satellites.

What does it do?

In a not-very-subtle way, the A.R.T. System impacts the sound of a stereo or multichannel system:
- improved tonality: instruments sound more like the real thing
- improved harmonics and decay are another aspect of this enhanced realism
- individual instrument "lines" are better delineated
- bass is tightened and extended
- high frequencies are also extended and more natural sounding
- general sound staging and the air around the instruments is enhanced.

How Does It Work?
One could answer this question, "Damned if I know!" This may not be that far from the truth, but it must have something to do with "Sympathetic Resonance."
Here is what you will find on Wikipedia:
"Sympathetic resonance is a harmonic phenomenon wherein a formerly passive string or vibratory body responds to external vibrations to which it has a harmonic likeness. The classic example is demonstrated with two similar tuning-forks of which one is mounted on a wooden box. If the other one is struck and then placed on the box, then muted, the un-struck mounted fork will be heard. In similar fashion will strings respond to the external vibrations of a tuning-fork when sufficient harmonic relations exists between the respective vibratory modes. A unison or octave will provoke the largest response as there is maximum likeness in vibratory motion. Other links through shared resonances occur at the fifth and third though with less effect. The principle of sympathetic resonance has been applied in musical instruments from many cultures and times. Apart from the basic principle at work on instruments with many undamped strings, such as harps, lutes, guitars and pianos with the dampers raised, other instruments are fitted with extra choirs of sympathetic strings, which respond with a silvery halo to the tones played on the main strings."

We would speculate that the A.R.T. System is resonating sympathetically with the base sound of the room. Note it is not a sympathetic resonance to the sound coming from the system, but rather a re-tuning of  the sound of the room once it is excited by the musical frequencies, that seems to be occurring.

The sound of a room?  Well sure. Every room has its own acoustic properties. Some would call it a "noise floor," where certain frequencies will be accentuated due to the shape, construction,  and dimensions of the room, and other frequencies will be attenuated. The sympathetic resonance created by the A.R.T. System would appear to be converting the prevailing acoustics in the room, whatever they may be, to something better for reproduced music.

Another phrase to Google might be "Acoustic Resonator."
Here, from Answers.com:
"Acoustic resonator: A device consisting of a combination of elements having mass and compliance whose acoustical reactances cancel at a given frequency. Resonators are often used as a means of eliminating an undesirable frequency component in an acoustical system. In other instances resonators are used to produce an increase in the sound pressure in an acoustic field at a particular frequency.
Resonators are useful most often in the control of low-frequency sound. They are of particular value in reducing the noise from sources having constant frequency excitation."
So What's Your Theory? :-)
Whatever the explanation the A.R.T. System is a genuine ear-opener. Mind you, at this point we have only evaluated this product on well set up systems in more or less symmetrical rooms. This is a "First Look" article after all. But it is not too soon to say that this system is worthy of every serious audiophile's consideration.

It is a powerful tool in what is often the last area that audiophiles come to address - the room. It is also compatible with various other (especially non-absorbing) types of room acoustic treatments, and seems particularly complementary to the Cathedral Sound Acoustic Panels. Of course you may also find that the use of this product may cause you to pull other acoustic treatments out of the room. So far we have seen Roomlens and various absorbing panels and towers headed out the door. This could be a very good thing for many audiophiles, and a godsend in situations where domestic harmony prohibits the use of larger acoustic products.

Highly recommended. Available for in-home audition through the Library. For more information call or write your favorite Cable Company Consultant. This is one product that everyone here is pretty jazzed about!

Pricing:
Vibratron: $1495
Bass Station: $750
Satellites: $299 each

Special 5 piece system price: $2995 (save $150)



As with all your purchases, final prices are also subject to additional "Frequent Flyer" discounts and incentives.
For additional information on these offers and frequent updates speak with your Cable Company consultant, or visit our websites:  www.thecableco.com and www.ultrasystem.com.  For hundreds of specials on used and demo cables, visit  www.usedcable.com.

For other highlighted products and special offers, take a look at the previous editions of our customer Email Newsletters in our Newletter Archives.

Or call us Mon.- Fri. 10 -6; Sat. 11-5 Eastern time on 800-328-9973 (or 215-862-4870). Fax: 215-862-4871

 
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