SR’s Black Box ($1,995 USD) is a compact acoustical tuning device that measures 9.5” x 9.5” x 6” (LxWxH). Using SR’s stiletto spikes to decouple the unit from the floor, the unit is 8” inches high and weighs about 8 lbs.
The Black Box is a broad-spectrum low-frequency resonator that uses SR’s UEF (Unified Energy Field) technology to eliminate bass nodes while increasing a listening room’s potential to accurately recreate low frequency information and spatial content with greater acuity.
SR believes that all frequencies within the range of human hearing are linked by harmonics. As such, they contend that their Black Box balances sounds within the lower registers, mid-range, and higher frequencies through use of a “mathematically derived algorithm” that’s based upon the premise of tuning sympathetic resonances at specific frequencies. If the phase is correct at 20Hz, for example, then their Black Box will clear up resonances at sympathetic frequencies of 40Hz, 80Hz, 160Hz, and so forth.
After installing 10 HFTs in the positions that Synergistic recommended, soundstage width and depth immediately improved. With minor positioning adjustments, the focus and clarity of individual instruments within the soundstage tightened up considerably. Space and air between instruments also increased noticeably.
The improvement was NOT a subtle alteration in soundstaging or imaging that I had to strain to hear. In fact, in terms of their price-performance ratio, these wee cylindrical resonators will (probably) win my vote for NOVO’s “Product of the Year.”
Removing the HFTs resulted in a massive compression of the soundstage’s size. So much so, that not having the HFTs Blu-Tack’d up in the positions that SR recommended, was simply not an option.
Installing SR’s Black Box bass tuning device had the same effect within the lower frequency registers. It wasn’t, however, as dramatic as with the HFTs. As such, I’d recommend auditioning the Black Box before purchasing it.
Released in 1996, the doom-laden dirges on Cathedral’s Supernatural Birth Machine are all slower and heavier than an anaesthetized rhino.
Every single song on this master-crafted record is a lethargic anthem to a howling doom-filled apocalypse. Featuring such groove-laden tracks like “Urko’s Conquest”, “Stained Glass Horizon”, “Cyclops Revolution”, “Birth Machine 2000”, and “Fireball Demon”, this album is a cornerstone in the foundation of 1990’s British doom metal.
Imagine gophers breeding with crocodiles, another Clinton Presidency, and/or the 3rd circle of vengeful Hades opening up during a snowstorm on the southbound I-71 in the downtown core of Columbus Ohio. Whatever your vision of a doomed apocalypse is, this record crushes all pretenders to the sonic throne like a hungry Oprah Winfrey wading into an all-you-can-eat buffet at a Chinese restaurant. Nothing can stop the fabled and famished beast from devouring everything in her path.
Make sure that you’re wearing a CSA-grade hardhat, steel-toed safety shoes, shoulder pads, spinal protection, and safety goggles, ‘cause Cathedral’s Birth Machine is so heavy that your listening room may physically implode from unleashing the gargantuan tsunami of impending doom created by the music on this disc.
With the HFTs installed, the coffee rich rhythm guitar chords, caffeinated lead guitar solos, and thundering melodies of Birth Machine all erupted forth with addictive and anthemic PRaT. The words I wrote down in my listening notes to describe the sound quality created by the HFTs were “…space, air and exceptional clarity.”
Recorded over two evenings on Dec 31st 1969 and Jan 1st 1970 at the Fillmore East in New York City, Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys is a live album that features Billy Cox on bass and Buddy Miles on drums.
This was the last full-length record released by Hendrix before his unexpected death in August 1970. With songs like “Power of Love”, “Changes”, and “Who Knows”, Gypsys blended funk, rhythm and blues, and jaw-droppingly technical lead guitar solos into a metaphysical musical goulash that redefined what open-ended electric blues jamming could sound like.
With Synergistic Research’s HFTs and the Black Box in place, the subtlest acoustical cues of the venue—the Fillmore East—came right into focus. I’ve listened to Gypsys thousands of times. Stated emphatically, with SR’s tuning devices, this is the most accurate, clear, and musical that I’ve ever heard this record sound. Short of building a time machine out of a freakin’ Delorean and returning to the actual gig, I cannot imagine being able to experience a live event from a recorded slab of vinyl and have it awaken my senses as if I was actually at the original concert so acutely.
In particular, after listening to the mind-blowing guitar improvisation and wild manipulation of feedback that Hendrix created on the 12-minute plus track “Machine Gun”, I felt like I needed to take a nap to recover from the emotional intensity of hearing this breathtaking track reproduced with such spine-chilling sonic accuracy.
When my editor at NOVO gave me this assignment, I’d expected to laugh at Synergistic Research’s “tuning devices” and publicly decry them as a silly waste of time and money. I now find myself in the odd position of not only championing them as a “Product of the Year”, but also wanting—nay… needing—to buy more of them.
Room acoustics account for about 50% of the sound of any 2-channel stereo system. Every surface vibrates. Every damn one. And yet, audiophiles invest little or nothing towards tuning these vibrations and allowing their listening rooms to sound their best.
At a price of $499 USD for a 10 pack of HFTs, investing in these resonators is a no-brainer. The jaw-dropping improvement in sound quality that I heard in my main 2-channel room was both immediate and entirely positive. Believe the hype. Without doubt, Synergistic’s HFTs work sonic wonders.
SR’s Black Box has the same effect on tightening up sounds within the lower frequency registers. It’s compact, convenient, and offers a superb solution to controlling bass nodes. At a price of $1,995 USD, though, this bass tuning device doesn’t offer quite as significant a price/performance improvement in sound quality as the HFTs do. The Black Box is a remarkably effective bass tuning solution, but, germane to its asking price, I’d recommend auditioning it before committing to buy it.
Distributed in Canada by Tri-cell Enterprises
Synergistic Research High Frequency Transducers (HFTs)
Price: $499 USD / set of 10
Synergistic Research Black Box Bass Tuning Device
Price: $1,995 USD