The Synergistic Research Atmosphere

Device Type: Acoustic Enhancement Accessory
Dimensions: 40" height, 4" width, 4" depth
Weight: 6 pounds
Availability: Authorized Dealers
Price: $2250

Atmosphere Tuning Module
Red ATM used in the review
Dimensions: 1.5" height, 1.75" diameter
Price: $495


The Synergistic Research Atmosphere is a room acoustic enhancement device that allows one to modify and improve the perceived soundstage as well as the quality of the sound from top to bottom of one’s system; all of this totally controlled by an iPad/iPhone app. What is even more remarkable is that this task is accomplished without a direct connection of any kind into one’s system components. At this point, I’m sure most of you will want to know what Atmosphere is actually doing to achieve this control of the sound of our systems.

The Why and How of Atmosphere
Ted Denney III, Lead Designer at Synergistic Research, observed that systems often sound better in the evening and different from day to day. Ted theorized that the RF (Radio Frequency) environment had a profound effect on the sound of our systems. RF refers to the rate of oscillation in the range of 3kHz to 300 GHz. Ted felt that the higher frequency ambient RF, more prevalent in the daytime, was creating the negative effect on the sound of our systems.

From Ted Denney III:

“We were looking for a powerful way to overcome the higher frequency RF environment of day with the soothing low frequency environment we experience at night. While working to recreate the perfect RF environment, we built a single Ultra Low Frequency (ULF) generator. Like so many others have found, the frequency of the Schumann Resonance (7.83 Hz) was a powerful talisman against higher frequencies generated by cell phones, Wi-Fi, radio, and natural solar activity. We also found the Schumann Resonance to have significant limitations. Generate 7.83 Hz one way and the sound was not only improved but also ‘darker’, like switching from an open sounding cable to a darker sounding cable that warms the system as it steals resolution in equal measure. Generate 7.83Hz another way and the sound opens up, but at the expense of low frequency extension and control. In other words, broadcast the same frequency in two different ways and get two different results, neither being exactly right. The observed differences created by a single ULF generator eventually led to broadcasting over multiple separately tuned ULF generators. By working with multiple frequencies and variables, we effectively sidestepped the inherent tradeoff of single frequency conditioning as is commonly found in most Schumann devices. With multiple tuned ULF/ LF Generators we created the perfect RF environment without tradeoffs by manipulating multiple variables instead of relying on a single frequency or transmitter. What we never expected as we experimented with controlling multiple ULF generators was the realization that we were affecting all aspects of sound.”

“As we continued to alter the output parameters of our multi wave generators, we found that we could control soundstage width, depth and height. We also found we could shift the frequency balance making sound warmer or more open at will. Likewise, we could control low frequencies making them either fuller or tighter sounding. Mid-range was also within our control and we went so far as to match the perceived mid-range to better match a recording. By manipulating literally millions of potential settings for Atmosphere we can either place a live performer in-between a set of speakers or when a recording calls for something massive like a full orchestra, we can ensure that the room and system are capable of projecting a massively layered soundscape. It was not long before we had catalogued dozens of what we were now callings scenes to match different types of recordings and systems.”

What is Atmosphere?
Atmosphere is a 40 inch high device that is a dual channel Ultra Low Frequency / Low Frequency RF generator with theoretically millions of adjustments to its output, that when properly applied to a system/room, can complement different types of music. 3 spiked metal feet interface with the metal base platform of Atmosphere and the floor.

Atmosphere has 2 connections; a USB cable / AC adapter for power and a Ground connection that is best plugged into an AC line directly as opposed to a power conditioner. Atmosphere is a BlueWave (Bluetooth) device that is able to communicate directly with an iPad app for selection of different Scenes or settings that control the RF output of Atmosphere.

There are 3 Scenes or sonic settings in the Atmosphere iPad app that are enabled by a slide control at the top of the Scene:

Intimate Acoustic
The Intimate Acoustic Scene is perfect for small scale recordings such as jazz, classical, and vocal quartets, duets, and solo performers. The selection of this Scene results in a precise sound stage that places the performance in your listening room.

I thought I would evaluate this Scene with Amy Duncan’s Cycle of Life (24/88.2). This small scale acoustic folk-style recording seemed perfect for the Intimate Acoustic setting. Enabling the setting resulted in a greater focus to Amy’s voice with superior clarity to the guitars. The bass had better definition and control. Turning off this scene resulted in a congealing of the voice and instruments with less definition and focus.

The Holographic Scene is ideal for performances recorded in a live hall or mastered with reverb. Hologram provides a larger sounding stage than Intimate Acoustic with a greater sense of the hall. You can select the Hologram scene as a default for everything from Pop to Rock and Classical because of its focus and clarity is presented in a layered and holographic sound field. Holographic can project images in front of the speakers and is more layered front to back than either Intimate Acoustic or Grand Canyon.

Listening to the recording Espana played by the Anhaltische Philharmonie Dessau 24/192 (Acousence Records) with the Holographic Scene resulted in an expansion of the already large soundstage of this recording. The orchestra became more three-dimensional with a movement slightly forward of the front plane of the speakers. Clarity and focus of the orchestra were enhanced within this larger soundstage presentation.

Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon Scene provides a vast soundstage behind the speakers with all images clearly defined in a massive acoustic space. This Scene is perfect for large scale classical and amplified performances or anytime you want a massive soundstage with minimal envelopment that exceeds the width and depth of your listening room. Holographic presents a more layered performance that is capable of projecting images onto a room and around your seated position. Synergistic Research feels that many listeners will select Grand Canyon as their default setting as its sound is neutral as well as being expansive sounding.

I decided to evaluate the Grand Canyon Scene with Simon & Garfunkel, The Concert in Central Park (Live) 24/192. The Grand Canyon Scene did wonders for this recording. The soundstage expanded behind the front plane of the speakers with no loss of focus or definition of the voices. The effect of Atmosphere made this live recording seem more real or natural in its presentation.

The title Cantatrix Contrasts 24/192 loved the Grand Canyon setting. This chamber choir was recorded in a large acoustic space. The Grand Canyon Scene opened up the soundstage in a very impressive way with no loss of focus or definition of the singers. The Atmosphere’s effect was easily heard and very much appreciated.

A Few Comments on Atmosphere’s Function
When one enables Atmosphere with the iPad, it takes about 4-5 seconds for the room effect to be heard. And likewise, turning off Atmosphere takes several seconds for its effect to dissipate. There is a blue LED on the back of the unit that indicates when the Atmosphere is powered on. I noticed that the light will often flicker when changing settings. Atmosphere seems to benefit from several hours of “warm-up” after being first powered on. I would allow the unit to have this initial powered time before auditioning. I placed the Atmosphere between and behind the front plane of my speakers.

The Atmosphere Tuning Module (ATM)
The ATM module increases the number of Scenes available to the Atmosphere. The Red ATM used in this review not only adds 4 more Scenes, but each Scene has Advanced Settings allowing one to easily fine tune the sound of his system. Synergistic Research told me that they will be coming out with more ATMs that improve specific aspects of the sound of system/room interfaces.

“Currently in development are ATM’s that improve liquidity and musicality or focus and precise image placement just to name a few. We even have an ATM designed to dramatically improve system performance when speakers are placed in listening rooms full of glass and hard surfaces.”
On the bottom of each cylindrical ATM, is a QR code that is scanned into the Atmosphere iPad program to unlock the Scenes of the RED ATM. The ATM is also a high power HFT (High Frequency Transducer) with vents and an inverted cone in the top of the unit. The ATM is placed in the recessed area on the top of Atmosphere.

The Red ATM Scenes

In My Listening Room
This Scene places the performers in your room with settings optimized for close miked string instruments like guitar or when you wish to hear enhanced focus and clarity. In the default setting, low frequency control, natural midrange texture, and clear image focus are characteristic of In My Listening Room. In addition to the default setting, one can move the slider at the bottom of the image and access the Advanced Settings. One can select a Liquid sound or Sharp sound, Studio or Live sound that opens up the soundstage. The Final settings are Amplitude with a Default, a Late PM, or a Mid-Day selection. The Amplitude settings are found in each of the RED ATM Scenes. Selecting the Mid-Day setting increases the amplitude of the Atmosphere output; selecting Late PM decreases the level compared to the Default setting. The idea behind this setting is that the ambient RF environment is more prevalent and complex during the day and of a lower frequency and somewhat less complex late at night.

I particularly like this Scene for its enhancement of the clarity and focus of voices and instruments. One can easily expand the soundstage with the Live selection or enhance detail with the Sharp setting.

Many of you are probably thinking that Atmosphere has far too many settings and is too complicated and time consuming to use. This is simply not the case. As you become familiar with the sound of the settings in your system, selections are made quickly. There is a bit of a learning curve to Atmosphere that took me several days, but once you are acclimated to this program, selecting the right Scene and settings for your system and taste will be effortless.

This Scene is also a particular favorite of mine for my system. Expansive presents larger acoustic recordings with an accurate sense of scale, natural layering, and envelopment. The soundstage is wider and more layered than that with In My Listening Room. Advanced Settings allow one to select a Far or Near perspective as well as a Layered or Expansive sound. The Near setting offers a sharper image or focus compared to the Far setting.

Classical and live recordings sounded excellent with the Expansive setting. Listening to the Weavers Reunion at Carnegie Hall 1963 24/96, the wonderful soundstage of this recording was significantly enhanced. A more richly layered soundstage appeared with the Expansive setting with enhanced inner detail and resolution using the Near setting. I also experienced an increase in the height of the soundstage.

This Scene is designed to maintain the energy of amplified music with leading edges and power dynamics. Rock ‘n’ roll, pop, and modern amplified jazz sound particularly good with this setting. Advanced Settings have a Smooth or Crunchie selection. Crunchie adds more bite to instruments like guitars and horns. Club or Stadium settings are self-explanatory with Stadium opening up the soundstage for larger recorded venues.

I found Santana’s Supernatural 24/96 to be an excellent example of a recording that benefited from the Amplified setting. The Crunchie setting definitely added bite to the guitar with a very tight, impactful low end and an immediate, highly focused mid-range. Turning off Atmosphere seemed to lessen the dynamic impact and rhythmic drive of the recording.

The Ethereal Scene presents the maximum scale possible for electronica, orchestral, and new age recordings. Advanced Settings of Warmth or Air; Grounded or Stratosphere are available. Air opens up the high frequencies to help portray a maximum sense of hall and decay. Stratosphere is the ultimate setting for width and depth layering and acoustic air.

I played Carl Cleves & Parissa Bouas Halos ‘Round the Moon (DSD) with the Ethereal Scene and was impressed at the enhancement of the large soundstage found on this recording. Adding the Advanced Setting of Air resulted in a richly layered soundstage with outstanding inner detail and resolution. Turning off Atmosphere compressed the recording and its wonderful sense of bloom.

Using Atmosphere and the ATM
Synergistic Research recommends that one have at least 2 sets of HFT (High Frequency Transducers) installed in your room before purchasing Atmosphere. The HFTs bring out the best of Atmosphere and these products do work together to achieve the maximum sonic effect. I was also told by Peter Hansen of Synergistic Research that if one is unable to place the Atmosphere between the speakers, it could be placed off to one side with the ATM placed behind and in the middle of the speakers. A fireplace mantel placement of the ATM would be an example and one that I successfully utilized.

DACs used in this review were the Analog DAC with Analog Power Base and the new Wavelength Audio Crimson with Quotient Q1 DAC module. I am presently working on the Wavelength Audio review of the Quotient Q1 board. The Crimson / Quotient Q1 can put out an enormous soundstage, but even this DAC benefited from the use of the Atmosphere in my system.

My Sonic Preferences
I try to remain faithful to the original recording with my use of Atmosphere. The Scenes and settings I use enhance the music without distorting the original intent of the recording engineer/producer. Sometimes, the results are subtle, but if you listen for an extended period of time to a particular musical selection, turning off Atmosphere often results in a sonic change that is not so subtle. Atmosphere not only improves rendering of the soundstage, but improves focus, definition from lows to highs, and perception of micro dynamic changes. Atmosphere is not inexpensive, but the use of this device in one’s system is the equivalent of upgrading speakers or electronics; certainly not an inexpensive proposition.

An Engaging Musical Experience
I found the Atmosphere to be a remarkable product that contributed significantly to the enhancement of the sound of my system. Unlike other system enhancement products that are inserted into the signal line, Atmosphere in no way directly degrades or distorts the audio signal in any way. Atmosphere works by changing the way we perceive our system with alteration of the RF in the room. Being able to select the desired sonic effects with an iPad is equally astounding. Adding the ATM elevates the performance of Atmosphere with Advanced Settings that are easy to implement. While I feel that Atmosphere is one of the most innovative and enjoyable new products to be offered to the audiophile market, its greatest attribute is that it allowed me to become more deeply engaged in the musical experience.

oldominion's picture

....and cue the beginning of the argument between those who think AS is *not* the place to publish glowing reviews of ridiculous and absurdly overpriced tweaks and those who think that anyone who criticizes these tweaks is a narrow-minded fool whose myopic refusal to acknowledge the possibility that such tweaks create "jaw-dropping'" and "toe-tapping" differences in one's system means that one is not serious about our shared hobby!

Objectively, that the two reviews S Plaskin has posted to AudioStream feature incredibly expensive and dubious fringe products made by the same company strikes me as a curious editorial decision.

Subjectively, so much of the review strikes me as wonderful satire penned by John Cleese or Michael Palin that I don't even know where to start...

Finally, I would happily choose to pay *no attention* to this review were it not for its having been awarded a Greatest Bits, something that I've learned to pay attention to if awarded by Michael.

Michael, I'm sure I speak for many AS readers when I write that I've learned to trust your POV (been reading your thoughts on hifi since your days with 6 Moons) and would pay cash money to read your take on the Synergistic Research products.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
I came in near the end but I did get to hear some A/B'ing and the differences between the sound of the system with the Atmosphere and without was very easy to hear.

You can also read John Atkinson's impressions here for another take.

jim tavegia's picture

You have folks who pay serious money for gear with no tone controls as they "might add something to the sound", and then this? There must be some folks who think that mastering engineers really don't know what they are doing(and often when I can't understand what a vocalist is saying, I would agree) and folks will spend serious money doing what many of us hated what the Bose 901's did. But, I don't mind people doing what makes than happy with their hard earned money as long as no children or woodland animals are hurt.

bobflood's picture

press release not a review. SR must be thrilled to get such incredible free advertising on this site for every product it releases.

Axiom05's picture

Sorry, I thought this was the Synergistic Research website and blog. ;-)

Regardless of what I personally think of these reviews, I really don't see their relevance to computer-based audio. Why not review preamps or power amps as well (I would love to see a review of the Ayre KX-5 preamp)? How about regular reviews of music downloads or music player software instead?

Steven Plaskin's picture

A good point Axiom05!

I reviewed the Atmosphere as there was a lot of interest generated about this product at the last RMAF. Many computer audiophiles have an iPad/iPhone for control of their systems, so I thought this product would be a natural for them.

My next review will be the Wavelength Audio Crimson with the new Quotient Q1 board. This will be followed by review of 2 new USB cables; the JCAT Reference and Shunyata Venom USB. Then back to more DACs.

ab_ba's picture

The part that really gets me is the 4-5 second warm-up period. What could possibly be the physics of that?

Steven Plaskin's picture
To the best of my knowledge, it is not a warm-up period. What is happening is that the RF generator is ramping up when engaged. One can see the power light on the back of Atomsphere blinking. When Atomsphere is shut off at the iPad, the RF generated in the room has to dissipate.
Steven Plaskin's picture
Another possibility of the slow shut down is that the RF generator has a gradual shut off. But say what you will guys, the darn thing works!
stevebythebay's picture

Apologies to Mr. Dylan. Guess I'm not skeptical that the Atmosphere is having an effect, it's just whether the effect ameliorates rather than simply alters room "problems". If we all live with the RF issues both in creation as well as reproduction of sound, why mess with that? I might go for the device if it was doing nothing more than expanding the soundstage, given the limitations of my room. But that's about all. Guess I'll just have to bring it in-house for a trial.

Eltonnotjohn's picture

Lead 'designer'? Is that what they call him? Lead witch doctor, more like.

Doesn't he KNOW that most of our equipment is in metal grounded boxes and the cables are screened? Course he does, but he is hoping we don't.

"A fool and his money" etc. This sort of stuff is what makes expensive 'High Fidelity' a total joke among sane electronic engineers.

He'd better not trying promoting that garbage in the UK. Our Advertising Standards Authority' will soon finish him off. And our 'Weights and Measures' will bury him. (If you don't know things both of those outfits know things for you.)

Eltonnotjohn's picture

With all due 'respect', remember how John Atkinson, Plaskin, et et all make at least some of their living, even if they don't necessarily get paid by Audiostream.

And even if not paid at all they still get the 'fame'.

By 'reviewing things'. IE - keeping the audio pot boiling. That is ALL they are doing and why they do it. It doesn't have to be about sensible things like the recently reviewed Primare, the 'fame' and possible money works just the same

Steven Plaskin's picture

I knew that there would be very few positive comments about Atmosphere since only a handful of people have experienced it in their home systems. I just find it amusing that someone can declare a product a fraud without even experincing it.

Atmosphere appears to effect how the listener perceives music. I don't believe in audio magic, but would suggest that there is some psychoacoustic effect going on here. I enjoy reviewing products like this because it challenges conventional thinking.

As for my audio "fame", I now have to wear a disguise to avoid the audio paparazzi :)

Eltonnotjohn's picture

That's just what it is. There is no way it will have any effect on our 'perception' or if it actually does, why won't he show us his Nobel Prize?

Electrically it's a complete nonsense. Partly for the reason I stated.

I venture to suggest you might have a vey expensive system, and having run out of ideas to make it 'better' you try or listen to crazy things.

We all do that, at all price levels, as 'expensive' is subjective. And everything we do makes an improvement :) Not that any of us has the remotest idea what 'correct sounding' actually is, having never heard what's put down on the studios file or CD, with us listening on their chosen monitoring equipment.

I hope your 'fame' doesn't become too problematical for you :) Martin Colloms, right up there with the Kardashians (who we don't believe either), describes himself on his site as an 'Expert Witness'. As he doesn't say what on, I presume it's on everything. You've got a way to go yet :)

Eltonnotjohn's picture

Low Frequency 'RF' generator? No. The antenna would literally have to be TENS OF MILES long at the stated frequency, and at the stated power you would have to be within inches of ALL of it. And you aren't tall enough :). They use such things at a MUCH higher 'Very Low Radio Frequency' to send messages to underwater nuclear submarines and the antenna are vast. (And their frequency will of course use a shorter antenna than this thing needs.)

CG's picture

Actually, that's not entirely accurate.

An antenna does not have to be resonant at the operating frequency for it to be effective. That happens to be one of the more efficient operating modes, but it isn't necessary. A very good example of that is one you described - a submarine. Is the antenna on a submarine for these VLF operations several kilometers (length needed for half wave operation or half of that for vertical operation against a ground image) long? In fact, are even the ground based antennas several kilometers long? No.

Second, the screening used in almost all cables and modern consumer equipment is relatively ineffective at a few Hertz. This is because the skin depth for good conductors is far greater than the thickness of the material. In order to get good screening, you need quite a bit of copper or aluminum and rely on Eddy current losses. Like inches. More likely, material that is magnetic, like steel, is needed. That brings on other challenges.

Both of these topics are easily researched on line or in books by sane electronic engineers like Ott, Morrison, Terman, and Krauss.

I'm not sure that's germane here, anyway. From what I just read above and in the provided links, this gadget works by changing the environment for the user, not by changing the performance of the audio equipment. Over the past half century, there's been a lot of research performed to see how exposure to electromagnetic energy affects people, including hearing. Reading the papers is kind of fascinating, since they certainly report results outside what the usual view of hearing and perception is.

I'd think that if this was true, you could test this by playing an acoustic guitar, cello, piano, jingling keys, or whatever in the room and seeing if the product changed the perceived sound.

Anyway, I personally am not in a position to judge the validity of the academic and other studies, nor am I qualified to judge how this reviewed product works. Not enough background on my part and not enough available information. Not that you'd care about any of that. My point is that I guess this is something you have to try for yourself to see what it does for you.

For me, I find devices like this to be distracting to my own enjoyment. When it's time to listen to music, I want to sit down and enjoy that part. I barely want to use a volume control, never mind a device that has thousands of permutations of adjustment. So, I'm not a good potential customer.

Eltonnotjohn's picture

None of the 'fine details' really matter as the 'technical' explanation is complete giggerish from start to end. So though I think you are incorrect on both subs (they only receive, the frequency is higher so the tx antenna is shorter and 'open chicken wire' work fine for screening a whole test lab), etc.

And if the 'psychoacoustic' stuff was real where's his Nobel prize, as I said :)

The same outfits 'Quantum Effect' cable advertising was so ridiculed, and not just by Hydrogen Tat they withdrew it.

CG's picture

Well, you are certainly entitled to think what you want.

I'd suggest doing the research on the antenna thing.

I'd also recommend typing "electromagnetic perception" into Google or your favorite search engine. Certainly not all of the entries are quackery or worthy of ridicule.

As for advertising, I tend to agree with you. To be fair, the public tends to demand explanations, even if the explanation is not easily understood. Human nature. How a company chooses to supply that can work both ways.

But... Aspirin was used effectively for a couple of centuries before an explanation was offered up. That original explanation was wrong. It wasn't until the late 1950's when people got serious about investigating the subject that real progress was made in understanding the mechanism. Even then, it took until the 1970's before the accepted answer was completed.

No Nobel prize was awarded for that one, either. (John Vane won for his work with prostaglandins.)

Just because something isn't well understood doesn't mean that it doesn't work. Or that is does work. Gravity seems to work pretty well, even though it really isn't understood. (Its effects can be explained very well, but isn't understood completely.)

Eltonnotjohn's picture

And so are you.

But they are hucksters and always have been, the quantum stuff being an earlier example. There is nothing whatsoever 'scientific' about any of that gibberish. Anyone who thinks there is any sense in any of it WANTS to.

Of course gravity works. Everyone on the planet has noticed it. It is not a 'claim' to sell things, is it? Aspirin works too, on almost everyone (though there are now doubts about the 'heart' benefits).

Look things up? Why should I bother? I worked on this stuff. Some of it is on Voyager and still operating. I'm retired anyway.

It's a friendly site, with much sense. I'm nor going to extend a pointless discussion.

But here is something else to 'exercise your mind' :) If HiFi gets better the more money you spend, why do (say) amplifiers sound more and more different the more money you spend?

Which is the ONLY one (if any) that is correct (you don't have to like it) and so the one we should spend our money on if we have the slightest interest in High Fidelity?

CG's picture

I didn't really understand most of that.

I only got involved in this because I wanted to point out that some of your factual information might have been incomplete or perhaps inaccurate. Not so much for your benefit, but for anybody else who wants to do their own research into the subject.

"Hifi" is a great example of a subject where the first, and maybe second, order stuff is relatively straightforward. Once you get beyond that, it gets pretty complicated. How people perceive and process sounds is a very complicated field. The magic trick that allows stereo imaging is really pretty subtle and fragile. Factors that affect low level distortions, however you choose to define them, can be pretty obscure and fundamental in a physics sense. Indeed, how people prefer some distortion is pretty interesting unto itself. All of this makes the hobby a fun one to pursue if you like these kinds of challenges and are up to it.

But, this is also the rub. The majority of people either don't have the background or the desire to get deep into the bowels of making it all work. Other people are engineers or equivalent and are trying to offer commercial products to feed their families and those of their co-workers. They need to make viable products that are marketable, hopefully at a profit. That often doesn't leave much scope for pursuing what really makes things tick - not many people are willing to pay for that.

History is rife with all sorts of engineering choices that were based on visible first order effects, compromises, and simplifications for all sorts of reasons. Later, these choices turned out to be either not good for the long term, have serious implications, or just be plain wrong. Many of those have had real consequences. That's what's fun about audio. The choices may have long term effect on art, but that's about it.

Eltonnotjohn's picture

A 'Who knows most about submarines and Faraday cages' competition is pointless anyway. He is not claiming anything about screening, as far as one can tell from the gibberish, he claims it's 'psychoacoustic' and both you and me have said aren't going to buy it.

He's aiming at the -

"It works, trust me. Give me your 2000 dollars" crowd. I'm not one of those and neither are you :)

CG's picture

I only have Steve Plaskin's word (and the other comments made by Michael Lavorgna and John Atkinson) that this gadget works. I have no reason at all to doubt their observations.

My reason for not buying one is because I find that sort of thing distracting. The same is true for things like a Cello Palette and watching TV during sex. Just a personal preference.

How people choose to spend their money is their business, whether I agree or not. As far as I know, nothing in the production or use of Synergistic Research products causes harm to anybody. If somebody likes the effect and is having fun as a result, great for them. If you think it's all folly, vote with your feet and don't buy the product. There is no need to justify your reasoning.

Besides, aren't you the one who brought up screening in the first place??

stevebythebay's picture

Unless I'm wrong, this would seem the first "active" product from SR in terms of direct user control. Though I don't think that's a bad thing in and of itself (we all have to fiddle with the volume control from recording to recording with given differing sound levels) it would seem an odd thing to muck around affecting sound stage, and other attributes, from album to album, that were originally determined by the recording engineers, etc. I'd call it the Baskin Robbins of music listening. Many of us who call ourselves audiophiles generally are trying to fix problems in the playback system and room, rather than alter what the artist may have wanted in reproduction.

I don't know if you tested this in conjunction with SR's HFT/FEQ products in your room, but it would seem that this is a bit of an FEQ on steroids. As I recall Ted described the FEQ as "A low frequency pulse generator that acts as an RF dither for RF and EM noise in a listening room or space". So this takes thing much further.

SR has certainly come a long way from a cable company "Your Cable for Life".

Steven Plaskin's picture
Steve, You have it correct. Atmosphere is an FEQ on steroids that is adjustable as well. If you like the FEQ, you will be blown away with Atmosphere.
bjeff1's picture

There is a lot of discussion(?)above about this device/product, but as far as I can surmise no one can speak from the experience point of view...actually hearing it in an active, working system.

This morning I had the opportunity to "audition" the Atmosphere with the ATM. For full disclosure, I heard it at Steve Plaskin's home, in his system. I have known Steve for many years, and have been involved in "high end" audio for more than 4 decades. Steve invited me over to experience, the product/device, and run it through it's paces. I had not talked with him about it in any significant way, had not read his review, nor had I any other knowledge about it (including claimed abilities, what it was supposed to do, etc.) It was a guy coming into a listening session with absolutely no preconceived expectation. Steve merely invited me over to listen to some music...and listen to how his system currently "sounds". This is not unusual as I am invited over periodically for a listen.

So what did I think, let me say, without hesitation or equivocation, that the Atmosphere + ATM is a remarkable product. It absolutely "works". It absolutely had an effect on my perception of the music, on the presentation of the music, and on my listening experience. It is not subtle, and it is not hard to hear or discern. In my opinion, any audiophile would here the effects.

And I liked it...a lot. Now, whether others will like the various effects is another matter. That is so often the point of argument. But, rest assured whether one likes the various presentations or not, the audible changes are there. I listened to a wide range of music over a couple of hours before I read any of the notes attached to the scenes. If one wants to have an idea of what it does, read the notes. In my opinion, and experience, they are well articulated and accurately reflect what I heard.

Also, in my experience, I had no sense that the device "fixes" problems created by one's playback system or corrects for room problems. It is not like, for example, the Dirac Room Correction programs. It simply changes presentation of the music to ones choice within the various options...and it does it flawlessly. The interface with the iPad program was seamless.

Before all you naysayers start throwing bricks at me, I have no vested interest in the success or failure of this product. I am just reporting what I experienced and I heard. I don't know how it actually works, but it does. And again, does so beautifully.

Regarding the cost - benefit ratio, that is for the individual to decide. For me, given what I have spent on hardware, tweaks, devices, etc., over the years, I find it, for what it does in comparison to many other things I have bought, not totally out of the ballpark.

I would say, throw away any preconceived notions (if you are able) and do yourself a favor and audition it. If nothing else, it is fun to play with and to experiment with the various presentations.

stevebythebay's picture

In speaking with Ted or Peter at SR did you get the impression that the Red ATM, and others in the works, will be room specific, or in some fashion system specific? Given that the ATM seems to be a passive device, I'd expect you'd not have a mix, nor more than one "working" at a time.

Maybe I'm putting the cart before the horse, given that the combinations and permutations need quite a bit of testing before guidance is forthcoming.

Steven Plaskin's picture

The Red ATM is not specific to any room. It just adds 4 scenes (settings) with additional advanced settings.

The ATM has 2 functions. The first is that it unlocks the 4 scenes associated with it. The other is that it is a big HFT and also improves the sound. Once the scenes are unlocked, they don't depend on the ATM. I don't see why you couldn't have multiple ATMs with multiple scenes.

Future ATMs will offer features for room specifics' so I've been told.

My friend really was impressed the Atmosphere. I gave a few demos and then just let him play with the thing.

Archimago's picture


Suppose this works as advertised - some kind of (ultra) low-frequency RF generator. Presumably it's quite powerful to suppress the stray RF in the room otherwise and potent enough to create perceptual change.

Since it "psychoacoustically" changes what is perceived according to testimony from Mr. Plaskin, Atkinson, and bjeff1 above, then one must assume that it changes the auditory signals from the ears (either the middle ear or the cochlea) or neuronal signals to the brain or the brain processing of sound itself.

I'm curious then how has it been determined that such a device that is capable of *perceptual change* has been safe for human use? Has the FCC or IEEE signed off on this device in terms of electromagnetic safety?

I'd be concerned about sitting in the room in close proximity to this device for hours, or having kids wander around the vacinity if this thing could somehow be unsafe especially for longterm use! Surely there must be some agency looking into this kind of atypical technology... Was this addressed by the documentation?

Steven Plaskin's picture

I did not receive any documentation. This is a good question and should be directed to Synergistic.

CG's picture

"Maybe he should show is that there is indeed a problem. Even if we believe his feelings, we really have no idea that this thing makes the sound better. It's just different. You may like the difference, but who to say it's any more accurate?"

Ahh, just what makes you or anybody think that "more accurate" is always the goal? Certainly, the recording engineers do all sorts of things that vary greatly from accurate. Much of the gear that people actually seem to like well enough to buy and listen to varies from "accurate". Accurate is just one approach to something that "sounds good". It may not even be the best way, at least for everybody. If liking the difference and how it sounds isn't what this is about, well, I'm not sure what is.

In addition, this is a review. That is to say, a subjective examination of how one reviewer likes the product and the associated sound. It isn't supposed to be journalism, any more than a review of that new restaurant is.

As to the RF exposure limit, that's a really good question. I don't believe ANSI specifies any exposure requirements at all for any radiation below 3 KHz. Many of the standards don't cover below 300 KHz. Based on the size of the power supply for this particular product, it's hard to imagine that the radiated power is even as high as a cell phone or a wireless tablet or keyboard that you might have sitting in your lap. Still, it's an interesting question. The same could be asked about Ethernet cables and wires carrying DSL signals, too. Either nobody has considered this, it was investigated and deemed not to be an issue, or the same sort of people who say nothing like this could affect your perception of sound have dismissed it.

Again, I have no opinion about how well or even whether this product works other than the subjective reports provided by some observers. An awful lot of people seem to get terribly hot under the collar over things that aren't explained to their satisfaction, though.

ab_ba's picture

I wonder, is it more like my noise-canceling headphones, where it "listens to" the ambient radio frequencies, and then broadcasts a phase-inverted version, to cancel them out? Or, does it work like my air purifier, and absorb all the radio frequencies into itself? Enquiring minds want to know.

It is true that occasionally amps and speakers will hum if there's noise on the power line. Thus, a clean power supply makes sense. But, that's not how this thing works. It's canceling out RF that's ambient in the room. To think that the ambient radiofrequencies are strong enough to distort the signal seems a stretch. Except for distortions that are plainly audible, like cell phones used to give off, the ambient RF is bound to be orders of magnitude smaller than the signal in the music.

But, that's irrelevant because if stray RF did have an impact, the fix isn't more RF, of any type. The fix is grounded shielding.

One more possibility - is the device actually emitting sound? Remember stochastic resonance theory? The idea that a little bit of noise can actually boost the perception of a signal? Are we sure this thing is dead silent on its own?

If somebody sent me one of these for a few weeks, I'd sit there and A/B/X it - I'd have a pal turn the system off and on, and I'd try to guess whether it was on. If I could guess reliably (and if I preferred it on - even a little bit), I'd buy it.

I wonder if the company offers a 100% money back guarantee? Or, would they loan me one? Is somebody out there willing to give it a try? Steven, maybe you can convince the company to loan it to you so you and a friend can a/b/x it.

Steven Plaskin's picture
We actually did what you suggested. My friend was controlling the iPad and I was seated to the side od tHe room. I could hear every tIme he changed settings. I couldn't say what he was doing, but I could detect changes. I believe Synergistic has a money back guarantee for Atmosphere.
Steven Plaskin's picture
By the way, I'm sorry for the typos. We are out and about and I'm using my iPhone to monitor the comments. I'm not a master of phone keyboards like the kids.
Eltonnotjohn's picture

I don't think he says it is distorting the RF. Nor absorbing it.

From what I can vaguely make out from the gibberish his box is distorting our heads.

ednaz's picture

If this works through manipulating the RF fields in the room, then someone should be able to use an RF probe and oscilloscope or an RF detector and computer screen to show what the electromagnetic field looks like in the room with the device off, and then in each of its different settings. I'd suggest an RF probe, since if this works through manipulating the EM field, it would work through its effect through the RF modifying signals in the wires and electrical components of the sound system (because RF has to be received by something), not on space or air. Or through its effect on the electrical fields generated in the grey matter of the meat puppets doing the listening... which I'd find alarming.

Seems to me that it's a very simple and objective way to see if there's anything going on with field manipulation. If there are visible perturbations, if audio signals running through cables look measurably different when the device is present and on than when it's not present and off, and if the signals are changed differently in the different modes, then skepticism about the device gets a hard nudge to the side. Something real will have been proven to be occurring - now the debate becomes whether that's effective, and not whether an effect exists.

This leaves open, however, the potential health effects. There's a fair amount of literature on health problems in people who work around strong RF or magnetic fields, or around ones that operate in certain ranges. I'd think twice - no, a dozen or more times - before adding to my personal electromagnetic absorption load.

CG's picture

It seems to me that although a lot of folks have protested with varying degrees of volume, nobody has actually offered any more reason why this can't work than Synergistic Research has offered why it can work. Less, in fact. Perhaps some time on a dunking stool or attached to a large wooden stake surrounded by flames would be in order for the people (I guess there's more than one) at Synergistic Research. That'll determine the truth, by gum!

I'm not sure what to think of people's reactions myself...

It does appear that a big complaint is not the accuracy of the claims but the adequacy of them. There's lots of reasons why a vendor of anything might not offer up complete detailed white papers jury reviewed by a thousand peers over their product.

1. Trade secrecy

2. They feel the explanation is too complicated

3. The product is based on experimental work where the functioning isn't well understood

4. None of the above

Of course, I don't know which of these is true. I suspect almost nobody reading this review and the follow on comments does either.

The same is true about the level of RF (if that is indeed what is happening) and their effects of health. Nobody here knows what frequency this operates at or its level. If it's sub-100 Hz, then I bet the mains power has a far larger field strength than this product. Antennas everywhere, too. (Maybe that's not healthy, either...) If it's higher than 300 KHz, then it is subject to regulation by the FCC and OSHA. This is a real question.

Whether this product is effective is a different question. So far, we've read about a total of five people who have tried it and commented. Every one has had positive things to say. Are they all liars or crazy? Perhaps. Will everyone find the product helpful? Doubtful. To start, there's lots of people who don't a rat's kestrel about listening to music in the first place.

I'm being dumb commenting about this, aren't I? I'm just adding to the noise. Nobody's minds will be swayed one bit, will they?

Ted Denney Lead Designer Synergistic Research Inc.'s picture

Atmosphere operates at the Earth’s Schumann resonance and harmonics which are below regulated frequencies at an output below regulated signal strength. To put its output in perspective a child's remote control transmitter, cell phones, WiFi and FM broadcasts are all output at far higher levels and frequencies than Atmosphere's natural signal. If anyone is seriously worried about Atmosphere’s relatively weak RF transmission (and not merely looking for something to complain about), they should first think about replacing their cell phone with a cup and string.

As to signal neutrality or remaining true to the recorded event our internal research shows that all systems and indeed the listening experience are always affected by radio frequencies whether you use Atmosphere, or not. The use of Atmosphere merely enables you to take control of your RF environment to both eliminate bad sounding days while custom tailoring the sound of your system to best compliment your favorite recordings and personal preferences.

Yours in music,
Ted Denney
Lead Designer, Synergistic Research Inc.

stevebythebay's picture

I must be one lucky guy. My room is little effected by RFI at least relative to using a level 5 HFT/FEQ setup (that's engaging or disengaging the FEQ). Seems that the Atmosphere, like the FEQ, is operating within the the same electromagnetic spectrum, just at a more pronounced level. So, that leaves me wondering a bit more as to how the Atmosphere and associated ATM operate to alter the system sound. I gather that internally, via the software control, the app is reshaping the spectra and its output. Am I in the ballpark on this? And I'm assuming that for those of us using the FEQ, it might be best to relocate that to say, the rear of the room, while bringing the Atmosphere to the FEQ's prior location. Suspect you'll have more info/docs on the SR website on how to deploy this technology, especially as new ATM's come about.

Steven Plaskin's picture

The app apparently changes the frequencies generated by Atmosphere.

Peter Hansen of Synergistic suggested a side wall placement of the FEQ, but your rear wall suggestion sounds very interesting.

I haven't tried putting back the FEQ into service, but maybe in a day or two. And yes, the Atmosphere would take the position of your FEQ.

Eltonnotjohn's picture

We don't have to prove it doesn't work (proof of negatives is logically impossible anyway), they have to prove it does. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence".
And Steven saying it's ok isn't that.

Trade secrecy?
"Trust me, send your 2000 dollars"

The article (not Steven's comments) is complete and utter gibberish. It is such rubbish you can't even tell how it is SUPPPOSED to work. They probably did that on purpose.

And we haven't forgot their 'quantum cables'. They claimed they had a machine that introduced 'quantum effects'. Oh Yeah? Go convince Edward Teller. Even the somewhat weird 'Computer Audiophile' and its minute clique of active posters laughed at it (not 'officially' of course).

Eltonnotjohn's picture

At least Shunyata has got the honesty to name its cables after snakes :)

Steven Plaskin's picture
Eltonnotjohn, After your numerous posts, we truly understand how you feel about Synergistic Research. Why not be a gentleman and finally give it a rest.
Eltonnotjohn's picture

I had. And I don't like things being "All about my opinion" anyway. But with your comments, based on a total lack of knowledge of how it 'works', and the other posters 'blind faith' in how wonderful it 'might' be and telling the non-faithful to 'prove' it doesn't work I feel my last and final comment on these hucksters (as demonstrated more than once before this gizmo appeared) was justified.

Steven Plaskin's picture
And now my final point directed to you. There are some people here who enjoy Synergistic Research products, in spite of what you feel, are inadequate explanations concerning their function. I believe they deserve a place here just as you have been given wide latitude for expression of your opinions. As I previously posted, I knew that there would be little postive posted since the product has not been formally released. But the one fact that is clear to me and to those that have heard Atmosphere is that it can make a postive effect on the music we listen to. And all of your arguments will not change that fact.
Eltonnotjohn's picture

Note I'm staying off criticism of the box itself. But you don't know how it works, if it does, I don't, and it appears that the designer doesn't either as he in effect gave two different 'explanations' to you, one 'suppressing the RF' and another 'psychoacoustic'.

His 'explanation' to John Atkinson is different again. He goes on about the 'ionosphere' to him. John also said that so much was going on it was difficult to tell what was what.

And note that John Atkinson, who appears somewhat unconvinced ("I remain skeptical") by the 'explanation' he got, says that to emit RF at that low frequency would need "An antenna the size of a small country, not a 40 inch tall box." which is basically the same as I said.

So what have we got?
1)From known physics it can't emit the low frequency RF claimed. And we do know quite a lot about radio in 2015.
2)Such low frequency RF won't affect our other boxes. John or the 'follow up' guy said so and it coincides with my professional knowledge.
3)As it can't emit any RF at the frequency stated it can't affect our 'perception'.
4)The designer either doesn't know how it works or won't tell. It certainly doesn't work in the way his 'explanations' say it does.

I'm glad you said it was NOT a 'review' by you. A review is "It goes 180 mph, it's painted red, it's noisy, and the seats are uncomfortable and it's bumpy and very cramped and you can't see out the back etc". IE - mainly fact, much of it not from the manufacturrs literature. NOT "I liked the difference it made".

Eltonnotjohn's picture

You mention 'wide latititude'.

1) Are we allowed to express our unfavorable opinions or is the site just a manufacturers party?
2) I'm not charging 2000 dollars.

Steven Plaskin's picture

"Are we allowed to express our unfavorable opinions or is the site just a manufacturers party?"

You have to be kidding.

Eltonnotjohn's picture

I'm moving away from this particular 'piece' now. But as the several posts than do NOT say 'Awesome' when prompted are criticized or some attempt is made at refuting them or asking for 'proof' of their objections one might, and I say only 'might' wonder.

I do of course fully understand that the magazines and the manufactures feed off each other. No HiFi other than the stuff so often (but not here) sneering referred to as 'high street' or 'purchased by the great unwashed' would NEVER BE SOLD if it was not for the magazines, paper or online. (Though we do have the Naim Mu-so (only) in ONE British department store chain.) And we are ALL 'the man in the street' when not actually working, aren't we?

We are a VERY small and fringe population. Far more so even than my radio controlled model planes. And dubious 'tweak' stuff is a 'fringe of a fringe'. It's like the small outfits selling imitation carbon fiber indicators at motorcycle shows.

Regards, none of this is directed at you or Michael.

The Don's picture

As someone who has purchased Synergistic products in the past, and who has a Atmosphere and ATM on preorder, I have always found them to work as advertised and as Steven’s well done reviews have stated. One big plus was that they worked with each other by building upon the other. Back a few months ago when I purchased my FEQ I specifically asked if the Atmosphere with ATM, which was in the works, would work with the FEQ and was told that they used “different” technology and would work “together“ with each other and not make the FEQ obsolete in my system. Putting it off to the side does sound like the FEQ effect is so reduced by the ATM it might as well be obsolete in a system that uses both, so I’m very curious as to what you find out Steven, as this playing together may not be the case as with the other products and from what I was told. Let’s see if Ted Denney or Peter Hansen of Synergistic have a comment on this for us FEQ and future Atmosphere and ATM users, but I have a strong feeling I should have waited.

Ted Denney Lead Designer Synergistic Research Inc.'s picture

Eltonnotjohn you state "...he (me) in effect gave two different 'explanations' to you, one 'suppressing the RF' and another 'psychoacoustic'"

Eltonnotjohn where exactly did I state (provide links) Atmosphere 'suppresses RF' or use the word 'psychoacoustic' to describe Atmosphere?

"His 'explanation' to John Atkinson is different again. He goes on about the 'ionosphere' to him"

Where exactly did I cite the ionosphere? Provide links but I'll give you a clue, that was JA's correct narrative to explain the Schumann resonance to Stereophile readers.

As to our signal generator not being able to produce the ULF and LF frequencies we claim, this is simply not true; you have absolutely zero evidence to back your claims nor do you have any experience with Atmosphere. You do however seem to have an inordinate amount of time to Troll a subjective review which begs the question, why? In my experience only a crazy person would devote the kind of time you have spent here unless you've got skin in the game? Clearly I'm not hiding behind a fake sock puppet name Mr. "Eltonnotjohn"

As to John Atkinson not being sure or unclear regarding what he heard while listening to Atmosphere...

"Ted played music on the Mola Mola/Eclipse/Luxman system with the Atmosphere turned on, to get listeners used to the sound, which was indeed excellent. He then turned off the Atmosphere and to my shock, given my skepticism about Ted's claims, the sound did indeed get worse, the soundstage shrinking and a hard edge appearing to midrange sounds. WTF!?!?! My world tilted a little"

"Still in a state of shock—I knew what I had heard..."

-John Atkinson, Stereophile

Clearly John Atkinson knew exactly what and was not unclear regarding Atmosphere's affect on the sound of the system.

Lastly I am only responding to you in order to set the record straight for anyone who might mistake your ramblings for fact. SR users know full well the validity of SR products and it is for their sake that I am responding here. I am not in the habit of wasting time with likes of you any more than I would engage anyone who claims the USA did not land on the moon, or that the world is flat.

Yours in music,
Ted Denney
Lead Designer, Synergistic Research Inc.

Ted Denney Lead Designer Synergistic Research Inc.'s picture

Don you will not be disappointed when adding Atmosphere and ATM to your system. When combining Atmosphere with an FEQ you simply need to move your FEQ to a side wall between your listening position and your speakers with Atmosphere now taking the FEQ's previous center stage position. To verify the fact FEQ and Atmosphere work well together simply remove the FEQ once you have listened to both and you'll quickly return the FEQ to its new position in your listening room.

Yours in music,
Ted Denney
Lead Designer, Synergistic Research Inc.

Steven Plaskin's picture

An engineer friend sent me this information concerning John Atkinson's comments about the size of the antenna:

From Eltonnotjohn:

"And note that John Atkinson, who appears somewhat unconvinced ("I remain skeptical") by the 'explanation' he got, says that to emit RF at that low frequency would need "An antenna the size of a small country, not a 40 inch tall box." which is basically the same as I said."

Correct information:

A little antenna theory for you...

One of the most efficient antenna designs uses radiating elements that are one half wavelength long at the operating frequency. Radio hams know that. A variation of that is a quarter wavelength vertical antenna worked against a ground screen, which "makes up" the missing quarter wavelength.

But, antennas need not be resonant to radiate. At all. Resonance just implies a particular radiation pattern and helpful feed point impedance. Off resonance, antennas work just fine, but have reactive (capacitive or inductive) components in addition to purely resistive. So, they are harder to impedance match. If you can match them well, you still have the question of efficiency. That has to do the current levels and the use of actual conductors (like copper) that aren't superconductive. Those are just lossy.

If you can get past that, a theoretical isotropic antenna - one that radiates equally in all directions - has about 2.15 dB less gain than a lossless half wavelength dipole antenna. You can't get much smaller than an isotropic antenna either - it's a point source.

So, that aspect is not really right and to the point.

In a way, this should be somewhat obvious based on practical experience. Do some products with transformers cause hum in other pieces of gear? That’s 60 Hz, where a “real antenna” (dipole) is about 10 times shorter than a dipole for this Schumann resonance frequency - only about 1500 miles long. Are they attached to antennas that long??

The whole point of the Schumann resonance is that it is the size of the resonator created by the cavity between the Earth’s surface and the ionosphere. Pretty large…

Of course, I don’t know anything about how this affects perception of sound. It seems to be an area that most credentialed experts steer clear of. Maybe they don’t want to deal with internet experts.

I did find this, though:

It’s about another very low frequency phenomenon. It was researched by a guy who used to head of some group at Bell Labs and was then a professor in New Mexico. The other was a professor in the health department. The article was published in the Acoustical Science of America whatever, hardly a New Age group. They just shrugged their shoulders after a rigorous test and said, “beats us!” I’m sure something like this can be nit-picked to death and declared to be impossible. But, that’s crap, too. Unexplained is not the same as impossible, much to the chagrin of so many of these proponents of DBT and that sort of thing.

Concerning testing of the Atmosphere:

The guys who are demanding rigorous testing of all this probably aren’t willing to shell out the $25K for a suitable spectrum analyzer (I looked it up) or even just the rental of a suitable test facility for even a half day at over a thousand bucks. Nor the price of suitable analysts to run the gear and make the test. Not to mention whatever it might take to determine what the actual affect on the aural system this product stimulates

Eltonnotjohn's picture

John Atkinson is wrong too? (my words from him were a direct quote).

The Don's picture

Thanks for the quick reply Ted, I thought my comment might get lost within the other exchange. For what's it worth (not much to others I would guess) I have always had a positive improvement with your products, and believe me I don't want to spend the money! Anyway I will find out when I get my Atmosphere + ATM soon. Keep up the good work and looking froward to the Black Hole launch.

Steven Plaskin's picture
I set the FEQ up as Ted suggested. I'll report back soon using both the FEQ and Atmosphere.
stevebythebay's picture

I know that you use many of the SR components, but it would really be helpful if you could provide a bit of detail of your system. I'm certain it has evolved over time. And I suspect that many of us would also benefit in knowing more about your room dimensions and other particulars. That's of importance, since the SR product set is so focused on ameliorating the many issue of listening space, along with power and general interference with system sonic performance.

Looking forward to results of your FEQ with Atmosphere testing.

Steven Plaskin's picture
I just sent you an email Steve.
Steven Plaskin's picture

Absolutely amazing!!!!!

I added the FEQ to the side as Ted suggested. It seemed to supercharge the Atmosphere. The effect of the Atmosphere is magnified.


Owners of the FEQ will have a definite enhancement of Atmosphere.

Eltonnotjohn's picture

They were not reluctant to explain how they did it.

And I don't fall for your 'Quantum' Effect' cables and the machine you used to 'create' that effect either. Not even the guys at Computer Audiophile fell for that. Ask 'Jud' who also posts here.

What does that make you? You don't have to ask, you know already - look in your wallet if in any doubt.

Archimago's picture

That Mr. Denny would come and provide responses. Claim that those who question what appears to be pseudoscience due to lack of evidence except of the weakest form (subjective testmonies) as those who somehow deny real science and engineering (like going to the moon).

And in all his paragraphs not offer a single comment about the engineering or rationale for this equipment.

Eltonnotjohn's picture

Not at all. As we all know perfectly well. He's got a living to 'earn' and not having any answers he blusters instead and attacks those of us who don't say 'awesome' when prompted to do so.

And do people really believe that sites such as this and the printed equivalent are anything other than advertising media? Of course not. Why pretend they are?

If I' not here tomorrow you will know why. They will just have proved what I said :)

Michael Lavorgna's picture
You sure do enjoy listening to yourself spout nonsense. If you are not here tomorrow it will be because I find you intolerably self-satisfied and your comments rarely, if ever, offer anything of real value. Or you could, on your own accord, just go away which would make for a lovely new year's gift to me and other readers.
Eltonnotjohn's picture

It's not just me, it is several others. Including the highly respected Archimago.

And now we have Steven saying it is even more 'amazing'.

And the 'designer', unlike the go to the moon people (does he REALLY think he can stand alongside them?) won't even tell us how it works. His stuff at the beginning was gibberish. It doesn't even count as 'pseudo-scientific' gibberish.

Compare that with Nelson Pass, who even gives circuit diagrams of the stuff he sells.

Eltonnotjohn's picture

[more of the same deleted, Ed.]

So please delete me.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
Happy New Year!
Ted Denney Lead Designer Synergistic Research Inc.'s picture

For people wanting technical details on Atmosphere please see the following link:

stevebythebay's picture

For those wanting a bit more to chew on please watch the videos:

Then order up a 30-day trial to see how this works for you.

The only piece missing is a means for effectively tagging your preferences by album and linking the tags in your library to the iPad app. I suppose you could use iTunes or MP3Tag to create a means for at least building the information and making it visible when playing back and then dialing in which profile you want to use.

Steven Plaskin's picture
In my setup, the FEQ sounds a little better directed at the listening position.
stevebythebay's picture

So, you've got the FEQ located on a side wall, halfway between your listening position and the speakers, and the front of the FEQ directed towards your sitting position, or towards the rear of your room? Seems that it shouldn't matter if it's radiating in what would seem to be a 180 degree pattern from the front of the FEQ. But that's just a guess. Is it on the floor or elevated to, for example, a mantle above a fireplace or such? And I'm wondering if the ATM would also have an altered effect if it's placed anywhere apart from the top of the Atmosphere.

Steven Plaskin's picture

"So, you've got the FEQ located on a side wall, halfway between your listening position and the speakers, and the front of the FEQ directed towards your sitting position, or towards the rear of your room?"


The FEQ is on a bottom shelf of a table near the floor. I do remember Peter Hansen suggesting that the FEQ should be directed toward the listener. I played around with the FEQ orientation and toward the listener was best for me.

oldominion's picture

I'm not sure what you mean there, SP. CG's comments make perfect sense: A review of a DAC is going to list the type of chip used, perhaps a reference to caps and power supply design, a critical look at build quality, perhaps at board design and output topology, the quality of posts, connectors, etc., and, finally, how all of this sounds when put together.

If anyone's trying to move the goalposts it's companies like SynergisticResearch, Shakti and to a lesser extent Mapleshade, who are asking the consumer to take a completely uninformed leap of faith (sorry Paul Tillich!) that their products, all of them extraordinarily expensive, do all of these AMAZING things without offering even the slightest hint that their claims might need some kind of substantiation. Why should the hunk of air-dried maple I place under my turntable make that turntable sound better than if it were sitting on a kiln-dried hunk of maple, as Mapleshade claims? Pierre Sprey would, of course, call me an idiot to presume otherwise, and I think Ted's comments in this very forum and in the linked video are comparably disrespectful to those of us who might want to know why a tiny disc of aluminum should cost as much as it does, or why I might need four or five of them, or ten, thousands of dollars worth, to place throughout the inside of my components, or why a mysterious tower that alters the RF in my listening room should, again, cost multiple thousands of dollars when I haven’t even been told what’s on the inside of it.

In the video, Ted claims that any person who’d like a scientific explanation about one of his products is a ‘jihadist’ (sic), one of the uncountable number of confounding comments he makes during the course of the video.

Additionally, Ted says, “The Atmosphere excites the HFQ’s around the room…(creating) a different sonic environment…There are millions of phase points…The Red (module) is great for rooms with a lot of glass…(Ted) recommended the module be plugged in for an hour…”

I'm not being difficult here but instead am exercising my right to be skeptical about what sounds, charitably, like utter nonsense. For example, how does the Atmosphere "excite" the HFQ's? Is it exciting other things in my house, or are its powers of excitement proprietary? Are those powers of excitement seeking out other Synergistic Research products only, or might the Atmosphere also excite Steven Plaskin's beloved Shakti Hallographs, causing them to quiver delightfully? Is it okay for me to be curious about these things, or is this indication that I'm a jihadist? What does the Red module do that's better for rooms with lots of glass? Does the reflective surface have to be glass or would the Red module also work well on sheetrock walls? Or would I need another type of module to use in that room? Why does the Atmosphere need to be warmed up? Does RF manipulation get..better...over time?

And I absolutely agree with CG that this Atmosphere product purports to solve a problem that does not exist for the vast majority of listeners: In fact, here in dirty old Baltimore City, my stereo sounds the same at 9am as it does at 2pm as it does at 10pm. Marketers have used this common 'begging the question' fallacy for years, demanding that the consumer has a problem and then, rather kindly, offering a solution to that problem the consumer doesn’t have!

As mentioned, I'm a big fan of AudioStream and Michael's writing and will continue to visit this site regularly. I'm also curious as to why SR has gotten two press releases on these pages written by SPlaskin, and find it comical that Lead Designer Ted has to label anyone who criticizes his products a jihadist rather than explain exactly how all of his fancy new products actually work! Wouldn't that save all of us a TON of time?

Finally, Steven, I'm curious to know if you still use Shakti Hallographs, and if you're going to buy the review sample of the Atmosphere and/or other SR products.

CG's picture

"A review of a DAC is going to list the type of chip used, perhaps a reference to caps and power supply design, a critical look at build quality, perhaps at board design and output topology, the quality of posts, connectors, etc., and, finally, how all of this sounds when put together."

Sad to say, but most of this is superficial and somewhat of an illusion.

Honestly, just how does an audio enthusiast judge the board design and build quality without knowing the details of the schematic and having at least a pretty substantial engineering background?

Usually, what is lauded is "neatness". Like having the components all aligned in nice neat rows, perfect for pick and place robots to put down the parts in manufacture. Is that the ideal arrangement in terms of the physics of the circuitry? If so, it's coincidental. It also may not matter significantly.

Same for various caps and so on. If an electrolytic cap is from a manufacturer known to have reliability issues, sure, that's something to consider. Otherwise? I'm not so sure.

Overall appearance is important for anything that's going to sit in your living room or wherever for years, but is it a meaningful measure of quality?

To a large degree, what matters is how the "chef" put it together more than anything. Not entirely, of course, but really to a greater degree than people want to accept. (This is not just true for audio electronics, either.) With DAC type products, that is especially the case since the types of signals involved and frequencies where the circuits are operated leave far less margin for error in layout, bypassing, and so forth than say a preamp. (I'm not saying preamps are child's play - just that you can get a preamp to mostly work more easily than you can get a DAC to mostly work.)

The listening part certainly is important, but that's the impression of one person within the context of their system and their own aural processing system.

I can really appreciate why a good number of manufacturers genuinely want potential customers to buy through dealers and try the proposed purchase first. It's not a sneaky sales trick - although it could be, I suppose, in some cases. Instead it's just reality of what is truly needed to make a good purchasing decision. Unfortunately, so many people are more interested in "The Deal" these days, so brick and mortar stores are an endangered species. (In quite a few cases, they brought it on themselves...)

Anyway, this whole Atmosphere thing really has been beaten to death and beyond. Some people just are not going to try this or any other product without an explanation that resonates with them. No problem by me. (By try, I don't mean purchase - I mean giving a product a listen at a store, a show, or somebody's house.)

Just this week I re-read an old joke having to do with politics that I think applies here:

Q: What's difference between reality and perception?

A: Reality can be changed.

Happy New Year to all. See you next year, perhaps!

Steven Plaskin's picture

The goalpost remark implied that the same expectations should be placed on all manufacturers; his expectations, not mine.

Now why the Synergistic reviews:

I have been a customer of SR for a number of years and have an interest in Ted's products. Also, I live relatively close to the factory. This is also important for the following reason:

Synergistic Research, like a number of other high end audio companies, likes to visit the reviewer for installation and to make sure everything is working properly for the reviewer. This makes me a natural due to my proximity.

I saw the Stereophile and Positive Feedback reports about the Atmosphere at the RMAF. I asked Ted if I could review it.

I haven't had the Shakti Hollographs installed here for many years.

I listened to a great recording of Rachmaninoff's 4th Piano Concerto today. The Atmosphere made this recording even more enjoyable. Yes, I will keep the Atmosphere.

By the way, besides using the PowerCell, I have the Shunyata Triton and Hydra DPC-6 here as well with a number of Shunyata AC cables. It's not all Synergistic at Lucy's lab (my min pin and audio adviser)

Steven Plaskin's picture

I think you are missing my point. But I also think we have discussed this to death. I appreciate your dissatisfaction with Synergistic's technical explanation of the Atmosphere. But I see things differently.

Steven Plaskin's picture
Does this sound familiar? The Atmosphere goes way beyond this, but the essential concept is similar.
Steven Plaskin's picture

After a good deal of rearranging things I was able to elevate the FEQ 1 foot off the floor level and place it on 3 MIGs.

This improved things once again over the floor level. The effect with Atmosphere is definitely more pronounced.

The Don's picture

Thanks for the updated comments on adding the FEQ into the mix Steven. Will let you know my impression after I get the Atmosphere + ATM, although the ATM, that for me at least is more interesting than the Red, is the upcoming one that "improves liquidity and musicality".

gorkuz's picture


[Nonsensical rubbish deleted, Ed.]

BTW, low frequency RF "ULF" is dealing with Schumann resonance matters and needs to be used carefully and judiciously as this will, among other effects, affect the REM sleep cycles and therefore should not be left on if sleeping within its range on a regular or, especially, protracted, basis. There are other effects as well. There is a good deal of literature on extreme low frequency RF.

"To the best of my knowledge, it is not a warm-up period. What is happening is that the RF generator is ramping up when engaged."
No, I don't think so, certainly not entirely. What is more likely happening is that it takes a bit of time for the ULF transmission to affect your brain waves into synch, to control your receptivity. If the ramp-up is gradual, then it is likely for the purpose of the best way to synch the generator and your brain.

Nor is the use of this effect the least bit original to Synerrgistic. It's been around before and single-frequency units can be bought for around $200 for a powerful whole-house unit and less for a portable from Less EMF in Albany last I looked in on their website, for just one instance, if they are still selling theirs but I did hear they were concerned about the medical implications of the devices. They are not an audio outfit, but other audio meant offers of similar products have been around. Generating ULF is fairly easy and not expensive, I have done it in a crude way in minutes on my workbench using junk parts and a function generator. Not to say that this device's controls and use of dual generators aren't far more sophisticated to get the range of effects described, this much is novel. But the cost of this vs. the selling price is entirely a different matter. While they can try justifying the price against the "originality of their execution", well, that CAN try, but they do not succeed, with at least me, and I am sure there are many others less hypnotized by the hype than the buyers of their wares.

What Synergistic has done is what they do best - make a wonderful profit based on their name and "talismanic" propaganda, to borrow Denney's own word describing the hypnotically hand-waving mesmerism. The effect of the Schumann resonance is to affect brain wave patterns to create a more receptive feeling during which music sounds better because YOU feel better. This is similar to what Synergistic's marketing does. They convince their audience that their products are worth that much money, so the buyers (into this) are more receptive and think that the music sounds better...enough to justify the cost while the sellers go smiling to the bank. Note I didn't say their products don't work. Only that their marketing sure does but will politely refrain from judging the buyers...As for the promoters...another matter, judge the emperor's tailors for yourselves.

Steven Plaskin's picture

I'll proudly stand by what I have written and experienced. Your comments present your true agenda which is to belittle Synergistic and anyone that enjoys their products.

But I suspect you will never bother to experience Atmosphere and have a legitimate opinion.

You applaud yourself and your abilities. Lets see if you can build a product like this with an iPad app that changes the perceived sound as predicted by Synergistic.

As for the price, impress us with your product at a substantially lower price. Find dealers and market it as well. After all, you are a very special guy.

I'll just chalk your comments up to a lot of hot air polluting the atmosphere.

gorkuz's picture

Just because you dare me to spend my time doing this does not mean I would be foolish enough to. Please get your taunt out of the High School locker room and lets be more adult. The size of yours or their success does not wow me. I looked into this type of effect years ago and concluded that there are too many medical risks to invest much time into it despite the pleasurable novelty of the effect. It has also occurred to me that there are also possible medical benefits to it such as controlling REM cycles intentionally for sleep problems that as best I can tell no one has hit on, but letting this loose largely unsupervised in this manner is not a good idea. This should be researched more deeply and not used frivolously. If Synergistic is willing to risk possible legal blow-back, well, that would fit well with their generally arrogant demeanor. Good luck to them, the risk may not be commercially lethal and I suppose they can afford a lot of insurance. I have other projects I consider of more interest and see no reason to get into this just to war with you. Sorry if I stung you with the title to my comments. But quite a few other comments also make it clear that my viewpoint is hardly singular in this regard and justified.

Should an opportunity to hear this present itself (likely at some point) I would not avoid doing so, but hardly because you don't think I would. I believe in checking everything out and judging by experience rather than predisposition. And yes, I have heard quite a few Synergistic products and found them not to my sonic tastes. I don't just dislike them for their demeanor. I clearly re-state that I did NOT say this would not work. Nor do I doubt what you experienced and wrote about. Why would I? I experienced the general effect years ago myself. I know it can work because I have already experienced this from both other products (the Acoustic Revive product for one spent a few days here) and duplicated the effect myself. And yes, this appears to be a more sophisticated version. Rather clearly I have NOT attacked the device as "bunk" as a few others have without even experiencing it. It is interesting but an artificial "mood enhancer". I prefer the more real satisfaction of getting my equipment and acoustics to actually sound better rather than employ electronic Xanax or something of the sort to induce a musically receptive trance state, and at possible risk over time.

The basic Schumann Effect is even used in the space station to help regulate the astronaut's health as they are outside of the natural field and our biology evolved within it. But they are not playing games with it to affect musical receptivity. ULF also has some rather dire effects at other frequencies as the research of Puharich, Lakhovsky, and others found. Tesla also touched on the subject. Mixing frequencies and tweaking them to tune your perception is something that will take protracted monitoring to assess. But it is known that leaving a single SR frequency a generator on for weeks on end goes from generating a pleasant feeling to general enervation and a feeling of malaise (but easily avoidable by, obviously, simply shutting the device off when not needed). This is not such a trivial thing to be playing with. We are already bathed in every frequency of RF daily in modern life. I'd as soon not add to that. But that is my preference. You do what you want, your smileage may vary. But don't do the "moose antlers and razz" "I double dare ya" juvenile bit, please. Not becoming and isn't going to draw me into any such contest.

And no, I'm certainly not going to buy any Synergistic products. Marketing based on mystery, magic and arrogance don't fly for me. And that's my prerogative to dislike, and I have stated so in , I believe, a reasonable fashion. Or does my opinion become unreasonable because you disagree?

Steven Plaskin's picture

Your opinion about Synergistic doesn't bother me. You are the one hurling insults at me. Don't buy it is just fine; really.

One gets very tired dealing with audio cowboys so quick to shoot down a product while having no experience with it.

"Or does my opinion become unreasonable because you disagree?"

You know that this is not the case or you would be blocked. You are looking for the argument. I gave it back to you the way you presented it to me.

You have no idea how much RF is emitted by this product or if it has a deleterious effect on one's health. Ted states that it is minimal. Prove him wrong.

Good bye.

gorkuz's picture

"You know that this is not the case or you would be blocked."

Yet, after I showed you that you did not even read what I wrote correctly, and after Bowdlerizing my first paragraph in the first commentary before that...You censored my last comment, following your "Your opinion about". Awkward to realize you are wrong?

Weak, Mr. Plaskin. And not a service to your readers.

I will leave you with a parting word, then, that perhaps only you will see, so long as you censored *my* good bye.

Remember the Tellig & Armor All debacle, should the health risks I warn of come to light. Or ask about it if that was before your time with Stereophile. Expect a deserved and public "I told you so"...

Michael Lavorgna's picture
"Censored"? You take yourself much more seriously than I do.
gorkuz's picture

Then why was my next to last and brief reply to Mr. Plaskin's dismissive "Your opinion about" consisting of pointing out a matter of fact and a matching good bye censored? It did not appear here.

To repeat that, what I stated was that I did *not* say there was a large amount of RF emitted. That is Mr. Plaskin's "cowboy" supposition. Please read what I actually wrote. Perhaps you are being dismissive without paying attention. Ted Denney is correct in saying that it is a "minimal", as in very small, amount. We are in agreement in that small regard so that is hardly needing proof otherwise - *as worded*. But the Earth's natural field is even smaller - measured in femtoWatts at any local point - yet biologically significant to our health! For this device to work, its field has only to be (slightly) stronger to swamp the natural field just strongly enough to artificially affect us. This is still, indeed, a very small field relative to most other RF fields we are bathed in every day, so such a claim can be truthfully made. But only if compared to something like, say, cell phones, which work in short, powerful, packet-condensed bursts, or most other common RF makers. And at very different frequencies. In at least my opinion, in question is a miniature field that may prove to not have miniature effects over time given that the even smaller natural field - of this specific character (and not even remotely the high frequencies of cell phones or most other RF emitters) - is biologically significant to us. Consequently, the "heads up", not to be confused with specific dire predictions triggering the seriousness with which you take yourselves.
It is a matter of relative significance.

Think about *that*, please.

Mr. Lavorgna, I have actually enjoyed what you have written in the past. But, sadly, all this has undermined my confidence in what I find here, from either of you. I.e. you will now be taking yourselves more seriously than I will.

Now, once again, should this actually reach the readers *this* time,

Good Bye. Good Luck.

Steven Plaskin's picture

Here is an interesting site touting the health benefits from devices that emit Schumann Resonance. They offer several generators for sale. Also, note the statement relating to sound depth to audio equipment.

I am posting this as a bit of fun and not a scientific endorsement of Atmosphere or its safety.

Since CES 2015, a number of reviewers have stated that they were impressed with Atmosphere and the quality of sound they heard at the Synergistic room at CES.

Do your own listening and arrive at your own conclusions.

Keremz's picture

Whenever theres a review of Synergistics products on any site, I see people saying that thay are " FAKE" , " SNAKEOIL" , " BS" etc etc. As a many year owner and user of different Synergistics products its my right to say the only BS, snakeoil, fake is the readers who have never used Synergistic products but only take it on themselves to make bad comments for the heck of it. Since you can try any of their products for a month for free, please go ahead and try them, then write your comments...or SHUT THE F... UP as you sound like little spoiled children. I believe Acoustic Arts works, so does the FEQ, HFT, Tranquity Base and the cables that I own. Just ordered PHT and looking forward to enjoying them too. If they dont work I will just send them back. But most likely they will remain with me unless a friend steals them after hearing their wonders. Please please be fair to everyone when critisizing them especially you have no idea of that product. Enjoy your music, thats all that matters at the end.

gorkuz's picture

Thank you for re-mentioning the Less EMF site, Mr. Plaskin, which I brought up in my very first post on this matter. Emil's a knowledgeable fellow about many things, particularly the interesting shielding materials I buy from him and deserves a mention. His version is very reasonably priced.

The Schumann Resonance is indeed natural and important to our health, my very point. But fooling with it UN-naturally is the very matter at point. I can only inform to try to open your eyes. The seeing is up to you. The hearing is not in contention, as stated.

And, Mr. “Karemz”, I reiterate that I did not use the terms “fake” and such nor said they do not work. I DID say I have tried them, in my listening room (and not just one), and did not like the sound, and that, sir, IS my prerogative to enjoy or not, as it is to criticize after having listened to them, WHICH I HAVE. If these are your “cup of tea”, then enjoy them, but perhaps you should follow your own advice and in the manner and tenor given when insisting that everyone including myself should after not having read what was written, or done so accurately. Apparently you are guilty of your own criticism and criticizing without reading what was written and sounding like a political commenter in the newsfeeds. Perhaps YOU should be more fair in YOUR criticism?

Note that the old adage “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” applies well here, where smoke is indeed being blown up our, ahem...…wallets. Or what did you think I was going to say? If that many responders have this opinion of Synergistics, maybe the smoke means something, eh?