Folks, if you choose the “Amplified” base scene (with the Atmosphere XL4 and the Red ATM it is designed for) and play back a rock recording, you will get precisely the sonic attributes that Denney says you’ll get: Tighter, punchier low end, greater midrange presence (along with tighter image focus), and a treble with increased sparkle and shimmer but without excessive bite. Moreover, if you dial in “Crunchie” from the “advanced settings” sub-menu you will, indeed, get sharper leading-edge transients on guitar, cymbal, snare, and greater impact on bass and kickdrum within a more intimate soundspace, as if you were listening up close in a rock club. If you dial in “Stadium,” you will get the same base-scene virtues within a much more expansive soundspace, as if you were sitting at a greater distance in an arena.
Working independently of and in conjunction with the Atmosphere/ATM system are so-called “UEF”—don’t ask me what this initialism stands for—panels (rectangular frames with black panes coated with a paint that is said to react to sound) and UEF dots (round constrained-layer-like wafers that are also sound sensitive), both of which you white-tac to your walls. (Synergistic supplies instructions on where to locate each of these devices in your room.) If you’re lucky enough to own Synergistics’ superb Galileo UEF wire—which I will review in our upcoming Cable and Interconnect issue—this same technology is built into them, as well. (You can also add Synergistic’s HFTs—tiny thimble-like objects that act like miniature Helmholtz radiators—to your UEF system.) The UEF panels and dots have much the same effect as Holger Stein’s Harmonizers, which is to say they seemingly expand room boundaries, creating a larger, less confused, more neutral and transparent soundfield in which loudspeakers better disappear. When the UEF devices are used with the Atmosphere/ATM system, the disappearing act of both room and speakers is kind of amazing.
Even though parts of the Atmosphere/ATM/UEF/HFT system may sound voodooish, these things work, making smaller rooms sound like larger ones and making big multiway speakers disappear in them like two-way mini-monitors. Moreover, the Atmosphere/ATM devices give you options that no other analog room treatments I’ve played with can offer: the ability to change acoustics to fit both the music and the venue it was played in. Indeed, in conjunction with Synergistic’s UEF/HFT devices, the Atmosphere/ATM system is so predictably, astonishingly, and completely adept at this, it raises an interesting question: Do you really want to “superimpose” a predetermined acoustic and ambient pattern on each and every piece of music you listen to? Isn’t this a little like passively re-engineering your recordings?
Maybe, it is. That said, Synergistic offers “base scene” choices that are fundamentally source-neutral, and I, for one, wouldn’t want to do without the lowering of noise and the subsequent clarity, definition, and boundary expansion that are part and parcel of the Atmosphere/ATM/UEF/HFT experience.
In sum, most highly recommended (even if I can’t explain it)—indeed, so highly recommended the Atmosphere/UEF/HFT system.
Specs & Pricing
Type: Active and passive room treatments
Price: Atmosphere XL4, $3495 (includes ATMs); UEF Panels, $549 (4-pack); UEF Acoustic Dots, $195 (5-pack); HFTs, $299 (5-pack)
JV’s Reference Systems
Loudspeakers: Magico M Project, Magico M3, Raidho D-1, Zellaton Reference Mk II, Avantgarde Zero 1, MartinLogan CLX, Magnepan .7, Magnepan 1.7, Magnepan 30.7
Subwoofers: JL Audio Gotham (pair), Magico QSub 15 (pair)
Linestage preamps: Soulution 725, Constellation Altair II, Siltech SAGA System C1, Air Tight ATE-2001 Reference
Phonostage preamps: Soulution 755, Constellation Perseus, Audio Consulting Silver Rock Toroidal, Innovative Cohesion Engineering Raptor
Power amplifiers: Soulution 711, Constellation Hercules II Stereo, Air Tight 3211, Air Tight ATM-2001, Zanden Audio Systems Model 9600, Siltech SAGA System V1/P1, Odyssey Audio Stratos
Analog sources: Acoustic Signature Invictus/T-9000, Walker Audio Proscenium Black Diamond Mk V, TW Acustic Black Knight/TW Raven 10.5, Continuum Audio Labs Obsidian with Viper tonearm, AMG Viella 12
Tape deck: United Home Audio Ultimate 1 OPS
Phono cartridges: Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement, Air Tight Opus 1, Ortofon MC Anna, Ortofon MC A90
Digital sources: Berkeley Alpha DAC 2, MSB The Reference DAC, Le Son
Cables and interconnects: Crystal Cable Absolute Dream, Synergistic Research Galileo UEF, Ansuz Acoustics Diamond
Power cords: Crystal Cable Absolute Dream, Synergistic Research Galileo UEF, Ansuz Acoustics Diamond
Power conditioner: Synergistic Research Galileo LE, Technical Brain
Support systems: Critical Mass Systems MAXXUM and QXK equipment racks and amp stands
Room treatments: Stein Music H2 Harmonizer system, Synergistic Research UEF Acoustic Panels/Atmosphere XL4/UEF Acoustic Dot system, Synergistic Research ART system, Shakti Hallographs (6), Zanden Acoustic panels, A/V Room Services Metu acoustic panels and traps, ASC Tube Traps
Accessories: Symposium Isis and Ultra equipment platforms, Symposium Rollerblocks and Fat Padz, Walker Prologue Reference equipment and amp stands, Walker Valid Points and Resonance Control discs, Clearaudio Double Matrix Professional Sonic record cleaner, Synergistic Research RED Quantum fuses, HiFi-Tuning silver/gold fuses