Brand Synergy

What’s your thoughts on brand synergy?
20-30 years ago when I tried to persuade brand synergy I thought it very important but not anymore. Now my approach is more customised and brand synergy not important at all for me. Is brand synergy something more than just tech specs matching for you?
Good question.
Brand synergy goes well beyond specifications. House sound is a very highly refined concept to all major audio component companies. They carefully craft their equipment to be complementary and achieve a bery specific sound.

I have been working on my system for over fifty years, high end audio was actually fairly new back then. It was just being organized as a thing and not a DIY hobby. In that time my system was largely a heterogeneous collection of gear. Part of that was technology... a budding company (designer) creates an inspired component for which they got great reviews. You bought that one. Then the designer would create additional products to flesh out the line. Like Pass amps (Threshold). Then created a preamp and phonostage. So, if you were to put together a really high end system you had to pick and choose different companies components. As these companies grew they were able to put more resources into development and as such develop a house sound... MacIntosh, Conrad Johnson, Audio Research, Mark Levinson, Pass... etc. Some companies have a lot of synergy... like Audio Research, MacIntosh. Over time, greater synergy was created as all of a company components came in line with the same level of performance.

For most people speaker choice is a big deal. It can dictate amplification... that will lead to a different amplifier from the desired preamp. I originally chose a ribbon or electrostatic... and had to go with a powerful amp (I had no chance of affording an 250w ARC amp) but loved Audio Research preamps. So it pulled my brand choices apart.

Finally income. I could not choose anything I wanted and compromises were necessary. But over time my income grew. So did my understanding of what I wanted out of audio and I was able to select what I wanted and with a little luck stumbled into the synergy that was possible... with all Audio Research gear. It is astonishing how significant it is. If I was starting out now... no question in my mind the easiest way to get to your ideal audio system is to listen to a bunch of house brands, choose the house you want to be in, buy entry level, and upgrade as your income increases. Note: speakers and electronics are likely to be different companies.

I recommend that. But the one really big problem is that your values change over time as you learn and experience reproduced music. So, maybe my story of convergence is the most likely outcome of the pursuit but not the usual path to get there.
A note on crafting sound for the consumers.
One of the most interesting interview I read was with (I think it was this company) the lead designer from MBL... who explained that he can make a component sound like anything he wanted... you want warm and you use this brand of resistors, these capacitors, and this kind of winding... if you want detailed... you choose these. This company produces some of the best sounding stuff. So their top level equipment was designed for highly discerning consumers. But there was a limited number of them (with $30K+ per component), so he was designing components for a line that appealed to a different set of values (and smaller pocket book). So, crafting sound is way beyond specification... it is about crafting the character of the sound.
I always suspected that true master craftsman knew their craft to this level. This interview confirmed it. One other thing... the choices in electrical components was minuscule fifty years ago compared to now. I was lucky enough to work in high tech electronics for the last forty years for companies that made components incorporated in high end audio gear... the difference is astonishingly large.
So, if you were to put together a really high system you had to pick and choose different companies components.
Totally agreed on this one. I’ll say when you go by brand synergy pattern, you just rely on someone else tase and if you like it you like it, but if you want to experiment and create something original there is no reason to go by pattern. 

What is this synergy of which you speak? 

And when you're done with that one, What is PRAT?
I find that the best systems are mix and match to find the best components of their type around the great amp makers are not the best preamp makers for example.
I prefer brand synergy when it comes to the amp/preamp relationship. Other than those two components, mixing and matching is fine for me.

Speaker manufactures I know "voice" their speakers usually to amps that have no problems driving the load of any speaker, and won’t act like tone controls. This way they know the amp is staying flat and neutral so the voicing of their speakers will match as many amps as possible.

You’d be nuts to voice a hard to drive speaker to say a SET amp with little feedback, because it would sound terrible then on amps that have great control. They’d only do that if they supply the amp and speaker as a package. Then that could be categorized as Brand Synergy, like below did between two makers that "were" in bed together at the time

Like Linn/Naim used to do with Linn Isobaric’s and Naim 250’s. Put a Krell on Isobaricis and then they had no bass. As the Naim 250 didn’t have very good damping factor and this blew out the bass a little, but was perfect match for the overdamped design of the Linn Isobaric’s.
A very good marketing ploy way back then in the 70’s 80’s, they sold stacks of that pairing.

Cheers George
millercarbon8,880 posts04-25-2021 3:39amWhat is this synergy of which you speak?

And when you're done with that one, What is PRAT?

Maybe definitions might be helpful.

Synergy is behavior of a system that cannot be predicted.

Prat (BRITISH Slang) is an incompetent or stupid person; an idiot.

I'd conclude that Synergy is when something performs differently to what its measurements might suggest and PRAT originally referred to a person's buttocks, so when you call someone a prat, you're also calling them an arse.

Maybe we can combine the two, so when you rely on science and ignore synergy, you're a prat.
I think glupson hit the nail on the head!

If you have separate amp and preamp the same brand can provide synergy from one remote...other wise I believe beauty is in the ear of the listen who paid for the equipment.
Losing a preamp entirely works for me, only amp driving what becomes the major issues.
Unless one would prefer to consider ones' computer standing in as pre...

Back in the day, Linn was all about synergy between their products.  If I remember correctly their products did work better together as they were designed that way.  Not sure is any other manufacturers designed their components that way.  Today, I doubt that you need to keep with one brand to build your system.

Happy Listening.
If Brand Synergy is being about to use one remote then just buy a universal remote?
@surfmuzI “If Brand Synergy is being about to use one remote then just buy a universal remote?“

Good one!
Single brand is not a requirement but an advantage. I think it is now more relevant than ever before. Very definitely true for the larger high end audio companies like Audio Research, McIntosh, and Conrad Johnson. I’m sure others as well.
:) not sure if universal remotes will work equally with any component, specially with high end tubed staff !?
The only brand synergy I know is that the face plates look the same. I never had a sonic improvement by matching a single manufacturers gear, quite the opposite in fact. 
+1 here.
and even more, some gear manufacturers comes out with a bold statements like for example “Great British Sound” in form of a sign on the face plates. Honestly, I don’t give a clue how they determinate this.
It can't hurt! Personally, I like to do it; I've got an MSB power amp, DAC/preamp, and Universal Disc Player, and Herron Audio phono stage and line stage preamps...
What is this synergy of which you speak?
For example the PS Audio BHK 250 power amp sounds good using a Direct Stream DAC. However it is significantly better with the BHK Signature Pre.
After that was discovered, further testing with three other DACs (one was the Denafrips Terminator DAC, the others not sold in USA) confirmed that the PS Audio BHK 250 was markedly better sounding to all of us at the meeting with the BHK Pre in the system.
Incidentally the Terminator was the best sounding, beating the Gieseler by a small margin and then by a larger margin the PS Audio DirectStream and another (I can’t recall the name) DAC was last.

The System was powered through a PS Audio PerfectWave PowerPlant 5.
The PowerPlant 5 was not removed from the system during testing.

We were confused, as the DACs used all have volume attenuaters built in, the idea of removing the pre amp made sense, in that by removing both an IC between components and simplifying the system it aught to remove noise.

We were not just a little surprised to discover the dependency of the BHK250 for superior sound reproduction, requiring the Signature Preamplifier. Simplification of a system, using highly resolving technologies, usually resulted in positive bump, and more often than not, more engaging sound qualities.

That Pre really made a significant difference, to the point that I wouldn’t invest in the BHK250 without it. I did purchase something else because I couldn’t afford both at the time of my amplifier upgrade.
@surfmuz - My CXUHD 4K Blu-ray player has a “Great British Sound” sticker that I didn't bother removing, however it generates a great picture :-)

i also have one (the CXU) nothing against it. Very good player, superb universal machine, but I still keep wandering what the heck is that British Sound. :)
I’m not so sure about that PS Audio synergy supremacy. I had a chance to break up that synergy and squeeze in two different preamps instead Signature in BHK250/BHK Signature combo and both of them outperform Signature. One was Modwright LS 36.5 and the other was Cary Audio SLP-05.