About synergy?

Many audiophiles believe in using cables and electronics as corrective devices. The other side thinks keep all your equipment with the same sonic flavor, otherwise you will more then likely end up with an audible mess. Some even think it's a given to match your source(cartridge/cd player)with the same sonics of your speakers. I stray slightly to the same sonics camp, but i'm very curious what others have to say about synergy.
The definition of synergy is that the sum is greater than the individual parts. The sum is undefined, making synergy something of an irrelevant term in audio.

That being the case, and more relevant, is each person tries to build a system that is pleasing to them. Similarly, each piece of equipment is designed with some sonic signature that is pleasing to the designer, given nothing is perfect. Of course, interactions among components come into play, which is beyond the control of individual designers. So you have a choice, either find a designer/brand that matches your tastes, or mix and match until you come up with something you like.

Again, the sum, or perfection is undefinable, therefore different for each person. So synergy as you have defined it really has no useful meaning.

If you are talking about mixing and matching to compensate for unappealing designs, I'm curious why someone would do such a thing. Why not just pick components you actually like, following basic principles like impedance matching, efficiency etc?
There are so many variables in audio all interacting at the same time (including the interaction of the acoustic space (which can negate synergy of same brand mentality), that its a bit like a multitude of drugs interacting within the body ( substitute the body for the acoustic space). That's why high end audio is a crap shoot, an endless fascination/frustration that keeps most of us going in this hobby.
I'm not clear on the question , but if the OP is asking if same brand same sonic signature is a way to obtain audio nirvana , the answer is likely no for most of us . If a preamp has a warm sonic signature than the last thing we need is a same brand power amp that is also on the warm side . Two warms don't make a right .
I have owned matching electronic's from Levinson , Audio Research and Ayre , all great stuff but all imparted there own house sound on the music . A variation with one major component can make it very difficult to hear that all to distinctive sonic signature . And it's never a crap shoot unless you purchase equipment without hearing it at length in your system .
Around these parts we use synergy to describe what you have, as all pieces in a system working together for a harmonious fit. Such as a speaker and amp working together (synergy) or that combo working well in a particular room ( synergy) or a cartridge working well with a particular phono stage... Etc...
Once you're aware of such systems, you'll know from then on if something is working synergistically or not. Well, some people seem to catch on!
Synergy is sexual attraction between strangers; oh, wait, that's chemistry! ;)

Frankly, I'm not terribly impressed by the definition of synergy as a fortuitous assemblage of gear. My definition of synergy is more stringent, that being components which have been voiced together. This demands there be a design/electronic basis for the superior performance of the components.

I write about this in some my reviews such as that of the Coda CS Amplifier (at Dagogo.com).

There seems in the OP to be the suggestion that cables are a solution versus system matching of components. That would be erroneous; one must pay attention to cables as well as component matching. Cables will either be a boon to the system - call them corrective devices if you wish - or deleterious to it, so choose wisely. :)
As and avid audiophile for the past 35+ years and a current audio reviewer for the Stereo Times my feeling is that I can almost always get a better result by mixing and matching components for the best synergistic blend. Believe me I've played with loads of all kinds of gear over the decades and this has always been the case.

For example, when I used the VTL TL-2.5 preamp with the VTL ST-85 amplifier I found two amps that I liked better with the 2.5. And when I cable a system I've never used all the same cables (maybe brand, but definitely mixed the models for optimal results).

Although there have been times when I've used the same company's amp and preamp, or DAC and integrated amp with very satisfying results.

That said, I don't think I've ever stayed with a system where all the components (including the speakers) were from the same manufacturer. YMMV.
I have to say that to me synergy may be rather hard to quantify. For example, I have a Deja Vu Audio amp that I love. A while back I managed to pick up a used Deja Vu audio preamp at a great price and when I added it to my system the sound improved. But was it greater synergy? Or just a better preamp? Or perhaps a bit of both? So my advice is to experiment, and when you arrive at a sound you really like stay there. I have for about five years now and I find I am as happy as ever with my sound, especially after a recent retubing and cap upgrade, and I have I'm sure saved much money and stress getting off the upgrade train. Of course that train was much fun for many years, so ymmv. Good luck and happy listening though!
Yeah, I am the one who thinks that cartridge should be matched to speakers in addition to tonearm and phono stage. But it is a different kind of match, perhaps even more complex and subjective. And it doesn't mean necessarily that basic sound signature of the cartridge and of the speakers should be very similar. Depends very much on preference and music taste.
I generally agree that the best synergy can be achieved by mixing different brands though I try to stay with the same cable brand with the exception of power cords.
I'm really starting to hate that term, "synergy" as applied to audio. Misused subjectively. Prefer compatible and/or complimentary.
as has been said, it seems serious hobbyists have one goal:

achieving an optimal sound?

however, what is optimal for one may not be optimal for another.

there are constraints of budget and room, for example. there are many ways to achieve a desired result.

the important thing is to be aware of what you want. too many have no clue what they want, so the result is continual replacement of components.

decide what it is that pleases you and then figure out how to get there.

there is no road map. you're on your own. just listen, listen , listen, and learn.
10-23-11: Ngjockey
I'm really starting to hate that term, "synergy" as applied to audio. Misused subjectively. Prefer compatible and/or complimentary.
None of the approaches you list are sufficient alone to assure good results.

Its all about the synergy and how each piece interacts as part of the whole to deliver the final results. Infinite ways to accomplish this. Never simple, unless you happen to get lucky. That's just the way it is if you are one that must achieve a particular sound.

Being smart about it and doing the homework needed to understand what you are doing is the one required element regardless of what final mix of stuff you end up with.

There are some design best practices that can be applied to help deliver optimal results faster, but that is a topic for another thread perhaps.
I guess if I read these post long enough, someone will actually use the word MUSIC in a response.
Rok2id, it seems that most of your posts are of a negative tone, and I was wondering why you even waste your time reading, and commenting on them? Seems to me that you would be better off just listening to your music instead of worrying what others are doing. I know that's what I'm about to do. I'm just tired of reading garbage posted by inexperienced fools, of which I may be one.
I'm done reading and posting in these forums now, so I guess I'll always wonder...

I want to thank everyone who may have helped me get to where I am with my system. It's been mostly fun.
'I'm just tired of reading garbage posted by inexperienced fools'

Well don't leave on my account. Seriously. I'll go instead. After all, I am the interloper. It's a great site for some people, just not for me. But I am not an inexperienced fool. I have a lot of experience at being a fool.
I once visited an audiophile who had all the right equipment, but was not getting the Class A sound he should have been getting. The only thing that I saw was his patchwork assortment of interconnects, all good but different.

With so many different philosophies by the cable companies in regard to interconnects, many different kinds has to be a bad thing. Imagine traveling on a different kind of highway every ten miles. I'm a firm believer of consistent interconnects.

Synergy is when the sum of the parts is greater than the whole, which has been a matter of luck for me; but if someone has the knowledge to put it together intentionally, they will get big bang for the buck.
Rok2id, have you thought of seeing a psychiatrist?
Not to derail the thread completely.... But I tend to agree with many postings on here, about being uninformed. And just plain crazy.
Hang out with some hobbyists at a shop sometime-- it will floor you what can come out of their mouths...

I've been snippy in my posts sometimes as well--- the absurd ideas just need to be silenced...and by more intelligent folks than I. I don't know why I post sometimes...

For example , a guy, obviously mismatching gear, called the new Rega Brio bright... Which it is far from... Or someone questioned the quality of the new Rega DAC's RCA jacks... They're standard... What does he want? Fancy wbt's on a $995 unit?

Anyway, I love to hear a "synergistic" system, whether it means all the same manufacturer, like an all naim or rega system, or pieced together making informed decisions on what works best together in a room...

From the Greek--- "working together"..

Now split hairs and stroke yourselves all you want.
Since this thread appears derailed I will try to get it back on track. Even if you hate the term synergy, realize it's the most important task when assembling a HEA system. I believe this topic deserves further discussion(not name calling). Thanx for the previous posts, many have been very interesting and informative.
Since this question is related to synergy I thought might as well open an older thread instead of creating a new one. Will you get synergy using two of the same premier power cords plugged into a dedicated line when lesser cords are used on source equipment? One cord is plugged into an amp, the other to a non filtering power strip.
I'll go out on a limb and say that any real improvement to quality of power should always result in positive improvements in sound quality, so it is one tweak that is more about optimizing performance in general and less about synergy. If an improvement in quality of power produces negative results, then I would look elsewhere for another aspect of the system that is not up to snuff perhaps. Synergy may come more back into play at that point.