I hesitate to do this, but what the heck.
After several months of DIY construction and consultation with an LA-area HT installation and design company whose direct services I couldn't afford, the room was finally finished in late June. There were lots of misadventures along the way as original construction surprises cropped up with regularity. We rethought the design at least five times.
The entire project, I was disciplined enough to keep all the Synthesis® gear in the original boxes. Even though I'd gone all the way to Tennessee to audition the system, the many negative comments here had worked to produce in me a sense of FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) over the intervening period.
The designer had spec'd where to put the absorbers, diffusers, bass traps, surrounds, etc. He had me build a proscenium so all three mains would be at identical height and distance. He had me install two dedicated 20A circuits, run the speaker cables in the walls and away from all power, etc., spec'd the racks and closet location. He talked me into buying a Stewart Luxus Deluxe StudioTek 130 microperf screen so the center was behind it.
Then he came to do the rack equipment install, and I finally took everything out of the boxes. It was exciting of course, and when we finally fired it up, I was wowed by how good it sounded out of the box. That was more of a testament to the room, which had really taken on quite an attractive, audible shift in quality as the treatments went up. I remember thinking that my room "sounded" better than the demo room I had listened in, which had sounded hard and very live the moment I walked into it.
A week later the JBL Synthesis® calibration took place, eight hours or so of mind-numbing noise as everything was checked, re-checked, then checked again. It was interesting to see the curves change as the proprietary DACS unit did its job under the control of a guy who had set up rooms all over the US and Europe. Then it was all uploaded to the SDEC.
When he ran sound checks with real music, I was almost misty eyed as I heard how much, how wonderfully it had improved. Sure, a lot of it was subjective wish fulfillment, but I also had the screen shots of the before, during, and after curves for each individual speaker and the system as a whole as proof of what had transpired.
As a rule I have not and do not like horn-based designs very much. Yet, I've got horns across the front, and they are simply amazing. They don't sound like horns; they don't sound like direct radiators (or ribbons, or 'stats, or planes); they sound like music.
For those who were concerned that I had purchased a system they didn't like, perhaps based on their outdated experience, I can reassure you, it's the best hi-fi $$$ I've ever invested. For those who wonder if JBL Synthesis® is a legitimate option, my answer is obvious: yes. For me, it was the best option of all I heard, and the end result was even more than I expected.
Even if some folks want to continue to downplay JBL synthesis® and feel that my deliberate choice was poor, perhaps we can all agree on three things to get the most out of a higher end system:
1) You need a properly prepared and treated room. If you can't afford to have it done professionally, at least pay for a good consultant, and do what he tells you.
2) You need great equipment that meets your intended and anticipated uses. Focus on your needs rather than overly depending on the opinions, often compelling, of others whose needs may not reflect yours.
3) You need a great calibration. For most of us, this means paying a pro.