Loudspeaker Cable Survey

Synergistic Research Alpha Quad Active

Neil Gader

Reprinted From: The Absolute Sound, Issue 146, February/March 2004

The Alpha Quad Active was the rock ‘n’ roller of this bunch. Described as “Active Shielding,” it uses a plug-in module whereby DC voltage bias is applied to the shielding (outside the signal path), effectively buffering out EMI and RF before they can enter the ground circuit. The result is a splashy, high-energy cable that’s fast and unreservedly dynamic and detailed. On Green Day’s “Basket Case” [Dookie, Reprise] the vocals had a presence that sliced right through the mix like an X-Acto. It didn’t have the darker woodiness of the Siltech or the dense bass response of the Harmonic Technology, rather with its smidgen added brilliance in the treble the Synergistic suggested a blonder hardwood that was quick to respond to the percussionist’s touch. The Alpha consistently felt like it was driving the beat forward, as if it fed on the excitement and tempo. Imaging was uncanny. Transient information possessed surgically-clean edge detail although on some recordings this impression came off as being a bit dry or clinical - violins sounded as if there were a little more rosin on the bow. This led to crescendos during ‘Appalachian Spring’ [NY Philharmonic / Bernstein, Sony Classical] that felt a little tonally constricted in the upper harmonic region. Male singers like Tom Waits or Mark Knopfler were a little less chesty than with the reference Nordost but the low-level resolving power on percussion minutia was addicting. And soundstagin was palpably dimensional with superior depth. Generally I found the Active Shielding feature a subtle but indisputable enhancement in my listening room. It was in the area of detail and three-dimensionality that the active component seemed to shine the most - especially from the better orchestral recordings, which have a good balance of direct and reverberant sound to begin with. The blue LED power light near the terminations looks really cool back-lighting your speakers, too.

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