Synergistic Research REL Spec Subwoofer Cables

Neil Gader

Reprinted from: The Absolute Sound, Issue 163, August 2006

As I was nearing the completion of the REL B3 review, Synergistic Research supplied me with its Phase II and Resolution Reference high-level subwoofer cables with REL compatible Neutrik terminations. They also included an A/C Master Coupler power cord. At this point I thought that I had comprehensively plumbed the limits of the B3’s performance envelope. Boy, was I wrong. What’s in a cable? Turns out , a lot.

Both cables and the power cord use Synergistic X2 Active Shielding. In its third generation, X2 is designed to suppress signal/cable interactions and reduce RFI and EMI. Synergistic describes it as a closed circuit system where the shield carries DC “with a buffer circuit between shielded and ground with separate conductors carrying ground signal”. beyond the outward differences in jacketing the Resolution Reference uses four parallel geometries ( two Active Silver Matrix conductors, two passive OFHC copper conductors); the Phase II reduces the conductors to one Active and one passive.

Bottom line? Each of them easily trumps the stock REL Neutrik—-which in comparison acts like a lease on a greyhound. The differences had all the subtly of being hit on the head with a crowbar. First there was a lowering of the noise floor that enhanced the sense of acoustic space. Images grew more finely focused as if shadowy doppelgangers had been purged from the soundstage. With either cable the B3 had been handed a new sharper tool to further excavate the lower reaches of a recording. The B3 began to uncover minute musical details that I didn’t know existed. Pipe organ cues became more distinctive. Resonance patterns of string bass more complex. The decay characteristics that define unique acoustic spaces were more easily followed. orchestral crescendos were clarified and focused. Sub/sat integration also improved—-not an easy trick to carry off with a performer as exceptional as the “stock” B3.

The AC Master Coupler Active power cord is more subtle in its contribution but significant in that, by providing an even quieter noise floor at the outset, it allows the Phase II or Reference cable to achieve greater gains in both dynamics and immediacy. On the crescendo of “Air” from The Thin Red Line the performance seemed to begin from a quieter place and build more gradually to a louder and more terrifying conclusion.

While the Phase II wire generates the most bang for the buck, I’d still opt for the Resolution Reference. I preferred the lengthier reverberation times, extended harmonics, and vise -like control. Depending on your tax return, the power cord would be icing on the cake.

I should point out the cold hard fact that the combined price of the power cord and cable costs about the same as the B3. On the other hand until I heard the Synergistic cable/cord combo never would have thought the B3 was holding anything back. My advice—-don’t audition the Synergistic wires unless you’re prepared to keep them. Because you will. TAS

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