Addictive!

Gavin Isaacs

This review never started as a review. In fact I would prefer if it were interpreted as an experience rather than a ‘review’. I called up Henk Botha, of Tweak Music & Film Systems, and asked, ‘What speaker cable are you using with your Wilsons?’, Henk replied, ‘I’m going to send you something, no questions, listen for a few days, and we will talk.’

The next day a Synergistic Research box arrived on my office desk. I took a look. A 3m stereo pair of speaker cables, the diameter of a traditional hosepipe, quietly sat in the box. A white mesh-type material encased the precious intertwined cable, with its active shielding connection tails on the ends.

The cables were installed, with relative ease, as I found them quite easy to work with. The active shields were connected to their power supplies. When powered up via separate power supplies, the cables’ blue LEDs situated at the amplifier end of the cable shine bright. Then I left the cables to settle.

The Active Shielding cable program began in 1996. Synergistic’s first step in designing a cable to complement a target system was to develop a geometry that complements that system at an engineering level. For seven years Synergistic worked with hundreds of passive cable geometries and over a thousand different material variations. During this time Synergistic realized that passive geometry and material selection could take them only so far, as they were limited by signal and cable interaction.

So following lots of experimentation with active cables, Synergistic found that by using closed circuits (where the shield carried a DC current with a buffer circuit between shield and ground with separate conductors carrying the ground signal) in the design, this not only improved subjective performance, but also made the cables measurably quieter, thus improving detail with greater frequency extension. An AC to DC power supply is used to provide current for the active shielding. Synergistic is now in its third generation of active shielding cables.

I have been aware of the inherent weakness in my system, the five year old speaker cable that I had been using on and off was never optimal. Acceptable yes, but it had its restrictions, and I knew it had to go. I have been lucky in that I have been exposed to many cables at all price points. Giving me the opportunity to hear what many different brands and models sound like on my beloved Wilson WATT/PUPPY Vs.

I am always cautious when I write about cable. It can be a very system dependent component. Bear that in mind, listen to various options and listen to your dealer; he will know what combinations work best. Then listen some more.

As this cable had been run in, I began listening for several hours after I installed it. I sat down, pushed play and began listening to whatever was in the CD transport. It was Jamie Cullum, I listened and listened. Then I put in Mary Black, I listened and listened. I listened to Verdi’s La Traviata, Vivaldi Cello Concerto and John Meyer. Then I went to sleep.

I called Henk the next day, ‘It’s got silver in it hey! It’s remarkable. I’ve never heard anything quite like it.’

The FX does have silver in it. It also does not sound like any silver cable I have ever heard. Its conductor is a silver matrix - Synergistic says no more about what this means. All their active shielded cables are formed by hand, allowing the extra steps to insure state-of-the-art performance. This also allows for all conductor spools to be listened to, allowing for correct signal direction to be determined as well as being able to reject batches that fail to meet production standards. If these cables were made on mass production, this quality control would not be possible.

The music my system reproduced through the Wilsons was unlike anything I can remember ever hearing before. Not that I was listening for anything in particular. It was that it sounded so fresh, so alive. As if only the finest ingredients had been used in the masterpiece of sound. There was no noise (or a huge amount less), more transparency, and a bigger soundstage.

But that was not what made the experience so incredible; it was that the sound was simply so real. Not forward, nor over detailed. Frequency extremes were far more graceful; the bass tightened, and got fuller, but did not compromise the midrange.

I kept listening, and had to go back just to be sure that the impression the music was making was not a once off. With each listening I was able to confirm the consistency of performance. I also tried the cable on a pair of Revel M22s. Same result.

This cable is remarkable. It gave me so much enjoyment and pleasure, musicality and palpability. Its presentation of detail is delicate, focused, and live. It completely balances the soundstage. The midrange timbres are honest, dynamic and buoyant. The bass as I mentioned is tighter and fuller, but not warm and bloated. It is amazing how commercial recordings I always thought had an abundance of bass dialed into the recording process, now sound pretty good. Who knew?

This is an extremely honest and real cable. I found it neutral. Very little if any coloration. No attenuation of the frequency spectrums. But best of all it is so rewarding to listen to music. It provided hours of joy and pleasure.

This is a cable that everyone interested in audio has a duty to listen to. Not to do so, is depriving yourself of a truly outstanding experience. I have been blown away by this cable, and thank it for giving me so much more musical enjoyment.

Verdict: Absolutely incredible. This is definitely a benchmark in cable design. A must have!

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