Some three or four years ago I reviewed what remains the most complex and ingenious cable/power-conditioning system I’ve come across in forty years of audiophilia: Synergistic Research’s Galileo system. Sonically Galileo was the very model of a gorgeous-sounding, very low-noise, very high-resolution cable. Ergonomically, however, it proved to be a bit of a pain—at least it did for a reviewer like me who often switches gear. Ironically, the reason Galileo sounded great and the reason it was relatively fragile were one and the same: its unique architecture.
To refresh your memories, unlike virtually every other high-end interconnect/cable I can think of (save for flat ribbons) Galileo did not use a Litz-like structure of multiple insulated strands of wire twisted, braided, or woven together in a single bundle. Instead, it used individual “air strings”—separate, current-bearing, actively shielded, copper/silver alloy, pure silver, pure gold, or pure platinum conductors that were routed (via LEMO connectors) into and out of free-standing electromagnetic power-conditioning/active-shielding junction boxes (called “Active Mini EM Cells”) that themselves were plugged into “quantum tunneled” Mini Power Coupler power supplies (wall-wart-like devices that provided the DC current for the active shielding and EM power conditioning of the cells and the precious-metal “strings” attached to them).
Obviously Galileo involved a lot of connections and a lot of connectors (twenty separate LEMO plugs for a single set of interconnects). Alas, the more often you plugged these cables in and out of your system, the more physical stress you put on the connectors (and on the solder joints inside the EM junction boxes). When you added the effects of mass and gravity (if the equipment you were connecting to was mounted on a shelf, the wire dangling from the rear of the component would perforce be pulled down by the not-inconsiderable weight of the junction boxes) to so many joints, over time the interconnects and the junction boxes could develop intermittent shorts, making for a very pretty, very expensive, and utterly useless loom of silver, gold, and platinum wires.
Comes now the successor to Galileo, Galileo LE. And I’m delighted to report that the LE version gives you all the sonic virtues of the original in a much sturdier (though every bit as sophisticated and ingenious) package. I’m also delighted to report that LE costs about two-fifths of what Galileo did. That doesn’t make LE “affordable,” of course, but it does make it a lot less money than my other references—Crystal Cable Absolute Dream and Galileo père—and than many other reference-quality wires currently on the market.
Like Galileo Senior, Galileo LE is not just a series of similarly constructed interconnects, speaker cables, and power cords. It is an entire system of wire and power-conditioning products. The main physical differences between it and Galileo are structural. The principles behind both cables (e.g., active shielding, grounding, and tuning of the wire) remain the same, but where Galileo looked like an “exploded view” of a typical cable—with its separate air strings running between free-standing electromagnetic junction boxes—LE looks more like a conventional, braided, single-piece wire.
Looks, however, are deceptive. Each leg of LE interconnect actually comprises three to five individual, pure-silver air strings, each with its own air dielectric and grounding wire (three sets of these strings per interconnect for RCA connectors and five sets for XLRs). Although the strings are braided together into a bundle, each one functions independently and each one is separately hard-wired into and out of two carbon-fiber-encased EM Cells, which are now integral in-line parts of the cable rather than free-standing objects. When these EM Cells are powered by Synergistic’s wall-wart-like Mini Power Couplers (supplied with each cable), they perform the same function that the outboard EM Cells did with Galileo Senior—actively shielding, conditioning, grounding, and tuning the air strings for audibly lower noise and higher resolution and transparency.
I could spend pages dissecting the many new features of the Galileo LE system (including its Enigma Tuning Circuit which allows you to “voice” each cable/interconnect from warmer/darker to lighter/quicker to better suit your system, and Synergistic’s new Transporter Ultra SE power supply which, in concert with the PowerCell 10 SE Mk III power conditioner, provides a tidier, more centralized, and markedly lower-noise way of supplying the juice to the EM Cells built into Galileo LE cables, interconnects, and power cords), but I’d imagine that most of you are more interested in how the LE system sounds than how it works. And here the news is, as already noted, entirely positive.
In my current system, Galileo LE is as good as any cable I’ve heard at any price—which is to say it is among the most gorgeous-sounding and lifelike on the market, capable (with the right ancillaries) of a resolution of low-level detail that is unmatched in my previous listening experience.