Those who read my review of the REL Britannia B3 subwoofer (Issue 163) may recall my impressions of the REL Spec Synergistic Research Resolution Reference subwoofer cable and Master Coupler power cord. They boosted the performance of a subwoofer that had already raised the bar pretty high. My advice at the time was, “…don’t audition the Synergistic wires unless you’re prepared to keep them. Because you will.”
When the crew at Synergistic called about a new wire for me to listen to, I was all ears. The new line is called Tesla, and when the rollout is complete it will include seven models of interconnect and speaker wires. Interconnects will start with the Active Sterling at $450 per meter pair and extend to the $3000 Apex. Speaker cables begin with the entry-level Alpha Quad Active, $450 per 8-foot pair and range up to—what else?— the $4500 Apex.
Key details of Tesla’s Tricon Lens geometry and construction were not available at press time, but the cables are far less bulky than I’ve come to expect from Synergistic’s premium wire. That they are more manageable should come as a relief for those attempting to maneuver in the tight spaces behind equipment racks. Most Tesla models will incorporate Zero Capacitance Active Shielding, a further advancement over the third generation X2 Active Shielding used with the REL sub cable. The system is powered by individual Mini Power couplers and designed to suppress signal/cable interactions and reduce RFI and EMI.
I listened to the Tesla Precision Reference cables, and fresh out of the box they performed with a liveliness and speed that engaged my attention. Guitar and percussion transients snapped with energy, and the leading edge of solo piano seemed more connected to the player, as if you could hear the touch behind each note. But most noticeable was the wide and incredibly deep soundstage.
Tesla also establishes a rigid low-frequency foundation, enriched with details of timbre and pitch. It was especially persuasive reproducing Steely Dan’s “Babylon Sisters” from Gaucho [MCA], with its ultra-tight rhythm section and stinging percussion accenting. On the other hand, the speaker cable hasn’t fully opened up and lacks the easy bloom and harmonic sweetness that should top a Norah Jones vocal and the upper octaves of her piano. As of now, it’s the interconnect that seems more open, expressive, and dynamically colorful. During Mary Chapin-Carpenter’s “Quittin’ Time,” from Party Doll [Columbia], it focuses the background harmonies more tightly and resolves a gentle piano solo more succinctly. Chapin-Carpenter’s vocal sounds ripe, as if she’d taken a slightly deeper breath before every phrase. Clearly burn-in remains a factor, as the wires seem to continue evolving in the treble region. But given the manner in which it has established its low-frequency credentials and penchant for soundstage dimensionality, Tesla’s performance is showing flashes of greatness. TAS