Synergistic Tesla Series Interconnects and Speaker Cables

Equipment report
Synergistic Research Tesla Apex
Synergistic Tesla Series Interconnects and Speaker Cables

During a recent factory tour, Ted Denney, founder and chief designer of Synergistic Research, demonstrated the inspiration behind his new Tesla cable line. In a small “treatment” room off the factory floor, Denney unveiled a man-size Tesla Coil1–looking every bit the cinematic relic from Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory. After attaching a newly constructed, untreated interconnect to a stand and positioning the termination a foot or so from the coil Denney turned a couple dials and threw the switch. A discharge of two million crackling volts arced from the coil into the cable. “It’s alive!” I nearly screamed. Denney explained that this jolt of joules results in changes to the conductor at the subatomic level—an accelerated cable-conditioning process that he terms “Quantum Tunneling.” Hype? Actually, I had the opportunity to evaluate the process in a before/after listening session. The difference was not subtle; it was more of a, uh, jolt. After Quantum Tunneling, there was more dimensionality to the soundstage, and the venue’s acoustics were better articulated. As they say, “So far, so good.”

Over the last few months I’ve sampled a smorgasbord of Synergistic Tesla speaker wire and interconnects—the mid-priced Accelerator, the higher-priced Precision Reference, and the top-ofthe- line Apex.2 Each employs its own combination of PMC silver and silver matrix conductors and incorporates individual ratios of three Synergistic cable geometries, Vortex, Acoustic, and SR’s new Tricon—the last, a symmetrical conductor array that Denney states is not only the most complex arrangement Synergistic has undertaken but also the lowest in distortion and signal loss he’s ever measured. The cables are also equipped with fourth-generation Zero Capacitance Active Shielding, powered by individual Mini Power AC couplers and designed to suppress signal/cable interactions and reduce RFI and EMI.

As I ascended up the Tesla line I found common tonal characteristics consistent with earlier SR designs. Synergistic cables continue to exhibit the same warm midrange that tends to ground systems like a brick-and-mortar foundation. Extension at both extremes has always been excellent, but earlier Synergistic wire tended toward a more forward presentation that didn’t always allow the representation of space in a recording to fully express itself. The Tesla wires are much more sophisticated purveyors of soundstage information and dimensionality. Whenever I need to hear a powerful female voice purely recorded in an acoustic setting, I listen to a cappella singer Laurel Massé’s Feather And Bone. Most other wires3 tend to dampen the rich, reverberant information in this recording, invariably shrinking the scale of its Troy Savings Bank venue. Massé’s voice doesn’t bloom, and decay times seem to decrease. With the Tesla wires (post-treatment), venue spatiality grows in prominence and seems to cup itself around the singer in everwidening circles. Another factor that has improved with Accelerator but reaches its summit with Apex is the stillness between notes—the way in which the atmosphere in the hall is enhanced, as if you can feel the complex embrace of the surrounding architecture.

For the sake of bargain hunters everywhere, I’d like to say that the premiumpriced Apex was a disappointment. But, ironically, it might be the bargain of the bunch. As I see it, the sonic differences between Accelerator, Precision Reference, and Apex come down to a fluidity factor and a steady reduction of treble congestion. Apex retains all the transient speed of the two others, but also projects a softer and more open top end that allows the upper register of solo violin to really bloom [Bach, Kreisler, Water Lily]. When I listened to pianist Evgeny Kissin performing “The Lark” [RCA], the microdynamic gradations were more continuous with Apex, the chain of acoustic events held together with finer links. It’s this ephemeral sense of the cable “not being there” that distances the Apex from the others. Apex also finds depth relationships between instruments that lesser cables flatten. At its best, Apex creates a dimensional wrap-around effect during Mary Chapin-Carpenter’s “Closer and Closer Apart” [The Calling, Rounder]. Her vocal image sits more comfortably in the center pocket of the soundstage; the piano seems to loosen up and shed elements of electronic artifice. Both voice and piano communicate a feeling of their physicality and a sensation of the space and movement of air around them.

As always there is one caveat—amplification. The strengths of any fine wire cannot be fully appreciated unless the signal being generated is sufficiently resolved. Cabling can only refine; it cannot redefine, which is why reputable companies like Synergistic make themselves available to help match a listener’s system with the appropriate cabling.