Synergistic Research – Atmosphere Euphoria SX AC Cords & Speaker Cables by Bill Wells
As a frequent user of Synergistic Research (SR) cables, I received an invitation earlier this year from Andy Wiederspahn, Vice President of Operations at SR, Wiederspahn. He asked if I wanted to check out their newly updated Atmosphere Euphoria series AC cords and speaker cables. It didn’t take much nudging to inspire me to take him up on his offer. With this exciting review opportunity before me – I was anxious to get moving on this despite the already backlog of reviews on my plate. A few additional telephone conversations and an email or two, and soon I would have the required number of these updated cables to accommodate my system requirements.
Also, I had previously reviewed the earlier version of these excellent cables, which were still in my system (see my review – here), I was quite anxious to check out the latest version and make important observations and comparisons to the earlier version. Additionally – in my earlier review, I describe much of the technological innovation embedded in this series of cables and something that carries forward to the newer, upgraded series. Beyond this, rather than simply dropping in the newer, upgraded cables and making my observations, evaluations, and assessment, I felt it appropriate to hear directly from the source, Ted Denny, President and Technical Guru at Synergistic Research, about these changes. Specifically, I wanted to hear from him about what was behind this upgrade. Anyway, according to Denny – please see the direct statement taken directly from the Synergistic Research website:“Atmosphere SX takes this loom very close to Galileo SX and sets a new performance standard for cables at this price point. To transform Atmosphere cables, we started with technology first developed for our flagship SRX cable series, which won The Absolute Sound’s Cable of The Year Award for 2021. We also engineered some brand-new technology designed exclusively for Atmosphere SX. Ultimately, we have perfected a unique balance of sonic resolution in a massive soundstage with absolute tonal accuracy for effortless musicality thanks to the lowest noise floor of all prior Atmosphere generation.”
For the most part, that was a good overall grounding response. As my curiosity caused me to pursue it even further, I then shifted to conducting a series of discussions with Andy Wiedersphan, Vice President of Operations at Synergistic Research. Here are the questions and responses derived from those interviews:
Question: How long has the Atmosphere series of cables been in existence?
Response: Original Atmosphere series was released in 2014
Question: What was the specific inspiration (or need) to upgrade the original Atmosphere series cables to the SX level?
Response: We never stop developing and improving our products. At our core, we are an R&D company, and our goal is to create the best cable and accessories in the industry. During the development of our new flagship SRX cables, there was a significant amount of time spent improving our UEF Shielding and “Quantum Tunnel” procedures (1,000,000 volt treatment with our Tesla Coils) in addition to geometries, conductors, connectors, grounding, tuning modules, etc. This resulted in a UEF matrix shielding with new materials and application technics and a new long-duration, multi-frequency, high-voltage conditioning process that is a significant component of how we make SRX sound so good. So naturally, we began testing our other cable series with the new shielding and conditioning, including the Atmosphere SX series, new SR30 series, and Galileo Discovery series..
Question: Did the upgrade require a complete overhaul of the original design? Are older Atmosphere cables upgradable?
Response: The actual cable is not, but Atmosphere and Atmosphere X users can use Galileo SX tuning modules which are included with the new Atmosphere SX series.
Question: How much of a price differential was required to produce the newer Atmosphere SX series?
Response: Inflation has driven up production costs significantly over the last four years (since the last Atmosphere X series was released) and has affected the pricing. However, we pride ourselves on manufacturing products of value that far outperform their price point compared to our competition.
Question: What was the redesign attempting to accomplish sonically?
Response: The goal was to marry the sonic characteristics of the Atmosphere series with the improvements of the flagship SRX series cables. All SR cables, from the $399 SR30 cables to the $30,000 SRX series cables, share a similar “house sound .”A Large, 3-dimensional, enveloping soundstage; with great details and dynamics and a neutral tonal balance to give a life-like and natural presentation. As you go up the different series, you get more of each. By incorporating the technologies of the SRX series into the Atmosphere series, we were able to do that and bring Atmosphere SX closer to our ultimate performance than any Atmosphere series before.
Question: Why not simply design, and develop an entirely new cable?
Response: Well, it’s not that simple. Cables are a sum of many different parts and treatments. SR has been designing cables for 30 years since lead designer Ted Denney developed the world’s first Audiophile power cable in 1992. We have been experimenting with different metallurgies, dielectrics, shielding, connectors, and conditioning process ever since and continue to do so. Each of these parts can affect the characteristics of the cable as the next. Atmosphere SX began its development about 20 years ago as the Tesla series cables, then transitioned into the Element series, and is now the third generation of the Atmosphere series. As we discover new technologies and better ways to build cables, typically, when we experiment with ways to advance our flagship series, those advancements are tested and applied to other series. Usually, those advancements aren’t done at one time. Even when we develop a brand-new series of cables, like the Foundation series, with a conductor unlike any used in any other series at the time, they still share existing shielding and conditioning processes with many of the other series. Through the years, all the constituent parts have changed between Tesla Series and Atmosphere SX, but never all at once.
Question: Does the SX upgrade now take the Atmosphere to its ultimate level, or can there be additional improvements?
Response: We are always working on making our products even better, but only time will tell what new idea Ted Denney comes up with next. His ideas have been industry-leading as well as controversial to a small group but were only crazy until people and competitors had a chance to listen. In fact, many of the techniques we used 15-20 years ago, like active shielding and super-high voltage conductor treatments, are now used by many of our competitors. And we hope to continue pushing the envelope and developing new designs and technologies that will be adopted as an industry standard a decade from now.
Question: Please describe the function of the tuning bullets – their purpose and their effect.
Response: Many of our cables are designed with these interchangeable tuning modules that allow customers to tweak the sonic characteristics of the cables to match their system, music of choice, and subjective preferences. One module (silver) is more detailed and airy, while the other (gold) is more liquid. Start with the cables on your source and work down the chain to the speakers. The result is a custom, perfect match. No one piece of equipment sounds best to every audiophile, which is why we have these tuning options. And if a customer decides to get a new amplifier, source, or speakers, you can re-tune your cables to a bespoke match without buying an entire new loom of cables. For cables that do not have these tuning options (SR or any other brand), we recently released our Carbon Tuning Discs, which are placed directly on one end of your cables and give you the same tunability.
OK, time to move on and for me to share my direct observations regarding the impact of the newer SX power cords and speaker cables in my system. Keep in mind I already had the original Atmosphere Euphoria power cords and speaker cables in place and was quite familiar with their overall character, sonic attributes, and performance capabilities. To begin the process of comparing the new to the previous version – I first replaced the older power cords. I gave the newer power cords approximately 36 to 48 hours of continuous AC running through them. With no other changes in my system – my initial reaction to listening with just the newer SX power cords installed was somewhat surprising and generally quite positive. In fact – the difference wasn’t even close. Put another way, there was much more there and what I’ll simply refer to as a “jump factor.” Great start, and due to a hectic schedule, I followed my usual practice of leaving my system powered up and with the music signal running continuously over the next couple of days.
On Day three and after doing some intense listening, I could better appreciate the differences between the new SX power cords compared to the original series. These newer power cords were doing something special and well beyond anything I expected. The degree of slam and dynamic impact, including the quality (and quantity) of power in the bass region, come forth with a greater tactile feel. Along with this quality, there was now a noticeably blacker background resulting in improved transparency throughout the entire frequency band and allowing me to easily see/hear deeper into the music. Beyond this – with the newer SX power cords, there was a greater sense of presence to the music, with the music illuminated and excellent articulation. At this point, I found that switching from the silver tuning bullets to the gold enhanced my system’s overall balance and musicality.
At this point, my audio juices flowed freely, and I realized that I needed to install the new SX speaker cables to assess the newer Atmosphere Euphoria SX cable series. Also, based on earlier experience, the proper burn-in period required for the speaker cables would likely take appreciably longer than the power cables. So with that in mind, I replaced the original version of the Atmosphere speaker cables with the newer, upgraded SX version and then proceeded to run continuous music signal through them. Fortunately, due to a full schedule, this wasn’t an inconvenience. Over the next week of continuous music signal through the cables, I took periodic opportunities to check how things were progressing. Much to my delight, and after approximately three or four days, things sounded quite impressive. And at the end of a whole week of continuous burn-in, I felt the sound had improved even better and to a level where I felt comfortable with pursuing the type of assessment and evaluation needed.
Truth be told, I also observed that my system’s sonic performance seemed to settle down over the following several weeks. The sound came together with the full sonic improvement of the newer SX Atmosphere Euphoria power cords and speaker cables evident. Now, with me finally ready to engage and critically listen to my system, including the many different musical treats available to me – primarily through streaming, first up was one of my all-time favorite recordings – The Modern Jazz Quartet (The European Concert). The first selection cued up was the ever-popular Bag’s Groove. In this recording, you get a mix of wonderful, melodic music being performed by a group of highly accomplished musicians in an open concert venue and displaying engaging artistry. Obviously, the challenge for any high-end audio system is to capture, as best as possible via a recorded medium, the essence and reality of their live performance. Many years ago, when this group was actively touring throughout the U.S. and beyond, I had numerous opportunities to hear them live in concert and a variety of musical venues. I am quite familiar, both sonically and emotionally, with their music. Again, their rendition of Bag’s Groove is expressive and with a nice rhythmic pace. With these cables in place – being able to capture the sensation of their music was quite high. In fact, musical nuances were emerging from my speakers with these cables in a very life-like manner with lots of presence and, importantly, no brightness. Notes and tones from the piano, acoustic bass, and especially the vibraphone were also full of musical color, creating an exciting listening experience.
Switching to a more contemporary style of music, and nonetheless very expressive, was Boney James and Rick Braun’s version of the long-time classic favorite by jazz pianist Horace Silver titled Song For My Father. Throughout this saucy selection – these two artists create a palate of interwoven beautiful music with their respective horns. And although different than the original – it still captures the essence of what I believe Horace Silver intended to portray. Again – with the SR Atmosphere Euphoria power chords and speaker cables in place, nothing was left to the imagination. Again, music poured from my speakers with warmth, style, presence, and highly resolved sound as if I were literally in the room with the performers. I checked some of my other favorite R&B/jazz artists – including several vocalists. For me, and as much as I love various instruments such as piano, acoustic bass, saxophone, trumpet, and others, there is something magical about listening to the human voice singing. For example – listening to the intimacy and clarity of Kandace Springs singing her rendition of the classic song The Nearness of You from her album titled “The Women Who Raised Me” again demonstrates how the SR cables allow her voice to come through in a pure sweet natural manner.
Similarly, for R&B singer Kem on his wonderful selection titled Lonely, from his album “Love Always Wins,” including pianist Brian Culbertson on piano, the cables get out of the way and allow beautiful music to pour from my speakers. In this particular selection, there is quite a bit in the arrangement, including lots of intriguing subtle sounds that could be easily obscured. Kem’s voice comes through with natural beauty and expressiveness that is captured authentically.
Soundstaging and Harmonic Realism
Throughout my extensive listening and overall evaluation of the newer SR Atmosphere Euphoria cables – the precise image focus was quite noticeable. Along with this was a wonderful rendering of the entire soundstage with performers realistically portrayed for the type of recording venue where the album was produced. Significant differences and distinctions between studio and live recordings became readily apparent and enhanced my listening enjoyment. Along with this, I noticed the degree of harmonic realism experienced with these cables in place.
Beyond this attribute, issues around bass accuracy, extension, control, articulation, and dynamic realism were present in spades. Notably, these cables’ enhanced clarity, detail, openness, organic texture, and tonality were fine attributes throughout the critical midrange. In terms of the higher frequencies and overall dimensionality – these updated cables noticeably improved over their predecessors and added to the realism overall.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
Based on my experience, the newer Atmosphere Euphoria SX cable series improves upon the already outstanding series, not in any subtle way. These newer cables represent the evolving innovation and technological improvements from a company continually exploring ways to improve its current success. Importantly what this means to the user and devoted fan of their products is an opportunity to experience incremental improvements over time without needing to abandon your existing SR cables completely. Bottomline: Things keep improving, and from my experience with using various SR cable products, the increase in cost associated with these improvements typically represents a solid value proposition. And for those who might be new to SR and these cable products in particular – I believe you will be impressed—highly recommended.
Atmosphere Euphoria SX power cables:
Analog – $3,495.00, 5 ft; 8 ft. $4,395.00, $300 per additional ft.
High Current – $3,895.00, 5 ft., $4,870 8 ft., $325 per additional ft.
Both versions include a Black Active plus Gold and Silver passive tuning modules.
Atmosphere Euphoria SX speaker cables: $6,995.00, 4 to 6 ft; $7,495.00, 8 ft, $8,495.00, 10 ft; and, $500 per additional ft. Includes Gold and Silver passive tuning modules.
President: Ted Denny
Address: 11208 Young River Ave, Fountain Valley, CA 92708
Web Site: www.synergisticresearch.com
Bill’s Associated Equipment
Amplification & Digital Playback System
· Bel Canto Design – Black System: ASC2 Asynchronous Stream Controller (line stage/rendered) and MPS1 Power Stream units (monoblock amplifiers w/internal DACs)
· Tidal and Qobuz – Hi Rez streaming services
· Kharma Elegance DB-7 Signature
· BCD Dynamic/Horn hybrid
· Fiber Optic – interconnection links
· Cardas Clear Beyond XL – power and speaker cables
· Fidelium – speaker cables
· Kharma Elegance – speaker cables
· Synergistic Research – Atmosphere X Euphoria power and speaker cables
· Cardas Nautilus AC power strip
· Furtech NCF Nano AC receptacles
· Matrx Systems equipment rack
· Shakti Halographs
· Synergistic Research – FEQ Frequency Equalizer, Black Box, HFT’s and cable lifters
· Townsend Seismic Podiums and Isolation Pods
· Ultra Resolution Technologies – isolation base
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