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Power conditioner + power cords
Synergistic Research
Tesla PowerCell 10SE MkIII +
Element C•T•S Analogue Power +
Element C•T•S Digital Power

Price (in Poland): 29 620 +13 500 zł/1,5 m + 14 370 zł/1,5 m

Manufacturer: Synergistic Research Inc.

Contact: 17401 Armstrong Avenue | Suite 102
Irvine, CA 92614 | USA

Manufacturer’s website

Country of origin: USA

Text: Wojciech Pacuła | Photos: Wojciech Pacuła
Translation: Andrzej Dziadowiec

Published: 2. March 2013, No. 106

There are many cable manufacturers and probably each one of them offers not only interconnects and speaker cables but also power cords. Some of them also add power conditioners to their line-up. The vast majority of manufacturers do it in a very similar way.
Well-designed cables, and here we are interested in power cords used to power the devices, are capable of showing incredible things. Why the power cord so dramatically affects the sound is the bone of contention in any discussion between the listeners and those who rely on measurements, and it needs to be made clear that there is still no single, coherent theory that would explain it. However, audio is the domain of experiments and it is their results that count, not a theory, because the latter is often formulated organoleptically, post factum. The results of majority of tests are clear: from the very fine NAD C316BEE amplifier all the way to the Soulution 710 power amp, from a cheap media files player to a hundred thousand bucks source from dCS or Jadis – changing the power cord or even a power strip clearly, often dramatically, changes the sound. And that is what I hold onto.
Classical designs, if only backed by knowledge, talent and appropriate research funds, can provide stunning results. Suffice it to mention the Oyaide cable system reviewed a month ago (see HERE) or the Acrolink 7N-PC9300 Mexcel power cord and the Acoustic Revive RTP-4EU Ultimate power strip (see HERE). These are just two examples of how it can be done with flair.

Key elements of the power cords design are the choice of conducting material, the choice of dielectric, type of design and shielding (or the lack thereof – that too belongs in this category). The latter issue divided the audio world into two camps – one, according to which there should be minimal amount metal around the conductor (see DNM Design and ETI Research) and the other, claiming that the greatest threat to the signal (and the current in the power cord is a non-modulated signal) is external RF or EM interference, and others. The second group focuses on the most efficient cables shielding. According to them, in the audio everything simply comes down to eliminating interference.
The cable shield or screen is a jacket made of conductive material (with high conductivity) surrounding the conductor with the signal, and connected to the ground (at the earth potential) or to another point (another potential). It is usually a copper braid, mesh or stranded wire, copper or aluminum foil, sometimes full metal tubes. Well made, often in different combinations (such as mesh plus two film layers), yield excellent results.
But there are also other ways to increase the screen efficiency – screen polarization, in other words active systems. In such designs, certain voltage is applied to the screen, polarizing it and thereby improving noise resistance. One of the most interesting methods of this type, and certainly the best known, is DBS (Dielectric-Bias System) from Audioquest. Its basis can be found in an accessible, elegant document available HERE.
As it turns out, the concept is not new and certainly does not belong to Audioquest. Or to any other company for that matter. It is a part of common knowledge and what’s patented is only particular projects – Audioquest has the DBS patent and Synergistic Research, which I would like to introduce to you this time, the Active Shielding patent.

Ted Denney III, lead designer, CEO of Synergistic Research Inc. describes is this way:

Wojciech, let me explain what Active Shielding is. Our first experiments with Active Shielding began early in 1996, and involved the placement of batteries in a static circuit, with the positive anode of the battery tied to a conductor running the length of a cable, and the negative anode of the battery tied to the shield. These initial prototypes subjectively improved performance in the high frequencies. However, they also increased the noise floor (especially on long runs), with the positive conductor running the length of the cable (and not being terminated to signal or ground) thus acting like an antenna picking up RFI and EMI." My first experiments (above) are basically what Audioquest patented.
"We then experimented with closed circuits, where the shield carried a DC current, with a buffer circuit between shield and ground and separate conductors carrying the ground signal. This closed circuit design not only improved subjective performance, but also made our cables measurably quieter, thus improving detail with greater frequency extension from top to bottom. Since a closed circuit draws current, we could no longer use batteries, as this would drain a battery in a matter of hours."

Fair enough, we have some starting point. It is not much more, however, than the information available on the manufacturer’s website. I asked Ted to elaborate on differences between DBS and Active Shielding. Without any further ado he wrote the following:

Wojciech please allow me to comment on your question. The following link explains in detail the difference between Audioquest's DBS system and SR Active Shielding.


Basically we apply both voltage AND current to a cable's shield. This allows the shield to find ground not on the component but to the ground potential of the cables power supply which makes the cable much quieter then the DBS system or a normally shielded cable. Next, were we to use a battery to power our cables as is the case with Audioquest's DBS System, we would not only loose the benefit of a quieter cable, we would also drain the battery dry in a matter of one or two hours (unless the batter was the size of a car battery :)
Basically if SR Active Shielding is like a turbo for an internal combustion engine, Audioquest's DBS system is a hood scoop.
As to the PowerCell's internal EM Cell it is a 100% SR developed technology and is patented. It works on the principal of Quantum relationship between two different energy fields and as such it does not limit current on demand- not at all. As such the EM Cell is the world's only non current limiting filtration system for voltage and current.

As I have repeatedly said, using various cables in the system, from various manufacturers, is only a half measure. What a given system is capable of can be best seen by using cables from the same manufacturer. Therefore, for this review I ordered the Tesla PowerCell 10SE MkIII power conditioner with cables for the entire audio system: the Element C•T•S Analogue Power cord for the preamp and the power amp and the Element C•T•S Digital Power for the CD player. The SR cables are thick and stiff, particularly around the plugs. I did not manage to connect the “Element” to my Soulution 710 power amp. In this particular example the amplifier’s IEC socket is located in such a place that the power cord must be relatively flexible. My Acrolink 7N-PC9300 Mexcel fits just fine, the Element C•T•S Analogue Power unfortunately does not. So during the review I used the SR power cords to power the CD player and the preamp. I also tried out the power cord with the Jadis I-35 integrated amplifier and the Restek Epos CD player.

Synergistic Research in High Fidelity
REVIEW: Synergistic Research TRANQUILITY BASE see HERE


A selection of recordings used during auditions

  • Random Trip, Nowe Nagrania, 005, CD + FLAC 24/44,1 (2012).
  • Barbara Lea, Woman In Love, Riverside/Sinatra Society of Japan, XQAM-160, CD (1955/2007).
  • Danielsson/Dell/Landgren, Salzau Music On The Water, ACT Music + Vision, ACT 9445-2, CD (2006).
  • David Gilmour, On An Island, EMI, 55695, CCD (2006).
  • Diorama, Cubed Deluxe Edition, Accession Records, A 114, 2 x CD (2010);
  • Gerry Mulligan & Scott Hamilton, Soft Lights & Sweet Music, Concord Jazz/Mobile Fidelity, UDSACD 2017, SACD/CD (1986/2006).
  • Hilary Hahn, Hilary Hahn Plays Bach, "Best Classics 100", Sony Classical/Sony Music Japan Entertainment, SICC 30087, 2 x BSCD2 (1997/2012).
  • Jethro Tull, Thick As a Brick, "40th Anniversary Set", Chrisalis/EMI 461923, CD + DVD PCM 24/96 (1972/2012).
  • Józef Skrzek, "Pamiętnik Karoliny", Polskie Nagrania/Metal Mind Productions, MMP CD 0535 DG, CD (1978/2009).
  • McCoy Tyner, Inner Voices, "Jazz Next Standard. Spiritual Jazz", Milestone, UCCO-9467, CD (1977/2008).
  • Megadeth, Countdown to Extinction, Capitol/Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, UDCD 765, gold-CD (1992/2006).
  • Miles Davis Sextet, Someday My Prince Will Come, Columbia/Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, MFCD 828, CD (1961/?).
  • Muse, The Resistance, Warner Music Japan, WPZR-30355-6, CD+DVD (2009).
  • Norah Jones, The Fall, Blue Note/EMI, 99286, CD (2009).
  • Pat Metheny Group, Offramp, ECM, ECM1216, CD (1982).
  • Porcupine Tree, Deadwing, Lava, 93437, CD (2005).
  • Portishead, Third, Go! Disc/Universal Music K.K. (Japan), UICI-1069, CD (2008).
  • Schubert, Lieder, wyk. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, dyr. Gerald Moore, "Signature Collection", EMI, 55962 2, 4 x SACD/CD.
  • Tadeusz Woźniak, Tadeusz Woźniak, MUZA Polskie Nagrania /Polskie Nagrania, PNCD 1289, CD (1974/2010).
Japanese editions available from

We do not like when the scientists speak the language of science. That is, when they use a complex language, belonging to the segment of knowledge in which they happen to specialize. It is incomprehensible to us which annoys us, arousing aggression. We would like them to talk in such way that we knew what they’re talking about, that we could join their discussion; we would like to be able to take a stand in the discussion and not be just a part of decoration, a dummy participant.
And indeed, experts in a given field overuse the specialized jargon, often trying to use it to cover their complexes, to show who "rules". Or they simply forget they are not talking with their colleagues but with laymen.
But that is only one side of the coin. The other is no less painful for people from outside the circle, but at least it is clean and clear: at some level, sufficiently complex issues cannot be discussed using any other than the "language of science". It is more multi-dimensional, richer and far more explicit than the general terms we use every day. And in a conversation among experts concerning areas of their common interest it is the only possible language. Without that, any discourse would return to the level of "it’s f…ing great / it’s f…ed up", to choose from.
So please do not be angry with me if I speak in the way that is customary in the audio and in other fields from which the language has been borrowed – the arts and art criticism, especially painting, music and literature, as well as related fields, i.e. journalism specializing in the evaluation of wines, watches and cars. It's a language that I know well, that I used for many years in college, and that just works. It is descriptive but such is the language used in all the mentioned arts and their related criticism. After all, what you are doing now is reading a specialist magazine, edited by specialists (audiophiles-music lovers) for professionals (audiophiles-music lovers), which deals with specialized products.

That is why without being coy, without false shame and without posing as a "homie" I'll start with the following statement: the reviewed power cord system from Synergistic Research has one characteristic I haven’t found in any other cable system, including mine and even the Siltech Royal Double Crown Series – it condenses or thickens textures. I think this statement best describes the essence of the SR system. It is not easy to distil, to pinpoint, but in the end I came back to it each and every time. That was one characteristic that effected the most pronounced sonic change.
Reaching that conclusion is not easy because every time, with each single album it works a bit differently. Of course one can extract a body, a group of recordings where the results are similar, but even that will not be entirely accurate. The power cord system from SR fantastically differentiates the recordings. I will even go further: it shows the differences better than any other system I have had at home. One just needs to do it justice – it does not impose its character on all recordings, at least not directly. It brings in something of its own, even quite clearly, but it is not a simple, mechanical "imposition" on each recording that can be heard all the time.
Texture thickening I referred to earlier can be described as enlarging phantom images, showing their edges and bodies (!), increasing the volume of sound. It is best heard on recordings with correctly preserved spatial relationship, i.e. the right size and intensity of sound sources, with instruments showing sufficiently refined, rich texture. If a recording is poor in this respect, which is actually the case with most contemporary pop and rock recordings, other advantages of the SR cables come to the fore, but this particular one disappears.

Now, let’s talk about vocals, shall we? Audio shows and presentations of all sorts can nearly make us throw up, become allergic to female vocals. It's just that too much of something does not mean that the essence of it is evil, that no one listens to that kind of music, that it's crap.

What actually is crappy is the kind of music usually played during exhibitions, with a special nod to contemporary "female artists", often "female jazz artists". As long as we treat them "lite", i.e. as pleasant Muzak, elevator music – no problem. However, it has nothing to do with real art, with real music. But when we listen to Peggy Lee, Barbara Lea, Sarah Vaughn, Chris Connor, Carole Creveling, Carol Sloane, Keely Smith, Doris Drew, Jane Harvey, Elle Fitzgerald and other true female Vocalists, then the SR cables bring in something unique, simply outstanding.

They highlight, emphasize strong sound sources. In this case, vocals. On classical recordings that will be a lead instrument or vocal, with jazz – all loud and strong sounding instruments. Oh, how brilliant, tangible, from-the-gut was the sound of the Salzau Music on the Water album by Danielsson / Dell / Landgren trio! I told you it works best with small ensembles, didn’t I? I did not? Well, it could have been understood that way. The truth is actually more complex. It turns out that good productions with large ensembles, such as Verdi’s Choruses or the new remaster of Thick As a Brick by Jethro Tull (a fantastic version with PCM 24/96 material, highly recommended!), also get the same "push in the back", so to speak. Not a stab with a knife but a friend’s helping hand, guiding us onto the stage.
That's it – a theater stage is a good comparison. How do we quickly tell a good actor from a bad one? Firstly, by his or her diction, and secondly, by the ability to "find" light. The theater uses static lighting systems, so-called "stages", in which each reflector has its own specific brightness, angle and the point at which the light beam hits the stage. Actors need to learn where they stand in a given scene and what trajectories they follow so they always remain within presumed light intensity. Young or poor actors have continuous problems with that; they move around the stage as if they had problems with concentration, always looking for the right spot and never finding it. Outstanding actors, and I got to work with some of them (including my number one, Jan Peszek, a total actor), do it casually, seemingly without any conscious calculation. They simply always stand where they need to be, even if they find themselves in a new situation (for example, during rehearsals). The cables from Synergistic Research together with the power conditioner from the same manufacturer play the role of an extra "talent". It is as if they guided the actors (here, vocalists and instrumentalists) to always "find" light. When Barbara Lea sings, she is singing only for us. When Landgren plays the trombone, he is doing that only for us. But also for his colleagues, each having a distinct shape, beautiful color and being palpable.

As you can see I'm not talking in traditional categories in which we normally evaluate the speakers, the amplifier and other audio system components. It does not make sense. Everything that is important here happens “between” these categories, “between” color, tonal balance and dynamics. And these are, in my opinion, the most important observations for a proper understanding of the reviewed system as well as its evaluation, in terms of our own audio system, listening preferences and the ideal we are looking for. Nevertheless, the traditional categories also need to be mentioned to have a full picture.
Midrange is more open than with my reference cable system. Not that it is brighter as it’s not. However, lower midrange with the SR is lighter than and not as thick as mine’s. On the other hand, upper midrange in the American system is better “lit”, has better resolution. In comparison, my Japanese cable system sounds a bit more "old-school", as the recordings from the 1950s. If I were in any way comment on the top and bottom ends, I would say that they are a bit quieter on my system, that they are better controlled. Especially the bass. The lower range of the instruments is a bit better differentiated but also seems to be shallower. Is it really? I don’t know; maybe it just a matter of interaction with my speakers and with the rest of the cable system. A complete SR system might sound different. Here and now, that is in my system, the bass seems a little "held back", controlled, “grasped” from all directions; there is no room for chance, for uncontrolled expression.
I similarly interpret reverberation. Since it is the foreground, the first planes, that are most important in the Synergistic Research sound, everything around them is subdued, subordinated to the main sound. The presentation is therefore more essential but also drier at the same time – the two are not contradictory in this case! The essence is the vocals, instruments, consonances, and the said dryness (not the best term but I can’t find another) is a less active acoustics in the final presentation. Hence, my system seems more dynamic, a little "live on stage", not entirely predictable. The SR would be characterized as a "studio", or even a "studied" sound.


It just so happens that before and during the review I had an interesting correspondence with Mr. Stanislaus, one of the readers of "High Fidelity", the designer of the DAC that played in the room during the Audio Show 2012. His hobby is RF and EM interference degrading the sound. I would like to quote a fragment of our correspondence to illustrate what I’m talking about and to show that the question of eliminating distortion has been one of the most important problems that the audio world has been struggling with for years:

But I have [...] an observation from all audio exhibitions. As a rule, audio equipment usually sounds bad at such shows, although there are exceptions. I’ve got my own homebred theory that this is not always caused by poor acoustics of hotel (show) rooms but by huge noise generated by mains power network. During these exhibitions there is plenty of digital devices plugged into the power grid in the building, usually clustered in one small area. It was at the Audio Show 2012 that I found it to be true. What happened was that by chance I didn’t couple the DAC’s protective conductor to the wall socket as back at home I had the center connector on the primary side of the power supply filter coupled to central heating radiator. As we know that center is two capacitors connected in series between the live and the neutral conductors. The center is to be connected to the protective conductor. Leaving it uncoupled resulted in huge sparks observed when coupling the DAC via RCA cables to an amplifier! Of course, this was not due to electric leakage or poor insulation, but it was caused by interference noise that was shorted to ground when connecting the RCAs. I measured that effect with a spectrum analyzer later at home and I know now that this is high frequency interference. But back at home it results in only a small spark while at the Sobieski Hotel (the Audio Show venue) the sparks were like from a welder. I think that it was caused by high power grid noise, which is also responsible for the poor sound during audio shows. [...]
I did a lot of DIY and tinkered with amplifiers and DACs (for over 20 years) and I have some insights as well as measurable and listening evidence that the interference is the main reason why we still listen to analog turntables and are still not satisfied with the sound.
For example, when I installed my DAC during the AS2012, at first I was very frustrated with the sound and I felt as if I went some 100 steps back with my design. And these steps are nothing else than different methods to minimize interference. Hence, I blame the interference as the main reason for low quality sound at the shows. Please pay attention to the bass at these shows! It can’t be the fault of poor acoustics! If my system is very noisy with high jitter, that is exactly what the bass sounds like. Don’t you think? It is only super-low jitter and low distortion that bring a positive effect. For me, this would be an optimal audio path: JPlay as the source, followed by galvanic isolation, a de-noised asynchronous USB converter, super accurate clocks, a low-noise DAC (I like Sabre chips) and only then we get proper bass intonation, no matter whether it is loud or quiet; you can hear the cellos, the double bass and they never get lost in the background. With high-jitter noisy systems you can only hear some low rumble and it’s not quite clear what kind of instrument it is. And hence the "rumbling" audio shows rooms and strange sounds. It’s all INTERFERENCE, nothing else… ;)

I'm convinced Ted Denney III had exactly the same thing on his mind when he first came up with active shielding of his cables. Actually, he is not alone in that – listening to the power cords from Siltech, with the dedicated Octopus power strip, I could hear very similar sonic modifications. Although the overall sonics were different, when it comes to bass tightness, its control, as well as the control of all sub-ranges, they were almost identical. Siltech power cords boast one of the most advanced, most expensive passive screens that can be found on the market. And they are very expensive.
The power cord system from Synergistic Research is the most sophisticated system I know. The degree of its complexity is as high as that of an elaborate audio system. All these measures, however, have a certain purpose and are supported by solid fundamentals, both scientific and those arising out of experience in the field of audio systems power (i.e. organoleptic).
It has all paid off as nothing else can. Audio devices powered by the SR cables get a sort of "boost", showing reliable shapes and bodies, beautiful colors, a superior differentiation of recordings. I have already discussed good recordings. When it comes to poorer production or inferior pressings, such as Countdown to Extinction by Megadeth or On An Island by David Gilmour, they sound very nice although rather flat dynamically. Each album retains its own character and the introduced modifications do not make them all into a soundtrack from the same bad movie.
I am apprehensive of products where form prevails over substance – and that is how, at first glance, Synergistic Research cables look like. A prevalence of LED indicators, power supplies, filters – it is all so different from classic audiophile experience that can be overwhelming. But when we turn to specialized literature, when we see what it’s all about and when we finally listen to what that whole “circus” brings in to the sound, we start thinking that something is missing in other cables; we begin to look for power supplies and try to spot those small LED indicators… This is an absolute top power supply system, in its quality an equivalent of my own, carefully perfected and comprising exclusively of Japanese components, system, offering however a slightly different perspective on the sound, in several points even better, even meatier than what I have at home every day. My congratulations for a hell of a job, for many years of research and testing; that is something one needs to pay for. It is not the cost of material, a pound of nails, but the years spent on experiments and the accumulated know-how that is expensive. As it always is. In this case, it pays off better than ever!


The Synergistic Research Power system consisted of three components: Tesla PowerCell 10SE Mk III power conditioner, the Element C•T•S Analogue Power – power cords dedicated to analog audio devices, and the Element C•T•S Digital Power cords for digital devices.
The conditioner has a large housing made of non-magnetic material, a black acrylic. The front only sports a milled model name and does not have any indicators. We find them on the back of the unit. The rear panel features five dual SR connectors, a filter for the EM Cell (with a blue LED - the same as on active platforms from that manufacturer), a connector for an outboard power supply for the active noise reduction systems and a connector for the power cord powering the device. The connector and the plug are wonderful – PowerCon from Neutrik, an excellent design both in terms of mechanics and electrics.
Housed inside are the EM Cell high frequency noise reduction active systems. They are placed next to the components they work with – there are no additional systems in the power signal path or in parallel to power cords. Power consumption depends solely on the performance of the power grid in our house. For details, please refer to the manufacturer's website HERE. I will not pretend I understand everything; take for example "Quantum Tunneled".

The Elements Series cables have been designed using trickle down technologies from the much more expensive, prestigious Galileo System series. Some of the employed technologies are Active Shielded Air Dielectrics, Pure Tungsten, Enigma Tuning Circuit and interchangeable Enigma Bullets filter modules.
The power cords are very thick and consist of multiple twisted cable runs, with three different cable diameters. Each of the reviewed power cords is built of three materials: copper (Cu), tungsten (W) and silver (Ag). They are terminated with high-quality G07 connectors. Each connector sports interchangeable Active Shielding modules, correcting sound to some extent. During the review I used the "middle" filter module, characterized by a neutral sound. I did not exchange it for the other two modules because one of the basic requirements is connecting the power supply, and therefore the filter, 72 hours before auditioning. During the testing I thus employed a reverse B/A order, with the B and A known; ‘A’ being the reference system and ‘B’ the reviewed system. I first listened to the selected albums and tracks on the system B, then did the same on the A. It was not possible to directly compare individual tracks. The Enigma Bullets filter modules feature blue LEDs (I wonder if there are any other colors available?) and get very hot during use. For each power cord we need to use an external wall wart power supply with very nice, shielded cable terminated with gold Tesla connectors (manufactured in house). That means that in addition to sockets for power cords we also need to provide sockets for the power supplies. The manufacturer suggests using a good power strip but you may also try to plug them into the conditioner, as showed on the pictures. Further experiments are welcome. The conditioner was placed during the review on the Acoustic Research RAF-48H anti-vibration platform and the power supplies plugged into the Oyaide MTS-4e power strip.

Distribution in Poland

FAST M.J. Orszańscy s. j.
Romanowska 55e, | 91-174 Łódź | Polska
tel.: 42 61 33 750 | fax: 42 61 33 751




  • CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Air V-edition, review HERE
  • Phono preamplifier: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC, review HERE
  • Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory SHILABE, review HERE), Miyajima Laboratory KANSUI, review HERE
  • Preamplifier: Ayon Audio Polaris III [Signature Version] with Re-generator Power Supply
  • Power amplifier: Soulution 710
  • Integrated amplifier/headphone amplifier: Leben CS300 XS Custom Version, review HERE
  • Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic, review HERE
  • Headphones: Sennheiser HD800, AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro; 600 Ω version, review HERE, HERE, and HERE
  • Interconnect: CD-preamp: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300 (article HERE, preamp-power amp: Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo, review HERE
  • Speaker cable: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, review HERE
  • Power cables AC (all equipment): Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
  • Power strip: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE
  • Stand: Base; under all components
  • Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD, Audio Revive RAF-48 platform under the CD and preamplifier
  • Pro Audio Bono PAB SE platform under Leben CS300 XS [Custom Version]; review HERE