Synergistic Research Atmosphere X Level 1 RCA Interconnect Review

Posted on 8th June, 2021

Synergistic Research Atmosphere X Level 1 RCA Interconnect Review

David Price samples a serious-sounding premium-priced analogue connection cable…

Synergistic Research

Atmosphere X Level 1 RCA interconnect

£995

Synergistic Research Atmosphere X Level 1 RCA Review

Cables make a difference to a hi-fi system, and sometimes quite a profound one. No one has comprehensively correlated measurements to particular facets of cable design, but we still know that conductor, shielding, and dielectric materials affect the sound. So a degree of experimentation is required, and that’s where Synergistic Research’s carefully calibrated model range comes in. The company provides a framework of four levels in its Atmosphere interconnect range to offer a clear upgrade path, should its customers so wish.

In this review, we’re looking at the Atmosphere X Level 1 RCA interconnect, which Synergistic Research says is its first to feature the company’s fourth-generation Tricon geometry, with graphene termination at the RCA plug. This is claimed to give a lower noise floor, as well as improving resolution and sound staging. It uses two silver/copper matrix monocrystal conductors, with silver braid shielding and a Teflon dielectric. As those interested in cable design will know, this is costly to produce in materials terms alone, and the company says each one takes two hours to build by hand in the company’s California factory.

The SR 20 RCA plugs fitted to this unbalanced cable are point-to-point wired with silver solder. When the cable and connectors are fully built up, the company applies its so-called Quantum Tunnelling process, where 1 million volts are passed through. This is claimed to provide a ‘canal’ that allows electrons to pass more freely through conductor material and connections. Finally, the cable is subjected to a five-day burn-in process. The Atmosphere X Level 1 may be an expensive cable to buy, but it’s expensive to make too.

Synergistic Research Atmosphere X Level 1 RCA Review

THE LISTENING

This RCA interconnect is a shining example of a well designed, premium-priced cable. The usual caveats apply, such as not spending this amount of money if you’re running a budget or even a mid-price system – you’ll need a serious source, amp and speakers to appreciate its fine qualities. Yet if you have a genuinely revealing system, you’ll be able to hear a combination of low-level detail retrieval and an engaging musicality that’s hard not to like. The Atmosphere X Level 1 has a commendably incisive and revealing nature yet always makes music sound snappy and emotive, too. There’s no sense of it being overly analytical despite its obvious resolving ability.

Tonally I found this Synergistic Research cable to be pretty neutral; it sounds more lively and well lit than many designs with cheaper copper-only conductors, which can seem a bit mushy and fuzzy to my ears. It casts a bright light on a recording, but one that doesn’t glare. For example, Flash and Pan’s Waiting for a Train is an old late seventies rock recording that’s a bit on the dry and thin side, especially the highly processed vocal line. This cable told me all about this, but not unpleasantly so. The synthesiser line had a lustre to it that’s often obscured by lesser cables, while the cymbals had an attractive glint without coming over as harsh. The rhythm guitar was thin and scratchy, just as it should be.

Synergistic Research Atmosphere X Level 1 RCA Review

The Atmosphere X Level 1 has great resolving ability; where lesser designs simply fog up, this interconnect cuts right through to the back of the mix. The SmithsHeadmaster Ritual was a case in point; it’s dull and barren sounding through a poor cable but came to life here. Transients were excellent, as the interconnect conveyed the attack of Andy Rourke’s bass guitar, which pummelled the song along. It also showed how well syncopated his playing was with Johnny Marr’s lead guitar noodling. The effect was engaging – uplifting even – marking this cable out as an expressive performer that’s able to keep a handle on everything going on and knitting it together in a musically coherent way.

THE VERDICT

Synergistic Research’s Atmosphere X Level 1 is a real class act. It has a precise, focused sound with lots of definition, but there’s no sense of things sounding unnatural or processed. At the same time, it is tuneful and expressive, stepping out of the way to let the music work its magic on you. As such, it’s well worth auditioning if you’ve got a system that warrants a premium-priced cable such as this. It may be expensive, but it is a level above mid-price interconnects in performance terms and relishes a serious system to work with.

See Synergistic Research for more information

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    David Price

    David started his career in 1993 writing for Hi-Fi World and went on to edit the magazine for nearly a decade. He was then made Editor of Hi-Fi Choice and continued to freelance for it and Hi-Fi News until becoming StereoNET’s Editor-in-Chief.

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    Posted in: Hi-Fi Accessories Cables Applause Awards 2021
    Tags: synergistic research  electromod 

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