Synergistic Research

Hold on to your gumption, we've been invaded! The Synergistic A.R.T. room treatment devices have caused more science-minded audiophile minds to boil over than the idea that cables make a difference. Thankfully, I'm here to cover computer audio and sitting amid all of the Vibratrons and Satellites is the Mach2 Music ($1,649 - 2011 2.5 Ghz Mach2 Music Server w/Snow Leopard) hot-rodded Mac mini acting as music server and hiding behind it handling D/A duties is the new Synergistic Research The Music Cable ($3,599 introductory price).

The Music Cable isn't a cable it's a 24 bit DAC with captive cables coming out of both ends—the Active Tricon USB cable and the Element Tungsten Active interconnects "hand soldered direct to the custom 24 bit DAC board". The interesting part of The Music Cable's design lies in the use of "Enigma Tuning bullets" which the company describes as "Active Shielding circuits". They come in colors which, according to Synergistic Research, correspond to sonic flavors: Silver Module = Open and airy, Black Module = Warm and rich, Grey Module = A hybrid of both the Black and Silver.

Mach2 Music will hot rod your Mac Mini (starts at $749 pricing depends on Mac mini model/year and options) or you can buy one direct. In either case Mach 2 Music replaces the Mac Mini's stock hard drive with a Sata III 60GB solid state hard drive (and the old drive gets repurposed as an external USB backup) and they beef up the RAM to 8GB. They also perform system optimization and load up your Mac-based player of choice.

The rest of the Synergistic Research room system consisted of a pair of YG Acoustics Kipod II loudspeakers driven by an Esoteric A-03 class-A amplifier and an Esoteric A-03 preamplifier received the tuned signals from The Music Cable. All of the other actual cable are from...Synergistic Research. No enigma there but there is one sitting on top of that rack which I believe is the tube power supply for the system's active cabling.

My listening notes read, "No room, no walls" and that we listened to Bach's Suite for Solo Cello and I'll let you decide where you want to lay the blame for this neat sonic trick—making the room disappear. This was certainly not the case across the board as some exhibitors sounded as if they'd rather wrestle with room acoustics, and we all who wins that battle. My guess is that blue painter's tape is a clue (look for it other rooms, typically run by those wily speaker manufactures) as you can't begin to get good sound if your speakers aren't set up in the room properly. The most effective tweak in hi-fi.