Review: Luminous Audio Synchestra Silver Reference Interconnect
First the room set-up. I’m at a disadvantage as the equipment is located in the living room. Compromises have been made yet the overall presentation has been satisfying. I wanted to overcome some of these limitations, mainly reflections from the TV & rack which are just barely behind the front plane of the speakers, so I moved them out into the room but kept the orientation on axis by placing the rear spikes in the holes the front ones made. Instead of the speakers being 18” from the rear wall & 20” from the side with a ½” toe in, now they’re 36” from the rear & 21” from the side with a 1.5” toe in. I could hear the difference in the soundstage with the IC’s currently in the system, so wanted to note this change for comparison. Listening position was 10’ from speakers & they were 7’4” tweeter to tweeter. I didn’t have the benefit of repositioning the speakers once they were moved, considering I spent 4 months the first time.
I picked ‘Close to the Edge’ by YES as the first CD to audition, as this was the remastered copy & I hadn’t played it yet. I planned on just putting it on in the background to help settle the cables in plus the cables didn’t have much play time on them anyway. I sat down to listen to the opening cords & didn’t get up until the entire CD played. Right then I knew I was in trouble. No way a silver cable could win me over that quickly. I spent a good 3 hrs.after that going back & forth with the Synchestra Sigs before I decided to move the speakers out to better evaluate. I was going to take notes during these first listening sessions but found myself just sitting there listening to the music. I like to think my system is more musical than clinical & wasn’t the least bit disappointed with these cables.
We’ve been having some pretty intense T-storms & I unplug the gear when they get close. Not quite 4 days into the audition I unplugged for a full day & when I plugged back in the next day & sat down for a listen, the soundstage just wasn’t there, so I put on some Vapourspace to put everything through the paces. I could have auditioned after Vapourspace but had a killer headache & just left the system on for 24 hrs.to stabilize & for the headache to fade. When I began the next session, I could immediately tell everything was back in place.
I decided to first listen to some guitar driven songs & put Elastica on to see if it would make me grit my teeth. Well, what I heard were electric guitars, sans the earsplitting notes. It sounded as good as I’ve ever heard it. Next up was Jethro Tull’s ‘Benefit’, which is one of my all time favorite albums. Again, the best I’ve ever heard it with a better soundstage than I remember. Switch to vocals w/Tracy Chapman’s ‘New Beginning’. Acoustic guitar on “I’m Ready” had the right amount of tonality and natural decay. Another good example was “The Rape of the World”, which starts with piano & then acoustic guitar joins in. Without hearing her voice, this was probably the best indicator of the quality of the CD. The piano & guitar sounded so accurate it was one of those “they were in the living room” moments. Actually, there were lots of those *moments*. The most well known cut, “Give Me One Reason”, is an impressive example, as you can almost feel the finger movement on the intro guitar. The air around her voice is just amazing. For me, female vocals are a good indicator & everything I threw at the Silver Refs sounded great. Here’s what I played, in addition to what I’ve mentioned: Norah Jones, Bonnie Raitt “The Nick of Time” (DCC), U2 “Boy”, Nilsson Schmilsson (MFSL), POD (this was really compressed & w/o question the worst sounding CD I played), Yes “Fragile”(remastered), Jimi Hendrix “The Cry of Love”, Eleanor Mcevoy, Horowitz in Moscow, Jane Wiedlin, U2 “October”, Spirit “The Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus”(MFSL), Santana “Abraxas” (MFSL), Steve Miller “Fly Like an Eagle” (DCC), Timbuk3 “Big shot in the Dark”, Sara Groves “Conversations” and Sarah Jahn “Sparkle”. The song ‘Crucible’ on the Sarah John CD is one of my benchmarks & if a component, regardless of its position in the system, fails this song, it will not be a part of my system. I played this at the lowest audible setting & as loud as I could take it & it passed. Not only did it pass but sounded absolutely wonderful!
I concentrated on the above music & did so, as the bulk of my listening is similar. I’m sorry to say I didn’t even get to try any jazz or blues but just didn’t have the time. I’m not too concerned because I’m sure I’ll hear the same improvements when I get my new set of Silver Refs. By the end of the session I was amazed at how good these sounded without a full run in. This cable bests all others I’ve heard, period.
I have a set of the Synchestra Refs in the original configuration, which is just a cloth covering and need to be handled with care. This latest version of the Refs also has just a cloth covering but it is an improved model. This new version has a tough fiber jacket & looks more like a traditional cable, that is round vs. the flat look of the original Refs. You can also carefully reshape the cloth to its round configuration. I took a close look at the cable & it is very well made & the new covering should hold up well. The Eichmann bullet plugs have a superior grip & you need to hold on to your component when installing & removing, in addition to firmly holding the bullet plug. I plan on keeping a Synchestra Sig to the amp but at the source the Silver Ref was the better cable. I went through 2.5 years of cable swapping before settling on the Sigs & the accompanying Luminous Audio Renaissance speaker cable and what became pretty evident to me was I didn’t care for silver. Just a tad bit on the bright side & the lesser silver cables were downright harsh. With the Silver Refs I didn’t hear any of the qualities I’ve grown to associate with the ‘silver’ sound. For the first time I think I’m hearing the limits of the electronics.
The Synchestra Silver Reference cables deserve all the plaudits I mentioned and this is something I thought no silver cable could ever get me to say. All the superlatives used to describe an outstanding product are in place here and I do sincerely mean all of them. No need to go down the list-they’re ALL there. I’m looking forward to many hours of music
Ayre V-5x plugged into 20 amp dedicated line w/Porter Port
Pass Aleph P
Meridian 508.20 (modified)
VR4 Gen III's
TG Audio Bybee Linesucker plugged into 20 amp dedicated line w/Porter Port w/pre & CDP
Luminous Audio Synchestra Sig
Luminous Audio Synchestra Sig Ref