Audioquest Angel vs Synergisitic Research Atmosphere Alive

I am currently running Synergistic Research's Foundation cable and want to upgrade the cable for more clarity. I had previously upgraded from Audioquest's Yosemite, which was a fantastic cable, but lacked high frequency detail. I wanted to move into using silver cables over copper. I saw the Synergistic Foundation line to be an affordable entry way into silver cables. It was an improvement in high frequency detail, but a loss in mid bass body.

This was not a big issue at the time, because I was running Audioengine's A2+ speaker system.  It had a 3 inch woofer which physically couldn't produce a robust mid bass sound. Now I have upgraded to Audioengine's HD6.  Now I have a 5.5 inch woofer and the Foundation is a bit too anorexic.  The HD6 is really revealing in high frequency details and it turns out that the details provided in the Foundation line are no longer enough.

After much research and discussion with some sales reps and the Synergistic tech, I discovered that what they say is an "air dielectric" is actually silver conductors inside a hollow tube.  That tube is Polyethylene.  This is the same setup that Audioquest uses in its lower end cables.  The Sydney and the Victoria both use a hollow Polyethylene tube as its dielectric. Polyethylene absorbs high frequency signals, including those that would be audible. That means the silver cable in Synergistic Research's Foundation line is being slightly rolled off.

In Audioquest's Yosemite, they changed the hollow dielectric to FEP, a fluorocarbon Teflon-like material. The Angel also uses the same FEP. The Synergistic Research Alive Level 1 is the same cable as the Foundation, but uses Teflon as a dielectric, as well as uses better connectors.

So the question is, which is better?  Does the Synergistic Research cable punch above its weight class with no active shielding but with graphene? Or do I get the Audioquest, which has no graphene but does have active shielding?

I do have other Synergistic Research in this system and feel like it would benefit from staying within the same product....but...if I am being honest, I can get the Audioquest Angel anywhere and quickly, but pay a bit more.  However, I can't get the rep I work with at The Cable Co to answer my request for purchase, and I would have to wait two weeks while the cable is being created and burned in. I am not exactly a patient consumer once I have made up my mind to make a purchase. ;)

In the end, I could save more money going with Synergistic and The Cable Co and wait, but I would be willing to spend the extra money and not wait to get Audioquest if that cable simply sounds better and resolves better than Synergistic's.


Not sure which power cords or speaker cables you’re using, but if you simply add more Foundation to your loom, replacing non-Foundation cables be they interconnects, speaker cables, or power cords with Foundation, the frequency balance will fill out including low frequency and mid-range weight. Mixing and matching cables makes less sense than four different wheels and four different tires on the same sports car. The Cable Company will enable you to audition the full Foundation loom without having to purchase the cables ahead of time. you can also compare this loom, to Audio quest as they carry both brands. Then you’ll know for sure.


Yours in music,

Ted Denney III

Lead Designer/CEO Synergistic Research Inc.

@guakus I have used both Audioquest and Synergistic Research. I now have the the Atmosphere X Level 1 Loom which is the combination of PC’s, Interconnects as well as their Powercell 8 UEF SE. the matching IMO was significant in terms of dynamics and improved imaging. I didn’t think having the same brand cables would be important but I hear a huge difference. I teach multi-media at a local high school and we are setting up a listening room. I hope to start with the Foundation loom and hopefully some grants will allow us to improve along the way. I worked with both the cable company and high-end. 


I have a pretty extensive and robust power setup. Here is the power chain to the HD6:

Audioquest NRG Edison socket
Shunyata Reference Delta v2 XC (C19)
Shunyata Venom V16 Power Distributor
Kimber Kable Summit Palladian P14 (to HD6)

The remaining interconnects to the HD6 are Foundation.  I have Foundation speaker cables connecting the Powered HD6 to the Passive HD6.  Then I have Foundation RCAs going from the HD6 to Audioengine's S8 sub. That S8 sub is using Kimber Kable's Ascent power cable.

I will say that I am also using Synergistic's FEQx4 with Red ATM as well as using a Purple Fuse in the HD6.


It's starting to sound like I should stick with Synergistic.  I have been wanting to upgrade the Kimber Palladian to their Atmosphere Excite power cable, but...the Kimber's an elegant beast. :)

Cable Stew is a killer of performance as well as potential. As in life, pick a chair. If you sit between chairs, you end up on the floor.


I agree with @audiosaurusrex  comments on matching cables. I have a full loom of Foundation cables in my system. The power cables were the last to be added and it has made an amazing difference. After hearing the changes I might add the SR Powercell 8 UEF SE to finish the set and eliminate that last gap. I don’t know what kind of magic is being weaved into these SR cables, but it really works. 

Also, I used to be a cable denier. I didn’t think cables could possibly make a difference. Now I have a full loom minus the power conditioner.  


Well, that might just settle it. I should stick with Synergistic. :)

Blast my impatience, though.

Because I have to specialize my order, I can't just go on The Cable Co's website and just order it. There has to be some communication with a sales rep about the cable's specific design for this application.  I have to order the Phono cable, and specify 3.5 stereo mini-pin for the source end and L/R RCA for the downstream end in the notes and hope that info gets sent to Synergistic. At least, that is how we did it last time.



Just curious, does the Phono Atmosphere X Alive Level 1 cable have an upgraded 3.5 stereo mini pin over Foundation's Phono cable or will it be the same, at the source end?

We use different mini din plugs depending on needed pin configuration. All are treated and voiced with UEF Tech to match the geometry and materials of the cable they will be used with. In other words, the entire cable including the connectors are voiced as a single unit. So the connector that is used, is the best connector possible for sound quality. I hope this helps, but really the only way to be sure, is to try a cable in your system.

yours in music,

Ted Denney III

Lead Designer/CEO Synergistic Research Inc.


I of course was thinking speaker cables first and then do IC's and finally PC's but everyone I asked emphasized Power first! Dedicated Line if you can. I went through the spectrum Fuses, HFT's etc. The Powercell 8 UEF SE is just amazing and you will be very satisfied. The one thing is that it stays on 24/7. It sits under my rack and glows that beautiful blue light, hope it lasts as long as I do ☺ 


In my experience, I feel PCs and power sources are more important than ICs and speaker cables. Speakers can only give you what you provide it first. The first item in the chain in your electrical socket and electric cable. 

@audiosaurusrex I found out after I had ordered my speaker cables and interconnects that power should have been first. I am now trying to decide if I should order the Powercell 8 or upgrade my amplifier tubes. I am leaning toward the Powercell just to close the gap in my cables. 

@guakus Nice! Glad you were able to get the cable ordered. I’m like you and hate waiting. I think that is going to be the standard for all things audio for next few years. 


Sorry to bother you, but my impatience is getting the better of me. :)

Can you tell me what differences you'd expect to hear if you were upgrading from Foundation to Atmosphere X Level 1?

@guakus I’ve not read this thread, it just popped up on an email alert because you mentioned my name. It depends which Atmosphere series you’re talking about. If it’s the new Atmosphere SX, it’s a significant improvement over Foundation although Foundation is fantastic. And if you run an entire loom of Foundation, each piece will punch far above its individual performance level. That’s the loom effect. You can also loom Foundation with Atmosphere SX due to several design commonalities including pure silver conductor air strings, and UEF technology. I have to be careful how much I say on AG or my comments will get taken down. If you have the chance, do a direct AB comparison between the two cables you want to try, the cable company can facilitate the audition. You can even directly compare Synergistic Research to AudioQuest.

Yours in music,

Ted Denney III Lead Designer/CEO Synergistic Research Inc.

OK I just reread the OP. If you’ve already got foundation, I would just add more foundation cables and close the loom. You will absolutely be blown away by a full loom including power cords. That’s why I developed foundation, so guys can afford a full loom if they want to try it. And of course you can try it before you make the decision to ultimately buy it. That’s how High End Audio should always be, try before you buy.


I have a loom of Foundation starting from source to powered speaker, then between the powered speaker and passive speaker and then from the powered speaker to the powered subwoofer.

I placed an order for an Atmosphere X Level 1 Phono cable, with a 3.5 source end on Dec 17th.  Not sure if that would be the new version or not.  The invoice says this:

"1    1.5m    Synergistic Research Atmosphere X Alive Level 1 Phono Cable "

Do you have mismatched power cords, or is every single cable including power cords and digital from the same loom?

Atmosphere X is not Atmosphere SX. Honestly the Foundation phono cable is excellent.


"Do you have mismatched power cords". 

Sadly, yes. The power chord is a Kimber Kable Summit Palladian. I am currently looking into getting your Atmosphere Excite SX to replace it. Which, honestly is a whole other question. From what I can tell, because the power cord I require has to be an IEC C7 (figure 8), Excite SX is probably as high in Synergistic Research power cables as I should go, right?

"Honestly the Foundation phono cable is excellent."

No arguments there! I am not at all displeased...just curious if going to the Atmosphere X Phono cable will squeeze out more performance. Based on the spec sheets, I am losing the pure silver for the silver matrix, but with Teflon as a dielectric.  I have heard the drastic changes that Teflon as a dielectric makes on just basic copper. Will I lose anything leaving the Foundation line for Atmosphere?

I subscribe to the full loom approach. A few years ago I had a loom of mid-level level or higher Nordost cables, then I began returning to the Synergistic Research fold. The Foundation series is really solid for the price and outperformed my much more expensive Nordost stuff. Since then I have been migrating upward into the Atmosphere series cables with great results. Now moving from Orange fuses to Purple. SR knows its stuff...


Exactly.  I used to have a full loom of Audioquest cables. But Audioquest limits how far you can go under certain configurations, no matter what your budget is. For example, a lot of high end audio equipment coming out is starting to use IEC C7 (figure 8) power inputs.  Audioquest refuses to go beyond the NRG Z2. It's just not a high resolving power cable.  Before I found Synergistic Research, the only other option I had was Kimber Kable. They use Wattgate connectors in their high end. So, I was allowed to buy their flagship, top-end power cable and give it a C7 connector and BAM, it was liquid magic.

I love Synergistic, largely because they allow me the option of being creative about what kind of cable I want, even if the application is largely unorthodox.  For example, the cable I ordered isn't offered directly; it's custom. IF/when I get the power cable, it will also have to be custom.

Unfortunately, I am a bit of a nerd and love going over specs and trying to understand them. That's why I am asking Ted so many questions. :)

Wow great comments, thanks guys. We can build you custom cables because we actually build all our cables in our southern California factory by hand. A true made in USA brand and we love helping fellow Music Lovers get great sound. Hey, we’re audiophiles at SR as well 😃

@guakus I would clean up my power cord loom first. And you can go as high as Atmosphere, but you’ll get better performance by replacing multiple power cords at once with Foundation instead of over spending on a single higher end power cord. Also keep in mind, all Synergistic Research products except fuses have a lifetime upgrade path with 70% of retail going towards new SR products at twice the old cables value. And you don’t have to trade cables for cables, you could’ve purchased cables from Synergistic in 1993 and get 70% of their old retail value towards anything in our current catalog. If it were my system, I’d first close the loom with Foundation, and then look at power conditioning and ground filtering next. MiG SX footers are also an option as one of the single most transformative products we make.


I am a little confused. :( Replacing my main power cables with Foundation seems like a step backward, no offense intended.

From the wall I am using Audioquest’s NRG Edison socket. Then I am coming out of the wall with Shunyata’s Reference Delta v2 XC high current cord. That’s a $900 cord to start the power train with. It uses both Copper and Silver and uses Teflon as a dielectric. This cable powers the Shunyata Venom V16 power conditioner, a $2000 investment. The cable I am looking to replace is the Kimber Palladian, a $1500 cable. It uses a special filter that dampens the Standing Wave Ratio of the cable. I liken this tech to your Atmosphere SX Level 2 Excite, except yours has active shielding and Kimber does not. Also, the metallurgy in your cable would surpass the Kimber.

This is why I am looking at the single high end cable, the system that precedes where I want to connect your cable is also high end and expensive. :) With that said, would it be better to replace the Kimber, which requires the C7 connector, or should I replace the Shunyata Delta which would require a C19 high current connector? Maybe that’s a better choice since the power chain would start with Synergistic?

I am a little confused. :( Replacing my main power cables with Foundation seems like a step backward, no offense intended.

No offense taken. You have cable stew. Talk to your dealer about auditioning a full loom of Foundation power cords to replace your stew. Get back to me after a week, you’ll likely be very surprised. But if you don’t want to hear the loom in your system which is one of the most powerful things you can do to improve your stereo, replace the Kimber.

Just an update.

I received the SR Atmosphere Lv 1 Alive custom Phono cable. It has exceeded my expectations and it hasn't even remotely finished breaking in.

The addition of the Teflon Dielectric with copper mix has brought back the deep, rich mid-range and mid-bass tones while at the same time keeping the detailed, airy treble. I cannot wait to see just how far it expands as it breaks in. 

It was well worth the upgrade. :)

Wow, quite the post. I am considering swapping my Shunyata  Venom-HC cables to Synergistic  as well. I currently own a Atmosphere X level 1 and Atmosphere SX level 1 PCs (as well as interconnect and speaker wires).  Based on what I read in the post I should replace all the other PC's with Foundation PCs, right?

I plan to use the ATM SXLV1 PC at the amp, and the ATM XLv1 PC as the feed to the power conditioner (or should I consider a FD high current here), then FD at the DAC, Preamp, and phono stage?

What are your thoughts ?


Yeah, do it.  The Shunyata PCs at the Venom level will not remotely exceed Synergistic Foundation PCs.

I am actually considering having Synergistic make a custom Foundation PC that uses an IEC C5 (Clover leaf) connection.  I want to increase the clarity of power to my laptop, as that will increase the fidelity of digital/streaming playback via USB. I have been using Shunyata Venom V14 Digital cables for their IEC C5 connection. They're great, but Foundation's cable geometry, metallurgy and treatments would surpass these cables. 

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OMG I had a good laugh reading this thread - THANKS everyone! The "loom effect" is truly creative.

I’ve been holding back for years but this needs to be said in this forum: despite having had good results with Synergistic fuses, I believe Ted Denny is a charlatan. That’s coming from a man with a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the #2 school in the U.S. and dozens of papers published in peer- reviewed scientific and technical literature, and it’s not a charge I would level without thinking about it for YEARS first. The reason for my lack of faith or trust in Ted Denny is that I have encountered him several times over the years demonstrating Synergistic products and NOT ONCE has he been able to provide straightforward answer to *any* engineering question I have asked. It’s my sincere impression that he doesn’t really understand how any of his products work, and that they seem to be designed by trial-and-error to Ted’s ear.

Perhaps one of the most absurd and telling of Ted’s claims was that a few thimble-sized "HFT" room treatments could somehow affect bass frequencies with wavelengths > 10 feet. When confronted point blank, Ted was completely unable to offer any sort of explanation of how that could be. In the end, I borrowed a handful of the HFT’s and took them home. Sure enough, they seem like snake oil to me.

In closing, I’m not a nay-sayer. I own fancy power and ac cables, Symposium Ultra platforms, Synergistic fuses, room treatments and several other tweaks that actually make audible differences in my room and system. But when Ted Denny starts spewing about some bizarre "loom effect" or other things he seems not to understand even though he made them up, I’m going to call B.S. !!


You have the right to express your opinion but please consider not everyone necessarily shares your feelings.

My personal experience with Synergistic has been positive and I'm sure there are others who would agree.

I have a full loom of AE (Audio Envy) cables in my system: 2 pair XLRs, 5 power cables, 1 coax, and SP-11 speaker cables.  They sound FANTASTIC!  I also happen to have 1 pair of SR Foundation XLRs.  When I insert the SR Foundations into my system before or after the BHK preamp I lose sound stage and music detail, top to bottom.  Must be the SR loom effect is missing?  Here I thought maybe the AE XLRs were just better cables.  Errr, maybe it's the AE loom effect I'm missing when SR Foundations are in the system?  Lol, actually I don't know the tech stuff but I do know what I hear.  AE XLRs are better in MY system than SR Foundations, for way less money. Audio Envy will give you a trial period.  Cap is a great guy to work with and makes moderately priced incredible cabling. Try them!  BTW the SR Foundation XLRs sound good just not as good.