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Synergistic Research Tesla PowerCell & Active Power Cords Review

Power corrupts more than we ever knew! Jack Roberts' quest for clean AC

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Description

Synergistic Power Cell rear panel

I’m going to give you a couple of paragraphs to describe the Tesla PowerCell; if you want more, there are pages of it on Synergistic’s website. No one could fault Ted Denny for not trying to let you know how his stuff works. On the website, he gives abundant information, with great enthusiasm.

The PowerCell is Ted’s new patent pending AC line conditioner. It is based on electromagnetic cell technology, and is available as the PowerCell 6, PowerCell 10, and the PowerCell 10 Special Edition; these numbers correspond to the number of AC outlets each unit has. The PowerCell basically conditions the current by sending the AC signal through an electromagnetic cell. This technology works outside of the signal path to condition alternating current with differential electromagnetic fields, in contrast to most line conditioners that work by placing transformers or chokes in the signal path. The PowerCell uses isolated circuits for each pair of its Teslaplex AC outlets, and the Active EM filter is powered by a 30-volt MPC power supply.

The PowerCell 10 Special Edition is different from the PowerCell 6 and 10 by using an even higher performance active EM filter and an additional Quantum Tunneling process. The PowerCell 6 and 10 have 20-amp IECs for AC connectivity, while the PowerCell 10 SE has a 32-amp Powercon connector. The 10SE also comes with the Tesla Precision AC Active power cord. Both the 10 and 10 SE each has five completely isolated circuits. Ted says it practically gives you five designated circuits.

The PowerCell is sealed and I could find no way to open it without doing damage to the beautifully finished chassis. When I was touring Synergistic Research, Eliott Nomensen asked me not to photograph the inside of the original plywood PowerCell prototype to protect what they believe is groundbreaking technology with applications that reach beyond home audio. This desire to conceal the inside of such devices is often seen by the skeptics as hiding the fact that there is not much in it. I can tell you: My eyes saw plenty inside the one I didn’t photograph, starting with an absence of the things I usually see inside power conditioners like transformers, chokes and capacitors. Instead, inside the PowerCell was a large EM cell mounted on what appeared to be resonance isolating shock absorbers. The whole thing seems to be about how the current comes into and through the EM cell to the 5 individually isolated Synergistic AC outlets. I only share all this because I may not know what’s inside all the sealed black boxes, but I promise you there really is something pretty impressive inside this one. In the end, like all things audio, we have to trust our ears.

The Powercell Story

When Synergistic Research built the first PowerCell, Ted was eager to test his concept. In his hurry, he did not wait for the metal chassis that was being built and just used plywood, instead, to fabricate a ‘make do’ chassis for the prototype. After an initial disappointment, the PowerCell begin to break in.

When the PowerCell had broken-in, the system began to be transformed, it opened up and had transparency it did not have before. Ted says, for the next following days, the system continued to improve with a holographic realism, more low frequency impact and high frequency air. It now surpassed anything he had yet achieved in his reference system before. Still, he continued to work on the evolution of the PowerCell’s circuitry. First, he added a filter plate for the return AC and then another filter plate for the ground. It became the third generation of the circuit, and it had by far the best sound, but now they were only a few weeks out from the 2007 RMAF.

Ted wanted to take his prototype to the show so they put a PowerCell into the classy-looking aluminum chassis they had built. Then, they listened and broke-in the final production PowerCell, and much to their surprise, the new metal chassis negated most of the benefits of the PowerCell. They quickly compared the aluminum version to the wooden one, and without a doubt, the wooden chassis significantly outperformed the aluminum chassis version. So the PowerCell made its debut at the RMAF under a blanket to hide its homemade looking plywood shell.

After the show, they began to look for a suitable material that would allow the electromagnetic filter technology to perform to its full potential. With more time to study the performance differences between metal and wood, they also discovered that the wood outperformed the metal whether the PowerCell was in active (on) or passive (off) mode. So not only was the wooden chassis “invisible” to the electromagnetic cell, it was also doing a better job of absorbing mechanical vibration from AC. It also turned out that the metal chassis transferred mechanical vibration to the power cords and this created confusion and a loss of clarity in the sound.

Ted began to look for a substance that would not nullify the positive effects of the EM cell and would also absorb as much of the mechanical vibration from the AC as possible. He and his team found a company in southern California that made CNC composite materials into medical and chemical fluid delivery systems. This material turned out to be ideal but, was difficult to fabricate and much more expensive than a conventional steel or aluminum chassis. Ted also insisted on finding a coating for the material that would maintain the piano black finish while being very scratch resistant. So, according to Ted, the final PowerCell uses the latest electromagnetic filter technology with a brand new composite chassis that is electromagnetically inert, with three times the mechanical vibration isolation of carbon fiber, and will keep looking great to boot.

How the Tesla Powercell Affects the Sound of Your System

Let’s start by just talking about how the PowerCell affects the sound, then we will move on and talk later about the whole system. I picked Ted up at the Oakland Airport and we headed to my house to install the Synergistic Tesla PowerCell and Active power cord system. Well, UPS had a different idea, for some reason they put the PowerCell and a couple of power cords on one truck that arrived by ten, but the rest of the cables and active power supplies on another truck that didn’t show up until 6:15 that evening. Really, that worked out all right though, because that gave me a whole day to listen to just the PowerCell with my own power cords.

I had already removed my Audience aR1p power conditioners from the system the night before, so all Ted had to do was sit the PowerCell 10 SE on the bottom shelf and plug everything in. Now, the power cord that came with the 10 SE was active so he also plugged in the little wall-wart power supply that would connect to the pigtail from the power cord. There was no power light on the front of the PowerCell, but you could see the blue LEDs on the back. We left it on while we went to Peet’s for coffee, and then came back and began to listen.

The PowerCell using my Shindo power cords sounded just wonderful. The bass fleshed out without any boominess, the soundstage was deeper, yet still coherent and whole, the top-end was prettier, and the midrange was faster and more transparent. If you’re worried about plugging a power amp into it, all I can tell you is that my system sounded slightly more powerful and had even greater dynamics and micro-dynamics with the Wavac plugged into the PowerCell then it did before.

The best power conditioners I have used in the past make a fundamental difference in the musicality of my system. They have had the ability to improve the overall detail, transparency and clarity of the sound. The two best that I’ve used can even do this without inhibiting dynamics, micro-dynamics; or even obscuring the natural rhythm and pace of music. Now, the Tesla PowerCell does all this, but in a more complete way. For example, the PowerCell does more than just not inhibiting dynamics and micro-dynamics, it furnishes your system with the power that can actually increases them. The PowerCell also increased the musical flow of my system and significantly augmented the system’s overall PRaT.

If you are a regular reader of my reviews, you know that holographic soundstaging isn’t my highest priority, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate a good soundstage and there is no doubt that the Synergistic products release your system to produce a very lifelike soundstage. There is no doubt in my mind that the Tesla PowerCell 10 SE is a cutting edge power conditioner that sets your system free to reproduce recorded music in a way that sound more dimensionally lifelike and more musically alive.

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