(Review) Synergystic Research Foundation SX, Snake Oil is Getting Good

The title is a little tongue in cheek, if you have been in the high-end audio world for a while you have probably seen the term Snake Oil to describe cables and other hifi accessories. So what does it mean, well back in the day you had people selling elixirs like Snake Oil as a cure-all and duping people out of their money while also not curing any actual disease? Does this happen in the Hifi Community? I’m sure it does as it does to some degree, but are cables offering a cure-all to your system woes while offering nothing of actual substance? To my ears, no, I have heard differences in cables in my own system. There are certainly companies offering cables that border on snake oil, what I mean is for the price they are not really performing how you would expect. The Foundation SX line is not that, the performance is in line with the price of the cables, especially considering they are made in America.

I met up with Ted from Synergistic Research at Florida Audio Expo this past spring and heard the Powercell 8 SX as well as his new VooDoo Streamer (might have to check that out more). After some talking we set up the needs for this review in terms of what cables in what lengths as well as the Powercell 8 SX. The Foundation SX line is as it sounds, the foundation of the company’s cable systems and what the higher-tier cables build on. Entry-level can be a fickle term as it means different things to different people and products, as Ford’s entry-level product is not the same as Ferrari’s entry-level product. SR is closer to Ferrari in that analogy, offering performance and some luxury much like a 458 Italia or my favorite, the F430. You get some jewelry along with a lot of. performance.

foundation sx cable review

The cables that the Foundation SX are taking the place of being a bit of everything as I had built my loom over time as I got more and more in the hobby, and if you take nothing else from this, you are better served to plan your cables ahead of time if you plan to create a high-end system. I had various AudioQuest Evergreen cables, Viborg Power cables, as well as my custom-made Prosper Cable speaker cables. I also understand that people may have to upgrade piece by piece, but having a clear path for where you want to end up will help you create a more cohesive system. So how do the Foundation SX cables stack up?

foundation sx cable review

Unboxing and Setup

As I had a fairly decent size order the cables and Powercell came packed in a very large box, each individually wrapped and packed in the box. The packing wasn’t over the top, which for a product like this is nice, after all the cable is what you’re paying for, so knowing a giant chunk of that money doesn’t go in the trash is nice. The Powercell did have nicer packaging but it was appropriate for the weight and size of the piece to keep it protected in transit. Each cable set came with tunning dots that you can add to the cable to fine-tune them to your liking. Per SR, you want to apply them onto the outside of the cable termination for the best effect. I didn’t apply any for the time being to become familiar with the cable sound in my system.

The terminations on the RCA and Power cables are very nice, offering a positive connection, though on the speaker cables the banana connectors are not my favorite style. They offer a good fit in my amps and speakers, however, I do like locking plugs such as the WBT style, mainly because you can fatigue the split-style plugs with frequent plugging in and out. Now for the normal end user, this isn’t really an issue as you probably aren’t switching out gear at about a bi-weekly rate. But I hadn’t really thought about it at the time when I spec’d out my cable loom, but looking back, for my use case, spades may have been a better option for the speaker cables. Overall the cable construction and materials look and feel like quality, meaning they look as good in your system as they sound.

foundation sx cable review


I’ll be the first to say, that most cable upgrades are not going to be night and day if you are making fairly linear upgrades over time and keeping them consistent with the level of system you have. Now if you have an incredibly highly revealing system and you upgrade from some Amazon basics to something like the SRX line from Synergystic Research you will likely notice a much bigger difference. The sound differences in my experience have tended to be more nuanced, in the details of the music. I am coming from a bit of a mixed bag of cables so it’s also hard to do a direct comparison to say AudioQuest as that was the bulk of my loom, but not the entirety. As a hifi system works as just that, a system, you can really only do a direct comparison with individual pieces of gear. As an example, a pair of speaker cables when compared to another set of speaker cables. That said, the overall impression I get from the SR Foundation SX cables is a better sense of detail and ease in the music. Using a full loom of high-quality cables has made a noticeable difference in the sound quality of my system. But it is hard to say oh the speaker cables are what did it, or the interconnects, rather it would seem that the system of cables is what adds up to the sound you get, as any chain the weakest link is as strong as it can be. I did try some different configurations in my system to see if there may be a “best place to start” if you need to upgrade over time. The biggest difference I noticed was when I switched out just the interconnects. So if your budget only allows a couple of cables at a time that may be a good place to start.

foundation sx cable review

I listened to a wide variety of music I was familiar with to see what type of differences there may be in terms of sound quality. Up first is Joe Hisaishi’s Viola Saga Movement 2. It is a wonderful piece with a variety of speed and volume throughout, making it quite exciting to listen to. Something that stood out to me was the texture of the strokes of the bow, you could hear the bow itself making contact with the strings, giving life and dimension to the music. The depth of the stage is a bit better as well with the light background percussion seeming more distant which helped build that dimension I just mentioned. The Viola also has a little more attack on the leading edges of each note. Simply put the details are more apparent in the piece giving more of that live music sound.

Next up was “Shores and The New World”(instrumental) by Levi the Poet. This track is from an album Levi made that is actually a poetry-style story set to a soundtrack, If you are into spoken word the regular album is quite good. This song is the ending of the story which takes a dramatic twist, and the track works perfectly with the story. It starts with a piano building slowly then comes in the horns, followed by a distant percussion and then foreground percussion with some added synths. This all builds to a huge Crescendo with a crash and the distant claps give you massive dimension before the next huge cymbal ride. The detail and texture in the song are immense. The song gives me frissons every time and hearing the extra sparkle and bigger stage I got with the Foundation SX cables made it all the more exciting. When the drop happens, it almost feels like falling, the pin drops then nearly silent before this massive encompassing sound of the horns and percussion.

viva solistino

One of the best video game soundtracks of all time is Halo 2’s, maybe it’s the nostalgia for me. In particular, I really enjoy Delta Halo Suite, it starts with a strings piece before transitioning to the classic halo Gregorian Chants, then transitioning once again but this time to a percussion-driven piece with a lot of echoes giving this sense of being in a large hall. The track follows the level design of the game so each section makes sense with fairly abrupt changes in tempo and instruments. One of my favorite parts is the army-style drum line with the addition of the bass drum and bell. The Foundation SX cables opened up the stage more as I noticed in the previous track, making me feel like I was immersed in the war in the game itself. This, to me, is the point of listening to music, to get carried away by the song, similar to how a book can transport the reader to another world.

The big takeaway in the sound department for me was the ease of the music. It seemed to have a better flow from the speakers. It is hard to convey in words, but it was silkier and more dynamic than with my hodgepodge of cables. If anything this is urging me to get a more coherent loom of cables. And I think even if you aren’t an SR customer, something that will help your system breathe a little easier. I started like many of us do, with a small system that didn’t require as many cables in general then as it grew and I upgraded components I bought the cables I could afford which left me with a huge mess of different cables from different companies. If that is you, I recommend trying a loom of all the same brand and line of cables. One of our partners is Cable Co, who offer a cable lending program to try out different options in your system, link below:


foundation sx cable review


All of The Foundation SX cables came with a complement of the SR Carbon Tuning Discs. There are Gold and Purple discs, each offering a different result in your sound. The purple is meant to aid in sound stage and imaging, helping create the holographic sound. The gold is designed to aid in harmonics and tone. I played with the various tuning discs, applying them to the cables as well as trying them on different pieces of gear. In my system, I found I preferred the Purples applied to the interconnects and power cables and the Golds on my speaker cables. They won’t turn a poor-sounding system into a great system just like seasoning won’t turn an awful cut of beef into a Filet Mignon, but like a Filet, the right seasoning can make it that much more enjoyable. The sound for me was a bit more detailed and rich, with a bit wider stage. I didn’t notice as much difference when they were placed on my components, for me it was more in the cables themselves. The tuning discs are the dream of people who love to tinker, you can spend hours or days playing with combinations. How much they will affect your system is dependent on the strengths and weaknesses your system may have.

foundation sx cable review

I played songs back to back with and without the discs to try to take in any differences that may be apparent, as well as when I tried some of the different combinations. First I tried just purples on one end of the interconnects, then golds on one end then on both, and so forth working my way through several combinations. I am nearly sure I didn’t try every combination it would be in the thousands of different ways you could set them up between all the cables and discs. If I owned them and had unlimited time to try out combos I may make it through them all but in the relatively limited time I had I did as many as I thought would make sense. I also tried the tuning dots on some of my non-SR cables to see how they worked, I didn’t notice a ton of difference on my Audio-Quest Evergreens, but when comparing my Viborg power cable to the SR, there was a bit of extra dimension with the purple applied. To test the SR cable against the Viborg power cable I used the Orchard Audio Starkrimson Monos, with one in each. All other things were the same the channel with the SR power cable had more oomph and power behind it, projecting a bit over the left channel.

foundation sx cable review

Pros and Cons


  • Made in America
  • Quality Construction
  • Premium materials and appearance
  • fairly flexible
  • Pairs are not bound together


  • I would like different Banana Plug options

Associated Equipment:

  • Viva Solistino Integrated Amp
  • Marantz SR7009 Preamp
  • McIntosh MC250 Power Amp
  • Orchard Audio Starkrimson Mono Premium Power Amps
  • Audio Technica LP-7 with Quintet Blue
  • Rotel CD-11 Tribute
  • Orchard Audio Pecan PI+
  • Fiio M9 (Flac Files
  • iPhone 14 Pro (Qobuz)
  • Macbook Air M2 (Qobuz)
  • Synergystic Research Powercell 8SX


  • (2) Foundation SX RCA Interconnect (3M) – $1239.00 (pair)
  • Foundation SX RCA Interconnect (1M) – $699.00 (pair)
  • Foundation SX Phono RCA (1M) – $699.00 (pair)
  • (2) Foundation SX Speaker Cable (8ft) – $749.00 (Pair)
  • (2) Foundation SX Power Cable 12AWG – $699.00
  • (1) Foundation SX Power Cable 10AWG – $799.00
foundation sx cable review


The Foundation SX cables may be the entry-level into Sytnergystic Research, but you are certainly not getting an entry-level product. Sound aside you get very well-made (in America) cables that look as good as they perform. The speaker cables and analog interconnects have a wonderful snug fit ensuring great contact and signal transfer. The Power cables are sturdy and large enough for nearly any current load. The only thing I did notice with the power cables, was the IEC ends were a bit loose on my Rotel CD-11, though not so on my Marantz or the Viva. I would venture to guess that the Rotel’s male prongs are a bit thinner than usual, but I want to mention it as it is possible you will run into that. At the the end of the day, I am very pleased with what I have heard from the cables in my own system and imagine that these are the types of cables that I could have for some time even as I upgrade components over time. I don’t think that my system is at the top of its performance capability so if I had purchased these to own I wouldn’t have to worry that as soon as I get a better amp or speakers I would need to upgrade the cables. There is nothing worse than buying something than feeling like you need to upgrade immediately, and I think the Foundation SX line from Synergystic Research, offers a good value in the world of Hifi Cables. These cables could work well in systems costing many times what my own system costs. That said SR’s higher lines will offer more performance for those with systems that can take advantage of the benefits. If you are in the market for a new set of cables for your system, you should audition the Foundation Cables in your own system to see if the fit is right for you.

For more information about Synergystic Research click the link below

Synergystic Research provided Hifi Chicken with sample cables for the purpose of this review. Synergystic Research nor any Affiliate paid in part or full in exchange for this review.

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