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May 2020
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine

Synergistic Research UEF Record Weight
Aspired to inspire.
Review By Robert S. Youman Of Positive Feedback

 

Synergistic Research UEF Record Weight Aspired to inspire. Review By Robert S. Youman Of Positive Feedback

 

  One great satisfaction as a reviewer and eternal romantic is when one discovers something new that significantly enhances the emotional connection to one's music. This can have even a greater impact when that something is simple and easy to implement. No unpacking and backbreaking transport to the listening room. No re-arrangement of racks. No additional expensive cabling. No burn in. No burn out.

 

Enter The Synergistic Research UEF
(Uniform Energy Field) Record Weight
When evaluating resonance control, isolation, and mass weighting devices, one needs to consider certain caveats. I have played with many, and my findings almost always support the infamous audiophile axiom that most can provide a clear difference in sound, but not necessarily for an improvement in sound quality. Different but not always better.

Analog front ends tend to greatly benefit from additional fine tuning with these devices if done correctly and with balance and moderation. You want control, but you don't want to deaden or over dampen. The correct amount of pace, rhythm, and timing, along with proper air and ambiance can often be a difficult thing to lock in. You need to allow for a little bounce, if not breathing room for the mechanics, or the sound will seem flat and lifeless.

My turntable setup has included a variety of footers, cones, platforms, and record weights over the years. Those that really stood out were products from Magico, Adona, Butcher Block Acoustics, SRA, and Stillpoints. Two of my favorites are the VPI Periphery Outer Ring Record Clamp ($1100) and the HRS Analog Disk Heavy (ADH) Record Weight ($510). If you can keep that vinyl LP weighted down and flat without overkill for proper stylus tracking, you will be amazed at the results. In addition, a nicely balanced amount of resonance control will be the icing on the cake.

For this review, I will be evaluating the Synergistic Research UEF Record Weight ($895). This design includes an interesting combination of unique materials and the implementation of the same UEF technologies that are utilized in many Synergistic Research products. If you ever wanted a quick and efficient before and after analysis of what UEF technology can provide, this is your opportunity. Along with the included HFT (High Frequency Transducer) tuning devices, the results are immediate and clear.

I will also compare the Synergistic Research UEF Record weight to the HRS ADH Record Weight mentioned above, the legendary Shun Mook LP Clamp ($4800) and the original VPI Signature Record Weight ($150) that came standard with my VPI Avenger turntable. 

 

Review System  

· Sonus Faber Stradivari Speakers

· REL No. 25 Reference Subwoofers

· VAC Signature Mk IIa SE Preamplifier w/Phono Section

· Pass Labs XA100.5 Monoblock Amplifiers

· VPI Avenger Plus Turntable

· VPI Unipivot Fatboy Tonearm w/Nordost Reference Phono Wire

· van den Hul Crimson XGW Stradivarius Moving Coil Cartridge

· dCS Bartók DAC

· Aurender N10 Music Server

· Synergistic Research Element CTS Cables throughout

· Synergistic Research PowerCell 12 UEF SE Power Conditioner and SRX Power Cord

· Synergistic Research Passive Ground Block

· Rix Rax Hoodoo Component Rack

· Adona Zero GX1 Amplifier Stands

· Custom Isolation Inc. Acrylic Shelves

· HRS Analog Disk Heavy (ADH) Record Weight

· Magico QPod Isolation Footers

 

Caveat Emptor
System synergy and personal taste are critical when evaluating high-end audio products. This review is based on my subjective requirements, my subjective ears, my specific system configuration, and my specific listening room. This combination is only one data point of many that exist out there for these components. Please consider my comments and analysis appropriately.

 

Synergistic Research UEF Record Weight Aspired to inspire. Review By Robert S. Youman Of Positive Feedback

 

Design
Rather than paraphrase a few statements about the design elements of the Synergistic Research UEF Record Weight, let's use the appropriate information below in italics taken directly from the Synergistic Research website:

The UEF Record Weight was developed in conjunction with our new MiG SX footers and so shares many of the same sonic traits, including the ability to dramatically expand the scale and layering of your soundstage while improving timbral accuracy and tonal density.

During the design phase, we pursued two competing designs simultaneously. One was a record clamp that locked to the center platter pin, and the other was a suspended record weight. Initially, we felt the record clamp would offer better performance but quickly discovered one significant drawback, once locked down the clamp becomes an extension of the platter and this prevents minute variations in lateral and vertical movement, thus compressing the soundstage when directly compared to our suspended record weight design.

We then maximized performance by experimenting with different mass loads in the main stainless steel and carbon fibre body and various leaf spring suspensions that form the connection between the mass of the stainless steel and the tungsten carbon bearings that make contact with the record itself.

Of course, we also experimented with different bearing materials, but just as with MiG SX, tungsten carbon quickly proved superior to other materials like brass, bronze, and stainless steel.

After fine-tuning the mass and the suspension, we voiced the record weight with an internal UEF element and an external UEF option that allows you to choose between two sonic balances in the form of a Red and a Blue HFT specially voiced to deliver air and detail or warmth and liquidity.

When you place the included BLUE HFT on top of the UEF Record Clamp, you experience more air and detail with a cooler and in some recordings, a more dramatic holographic soundstage. This is perfect for listening to artists like Roger Waters or electronic music with dramatic phase effects.

When you place the included RED HFT on top of the UEF Record Clamp you experience rich tonal warmth and greater liquidity with a smoother presentation. This is perfect for vocal recordings like Frank Sinatra and Diana Krall or anytime you want greater warmth and musicality.

Dimensions: 2.9" x 3.2" x 3.2" (HxWxD)
Weight: 2.1 lbs (33oz)

 

Synergistic Research UEF Record Weight Aspired to inspire. Review By Robert S. Youman Of Positive Feedback

 

Sound
The UEF Record Weight is a game changer. Based on my varied but somewhat limited experience, virtually all record weights or clamps have a definite impact on the sound (see below for some comparisons), but the UEF had such a greater scale of inner density, rhythmic drive, and musical coherence that I was quite taken from the first drop of the needle.

Whether it be due to age or an increasing sensitivity to distortion and edge, I continue to find that much of what comes through the door these days for review is amazingly transparent, but just too much in your face and strained. Yes, I am hearing tremendous levels of detail and attack, but it can come at a cost. The lack of liquidity and timbral purity can make extensive listening sessions exhaustive and sometimes overwhelming.

The UEF Record Weight gives you the best of both worlds. Yes, I was hearing more information from the hallowed grooves of my most beloved LPs, but it was with such an organic and natural rendering that in many cases I had to get up and play the individual tracks again and again (which my lower lumbar firmly resists with every attempt). Playback was so transformative that I had to immediately reaffirm what I was hearing.

I don't need to go through the standard audiophile check list here. See additional comments below. However, I must say that the correctness of execution was hammered home over and over again. This combination of dimensionality, physicality, and bloom was quite impressive. You know it when you hear it. My listening sessions went on for ever. No saturation. No fatigue.

Compared to other options in hand, the UEF proved to not only provide something new and better, but also the flexibility to find tune for your system needs. For example, after reviewing several Synergistic Research products with UEF technology over the years, this was the first time that I preferred the Red rather than the Blue HFT options. The additional purity and sense of ease was exactly what I was seeking. Again, the UEF impact on the system was easy to hear. Just a quick swap of red, blue or no HFT at all brought immediate results.

 

Comparisons
As stated earlier, everything can make a difference. Compared to no record weight at all, the VPI Signature did a fine job of bringing out a significant level of detail and extending the sound stage in all directions. For the price, this is still an excellent option. However, the Signature offered nowhere near the abundance of fleshed out information and effortless liquidity as that of the UEF.

It's not clear that the Shun Mook is still out there and generally available for purchase. Said to be manufactured from a rare dried ebony wood from Africa, it has acquired a very loyal following over the years. Extraordinarily expensive at $4800 and difficult to track down, I was finally able to find a few European dealers on the Internet. I was also recently informed that The Cable Company here in the USA carries the product line. An audiophile friend shipped me his Shun Mook for use in this comparison. He claims that it was purchased more than 10 years ago. 

Bottom line, the Shun Mook was also extremely impressive and added a bit more warmth and color over and above the UEF, though it did not provide the killer level of micro and macro dynamics of the same. This enrichment of the sound was not simpatico with my system needs and my personal taste, but I could see that it might be a better fit for others. Be careful though, apparently there are many knockoffs out there.

Up until now, the HRS ADH was the bench mark for my system. Like the Signature and Shun Mook, the ADH had plenty of dimensionality and drive well beyond having no record weight at all. It managed to dig out an additional layer of harmonic texture and presence that for years was very satisfying to my ears. Bass performance in particular was both tight and weighty—a very nice combination.

I would have never noticed a lack of anything until the UEF entered the team picture. With the UEF, there was now a more clearly defined sound stage with even more layers of inner detail. Performance at both ends of the frequency range had an urgency and flow that had my head spinning. Mids were even more seductive and tangible. Tone, timbre, and pitch were spot on for a variety of instruments and vocals. The number of goose bump generating spacial cues now seemed endless. I clearly discovered a new bench mark!

 

Music

Synergistic Research UEF Record Weight Aspired to inspire. Review By Robert S. Youman Of Positive Feedback

 

Hans Theessink, Jeddermann Remixed: The Soundtrack – "Way Down In The Hole" (Blue Groove)

This LP has reached the top of my play stack and has received much attention as of late. Hans Theessink is a wonderful guitarist and mandolin player from the Netherlands. He has a unique vocal style and specializes in the Delta blues and roots music. With the UEF Record Weight in place, Han's voice just seems to hang in space in support of a huge raspy three dimensional image. Background vocalists kick in about halfway through and filled the room well beyond the speakers. This is a superb recording but the UEF makes it even more special.

 

Synergistic Research UEF Record Weight Aspired to inspire. Review By Robert S. Youman Of Positive Feedback

 

Handel, Water Music – Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Nicholas McGegan (Harmonia Mundi)

One of my favorite interpretations, this LP has been in my collection since issued in 1988. It has never sounded better. Don't be surprised that the Engineer is Peter McGrath of Wilson Audio fame and was mastered by Doug Sax. With Peter, Doug, and an all authentic instrument orchestra, there is some real magic going on here. The UEF Record Weight brings out more of the natural sheen and harmonics of both the violins and violas. Even the bassoons and trumpets seem to have the proper splat and blat like the real thing. You can feel the rumble and reflection of the recording venue. My oh my. Great Stuff!

 

Synergistic Research UEF Record Weight Aspired to inspire. Review By Robert S. Youman Of Positive Feedback

 

John Coltrane, Blue Train – "I'm Old Fashioned" (Analogue Productions)

Analogue Productions (Blue Note) just reissued this LP on 45 RPM for the second time around. It seems like I have been waiting for two or three years, but it was well worth the wait. I now understand the $300 to $400 asking price for the first pressing on eBay and Discogs. On my favorite track "I'm Old Fashioned," Coltrane's sax just seems to float on stage left with as much burnished texture and air that I can ever remember on any of his releases. Ditto for Curtis Fuller on trombone. Tone and timbre are flat out breath taking for both instruments. Paul Chambers on bass has never been much noticed before by my ears, but here with the support of the UEF Record Weight, he is clearly more pronounced and dominate. Producer Rudy Van Gelder would be proud!

 

Final Thoughts
The Synergistic Research UEF Record Weight has provided a compelling new upgrade to my system performance and specifically my analog playback. My cherished late night listening sessions are now even more enjoyable and satisfying. Though not inexpensive, implementation and evaluation is so simple and pain free that that readers should strongly consider the possibilities. Like all Synergistic Products, there is a 30-day return policy that makes it even easier to take the plunge. Highly recommended.

 

 

 


Check Out Positive Feedback
See many great reviews by Positive Feedback at this link.

 

 

Specifications
Type: Vinyl LP record weight
Synergistic Research UEF Record Weight
Retail: $895

 

 

Manufacturer
Synergistic Research Inc.
1736 E. Borchard Ave.
Santa Ana, CA 92705

Voice: (949) 476-0000
Website: www.SynergisticResearch.com 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

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