Review Synergistic Research Master Fuse: A masterful accessory (2023)

Review Synergistic Research Master Fuse: A masterful accessory (1)

Overseeing the large variety of accessories for high quality audio systems, one category stands out as probably most effective: the audio grade fuse. Over the past sixteen years, I have extensively tested audio grade fuses from several brands and repeatedly, I reported my amazement regarding the profound effects on reproduced music. During that period, about a hundred fuses must have slipped through my fingers, finding their way to about twenty devices and power conditioners in three systems. The sonic improvements were such that I have to strongly advice every music lover with a good system to take ‘the audio grade fuse narrative’ very seriously indeed. | Voor Nederlands, klik hier

Quantum Fuses from Synergistic Research

In recent years, the so-called Quantum Fuses from American based Synergistic Research have become my favorites. Synergistic Research claims conducting continuous scientific research to improve and update their products. That’s why a new type of fuse emerges periodically. These types of fuses are indicated by a color. For HIFI.NL I have reviewed the Synergistic Research Blue, Orange and Purple fuses (all in Dutch). This review is about the effects of yet another fuse from Synergistic Research.

Cynics will argue that the practice of continuously upgrading the fuses is a rather sneaky -or, in fact, blunt- marketing trick. However, if the new type of fuse is always rated better than the previous one and the price increase remains within reasonable limits, the true audiophile will be inclined to accept this.

Keep in mind that the former types of fuses are not worthless immediately: these can be sold for a fair price or can be forwarded to other devices. In my systems, I can apply many fuses and therefore use a variegated mix by now, to my full satisfaction indeed.

Master Fuse from Synergistic ResearchÂ

Synergistic Research's current upgrade of the Quantum Fuse caused quite a stir. For a change, this new type is not designated by a color, but is named ‘Master’. The fuss was about the price that has almost tripled compared to the Purple Fuse to a whopping 649 euros! Wow, swallow that! Still, the Master Fuse is far from being the most expensive fuse on the market...

Review Synergistic Research Master Fuse: A masterful accessory (2)

Synergistic Research states that the Master Fuse is a breakthrough product, a fuse unlike any other, including their own former fuses, named Master for a reason. Quite noteworthily, according to Synergistic Research, only one Master Fuse in a well-chosen device can be enough to take the entire audio system to the next level, provided that other devices are equipped with Orange and Purple Fuses.

Well, if that's true, this affair can make sense and be more or less affordable after all... Synergistic Research even suggests that one may have too many Master Fuses. Distributor Kemp Elektroniks responds by stating that several customers reported a convincing improvement with each extra Master Fuse.

To satisfy my burning curiosity, immediately after introduction, I ordered a Master Fuse for the separate power supply of my preamplifier. For the preamplifier, because according to audio experts -self-proclaimed or not-, the soundstage is mainly ‘created’ in sources and preamplifiers, whereas power amplifiers are more or less considered a piece of ‘brute force’ that only ‘pumps up’ the signal

The Master Fuse in the preamplifierÂ

Review Synergistic Research Master Fuse: A masterful accessory (3)

The audible effect of the Master Fuse in the preamplifier was immediately apparent, not to say: stunning. Even before breaking-in -a real phenomenon which may take about 300 hours-, I heard improvements on all audiophile parameters you can come up with. It was not a matter of somewhat tauter bass notes or slightly reduced edginess and such, but rather the rendering of the music was elevated to a higher level altogether. Hardness and sharpness in the sound which may irritate the ear were gone, the low end sounded faster and purer and revealed richer tone colors, dynamic contrasts were clearly improved, the already low noise floor dropped further, midrange sounded more full-bodied and, last but not least, timbres came across as more authentic.

There was more information to listen to than before, but such without paying the price of some introduced unrest or even listening fatigue. On the contrary, the entire sound image came across as more relaxed. Music of every genre suddenly sprayed effortlessly from the loudspeakers into the room and that ease of reproduction invited to long listening sessions. In a way, the effects of this fuse gave me a sense of recognition, like: yes, that's how music should sound! I think everyone would recognize this.

In my report to importer Kemp Elektroniks, I stated that the purity of sound suggested that all other fuses somehow add a bit of distortion and the Master Fuse is the first one that does not. Exactly how the Master Fuse achieves this, remains vague. But hey, I use a truckload of accessories that yield improvements in a rather unclear way. The combined effects of all these products nevertheless elevated my systems to a higher level! Only the sonic result counts, because ultimately, this hobby is about listening to music!

A second Master FuseÂ

Impressed by the performance of the Master Fuse, I couldn't resist the temptation of ordering a second one to apply to a source device. As my sacd-player only has soldered PCB fuses, my phono stage was the logical choice. Sure enough, after inserting the fuse, the overall improvement of sound playing vinyl records was even more convincing than with digital sources. This was especially apparent listening to recordings of classical music.

While the sound of violins used to be somewhat reminiscent of thin, scratchy strings, there now was more of an impression of the wooden body of the musical instrument, of ‘audible wood’, so to speak. The rendering as a whole had clearly become fuller; however, without a trace of fatness or slowness. I wonder whether one can achieve such an improvement by buying a better cartridge and what that price tag would be...

Review Synergistic Research Master Fuse: A masterful accessory (4)

I hit upon a vinyl record by The English Concert under Trevor Pinnock which provided me with some evincive sounding recordings of ‘highlights of classical music’ such as Pachelbel's well-known Canon. That particularly beautifully played piece of music now sounded unprecedentedly full and compelling; I almost needed a handkerchief. With two Master Fuses in the system, the sound of vinyl clearly gets more under my skin than ever before. It is my impression that the two Master Fuses do not so much pull the sound in a certain direction, but above all remove ‘high-frequency unrest’ that apparently got in the way of optimal listening pleasure in the past. What then remains, is pure music.

The Master Fuse in the power amplifierÂ

After ample consideration, I decided to try a Master Fuse in the power amplifier, although, as explained, one would not expect quite the effect insertion in a source component yields. However, one may give it a try, because Kemp Elektroniks gives a not good, money back guarantee of thirty days. This period is long enough to allow the fuse to break-in, especially if the equipment is always (or most of the time) ‘on’.

Review Synergistic Research Master Fuse: A masterful accessory (5)

To my pleasant surprise, the effect was roughly of the same magnitude as in the preamp and globally along the same lines. A difference was that there now also an impression of more power and control emerged: pure power, so to speak. Of course, that is not strange, because the power amplifier has the task to impose its will on the loudspeakers. Even more than already was the case, the difficult to drive Thiel CS6 loudspeakers were taken ‘in a stranglehold’.Â

This sense of total control could not be missed enjoying a recent cd by Dutch pianist Marcel Worms delivering his interpretation of Das Wohltemperierte Klavier. This masterpiece by Bach imposes high demands on the audio equipment because of its complex melodic lines and oftentimes very fast playing where the left hand is as important as the right one. The low notes regularly dive into the deep, the intelligible articulation of which is too big a task for a mediocre audio system. Listening to ‘Aunt Mary’s stereo turret’, one wouldn’t even hear half of the musical information. A nice test case for control is the opening of BMW 870, a hard touched deep tone. That really sounds like ‘KLENG!’, as tight as can be.

Much better than before inserting the Master Fuses, I now heard a homogeneous sound with easy-to-follow virtuosity across the entire width of the piano. The lower notes sounded unprecedentedly tight and accurate, while the higher notes were freed from a certain hardness. The latter improvement allowed listening at higher volume levels without excitating the eardrum. It may sound cliché, but indeed, it did seem like there was a real piano in the room now. In my imagination, I can see the neighbors sighing, ‘Oh no, he now even has a piano!’.

Review Synergistic Research Master Fuse: A masterful accessory (6)

Fuses are directionalÂ

A strange and somewhat controversial aspect of audio grade fuses is directional sensitivity. Turn the fuse around and you usually will hear a difference. That difference usually does not disappear after break-in or over time. The fuse apparently has a preferred direction. This is strange, because the fuse ‘sees’ alternating voltage and alternating current. My source devices even receive symmetrical voltage from a regenerator. Then how can the fuse 'feel' a direction?

After several weeks of breaking-in, I flipped the three Maser Fuses one by one. I didn't hear any difference in the phono stage. Nice, because then you can't make the wrong choice. After turning the fuse around, the preamplifier responded with a somewhat ‘softer’ sound; in my ears certainly not better. Back again. Turning the fuse around in the power amplifier gave an ambiguous result: it clearly sounded more dynamic, not to say almost 'over the top'. This seemed better to me at first; however, it also sounded a bit raw. Sure enough, after turning back again, I experienced the sound as more relaxed and natural. Listening to both directions is advisable; trust your ears -as you should always- and don't lay awake at night from it.

The difference between expensive and valuableÂ

Remains addressing the somewhat thorny point of the price. Who on earth pays 649 euros for a fuse? Is such a price justifiable? Of course, one can not rule out the possibility that a team of high-paid scientists are continuously researching new products at Synergistic Research. That has its price. Of course, there will be some profit for the company and certain individuals. However, as one won't find out exactly about this, it makes no sense to speculate and get excited about a high price. Certainly, the fuse is expensive, but the real issue is: is it valuable?Â

It seems more sensible to me to relate the price to the improvements the Master Fuse yields -or can yield- in a top class high-end system. In my case, I would need to purchase another pre- or power amplifier for a similar improvement, or very esoteric cabling. Following that strategy, even ten grand might not be enough. Furthermore, it's still questionable whether one can exactly copy the effects of the Master Fuse that way. So, in fact, the Master fuse is arguably not expensive compared to alternatives and, in that sense, represents good value. Therefore, my final judgement is that investing in a few Master Fuses in the context of a system for which the product is intended, not only is justified, but deserves my strongest recommendation!

Review Synergistic Research Master Fuse: A masterful accessory (7)


Synergistic Research's Master Fuse is a breakthrough product in accessories for high end audio systems. Dedicated music lovers owning a precious system and demanding dynamic, refined and realistic reproduction of their music, really shortchange themselves by not trying the Master Fuse. With a few Master Fuses, you get a lot more out of your system; it's that simple.

Synergistic Research Master Fuse
649 euro |Â
Rating 5 / 5

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