as reviewed by Fransico Duran
Do you ever think about the pile of money you've spent on tweaks that gave littleif anymusical improvement in proportion to the amounts you spent? Let's not forget the inconvenience of balancing your preamplifier, CD player, or amp(s) on bearings, plastering your speaker drivers with adhesive dots, and blue-tacking spikes to everything else in your system. I'm guilty, too, and the proof is in that pile of stuff that I have in the corner of my back room.
In our quests to improve the sound of our systems, we gearheads will try just about anything, but, as many of us have found, the improvements accessories bring are often incremental at best. Many times, the differences are barely perceptible. In addition to the cost and questionable sonic improvements, there is the "huh factor" that emerges when you try to explain to your non-audiophile family and friends the enormous sonic benefits reaped because your wires are lifted just the right height above the floor, and are routed around other cables in the correct manner. I too have seen that embarrassed look on my friends' faces. Also, my wife absolutely refuses to use the CD player with "those dumb bearings" under it, for fear of knocking it off the shelf. Perhaps, in the back of our minds, we are starting to admit that many of these devices don't work all that well, but the quest for better sound is still there, and the urge to improve our systems is greater than the gravity that holds our wallets in our back pockets. This is part and parcel of what being an audiophile is about.
If we are going to spend precious time and money in an effort to improve our sound, why not spend wisely? How about buying high quality capacitors and resistors and soldering them in place of your old ones? That certainly changes the sound of a component, but it is also a crapshoot, and you are playing the game of second-guessing the intentions of the designer. Although I have had positive experiences with capacitor modifications in my gear, not all audio equipment benefits from replacing ordinary caps with more expensive or exotic ones.
This brings me to a rather sticky pointelectronic surgery. How many of us are ready, willing and able to take a hot soldering iron and wire snips to our sacred high end gear? I know some guys that are afraid to snap a ferrite ring around the captive power cord to their CD players in the fear that it will dent the cord! If you are remotely that kind of audio buff, you can forget the Bybee Technologies Quantum Purifiers, but you will be bypassing one of the best new finds for improving the music-making ability of your system.
I have already discussed the benefits of Bybee technology in my Balanced Power Technologies 2.5 Ultra review. Recently, we at audioMUSINGS/Positive Feedback Online were lucky to meet Mike Garner of CryoTweaks. Among the products and services that Mike sells are the devices from Bybee Technologies and from the mind of Jack Bybee. The Quantum Purifiers are said to work at the subatomic level to reduce electronic noise. They are made from ceramics that are doped with oxides of rare-earth metals such as zirconium and neodymium. The devices are electrically passive, and are said to be stable in any circuit. What, a device that doesn't interfere with the musical signal, but cleans it up? This sounds too good to be true.
The Bybees come in two versions. There is a "plug & play" version, which is a little component with connectors on each end and Bybee Purifiers in between. It can be installed between your speaker wire and speaker connectors with no soldering required. The other version looks like a big black resistor, and comes in two sizes. The larger ones, which are 2 inches long and 9/16 of an inch in diameter, are used in AC applications, and with all loudspeaker drivers where space is not an issue. The smaller devices measure 1 inch long by 3/8 of an inch in diameter. These can be used in lower-current AC circuits, or in situations in which the larger ones won't fit. Both have one-inch copper leads at each end.
Mike Garner sent two of the large and two of the small purifiers. After I exchanged a few e-mails with Mike, we decided that the small ones would go into my Nohr CD-1 CD player. I installed them between each positive wire from the circuit board to both the left and right output jacks. For the speakers, the most beneficial application was between the positive wires from the crossover to the positive terminal on each woofer driver. I know that this involves some electrical surgery, but it was outpatient surgeryin each case, the units were in and out in about 15 minutes. Credit is due to Ed Morawski for the solder work.
As far as break-in time goes, 72 hours did the trick. Ed, who had my CD player for several days before and after the installation, said that he easily noticed an improvement after the modification. As for the speakers, I took them home immediately after their Bybees were installed because I wanted to give them a full break-in before any serious listening.
I started out by removing the Balanced Power units that reside in my system, as they both have Bybee Purifiers inside them, and I didn't want them to influence what I was hearing. They were replaced with two Brickwall units. The Nohr CD-1 CD player and Spendor 2/3s were installed and listened to separately. Although improvements were noted in both, it was in the speakers that they were most notable. After a lot of listening, I reinstalled my BPT units, and this simple experiment showed the cumulative effect that the Bybees had on the system.
The strong suit of the Bybee Purifiers is coherence. Music now flowed more uniformly out of my speakers. The Bybees brought solidity and focus to the music, as if its basic elements were suddenly commanded to stand at attention and march in unison. Another analogy might be listening to a high school band playing Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyrie" at a football game, and the next night listening to the L.A. Philharmonic play the same piece. I had the distinct feeling that I was hearing better integration of the drivers in the Spendors. It was as if the music was coming out of one big driver that covered the frequency spectrum, as opposed to two in a box on each side of the room. At the same time, the performers were on a very three-dimensional space. The soundstage improved from front to back and sideways. The atmospheric qualities of both my CD player and speakers were now bumped up a few notches.
A noticeable reduction in glare andto a slight extentgrain was apparent with the Bybee mod. I thought that my components had as little grain and glare as possible, but I noticed improvement in these areas just the same. With them came an increased clarity and inner detailing. Background sounds and lyrics that were barely perceptible were now easy to follow, yet details were not hyped up or exaggerated due to added brightness. Rather, they were more fleshed out, and more a natural part of the soundscape. Suddenly it was easier to follow the words to the songs on several of my UB40 and Black Uhuru CDs. On a couple of Tom Petty CDs, it was easier to hear how his southern drawl is part of what makes his singing unique. And on Sergio Mendes' disc Brazil, the subtle instrumental brushes on percussion bloomed in a more effortless manner.
The bass on every CD that I played sounded more full and deep. At first I thought that there was a bump in the bass/midbass, and was a bit concerned, but my fears diminished with time. With a little more break-in, the bass range tamed down, and an even tonal balance was restored. The additional break-in brought solid, textured, and flexible bass performance. There was freshness and liveliness to all of the discs that I played that my speakers and CD player lacked before.
I really liked the effect of the Bybee Quantum Purifiers. They brought an evenness and cohesion to the music that for me was well worth the price of admission. The Bybees smoothed out all of the wrinkles in timing, dynamics, and space, and brought all of the musicians together as a musical whole. The Bybee Quantum Purifiers are more than frivolous tweaks. They are a legitimate upgrade in musical satisfaction. Highly recommended! Francisco Duran