Bybee Holographic AC Cord Adapter
Ever wonder why I am a such big fan of Jack Bybee’s products? The reason is simple: his creations, especially his latest efforts, provide a level of sound quality encountered in the most awe-inspiring and sophisticated systems. Audio Note and Audio Consulting of Switzerland, two prime examples, possess a sound that haunts and eludes, particularly in authenticity of the human voice and naturalness of high frequencies. If you’ve ever looked inside any of their products, you will have seen that they're built to a very high standard—which partly explains their exorbitant cost. And they sound more realistic than perhaps anything I’ve heard, including my own system. But there's one other factor, besides price, that precludes my owning them—they have low output power.
This is a problem because I like to listen to music at realistic levels. I have very large loudspeakers with 18" woofers and to control their excursion requires a powerful solid-state amplifier with a high damping factor. Thus far the only amplifier that has been able to do so, while remaining true to the source, has been my beloved Behold BPA768 (and I'm using a pair!). There area few other reasons why I love the design of these German-made amps (I wrote about that here). Unfortunately, the Behold amps do not have the heart and soul of a low-power, single-ended, minimally-designed tube amplifier.
So, what is one to do?
Tweak, that's what. Tweak the system till it sounds like a single-ended triode on steroids! After living with Bybee products for years (as well as other notables like Stein Music, Novum Resonators and these little plugs from Audio Vaccine called the Music Serum), I find my system moving in the direction of those rare, splendid, ultra-expensive systems I’ve long admired and desired.
The latest Bybee product, the Holographic AC Adapter, has taken my system to a place I would never have thought possible.
Mike Garner, owner of the Tweek Geek, sells many of the aforementioned products and has no problem guiding a potential customer in the right direction. Asked what he would choose for himself, I’d bet one of his top choices would be the latest version of the Bybee Stealth AC conditioner.
Jack Bybee is a retired physicist who specializes in the mysterious world of quantum electrodynamics. It's a well-known fact that many types of noise run rampant in our electric supply and make their way into our equipment causing various distortions. Hence the proliferation of AC line and ground conditioners. Bybee takes a different approach, addressing a specific type of noise called 1/f, where f is frequency. "This, says Bybee, qualifies it as a low-frequency type noise and every single AC conditioner on the market is designed to address high-frequency noise. Except mine."
Bybee, who just turned 85, simply could not keep up with the manufacturing demands for his products (which are largely hand-made) and as a result Mike Garner was licensed to do so. Garner has been steadily and quietly building Bybee products for more than five years.
The latest iteration of the Stealth conditioner, as well as other products, employs what Bybee calls “Crystal” technology. The newest Stealth AC conditioner is quite pricey at $6,700, but Garner is offering a holiday price reduction of $5,000.
If $5,000 is still beyond what you can afford, Garner has been busy building the Bybee Holographic AC Adapter, the subject of this review, which has a retail price of $2,795 (on sale for $2,000). Based on its sonic performance in my system, purchasing it is a no-brainer. Bybee’s previous products have been pretty amazing, but his new Crystal technology is something else! If you're wondering what is this Crystal business is all about—shucks, so am I. The best description I’ve found is from Russell Lichter’s recent review of Bybee's Crystal AC power cord:
The “stuff” developed by Bybee contains “crystal-like” materials that are activated by electromagnetism and have the uncanny ability to affect the alignment of protons in specific proximal atoms. Based on this ‘old fashioned’ model of the atom, such an alignment results in the nucleus having the properties of a bar magnet. This in turn results in an “easier” (more stable) path for EMF and therefore a reduction of the deleterious effects of capacitive and inductive reactance as well as molecular noise. If the components of an unaligned nucleus, protons and neutrons, churn about producing continuously fluctuating magnetic poles, it is easy to conceive that an array of fixed-pole nuclei will provide a consistent and predictable path for the passage of charged particles, as well as exerting a profound influence on the behavior of electrons in the “orbit” of the nucleus. Or something like that. Jack Bybee was careful to point out that his description, on which this speculation is based, was only an hypothesis; what I’ve written is several times removed from that.
The Bybee Crystal AC cord employs none of special metals used in the Bybee Holographic AC Adapter, hence it is nearly $1200 less ($1,500). The Bybee Holographic AC Adapter is in many ways the same product as the $5,500 Mk II Speaker Bullets I wrote about last spring (here). Bear in mind that Russell compared his longtime reference LessLoss DFPC Signature AC cord ($1,150), against the Bybee Crystal Cord, and it bettered the LessLoss in ways that surprised even Russell (read his review here). Now, just try to imagine how much better the Crystal AC cord sounded when equipped with the Holographic Adapter!
Physically, the Bybee Holographic AC Adapter is attractively made: it is cylindrical in shape, 6 1/2" long by slightly more than 2" wide. Each high quality Gaofei IEC plug (male and female) is made of high-grade
Rhodium plated copper. The 8" long tail (as well as internal) is made of high-current, 10 awg, finely stranded annealed copper. Garner boasts "This AC Adapter can handle any amount of current thrown at it."
Placing the Bybee Holographic AC Adapters at the amplifiers was the logical place to start since Garner sent me only one pair. Everything was plugged into the newly released Bybee/Curl Holographic AC conditioner(which, by the way, also uses Crystal technology).
Okay, with all the Bybees already in the system, one might consider more to be overkill. I can understand this, in light of high costs and diminishing returns. This question has arisen before: just how much Bybee in one system is too much? I can report that I clearly haven't reached the saturation point because the addition of the two Holographic Adapters took my system decidedly closer to my ideal.
Turn up the quiet
Serious evaluations didn't begin until the 200-hour burn-in mark was reached. Overall, the soundstage became what you might call more “relaxed” with an increase in focus and image specificity. Bass quality and solidity improved, while the noise-floor seemed to drop even further. High frequencies had an authenticity and a three-dimensionality that appeared almost halo-like around the Sunny Majestic’s huge physical presence. These behemoths did a better disappearing act than Chris Angel!
Bybee devices in practice have proven their bona fides time and time again. The SES Bullets and Bybee/Curl AC conditioner are markedly superior to the older models. Of course, a potential purchaser hearing this sort of talk usually suspects advertising hoopla. So I asked Moreno Mitchell and Russell Lichter, respectively, to write on the Bybee/Curl AC conditioner (read it here) and Crystal AC cord because I thought I might come across as too biased in Jack Bybee’s favor. I felt sure that these products were so good that others—who ears I respect—would also find them extraordinary. Their reviews confirmed my experience.
After many months of listening to these Bybee products, I have come to the conclusion that essentially its all about removing unwanted noise. Simple. What's not so simple is understanding how it's done. That's for all Bybee’s competitors to try and figure out. I could care less. What matters most to me is whether these products work as advertised and if so, then my only job is to help spread the word of my personal experiences through this review.
With the Bybee Holographic AC Adapters in my system, I have come closer to what I call the perfect storm: a sonic presentation of such convincing authenticity, I unhesitating regard it as a reference against which I can compare any and all comers. There is a liquidity throughout the entire frequency range that is hypnotic. I have encountered few systems that rival the sheer realism I am now experiencing. What's also interesting is how different it sounds from the ideal systems I've heard: not as liquid on the top or as revealing in its purity quotient, but it's so big, weighty and (very natural) alive sounding.
I am getting closer (not all the way there yet) to what these mega-priced systems offer with no apology necessary when it comes to power output. Two Behold 600-watt solid-state amps behaving, even remotely, with the authenticity and finesse of Audio Note or Audio Consulting is a feat few will believe until they hear it for themselves.
Consider this: the Bybee Crystal AC Cord retails for $1,500, which would seem somewhat expensive if it were merely another good AC cord. But the fact is that this particular AC cord will embarrass cords costing ten-times as much. Adding the Bybee Holographic AC Adapter moves the price to a $3,500 total, but it moves the combo to that rarified strata where only the most outrageously beautiful (and expensive) products currently dwell. To be able to achieve that goal, to be able to arrive at that sonic place, at this price, I would have considered impossible had I not heard it for myself.
Need I say more?
Price: $2795.00 each [discounted to $1999.00]
Tweek Geek, Denver Colorado