BYBEE EL RCA BULLETS SIGNAL PURIFIERS
$895 PER PAIR
BYBEE MAGIC BULLET II MINI INTERCONNECT BULLETS
$395 PER PAIR
First, we’d like to thank Michael Garner of tweekgeek.com for providing the samples for this review. We’ve known Mike for a long time and know he’s an upfront guy who is very knowledgeable in all sort of tweeks. We appreciate you Mike!
According to him, the $895/pair Bybee EL RCA Bullets offer the highest price/performance value in Bybee upgrades for RCA interconnects. Other Bybee products can range up to $3,700 a pair. Each Bullet comprises a 3-inch-long carbon fiber tube containing a Neutrik RCA plug and Cardas RCA jack, A Bybee Slipstream Purifier is placed on the positive leg, and high-purity copper wiring is used. He says that they perform superbly in all applications, but are especially recommended for phono cables.
Bybee RCA Bullet II’s ($895/pr) sound good like a phono enhancer should. I have to admit I didn't expect much from a pair of bullet shaped objects, sort of a dark jade in color, male RCA's at one end, female RCA's at the other end. I have used similar products for my speakers, both the very effective Walker High Definition Links (HDLs) and the equally efficacious Detail Magnifiers from EconoTweaks.
EL RCA Bullets (about 2/3 life-size)
Magic Bullet II mini Interconnect Bullets (life size)
The pics might confuse you, the EL is about 3" long, the II is about 2" and a bit thinner than the EL.
BYBEE = BYE-BYE TO GRUNGE?
All of them remove grunge. Grunge is everywhere in what we'd like to be a pristine electrical environment for our audio pleasures. "They're everywhere, they're everywhere" as a judge informed me when I said I'd never seen the cop who was waving me down when I was traveling at only a few miles over the speed limit. What's 30 miles over? Less than half of the posted speed. I still don't know why they got upset. Well, back in 1968 they saw things a bit differently.
Today we don't see grunge, but because of tweaks like the Bybee bullets seeing and acting like policemen and arresting grunge, we don't have to hear it, either. You see, you gotchur EMI and your RFI and all that spells mud . That's starts with M, ends with a D and that stands for trouble, right here in audio city!
That mud smears details such as soundstage and imaging. Worse, it softens attack and other transient detail. It can make bass sloppy (I didn't want to use muddy again), and highs steely. Remove a good bit of all of the grunge and your listening experience improves dramatically.
"But I use good electrical devices, my equipment all have robust power supplies to deal with that grunge; I use power conditioners! Why do I need anything else?"
All wires act like antennas. They do a superb job of it, too. I remember being able to hear my next door neighbor's friends talking on their Citizen Band radios...I heard them clearly through my speakers over my Steely Dan and even my Steeleye Span and often my Beethoven...now that really ticked me off.
Back then I lived with it. We don't need to live with grunge any more. I, thankfully, don't need nor even want to know if they would filter out CB noise, "Comin' at ya big buddy, see ya when the sun slides down" (My neighbor's best friend's words every single time he came over to see him...well, I added the sun sliding...I figured it would be something he'd say).
BYBEE = BS?
We at Stereomojo are always rather skeptical of “magic” products that purport to “do something” without any real scientific, ummm….science.
Of course, we understand that leading edge thinkers and inventors need to protect their secrets and results of years of intense research and development as well as the big bucks that are involved as well. According to Jack, the products are “A new kind of device incorporating carbon fiber and nanotechnology....originally developed for military applications, many of which are still highly classified". So how do they work? We asked the Tweekgeek:
According to Jack Bybee, the devices inside the Magic Bullet II's deal with a type of noise called 1/f (1 over f) noise that is very difficult to deal with using typical rf engineering methods. 1/f noise "rides along" the musical signal, making it difficult to eliminate. Jack explains it better than I do with this quote below:
Bybee Quantum Purifiers operate on the quantum mechanical level to regulate the flow of electrons that make up the signal (picture a metering light regulating freeway traffic flow). Current flow within the Quantum Purifier is unimpeded and ideal (think of the unencumbered flow of traffic on a lightly traveled expressway). During transit through the Quantum Purifier, quantum noise energy is stripped off the electrons, streamlining their flow through ensuing conductors. Unwanted quantum noise energy dissipates as heat within the Quantum Purifier rather than emerging as a layer of contamination residue over the audio/video information.
The benefits of this process extend beyond the physical length of the Quantum Purifier. As electrons speed through the purifier, a "slipstream" effect is formed which facilitates current flow in the surrounding conductors of the playback system. Introducing Bybee Quantum Purification into the electron path reduces quantum noise and increases signal velocity, resulting in performance improvement beyond what is attainable by any cable alone, no matter how well designed.
HYPE OR HERO?
I first inserted the EL RCA Bullets since they are said to work especially well in phono circuits. Well, as I always, say, it ain’t BS if it works. I'm really impressed with these nearly $900 little guys. Very easy to connect, just stick them into the phono input of your preamp and then connect your phono cables to the rear of the bullets. That's it! Bybee recommends you burn them in on a high level source for about 100 hours...preamp to amp would be the best, CDP to preamp less so. I have a cable burn-in device called the Mobie, so that's what I used (Bybee recommends the use of a cable device as first option, but...).
There was a very noticeable difference when I placed the Bullets at the end of my phono RCA's into the phono input RCA's after only 24 hours. After 100 hours it was better, but not hugely so.
I expected and got exactly what I thought I would get; as I said, less grunge.
Highs are more crystalline, like a dirty window cleaned with Windex by the crows who laugh too much (if you haven't seen the commercial, don't worry. It's not that good of a commercial). I was surprised that imaging became more 3-dimensional; my speakers already image like champs, stepping that up a bit was mind-blowing all by itself. The soundstage broadened and deepened a noticeable amount, too. Overall there's a feeling of being closer, more intimate with the music.
My first LP was Metheny's Tokyo Day Trip. I'd been listening to that 3 record set and Allen Toussaint's
Bright Mississippi (2 LPs) quite a bit, enamored by the superb music and equally fine recording. Perfect LPs for hearing a tweak such as this.
You really shouldn't consider this a tweak any more than you consider a new preamp or new speaker wires, or anything a tweak. It definitely is a part of your system; a component.
I kept asking myself if the $900.00 price tag was worth it. I'm still asking myself what liquor store I could knock off and get the bucks. If your pockets are deep enough to add a very significant improvement to your listening pleasure, then go out and purchase a pair from the nice guy who loaned them to me for review.
Playing a London Blue Back of Brahm's Piano Concerto No. 2 CS 6195 (Katchen, p., Ferencsik, c.) yielded some pleasures that were unexpected. Weight is rarely felt with many recordings, on many, many otherwise fine systems. You feel the sound pressure of a guitar when someone is in the same room playing. You especially feel it when a church organ plays as you're filing into the pews. Rarely do you feel the weight of much anything you listen to in your home. Instruments move air. That's how we hear anything. Yet, that weight upon our chests is sadly lacking in many systems. Obviously air is being moved by the diaphragms of the speakers, so why do we not feel it when we listen to those loudspeakers, those systems?
Regardless, there was more of that weight. I'm always impressed when the right keys of a piano sound like the right keys of a piano and not the plink, plink of a toy piano. Few recordings and few systems do that correctly. Control of the extreme highs is as much of a rarity as any part of musical playback. At one end we have muddy bass. I have no idea, I'm no electronics whiz but I would think building amps and speakers to get closer to reality in the bass region is easier than building circuitry to get those highs correctly. Just a supposition, as I've heard a lot more systems whose bass I liked than systems where I liked the extreme highs.
My system, while not screechy by any means, can get a bit steely sounding when highs are voluminous. I'm impressed with the sound of bass information, however. With the Bullets, everything becomes more correct...An audio buddy tells me he likes to be ripped apart by music. Dynamics that POP and grab you is part of what we perceive as real-life music. I think if he gets to hear these, he'll admit to being ripped apart. The Bullets seem to smooth out the extremes...not a filtering effect, just a bit of control the system lacked. I kept trying to find something negative about these little things; after all...shouldn't something that does what we expect a new preamp or amp to do be as large as a preamp or amp?
The very last LPs I listened to were Jennifer Warnes Famous Blue Raincoat and Ella Fitzgerald's Let No Man Write my Epitaph. I figured that the damned things were so impressive, they had to fall on their face and burn wildly in the night when playing female vocals. I tried my hardest to find any kind of weakness, additive or subtractive and I am the one who fell on my face and burned wildly in the night!
Listening to both the accompanying CD's and LP's of Pat Metheny's Tokyo Day Trip and Allen Toussaint's Bright Mississippi, I was convinced I have to get two pairs of the Bullet II's; incredible with the line level but where it really shines in my system is the phono input. I also listened with two friends on their systems:
John Fritz's system:
Wilson Maxx speakers
AR LS25 Mk. 2 preamp
VT 100 Mk. 2 amp
DVD/CD/SACD Dennon 2910
John Richardson's system:
Shahinian Compass speakers
Shahinian Double Eagle Sub
Threshold SA 3.9e and ODL HT-2 amplifiers
Mac Mini desktop computer
Lavry DA11 dac
On the big system (the very first Wilson speakers I have ever heard that I actually enjoyed listening to music, not just awesome sound), using the Bybee bullets and comparing them with the Bullet ELs, we were all impressed.
The same with the beautiful system our own Stereomojo reviewer John Richardson owns, I have no idea why he doesn't write a review of those speakers and subs, they are astounding! The bullets are fabulous, I am flabbergasted. I don't think John R. and John F. are as impressed as I am. They heard and commented upon the improvement, but still spoke of them as snake oil. If snake oil works, really works, then why worry?
I told "Dr. John" that a friend from Minnesota had stopped by and stayed the night and listened to quite a few LP's and was shocked. Of course I should add we'd partaken the joys of some Macallan 12 year old Scotch, but...
We listened to the Bullets and he kept saying, "It can't be, it just can't be...!"
Listening to Don Shirley's "Trio" on Cadence (Columbia reissued it a couple years later as "Water Boy (formerly "Trio") and in that iteration it was on Harry Pearson's vinyl list (one of the few LP's I actually enjoy on that list).
"It can't be...it just can't be...! Without the Bullets it's great, but with the Bullets it's like you moved back a few years, an earlier pressing, the master tapes...It just can't be!"
I wrote, "We all heard it, heard it did nothing wrong that we could perceive, so..."
And John (I could see the Cheshire cat grin in the e-mail) wrote: "Just remember that it’s my enlightened belief, as a scientist who knows about quantum thingamabobs, that the snake oil is greasing the electrons so they can move from quantum to quantum more easily. It’s kind of like the cat effect: when my cat sits on my amp, the static in her fur aligns the electron spins for a more coherent sound."
John N. Richardson, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Chemistry
We all agreed the Bybee EL’s at $895 sounded awesome, more of the same wonderful things done with the sound using the Bullet II's at $395. BUT we all agreed it was the Bullet II's that were the BBB, Big Bang for the Buck. The difference is noticeable, definitely so, but I could and hopefully will live happily with the Bullet II's
I don't remember getting quite as turned on by anything I've ever reviewed...it has to be the size! Big and it should do big things, small and it's nice if it makes improvements, but I expect just that, small improvements. These tiny things are a BIG BOX improvement.
I e-mailed Mike at The TweekGeek and asked a few questions:
Why phono purifiers, aren't the filters Bybee makes for loudspeakers, etc. going to filter out the same grunge?
The phono purifiers (they actually work on all RCA audio connections) were designed to offer a taste of what the larger Bybee Speaker Bullets do, at a much lower cost. Working on speaker level outputs requires a larger amount of material simply because the current and voltages are higher. Jack could get away with using a lot less of the Quantum Purification material in the Magic Bullet II.
As a consumer, I'm a bit surprised at the price, but at the same time realize the changes made are equal to any component change. What would you say to a customer questioning the price?
I always let the Magic Bullets "speak for themselves" by offering a free trial and a money back guarantee. The value the Magic Bullets offer is ultimately up to the listener, their tastes, and their system. What better way to find out how well they work than by installing them in your own system?
Is the burn-in as effective with a preamp to amp connection as opposed to using a cable burn-in device, have you "compared notes"?
No. Sorry. I know the phono output level is lower than the preamp output level. The reason for breaking them in with the preamp output level is simply to get it done faster. However, they do sound fantastic there too.
Any reason for the choice of a "jade look" of the Bullets?
It was a way to keep cost low to be honest. The material used to cover the Magic Bullet II is cheaper than the carbon fiber tubing used on the more expensive versions.
At the end of my time listening to the Bullet II, a friend from Minnesota visited and we stayed up very late listening to music.
His words,"I can't be, it just can't be!
So there you have it folks, hyperbole and the truth...and unusual as it may be, the hype equals the effect. I am convinced that this is as much of an improvement as a new amp, preamp or speakers. I'm bewitched, bothered, and bewildered. Less than $400 for a very significant improvement to your sound? The lower priced bullets deliver about 80% of what the more expensive models do. That seems like a no-brainer to me. If you have a more upscale, even higher resolution system, you should investigate the Bybee EL's. People often pay much more for much less improvement in their sound. Give Mike at Tweak Geek a call; you have a 30 day money-back guarantee to prove me wrong.
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