Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bybee Power Cord and the High Fidelity Cables CT-1 Ultimate Part 2

In Part 1 we covered the High Fidelity CT-1 Ultimate and Bybee power cord construction, design principles, and a review of the CT-1 power cord performance. These were 2 similar approaches to power cord design, with 2 distinct executions of these approaches. I really didn't want to compare cables directly, although in listening to both I could not really avoid it.

In comparison to the High Fidelity CT-1 Ultimate power cable, the first thing I noticed right off the bat was that the Bybee had a more forward  balance that suited the Auralic Vega DAC and Ryan Speakers a little better. The CT-1 Ultimate seemed a dB or two more recessed in the highs, lending a warm and smooth character of the sound, and pushing the soundstage a few feet behind the loudspeakers. The Bybee had the same depth and soundstaging, but the starting point of the soundstage was about a foot forward of the CT-1 Ultimate.

In the resolution department, the Bybee was very, very good. I heard every bit of detail that I heard with the CT-1 Ultimate. Dynamics were there, harmonics too. There might have been a slight bit of grain, but mind you we are splitting nanotubes here. In my modest system, the Bybee holds it's own quite well against the CT-1 Ultimate. This may prove different in a more exotic system, but nontheless the Bybee is a very good cord. Perhaps raising the performance bar for cords in the $1500 price range.

I could live with either of these cords for a long time. They help my audio components perform magic in my listening room. Creating an experience that is relaxing and very enjoyable. It really comes down to preferences and budget. I can't really call the Bybee "the poor man's CT-1 Ultimate" because it is simply different in it's presentation. But I can say that if you are looking to spend $1500 to $10,000 on a power cord for your audio component (s), you absolutely owe it to yourself to try the Bybee power cord in your system. You might just find musical bliss, and save a hell of a lot of cash...

Friday, July 25, 2014

Bybee Power Cord and the High Fidelity Cables CT-1 Ultimate Part 1

Cutting Edge Audiophile Power Cables

First off, this is not a shootout. It's not even a fair comparison if you look at the price points of the two cables. This is more of an informative piece on what these cables are capable of achieving in a good high end audio system. Both cables are cutting edge designs that offer tangible sonic benefits.

The Bybee power cord retails at $1499 for a 6 foot cord, and the CT-1 Ultimate power cord of the same length would be $8200.  They both are trying to accomplish the same end, lower noise, and achieving better conduction of the AC waveform, they both have unique ways of accomplishing this that no other cables I know of do.

High Fidelity Cables CT-1 Ultimate

The CT-1 Ultimate power cord utilizes powerful  ‘pre-applied’ magnetic fields to the conductors to reduce noise and distortion in the power cable. The magnets encircle each conductor, creating what is called a "wave guide" around each conductor. Each end of the cable contains the rare-earth magnets as well, operating on all of the conductors simultaneously.  The conductors are impregnated with material that is activated by the powerful rare earth magnets. Our guess is the magnets align the particles at the atomic level, creating better signal flow.

The cables come in a very nice Pelican style hard case, with a foam insert. A nice touch. The cables themselves are very attractively designed, with beautiful terminations and thin, white jacketed conductors. The conductors are kept separate throughout the cable run. Fortunately since they are thin and fairly flexible this poses no trouble in placing them, but it does make it look like you have 3 cables, when only 1 is there. They offer lengths as short as 1/2 meter, so you can get pretty close to a custom "fit" in outfitting your audio system, eliminating much of the spaghetti effect behind your audio system.

The High Fidelity CT-1 Ultimate delivers the goods for it's price point. Never have I heard my Auralic Vega sound so transparent, quiet, dynamic, musical and resolving. My current reference standard power cord was the Onda Rapture. It is a fantastic cable costing about $3000. My only gripes were the build quality wasn't quite up to the price point, and the 9awg solid core silver conductors were rather stiff.  I could overlook the negatives quite easily because it made any component powered by the Rapture sound really amazing. The CT-1 Ultimate seemed to have a similar tonal quality (which was utterly fantastic), it just seemed to be faster and even more musical than my reference. There was a stillness, ease and flow to the music that was very organic. The soundstage was huge, wrapping around my listening seat with a convincing illusion. Subtle musical textures were also revealed with a naturalness to them. Textures that might otherwise be sonically blurred over and ignored.

The Bybee Power Cord


Jack Bybee, now in his 80's, never stops inventing. His best known invention, the Quantum Purifier, has been around nearly 25 years. The controversial device has stood the test of time, and gone through many iterations over the years. So many that they are running out of names to indicate it's improvement. These devices have been used on both signal and AC. To the proponents, they swear by the Quantum Purifiers' ability to lower the noise floor, improve low level resolution, dynamics, and musical organic flow. To  engineering types, these devices are the source of much fury when subjected to the standard electrical measurement of inductance, capacitance, and resistance, the Quantum Purifiers offer up nothing (literally) to standard measurements.  To subjectivists, they are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Breathing life into their audio systems.

Jack has been intrigued by products like the Akiko tuning sticks, Stein Harmonizers, High Fidelity Cables, and the APC devices. These products were the beginning of his research.. There are many other tweaks currently available that make use of similar materials, all achieving different results at different levels. Most in my opinion are not "better", just "different". A lot like putting cones and footers under audio components. They are tuning devices, and therefore the impact and sonic effect are unpredictable. The Bybee "Stuff" as it is called is unique in that it uses a very special blend of materials and magnetics to achieve its effect. To my ears, the sonic effect is very similar to their Super Effect AC Quantum purifiers. That is, it is neutral and universally (so far) beneficial. The "Stuff" is impregnated on to an adhesive backed foil. This adhesive backing is a 3M based material known for it's damping properties, so one gets the benefit of the "Stuff" and some vibration damping material. There is quite a bit of "Stuff" in the Bybee Power Cord.

The Bybee Power Cord looks rather pedestrian with the exception of the very nice Gaofei carbon fiber dressed, aluminum billet milled connectors. The contacts are rhodium plated copper. This is an extremely nice audio connector that looks very similar to the nearly $300 Furutechs. The conductor itself is a 12awg stranded copper that has been treated with Jack's "Stuff". It comes in a zippered fabric bag with a transparent plastic front.

Next week: Part 2.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Auralic Vega Review: Tweaking the Vega

Auralic Vega

What can be said that hasn't already about the Auralic Vega DAC? There are so many reviews, and so much good information that it should be fairly easy to ascertain the caliber of this DAC just from reading. I want to take it a bit further and recommend some Tweaks that work very well with this fabulous high resolution DAC.

My previous favorite DAC was the Luxman DA-06. I'm not sure if the Auralic sounded better, but it sounded at least equally as good, and cost $1500 less. That accomplishment is what made it my new favorite. The Vega DAC has a very analog like quality to it when streaming music from your PC. The user has the capability of taking a standard redbook, 24/96,176,192, whatever PCM file you stream through it, and converts it to DSD on the fly. I liked this option when using the Auralic Vega as my DAC. The sound was was more relaxed with PCM recordings streamed as DSD.  The native DSD streams through Jriver and the Auralic were simply amazing. The room actually felt different, as if a tension or pressure in the room were released and allowed the music to breathe. Strange but true.

I am the Tweek Geek, and taking components further through tweeks and accessories is what excites me. I have experimented with several cables and tweaks for the Vega, and can say with confidence that the more you put into this DAC as far as tweaks, the more you will get out of it. The resolving power of the Vega appears to be quite good, far beyond it's price point. But more importantly, the Vega sounds like music, presenting not only the details, but creating a musical experience as a whole.

Taking the Vega Further

Stillpoints Ultra SS

Stillpoints Ultra SS - Stillpoints help to further resolve inner detail and harmonic structure. Mass loading by putting additional weight on the Vega DAC will most definitely help in this situation, as the DAC itself does not weigh much. $747 for a set of 3.

Bybee Quantum Signal Enhancer


Bybee Quantum Signal Enhancers - The Quantum Signal Enhancers help to clean up the noise floor. I set one underneath the Vega itself, and rested the interconnects on one as well. If you are at all familiar with Bybee Quantum Purifiers and their effects audio components, the effect is similar, except the AV enhancers are completely passive. Nothing is inserted into the signal path. $119.95 each.

Bybee Holographic AC Adapter


Bybee Holographic AC Adapter - This is a costly, but very effective tweak. This plugs into the back of the Auralic Vega DAC, then your favorite power cord plugs into the adapter. The AC current flows through the adapter and is cleaned up considerably. Even if you are using a power conditioner, the Holographic AC adapter will lower the noise floor dramatically further, enhance dynamics and help the connected audio component throw a huge soundstage. $2195 each.



Waveform Fidelity Balanced Interconnects - These are my favorite less than stratospherically priced  interconnects. Great tonal balance with a powerful, dynamic presence. The soundstage is fantastic through these as well. $1499 for 1 meter.

All of the above products can of course be found on TweekGeek.com, and we have them available for in-home auditions. We highly recommend trying our tweaks before buying, as they may not suit your system or musical tastes. It's really easy, we take your information, a credit card for security purposes, and you get to try the tweak out over the course of at least one weekend.

Other Reviews of the Auralic Vega




Sunday, July 13, 2014

Review: High Fidelity Cables CT-1 Ultimate Power Cords

CT-1 Ultimate Power Cord
High Fidelity Cables CT-1 Ultimate Power Cord

Rick Schultz was kind enough to send me a pair of High Fidelty Cables CT-1 Ultimate power cords for my evaluation. The cords arrived in a very nice case, and they should, the cost for a single one meter power cord is $6900. These cords are unusual. Quite unusual. They consist of conductors that are impregnated with a substance that when magnetized, aligns the signal flow at the atomic level. Each termination contains powerful neodymium magnets. At or near the center of the cable are three "tubes", one for the hot, neutral and ground. The tubes contain even more neodymium magnets. Everything is custom made for High fidelity cables. This, the patented technology, and the research involved in developing this technology are major factors in the high price tag of the CT-1 Ultimate power cords. The other factor is the sound that they allow your components to achieve.

Since I had two cords, I evaluated their performance on my Acoustic Imagery Atsah monoblock amplifiers. The Atsah amplifiers are extremely revealing, with a signal to noise ratio of 128 dB, they are also extremely quiet. I had been using the Onda Rapture power cords with them, and was very satisfied with the sound I was getting with the combination.

The Best?
The Onda Rapture power cords are the best power cords I have ever had in my system. They incorporate 9 AWG solid core silver conductors, and some proprietary tweaks. They use a lot of silver, and as a result have a high material cost. The drawbacks of the Rapture power cords were their weight, inflexibility, and the build quality at least aesthetically wasn't the best. The way they made my components sound allowed me to overlook and deal with those drawbacks. These are damn good power cords.

The cost of the Rapture power cord is about half of the CT-1 Ultimate power cords, but still not cheap by any means. The Ondas exude body, weight and organic richness. The noise floor is super quiet, and as a result ambient information and soundstaging are exceptional. The best I have heard.

Looks can be deceiving
We as audiophiles are surprisingly visual creatures. Looking at the CT-1 Ultimate power cords, with their thin conductors, white jacketing, and high bling factor terminations. I expected speed, dynamics and a highly resolved presentation. But they looked a little thin, so my assumptions were that it would sound thin as well. I was wrong. Dead wrong. The CT-1 Ultimate did have the speed and dynamics, but it also had body, warmth, organic flow and super quiet background. The improvement over the Onda's was a shock. I expected higher resolution, but at a cost of some type of tonal shift. Nope. No tonal shift, just MORE. More of everything musical and real, less (much less) of everything that is electronic, tense and fatiguing. The cables allow one to relax. Much like when one goes from redbook CD to DSD or vinyl. There is a physical relaxation that is in response to the sound being produced by one's audio system.  I hope that makes sense.

The question is this. Is a power cord ever worth paying $6900 for? For most of us, no. There are a few out there with the means and the audio systems that a $6900 power cord would bring a worthwhile improvement. Perhaps even a transformational one. In my opinion, the High Fidelity Cables line of products represent the current state of the art in cable design. If you have a super high performance audio system, and love trying bleeding edge technology when it comes to audio, you owe it to yourself to try the High Fidelity Cables power cords.