Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Curious New Device From Bybee

The Bybee Quantum Plug

35 Years of Innovation, & Driving EE's Nuts...

Jack Bybee has been creating unique, and effective devices for improving audio for over 35 years. It started with his Quantum Purifiers back in the 80's. The Purifiers looked like large resistors, but had no inductance, capacitance, and about .01 ohm of resistance. However, when you placed them in series on AC or signal lines, a dramatic reduction in noise occurred without destruction of the musical signal. They removed noise like no conventional electrical component or circuit could. This was and to this day still is controversial. But the efficacy of these devices has withstood the test of time and the scrutiny of Skeptics (most who didn't bother to try them for themselves, darned internet trolls...). Soon after their invention, he and John Curl got together to make the Bybee Quantum AC Charger which was a very successful power conditioning product. It's current iteration is the Bybee Stealth Power Purifier. His devices were also capable of being used on signal lines as well. Placing his Purifiers to my loudspeakers are what got me started down the path of the "Dark Side"as the Tweek Geek. He offers plug and play as well as DIY type devices, and his products are used in many acclaimed audio components.

Lately, his creativity has focused on making use of crystals, minerals, etc. who's properties and structure lend themselves to aligning electron orbital spin (in the case of the Quantum Signal Enhancers) to absorbing stray EMI / RFI, and to well, working on the room... This has resulted in a slew of more passive devices Such as the Quantum Signal Enhancer, Room Neutralizer, and now the Quantum Plug.

Bybee Beta Testing

Lately, I've been helping Jack test his new products. I not only test his new ideas and products in my system, but also have "sanity check groups" with whom I share the beta items with. I know the members of my group personally, I know their systems, and I trust their ears. If the product's effect is inconsistent, the idea is modified until we get a consistent result in my system and the systems of my sanity checkers, or it is scrapped.

Enter the Quantum Plug

The most recent test was on the Bybee Quantum Plug. A small device, no bigger than an audio grade wall plug with proprietary material inside that is embedded in epoxy. Jack had sent me four of these devices initially, and advised me to plug them into the Bybee Stealth power condtioner, and adjacent wall outlets.

Unexpected Results

I plugged the QP's into the recommended receptacles and sat back to listen. Huh, kinda flat and etched were my immediate impressions. Perhaps they need some break in time. So I left the system running and waited until the next day to return to my listening studio. When I did return, the sound had smoothed out considerably and had much more richness and depth in the midrange/highs than before. But the soundstage seemed to have moved backwards.  Not because of any tonal shift, it literally seemed further back than normal.

I was puzzled, but as I sat, listened and looked about my room I had a thought. What if the devices were not working on the AC, but on the room, much like the Stein Harmonizer and Blue Sun products do? With that in mind I kept one QP plugged in to the AC conditioner, and moved the others. One to an AC receptacle on the wall behind me, and the others to AC receptacles flanking my left and right, but about a foot in front of my listening position. Once moved, I left the room for an hour or two and returned. Sure enough, the smoothness and richness remained, but the soundstage was now more 3 dimensional, moving outward in the general direction of the new plug placement.


I reported back to Jack, who seemed to be slightly perplexed. I also had an idea to further test the QP's. I wanted to hear the room with no Bybee or Stein treatments, with just the QP's, with just the Stein Harmonizers, and finally with both products placed in the room.

Step 1

Step 1 was to remove all of the QP's Stein Harmonizers and blue suns that were in my room and listen. This was my baseline. It was difficult to listen to after spending so much time with all of my Harmonizers/QP's installed previously. It seemed by comparison flat, less organic, more mechanical/electronic and uninvolving with a hard top end. 

Step 2

After getting a feel for the baseline I went to just the QP's plugged in to the four locations surrounding my listening position and did more listening. 

The effect of the QP's on their own, while not quite as strong as with the Harmonizers was still there and very impressive. Considering the cost of the QP's, I dubbed them "the poor man's harmonizer". It was fascinating. A product considered to be useful for AC filtering instead was working on the room. Was it emitting a field of some sort? Perhaps. The Stein Harmonizers use battery power to generate their field. But they also have electronic circuits inside, along with a mix of proprietary material. Perhaps this was just a more rudimentary form of the same thing.

What the Bybee QP's  do is simply amazing for the price. They allow one to influence the shape and dimensions of the soundstage created by the loudspeakers. When placed well, they create a very 3 dimensional effect, with a rich, more tactile midrange and high frequency that is also smoother at the same time.  Placement doesn't have to be exact for them to work, but they do need to break in, and continue to break in for 5-7 days after they are plugged in. 

Step 3

Step 3 was to remove the QP's and place the Harmonizer system back. The Harmonizers didn't seem to need the time to settle in quite like the QP's. After only a few seconds one can hear the sweetness in the highs, the ambience that wraps around you, and the naturalness in the midrange. Listening to just the Harmonizers confirmed why they are still one of my favorite tweaks. There is just an energized, but relaxing glow to the music. Decays decay longer, more naturally. Subtle ambient cues are more apparent, making the music sound even more natural. Voices and instruments are more present, more real. Wow. More money, a lot more, but more performance.

Step 4

Finally Step 4 was putting the Harmonizers and QP's back in the system, and letting everything run together. At this point, the QP's reminded me of the Blue Suns, only slightly more powerful. I had to reconfigure the placement of my Blue Suns to complement the effect of the QP's, but once I did, it was really, really good.

I found myself relaxing, and engaging the music. Forgetting all else, just enjoying the experience.

Last: Effects On Video

My last test was on video. I'm not much of a videophile. I have a 4k TV, but do not watch TV much at all. I plugged a QP into the outlet adjacent to where the TV was plugged in, and it was also in very close proximity (right behind it).  Within 10 minutes the colors became more saturated, and the picture as a whole appeared to have more depth. It became much more 3D like. It made the 4k programming that was available to me really pop with dimensionality and color. I would say it worked very well on video.


The Bybee QP may very well Jack's finest accident. Originally meant for working on AC, it appears that at least for audiophiles the best use may be placing one along each wall in the room as close to the center as possible. For Videophiles, the QP may work both on proximity effect and directly on the AC, as my rather limited viewing experience had alluded to.

If I were to recommend one tweak to someone who was curious to dip their toes in the the "dark waters" of audio tweaks, I would wholeheartedly recommend the QP's first. They do something that is obvious, and pleasant to the sound once they break in, and they seem to work every time. This is of course provided the user has the three foundational pillars of a good system in place already (more on that very soon).

7/30/2016 - New Observations

A customer emailed me with a question this morning.
In your review, you say audiophiles should plug in one on the center of each wall, yet on the product page it recommends placing them in outlets near the four corners of the room.

Which have you found to be better?
A great question, and thanks for pointing out my inconsistency. Below is my explanation and answer.

The Bybee QP's are strange devices. I think there are a number of products (Stein, Synergistic Research) out there that are doing similar things using different methods and materials (or similar materials, who knows). 

At the most fundamental level, I think what they all have in common is that they are creating a field that affects the propagation of soundwaves within a certain space. To our audiophile tuned ears we percieve certain positive changes to reproduced sound when these devices are "activated" and in the room.

When I wrote the blog, it was early on in my experimentation, and my experimentation focused on seeing what the QP's did in the presence and absence of my other tweaks. I made an assumption about the QP's placement that changed in between the finishing of the blog and the writing of the product page. 

I think what is happening here is that the QP's are generating some sort of field, and placement is not terribly critical. You don't want to group 2 or more of  them together in one part of your room without balancing it out in other areas. Does that make sense?

The critical thing is that the field generated by the QP's needs to be evenly distributed throughout the room. For a listening space like yours, 1 or 2 would be adequate.

What I found to be even more important was allowing several days for the devices to stabilize the field in your room. It's a bit of a roller coaster ride for about a week.  

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