Welcome to December’s session for the insatiable tweak. I’m writing this at the end of October, in between picking up leaves and prepping the house for the long New Hampshire winter. But at least audio listening and holiday season is upon us, time for all high-enders to start dropping hints on what they’d prefer for presents. If your family is like mine, you probably have to drop some very heavy ones to get audio related products instead of that soap-on-a-rope or chartreuse tie, as the family certainly doesn’t want to add to your time away from them in the media room. Thus, today’s column will be on several products reviewed over the past year and a couple of additions, with pictures you can print up and place on the refrigerator for perusal.
But first, I have to thank Alan Wright, of Vacuum State Electronics as on his way back to Switzerland from the Rocky Mountain Audio Show, Alan stopped by my house to do an update to my RTP modified preamps. How’s that for customer relations? Alan built these one-offs of his top of the line RTP balanced preamps with built-in phono and active crossovers several years ago, and had come up with a couple of updates. First was a new amplifying module for the phono stage, and second, new volume pots made using surface solderable resistors rather than the old-fashioned wirewound type.
Knowing Alan’s great ears, I had no doubt that there would be an improvement, but was not prepared for the scope of it. It always amazes me how one little part change can make a difference in the sound of a piece of equipment. I won’t go into details now as not many of you have one of his units, just to say that he’s brought mine closer to that “straight wire with gain” we’re always striving to obtain. Thanks again Alan for the visit.
Bybee Golden Goddess Power AC Conditioner
Jack suggests that the most cost efficient place for them would be on the input of a high quality power strip, where it will work for several pieces of equipment. That’s certainly a great suggestion, as most cable manufacturers would want you to buy one for each piece. Obviously Jack isn’t the best salesman in the world. You can read how these products work by clicking here . Unlike other AC cures, these supposedly remove quantum noise rather than the high frequency information being transmitted along with the 60Hz. wave. From what I understand, his theories and techniques were developed for the Feds, and were hush-hush until the end of the Cold War, but who knows.
After breaking them in for a couple of weeks on my rear channel amplifiers, they were placed on various pieces of equipment for comparison to my Silent Source and Omega Micro AC cords and DIY Slipstream connectors, and finally, per Jack’s suggestion on my Walker Audio Velociters with 6 outlets each, with some interesting results.
First the bad news. My Denon 5900 modded DVD-CD player absolutely hated it compared to the Omega Micro cable. Audio became somewhat grungy, with some sort of high frequency distortion that was reminiscent of digital in the bad old days. This was a little disconcerting until I remembered that I had added some of Jack’s Slipstream units to its power supply input. Maybe adding the cord in tandem does something evil. Maybe Jack can discuss this in his reply.
Placement on my preamps and EAD Theatermaster pre-pro, which also use the same AC cables but no Slipstreams, on the other hand, showed a distinct improvement in the sound, decreasing the noise floor irregular hiss that is ever-present in audio systems. This allowed the ambiance information to be cleaner giving an improvement to hall information. What really loved these cords were my Vacuum State 300 B and 32 B tube amplifiers, which had the best sonic presentation I’ve heard from them. Again, the noise floor was lowered; seemingly even lower than with the preamps. Another surprise was using one of them on my Electrohome 9500 LC projector. Plugging it in between its Silent Source 25 foot cable and the projector, the image appeared more saturated, and cleaner, with somewhat less noise, even though the projector and all of my other equipment runs through a $4000 Sound Application Line Stage AC noise reducer.
Finally, I used two of them on the inputs of my Walker Audio Velociters, where I have been using Silent Source 50 amp cables with a self-built doodad containing Bybee Quantum Purifiers (see AA Chapter 63) from which all of my amplifiers run. The results were outstanding. Jack’s cord must also be doing something to the noise being carried on the line, as they worked equally as well as the Silent Source cables, with the addition of the signal purification that his Quantum units perform. This produced the lowest noise floor I’ve heard in my system. Thus if you want to buy the fewest AC cords, possible, the ideal place for them would be on a multiple AC outlet adapter. Maybe Jack will build such a unit for sale. While they are not cheap at $1250 each, they are a bargain compared to the cost of many high-end AC cables, especially if you use them on a multi-outlet and a definite value for what they do. Abashedly for me, they even work better than my DIY Bybee AC filters although the cost to price ratio is significantly higher. So it is your decision on whether to trust your construction abilities or go with Jack’s, but either way the result is well worth the effort.
Walker Audio Vivid CD Enhancer
I was planning on reviewing this in next month’s column, but thought this would be a better time, just before XMAS. The original Vivid was reviewed in AA Chapter 51. Lloyd Walker sent me his latest iteration a couple of weeks ago, and as with every product he’s induced me to evaluate (his telephone number does begin with 666), the new Vivid certainly does the job of improving digital from all forms of discs. I’d have to call it a toss-up between this and the next product below for quality of improvement and cost. Lloyd’s is quicker to use at one application per disc, but somewhat more expensive. Still, at only $70 per kit, which will probably do your whole CD-DVD collection twice over, it’s a steal.
Clear Disc & ClearBit Cleaning Solution
For $56.00, this cleaning solution- surface improver works wonders on digital disc playback. Not as messy as the Vivid and easier to clean off of the discs, it does take significantly longer to apply and clean off, with two cleaning cycles with 5 minutes in between. It’s a toss-up in my system as to which one is better at bringing out what digital has to offer, so you make the decision which way to go. Both work better than any other solution used by me. For those with a little more money to burn in their or their loved-ones pockets, I would seriously recommend the Reality Check CD Duplicator. While it does cost $595 plus about a buck per CD, the results are astounding. Whoever said “bits are bits” should be made to chew on a few of the original CD’s after the process is completed just to eat his words. Well worth the investment. See the Enjoy the Music.com Best Of 2005 Awards.
Marigo Labs Signature 3D Stabilizer Mat
While expensive at $199, and probably out of the range for your kids, it certainly may be okay for a splurge by your wife. This is by far, the best mat I’ve used for digital playback, if it works on your machine. Unhappily, some players jam, as the mat, if not placed just right on the disc, will spin off into the player, requiring some surgery to open the unit. But, if it does, it will improve digital playback.
Golden Sound GSIC Intelligent Chip
I, and other proponents of this tweak, have been lambasted to no end at various audio web talk sites for even discussing its ability to improve digital playback. Unhappily, for me, it does work in my system to improve both audio and video playback. It may work through voodoo or occult science, but everyone who’s evaluated it here have heard the effect, and several have gone ahead and ordered them. At $16 for 10 CD’s or $40 for 30 CD’s, it’s a bargain in my book, and worth at least some experimentation by a true audiophile tweaker.
Happy Holidays to all!
Update: Reply From Jack Bybee
Dear Bill Gaw,
Thank you for your thorough consideration of and positive conclusions about my new power cable. BTW, in recognition of this cable's effectiveness in powering multiple components via a high-quality power strip, its official designation is now the Golden Goddess Power Corditioner. Perhaps, as you say with a wink, my approach reveals me to be not much of a salesman, but I enjoy delivering high-value products such as this. But, I assure you, I am happy to sell any customer as many of my cables as he wants to buy. (One local audiophile recently purchased 10 of them for his very elaborate system!)
The suspicious resemblance of my cable to your Silent Source power cables is wholly coincidental. I don't recall having ever seen, much less used, that brand. For better or worse, my designs are entirely my own original ideas.
I confess to being puzzled by your poor result with the Corditioner powering your internally Bybee-modified Denon 5900 player. The only reason I can think of for that is possibly that the Denons internal AC could somehow be wired out of phase. My cables do demand proper AC polarity for best results. If not that, I'm stumped. I have many customers who use my cables with internally modified components; in every instance that I know of, the results of using more Bybee purifiers are cumulatively better performance. Also, my local retailer has recently sold a good many Corditioners with Modwright-modified Denon 3910players, with enthusiastic customer response.
I am very pleased that in every other placement the Corditioner materially improved your audio and video performance. Again, thanks for taking the trouble to so thoroughly put my product through its paces.