Bybee Room Neutralizers ($1899 per set (8) - Reviewed here) I will not reiterate technical details from my earlier review of this device. The theory of operation contains striking molecular speculations that, however far-fetched they may sound, offer a coherent and rational explanation of the remarkable and unique auditory experience Room Neutralizers provide. Speculations, I hasten to add, by someone (Mr Jack Bybee) whose is eminently qualified to speculate, especially on the often baffling behavior of very small particles. When you’ve hung the Neutralizers (easily done using Blu-Tack) and put on a familiar CD, what you will hear is simply extraordinary: outside the usual (expected) order. As if your less-than-perfect listening room had undergone massive acoustical adjustments, including an uncanny expansion of room boundaries. It is unfortunate that our hobby is littered with extravagant claims, this one sounding like it’s probably just another. It isn’t. Room Neutralizers, these humble slabs of plastic, are almost magical.
They are far and away the most singular and extraordinary device I have ever had the privilege to audition. I have tried to think of new phrases, new and creative adjectives and similes with which to describe their effects, but I am just not that creative and I might well end in simply repeating myself. To do so would bore you and me, and I don’t want to do that. But I do want to assure you that in the several weeks have gone by and the numerous CDs I’ve played since my review was published, I continue discovering new and astonishing improvements in the quality of the sound. The entire character of this stereo has changed. It is a far classier system than I ever imagined owning. (Russell Lichter, Clement Perry)
Bybee Crystal Series AC Power Cord ($1,499.00: Reviewed here) These power cords have to be one of the best values from the Jack Bybee product roster. Their performance is nothing short of amazing. During 2015, I added five of these to my system and the sound has been dramatically improved as a result. All the usual clichés apply (lower noise floor, quieter/blacker backgrounds, improved spaciousness and soundstaging, etc.). Bottom line, these power cords serve the music like no others, in my experience. Highly Recommended!! (Ron Cook)
Although Jack Bybee’s Crystal Series AC Power Cord came on line in 2014, my first experience with his new Crystal technology occurred in 2015. I had heard and read many good things from those who had experience with his newest six-foot power cord. Since I was already using three previous Bybee power cords with older technology to great effect on my superb Laufer Teknik Memory Player, Behold APU-768 preamp and a Behold BPA-768 amplifier, I wondered how his newest technology AC cord would compare. After replacing his older standard with his newest it was immediately evident that there were significant improvements to be heard in all the positive descriptive terms audiophiles like to use…holographic, focused soundstage, detailed with correct harmonics and, of course, natural bass. These power cords, at $1499, are a real winner and are as good as those I have compared costing many times more. I am a true believer and bought the three I was sent for evaluation. I now hear what all the fuss is about. Highly recommended. (Dan Secula, Russell Lichter and Clement Perry)
Enklein David Cables (speaker cable $17k/pair for the first 5” feet; interconnect XLR $16,000.00/pair for the first meter; AC cord $7,500.00 for the first 3’ feet): Simply put, incredible! Without a doubt the David cables are the greatest speaker cables, interconnect cables and power cords I have ever heard in my system. Enklein has an uncanny ability to dig into the sound and thus reveals layers upon layers of subtle details. The notes flowed out with natural ease. Review in the works. (Key Kim)
Entreq Grounding Boxes (see prices below: Reviewed here) The Entreq Grounding Silver Tellus was one of my nominees for Most Wanted 2014, I had no idea the potential of the Entreq until I invested in an entire grounding system. I had no idea what the Entreq Grounding system was capable of until I owned the entire system. That includes the Silver Minimus $729 Silver Tellus $2,699, Olympus Minimus $2,599, Olympus Tellus $8,999, Poseidon $4,999 now add in a pair of Silver Cleanus $3140, to pair with an Entreq Challenger 3V Powerus $5,500 and Apollo Powerus $9,700 all paired with Entreq grounding cables (various prices) makes my system sound as though it’s running without any electricity at all. The Entreq removes just about all the electronic properties from my system and makes it perform like it’s powered by batteries. Very lifelike and realistic. The entire system is expensive, however, taking it one step at a time will be worth the price of it all. (Clement Perry, Moreno Mitchell)
Frank Acoustics Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws Power Conditioner($4,500.00: Similar unit reviewed here) I really don’t know why this unit is called an AC power conditioner because it operates very different from any power conditioner I have ever experienced. This unit surpasses anything and everything that any power conditioner I have ever owned, and I am not ashamed to say I have owned a few. To best describe what the Frank Ultra Bank UB-25000Ws PC does is not try to describe it in this short paragraph. However their website says “The shunt reactor is an absorber of reactive power, thus increasing the energy efficiency of the system”. In other words this unit will take your system to heights unimaginable. Trust Me. This unit will put your system on Steroids. Worth every dime of the asking price. (Clement Perry, David Caplan, Moreno Mitchell)
FRANK ACOUSTICS ULTRA BANK UB25000Ws (USD $4,600.00: Reviewed here) Frank Voon surprised me this year with a new version of his Power Bank (reviewed here) which he now calls the Ultra Bank, and with a new model number to boot. As before, he was unwilling to delve into the details of the new device save that it contains a radical grounding component built inside, and which can be obtained separately (review forthcoming). The difference between pre-UB and post-UB? Think of it as drinking from a stale fetid puddle of larvae-infested water (before) and a deep, ice-clear, minty, fresh lake the size of Loch Lomond (after). I kid you not. Ignore this at your peril. (Stephen Yan)
Fusion Audio Magic Power Cords ($1,400.00): The Fusion Audio Magic power cords provided more robust bass, midrange texture and weight, and better articulation in my system than I was accustomed to. These cords were definitely magical in transforming my system to a new level of performance that I did not believe was possible from simply changing out power cords, and made me a happy camper, to the point of buying Magic cords to replace the long time reference AC cords on my CD/SACD player, preamp and phono preamp. What more can I say? (Lew Dardick)
Gobel Audio Lacorde Statement Cables (Speaker Cable $25,000.00/pair; Digital XLR $3,500.00; AC Cord $9,100.00: Reviewed here and here) 2015 has been a banner year for me as far as audio equipment is concerned. Upgrading all my audio cables with the Gobel Lacorde Statement series has taken my system to a level I never thought possible. Extremely expensive, they bring so many sonic goods that I might dare qualify them as affordable. (Clement Perry, Moreno Mitchell)
Hemingway Audio Creation Signature Cables (speaker cables $4,200.00/3 meter pair; interconnect XLR $3,400.00/2 meter pair; AC cord $2,400.00/1.5 meter): Hemingway Audio is a small Korean company which exclusively manufactures high-end audio cables. The Hemingway cables are handmade with exceptional fit and finish. They utilize a patented technology aclled FMCF (Frequency Modulation Cavity Fundamentals). This technology is used to control the magnetic field and electrical feedback. With the Creation Signature cables in my system, the sound was very transparent, remarkably natural, and marvelously extended in frequency range and tonal accuracy. Review in works. (Key Kim)
High Fidelity Magnetic Adapters ($299.00 ea) I had never tried these as I had HFC Ultimate Reference interconnects and speaker wires; but I recalled that my phono cables were CT- 1 Enhanced. Just yesterday I tried the Magnetic Adapters and can definitely hear the benefits in bass definition, no glare on brass instruments, and a well defined sound stage. I am hearing much greater depth in live recordings. In generally I’m getting even more of what you hear with HFC cables with the addition of more magnets.
I lack other cables on which I might try these adapters and was unable, yet, to get a pair of source Adapters to put magnets at both ends of interconnects, but such a system would give one at least a good exposure to what magnets can do. A single pair cost $299 and a source and destination two pair $549. I’ve had these Adapters for only three days and have noticed substantial improvement. I have also noticed that the volume declines somewhat with them in, but, this is a small cost for the improvement they make (Norm Luttbeg).
High Fidelity MC 0.5 Magnetic Wave Guide ($299.00 ea) This is yet another of HFC devices to clarify the signal path. It is meant to plug into the wall outlet. I’ve received little information about how it works. It is little more than an AC plug with a silver metal back. I have two dedicated AC lines but nearly all my gear goes into one duplex and used both outlets. I had to use the first outlet on my HFC Waveguide Power Center to plug in this device. Using an unused outlet on your wall plug may be better, I’m told. Nevertheless, once again HFC has another quite worthy product. Again the gain is more open, cleaner, more dynamic, and real sounding music. The sound stage just becomes quite well defined. And the bass has great definition. These devices also cost $299 each (Norm Luttbeg).
MG Audio Planus III ($1,500.00/6” pair), IV ($2,400.00/6’ pair) and IV AG ($4,800.00/6’ pair) Speaker Cables and CU2 ($700.00/1m pair) and AG2 ($1,600.00/1m pair) Interconnects: These cables provided me with a synergistic match for my big Maggies, and not just because they are flat ribbons similar to my Maggie’s own ribbon tweeters. They are exquisitely made, ice quiet performers that reveal an amazing amount of music and at more than competitive pricing. (Dave Thomas)
Mojo Audio Lucent CFC ($699.95) and Lucent SE ($1099.95)Interconnects: The extremely organic sounding Mojo ribbon interconnects (terminated with Furutech CF-126(R) connectors) exhibited an overall smooth and musical character with all recordings. While presenting a beautiful musical flow from the top to bottom octaves, their strengths lie in the midrange where weight, texture and subtle nuances were obvious. The Mojo SEs took charge in terms of dynamics without being forward in any way. They also took the cake among the many cables I have used over the past several years in allowing beautiful music to emerge from a dead silent background, including some cables that were many times their price. The SEs bested their high performing sibling CFCs in mining out details in a musical performance. The Mojo Audio Lucent SEs are my new reference interconnect, albeit at a relatively modest price for high end audio. However, both the Mojo Audio CFC and Lucent SE interconnects are highly recommended, particularly at their modest price points. (Lew Dardick)
Silnote Audio Orion M2 Speaker Cables/Poseidon Signature Interconnects (speaker cables -$3,200 for an 8 foot pr; interconnects - $1,595 per metered pair: Reviewed here) The Silnotes are sonic chameleons in the best sense of the word. Peerlessly neutral, smooth and holographic, superbly detailed but never etched or bright, they reproduce the unique tonal shadings, dynamic gradations and overall gestalt of any recording one cares to use with unflinching fidelity. In a world where reference-level cables frequently cost more than fine automobiles, the Silnotes deliver most of what the pricier competition offers for a fraction of the cost. The Orion M2 speaker cables and Poseidon Signature balanced interconnects are my new references, and are likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. (Maurice Jeffries)"
Torus AVR 20 ($4,495.00): The AVR20 power conditioner greatly enhanced my system’s overall sound and rendered a blacker background, increased transparency, and greater dimensionality without the dynamic constriction. Having ten outlets allows the AVR 20 to handle big rig systems. Review in works. (Key Kim)
Star Sound APCD-5 Coupling Cup ($50.00 ea) Many months ago a local friend brought three APCD-2s along with a shot filled wooden box. He wanted to try it on my line stage.. I thought it gave some improvement. We decided to go back without these vibration devices, and as he removed the box, the sound improved I thought, but when the APCD-2 were removed, I heard a substantial loss of detail, dynamics, and realism. We left them there. I never thought much about using the APCD-2s, but left them where they were. Along came the APCD-5s with a comment from Robert Maicks at Star Sound that they were great on top of components. He was right.
What you hear is greatly more detail allowing a great sense that a human was singing or playing the instrument, the end of notes, dynamics that are startlingly clean and surprising, and a real sense that you could walk around the instrument or vocalist. I’ve got to get more. How do they work? I suspect that they absorb vibrations in a range not captured by other weights. They cost about $50 each (Norm Luttbeg).
Stillpoints Aperture, Absorber, Diffuser, Resonator ($650.00: Reviewed here) The Stillpoints Aperture has to be one of my most pleasant additions of 2015. Very affordable, compact and beautifully made, I consider this product a steal. The effect this product had in my listening room was very dramatic; it made my room seem invisible. Paul Wakeem and his staff have hit the ball right out of the park. Review posted November 2015. (Moreno Mitchell)
Stein Music Mk2 Harmonizers ($1500 ea: Originally reviewed here and here): A long time favorite here at ST, I wrote in my original review "The Steinmusic H2 Harmonizers and Magic Stones have changed my idea of what is sonically possible in the here and now. Their impact is powerful enough to rival the Bybee Super Effect Speaker Bullets, Frank Tchang's Acoustic Resonators, and Shakti Hallographs." Well, the new Mk2 version amazingly improves on everything the original model did. However, I found it really improved in the soundstage, three-dimensionality areas the most. (Clement Perry, David Caplan)
Stein Music Blue Suns ($750 ea: Reviewed here) Holger Stein, the man behind Stein Music has some understanding of quantum physics and advanced engineering. His passion for music has enabled him to create a range of rather unique and interesting products like his Stein Harmonizers, Speaker Match and E-Pads. Stein's goal is aimed at helping audiophiles achieve a more rewarding experience of their music systems. In my conversations with Stein he never attempted to hype or sell his products. He respects the work of other top designers and I always feel his enthusiasm and his sincerity.
If you already own the Harmonizers, adding the Blue Suns is a great addition if you can afford them. This combination was quite powerful at turbo charging my Harmonizer's performance and taking my system to a stunning new level of musical enjoyment with richer harmonics, greater dimensionality and better dynamics. I can’t recommend them highly enough. I bought the Blue Sun review samples to add to my 4 Harmonizers. (David Caplan, Clement Perry)
Stein Music Q1 and Q5 Quantum Organizer ($ tba)Similar the Bybee products, the Q5 is also pretty out there in terms of concept - energized crystals using an energy field built around quantum mechanics techniques. But after a quick installation, it's also obvious that these product do as claimed. Basically, once installed the Q1 and Q5's work on whatever components are plugged into either your wall or AC conditioner. What is the effect? Distortions on the mains are diminished to a noticeable degree. The result is a more analogue and more detailed sound. The Q5 is NOT an parallel filter. "The disadvantages of parallel filters, says Holger Stein, is they filter distortions from the mains which results in dielectric losses. This sucks out vital information from the music signal which is something we do not want."
Synergistic Research Black Box ($1,995.00): The largest component in one’s system is the listening room yet it is the one component that is commonly overlooked and misunderstood. The SR Black Box is a passive low frequency resonator array, which is designed to effectively cancel out low-frequency standing waves within one’s listening room. Coming at a size of 9.5″ W x 9.5″ D x 6″ H – 8″ H, The Black Box doesn’t resemble anything like the massive bass traps I’ve seen at many High End Audio Shows and in fellow audiophile systems yet it’s designed to perform the same function. With The Black Box in my system, the bass response was clearly better in all ways but the magic really occurred in the midrange and high frequencies. The improvement in soundstage was undeniable with each recording displaying a greater sense of depth … the music sounded liberated in a way while percussion instruments displayed a faster transient response. “Synergistic” is one word I would use to describe the combination of SR HFTs, Atmosphere, FEQ and Black Box working together in my listening room to eliminate the negative impact of my listening room. The Black Box is a must have component if you really want to hear your system at its full potential. (Mike Girardi)
Synergistic Research Grounding Block and High Definition Grounding cables ($595.00 and $399.00 each HDG cable): The SR Grounding Block internally employs the UEF technology allowing for 18 ground connections to complete a star grounding scheme for one’s system to include existing SR products such as the SR Tranquility Base, FEQ, Atmosphere, and Atmosphere cables and your system components themselves via an unused analog input/output, USB inputs, and chassis grounds. As an upgrade to non-shielded single Copper core wire cables, SR offers hand built High Definition Grounding cables constructed with UEF field shielding and Silver Air String geometries originally developed for their flagship Galileo System cables. The Grounding Bar alone lowered my system’s noise floor resulting in a much richer tone in high and midrange frequencies while instruments are displayed a greater sense of presence and depth. The HDG cables removed edginess in the music that I didn’t realize was there and increased the density of the soundfield at the extreme edges. With my system fully grounded by the HDG cables into the GB, the bass was also much tighter and faster which further demonstrated to me that when all of your system components are operating at their best all other aspects of the music fall into place. Both products together are on the critical path in assembling a truly high performance audio system and are a more cost effective solution to other competing products. (Mike Girardi)
Synergistic Research Atmosphere Level 4 Speaker Cable and Interconnects ($4,995.00 and $3,095.00): SR must be doing something right since they have won numerous Best of Show awards when partnering with SOTA system components and have also won Stereo Times’ Most Wanted Component awards three years in row. The SR Atmosphere Level 4 Speaker Cable and Interconnects are my strongest nomination to make the list this year since they have been the biggest improvement with respect to cable swapping I’ve experienced in over twenty years and easily ranks in the top three component changes. The SR Atmosphere Level 4 speaker cable and interconnects are uncanny at unlocking previously hidden details, dynamic gradations, and harmonic nuances present in the original recording but not as appreciated with my previous reference speaker cables that retailed over 3 times the cost. In treble octaves where the music is most expressive and where most wires fall short of the mark, the SR Atmosphere Level 4 speaker cables and interconnects exhibited flawless expression in the sibilance range. Overall the SR Atmosphere Level 4 speaker cables sound like I parked my integrated tube amplifier right next to my AZ Crescendo loudspeakers. Components worthy of the designation, the state of the art and sets the bar much higher in terms of performance vs. cost. (Mike Girardi)
Synergistic Research Atmosphere and Atmosphere Tuning Module, Red ($2,495.00 and $495.00): The SR Atmosphere is a room acoustic enhancement device that employs SR’s Uniform Energy Field (UEF) technology, through multiple tuned signal generators operating outside the signal path, in one’s listen room by creating an optimized RF environment while working in conjunction with SR’s High Frequency Transducers (2014 MWC) to improve the perceived soundstage. Three Scenes or RF environment shaped sonic settings are included with the Atmosphere: “Intimate Acoustic”, “Holographic”, and “Grand Canyon”. With the addition of the Atmosphere Tuning Module, the output of the Atmosphere can be adjusted in to achieve over a million combinations under the control by one’s iPad/iPhone to one’s preference. The Red ATM provided four additional Scenes: “In My Listening Room”, “Expansive”, “Amplified”, and “Ethereal” and ability to adjust the amplitude of the RF Environment (Late PM, Default, and Mid-Day). “Ethereal” was my favorite Scene for Classical, Jazz and movies which presented the maximum scale ever in my listening room. With this Scene employed, my room boundaries seemed to disappear while portraying a surround sound (you are there) effect. It’s rare to find a tweak that is not in the signal path to have such a profound effect on music reproduction. (Mike Girardi)
Tellurium Q Silver Diamond Speaker Cables (£804/m : Reviewed here) and Silver Diamond Interconnects £1980 pr). The Tellurium Q Silver Diamond cables are as reference level a cable as I’ve ever heard. They possess a purity, resolve and ease far beyond those cables afforded by my budget. The added resolution, ‘rightness’ and musical truth they impart, while besting cables costing far more than their price point, is your reward for not needing to read specs. (Greg Voth)