Bybee Super Effect Speaker Bullets Mk IV
Jack Bybee is busier than I've seen him in five years or more—and he only turned 87 last December! He's recently introduced some very interesting products, starting with his power supply upgrade, Bybee AC Music Rails, that Jeff Wells swears by (read my Inamorata amplifier review here). Then Bybee introduced the very effective and affordable ($119) Quantum Signal Enhancers that many, including our own Dave Caplan, praised (see review here) for its bang-for-the-buck effectiveness. Bybee's newest Slipstream RCA Adapter ($399) has accrued praise among vinyl lovers. Then there are his outrageously effective Room Neutralizers which have caused quite a stir in the audiophile/tweaker community (see review here). Bybee's latest discovery however—which he refers to as Dark Matter—has allowed him introduce newer, more powerful and less expensive products. Dark Matter, says Bybee, provides greater protection from EMI/RFI related distortions than ever before. When he told me that he's using Dark Matter inside his newest series of Bybee Super Effect Speaker Bullets (hereafter SES Bullets), I asked for an opportunity to compare them to the previous model, which I have used and admired since 2012. With the Dark Matter version of SES Bullets, the soft spoken and modest physicist stated, I believe I might have outdone myself.
Personally, I am as far away from technical curiosity and comprehension as you can get. However, I am passionate about the musical arts. My intense admiration for jazz was the slippery slope that got me into this wacky hobby in the first place. After a close encounter with a high-end system in the fall of '91, I was catapulted into another galaxy of musical bliss. My insatiable desire to recreate performances that would be close to real (and financially feasible), led me to the audio societies in and around NYC. Later I wrote my first articles for the Audiophile Voice. I got deeper and deeper into the hobby, with many missteps along the way. I needed to learn to trust my own ears and not purchase something because it was popular. Whenever I ignored this rule, the sound (and my wallet) suffered!
Then one day in 1994 I found myself in a audio room at the CES at the Alexis Park in Las Vegas, attending a serious two-hour-long discussion—lead by none other than Jack Bybee. My life would never be the same. The main subject was quantum mechanics and how it relates to sound. I listened while staring into his eyes, wondering whether he sensed how little I cared (in addition to the fact I had no idea what he was talking about). But I was intrigued by how passionate this brilliant designer was about improving your stereo. Without the endless routine of buying the latest and greatest expensive new equipment.
What was important to me is that Jack Bybee did not just see a young, tall Black man hovering over him (I'm 6'3" and he's about 5' 7") who had no interest in spending many thousands on audio. But he seemed interested only in talking about his passion for music. He didn't presume, speculate or even ask what was I doing at CES. He didn't ask if I was a writer, dealer/distributor or where I was from. Jack Bybee just wanted to talk music and audio.
Essentially, he didn't judge me, as unfortunately many others have. How refreshing I thought. He sold me his first set of Speaker Bullets there on the spot. Said I could get my money back if I didn't like them. (This was some years prior to my becoming an equipment reviewer.) It's for that reason I value Jack Bybee the man. Not just the inventor. As great an inventor he is, more importantly he's actually a really nice person. And I am eternally grateful to know the man. A lot has changed since that chance meeting with Jack. I've written quite a bit on Bybee products since those early days, AC conditioners, AC enhancers and, most recently, MK II Super Effect Speaker Bullets (prior to the Super Effect moniker these were called Golden Goddess). My aim here however is to discover if Bybee has really outdone himself with this latest iteration.
[I've followed others who too have embraced various Bybee products into their systems and, one in particular, I gushed over (photo right/reviewed here). This was one of those one in a lifetime opportunities to personally witness passion combined with a stratospherically-priced, state-of-art system owned by Dr. Jim Langham. This system was easily among the best I have ever heard and made me a very proud horn loudspeaker owner!]
Two pairs of the new Mk IV version SES Bullets arrived in a FedEx box (my bi-wire setup necessitates two sets). Physically, this version at 4" long, equipped with banana spade plugs, is the shortest I've seen. The reason for the size shift is that Bybee's new mix of special metals and alloys (proprietary, of course), are far more powerful. One thing that remains constant is the raison d'être behind the technology: to reduce 1/f noise. Jack describes this noise as ...a peculiar type of noise phenomena that greatly affects low-level frequency reproduction among other things. The Super Effect Speaker Bullets were specifically designed to reduce this type of low-level distortion. Over the years, I and others here have written at length about their experience with SES Bullets: an increase in ease and system dynamics with special attention to bass pitch and definition.
Replacing the Bybees on my huge Sunny Supreme Majestic loudspeakers is no easy task and boy do I hate having to go back there. Since I vertically bi-wire, I also needed to replace all eight SES Bullets which again is a pain in the ass. After installing both sets onto the Majestics, I turned on the system, kicked back and casually enjoyed Gregory Porter's rich and powerful voice on Insanity and Don't Be a Fool from his latest CD "Take Me To The Alley." Each of these mellow and melancholy songs seem the perfect fit for Gregory's powerful tenor as his bandmates keep him beautifully centered and focused. This 2017 Grammy Award album (his second), proves what an extraordinary jazz vocalist Porter is. The new SES Bullets, after about 200 hours of continuous burn-in, produced change to the upper frequencies which, in turn, gave even greater air and presence to Gregory's vocal talents. As good as the older SES Bullets performed in my system, the new units sounded slightly more 3-dimensional and transparent (keep in mind, this was only at the 200-hour mark!). I also noted after a few weeks, say around the 400 hour mark, the SES Bullets gained even more 3-dimensionalty: which in turn impacts image specificity, spatial cues and soundstaging for the better.
Oh, by the way, Gregory Porter was simply overwhlemed by the Bybee-infused Majestics. This chance encounter occurred some years ago (compliments of our mutual friend Carlos Sanchez), after the release of his debut album "Water." This also proved to be quite a memorable listening session as Porter was involved in each phase of this break-out recording.
As dynamics and transparency improved, so did the system's overall ease, balance and delicacy. This was very apparent when I played some long-standing reference recordings, such as Follow Me or the bluesy Sunny, from the great 1967 big-band album and collaboration between Frank Sinatra and Duke Ellington entitled "Francis A and Edward K." This is really not a bad recording at all, even though it's fifty years old.
Capital Recordings took an interest in how they mic'd their musicians. Typical of most early recording techniques, the main musicians are panned into either the left or right channel while Sinatra is focused dead center. This can sound delightful if your speakers can disappear, which is impossible for my 900 lbs. Sunnys. However, they do try and often, to the amazement of some, succeed in getting out of the way (though I'm not sure they ever truly disappear). Well, with the MK IVs installed, for the first time in over 10 years of owning these behemoths, I get the sense they've left the room during this recording. The brash of trumpets and swell of the trombones never sounded as realistic, truer in size and shape while relieved of many distortions and restrictions I thought were inherent in this old recording. I was wrong. This recording sounds better than lots of newer recordings I presently own.
The price of the Mark IVs is $2899, down from $5499. (A saving of $2600 for a superior product.) The precious metals Bybee uses for the Mk IVs are not nearly as expensive as in the previous versions, thus the price drop. This isn't the first time Bybee has done this sort of thing. His $1000 AC cords outperform the previous model that was fetching $2,500. So consider this all you music lovers and Bybee fans; finally, here's a better sounding product at about half the old price. And for those of you who want only the very best, Bybee is also planning on making a standard-sized model that will be even more powerful than this one. It will retain the original price of $5499. Personally, I know a few folks eager to hear about a more affordable Bybee Bullet. The Mk IV SES Bullet is just that.
Bybee Super Effect Speaker Bullets Mk IV
Price $2,899.00 per set (4)