Bella Sound Kaula 2 AC Power Cord by Clement Perry
I’m embarrassed. Covid-19 has killed three-times as many Americans in six months than the Vietnam war did in 15 years. Cops are wantonly killing Black men in the streets with disturbing regularity. In essence, the world’s going to hell in a hand-basket, and I’m self-quarantined in my dedicated listening room thanking God for what’s in front of me: My family and friends, work via Zoom, and my music. This is not the first time music’s soothing rhythms has saved me from debilitating depressive mood swings. Surviving 9/11 was one of life’s most challenging lessons to come my way and had it not been for music’s documented cathartic effects, I often wonder where I’d be. Hence, my love and admiration for this crazy hobby. Music is a therapy (for me) and not merely a hobby. It has gently steered me on the right track when my faith and direction were obscured. Another God-send over the past 25 years is designer and audio-guru, Jack Bybee.
So when Bybee speaks, I listen. Fortunately, his products have done most of the talking for him. Namely, his Quantum Purifiers, as they’ve offered new promise in terms of musical enjoyment in the home. Their removal of various type distortions – only by their proximity to components/loudspeakers – has proved revelatory. I’ve personally witnessed his Quantum Purifiers transform great listening spaces beyond what more expensive cable and component have. There are also several contributors here that have had the same or similar experiences. When Bybee mentioned that his friend Mike Vice was coming out with a new AC cord that employs some of his newest Quantum Purifiers, I became excited. Knowing what Fatboys do when only placed next to components, I could only imagine what a Quantum Purified AC cord might achieve.
In December 2007, I wrote on the Bybee Super Effect AC cord ($3k) and concluded that its natural portrayal and dynamic prowess had outdistanced my reference Sunny Cable Technology Supreme AC cord ($5k). In the Fall of 2014, Bybee released his Crystal series AC cord ($1500), which was twice as good and only half the price of his own Super Effect AC cord. Our own Russell Lichter preferred them over his LessLoss Signature AC cords, stating, “The evidence of my ears is that the Bybee Crystal Series AC cord is at least as quiet as the LessLoss cord and, as implied by the greater amount of musical information it delivers, provides significantly “cleaner” electricity.”
Truth is, I’ve discovered better sounding AC cords since then. The German-made Gobel Audio set benchmarks in dynamics and authoritative low-end performance. Even this German giant could not match the expressiveness and combined delicacy of Hemingway’s Creation series cables of Korea. Unfortunately, each of those AC cords retail for $10k each (and you’d have to be either crazy or crazy-rich to afford either of them). I owned them both, so go ahead and call me crazy!
When Jack Bybee introduced me to his friend Mike Vice (above photo), at CES some 15- years ago, we kept in touch. I was aware that Vice was always helping his friend and neighbor Bybee with his new inventions and even served as a beta tester to many of Bybee’s products. Hey, isn’t that’s what friends are for. I laughed out loud when Jack informed me that Mike Vice has accumulated over 40 patents in microwave engineering and earned both a Physics and Electrical Engineering degree from Stanford and UC Berkeley. I thought they were more like me and my friend and neighbor Greg Voth, who simply enjoyed each other’s music and company. Well, sort of, except Bybee and Vice could probably build atomic reactors in the middle of a listening session. Sometime last year, I got a call from Mike Vice regarding his new audio company and his first official Bella Sound Kaula 2 AC cord. I told him if he needed someone to put them up against the best I’ve heard, then “I’m your guy.” He honored my request and sent me out a pair of his Bella Sound Kaula 2 AC cords. Around the same time, Vice officially launched Bella Sound.
The company introduction reads in part: “The essence of Bella Sound is in its name: Beautiful Sound. It is a symphony of both science and art uniquely combined to remove the veil from recorded music playback. This was the dream and brainchild of Mike Vice for 50 years, and it is now a reality.”
We’ve reviewed Jack Bybee’s Quantum Purifiers in almost every iteration since 1998. They’ve improved exponentially since their humble beginnings culminating in the latest Quantum Purifiers available today. This same technology was used in creating Bybee’s latest product called the Fatboy. A few of us noted the Fatboy’s unusual sonic flare when placed in one’s listening space (reviewed here). This earned Bybee our Most Wanted Component of the Decade Award (2010 -2020). Mike Vice, also a big fan of the Quantum Purifiers, decided to take the technology a step further. While designing the Kaula 2 AC Cord, Vice decided to couple-pass the AC current and the residual audio signal current thereof both directly and indirectly through Quantum Purifiers. After many weeks of careful experiments, Vice was amazed as to the noise-trapping capabilities of the Bybee Quantum Purifiers. “Used in conjunction with my own technologies herein, says Vice, the Bybee Purifiers mutually enhance the overall effectiveness of my technologies as well.”
Physically speaking, the Kaula 2 AC Cord is a handsomely built in a dark mesh outer sleeve capped off with attractively designed two-toned rhodium machined stainless/aluminum barrels and Rhodium IEC and NEMA 5-15 connectors. Each of the Kaula 2’s came in a 2 Meter length and uses a specially treated copper alloy that employs specialized alloys Vice likes to keep close to his vest. The female side IEC captured my attention almost immediately, for its longer-than-usual barrel serves as a dead giveaway. “The long barrel, says designer Vice, contains the noise firewall/load termination that is advantageously placed directly behind the IEC connector to be as close as possible to the load component, i.e., amplifier, DAC, etc. I call this last inch noise treatment on my website.”
Installing a pair of Kaula 2 AC Cords on a couple of reference Behold BPA 768 amplifiers would be the best place to start, I felt (as opposed to having them at the front end DAC and preamp). Removing my long-time reference Hemingway Audio Creation S series AC cords, I kept them nearby. I held little hope that Kaula 2’s would match their overall vocal beauty, speed/clarity, and harmonic delicacy. In short, the Hemingway Creation S are rare, handsomely designed, and quite expensive at $10k each. The Creation S served as my reference for over five years and still remains the best AC cords to have graced my listening space (they recently released their new Z-Core Series AC cords, but unfortunately only sent me their Z-Core speaker cables – which are fabulous sounding!).
I still boast that veteran Bebop legend Jackie McLean’s self-titled album Nature Boy, featuring David Williams, Cedar Walton, and Billy Higgins had remained in circulation here since its release back in 2000! I might add a sentimental visit to contemporary standards. David Williams holds the tempo with his fabulous feel on bass while legendary pianist Cedar Walton and drummer Billy Higgins bring the swing. I went straight back to what I knew. I chose Nature Boy because of my familiarity, the vast musical genius here – and the album is also an excellently recorded studio session by Blue Note records.
After allowing the Kaula 2’s to settle in for the first 100 hours, I began listening with more intent. The first noticeable change that stood out immediately was the increase in three-dimensional space. Amazingly, my 17′ by 21′ listening space seemed to expand further behind my loudspeakers. Not only did Billy Higgins cymbals hit with a little more delicacy and metallic authenticity, but the surrounding space of the recording venue appear more realistic. This gave a renewed sense of physicality plus presence to Jackie’s wizardry on alto sax. The expressiveness, verve, and delivery improved with each passing hour as the Kaula 2’s continued to near the 300-hour mark. Nuance and beauty were the significant differences I came away with on the ballad You Don’t Know What Love is. Once again, Jackie McLean’s play provided a characteristic resonance that was unmistakably more palpably real and natural. David Williams’ double-bass solo had taut, flare, and delicacy all at once. Overall, this mighty quartet felt more rhythmic and self-assured, making this disc’s overall quality and performance more magnificent than I remembered.
Rich harmonic tapestries were never more evident than on The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress from “Beyond the Missouri Sky” by jazz legends Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny. This 1997 Verve release has become another standard in this listening space. Sublimely effective at creating the right mood with all of its spatial cues, through the Kaula 2’s, this classic recording possessed an even greater sense of spatiality and soundstage width. Metheny’s seemed more pronounced, better focused, and yet I dare repeat it – more delicacy. Overall, nothing felt oversized, forced, or flashy. Both instruments gave a better rendition of what an electric guitar and double bass ought to sound like at this level. Of course, this “feel” is greatly affected by the recording studio as well. But once again, here’s an excellent recording with an acoustic feel that becomes more natural and less electronic – even when played through electronics. Once again, I can only attribute this to the Kaula 2’s lowered noise floor and improved clarity and resolution. The enhanced sense of space and atmosphere produced by the Kaula 2’s, not to mention the 3-D clarity, proved exhilarating.
One jazz pianist who should never sound forced is Ahmad Jamal. His creativity and masterful performance on Arabesque, from his 1987 CD entitled “Crystal,” had me swaying back and forth in my listening chair.
Here, I followed each note and felt the improvisations as if I were listening for the first time. The dynamic swings and space Jamal creates between the notes are legendary, and Arabesque was no exception. The Kaula 2’s exemplified Jamal’s play by clearing up and solidifying his keyboard’s bottom octaves. Notes are cleaner, more transparent, and weightier while providing more resonances around them.
The biggest surprise occurred when I revisited those classic ’70’s soul classics like Otis Redding’s (Sitting on) The Dock of The Bay and The Temptations’ Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) took my breath away. Sam Cooke’s A Change is Gonna Come, Marvin Gaye’s Distant Lover, and Roberta Flack’s The First Time I ever Saw Your Face literally forced me to reconsider what I thought I knew about dated old soul recordings. Not only did they sound better than they ever, but they’re also more exciting than anyone could have me believed. Nothing’s more surprising than to see the look on that unsuspecting music lover after tuning up Marvin Gaye’s Distant Lover. Doesn’t matter if its a seasoned audiophile or an ordinary music lover. The results were usually “…is that a high-rez version? or…I never knew all those instruments were in that song!” For me, when you can go back that far to the music you grew up listening to but never got it to sound right on your high-end rig. Now, for some strange reason, it sounds better than ever!! This, for me, dear reader, is when the real musical journey starts.
After feeling a sense of what the Kaula 2’s were doing, I revisited my reference Hemingway Audio Creation series S AC cords. I didn’t think my reference AC cords would be challenged in the areas they are best at clarity, speed, focus, harmonic integrity, and musicality. One of the most elusive combinations I’ve discovered in the quest for sonic excellence is speed, clarity, delicacy, and harmonics. Speed and clarity usually cost you in weight and harmonics – and Vice versa. The Hemingway Creation series S cables are among the only wires that have formed that rare amalgamation. Unfortunately, that union comes with a hefty price tag. What was more surprising was that compared to the Kaula 2’s, I sensed a slight reduction in harmonic bloom and three-dimensionality. Via the Hemingway Creation S, the sound is still faster but ultimately less resolving (particularly in the lower octaves). There’s less weight and foundation to the songs mentioned above, and The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress really stood out (maybe it’s all the studio reverb used). But one thing’s for sure; the Kaula 2’s offer up an earthier feel to the music. Musicians sound less forced and more accessible for me to musically and mentally discern.
Removing the Hemingway Creation S and going back to the Kaula 2’s reaffirmed my gut impressions. My preference for the increased sense of soundstage depth points back to the Kaula 2’s. They also sound like the quieter of the two. The music comes from a darker, albeit blacker background, which I think lends to its superior sense of three-dimensionality (the music feels like it’s coming from further away). Darker and blacker aren’t always a good thing depending on one’s preference and/or tastes. However, when it comes to improved low-level clarity and transparency offered through the Kaula 2’s, you feel as though you can see through the blackness. Once you make a mental note of that, you not only understand this level of blackness, you crave it.
To sum it up, the Kaula 2’s are simply quieter, produce more extended highs, and provide a cleaner and more prodigious bottom-end than any power cable I know of. Fortunately for anyone reading this, I haven’t heard every power cord in the world. Mike Vice has done something quite remarkable in that he’s taken his own ideas and melded them with Jack Bybee’s Quantum Purifier technology. In doing so, it has unleashed a product that remarkable outperforms any AC cord I’ve heard to date. The Bella Sound Kaula 2’s are now nominated my new reference AC cord and Publisher’s Choice! 2020 Most Wanted Component!
Moreno Mitchell shares his experience.
I was introduced to the Bella Sound Kaula 2 AC cords via a phone call from Clement Perry, suggesting that I give them a listen. He also stated that I could send them back for a full refund if I didn’t like them. He also warned me that I would be keeping them once installed in my system. I have had previous experiences with older versions of the Bybee Power Cords. However, the Bella Sound Kaula 2’s were like none of those upon their arrival. Like CP, I too, use Hemingway Creation AC cords on my Behold amplifiers. And I also wouldn’t hesitate to qualify the Hemingway AC cords as the best I heard.
I decided to seize the opportunity and purchase a pair of the Bella Sound AC cords based purely on CP’s recommendation. Much to my surprise, they arrived within a few days, and that delighted me. Upon opening the package, I was happy to unpack and examine these beautifully-built AC cords. In fact, the build quality was the best I have encountered in terms of mere appearance. The Kaula 2’s are also very flexible, and the connectors look first-class. Just looking at them gave me a sense of reassurance. I connected both Kaula 2’s to my Behold amps, and the rest is history. I knew almost immediately that the Kaula 2’s would be my new reference among AC cords. The first thing I noticed was a sense of musical coherence and quiet. Both Behold amplifiers deliver a purer sound but with a delicacy that emerged with a high degree of clarity.
The sound was more distinguishable and focused, as well. This caused me to become more immersed in the music by the reduction in noise. The music was less fatiguing overall. This allowed me to simply relax and experience the full expression of how the musicians intended to sound. The total results of having a pair of Bella Sound Kaula 2’s in my system makes me wonder how much better my system would perform with the compliment of another pair? All I can say is Thank You!
Dan Secula shares his experience.
It was immediately apparent to me that when I installed four of Mike Vice’s new Bella Sounds Kuala 2 AC power cords, something unusual was happening to my system’s sound presentation. There were significant improvements in the following areas:
• NOISE REDUCTION
• EASE OF PRESENTATION
Mike’s use of Jack Bybee’s V2 quantum noise reduction technology, located in the IECs, allows this cable to act as a noise firewall and world-class power conditioner when connected to a component.
I have used well known and much more expensive power cable brands with varying success only to realize that the Bella Sound Kuala 2 AC cable reigns supreme. Initially, I tried only one of these cables on my pre-amplifier and was so impressed by the results that I ordered three more for a total of four and connected the rest to key strategic components in my system (Behold amplifiers, preamp, and Laufer Teknik Memory Player. The above sound characteristics became much increased throughout my system. They allowed all music varieties to become much less “Hi-fi,” more natural, and real with a “you are there” experience.
It was an easy decision for me to buy these outstanding cables, a real no brainer. Congratulations to Mike and Jack and to anyone considering purchasing these AC cords. Highly recommended!
Address: Bella Sound LLC
PO Box 1117
El Granada, CA 94018
Phone: (650) 796-2023
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