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Positive Feedback ISSUE 60
SE Phono and Interconnect Bullets
as reviewed by Robert H. Levi
There is no slowing down for Jack Bybee, the octogenarian physicist and audiophile, when it comes to inventing breakthrough accessories. He holds numerous patents, mostly classified by government order, that have transformed many an audio system and submarine alike.
I recently reported on his gold phono bullets that refined and very nearly perfected moving coil and moving magnet phono cartridges. Unfortunately, due to the price of gold, the primary metal used in the bullets, they were not produced in quantity, and last sold for $2500 per pair. Now Jack has developed a new alloy, one with little gold, which is even better than the previous bullets, and can be used at other locations in your system as well as your phono section. These are now available and will be sold direct by Jack Bybee for $2100 per pair... a (relative) steal of a deal!
The new Bybee SE Phono and Interconnect Bullets are compact four-inch-long cylinders, including the connectors. They are solidly terminated with a female RCA connector at the input end and a male RCA connector at the output end. They weigh about six ounces, and are cry'od to the lowest temperature available. They have a silver band at the input end, but otherwise look the same as the older gold bullet, which sports a gold band. They are designed to be ultra-flexible and to be used where ever you want in the system circuit. Neither voltage nor amperage matters at all. Break-in is fifty hours in a high-level circuit, such as being plugged into your amp or preamp. After break-in, use in the phono circuit or anywhere else will be revelatory!
The New Bybees
The earlier gold bullets are almost flawless, except for the price, but are eclipsed by the new Bybee SE Bullets for one main reason: they are truly 100% neutral. I did not hear the slight warmth and golden glow of the original bullets until I auditioned the new production. Whether used as phono bullets or interconnect attachments to your preamp or amp, they reduce noise dramatically, provide a much blacker background, and clarify frequencies from mid-band to deepest bass. They do their amazing job and then just get out of the way of the music.
Placed between your tone arm cables and phono stage, the Bybee SE Bullets will rock your world. The amount of special distortion called "1/f" distortion (y=1/f, or "one over f", a formula that is classified, but which Bybee says is critical in audio) created by phono cartridges is huge. Every time two pieces of metal are joined via solder or clamp, 1/f distortion is generated. Only Bybee filters eliminate it, and nothing else that I've experienced. With Grado, Koetsu, or Dynavector cartridges, the improvement is gigantic. You hear better and more detailed mids and bass, more definition, and more dynamic slam.... all this and blacker backgrounds, too. It matters not whether you use a tube or solid state phono stage, the improvement is extraordinary. (Of course, if your cables are balanced from your tone arm, you are out of luck.)
I have never heard phono that has the solidity, definition, and low noise of master tapes, but this is what the Bybee SE Bullets do. Phono becomes an experience you thought already maxed out in your top notch rig, and yet here it is. How do you think the Navy can detect the kind of ships, direction of travel, and their speed from 3000 miles away? Now apply this technology to phono reproduction. You will be stunned.
The new Bybee SE Bullets are designed to be added to any single-ended interconnect of any brand, and work their magic with both low-level and high-level sources. I think they are the most brilliant indispensable addition ever in low-level source use, and merely excellent in high-level applications. I tried them feeding amplifiers and preamps with superior results. Though not as earth shaking as when used with cartridges, the refinement that results, along with added definition and quietude, is worth the money.
The best part of Bybee's invention is it adds nothing on its own. They are completely colorless. You will only know the improvement by the improved musical production of the system preceding the bullets.
Would I buy them if I had no phono? Yes. The quantity of the improvement in high-level use is so unique and refined that once you've heard it, the effect cannot be forgotten. The bullets are very robust and can be moved about as you like. You could also buy more than one pair. I tried them with Kimber Interconnects, Kubala-Sosna, CRL, and Jorma brands, and always heard improvements. The kind of distortion the bullets are designed to remove cannot be removed by the interconnects on their own, regardless of price. Jack says all Bybee filters are additive in the quality of improvement, so even if you buy interconnects containing Bybee filters built in, the new bullets will improve them still further. I have heard that effect with Jorma Prime cables containing Bybee filters, as they progressed even further with the Bybee Bullets added to them. They became more refined and dynamic; a notable accomplishment, since the baseline Jorma Prime is no slouch.
I even put one bullet on an S/PDIF cable and heard smoother, less grainy digital as a result. This fix may not be universal as there may be impedance issues. However, the improvement was undeniable in my system. With so much gear being connected digitally these days, the Bybee Bullets may be extremely useful in this application. You should try it. Try them also with your high-end FM tuner. The effects can be amazing, with more definition and less grain and distortion in the listening. I was never disappointed by the new bullets wherever I tried them!
Now available direct from Jack Bybee, his new and improved [and less expensive] Bybee SE Phono and Interconnect Bullets are ready for prime time. Better overall and more neutral than any previously released bullets or filters, his new alloy yields groundbreaking improvements with no discernible colorations of any kind. They are all gain with no pain. Their dramatic improvement in the signal transmission from phono cartridges is off-the-chart fantastic. I would put the improvement in low-level definition and refinement with the cartridges auditioned at 25+%, plus bigger dynamics and enhanced noise floor.
Though not as spectacular when used in the high-level sections of your system, the improvement is excellent and definite. I would recommend, at a minimum, a pair of bullets between your phono cables and phono stage, and a pair between your preamp and amp, if single-ended. In my book, the resulting system benefits overall are not possible with any other treatment or accessory in existence by any other manufacturer. The Bybee SE Phono and Interconnect Bullets are Jack's crowning audio achievement to date. Most highly recommended! Robert H. Levi
Bybee SE Phono and Interconnect Bullets