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Positive Feedback ISSUE 33
september/october 2007


Audio Ramblings - Golden Sound, Halo-9, and Bybee's Best!
by Dave Clark


I like to tweak my system… my audio system that is. As to my other system, well other than good food, good alcoholic beverages, and good other things, tweaking is limited to what I can do sitting down. I have tried pretty much a lot of what is out there and it either makes little or no difference at all—in that who cares as it is too much trouble or $$ to bother—to it makes a difference that is not something I can live without. That is my (our) music sounds better and that better is worth the time and trouble… and $$.

We all are used to reading about how something improved a system with regards to this or that… and I am guilty as charged. Not so sure I can count the times that I have written that some doohickey made the system (music) more natural or it resulted in a greater sense of ease or whatever. One would think that by now I would have rounded the bend and crossed the finish line, but the problem with audio is that there is no finish line. As one gets closer and closer to what we perceive to be the end, it just gets harder and harder to make that last few whatever to cross the line. Yeah, things keep getting smoother and more natural with less of this and more of that, but it just never seems to end. The better it gets, the better it gets. The more it improves, the more I find that I can improve it …that is the kicker. This is the never-ending struggle we have to face on a daily basis… oh, do we need to get a life! Of course one could sit back and toss in the towel, but come on… get real here. We are audionuts! What you talking about, leave it alone, fine as it is… yeah… you get a life will ya!

Of course I am not talking about the "universal" absolute sound here as that is a misnomer for something that does not exist in the real world. Well at least in the real obtainable audio world. Certainly I can obtain what my idea of the absolute sound is, but even that is something that is an illusion or interpretation of my world and experiences, and, more than likely, it is not yours… though there could be some shady grey areas where we might agree. I mean, what exactly is the absolute sound? It has come and gone my friend, but what I can do is continue to chase what I think it is, and in doing so, go after whatever someone is hawking out there that might potentially make my system and music that more natural and right… more absolute. But of course this is my right, my absolute!

Which takes us here...

There are a lot of various tweaks that, for whatever reason, can really stir the pot in audioland. Yes, there are some tweaks that are accepted with a more open mind (say cones and feet), but even with those there are still a few audionuts among us who might pause to cast a few quizzical barbs our way. Actually it would be nice if that is all they tossed our way...!

Addressing a resonance and what it (or is it they?) can do to one's music is rather obvious—isolate and/or drain—though no doubt one can have sympathetic resonances that are fine and do no harm (or actually make things better in some way) as opposed to unsympathetic resonances that are bad and muck things up. This mucking can be either dramatic or subtle, but muck it is does. Cones, feet, etc all come into play, but what about resonances that lie elsewhere? Say cables and such...

In dealing with those resonances that one has determined to be bad (as a result from going to something that "fixes" them from a prior situation where something was "nude"), I have found Herbie's stuff to be quite wonderful, if perhaps quite subtle in their overall effect. I recently received some of the HAL-O 7 IC Damping Instruments which fits XLR and AES/EBU plugs and jacks. I have been using the JRs on various RCAs to good effect, so I thought why not try the bigger versions on my balanced cables? Yeah, okay, so I slipped these on the receiving ends and things seemed to be that much cleaner and more precise. Was I fooling myself in thinking that I had actually heard these differences? Was it simply the product meeting my expectations? Maybe, as the differences are more of the "it is rather subtle, but I think I hear…" than the obvious "slap my face, did you hear that!" sort of thing, but then I would expect as much. After all the XLR barrel should be rather immune to vibrations and such since as it rather hefty. But the signal does have to pass down a long wire that is hanging out in a very resonating environment. With the Halos I do feel that I hear less of this and more of that. And perhaps bigger is not clearly always better… perhaps the more metal the more problems (certainly so in terms of passing a signal where less is more). Yeah, with the Halos, I feel that the music is cleaner and better—more transparent and whatnot …and they are very inexpensive for what they do at $6.98 each. Is it measurable? Got me, but I like what I hear with them on either the Audio Magic or Kubala-Sosna balanced cables. Whether the Halos actually address any resonances or not, well …I can not say. But the music sounds better with them on the cables than with them off. Yeah it ain't earth shattering, but they do appear to work, and they look cool too!

Herbies Halos on the XLRs of the Audio Magic Clairvoyant 4D interconnects and on the end of a Bybee Golden Goddess XLR interconnect tail. They work equally as well at the ends of the Kubala-Sosna Emotions.

Then there are the Acoustic Discs from Golden Sound. These appear to be nothing more than three nickel stamped circles (say about 5/8 inch in diameter and 1/16 inch thick) stacked with some sort of foam sticky smaller circles between them. Not much to look at and $140 for a set of 12 they are not necessarily affordable nor does one get an idea of why the price. This is not to say that they do not work, are not worth the money, nor should cost that based on time and expense. They might be the best thing since a decent beer. Golden Sound suggests strategically placing them at specific points on your ceiling and wall junctions to address room nodes and such. The end result is better sound courtesy of having less of those harmful resonances mucking things up. Since we have a very unique coved ceiling that precluded me from going that route (though I do have them on the ceiling and so far am a bit flustered as to what I am hearing—that is if it is anything different, let alone better), I tried them somewhere else that the tweaker populace has suggested in various chatrooms …on the male and female AC plugs of my various cords.

And yes, things do sound a bit better. Again, there is nothing earth shattering to report, but yes… the music is just that much cleaner and less edgy. Once more I hear more of this and less of that… and all in a good way. Simple and reusable, one can try them anywhere one might fear some resonance or something of that ilk might be mucking things up… a lot of fun and they do make difference, be it a subtle one. Yes, I said it is subtle in that it is not going to part the musical oceans and lead you to audio heaven, but give them a try. Several of the audio tweak gurus on AA swear by them, and of course some on AA swear at them! Even so, they appear to be based on reasonable scientific reasoning (passing on vibrations and resonances to something else to dissipate what is going on). How effective they are at doing this in terms of actual measurable results… got no clue. Even so, I do feel that there is a positive difference… though it might be a small one! But then every little bit counts! Especially in digital!!

A Golden Sound disc on the Jena 916 AC cord's IEC.

They work well in other locations where the results are much the same: cleaner an less crap. On top of the Townshend super tweeters where the metal case is not ringing a bit. And of the Walker Reference HDLS that are hanging out in the air... any place they go, the sound seems to be a bit more open with less stuff in the way.

A Golden Sound disc on the Townshend super tweeter in custom black finish... by me.

Then you enter into the true netherland of extremism with stuff from various manufacturers that tend to defy the known principles of the various sciences …say the stuff Bybee makes for example (well we could go many directions here and this road is packed with many a head scratcher—Belt, QRT, cryogenics, contact treatments, yodeling, etc.). But Jack's line of purifiers clearly can cause a chatroom to toss and turn in tumultuous turmoil where the sides are clearly drawn on polar opposites. Yeah, Bybee purifiers can really get the fur a flying.

See, here the sides fall either to the "No way Jack is doing what he claims to be doing" to "Who cares what he says, they do something special to the music that I really like" to somewhere in the middle. And yeah, I have no idea if what Jack is saying is true or not. But damn if they are not doing something special to my music that I like. That I REALLY like, and that many others like as well. Why or how they do this, I have no clue. Jack's explanations are beyond my understanding of the known (or unknown) world of science, so for all I know he could be either an alien from Mars with advanced understanding of whatever, or a questionable scammer from Florida. But having met Jack, and those who use his stuff (other manufacturers and such of reputable and sound engineering backgrounds), well …I really doubt that Jack is out to slip a fast one by us. Jack is a very nice and open guy who does not come across as a huckster or a fraud. No, if you meet and talk to Jack, you will find that he is the real deal …honest and upfront. Truth be told, perhaps he really is on to something (at least a lot of us think so), and as to how it works, well that may just be something that he does not want to pass on clearly and succinctly to the larger audio world. After all it is his design to protect, so maybe he is just saying enough to confuse the issue so no one will copy what he has done ...then again, you got me.

What Jack is willing to say, is that the purifiers, and in this case, specifically the Golden Goddess 'Super Effect' Speaker Bullets "…incorporate a newly developed combination of carbon nanotube and gold-based quantum purification technologies to eliminate quantum mechanical noise (electronic noise occurring outside the audible range, which adversely affect audio and video reproduction) to unprecedented levels." Okay, so uh, yeah …Jack what does this mean for the lay person? Like I said, there are many who claim it says nothing, and of course there are others who claim it says all it needs to say. And other than that, Jack the man ain't talking.

Of course if it works and makes a positive difference, then who cares what is going on …I mean does it really matter why it works? That is unless this somehow contributes to global warming or something that one will construe as being adverse to the greater good, than who really gives a crap? My money and my time.

The Bybee Golden Goddess 'Super Effect' Speaker Bullets feature the Eichmann RCA plugs which allow for either bananas or regular spade connectors via their 5-way binding posts. The tails also feature ultra-flexible expanded Teflon (ePTFE) which functions as an air dielectric for the conductors (14 K gold (+) conductors with high-purity silver ribbon for the (-) conductors). Jack says that this will virtually eliminate capacitance.

And what do they do for me? Well …my system and music now come across with a greater sense (than before the last item that did the same, and before the item before that did it too) of naturalness-ness, ease, palpability, and overall musicality. More of what should get through, gets through with less of what should not get through, getting through. I guess that the Golden Goddess 'Super Effect' Speaker Bullets (see image below) are now filtering out the nasties that were previously obscuring what we should have been hearing, though prior to their insertion one would never had realized just what was riding along in the music. That is, it sounded just fine thank-you.

Shot of the Golden Goddess 'Super Effect' Speaker Bullets on the Reimers. The black discs that are at the banana ends of the Audio Magic Clairvoyant 4D speaker cables were cut from Golden Sound damping discs ...okay, perhaps I have gone a bit too far... but they do seem to damp the bananas quite well! Note the Golden Sound disc on the Walker Reference HDL and on the terminal cup below the binding posts. A Shakti Online sits right above the scenario.

Our music, as heard via the Golden Goddess 'Super Effect' Speaker Bullets, now comes across with a greater presence and openness than without. Clarity of tone and timbre, and space is more audible and better than before. I say better in the sense of air and space and how that "what makes something sound more like what it should sound like" is present in spades …well at least to us that is. There is less crap filling the space that should be filled with the whatever that makes our music just that much more enjoyable and real. Not that we were aware of any shortcomings before, but with the Golden Goddess 'Super Effect' Speaker Bullets in the chain …well we are now.

Yeah, like I said about how all the other stuff we have tried and use that do a lot of the same things, and well, they do—the system sounded quite wonderful with them all doing what they do so well! It is just that the Golden Goddess 'Super Effect' Speaker Bullets take the system that much closer to the illusive finish line. They build on all that has come before, and as such, should be seen as another step in the right direction. Their usage does not eliminate the need for other items in the chain (AC conditioners, EMI/RFI filters—such as Shakti Stones and Onlines, or the Walker Reference HDLs—or whatever floats your musical boat). If it worked before there is no need to take it out with the Golden Goddess 'Super Effect' Speaker Bullets in the chain, I have found them to be very symbiotic. Leave well enough alone and just keep adding as need be.

In listening with and without, the differences are not subtle. I have had several people listen with and without and all keyed into the positive changes (as noted) that they cast on the music. The Golden Goddess 'Super Effect' Speaker Bullets do clean-up the sound and do (via the speakers) produce a voluminous sound-field that is bigger, bolder, and better than what we were listening to prior in every way. They work. They make a difference that is quite positive and beguilingly addictive …why do they work and do what they do? Well you got me.

But they are not really something that everyone can run out and buy. See at $4200 a set (if you bi-wire you will need two sets) they are, well …rather expensive. And since they are not something that is easily explainable (and acceptable to the masses), well …many of you will turn your back on something that is quite wonderful. But I won't fault you in making this decision as …well yeah, that is a lot of money and, well …how do they work again? In talking to Jack and a few others in the know I understand why they cost what they do by being rather difficult to make and using materials that not all that inexpensive—they contain close to an ounce each of gold and silver for all four—yeah, they cost what they cost to make. But they do work and so only you can decide if what they do is worth the $4200. Heck if I can afford them, though I am certainly going to try.

Golden Sound