February 16, 2011

Bybee Quantum Purifier - snake oil?

Are they snake oil or are they a genuine upgrade to your system?

Extraordinary claims

These are a passive device that are claimed to improve just about any part of your system. Insert them anywhere in the signal chain and it is claimed that you will see improvements.

We are told that they "operate on the quantum mechanical level to regulate the flow of electrons that make up the signal (picture a metering light regulating freeway traffic flow). " This would suggest that they convert ordinary cables into super conductors, however, this is then contradicted soon after where it is mentioned that they strip away excess energy and dissipate it as heat. There is a simple common name for this device. It is called a resistor, and they are much cheaper. They perform specific function in crossover networks and electronics, but they never come with such grand claims and a premium price. Resistors are dirt cheap. 

The marketing text is seductive and they are quick to mention right at the start that it based on the work of a respected physicist who develops technology for the military. If he works for the military, he must have some serious credibility!

Do they measure up?

A moderater on DIY audio decided to measure one of these devices to see if any validity could be found in their claims. The results are included here:

What was the verdict?

Sy who peformed the measurements says in summary:

The physical specs and the physics claims are sheer fraud, at least in the few places that they're not meaningless gobbledygook.
The noise reduction claims are interesting. Somehow, the devices are supposed to reduce the noise of other parts in the signal chain. Experiment did not support this! Nor did experiment support the implied increase in electron velocity (I'm rather proud of the hack I used to measure that!). 
Subjective reviews

A 6 moons review has a very different tone.

My findings were not as dramatic as some reviewers have reported but these devices proved to make clear and significant improvements without any downsides except for the hefty price of admission - $880pr. 
Based on my experience with the interconnect purifier, their sonic effect is clearly cumulative with additional devices upstream from the speakers. The magnitude of purity and focus engendered by this device would typically only be the result of a major system upgrade. 
In my opinion

I will admit that I have no experience with this product and I have not measured it. Some will for that reason dismiss my opinion immediately. That is their choice. 

My father often said "a fool and his money are soon parted." In the pursuit of audio perfection, many audiophiles become vulnerable to many clever seductions. The industry makes a great deal of money and audiophiles are a quirky bunch who after spending their money, seem reluctant to admit they have not actually achieved an improvement. Most consumer products that don't deliver on promises result in quick returns. However, in this industry, a manufacturer can get away with a dubious product and it's customers who have gained nothing real are the ones who speak up in their defence. They well know that those who buy the products do not know enough about physics to see through the ridiculous claims.

So why do people think they hear a difference? The main reason is that they want to hear it, especially after having spent money. When you listen for a difference, it is very easy to think you actually do hear an improvement. The brain is very good at finding something new in a familiar piece of music, even with no change. It's a placebo effect. There is another reason for wanting to hear a difference. There is a certain pride many audiophiles feel in being able to hear things others can't. They want to be able to hear it, and don't want to admit they hear no difference. With this kind of belief and value system in place, the brain obliges by providing a perceived difference. The attention becomes focused on details not noticed as much before. There is a real change, but it has been provided by mental processes only. It does not exist, except between the ears.

I suggest if you are considering such a purchase, instead put your money into something real. Invest in some acoustic treatment for your room. The returns are very real and beyond question. No one ever does blind tests for acoustic treatment. There is a reason for that!


  1. Great read Paul. The last paragraph is moving. ;)


  2. Have you fellows seen


    unveiling what belies these acclaimed pieces of crap ?

  3. On their site they claim: "Quantum Purifiers were originally developed for military applications, many of which are still highly classified."

    When you open them and find a common wire resistor covered with heat-shrinking tube you can surely understand why these have to be "Highly classified".......

    Miracle Liniment #335 my friends :)

  4. I love it! The more I read about hi-fi, the more I am startled at how much money people are willing to spend on gadgets, gimmicks and tweaks that do nothing whatsoever. It just shows, yet again, how powerful is our apparently inborn wish to be deceived.

  5. Yes, that quantum hogwash is obviously nonsense.


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