In defense of quantum products.


There are many audio products that have the word quantum in their name. The brand names Synergistic Research, Bybee and Kemp and Audio Magic come to mind. There are others.

Frankly, some of the explanations for these products are difficult for me to understand. I understand the general theory of quantum physics but when it comes to the details I often find myself getting lost very quickly. Are the explanations offered up by makers of quantum products accurate or not? And does it really matter? Is audio about understanding what manufacturers say or about enjoying the music?

Personally, I am only concerned whether the product works in my system. If the explanation is satisfactory but it does not deliver I could not care less about the theories offered in their defense. Happily, I have been lucky with products from Synergistic Research, Bybee and Audio Magic. I have not used any Kemp products yet.

What have your experiences been with quantum products?
sabai
"Puffery" is adding in wording or images which imply the product is more than it really is.
Nearly ALL these $$$ tweaks fall into this catagory.
The makers start with a common, cheap to do tweak, fiddle with it, then market it at a huge profit. Naturally they have to convince the buyer that thier tweak is somehow 'better' than the kitchen variety.
Well that is where the fancy bullshit explanation comes in.
So you can fall for the hype, or understand the basic design, and make a cheap version for yourself for (generally) pennies. Save the 25,000% markup.
I opened up a Bybee Qunatum filter...pitiful. What a waste of money! nothing in it except some black goop around the conductor that was inside a ceramic or plastic covering.
I hated that TV show Quantum Leap!!!!!
Elizabeth, Ozzy and Tpreaves, what have your experiences been with quantum products when you listened to them in your systems?
Never watched an episode either.
Let it be stated I have owned and used two of the companies you mention. In my experience I have been able to attain vastly superior performance at an equal or lower price point than these "quantum" products. Don't get me wrong they weren't bad. Would even say good.

But good performance compared to great or exceptional performance doesn't cut it for me. Especially at the same price point.

In avoidance of a flame war you are welcome to email if you want more details: audiofankj@gmail.com

Disclaimer: I am a reseller of audio gear. Yet can offer honest opinion on better options that cost less that we do or do not represent.
"I opened up a Bybee Qunatum filter...pitiful. What a waste of money! nothing in it except some black goop around the conductor that was inside a ceramic or plastic covering."

Just curious, did you try knocking off a Bybee Quantum Filter in your basement?
The OP says he's been lucky, not methodical or rational, but just lucky. It can happen and his experience shouldn't be discounted. But he should also realize that many audiophiles aren't willing to roll the dice on some groundbreaking alt-physics.
I first heard the Nordost QX4 at a show demo. During it, cables, supports etc were all changed in stages and made a difference. To me, the QX4 made the biggest difference of them all. They are insanely expensive new and just overpriced, second hand.
I bought 2 in stages less than half price and to my ears absolutely, no question, they made a big difference, the second less than the first, but still better with 2, so they are staying.

I tend to go second hand with tweaks, more likely to not lose on resale if they don't float your boat.
I always roll the dice when choosing components, cabling and tweaks. I have little choice since I live overseas and don't have the opportunity to audition products. The way I see it, nothing ventured nothing gained. Life itself is a roll of the dice when you open one eye in the morning. So why not audio?

Through trial and error I have been lucky to come up a big winner with my system. I have lost along the way too because that is inherent in trial and error. But over the long haul there is no question but that various quantum products have taken my system to a level that would have been impossible to achieve without them.
Onhwy61, to clarify, I have not ONLY been lucky. I have in fact been very rational and methodical about this. It has taken me 6 years to get here. Of course, luck always enters into it in audio because you never can tell before you push the on button, can you?
Sabai, To answer your question, I could not tell any difference when I used the Quantum filter.
Geoffkait, No actually one of the filters had a short in it. I sent it Jack Bybee himself to see if it could be repaired. He had it for 2 months.So, I finally acked hime if it could'nt be fixed to please send it back.Well eventually it was returned to me with the RCA broken off the end of the wire. I guess he could'nt fix it without cutting into it.
Well since I now had an expensive pair of paperweights, I took the old hacksaw to the one that wouldn't work. Inside it I could see the broken cheap stranded wire surrounded in some stale black goop. The whole item probably cost about $1.79 total to make. I paid $500.
Ozzy, I don't quite understand. Was it repaired -- but not to your satisfaction cosmetically. Or was it not repaired at all?
Sabai, No it was not repaired. I was hoping that Jack Bybee could have done something, but no luck.

Since the only way to attempt to repair it was to cut it open. I carefully cut it open with a hacksaw.
Once it was open and I saw the cheap stranded copper wire inside the stale goop,it just did'nt seem to be worth any more effort. I trashed it but I still have the other one from the pair in case anyone wants it.
Ozzy, That was definitely a no-no experience. I agree. I am surprised that Jack Bybee did not repair it or come clean. I have respect for Jack Bybee because of the superior results I have had with his products. No question. I have never had a repair issue.
Ozzy, Why didn't he just replace it? For 2 bucks he could have avoided you finding out what find of snake oil he was using ;).

It's interesting that you did not hear a difference. There are cable makers that use goop in their cables. Some don't hide the fact but they are usually very expensive. The only thing that makes sense to me is that the goop must damp the vibrations in these cables. I don't own any so I can't say if thats good or not.

Sean
Sarcher30 says: "I don't own any so I can't say if thats good or not." So how is it possible to talk of snake oil or support someone who talks about snake oil or to indulge in any other denigrating comments if you have no actual experience with the product? We see this time and again on these forums. It is this sort of gratuitousness that lowers the level of discussion and chases away intelligent opinions. This leaves the paying field to "special" folks.
Sabai, Sarcher30,
I was hoping they would send me a new pair.
I got the impression that Jack Bybee is quite feeble these days. The guy running the company (I forget his name now) took charge and claimed it was out of warranty and they had no longer any obligation.
Ozzy and Sarcher30, This repair thing is difficult to believe. I'm not saying it did not occur but Jack Bybee is a very savvy person and a very competent maker of high performance products -- in my system and in the systems of many people who have reported this fact over the years. To think he would not be able to make such a simple repair and would go to all this trouble to give someone the opportunity to malign him stretches my imagination. I cannot for the life of me figure this whole thing out.
What's so hard to figure out? A frequent and I believe respected contributor to this forum has made a factual statement about a product and described his dealings with the manufacturer. It's pretty straightforward.
Since we have not heard from the other side we don't know the full story. That's all I'm saying. I am not discounting what has been reported here. But there are always 2 sides to every story.
Sabai, Sounds like I hit a nerve. If you like what they do in your system then that is all that counts.

I have heard a demo of the Nordost quantum device at RMAF a few years ago. They did a A/B comparison. I thought I may have heard a difference but it was very slight. Certainly not worth the price IMO.

Cheers
I don't see how "quantum" models relate to audio sound quality in any meaningful way.

A quantum model to me would infer mostly a different and inherently nebulous way to market a product. A different way to tell the same story in the end essentially that makes a product seem more revolutionary or innovative than it really is.

I proceed with caution with any products marketed based on such a model. It's almost certainly a marketing ploy based on principles whose application to the task at hand are nebulous at best and done most likely merely to increase the perceived value of the product.
The irony, of course, is that everyone pretty much thinks that quantum products are a marketing ploy, so how does that improve sales for such products? Everyone likes products with easy to grasp explanations, like vibration control and EMI/RFI absorption. Seems like the best thing to do in such circumstances is for the manufacturers to stay mum about the quantum technology.
Sarcher30, No nerves hit. Just want to be fair to both sides. Thanks for your impressions of the Nordost Quantum. I have always been curious about it but have never heard it. There are a lot of positive reports about it. Your impressions show there are 2 sides to the story.
I am not a physicist; my PhD is in the History of Science. But I have read quite a few book on Quantum Theory and find the explanations offered for "Quantum" effects unintelligible. Most apparently refer to "Quantum Tunneling" , which is a critical process in the operation of the Universe. Without it the Sun wouldn't be hot enough to burn for example; or certain electrical devices operate at all. It involves to ability of particles to jump barriers that Classical Physics forbade them to cross by borrowing the energy to do so from the background field. Or else there are times when the barrier does not exist; take your choice. As best I can determine certain manufactures claim that processes they use somehow facilitates this effect. If they can indeed do this; and assuming it would give a desirable effect; what I can't understand is why they are f##ting around with hi fi accessories instead of writing their Nobel speech.
Mapman, There are many "quantum" products reported to improve the quality of high end audio systems. These reports are the subject of countless threads on Audiogon and other forums. They are about products from such companies as Synergistic Research, Bybee (there are two companies marketing Bybee products, I believe), Audio Magic, Kemp and Nordost, among others. There are an awful lot of people who have recognized "quantum" products as being innovative. With all due respect, I believe you are swimming upstream here.

I have products from 3 of these companies in my system and they have brought an amazing improvement in the sound. I do not believe that these companies are worse that any others in the field of marketing. I do not think they are trying to create the impression that their products are "more revolutionary on innovative" than they are -- any more than any other companies. There is not a single manufacturer I know of -- "quantum" or "non-quantum" -- that does not "accentuate the positive". So, we should be wary of all claims, not only "quantum-related" claims.

I have no idea what this sentence of yours means: "It's almost certainly a marketing ploy based on principles whose application to the task at hand are nebulous at best and done most likely merely to increase the perceived value of the product."
Sabai,

I never said products advertised as "quantum" cannot work to improve or even just make a difference in sound quality. In fact, I suspect many can and do. I know for a fact that Nordost products are capable of sounding fabulous. I have read some good things from Synergistic research that I like.

But I would question the value proposition of these kinds of products in general perhaps because along with the R&D and innovation (assuming legit) typically comes a price tag.

These products tend to be pretty expensive usually from what I have seen, right?

I wonder if similar results might have been achieved with more traditional smarts using other products that may not be as flashy or expensive (in general) but apply solid, proven, and well understood principles of design properly otherwise.

If its "quantum" forged, affordable, and the value proposition is there, and it sounds good, then I would find little to criticize, although personally I seldom buy a product at any cost based on nebulous principles the application of which to the task at hand I cannot understand. But that's just me.

High end audio is a natural playing field for marketing technological innovations that "push the edge" to potential customers that are willing to pay for "the best". I am naturally skeptical of "innovative" and expensive technologies that rely solely on high end audio consumers for their existence.
Mapman, I agree that the price tag that accompanies many of these products is high. Since many people are able to audition products before buying (Synergistic Research has a program for this) there is virtually no risk in auditioning to see if their "nebulous principles" translate into nebulous products.

I believe that some of the explanations are nebulous -- not the principles -- because I have heard what some of these products can do. And what they can do is often very impressive in my system, and in others' as well.

Yes, it is always possible that similar results may be obtained less expensively. I think the best way to go about this is to wait till the heat is off and they bring out Mark II and Mark III. Then the earlier versions can often be had at a reasonable price. And if you have already auditioned what you are looking for you can do well.

Manufacturers' explanations never deter me. I really don't care what they say. Every manufacturer touts their own products. I am buying sound, not explanations. I look for sonic results. That's all that matters to me.
If all the high priced tweeks out there really worked why don't companies just take a 10.00 non refundable deposit, let the customer try it out, and send it back if it doesn't really work. People that pay lots of money for something will never admit to themselves that they were taken. Either you have a good system, or you don't. Why pay more for wires and tweeks than your entire system costs?
Just because a product has quantum in its name doesn't mean its design has anything remotely to do with quantum theory. It's a term anyone can appropriate for marketing impact, like Extreme or Ultra or Turbo. Personally, whenever I see quantum -- or better yet, Tesla -- invoked in high-end audio, my BS detector goes off.
I don't see any resolution to this argument. As so often on Audiogon and other forums, it comes down to one opinion over another. You can legitimately argue as to the scientific validity of a companies claims and I certainly am not qualified to comment on the validity. I have a tenuous, non scientific understanding of Quantum mechanics, string theory etc and I suspect that is true for most of us.

Whether the "science" seems Kosher, is certainly relevant to whether it works or not, but not a deal breaker. I believe the Nordost QB4 works in my system and 2 works better than one. To my ears, the benefit is instantly recognisable and worth the cost. The cost to me was half price, second hand. I think it worth that, not the current full price, which seems far to high for the material content of the product. You can argue I am fooling myself, but it's all rather futile. The only way is to get a loaner or by second hand, so you can sell on, hopefully at no loss and try yourself
I searched and read a few thing on the Nordost and Synergistic sites as some homework in response to this thread.

The word quantum comes up many times when you run a search on the word, but I did not see a concise explanation of exactly what it meant in the context of the site ( I thought I did see some clear things that made some sense a while back on the Synergistic site when some of their power related products caught my interest but not this time). The term appears to be used mainly as a principle and/or tool in testing as part of their R&D process as best I could tell and is mentioned in the context of many products. I could have missed some things. SInce it was so frequently used but an explanation not obvious I did not spend too much time digging. I gathered that they are applying a technique that originated in the medical field back in the 90's but a quick Google search turned up nothing on other sites explaining further.

Whatever. I have no doubt these products sound good or they would not be in business for long. If the customers are happy with the products that's all that matters. I could easily live with them I am sure but doubt I would be willing to make the investment required.

I expect all expensive audio products to "sound really really good" though of course we all will tend to like some more than others. I can count on one hand probably the expensive audio gear I have heard around that did not sound good at all to me and I suspect that was because of problems with specific units and/or the setup.

I agree in the end that customer satisfaction is all that matters.
David12,
Everyone has their opinion which is as it should be. The final arbiter is the ears. IMO.
Polk432 wrote:
"If all the high priced tweeks out there really worked why don't companies just take a 10.00 non refundable deposit, let the customer try it out, and send it back if it doesn't really work."

Well, I did exactly that with Machina Dynamica's (Geoff Kait) Teleportation Tweak. He offered a money-back guarantee. I purchased the product and Geoff administered the tweak. The result? Absolutely NO change in the sound-quality of my system. I told Geoff of this and he immediately refunded my money. He ALSO removed his money-back guarantee. Now that's what I call standing behind your product!!!

Most of these wacky, way-out products are exactly that - a way to separate gullible audiophiles from their money. No thanks, I'm trying to quit...

-RW-
Teleportation Tweak.

OMG
I've been fortunate to have had friends lend me tweeks, high priced wires, IC's, bricks, stones, elevators, and the like, and NONE of them made any difference in sound at all. I'm just happy I spent my money on better equipment. Adding subs, a different set of speakers, eq's, going from SS to Tubes and things like that will make a difference in sound, but to me all of the tweeks mentioned are just a ripoff. Nice to see RW got a refund, and didn't have to learn the hard way, or fool himself into thinking the tweeks were working. Just enjoy the stereo.
I've been fortunate to have had friends lend me tweeks, high priced wires, IC's, bricks, stones, elevators, and the like, and NONE of them made any difference in sound at all. I'm just happy I spent my money on better equipment. Adding subs, a different set of speakers, eq's, going from SS to Tubes and things like that will make a difference in sound, but to me all of the tweeks mentioned are just a ripoff. Nice to see RW got a refund, and didn't have to learn the hard way, or fool himself into thinking the tweeks were working. Just enjoy the stereo.
I just sent an intergalatical tweak for free. If you like the changes it made in your system, send me $29.99 and I'll send you the deluxe version.
Getting back to the OP in “quantum “ products, here’s my 2 cents worth. I started messing with “tweaks” back in the late 70’s. My first tweak were the Discwasher “Gold-ends” which were interconnects with gold plated RCAs and a better wire. Egads! They improved the sound of my them system (Yamaha C810, Braun L710, Garrard t-t).

As years passed, I tried other tweaks and eventually had to opportunity to audition/review some PLCs in no specific order: (Exact Power SP/EP, Blue Circle Music Ring 600, Silver Circle balanced power supply, Audio Magic Eclipse II, RSA Haley and Duke, Earthcalm Scalar, Powervar isolation t-former, Quantum Symphony Pro).

Out of these, the clear winners were the Quantum Symphony Pro and the Powervar. Interestingly, nothing plugged into the Symphony Pro, it just went into the wall and turned on.

Dealing with the Quantum Pro- I’ve posted this elsewhere, but my impressions were that it affected the “atmosphere” in the room. Shortly after plugging it in and with no music playing, my wife came into the room and commented how it “felt different” as in more relaxed. She didn’t know what I had done and looked around as if I had cleaned or rearranged something. Mind you, she rarely comments on how my system sounds so this was epic. My impression was the same and I’d opine these devices affect the person more than the electronics, but that’s just a guess.

I’ve quit trying to figure out the “how and why” these Quantum things do what they do and just learned to enjoy them.

Now, the price of these devices, especially the new Quantum Q4X, is a legit gripe, but 90+% of what’s being sold is way overpriced like $10K speakers with a driver cost of $400.00 and don’t ask about cabling.

I’m looking forward to some Q2X/Q4X to show up on A’gon. I’ll be snatching one if the price is right.
I like my QX4 and QB8. I've had them for around 2 years now.
Bybee products i have owned and used. I can hear difference. It kind of mute the edges (sound becomes less strident) and sound becomes more stress-free and calmer. You'll notice no drawbacks in details. They are mostly used in ceramic based speakers, power chords or in power supply upgrades (GNSC used these) etc..
Inpieces,
I have over 15 Bybee products in my system. They do exactly what you say. They have transformed my system.
"quantum (kwntm)
Plural quanta
A discrete, indivisible manifestation of a physical property, such as a force or angular momentum. Some quanta take the form of elementary particles; for example, the quantum of electromagnetic radiation is the photon, while the quanta of the weak force are the W and Z particles. See also quantum state.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.'"

Quantum is a useful concept or paradigm applied in many scenarios from the common to the more esoteric in many disciplines.

But I would be weary of its use specifically as a marketing device to make a home audio product appear more sophisticated or effective than perhaps it really is. Impressive sounding technical terms can easily be used to obfuscate the facts as a means of justifying a higher price/profit.

Accordingly, I would be suspicious of the value proposition for most any home audio product that heavily uses the term in its marketing literature. It may work or it may not. The value proposition is what matters. Its a common trick in marketing in general to overstate the value of a new or unique product based on some proprietary "gimmick". Nothing new or unique to home audio there!
Mapman wrote,

"But I would be weary of its use specifically as a marketing device to
make a home audio product appear more sophisticated or effective than
perhaps it really is."

Name one. One that you actually have experience with, that is.

I grow weary of neophobes. Especially ones whose knowledge of quantum
mechanics is limited to dictionary definitions. Lol
Yawn...
I love it when Elizabeth is the first response.