Bybee iQSE Mk II
Normally, Clement Perry doesn’t let on as to what he’s done in his system until I’ve told him what I heard during a nice leisurely listening session (there’s always this silent challenge to confirm or deny what he’s hearing from a new tweak or component). This time was different. CP called mid-week to tell me the new Bybee iQSE Mk II’s were coming my way. No, he didn’t tell me what they would sound like – I learned that at his place a couple of hours later. Once received, I was instructed to install each of eight new smaller Bybee iQSE’s on each of the magnets of my Tekton Double Impacts woofer and midbass drivers.
When the new diminutive Bybee iQSE’s arrived on the following Friday afternoon I hurried over to CP’s, picked them up, and rushed home. Thankfully, we live within walking distance and, well, I needed to walk off the excitement. What I heard while listening to CP’s system just days before still had my head spinning, but CP’s rig and room are high tweaked and tuned; my place is a very different story – there are times when, in our loft space, highly valued tweaks don’t produce the same results as smaller spaces with walls and ceiling more the norm.
The Bybee’s are approximately 2” square and about 1/4” thick with a lightly magnetic side (I’d have to take one out to measure it accurately). My installation process varied from those among us with “normal-sized” hands… where CP is able to attach his demo pairs of the new Bybee iQSE’s to woofer magnets by reaching thru rear ports of the speakers among our “Tekton Nation” group of like-minded owners, I had to remove each woofer from the front to make my addition to each magnet. The mid drivers do not have support dowels, so they do have to be removed from the front. Your experience will vary by the complexity of your speaker’s design.
With a prior history of replacing a damaged woofer in a friend’s pair of Tekton DI SE’s, I knew that each Tekton woofer has a support dowel running from the inside rear of the box to the rear of each woofer magnet, held in place at the magnet with a dab of butyl, so I was prepared for a bit of resistance when removing the speakers. In one case I had to pry the woofer carefully by inserting a flat blade. The DI woofer magnets are wide enough that an iQSE’s fit comfortably next to each woofer’s centered rear stabilizing dowel. The iQSE’s sat nicely centered on the mid driver magnets.
Using a drill to remove and replace the screws after adding the iQSE’s to the mix, I was careful to make the final few rotations and tighten down of each screw was done with a handheld screw driver, to insure no threads were stripped. The 8 iQSE additions were accomplished in no more than 20-25 minutes in my case. I fired up the system and sat back for an extended listen.
Listening, Day One
The play of “Ju Ju” from Gretchen Parlato’s “Live in NYC,” was embodied with a undeniable naturalness and it was obvious that the noise floor had dropped considerably. Dynamic content has more impact, from the strike of a piano key to the strike of a drum. Subtle details were far more obvious than during previous plays, emanating out of a denser blackness. The system responded as though the volume had been increased… it had not.
“Romaria” from the Andy Shepherd Quartet’s release of the same name (ECM 2018), showed the Tekton’s in rare form. Music had sharper focus, with greater dynamic swing. I heard more air, with an added natural warmth to instrumentation and a far deeper low end were but a few of the benefits of these new additions.
“Breakdealer” from the Pat Metheny’s Unity Band’s self-named release with Chris Potter and Antonio Sanchez had increased its tactile quotient – percussion left into the room with more drive and greater dynamic swing and rhythmic content. The complexity of subtle stick work was far more evident. Those dynamics are, well, shocking, especially during this first track’s drum break. More body, more musicality… more musicality!
My Tekton Double Impacts responded with such naturalness and clarity – a WAY lowered noise floor and seriously solid bass, causing me to text CP “Why anyone would need to step up to an SE model after this tweak?”
CP’s Demo At Billy Drummond’s
CP texted me “Went over to (iconic jazz drummer) Billy Drummond’s last night and placed a pair on his woofers going through the rear ports. He couldn’t stomach me taking off his drivers. Like my system, it was only the woofers and OH MY GOD! Similar experience you noticed. Billy was at first listening and stating every few minutes; “Um, the sound is so quiet…..the voices are richer…..damn, the space…instruments are popping out of blackness….OH MY GOD ….THE WEIGHT!!!!… This went for an hour with only the units on his woofers! [his emphasis, not mine]
Then we took the show upstairs to the Vandersteen’s… [I] imagine there’s no way address the magnets, so I started sitting them on his DAC, preamp and wedged a pair nearer the woofers in the back… Billy was astounded yet again!
Lastly went and applied just a pair onto his Maggie’s speaker terminals. Again, the weight of the system increased measurably….Billy kept that pair and I now have to order more for myself. Couldn’t leave him scratching his head wondering what just happened.”
As CP made the rounds, demoing the Bybee iQSE Mk II’s in various friend’s rigs, our small group text chain exploded with commentary.
Billy’s group response: “Will continue with placement experiments today. As of now because of design Maggie’s and Vandy have to resort to being creative but… they work tremendously well on terminal plate on Maggie’s, on tops of DAC’s, ZBox interface. Today will experiment with power conditioners, IEC plate of amps, outlets on wall etc. The sky’s the limit and I only have 2. P was about to leave and we decided to place them on Maggie’s terminal plate and wow!! Had a hard time turning the system off last night!!”
CP: “Tell em, Billy, what happened on the DI’s!!!”
Billy: “Just 2!!! One each speaker on back of woofer magnet
So I heard: Major increase of purity! Ditto: Quiet background. Ditto: Increased dynamics because of the above! Nuanced nuances: Vocalists breathe in between phrases, little scrapes, fret noises on stringed instruments, cymbal placement strikes, the room the musicians are in. Tekton Nation!!!!” [edited for brevity].
A Demo At Dennis’s
CP texted our-tight knit texting group: “Just installed iQSE’s in DP’s Tekton Encores!!! Identical to the application in Billy’s rig – two at the woofer magnets only. Results were as expected which were STAGGERING. That just a single pair placed in the woofers could provide upticks in midrange and tweeter definition is really difficult to define but very easy to hear…. but over and over again, the improvements are across the board! The feathery touch and gracefulness of each note, ESPECIALLY the low end, is instantly unrecognizable…… it’s a new level of information, resolution and sophistication.”
Upon hearing Dennis’s rig, our friend Sam noted “Visceral without excess. Definitely a real visceral boost with additional dynamics…”
The Real Deal
I had to put off additional listening thru the weekend to allow my wife her time to rest up from her grueling work week, so, come Monday morning, I was chomping at the bit to continue my own demo of the system with it’s new iQSE additions. The clock certainly moves slowly when it’s too early to fire things up!
Now that’s some depth! A spin of the first few tracks of the Doug Sax’ mastered “Massenet – Le Cid – Ballet Music, Scènes Pittoresques, The Last Sleep Of The Virgin” (Klavier Records 1973), with Louis Fremaux leading the City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, provided stunning dynamics and tonal contrasts across the literal orchestral spectrum. The stage was both wide and deep as subtle melodies coaxed me to lean into the event. Resonant violins and woodwinds beckoned a close and juried listen with periodic dynamic blasts from the bowed basses and resounding percussion. There was a lot of air here, with subtle details more evident than during previous listens over the years. The strings and horns were forceful and commanding as they were sweet and gently melodic.
Nicholas Payton’s 2019 release on Smoke Sessions Records, “Relaxing With Nick,” is a well-recorded, close-miked project that gives a studied look at this competent, compelling trumpet and keyboardist and his accomplished backing band. A little sweet and a touch Bitches Brew-like with keyboard style and it occasional rough tone for effect. Dynamics were plentiful, bass rock solid, transients snappy and the relaxed vibe of the venue extends well into your space, giving a “you are there” perspective to a home listening session. The band was front and center, with the crowd presented further back, lending a nice depth to this intimate and quite dynamic document. Some vocals and occasional added spoken word tracks took the presentation to another place – ie: Max Roach’s voice accompanies their rendition of his last piece Roach was composing, “Jazz Is A Four Letter Word.”
There is serious synergy going here with the DI’s and these new Bybee’s iQSE’s. Love ‘em and they’re staying put! As I subtitled above, these new iQSE’s are ”The Real Deal.” Treat just your woofers or both those and your mid drivers, and/or place them on your components and terminal blocks where available… these Bybee iQSE’s are that good!
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These new Bybee iQSE’s retail for $100 each
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