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Aether Audio MBB-AC

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The Vortex Filter “Mobile Bus-Bar” AC Power Cord (MBB-AC) is unlike any other, as within its singular, innovative design are combined the advanced engineering concepts embodied in our proprietary "Smith Cell" technology along with the most SOLID, time-proven construction techniques known to science.

It is a totally passive (i.e., no batteries or other power sources required), AC Power Cord that you simply connect between the AC Power source outlet receptacle (i.e., wall outlet, etc.) and your audio, video or other component’s IEC AC power inlet receptacle. This can be the AC wall outlet of your home, an AC power strip, an active or passive AC power conditioner or any similar source of 120 VAC/60Hz power.

The MBB-AC is, like all other Aether Audio products, a proprietary design that is “built from scratch” by hand using quality raw materials. If you were to know the actual truth of the matter, many cables and power cords being sold to the high-end audio community are actually constructed from little more than twisted-pair or other types of generic cables manufactured in bulk by large industry names such as Belden or Alpha, etc.

Small audio companies often buy these materials in quantity on large reels and then cut them to the desired length of the finished product. Then they wrap each cut-length of cable in braided cable sleeving material to make them look nice and terminate the ends of the cable with expensive connecting terminals & plugs, etc. THEN they charge a LOT for them.

Even in many of the “better” cases where higher quality materials like silver-plated copper wire insulated with PTFE and similar are being used (which are not inexpensive), their cost is still relatively cheap compared to the exorbitant prices often being charged for the end-products that are made from them.

Conversely, the MBB-AC’s power cords do NOT employ any “off the shelf” pre-made cable assemblies of the above sort that are simply covered with fancy sleeving. Rather, each material used to construct the final assembly is chosen for its specific properties and value, and none are chosen for their exotic and/or high cost simply for the marketing benefit of doing so.

Not only is their construction unique in its own right, but the MBB-AC’s also include our proprietary "Vortex Filter/Smith Cell" device as a permanently molded-in added feature. That combined with their unique construction method, optimized materials and superior electrical qualities makes the MMB-AC’s unlike any other AC Power Cable on the market for delivering superior AC power to your valued audio & video components. Oh, and they do so at a price that won’t blow-out your budget!!!

The “Mobile Bus-Bar”

The "Mobile Bus-Bar" construction method is based on the same bus-bar construction techniques commonly used in industry for distributing high power AC & DC. In those cases solid copper bar-stock is used, which is nothing more than rectangular bars of copper that are relatively wide and long compared to their thickness. Then typically, 2 such bars are laminated together using a thin dielectric insulator between them so as to create either a +/- DC or Hot/Neutral AC conductor/cable. 

In the case of these cables, we use OFC Copper strip material that is 1" Wide x 0.012" Thick x "however" Long we need to make them. That said, the total conductor area is equal to that of standard  8 AWG round-wire and is therefore rated to carry 24-amps CONTINUOUS "In Wall" (as in standard Romex house wiring) AND 75-amps "In Chassis (as for use inside a metal box, which provides extra safety). In addition, based on "skin effect" limitations the thin, flat conductors are capable of conducting current well up into the extreme high frequency range. Specifically, the material used in these cables enables them exhibit a flat power response clear out to -3dB @ 1.15 MHz.

In other words... THEY WILL CONDUCT SOME FRICK'N SERIOUS JUICE -  AND WITH ULTRA FAST DELIVERY!!!

Fewer Micro-phonic Artifacts

A two-conductor BUS-BAR assembly (which is equivalent to a 2-wire cable) is typically very rigid, which greatly reduces its sensitivity to external mechanical vibration and particularly, self-generated vibrations (“Electrostrictive & Magnetostrictive Noise.”)

Superior Electrical Parameters

In addition, the laminated nature of the conductor also affects the amount of “inductance and capacitance” that the assembly exhibits.

INDUCTANCE

Specifically, inductance is almost completely cancelled as a result of the MBB-AC’s laminated geometry, which is a very good thing because the rate at which current is able to move through a conductor increases as the inductance decreases. Therefore, the extreme low inductance that results from the bus-bar construction method makes for an extreme "high speed" means of transferring high power at a fairly reasonable cost.

The virtual elimination of inductance also greatly helps to "push upwards" the natural "self-resonance" frequency of the conductor assembly, which is almost universally a good thing in any system. That’s because then the resonant frequency (hopefully in the MHz band) of the conductor assembly is much further away from the system's operational frequency band (audio = 20 Hz - 20 KHz). That then reduces the likelihood of any undesirable interactions between the two. Conversely, when the resonant frequency between any two devices or systems reside near one another, there is a significant increase in the chance that the two will interact in a way that will produce undesirable distortion artifacts.

CAPACITANCE

Capacitance of the assembly is significantly increased as a result of bus-bar construction as well. Higher levels of capacitance helps to filter out any unwanted noise and high frequency contamination that is coming from the source (i.e., AC power lines, etc.). Specifically, the AC power lines feeding most homes are typically quite contaminated by noise signals and assorted high frequency artifacts, and higher levels of capacitance exhibited by the power lines and/or any interconnecting power cables along the current path can significantly help to reduce (attenuate) them.

In fact, to help illustrate the value of added capacitance we should point out that power line conditioners & filters of all kinds are typically constructed by connecting small-value "X-capacitors" from AC Line to Neutral and "Y-capacitors" from Line to Earth/Chassis GND & and Neutral to Earth/Chassis GND. This is also often done inside many electronic components as well, with these 2 types of capacitors representing the very first stages after the AC power enters the chassis of the device.

So... extra capacitance is a good thing, and with bus-bar construction you get more capacitance than with any other cable construction method. In addition, due to the capacitance being distributed down its length, it works somewhat like a "Transmission-line" in the way it conducts power. That helps to reduce VHF/UHF impedance reflections & standing wave resonances that can generate unwanted artifacts when they interact with audio/video circuitry.

Split-Shield Design

Finally, in addition to all the above, the MBB-AC’s employ what we call a "split-shield" construction. To start, their outer EM shield is constructed using continuous copper foil for 100% coverage & EM protection - NOT typical 80% or less coverage/protection that results from commonly used copper braid.

Then 1/2 of the outer EM shield is electrically connected to Earth/Chassis GND at the audio component end of the cable, and the other 1/2 is connected at the other end to the Earth/Safety GND (third pin) of the AC wall outlet. Specifically, these two “half-shields” do not connect together at the center of the cable. Instead, located at the very center of the MBB-AC is the Vortex Filter/Smith Cell, which represents a type of "separating point" between the two halves of the cable shield.

The upshot is that we shield the first half of the cable (i.e., the power source half) from noise that might originate from external sources in the local environment, such as stray radio signals and electrical motor noise, etc. Then in the second half (i.e., the electronic component half) we shield the external environment from any noise that might be generated by the audio component itself, such as the RF noise that Switching/Class-D amplifiers and other high-speed digital devices (DACs, etc.) are known to produce causing interference with Radio & TV reception, etc.

Due to the above split-shield construction, the MBB-AC’s are particularly IDEAL for use with digital audio equipment such as Switching/Class-D amps and devices like CD/DVD transports & DACs, etc., and also all video and computer equipment. This is because they do NOT "bus" (or transfer) their outer shield from the wall AC outlet to the audio/video/computer component OR vise-verse.

You see, when you ground the shield of a cable at both ends, your beloved shield can become your worst enemy as doing so will allow HF currents to flow through it from one end to the other. If that happens it can then begin acting like a radio transmitting antenna, and in the end do more harm than good. The same issue is what goes on with the wires and cables inside the Switching amps, and is a factor in developing the techniques that we use in our “TDSS” audio equipment upgrades. In fact, we have taken some of the same concepts that we use in our upgrades and have extended them on into the construction of the MBB-AC power cords.

User Flexibility

Now, seeing that the MBB-ACs are more like rigid bars, they are pretty "stiff" and are not very flexible. You can bend them in an "arch" or an "S" shape, etc. fairly easily so as to get them situated behind your other gear as needed, but the bus-bar section alone is too rigid to make them practical for plugging into a wall outlet or the back of your amplifiers, etc.

Therefore, at their ends we have attached short sections constructed of standard flexible round wire terminated with appropriate male and female AC power plugs. At one end is your common USA "3-blade" 120VAC connector for plugging into a typical home wall outlet receptacle, and the other is a standard rectangular  IEC-type that most audio gear and computers, etc. commonly use for their AC Power Input.

The Smith Cell

The Smith Cell was developed to address very unique and obscure forms of distortion artifacts that typically manifest, to one degree or another, in even the most pristine of audio systems.  In fact, this area of system performance is a matter of much debate in the audio world, and there are many that have not understood and/or recognized its existence.  These forms of distortion are rooted in two primary areas within the audio system:

  1. The microscopic realm of electron interaction with the very atomic and molecular framework of conducting metals and materials.

  2. The complex secondary effects that occur within circuit components and conductors upon their exposure to electrical AC voltages and currents.

To be succinct, the proper terminology regarding item #1 above is that of the"Phonon" behavior within conductors, and how such phonons interact with electrical current as it flows through the conductor.  Phonons are defined as "virtual" particles and can take the form of a single atom, molecule or groups thereof, or a single crystal (termed "Brillion Zone") or group of crystals.  Even impurities in metals or other materials can be viewed as phonons.  One will note that it is via successive phonon energy transfer that thermal energy conducts and mechanical vibrations transmit through a solid material.

 While the behavior of electron interaction with the phonons that comprise metal conductors is exceedingly complex in nature, the potential Vortex Filter customer can rest assured that such is not the subject of "voodoo" science.  In fact, modern research in the area of Solid State Physics abounds with reports of observed phenomena directly related to electron-phonon interaction. 

While the subject is too deep to adequately cover in this article, just as one example we would make note that phonon behavior is commonly believed to be one of the primary sources of the "1/f noise" observed in all electrical systems. 

The only real question is one of its audibility.  It is our contention that said phonon behavior and its interaction with electron current flow manifests as a form of "Phase-Noise/Distortion," and as such represents a more subtle source of phase-related error artifacts. We also suspect it has been stealthily operating behind the scenes of the audiophile cable debate all along.

Regardless of their source though, all forms of Phase-Noise/Distortion impart sonic effects analogous to that of a video camera that is "ever so slightly" out of focus, such that fine musical details and subtle harmonic timbres become slightly blurred and less well-defined.  Video signals will exhibit similar effects such as loss of detail and reduced contrast, etc. For further reading and in-depth analysis of the subject, please review our white paper:


There is also a type of “Active Phase-Noise/Distortion” at work in all systems, and the Smith Cell built into the MBB-AC was designed to address it as well. For further details regarding it’s source we would refer you to the following section of this website:


In order to significantly reduce (if not totally eliminate) these two forms of phase-related distortion, we have developed the "Smith Cell."  It relies on a very unique application of materials in a configuration that prevents signal current flow from directly interacting with them, while at the same time allowing these same materials to strip away both active and passive forms of Phase-Noise/Distortion at the sub-atomic level. System performance gains are manifest from the deepest bass up into the higher mid-range frequencies, with typical observations being that of deeper and tighter bass, increased tonal accuracy and realism, greater micro-dynamic resolution, a wider and deeper sound stage, and improved image localization.

Use

Seeing that the MBB-AC’s are totally passive devices, no forms of external power or batteries are required for their operation.  Installation is therefore a simple matter of connecting them between the AC power source outlet receptacle and your audio, video or other component’s IEC AC power inlet receptacle. 

Finally, the best way to determine just how much improvement the BBM-AC’s provide is to use them in your system for at least 20 hours or longer.  If possible, allow them to "burn-in" for no less than 24 hours before your initial evaluation.  You may or may not observe a significant effect at first, but continue to monitor the performance of your system for the better part of two weeks.  Then to find out just how much difference they are truly making, simply remove them from the system and note any differences.  As many find, you will likely be a bit amazed just how much you miss them and will want to return them to the system immediately.

Happy Listening!