2 silver outlets, high-purity CDA-101 cryogenic copper conductors, 2400W at 20A continuous, surge protection up to 10,000A and 6,000V, up to 30A continuous current, Shunyata Venom noise filter, silver/Teflon wiring, detachable power cord, all metal chassis.
To those of us looking for the tweaks and products that will take us to the next level, or closer to "sonic truth", I read with fervor all that I could on the Shunyata Hydras, and especially the Model 2. I longed for a power conditioner that would allow me to plug my amps directly into such a unit and get the anticipated results, you know, all the wonderful things we have come to expect from our systems and equipment only with much more. So, it was with great expectations that I left Experience Audio in Seattle with a Shunyata Hydra 2 loaner.
When I got home I plugged the Hydra 2 into my dedicated line, using the Belden style powercord that comes with the unit. Be advised that the Hydra products require a powercord with a 20A female plug, and that Shunyata will supply a Belden style cord with their units, but they do recommend using one of their powercords with the units as an essential part of the system overall.
Okay, so the amps are plugged into the Hydra 2, which is touted to be a non-limiting unit as far as current goes. On comes the music, and okay, nice, the vocals are more clearly defined, bass is tighter, I hear more detail. All good...Have I found the unit that will allow me cleaner power with no ill effects? More music...piano, vocal, light jazz, some classical, and even some early 70's rock and roll (Doobie Brothers and Hendrix). Again, vocals are clearer, bass tighter, but where is the soundstage? What happened to that "surround me with the expansive wall of sound", or the depth of the recording studio? It was gone! All the music I played had a severly limited soundstage, shrunk considerably, both width, depth and height. Okay..so we experiment and I separate the Hydra and the amps, the amps get plugged back into the dedicated line, and I try the front end (CD player and preamp) into the Hydra 2. No better...the music has shrunk. To be sure, I grab the wife when she comes home from work and ask her to listen. She is aware that I have brought home something that day, but as the Hydra is small she cannot see it. On comes the music and she asks me what have I done? Oh-oh...I asked her if this is a good "what have I done" or the other kind. She tells me that the music is now just sound, and not very good at that. Muffled and smaller are the two words she used. Out comes the Hydra and I play the music again. She smiles and tells me that the song (Eva Cassidy's "Over the Rainbow) now gives her goosebumps again. "It's music" again she tells me, not "just sound".
She confirmed what I was feeling. Though I only had this is my system for around 8 hours, I saw no reason to purchase this. Though it made some things in the music a tad better, it was at the expense of the overall sonic bliss I have come to expect from the music I play and the joy it brings to me. The Hydra was a disappointment to be sure, after having read so much and expecting so much from the unit. Though others claim it is a marvelous piece of equipment and that they have reaped many a sonic benefit, I would caution one to be sure and try one before you buy...
My thanks to Tim at Experience Audio for letting demo the unit at home, and for having the professional demeanor as to not make me feel stupid for not liking the unit and being able to tell him so when I brought it back.
Before I offer my thoughts on the Hydra-2, allow me to provide a bit of background information. I recently purchased the fully balanced Simaudio Moon LE system From Archive Audio, including the W-5 LE dual-mono amplifier; Eclipse LE CD player; and P-5 LE preamplifier. Speakers: Induction Dynamics ID1. Cables: Signal Cable Silver Resolution balanced interconnects, and a "double run" set of Signal Cable Silver Resolution speaker cables.
Prior to buying the above mentioned system, I had an audiophile-oriented electrician install two, 20 amp, dedicated/isolated circuits in my listening room, along with "hospital-grade" outlets. My new system sounded quite nice without any power conditioning products or upscale power cords, but I felt certain it would sound even better with the addition of outstanding power conditioning gear and power cables.
After reading an ever growing multitude of consistently enthusiastic reviews and comments regarding Shunyata Research products, I decided to place an order for several Shunyata products through Progressive Audio. This order included the following: (1) A Hydra-2, along with a 20-amp Shunyata Copperhead power cord to connect the Hydra-2 to one of my two dedicated wall outlets; a 15-amp Copperhead to connect the W-5 LE power amp to the Hydra-2; (2) A Hydra-6 to feed all of my front end components, along with another 20-amp Copperhead to connect the Hydra-6 to the second dedicated wall outlet; (3) A Copperhead 15-amp power cord to connect the Hydra-6 to the P-5 LE pre-amp, and a Shunyata Diamondback 15-amp power cord to connect the Eclipse LE CD player to the Hydra-6.
I placed my order about two weeks ago, and while I'm still awaiting delivery of the Hydra-6 and several of the associated front-end power cords (CES 2005 is underway as of this writing), I have had the Hydra-2 and its associated Copperheads in place for nearly two weeks now, and so I would like to offer my preliminary comments on only the Hydra-2 and associated Copperheads. (I will post my comments on the Hydra-6 and associated powersnakes after they're installed and burned-in.)
After installing just the Hydra-2 and its aforementioned Copperheads to my W-5 LE power amp, the sonic improvements were immediately and dramatically apparent, even before full burn-in. I know that my system sounded great before the change, but afterwards it sounded amazingly better; yet I have only a small portion of the Shunyata gear in place right now! There is a quite remarkable and pleasing improvement in overall clarity, airiness (space between the notes), bass articulation and extension, imaging, soundstaging, detail, and a further lowering of the already quiet noise floor.
I immediately began hearing subtle nuances and details in the music that were frankly rather startling and thrilling. For example, vocals and lyrics that previously sounded smeared and garbled, have now become so much clearer and better articulated. The space between the notes has become more distinct, and the notes themselves have become more vibrant and alive, along with improved timbre and liveliness of the music. And, the improvement in bass response and articulation is also truly remarkable.
I can't wait to hear what the addition of the Hydra-6 and associated Powersnakes might further add to the sound and performance of my reference system. I have no idea just how or why these Shunyata products do what they do, but based on what I've heard and witnessed so far, I suspect they will come to be the most affordable gold-standard among power conditioners and power cords, period.
If you're thinking that your current front-end and/or amplification gear needs to be upgraded, I would suggest that you first consider an in-home audition of Shunyata's products before you do anything else. Do so, and you will likely be astounded by what you'll then hear and were previously missing and not hearing.
I recently purchased two Hydra 2's to supply power to the following equipment:
Denon DVD-2900 (fully modified by Parts ConneXion)
Rogue Magnum 99 Preamplifier
Musical Fidelity A3.2cr Power Amplifier
Vandersteen 2Wq Sub
I had been the proud owner of a PS Audio P500 until I came across the Shunyata power line conditioners. While the P500 is still a great product, the Hydra 2 is clearly better to my ears.
Right out of the box, the passive Hydra 2 combination defeated the active, current-limiting P500 in just about every critical area of listening. Transient speed increased dramatically and the already low noise floor dropped even further. Most importantly, the relative space between instruments increased dramatically, creating a more three dimensional soundstage and more pleasurable and exciting listening experience.
Best of all, I paid a total of $800 for two Hydra 2's and two 20 Amp PC's (Signal Cable), compared to roughly $2,100 that one would probably have to pay for a new P500.
As with any critique of a piece of audio equipment, my observations are a reflection of my personal tastes and are also somewhat system-dependent. Regardless, I am very satisfied with my purchases and would stongly recommend the Shunyata product line to anyone.