For months I have been wondering,"Is it worth it? Could it possibly be that much better than the Hydra 8?" What is the “it” of which I speak? It’s Shunyata Research’s flagship power cleaner, the Hydra V-Ray, and let me tell you it is worth every penny.
Structurally, the V-Ray sports a 24-element venom noise filter (as opposed to the 16-element filter of the Hydra 8), a new proprietary bus structure, and an onsite alpha cryogenic process (whatever that means).
The new bus system greatly improves the V-Ray’s ability to deliver power to the outlets, while the new venom filters are larger than those found in the Model 8 and, as noted above, greater in number.
What does all of this mean sonically? A lot! After only a few hours of break-in time, I was amazed at the improvement in sound. Backgrounds were blacker, revealing more low-level detail; cymbals had greater sizzle and sparkle; and dynamics were significantly increased with greater transient speed. Music in general had a greater sense of ease, the presentation was more natural, and instruments sounded more like the real thing.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the V-Ray, like the Hydra 8, can power any amplifier without a reduction in dynamics or sound quality. I have heard several different types of amps (Wavestream, Forsell, VTL, etc.) run through these cleaners and the outcome is always the same: the amps sounded better than when they were running straight into the wall. This is because Shunyatas are passive power cleaners. There is no screwing around with the power supply. It's like plugging into the wall without all the accompanying plugging-into-the-wall gunk.
So obviously, I like, nay love it. I would recommend it highly to anyone with one qualification: since I estimate that the improvement in sound quality is about 20% on a really good system (which is significant by audiophile standards), those with systems that are in their initial or adolescent stages of development might be better off putting their money into other places such as cables, sources, speakers, etc. My belief is that money should be spent first on equipment, then cables, and finally on power conditioners and other tweaks. To truly realize the greatest benefit from the V-Ray, the equipment should be top-notch. Lest you assume this is some sort of audiophile snobbery, let me assure you that it isn’t. There is simply more to be gained by buying a really fine pair of speakers or cartridge, etc. than a $4,000 power cleaner, but hey… what do I know?Associated gear Click to view my Virtual SystemSimilar products
Shunyata Hydra 8