Just a note to update you on the HYDRA MODEL-8. I am almost reluctant to tell you my reactions because, to some extent they will sound like a replay of my comments on the ANDROMEDA speaker cable and therefore you might wonder whether I overreact to each upgrade or improvement in my system. Well, I do not. Some are subtle. Some purchases are not upgrades or improvements at all. But the HYDRA MODEL-8 (and the ANDROMEDA) is not subtle, is not negative… is not a close call. It made a substantial improvement in my system — a material leap forward. And the improvement was not just in one area or component but in almost every area audiophiles use to evaluate a product. And the negatives, the drawbacks — none, nada, not yet.
I actually purchased the HYDRA MODEL-8 to provide me with surge protection rather than for an improvement. All my components plugged directly into the wall. My reasoning in buying the unit was that if it provided me with protection against electrical surges and did no harm, the cost would be justified. Additionally, I listen almost exclusively to vinyl and did not think the improvements I had read about would be as noticeable with records as with digital. Finally, another piece of equipment I had added for the turntable had resulted in overall improvements but they were subtle. So I thought my vinyl playback had reached a plateau with my current system. In short, I was neither looking for, nor expecting, dramatic improvements — if any appreciable improvements — from the HYDRA MODEL-8. I just wanted protection without the drawbacks I had read about with other products.
My expectations disappeared by the end of the first piece I played. The improvements in my system were stunning. First, the noise. Wait, there was no noise. A *slight* hum that I had always heard (with 3 different phono sections) with the phono gain turned up and no music playing was gone. The system was quiet. And better yet, the quiet translated into blackness during playback. What I mean by this is that small details were readily distinguishable and sounds and instruments had their own place, both in space and in the recording. The details brought the instruments more to life than I had ever heard. There was a richness and fullness to the sounds that made the instruments sound more like they do in a music hall or club rather than in my listening room. The string and wood of the violins were more there. And the saxophone? Well, sometime ago, I had heard Paul Desmond’s sax in Take Five (Dave Brubeck) on a different system and under conditions that made that sax sound like nothing I had ever heard. It moved me. In setting up my home system, I had always used that cut in making adjustments and as a measure. With the HYDRA MODEL-8, I heard that sax and thought — for the first time — that the sound was what I had heard that day sometime ago and had been looking for ever since.
On a classical piece that I have played over 100 times, there is an organ playing low notes. I was surprised when I heard the opening passage and realized that all this time what I thought was a single note was actually two notes. And the bass is punchier, deeper and tighter.
I could go on. The instruments are more clearly layered and placed on the soundstage, for example. My conclusion: the HYDRA MODEL-8 doesn’t make music but it allows my components to perform closer to their maximum potential than any product I have owned.