I’ve had the ANACONDA VX and HYDRA in my system for a few weeks, so now is a good time to offer my observations. First, some history. Before this, I had the KING COBRA II feeding a Sony SCD-1 and the BLACK MAMBA on a Bryston 14B ST. Speakers are Harbeth Monitor 40s. All powercords were hooked to a high quality outlet fed by an original KING COBRA. I first tried Shunyata products three years ago. I was utterly smitten by what the KING COBRA did in freeing musical reproduction from congestion; allow musical expression to flow, and allowing instrumental images to leap out in a more solid fashion. In particular, I appreciated the way it took digital playback so much closer to analogue standards (especially SACDs) in the way it deals with digital A/C noise problems. Thus, when the ANACONDA VX was introduced, I could not imagine how much better it could be than the KING COBRA. I supposed that might only be room for subtle changes, since the KING COBRA already effected such a drastic improvement. My dealer offered a home demo I had nothing to lose.
However, I had a great deal to gain. Replacing the KING COBRA II with the ANACONDA VX brought music reproduction to a new level of realism. I could allude to improved dynamics, imaging or detail, but these terms seem irrelevant with the ANACONDA VX, so radical was the enhanced presence of the instruments and the greater revelation of the intentions musicians were expressing. Adding the new HYDRA MODEL-8 to this setup brought performance to even more elevated level of sonic clarity and a reduction of that buffer zone presented by reproductive means between the original event and the listener. The new HYDRA is even more neutral and colouration-free than the older model which I had auditioned in my system.
The musical presentation is so entrancing that one simply wants to enjoy the music without desiring to categorize or quantify the effect. Thoughts of Stardust, certified copper purity, dielectric quality, dyes etc. simply slip away from one’s mind, as they should. These design issues are for Caelin Gabriel to deal with. The Shunyata customers’ job is simply to partake in greater enjoyment of music.
The SCD-1 has recently been upgraded to the magnificently fluid, uncolored, responsive and analogue-sounding Krell SACD Standard (which sets new standard for SACD playback.) Powered by Shunyata, the new generation of SACD players perform at their best to deliver vinyl standards of playback from silver discs, and way beyond that even! I dare say that Shunyata IS the equalizing factor between digital and analogue.
The Shunyata philosophy is 100% in line with my goal of seeking neutral, transparent and colouration-free reproduction. I can’t imagine how these products can get substantially better, but trust Shunyata to relentlessly lead the way in breaking new ground, and to surprise us in days to come with what is yet possible from musical reproduction.
K. Tang, PhD Asst. Prof. in Musicology/Composition