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Rogue Audio Hydra Hybrid Power Amplifier Review Print E-mail
Thursday, 31 May 2012
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Rogue Audio Hydra Hybrid Power Amplifier Review
Set Up and Listening

About three quarters of the way into the review period, I installed the Hydra in my second system, driving Harbeth Compact 7ES3 speakers. I used the Belles Soloist 3 preamp, connected via Transparent interconnects, with a Squeezebox Touch, Marantz CD player, and a Lindemann DAC as my sources. The Hydra fit right in and gelled beautifully in this system. It brought a pristine clarity and transparency as it had in my main system.  As a matter of fact, it made my Harbeth’s come alive, producing a soundstage width and bass quality I have not yet heard in this room.

One of my favorite recent jazz albums is Quartet by legendary guitarist Pat Metheny and piano genius Brad Mehldhou.  The Hydra delivered the full richness of this excellent recording, with the opening track, “A Night Away” simply dazzling with its texture, rhythm, and drive.  A bit more understated, but no less captivating, is the 96/24 download of Diana Krall’s When I Look In Your Eyes. The opening track, "Let’s Face The Music And Dance”, was simply stunning in its elegance, and flow.  Her all acoustic band had a gorgeous, woody texture, and her voice was beautifully rendered.

In operation, the Hydra was utterly noiseless, ran cool (except for some heat directly over the area where the tubes are installed), and proved to be 100% reliable. All Rogue products come with a solid warranty, which should give any potential buyer peace of mind. Not that I would worry. My experience with Rogue products is that they keep on trucking.


Rogue Audio Hydra Hybrid Power Amplifier

There is rarely anything new and, for that matter, exciting these days in high-end audio outside of computer audio, which is spreading like wildfire.  However, every once in a while a new product raises an eyebrow and commands some investigation. The Rogue Hydra and its larger sister, the Medusa, are such products. There have been reported cases of Class D amplification and tubes being used in the same circuit before, but I don’t believe any have come to market from a legitimate company like Rogue.

In my opinion, this hybrid experiment, if you can call it that, is a smashing success. But to be clear, it probably took all of Rogue’s engineering knowhow to pull it off. And pull it off they did. They obviously designed the circuit well, but all the other classic amplifier parts were chosen carefully and engineered into the equation. Couple that with superb build quality and a product that is made in the U.S.A. and you have a recipe for success.

I can unconditionally recommend the Rogue Hydra amplifier. Tried as I did, I could not hear any sonic flaws normally associated with older Class D designs. There was no trace of flatness, treble edge, solid-state haze, or any such related issues. On the contrary, there was richness, openness, and an overall refined air to the sound. The only caveat I can offer is that, while the Hydra will have no trouble driving any speaker, matching is important (as with any amplifier type). Other than that, I would suggest opening your mind and ears and give the Hydra a go. At just under $3000, the Rogue Hydra represents a tremendous value like most, if not all, Rogue products.


Rogue Audio Hydra: $2995
- Output power: 100/200 WPC 8/4 Ohms
- Input impedance: 200K Ohms
- dimensions: 18" W x 15" D x 5.5" H
- weight:Hydra 34 lbs

Review System 1

CD Transport: Musical Fidelity M1 CDT
Server: Squeezebox Touch w/ CIA VDC-SB power supply
via Ethernet to MAC Mini w/ Western Digital & Seagate
external drives.
DAC: Bryston BDA-1
Headphone Amp: Pro-Ject Head Box II
Headphones: Grado SR60
Preamp: Audio Research SP16
Amplifier: Audio Research VS55
Speaker: Thiel CS2.4
Cables:  Stager Silver Solids, Kimber KCTG (IC), Transparent  MM2 Super (IC), Transparent Plus (Speaker) Acoustic Zen Tsunami II (AC),Transparent (AC).Shunyata Venom (AC) Element Cable Red Storm (Digital AC), DH Labs TosLink, DH Labs AES/EBU
Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks, Shakti Stone, Audience Adept Response aR6 power conditioner,Salamander rack

Review System 2

CD Player: Marantz 5003
Music Server: Squeezebox Touch via Ethernet to
MAC Mini w/ Western Digital & Seagate external drives.
DAC: Musical Fidelity V-DAC II, Lindemann USB 192 DAC
Integrated Amplifier: McIntosh MA6600
Tape Deck: Revox A77
Speaker: Harbeth Compact 7ES3
Cables: Kimber Hero HB, DH Labs White Lightning (IC),QED Genisis Silver Spiral (Speaker),PS Audio (AC), Pangea Audio (AC), DH Labs TosLink, Audioquest Forest USB, Wireworld Ultraviolet USB
Accessories:Cable Pro Noisetrapper, Sound Anchors Stands, Wiremold AC Strip

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