Audiobyte Hydra Stack: Hydra.Vox + Hydra.Hub + Hydra Zap
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m-i-c-k-e-y

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AUDIOBYTE is a brand of Rockna Audio, a manufacturer of high-quality audio equipment since 1999 widely known for their Wavedream DAC and Server. Rockna provides OEM/ODM assistance to Audio Mirror, Acoustic Precision, Fase, Jadis, Nonsolomusica, PS Audio with their PerfectWave transport, Wadia, Goldmund and even MSB.

Sometime ago Audiobyte presented the triple-chassis AUDIOBYTE HYDRA STACK consisting the HYDRA.VOX as DAC as Headphone Amp. HYDRA.ZAP as a low noise power supply. And HYDRA.HUB (coming soon) as digital audio transport.



Little information could be gathered so I created this thread hoping to have a shared information/experience on this product.


The Hydra.Vox is a discrete 1-bit DAC executed as 100% custom code on a Xilinx-7 FPGA. That works at 200MHz with 68-bit processing and built-in phase correction inside its digital filters. This DAC will upsample to DSD512 then can process that as pure-path DSD to bypass the internal 32-bit volume control whilst muting the 3W/16Ω class A bipolar ¼" headphone output. A unique feature of the Hydra.VOX is the seamless integration between analog and digital filters in orders to preserve accurate phase of the audio signal. Analog outputs deliver 3.8V peak on RCA and XLR having both THD+N and S/N ratio rate at -118dB.



Controls are done on touch screen or from a iOS and Android app which allow access to sonic tailoring via three different firmware versions called Rocket, Bullet and Torpedo.



The Hydra.ZAP is a twin-bay external PSU with four power ports, two of which are fed by a low-noise linear supply for analog, two from a 300F ultra-capacitor bank for digital à la Gryphon, Nagra and Vinnie Rossi. Hydra.ZAP powers both the Hydra.Vox and Hydra.Hub.



Hydra.Hub will be a matching Roon streamer performing digital reclocking on all its inputs including Ethernet. Embedded HQ Player software straps to 80 parallel DSD blocks handles upsampling and format conversion of PCM -> DSD and DSD -> PCM. When combined with Hydra.Vox, resampling to high-rate DSD occurs in Hydra.Hub unloading the DAC from this processing task and work as a pure NOS 1-bit converter. Dedicated data connection for that is I²S over HDMI. Hydra.Hub performs also as a USB bridge/reclocker. With a 32-bit digital volume adds digital preamplifier functionality.

Price: Hydra.Vox + Hydra.ZAP = 4,165 Eur
Hydra.Hub (coming soon)
 
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kali77

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I am considering picking up this stack. Would love to hear impressions from anyone here who owns this unit or who has previously owned it. Thanks!
 
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m-i-c-k-e-y

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kali77

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Well, I guess I will be a guinea pig on this stack. Deposit put down this morning :ksc75smile:
 
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m-i-c-k-e-y

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Fo me till saving...

Am going back in forth with this three (being Audiobyte as first choice):
1. Audiobyte Hydra Vox + Zap (and later Hub)
2. Flux Lab Acoustics' Atlas
3. MP-D2 MK3 Deluxe + Amp

Post for your impressions/feedback pls.
 
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kali77

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Fo me till saving...

Am going back in forth with this three (being Audiobyte as first choice):
1. Audiobyte Hydra Vox + Zap (and later Hub)
2. Flux Lab Acoustics' Atlas
3. MP-D2 MK3 Deluxe + Amp

Post for your impressions/feedback pls.
Will do!!!
 
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Joe-Siow

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Picked up the loaner Vox and Zap from a friend yesterday and hooked up onto my setup

First impression is pretty positive; pretty neutral with a slight emphasis on bass. Will post more thoughts in the days to come

2444300f-5d94-45cf-82ff-f9c8f47319a0.jpg
 
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m-i-c-k-e-y

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Thanks! :thumbsup:
 
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kali77

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Picked up the loaner Vox and Zap from a friend yesterday and hooked up onto my setup

First impression is pretty positive; pretty neutral with a slight emphasis on bass. Will post more thoughts in the days to come

2444300f-5d94-45cf-82ff-f9c8f47319a0.jpg
Thanks! Looking forward to your further impressions.
 
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Joe-Siow

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Right, so I had some time with these boxes and here are some of my observation

Day 1
Slightly dark sounding with a a slight emphasis on bass
While the details were forthcoming and clarity was great, it sounded a little closed
Soundstage was not as wide as I expected but the depth was excellent

Day 2 onward
The slight bass emphasis had receded and overall tonality had lifted, resulting in a more noticeable opening sounding
No longer slightly dark sounding but largely neutral and rather clean sounding, but never in your face
Soundstage improved noticeably too, with good width to complement the excellent depth

The Vox has a rather big sound, I attribute this to the supercaps in the Zap
It is a great sounding DAC, largely neutral and very resolving and this allows the musical Sugden Class A and Monkey 93 to sing and express themselves

88af3104-2ef2-4933-8cae-025398ca9202.jpg
 
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m-i-c-k-e-y

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Thank you for your early impressions! So how was it in relation to your Chord Cutest? Was the difference significant?
 
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kali77

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Right, so I had some time with these boxes and here are some of my observation

Day 1
Slightly dark sounding with a a slight emphasis on bass
While the details were forthcoming and clarity was great, it sounded a little closed
Soundstage was not as wide as I expected but the depth was excellent

Day 2 onward
The slight bass emphasis had receded and overall tonality had lifted, resulting in a more noticeable opening sounding
No longer slightly dark sounding but largely neutral and rather clean sounding, but never in your face
Soundstage improved noticeably too, with good width to complement the excellent depth

The Vox has a rather big sound, I attribute this to the supercaps in the Zap
It is a great sounding DAC, largely neutral and very resolving and this allows the musical Sugden Class A and Monkey 93 to sing and express themselves

Excellent. Thanks for the impressions. I would also be interested in how it compared to the qutest or any other DACS you have had. Thanks again.
 
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Joe-Siow

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In pure sound quality comparison, the Vox significantly betters my Qutest
The Vox has a cleaner and clearer tonality compared to Qutest, which has a very slight warm touch

The Vox has tighter, more textured and deeper bass. Qutest trails by a long mile here
Mids on the Vox clear and open sounding, while Qutest has a slightly organic touch
Treble on the Vox is more refined and open, with excellent soundstage depth. Qutest sounds less open and has both narrower and flatter soundstage


I'm currently using my Qutest with the Uptone ISO Regen and Curious Regen Link. An Uptone JS2 PSU powers both the Qutest and the SOTM SMS-200 streamer
This combo (minus the SMS-200 streamer) comes up to around $3,000, while the Hydra boxes go for $4,300

All things considered, the Vox is a great deal, as it is has an FPGA chip and headphone and preamp functions
Just bear in mind that both the headphone and preamp functions are disabled if the DSD256/ 512 direct conversion is activated

The icing on the cake is the amazing supercaps power supply which is capable of powering both the Vox and upcoming Hub
That is significant savings on the PSU alone as one would not need multiple boxes for the DAC and streamer
Just add a HDMI cable for the Hub to the Vox and a good cord for the Zap and one can just call it a day!
 
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kali77

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In pure sound quality comparison, the Vox significantly betters my Qutest
The Vox has a cleaner and clearer tonality compared to Qutest, which has a very slight warm touch

The Vox has tighter, more textured and deeper bass. Qutest trails by a long mile here
Mids on the Vox clear and open sounding, while Qutest has a slightly organic touch
Treble on the Vox is more refined and open, with excellent soundstage depth. Qutest sounds less open and has both narrower and flatter soundstage


I'm currently using my Qutest with the Uptone ISO Regen and Curious Regen Link. An Uptone JS2 PSU powers both the Qutest and the SOTM SMS-200 streamer
This combo (minus the SMS-200 streamer) comes up to around $3,000, while the Hydra boxes go for $4,300

All things considered, the Vox is a great deal, as it is has an FPGA chip and headphone and preamp functions
Just bear in mind that both the headphone and preamp functions are disabled if the DSD256/ 512 direct conversion is activated

The icing on the cake is the amazing supercaps power supply which is capable of powering both the Vox and upcoming Hub
That is significant savings on the PSU alone as one would not need multiple boxes for the DAC and streamer
Just add a HDMI cable for the Hub to the Vox and a good cord for the Zap and one can just call it a day!
Awesome!! Thanks for taking the time to share your findings. Can’t wait to get mine.
 
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