Shunyata Taipan Alpha and Copperhead Power cords
Shunyata Hydra 2 power Conditioner

Keijo Tanskanen

Published Nov 28th, 2005

The cables, power cords and conditioners are my favourites, yes. They are easy to test by listening and often the results give nice surprises. This test did not make an exception.

Shunyata Research is a very well known audio/video power-distribution and cable system trademark in the world. Especially their power line products have been very successful. Many famous recording, film, mastering and music studios use widely Shunyata’s power line products extensively. Also many audio publications have praised them regularly. So, I had a high interest for testing them in my audio system.

It would be a waste of review space to copy the exact specifications and the technology talk from the Shunyata site, where they are excellently introduced. So, anyone more interested in those issues, please check the Shunyata site

I had an opportunity to test the Hydra 2 and couple of power cords, Diamondback, Copperhead, Taipan VX & Alpha and Python Alpha, in my 25 square meter listening room. In this review I mainly focus on the Hydra 2, Taipan Alpha and Copperhead power cords.

The used reference system was:

  • Audio Aero Capitole Mk II digital source
  • Gamut D-200 Mk III amplifier
  • Siltech Forbes Lake interconnects
  • Transparent Reference XL (MM) speaker cables
  • Transparent Power Isolator XL for the digital source and amplifier
  • Transparent Reference Power Link power cords

Hydra 2

The Hydra 2 is Shunyata’s smallest power conditioner, but it has nearly same features as its big brothers have. The same Hydra design goals have been used through the power conditioner product line. The goals are very reasonable and justifiable even for every power conditioner vendor.

Primary design goals:

  1. High power – non current limiting
  2. Effective transient and surge protection
  3. Improved resolution and noise reduction
  4. Absolute reliability and trouble-free operation

The difference between the cheapest and more expensive models are mainly due to the internal bus construction, the Venom Noise Filter element amounts, the “Trident Defence System” and the material and construction of the chassis.

The size of the box is about 13 cm x 7.5 cm x 13 cm. The finish is nice and the quality of the parts is first class. The Hydra 2 does not have an integrated wire to the wall outlet; neither have the more expensive models. It may be an advantage or a disadvantage; it depends on the needs of the user. Anyway, one needs two power cords until the power is in the destination. I used the Copperhead to the wall outlet and all the power cords mentioned in the forewords from the Hydra 2 to the audio equipment. The Hydra 2 has two Shunyata Venom outlets, which really are the best I’ve seen and the same are used in the more expensive models too.


I tried the Hydra 2 for the digital source and amplifier. It soon became clear that this product really works. The punch, dynamics and balance of the music is real, in fact in the class of the best conditioners I’ve heard, including Transparent Power Isolator XL. The clarity of the music presentation was high as well and the transients and details were right there as expected. I noticed one can really enjoy the music at the highest level with the Hydra 2 and it seems to work equally well with the digital source and amplifier, at least in my case. So, nothing special bothered me.

Well, where is the difference then when compared to the Transparent Power Isolator XL or is there any? Yes, there is, but they are relatively small ones, at least in my system and with my ears. The clarity and transparency of the music is even better with the Power Isolator XL. The spatial information was slightly better presented too when the Transparent was used. But there is nothing to shame by the Hydra 2! Transparent Power Isolator XL costs 2600 euros and the Hydra 2 approximately 500 euros!? So, the price difference is huge and it is natural that there are some audible differences too. The Isolator XL has one extra benefit for me too: it has an integrated cable to the wall outlet. Because of this this I need to have only one extra power cord!


In the end the Transparent Power Isolator XLs gave me a little more and there was no sense to exchange or sell them. I suppose that for example Hydra 8 will give some more audible value when compared to the Hydra 2, but how much it is hard to say. It surely depends on the quality of the electricity fed into the system. So, everyone interested must try those products oneself! Anyway, I would rank the Hydra 2 as a Very Highly Recommended component, nearly a bargain!

Taipan Alpha and Copperhead Power Cords

            Taipan Alpha


During writing of this review Shunyata seemed to change their power snakes product line a little. Today there are two lines: Helix series Power Snakes and Shielded series Power Snakes. The Helix series has tree cords: Taipan, Python and Anaconda. Correspondingly the Shielded series has tree cords: Venom, Diamondback and Copperhead. Still the Vx and Alpha division is continued in the Helix series but the cords supposedly have a same kind of the black look. Some slight improvements have been done for some cords too. The 1.8 m Taipan Helix Alpha costs 790 euros and the same length Copperhead 450 euros.
The Vx models are noise reduction cords for the sources, solid state amps and preamps. The Alpha models are pacesetters for the high current devices. Anyway, Shunyata says that one can try different variations and the most expensive power cord is not necessarily the most suitable in every case!
The construction of the Shunyata power cords is convincing. The Venom connectors are in fact the very best I’ve met! Also the shielding, materials (CDA-101 copper as conductors and Teflon as dielectrics) and the quality of the work seemed to be excellent too. So, the result of the cord construction is naturally very confidence-inspiring. The Taipan Alpha is a starter of the highest power cord class; there are the Python and Anaconda above it. The Copperhead is an all-round cord and the top model of the shielded series.


After having tested the Hydra 2 with the power cords, I tried all the cords available with my Isolator XLs. I can see many of the dealers and enthusiasts being doubtful about this kind of trial, because it is widely accepted one should have the conditioners and cords from the same vendor. Well, I had courage to try to break this myth. I also tried the amp-specific cords with the digital source too. The results were very interesting.

First a comment on the Taipan Vx cord. I tried it with my CD-player but in my opinion it didn’t give any advantage when compared to the other cords. It seemed that the cleaning features of the Vx cord were not so remarkable at least in my system. On the contrary the Taipan Alpha and Copperhead cords gave slightly more slam and power to the music! I did not notice any significant differences whether the Taipan Alpha or Copperhead was used!?

Then I tried the Diamondback, but the sound became a bit leaner. So, the Copperhead took its place with the player.

Then I tried the cords with my amp and the results were clear as well – the power amplifier seemed to need fast current flow as expected. The transients, dynamics and the speed were the best with the Taipan Alpha. When I tried the Python Alpha the sound became fuller and richer but that was not the way I wanted to go. I preferred the Taipan Alpha’s more realistic and sharper presentation. So, the Taipan Alpha was the best cord for the amplifier.

So, which were the differences between the Transparent Reference Power Link and Shunyata cords? The Reference Power Link is a very good power cord. It works everywhere with no problems. Still I found slight improvements in the transients, dynamics and power when I used the Taipan Alpha or the Copperhead. The other tonal areas seemed to be rather equal. I think the Transparent’s small filter box will not give any special benefit when the high quality conditioners are used, the other features may become more significant - of course this is very much case dependent.


I found the best results with the Taipan Alpha and Copperhead cords! These are very well made and very high quality power cords, which clearly have their own strengths and seemingly no significant weaknesses. Again, I’ll rank these cords as Very Highly Recommended in systems where the high quality power conditioners are already used!





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