Musical Fidelity Tri-Vista kWP preamplifier & Tri-Vista kW Monobloc power amplifier Accessories
Despite the Musical Fidelity Tri-Vista kW's choke-regulated power supplies, and perhaps because of the amount of current these amplifiers pull, their performance was enhanced to an enormous and quite surprising degree by plugging them into Shunyata Research's entirely passive Hydra 8 power-distribution device ($1995).
During my first month of auditioning the kWs, they drew power from the original Hydra. When I was ready to check out the new Hydra 8, I unplugged the original Hydra and plugged the kWs directly into my dedicated line's Hubbell hospital-grade receptacles.
The difference was not subtle. The kWs' basic sonic performance remained, but the picture lost cohesion, the highs had a touch of grain, and the bass seemed in a slightly different time zone—as if these revealing amps were putting my ears in touch with the quality of juice from Rockland Electric's grid. After letting the kWs warm up for another day and continuing to hear the same sound, I turned them off and plugged them into the new Hydra 8, which, as instructed, I'd broken in using a dehumidifier (though I was told an electric fan would work too). The Hydra 8 was connected to the wall with a Shunyata Research Andromeda vX heavy-duty AC cord. Damn if the system didn't return to its former coherent glory, only more so.
There's no space here to go into the technology or theories behind the Hydra 8's operation, but you should give it a try. It's every bit as effective as its supporters say it is, and despite my initial skepticism, I've fallen in line. The Hydra 8 is an amazing product.
I found Shunyata's Andromeda Speaker cable ($$2995/8') far too polite for my tastes. It smoothed over the upper octaves, and though this resulted in a luscious, grain-free midrange, it obscured too much air and detail, and some of the kW's magic. Shunyata's Aries interconnect was less obtrusive. My reference Harmonic Technology interconnect and Magic speaker cables proved a bit too detailed, giving the sound a slight, unwelcome edge. (The Magics were ideal with the Pass Labs XA 160 amps and my Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista 300 amps, however.)
The winners were AudioQuest's new Kilimanjaro speaker cable ($4400/8' pair) and Cheetah interconnect ($900/1m pair), both of which feature an onboard, battery-powered Dielectric-Bias System (DBS), which puts all of the cable's dielectric into a relatively high-voltage (24V) DC field. There is no interaction with the signal path. AudioQuest claims that cable and capacitor break-in is all about the "forming" of the dielectric, or its adaptation to a charged state. AQ's DBS cables leave the factory in a charged state and remain so, even when you turn your system off, so the cables are always "broken in." Whatever's going on, the AudioQuests offered the best combination of detail and frequency extension with the Tri-Vista kW components in my system. Your results may be different.
When you buy a pair of Tri-Vista kW Monoblocs, Musical Fidelity throws in a set of their low-resistance, heavy copper LCOFC Tri-Vista speaker cables. These sounded quite good, with notably good image focus, but didn't offer quite the bass control and HF extension of the AudioQuests—but after you've dropped $24k on the kWs, you'll probably be in no mood to spend another few thousand on speaker cables, and the MF cables are very, very good.
The Tri-Vista kWP preamplifier's heavy-duty 20-amp IEC jack offered the opportunity to give JPS Labs' super-expensive Aluminata power cord ($3499) an audition. Compared to the kWP's stock cord, the Aluminata was noticeably more coherent, full-bodied, and dynamic, though JPS's own Kaptovator ($1499) gave it a run for far less money. The VTL TL-7.5 preamp sounded best with Shunyata's Diamondback AC cord, which came with the Halcro dm10 preamp and had to be returned early into this review. Next best was the Kaptovator, along with Synergistic Research's Designer's Reference2.
Cables were important, but for this review, the Shunyata Research Hydra 8 was the real key to musical satisfaction.—Michael Fremer