The Breathe RCA Silver Interconnect is a revelation. That's really the bottom line of this review, but I suppose it would be a good idea to explain how I arrived at this conclusion.
I have been using the Breathe silvers in my system for a few months now, and I am blown away. For many years, I was far too smart to waste money on premium interconnects. If I hadn't had the chance to demo these, I might still be sitting around with my Audioquest Evergreens (which I thought were an overpriced splurge about a year ago). We all know that electrical conduction is a relatively simple process, right? Just find any old piece of copper and connect point A to point B and you're all set - the rest of it is all in your head. Well, I wish that were true, because then we could all save some money and have one less thing to worry about in our audio setups, but I have seen the light, and it is impossible to ignore.
For starters, I have 1 meter Breathe Silver interconnects with the standard KLE connectors connecting my Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Digital DAC to my Don Sachs custom line stage and another set of the same connecting that line stage to my VTA-70 amp with octal driver board and a whole bunch of other tweaks. I'm listening through GR Research (Carnegie Audio) CST-1's that have rebuilt crossovers, No Rez and all the goodies. Like I said above, all of this was connected using the Audioquest Evergreen interconnects previously. When I switched out those cables, I was astonished. I can't believe that after all of the time and effort upgrading the amp and speakers, the wait for a custom line stage to arrive, the tube upgrades, and all the rest of the adjustments I had made to the system, that the interconnects raised the sound to a whole new level.
I genuinely did not want to believe what I was hearing. I wanted to send those demo cables back and put the Audioquests back in and forget all about what I had heard. So I took them out for a while. But anyone reading this forum knows that such a stark transformation in sound quality cannot be unheard. In a few days, they were back in the system, and I was explaining to my wife how I planned to budget for them.
The most striking difference that I noticed after changing to Breathe was the clarity. I already believed that my system was clear as a bell, but that illusion shattered instantly the first time I played a track with the Breathe interconnects. Breathe may be the most appropriate possible name for this cable, because suddenly I was blasted with fresh air. The increased level of detail was undeniable. There was nothing bright or shrill whatsoever about the sound, just the music, every tiny detail of it, on full display, perfectly balanced. The highs were not enhanced nor dominant, but they were no longer timid. They were present and ready to be explored. When my attention shifted to other elements of the songs, they blended effortlessly back in. There was limitless resolution, but no excessive sharpening. The entire midrange was as textured as you could possibly ask for. Bass was forceful and accurate - not a hint of added boom and definitely no deficit in power or smearing of any detail. From vocals to transients, Breathe effortlessly handles all varieties of tone with impeccable timing and an expansive and coherent soundstage.
My system, including tube selection, is extremely revealing. It is also sitting in snug proximity to several potent sources of EMI. It was with great trepidation, then, that I connected these unshielded interconnects. I have been extremely fortunate with my preamp and amp that they run almost perfectly quietly. I thought for sure that having an unshielded piece of silver in line in front of my preamp would introduce at least a little bit of hum or static or maybe even some rogue radio transmissions. Nothing. Silence. Cranking up the gain on the preamp to unreasonable levels, doesn't matter. No noise. Zero. Ask anyone, they will tell you that I am absolutely insane about stray noise when my gear is at idle, and there has not been so much as a whiff of it. DCSG is no joke. EMI is simply not an issue at these levels.
I say at these levels, because when I connected a Breathe interconnect from my turntable (Ortofon 2M Blue MM cart) to my Pro-Ject Phono Box S phono stage, some faint static buzzing became apparent and was present at a level sufficient to interfere with enjoyment of some very soft passages on vinyl. This was to be expected, as anyone experienced with vinyl knows. There is a massive amount of gain applied at the phono stage (47 dB or almost 5 orders of magnitude just to get to line level) that is again amplified at the line stage. With that said, this problem was fixed by Hapa Audio’s phenomenal Quiescence interconnect. I now run the Quiescence from my turntable to my phono stage and a Breathe from the phono stage to the line stage and there is no static at all. I have left it on accidentally on multiple occasions, as it is totally silent. So, I suppose it is fair to say that the Breathe allows interference that is multiple orders of magnitude too faint to be perceptible, unless you specifically need extremely high gain (basically only for vinyl) in which case, you need one set of the Quiescence to connect your turntable to your phono stage, and you can use Breathe for the rest of your connections without any worries and with supreme clarity, unencumbered by shielding.
Regarding fit and finish, the Breathe shines here as well. It appears robust and looks like it may be somewhat stiff or heavy. It is stunning, then, when you lift it and realize how little weight is actually there. It is extremely flexible, and it is immediately apparent that the build quality is nothing short of luxurious. The intricacy of these hand-braided interconnects is gorgeous. The attention to every detail of functional yet aesthetically pleasing design is evident from the moment you pick one up and holds up under close inspection. Though it may not be terribly relevant to the audio purist, it only adds to the Breathe’s appeal that its appearance is just as special as its sonic performance.
To summarize, the Breathe Silver Interconnect is a tremendous piece of technology and a perfect match for a carefully crafted HiFi setup. It delivers limitless detail that is delicate, but never fragile. The clarity of silver can be enjoyed with a neutral presentation, devoid of any of the feared brightness or harshness, when the design is exceptional. And that is just what the Breathe Silver Interconnect is, exceptional.
I'm not much of a photographer, but here are some shots of the Breathe Interconnects in my current system. Note that since forming my impressions described above, I have upgraded to a Don Sachs custom phono stage. I am also currently running in some Psvane EL34 tubes, but the impressions above are from several months of use with Psvane KT-88-T Mk II Premium power tubes.
Overview of my system
Preamp and amp with Breathe in front connectors
Quiescence (foreground) and Breathe (background) living in harmony connected to Don Sachs phono stage