I'd like to thank Jason for letting me test out his new Quiescence C(opper) cables. He sent along two pairs in the Hapa box with the bag enclosing them which you have seen in the other tour thread – hopefully. He also included little caps for the connectors!
Very quick summary, I enjoyed them very much.
As said earlier, they needed to be broken in. For me, most stereo equipment does not need to be broken in over more than a short period of time. Right off the bat, they sounded fine but Jason told me that they needed another 100-150 hours. As I have an AVA Ultra DAC with older tubes, I didn't just want to leave my stereo running all day long while I was out. If one of the tubes failed while I was out which was possible, I didn't want it to be left on for hours. But after a while, Jason told me that I could keep them a bit longer. So I hooked up my inexpensive Modi 3 DAC and let it run most of the day to get in the hours.
My procedure was to just listen to music while I was around in my small place. Suddenly, after around 30 hours or so (not to forget Jason's 100 hours of “cooking” before I received them), I did notice a perceptible difference in the high frequencies for the better while doing something else. Each night for an hour or two, I would listen to my reference recordings. These are songs which over a long period of time, I've found the sound to be most enjoyable at loud volumes on my not-very-changing system. I think it's been at least four years since I've changed out a major component. I am especially sensitive to “bad” high frequencies at high volumes, especially distortion. In this review, all the comments are “at volume,” meaning 80-85 db as referenced on my un-calibrated phone sound level meter at my listening position about 8 feet away. (The cables are perfect at lower levels! lol) My reference recordings aren't necessarily the state-of-the-art ones. It's funny how some recordings that I thought were more or less flawless, no longer were. One was Barbara Morrison's I Know How To Do It. In this test scenario which may or may not have to do the QC cables, the bass was a bit too overwhelming and her voice was a bit harsh. (Whenever I say harsh, it means that I emotionally have little physical tolerance and I cringe and want to turn down the volume simply because of those frequencies. Painful.) Other recordings such as Fleetwood Mac's Sara and Al Stewart's Year of the Cat, are songs that I love. Their recordings are not fantastic, to say the least, but I love to crank them up and use them as a test of a system or component to see how loud I can turn them but before cringing.... I could turn these two songs up louder than usual with the QC's. There were about 10 songs that I repeatedly listened to almost every night for about two weeks. Warm Ways by Fleetwood Mac being the song that I can turn up the loudest and thoroughly enjoy the sound. “Unfortunately,” the sound changed every single night which has never happened in my recollection in my 40 years of listening to various components. Not that I always specifically sat down to listen for changes in the sound of a particular component. I seemed to notice another change/improvement in the cables at around 100 hours and finally, before I sent them on yesterday at 180 hours, the high end harshness at volume on “those” recordings was continuing to reduce.
However, after having these RAAL tweeter Philharmonic speakers for about 4 and half years now, I suspect after doing some recent research is that they are not high volume drivers. It very well could be that the harshness that I hear on my system is simply them distorting. So this is a caveat that you need to remember as I write about them.
So, how did they sound? Smooth. They are best IC's I've ever had in my system. Instrument placement was wonderful, sometimes even being able to tell when an instrument was behind another one. From what I remember from my recent listening sessions with the Hapa Breathe C's, those made recordings sound like the players were in the room that they were playing in with less precise positioning of the QC's. After packing the Hapas to ship, I put back my IC's in and it seemed like the instruments' sounds were coming more from a pretty flat plain, much less depth. The bass was more prominent and more full on the QC's which I enjoyed very much but as mentioned above, in some recordings, it became a bit too much when played loudly. They also added a bit more clarity. Jan Ian on her Between the Lines album sounded like she was singing into the microphone. The QC's made that sound more noticeable.
Now here's the hard part. Saying what I didn't care about them. As I said they sounded smooth which in this case means that it takes the “bite” out of the sound. So, it softens the sound of a pluck of an acoustic string bass or the initial snap on a drum stick hitting the snare drum, for example. It goes across the acoustic sound board. So I guess if you like live acoustic jazz, this might not be your cup of tea. I would imagine large symphonic recordings would be ideal for these.
When I listened to my IC's after I packed up the Hapas, they weren't quite as pleasant as the Hapas, but the snap of the instruments slightly improved and the high frequencies were a bit more harsh at volume. However, personally, I'm afraid that the high costs of these are not in the cards for me for the amount of improvement as well as its lack of snap. The next most expensive IC's that I have and have heard are the G Huffmann's EX+ and the Morrow MA-3 which were both well under $200 when I bought them a couple years ago. The QC's could very well be fantastic for someone who has a much better system than my “budget” system. For me, I think the Breathe C's would probably be the better option, though I would have to listen to them again to be sure.
Anyways, designing sound systems are all about compromises and costs so you can't have everything at a low cost.
Thanks again, Jason!