Hapa AerØ USB Review
I was lucky to get one of the review samples of the new AerØ USB cable. I still have the Ember USB for comparison and have been listening to the AerØ for the last two weeks.
While reading my review please listen to this song by Nilsson to experience my feelings about the AerØhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1n9QTkrkP0&ab_channel=Anarchy4FR
The Ember was the best USB cable I ever heard, for the first time I could clearly hear micro details like room echos that enhanced the listening experience. High pitched instruments like triangles and bells shimmered. The front of the room opened up. I reviewed the Ember here:https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=177555.0
The AerØ is in another league. Mike Galusha nailed the description in his review above. The mini-review I emailed Jason when I first received the Aero on Aug 9th was one word: "Expansive". Nothing has changed my opinion since then. With the Aero in my system it is like hearing my music for the very first time. New instruments appear, recordings have space around the performers you never knew was there. There are exceptions of course, flat studio recordings remain flat, the excellent Jennifer Warnes album "The Hunter" still sounds great but there were no surprises. Surprisingly, Micky Hart's "Planet Drum" didn't reveal any added nuance, maybe I have used that album for a system check so often I know it all too well.
"Smile" by Brian Wilson is a dense, multilayered mix. Aero easily unravels all the sounds, each voice and instrument occupies a different point in space. That's what AerØ does best, it puts points in space. Sound is no longer in an arc between speakers but a physical space with the instruments inside.
Dexter Gordon's album "Go" has his sax on the left, the right speaker has a faint echo I never heard, the recording was made at Rudy Van Gelder's studio.
AerØ is a little fuller sounding than the Ember, an instrument's body is more apparent, it's nice. The Ember is not thin by any measure, I was completely happy with the sound. The Aero just has more there there.
You will notice my music selection this time around leaned toward the softer side of music where the performers and room can be heard. Hard rock and Hip Hop probably won't benefit as much from the subtle gradation the AerØ brings to the music.
Both Mike and I listened to the AerØ without the iFi iSilencer+ and iPurifer 3. I tried them but they just didn't add anything to the music. My system is unusual which is probably why the iFi devices slightly dulled the sound. The difference was obvious on the first track of Ani DiFranco's album "Revolutionary Love", the triangle lost it's edge and sparkle. Bert Kamsteeg's soft brushwork on the drums was less apparent on Carmen Gomes' album "Up Jumped the Devil". I have two industrial linear regulated power supplies at each end of the USB cable. The Paul Pang USB 3.0 V2 card has a 5v Acopian PS with 1 mV RMS ripple, the KingRex UC384 USB/SPDIF converter at the other end has an Acopian PS with 1.5 mV RMS ripple.
I have come across this before with the Audioquest Jitterbug, Uptone Regen and Intona so I wasn't surprised the IFi devices didn't work for me. https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=138707.msg1476956#msg1476956
Both iFi units were well burned-in. When I first tried them I was not pleased, Jason said they needed 150 hours break-in. I put together a low-end, hi-tech burn-in rig that can run 24/7 using parts hanging around my office. The Toshiba laptop is from Nov. 2008, it is so old it came with Windows Vista. I did a clean install to Windows 7 with a retail disk that was in my library then the free upgrade to Windows 10 v20H2. The laptop's switching power supply probably makes the USB output real noisy giving the two iFi's a real good workout.
I built the Hagerman HagUsb USB/SPDIF converter in Sept. 2006, it was my first foray into hi-end computer audio. The HagUsb has a stereo jack the iPod Mini headphones plugs into so I can hear what is going on. The HagUsb also has a volume control.
Foobar2000 is on repeat playing the frybaby song, it's very boring. I have the Hagerman FryKleaner, an audio burn-in generator that I use for cables. The generator produces broadband noise from 20Hz to 20kHz plus a sweeping pulse from 2Hz to 200Hz. Jim has a download of the same burn-in broadband noise on his website:
Right click link to "Save Link As...", download, then set your favorite player to repeat the mp3 until you get bored.http://www.hagtech.com/media/frybaby.mp3
The frybaby.mp3 is what foobar2000 has been playing on non-stop repeat for over 150 hours.
The AerØ USB is the real deal. I wouldn't have believed my ears if I didn't have the Ember to compare it to, switching between cables took less than 30 seconds.
Hapa Audio keeps coming out with better and better products. The combination of the Quiescense interconnects and AerØ USB has really opened my ears to what is possible in stereo reproduction. Give them a listen if you can.