Audio Talk review - Hapa Audio Aero Ag USB and Aero Cu USB Digital Cables

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sumoking

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 229
Hello, this is Bill from the Audio Talk YT channel.  I have been off air for a while due a very busy time at my full time job and producing a Jazz/Pop album for Julia Sawtell.

For this review, I listened for timbre, attack, staging and nuance. I like to play slower, but well played instruments and performances to test new equipment.  Note, I have played heavy songs with Orchestra's, bass pedals and the alike which sounded fantastic on both cables.

My system: the equipment I used is underlined
Speakers: Spatial Audio X3s, Audio Analysis Omegas

Amps: Pass designed Class A Aleph 2 Mono Blocks (100w/ch- custom uplift on key components, 1000va transformers), Audio Alchemist Kraken Class A 55w/ch Integrated Amp, AVA DVM-225 Mono Blocks

DAC/Preamp: Holo Audio Springs III w/ Preamp Module

Streamer: Stack Audio Link II - Network Steamer

Cables: Audio Envy speaker and XLR interconnect cables, Hapa Areo USB cables  - Wireworld Starlight 7

Streaming Services: Qobuz

My room is properly treated, system is transparent, outstanding sound staging, beautiful timbre, deep tuneful, fast bass.

I am a musician with my own studio and recently co-produced Julia Sawtell’s album “Call Me Julia”. I included how the silver and copper usb cables sounded on some tracks from that album plus some other familiar songs. Full disclosure- my Wireworld Starlight 7 usb cable is a known limitation compared to the rest of my system and I have been thinking about a replacement for a while, but I just commissioned a friend with a proven track record to build a custom set of the Pass Aleph 2 mono blocks with some upgraded parts (ie., 1000va transformers, better boards and caps, etc.) So one step at a time :)

James Taylor- Handy Man  (24/176)



Aero Ag USB-
Open and airy, JTs voice is full and deeper than I expected, the bass guitar fills the center of the sound stage which is deep and wide with the instrumentation complementing the track perfectly. Add the beautiful harmonies and this timeless song sounds wonderful with these USB cables.

Aero Cu USB-
A bit less detailed, a bit warmer, very musical, I need more time with this cable. First impression with this cable is just more laid back, soundstage not quite as wide but very nice.

Holly Cole -Tennessee Waltz (16/44)




Aero Ag USB-
Harmonica is lush and soulful…
The piano is as full bodied as I’ve heard…
Holly’s voice connects at a deeper level than I remember…

Aero Cu USB-
The piano is extremely rich and has more weight, Holly’s voice is awesome. the harmonica blends beautifully with the piano and sounds great. The stand up bass is full and tone is nice.  Close but silver wins as it puts me inside the music at a deeper level.

Neil Diamond- Sung Song Blue (24/96)



Aero Ag USB-
I like this songs electric bass tone. Sounds like Diamonds female back up singers are in the room at a different level than I have heard before. The strings reveal their simple, but effective arrangement and playing.

Full Disclosure: at 16 (47 years ago) my friends dad had a Linn Sondek table, custom tube amps, Hartley 18” woofers and Janzten electrostatic tweeters…(nice system to develop your listening skills on at 16!!) memories of that system still linger in my head hearing this song;  I know this track inside and out. While it’s well produced and most all the instruments sound great, the acoustic rhythm guitar never sounded right to me and the silver improves on it (maybe they used ovations which were popular in the 70s but sounded awful).

Aero Cu USB-
The bass line is fuller and maybe more tuneful. I certainly feel it’s presence more in the song.
Strings and harmonies still there. Pretty good. Let’s see if they can handle the atmospheric nuances in the next tune.

Diana Krall- Sway (24/192)




Aero Ag USB-
The acoustic guitar and the cymbals open the song with a subtle, but vibrant attack and the harmonics and reflections are breathtaking.
I love this test song for the violins and percussion and the sprinkle of some beautiful acoustic guitar playing. if you have a good system, I can’t imagine you wouldn’t love hearing this cable with this song. It’s a romantic song, so nothing thunderous going on here, but it reveal your systems strengths! With the silver usb, I’ve never heard my system come close to sounding this good.

Aero Cu USB-
Diana’s voice tends to be bright on this song, even on high end systems if not tuned perfectly. The silver cable was just about perfect in this regard, this cable warms it up a bit more. The nuances are there and sound great, just not as many goose bumps.

Diana Krall - No Moon At All (24/192)

Aero Ag USB-
The opening Cello and and stand up bass line is one of the best openings of any test song to show off the bottom end. Attack, Tone, Texture, Articulation are all on display. The aggressive piano lines in the lower registers will move you and the presentation with this cable was spectacular.

Aero Cu USB-
Sounded wonderful on the opening and throughout the song. This song isn’t as complex as the last one and it sounded very good.

America - Children (24/192)



Aero Ag USB-
Every time I make an outstanding component upgrade, for me, it usually comes with the sound being more effortless and relaxed while still giving you all the attack and excitement you could ask for.  I have a Martin 000-28 MD which has an amazing tone. Listening to these three acoustics at once and still hearing all three ring with their distinctive character is so satisfying and one reason I strive to improve my system. I still love to get chills and goose bumps! This cable will take your system up a level and then some!

Aero Cu USB-
Guitars still sound awesome, but the musical instruments are just not as separated. 

Gordon Lightfoot- Somewhere USA (24/192)



Aero Ag USB-
This song is from Gordon Lightfoot’s Sundown album. It’s a 24/192 file and while this album has quite a few jewels on it, I had never heard this simple, well written, well played song before. This song features quite a few nicely arranged instruments and of course, Gordon telling a great story from his touring days. So many nuances to pick out and enjoy. There is one harmonic sound that rings at about 11 sec and throughout the song. Every time my system steps up I hear it better and better. The percussion is perfectly balanced and the playing fits the song so well. Great players playing some easy music to listen to. What a great opener to start any listening session.

Aero Cu USB-
I would say the same things as above. I was surprised on this one, while there was a lot happening in the music, all parts were so musical and seem to come together as good or better than the silver version.

Julia Sawtell - Spanish Harlem. (24/96)



Aero Ag USB-
From Julia Sawtell’s “Call Me Julia” album, this song’s stand up bass is tuneful and complements Julia’s beautiful tone. As the song builds, the strings bite and are wonderfully articulate.

I produced this album and sound through the silver cable takes me right back to listening the playback in my headphones during the mastering process. As picky as I am, I can say that this cable helped make the song on my playback system sound just as good.

Aero Cu USB-
This cable as mentioned adds the warmth and the more I listen to this cable the more I like it.
Still the Silver cable was truer to the master recording.

Julia Sawtell- La Vien Rose. (24/96)

Aero Ag USB-
Julia’s interpretation of this song was moving as she decided to sing the first half in French and second in English… as my musician buddies said to me, I really don’t know what words she is singing but I love it! With her vocal so emotive, we decided to bring in a clarinet to complement her tone and to jazz the song up a bit at the break. Piano, a Gibson ES 335, stand up bass, and percussion/drums completed the ensemble.

As I listen to this song back through the silver cable, I completely flash back to recording and mixing this song.

Aero Cu USB-
Sounds lovely and a bit warmer but not as close to the master recording as the AG.

Julia Sawtell - I Can See Clearly Now (24/96)

Aero Ag USB-
Julia wanted a more direct opening to this classic using just her voice and piano, but brings in her influences from Holly Cole. The strings arrangements still have the beautiful tone and sound great through the silver cable and the double bass bites with every note. The clarinet tone is awesome but recorded in a bigger hall so not intended to bite as much as the clarinet in La Vien Rose did.  Again, the silver cable put a smile on my face, as I heard the nuances of the recording that we paid so much attention to when as we recorded it.

Note when mixing and mastering this album, I used my system as the playback system. Countless times I heard it in my phones and my home system, so I know the final mix and how it sounded. When we signed off on the final version, I had thought it sounded as close on my home playback system as it sounded in the studio with the phones as we could get. Hearing the masters through my home playback system with the silver cable takes it to another lifelike level.

Julia Sawtell- Something Stupid (24/96)

Aero Ag USB-
We used the Gibson ES 335 to announce the opening melody line and with the piano and acoustic bass accompanying Julia’s lead and harmony vocals. Julia is a fine actress and she wanted to sing the harmony which has a straight vocal character. It’s the only double tracked vocal on the album which complements her lead vocal perfectly. I’m glad she did it this way and the silver cable isolates the vocals perfectly and overall reflects the jazz/pop feel that we wanted to invoke. We played some audiophile tricks with recording the amp for the ES335 and place it on 4 brass points which brought out its lovely tone that is so unique. The guitarist was stunned at how much better his amp sounded!! The limited edition AKG C414 mic did the rest.  These nuances are so clearly revealed on this cable.

This silver usb cable is simply amazing !!!
On familiar songs and on songs I know even more intimately by mixing them 100s of times, I can truly say this is a special cable.

After having several amps, including some great digital amps, I can’t say no to Class A. It’s just gives off more goose bumps and the Timbre of the instruments are as life like as I’ve heard. the Aleph 2s also have a tremendous soundstage and the match with this cable is a match made in audio heaven. The cable brought out the best of the bass on this amp and the Holo Audio Spring III Dac. I’ll guess the quicker, well refined silver cable made the difference. With this particular amp and the copper cable, the bass wasn't as quick but that said I am being extremely picky. Both cables are world class and with the Aero Ag USB cable, my system never sounded better.

Bravo Hapa Audio !!
« Last Edit: 7 Aug 2023, 06:30 am by sumoking »

Early B.

I want to echo the sentiment of sumoking. Recently, I purchased an Aero Ag digital cable (with BNC connectors) to replace my Aero Cu cable between my source (Mercury Streamer II) and DAC (Lampizator). I was in line for the demo tour, but since my other ICs are Hapa Audio cables, I felt fairly certain the Ag would be a step up based on the initial reviews, so I bought them without demoing them in my system beforehand.

The Ag is definitely livelier without being bright. IMO, this alone makes it "better" than the Cu version. This liveliness is more true-to-life. If you attend any sort of live concert, it will never sound "laid back" or "warm" like many audiophiles prefer. However, the Cu seemed more emotionally engaging with some songs. And then on other songs, there was no discernable winner. This phenomenon is not unlike previous cable substitutions where it comes down to a song-by-song evaluation. Beyond that, I think the Cu and Ag were similar in terms of detail retrieval, soundstage, bass, etc. Fortunately, I got the best of both worlds -- emotionality and lively -- by switching out tubes in my DAC. I could have been content with the Aero Cu, but the Ag took my system to the next level of realism and that's what matters most.

My search for cables is over. I think I've reached the end of the line. Sure, there may be better cables out there for a gazillion bucks, but I'm thrilled with what I have and can heartily and highly recommend Hapa cables. 

Pez

I've been intending on posting to this topic for the whole week, but I've been so busy! I first want to say HUGE thank you to Bill! I am astonished at the level of work he did on this review! It speaks volumes to the time he took to flesh it all out. I have to say, this might be my favorite quote of all time:

Quote
I produced this album and sound through the silver cable takes me right back to listening the playback in my headphones during the mastering process.

For the very person who mastered this album to give me this type of feedback is more than just humbling, it's very useful for me to judge whether I'm hitting the mark on realism and proper tonality. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that!

Last, If you (as in you who are reading this right now) haven't listened to 'Call Me Julia' you OWE it to yourself to listen to this album in your setup. A wonderful collection of great classics sung by an incredible talent. The sound quality, mastering and producing is among the best I have heard. I found it on Qobuz or better yet, go support the artist directly here: https://juliasawtell.com  :thumb:

EarlyB- Thank you as well for your kind words! I appreciate your willingness to 'jump the line' and get an Ag yourself!

I appreciate both of you.

marvda1

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 1859
  • freelance reviewer: The Sound Advocate
Sorry Jason, posted my review in the wrong thread.  Can you move the two entries to this thread?

Pez

Sorry Jason, posted my review in the wrong thread.  Can you move the two entries to this thread?

No worries, these tours tend to break out in multiple threads either way. I’ll just direct people both directions.  :thumb:

For the other thread click here: https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=185768.20

sumoking

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 229
Thank you Jason for your passion in making tremendous cables that improve our systems and bring our favorite music to another level of intimacy. Your cables absolutely have the right timbre and depth and I hope to one day have the AG in my system again.

I also appreciate your comments on "Call Me Julia".  Like designing a new cable, it's amazing how much energy and time goes into the process of making music for people to enjoy. So much audiophile care was taken into making that album.  Julia is a tremendous artist.  I'll do a full post on Julia's album shortly.

Thank you again Pez.

I've been intending on posting to this topic for the whole week, but I've been so busy! I first want to say HUGE thank you to Bill! I am astonished at the level of work he did on this review! It speaks volumes to the time he took to flesh it all out. I have to say, this might be my favorite quote of all time:

For the very person who mastered this album to give me this type of feedback is more than just humbling, it's very useful for me to judge whether I'm hitting the mark on realism and proper tonality. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that!

Last, If you (as in you who are reading this right now) haven't listened to 'Call Me Julia' you OWE it to yourself to listen to this album in your setup. A wonderful collection of great classics sung by an incredible talent. The sound quality, mastering and producing is among the best I have heard. I found it on Qobuz or better yet, go support the artist directly here: https://juliasawtell.com  :thumb:

EarlyB- Thank you as well for your kind words! I appreciate your willingness to 'jump the line' and get an Ag yourself!

I appreciate both of you.