Introducing: the AerØ Ag USB. The first Silver/Aerogel cable

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Pez


This release is an interesting one for me. Why? Because it is insane how long it has taken me to get it to this release. How long have I been working on Aero Ag? Before I had a forum on Audiocircle, before I had a website, even before I had come up with Hapa Audio as a company… I was working on Aero Ag.

The Prototype

it's incredible for me to think, this prototype was built 3 years ago. In that timeframe I have released (and even retired!) several products. Yet, today, finally marks the release of Aero Ag!
The birth of Aero
When I look back at the beginning of when I started designing Aero, my first prototype design of Aero utilized silver. I was really shooting for the stars so to speak. Being the first product to use Aerogel I wanted to achieve the absolute best sound quality I could get.

The first Aero ever built used silver was a sonic stunner. The bass, dynamics and depth were all incredible. But there was just one problem, a big problem. The cable was unbelievably bright and hollow sounding and nothing I did seemed to fix this issue. It wasn’t out of the ordinary for silver, I had experienced this sort of problem before (as I’m sure many others have as well). Many companies would have heard that first design and released it straight away. The overall sound quality was incredible, even with its warts. But for what I was trying to accomplish, it meant that unfortunately, I had shelve the project until I could solve these issues.

Ironically, It wasn’t until I abandoned the idea of going with silver that lead me down the path of discovering how to use silver. Indeed, switching over to copper was what started my obsession with trying to get the most out of it to match the positive attributes of silver without the negative attributes of silver. The obsession only deepened with time and with the recent release of the new Aero Cu products I have finally come full circle to that end goal by employing next level hand polishing. Of course, It occurred to me that perhaps I could apply an even higher polishing standard to silver. And thus, Aero Silver USB was born.

Introducing Aero Ag USB


The ultimate in sound quality. Aero Ag USB uses the exact same design as Aero Cu USB, with the exception of the data core. The data core uses a pure silver UPOCC nano-polished data pair. With the new Nano-polishing tech and a keener understanding of how to use Aerogel dielectrics, Aero Ag offers absolutely stunning resolution without brightness or hollowness in the midrange. In fact, Aero Ag is superior to Aero Cu in every way. Depth, dimensionality, dynamics and texture are all drastically increased with Aero Ag USB over Aero Cu USB.

Quite frankly, both of these designs score the highest marks in fidelity. Aero Ag USB adds a degree of realism, dynamics, and dimensionality that can only be achieved with silver, Nano-polishing, and Aerogel dielectric, Aero Ag USB represents Hapa Audio’s first statement product.

Same incredible shielding technology

Utilizing the same 7 layered shielding design as Aero Cu, Aero Ag offers the same impressive pitch-black background for micro-detail and dynamics to thrive. 

Nano-polished data core
High RPM polishing devices, world class polishing compounds, microscopes, high powered magnification, and a level of quality control only Hapa Audio can perform are all employed with the singular purpose of achieving a surface conductor polish that is refined down to 120 nanometer scale. The process takes days to perform. The visual before and after results speak for themselves. but the most important verification is the stellar sound quality.


Hearing is believing
You all know by now, I believe that the final arbiter of my work is in fact you, the listener. All of this work, countless hours of prototyping, patenting, referencing, innovating and straight up inventing is absolutely meaningless if you don’t hear the improvement for yourself. So as usual, I am arranging a tour for ACers to hear this incredible new technology.

When will the tour start? It’s already started and is out for delivery to an Audiocircle member as I type this.  If you’d like a chance to hear this extraordinary new instrument for yourself, please sign up. For this tour, Aero Ag USB in 1 meter will be accompanied by the new Aero Cu USB also in 1 meter.  Please follow this link to sign up.

Tyson

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This is a stunningly great cable.  I own 2 of them, one for my upstairs system and one for my downstairs system.  At this point, both of my systems are ruthlessly revealing and I have always been very, very, very bothered by hash or edginess in the digital signal. 

Before Aero Ag, I was forced to use a USB cable that was soft and forgiving because of my extreme sensitivity to digital hash.  I found that any cable that was highly detailed was also highly annoying.

But now with Aero Ag in my system, I have truckloads of detail and ZERO HASH OR EDGINESS. 

For decades I could never fully enjoy a digital system.  It never felt 'fully analog'.  And now, it's been fixed in one fell swoop with Aero Ag.  I'm astonished.

TF1216

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I have not seen prettier cables.

Jason, I can't wait to have a system worthy of your products!

dflee

Tyson:
YOUR EFFIN KIllIN ME.

Don

nlitworld

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I can't wait to have a system worthy of your products!

Don't wait. Even budget level gear greatly (and I mean GREATLY) benefits from quality cables. It's pretty rediculous how many hardware upgrades can be postponed after cable upgrades.

Also, Tyson is the voice of bad influence like the mischievous sober kid at a house party. The one who goes up to the drunk kid and says, "there's no way you can backflip off the roof into the pool" which only convinces everyone to attempt a drunken backflip off the roof into the pool. But without this mischievous sober person, we would not have excellent YouTube videos and without a Tyson talking cool products we would all live apathetically in our own mediocre stereo sound.  :lol:

SFDude

Tyson:
YOUR EFFIN KIllIN ME.

Don

I know, right? I’ve signed up for the tour before this one with the Aero Cu USB. I probably need to try this one out since my system would likely benefit from the detail wrought by using silver vs. copper. Ugh! If only the timing was good to listen to both at the same time.

-dave

Pez

Dave, sign up! This tour has both Aero versions! I’m more than happy to either take you off the list for the other one or have you be on both. You make the call my friend.  :thumb:

Pez

Quick update, The new Silver Aero and copper Aero have arrived to our first tour member. Time for some backflips.  :wink:

We still have room on this tour. Trust me, this piece is a game changer and must be heard. Get on the bus before it leaves the station!

SFDude

Dave, sign up! This tour has both Aero versions! I’m more than happy to either take you off the list for the other one or have you be on both. You make the call my friend.  :thumb:

Jason, responded. Will dive into this tour as the comparison between the AerØ Ag and Cu is more appropriate to my current evaluation of USB cables. Thanks and looking forward to this.

-dave

poseidonsvoice

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Hi folks!

For the past 2 weeks I have been greatly enjoying two new USB creations fresh from the fertile mind of Jason Wong and the Hapa Doodle Doo Eargasmic factory! Yes, in particular the AerØ Ag really knocks it out of the park!

Some eye candy:



Left to Right is: AerØ Ag, AerØ Cu, and the original AerØ.



In the above pic, AerØ Ag is in the center.

I must say that the fit and finish of the AerØ cable series is absolutely exceptional. You really feel like you are holding a very high quality heirloom product. The AerØ Ag is distinguished with a silver/black label and the USB connectors have the Hapa emblem on it. Indeed the build quality is a touch better than the previous Aero I had acquired last year. As usual, Jason shipped them in a nice bag/box combination with the Hapa emblem.

When I approached Jason and enquired about these new USB cables I was extremely skeptical. I had been incredibly impressed last year by the original Hapa AerØ. However, my system had morphed quite a bit since then. First, I had eliminated my all silver autoformer based TAPX preamp and I was going dac direct using the superb Holo Audio May KTE dac. Next I had built a brand new I9 based server and was streaming DSD 256 or DSD 512 using HQPlayer piggy backed onto Roon and through a Sonore Signature Optical Rendu SE v.2 streamer. So I literally was spiraling in an eargasmic orbit and Jason thought a new USB cable might make a difference?!

My system details are here for those who are curious. And given that I do not have a preamp, I find USB cable changes can be quite profound. As such, an audition is required.

Reading through my notes, most of my exclamation marks are with the AerØ Ag. Although the AerØ Cu is excellent in its own right, given the price spread between the two cables,  I wasn’t surprised by the subjective differences.

At first listen the Ag immediately provided a slightly larger and deeper soundstage along with an increase in dynamics. This took me back quite a bit as I wasn’t expecting a dynamic improvement at all. Strings in particular had less sheen, with more detail, separation and delineation. Treble was  (and in antithesis to what I had thought previously about silver cables), smooth and very extended at the same time. In fact, the Cu version was slightly grainy and gritty in comparison! Tautness of mid bass and bass was quite fastidious without any overhang at high SPL’s. In particular, I was very surprised that there was less compression and distortion at very high SPL’s. With the previous version of the Aero, I would comfortably listen at 90 dB nominal at the listening position (4 meters away). Now, these levels were at least 95dB with peaks of up to 105dB. Yes, that is dangerously loud but it does give you the idea of how this silver USB cable doesn’t sound like your typical silver.

One notable difference between the original Hapa AerØ, AerØ Cu and AerØ Ag, is that the latter was transformative in allowing one to perceive soundstage height differences. In other words, not only was it easy to ascertain imaging precision in the horizontal plane but in the vertical plane as well. This was not so obvious with the Cu or the original AerØ in particular.

After being quite enthralled with the Hapa AerØ Ag, I decided to haul both cables to my buddies (sledwards’) system. He has a tricked out setup consisting of GR Research NX Otica’s, dual triple 12 inch OB/Rythmik subs, 2 additional sealed subs as well as a digital setup very similar to mine. One notable difference was a new solid state Class AB amplifier, the DenaFrips Thallo amplifier (a very understated looking amp that sounds fantastic!). Every one of my experiences that I listed above was repeated again with some additional perks in the sound staging department as you would expect from an OB design. Another one of my buddies, member tnweaver who owns Spatial Audio X5’s was in agreement as well.

Some recordings that were in high rotation for this review:

Skopje & Yoragathupaga by Trilok Gurtu & the Arke String Quartet
Turner’s Ship by Malia/Boris Blank
Lochs of Dread by Bela Fleck (Live Art album)
House of Mercy & Come on Up to the House by Sara Jarosz
Ixtapa by Rodrigo y Gabriela (C.U.B.A. Album featuring Anoushka Shankar)
Warrior by Hiromi & the Trio Project
…and several others!

In conclusion, if you have a digital setup that you are truly inspired by and are wanting for the long haul (whatever that means given the skyrocketing progress of digital technology), I would do a serious audition of the Hapa AerØ Ag:

It is the absolute zenith of digital USB cable performance!  :thumb:

Bravo Jason! Bravo Hapa Doodle labs!  :green:

Best,
Anand.

« Last Edit: 20 Sep 2022, 10:05 am by poseidonsvoice »

Pez

I have to say, the quality of reviews I get here on AC are absolutely mind blowing.  :o

Anand, thank you for kicking off the tour with a very well written and glowing review! Yes indeed, AerØ Ag USB is a design I am so happy to finally get out to you all. I’ve been in pins and needles waiting to see everyone’s reactions. I’m really looking forward to hearing what the rest of you folks have to say!  :popcorn: :guitar: :rock: :drums: :violin: :guitar: :rock:

SFdude is up next!  :guitar: :drums: :rock: :guitar: :rock: :violin:

dflee

So Anand:
Tell us what you really think. Ha. Nicely stated post and coming from someone who's opinion I trust completely.
My systems will never be up to Poseidonvoice standards. Stating that am going to stick with the CU version on the USB side.
Now if the Aero AG comes to fruition in the coax, that may be another story.

Don

SFDude

Re: Introducing: the AerØ Ag USB. The first Silver/Aerogel cable
« Reply #12 on: 20 Sep 2022, 03:34 am »
To get this review started, you have to evaluate the components of my system first. This is the reference point from where I get to compare the new Aerogel USB cables, both the hand polished copper and silver versions.

Innuos ZENith Mk2 streamer -> JCAT USB cable -> Hegel H590 (internal DAC) -> NRG custom 6:9 cables -> Sonus Faber Olympica IIIs

I've had this incarnation of the system for around 6 months now (with the speakers and the speaker cables being the constant) and have listened on and off regularly during that time. We use this system as double duty for 2-channel listening as well as home theater mode (a Denon AVR-X6700H is used as the HT preprocessor).

The sound from hi-rez playback (both downloaded DSD files on the Innuos and streamed from Qobuz) has been exceptionally detailed, with good body and weight when it's called for. I used the following Tracks/Albums for the audition and comparisons. My notes will actually describe what I heard on each of the 3 cables for those tracks/albums.

1) Alice In Chains Unplugged - No Excuses, Perfume Genius (FLAC 16/44)


On No Excuses, with both the Aero Cu and Aero Ag, they just sounded much more accurate with the harmonics of the guitar strings being played by Jerry Cantrell, one of the master's of the instrument (despite being pretty sick with food poisoning during the recording of the Unplugged sessions). They lacked the harmonic richness with the JCAT slightly, even though it was present. With both Hapa cables, what was lacking (or maybe partially buried in the presentation) was laid bare and sounded like the acoustic guitar I have in my listening room. I couldn't tell the difference between the Cu and Ag much to be able to describe anything consistently, so I won't venture there.

2) Alison Krauss Forget About It - Maybe (DSD)


This track highlights how haunting and delicate Krauss' voice can be. I love this album because it focuses on her outside of Union Station. The JCAT USB was enjoyable to listen to here, but when swapping to the Aero Cu, her voice just became much more "smooth, smooth, smooth", which is the main notes I put here. It also had more body to it, making it sound fuller sounding. When putting the Aero Ag in, it was all of the above with even more solidity and delineation of her voice from the individual accompanying instruments. Pretty awesome experience, especially for audiophiles.

3) Air 10000 Hz Legend (2021 Remaster) - Electronic Performers (Quboz 24/192)


This track actually highlighted the Aero Ag for me. With it, there was more energy to the music than the other 2 cables, meaning I could "feel" the music hit me with its pulsating rhythms more than normal. There was also a noticeable bit more height to the soundstage than normal. This was a surprisingly revelation. The other two cables were about the same, which is odd. This track has a bunch of things going on and I suspect the Ag teased these elements apart from each other enough so that they had a more coherent presentation, where the other cables allowed these elements to sometimes "bump into each other" and display a bit more of congealed mass.

4) Ludovico Einaudi Elements - Night (Qobuz 24/96)


Piano is the key focus and I don't have the equipment to get it just correct. Very few audiophile systems do piano well, as my son plays a grand piano in our home. The Aero Ag presents the harmonics well, as was the case with the guitar playing by Jerry Cantrell above. The presence of the piano is difficult to recreate though, but it is also a function of the recording and the space which it is in. The Aero Cu made this track pleasant to listen to and slightly less harsh than the JCAT.

5) Pink Floyd Animals (2018 Remix) - The entire freaking album (Qobuz 24/192)


The Aero Ag sounded the best here. A cleaner presentation overall with crystal clarity. This was like taking a glass cleaner to a window that was marginally dirtier from a wash about a week ago. If you aren't paying close attention, the JCAT worked fine here and gave you the same musical enjoyment. But on closer notice with the Ag, you can hear slightly more. I couldn't discern much difference with the Aero Cu and the JCAT TBH because I enjoyed the album (multiple times) with both. They did no wrong thing.

A general observation has ALWAYS been consistent in MY system and MY (subjective) listening experience: The Hapa cables are a notch above the JCAT USB cable across all the tracks/albums I listened to. The Hapas either had MORE of a good thing going or a DIFFERENT presentation of the music that appealed to my listening preferences. It wasn't a substantial difference of MORE but definitely audible, especially in good systems that are capable to presenting the resolution of music in a clear manner.

The Aero Cu USB was generally an improvement in body, definition and clarity over the JCAT USB. The Aero Ag USB was not always a "step up" improvement over the Aero Cu USB but generally was more detailed (sharper edges to the instruments, for example), instruments and vocals were surrounded in their own "space and atmosphere" around each (or clear separation and delineation). This made for a more "audiophile" presentation but wasn't always better depending on the tracks of music I listened to.

Verdict: If you have a system that is capable of high fidelity and high resolution, and can actually render all of the information contained in hi-res music (files or streaming), the Hapas will definitely get you a presentation that is almost without "windows" in between you and the music. The Aero Cu USB rendered music with a bit more body and detail to everything above my JCAT USB. The Aero Ag USB provided more clear separation of different sources of sounds to the effect of being much more distinct from each other than the Cu USB (which also provided this perspective but without the absolute clarity of these sounds suspended in their own space).

Audio equipment tends to be about the law of diminishing returns but these cables from Hapa Audio also demonstrate that sometimes, these returns are worth their weight in gold with the right systems. They may NOT improve lower end streamers/DACs but I haven't tested this out to any conclusive statement, so YMMV.

Thanks Jason/Pez for making this Tour available for us to listen for ourselves. Much appreciated and definitely put my "cables are cables" argument into the trash. These definitely are worthy of looking into if you're considering ANY cable upgrade.

-dave
« Last Edit: 17 Oct 2022, 06:46 pm by SFDude »

Pez

Re: Introducing: the AerØ Ag USB. The first Silver/Aerogel cable
« Reply #13 on: 17 Oct 2022, 11:28 pm »
Dave,
Spectacular review! I appreciate the level of detail in your notes. I think you did a great job of describing the differences between the two Aero models. The great thing about both cables is that when your system improves with new gear, they grow along with it. Both do a great job of just getting out of the way and showing what your system is truly capable of.  8)

krustykat

Re: Introducing: the AerØ Ag USB. The first Silver/Aerogel cable
« Reply #14 on: 28 Oct 2022, 05:15 pm »
I guess I spent a little bit too much time listening to these cables.  Can you blame me?   :popcorn:

My current setup is:  Roon Rock Server->Zenith Mk3->HAPA CABLES-> Border Patrol USB SE-i DAC -> Vinnie Rossi LIO w/ DHT and Takatsuki 300b tubes -> PASS XA30.8->Selah Audio Tempesta Extremes.  This is all located in a dedicated sound room with acoustic treatments.    I use DIY silver RCAs and silver power connectors on the server and DAC. 

I received both the AerØ Ag and Cu cables, which made comparisons between the two cables quite interesting and sometimes confusing.  I also have the Hapa Ember USB, which is my  baseline for these comparisons.  Spoiler alert - the AerØ cables are quite a bit better than the Ember, and the Ember is an excellent usb cable!

My immediate impression of the AerØ Ag left me slack jawed.  The soundstage that the cable enables is like no other USB that I have heard.  After repeated listening, it seemed like the soundstage would collapse on certain songs.  Angel Olsen's song "All the Flowers" from her recent album "Big Time" was a very good example of this.  The AerØ Cu brought her voice more to the forefront.  But this was the exception.  In general soundstaging was very 3d and much more like my analog rig than I've ever been able to achieve with my digital. 

The Ag cable has amazing dynamics, it has a front end attack that the copper comes close to, but cannot match.  Anything with snare drums will give POP to your music.  But, be warned, sometimes it can be too much of a good thing.  I would seriously recommend trying both the copper and silver cables if you are in the market for a very high cable.  I can see how these cables could provide a totally different experience for someone else's system.

Reverb and decay was decent with both the copper and silver cables.  Deerhunter's "Earthquake" from "Halcyon Digest".  This song gets very busy in parts, but it is still very 3 dimensional and individual instruments are easily identifiable in the soundstage.  Cymbals in particular sound quite spectacular.  I found it hard to differentiate between the two cables with this song. 

For something more upbeat, Grimes "Kill vs. Maim" from "Art Angels".  I thought that the copper's bass was a bit flabbier than the silver, but it was still very good.  There were sounds coming from all over the place with both cables, although the silver was able to more accurately place their positioning.   Grimes voice was a bit shouty with the silver, a good example of "too much of a good thing". 

I brought my wife down to listen to the two cables.  Upon hearing the silver cable (after hearing the copper), she said "This is what your system should sound like for as much money as you have spent on it."  Not a free pass to purchase more cables, but the door is open a crack  :D

Thanks to Pez for organizing this tour.  I really enjoyed my time with the cables and once my wallet recovers from buying a new boat, I'll be upgrading!




Pez

Re: Introducing: the AerØ Ag USB. The first Silver/Aerogel cable
« Reply #15 on: 28 Oct 2022, 08:42 pm »
Quote
Upon hearing the silver cable (after hearing the copper),  {my wife} said “This is what your system should sound like for as much money as you have spent on it."  Not a free pass to purchase more cables, but the door is open a crack  :D

OMG!!! That absolutely IS permission for you to buy more gear! In fact, if I remember correctly your wife is the President of the Audiophile Wives Society. This is tacit permission for ALL of us to buy new gear!!! Do it now gents, the window of forgiveness closes in 24 hours!  :green:

Really glad to hear you enjoyed the new Aero gear! And your wife sounds like a keeper!  :lol: