How this is review organized? …. I will break this down into sections to allow those who want to go directly to my thoughts on the cables to save some time. The sections prior to that will hopefully help explain some about my perspectives as well as to capture some disclaimers I feel are pertinent. So, here goes:
I’m someone who enjoys listening to music for the relaxation it provides. Most of what I listen to is more or less acoustic in nature but that said I am somewhat eclectic in that I listen to a lot of different stuff. Live music is my preference. Short of that, I love dynamics, raw vocals and really dislike over processed pop type songs! That sums that part up well enough.
I am NOT a “Golden Ear”, nor am I seeking the Holy Grail of musical perfection. My funds are not infinite, and the cost of a divorce always enters my mind before I start thinking about another something new!
First and foremost, I do love the sound nice tube gear can provide. That said, I am a self-proclaimed “tube wienie”. I just dislike tube maintenance and so forth. Solid state lets me turn it on, walk away and allow my ADD to simply forget what I just wrote!
I am also all digital though I will forever love the sound of vinyl.
Amplifier – A custom Coda modified Coda TsX power amp, biased to 12 watts Class A, 250 w/ch 8 ohm, 500 W/ch into 4 ohms
Preamplifier – Coda 07X
Music Player – Lumin U1
DAC : SW1X Level 3 Standard with customizations (tube based DAC, so I am not a total “tube wienie”)
Speakers – Daedalus Ulysses V.2 (soon to be V.3)
Cabling/wiring – I will avoid IC brands in this write up simply because of the obvious (the purpose of this is only to go over my experiences with Jason’s cables, not to turn it into a contest, etc. )!
Why do I do a “disclaimer” section? For one I try very hard to not say or type anything to offend. Offending anyone is not my goal or desire. I respect what others hear or don’t hear as valid as what I hear or don’t hear. I also believe everything I write is very specific to my ears, my room, and my equipment.
Over the years I realized each of us have the same senses, yet we experience things in our own unique ways.
For example, we taste the same food with different results (try to get me to eat broccoli). We smell the same smells with different results (for example, the smell of boiling shrimp). We see the same color differently (that is blue dear, no it is gray). It stands to reason each of us hears the same sounds differently.
So, all of this is to say your mileage may vary! And I will spare the reader my beliefs in cables. Suffice it to say I do believe cables can and do make a difference, and they become blended with the rest of the system. There is no one cable is best for all in my mind. I’ll stop here to avoid a long dissertation on what I think about cables, truths and snake oils included!.
My wife and I moved to a new home December 2019. The house we settled into has plenty of room and really met most of what we wanted. The one thing it did not have was a really great music room. I had just bought the Daedalus speakers and knew they would be a little cramped in the new space. My room is roughly 15.5 x 17 feet. 9 foot ceilings and a ton of reflections along with multiple doors coming into it, and closet doors down one side, windows on the opposite. From day 1 I have been fighting brightness, and let me say this, I HATE brightness. If I wasn’t clear, I’ll repeat and say I really by gosh HATE bright stereo sound, where the music is ultra-detailed but very thin (this is why I bought my NOS DAC). I bought the amp and preamp after the move, along with putting up a lot of GIK treatments on the walls, and rugs on the floor. I think the dogs liked some of that at least. To say the room has been challenging would be an understatement.
I am at a point where the room has been sufficiently tamed. A recent speaker cable change also contributed…
This is when I learned about Jason’s ICs. I contacted him to see if I could listen before buying, and after a brief exchange of information and a nice phone conversation, I decided to listen using his Breathe C interconnects (with the KLEI Absolute Harmony terminations) as well as a pair of his Silver Quiescence (from this point, referred to as “Silver Q’s since Q is easier to type, and I cannot type) cables with the same KLEI components.
I am honestly a little biased against silver in general due to having had some very bright sounding silver ICs in the past (but, I was told, blame the build, not the silver!).
When I received the cables, I went through a roughly 80 hour burn in with the Breathe C’s since they were brand new. The Silver Q’s were already broken in.
Like a kid, I went ahead an immediately connected the Breathe Cs and listened to 2 or 4 songs I knew well. The cables did have a bit of edginess to them so the listening was cut off. I did the same quick listen with the Silver Qs and did not hear any edginess at all.
After roughly 80 hours of continuous music playing for burn in (without listening), I connected the Breathe C cables and started listening using a song I was very familiar with (Ryan Adams La Cienega Just Smiled).
There was no edginess at all. I switched to an older Damien Rice song that has a lot of texture to it in addition to a ton of bass (The Blower’s Daughter). From there I danced over to a live recording of Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds doing a cover of “The Maker” (some truly great guitar work from Tim).
So, how to do this?
I dislike turning stuff off, swapping cables, etc and going back and forth. For me this gets confusing. Call it my old age or ADD of laziness, but my feelings are if a cable is truly different, especially if it is “better”, you should just know it.
There were actually two things that stood out. I noticed the Breathe C’s were really laid back. This is not bad for me given how much I detest brightness. But it was a teeny bit veiled compared to my cables (my current cables retail for about $1100 each and are sold direct from manufacturer.. just to put the cables in comparison). Not a bad veiled mind you. The laid-back part I did like. I played a live recording of Chris Cornell’s that can easily become bright.. and it was NOT bright in any way.
And then Duh.
My speakers have a switch on the back for the high end which offers 3 settings.. -0.5 dB, normal and +1 dB. I had them set to -0.5 dB. Once set to their normal setting the veil was gone but still no brightness. This was a good sign as I was able to play music by singers like Chris Cornell at quite loud levels, and the sound never got bright or edgy.
It was the return to La Cienega Just Smiled that told me what I needed….. there was no need to go back and forth between ICs. I was enjoying the sound of the music, regardless of what song was playing.
I am not going to use superlatives such as my soundstage grew wider and deeper. I don’t think my staging changed much (my cables are very good with staging). This just means staging wise things stayed as they were, which was very good.
I did NOT lose any bass, nor did the mid bass thin out. But, there was more micro detail. Not in an unpleasant harsh or annoying way. But, you could hear the music, could hear more instruments. Subtle in a non-subtle way.
The lack of harshness, the lack of any brightness along with a sense of being laid back but not dull really fell into my hands. That is where I am as I type this. Now, at this point Iwill leave the Breathe C’s in for a few days and live with them. Time to see how the honeymoon goes! But, I can say with confidence, they offer a lot for the money, and for now seem to be adding the polishing touches to my system.
The Breathe C’s have been in my system for a few days. Time to listen more critically (though my standard remains for the purchase to be worthwhile the differences need to be significant). I woke this morning with the mindset life would be easier staying with my current cables. Less money going out the door as well.
I decided to use 2 songs. Any more than that and I fear I get confused, Ryan Adams La Cienega Just Smiled and Damien Rice The Blower’s Daughter. For me these 2 songs have a lot of attributes I care about even though neither is a live performance. Lots of details in each and both songs have some deceptively deep bass. They also have vocals that can get edgy with the wrong cables.
I played both with the Breathe C’s then returned to what I had been using, confident the differences would be subtle enough to stick a fork in things.
I was wrong. Both cables offered good detail, staging and bass response, but the Hapa Breathe C’s had more body, were smoother sounding in the vocals and offered slightly more detail with the background instruments. While the differences were not huge, they were also not subtle. For lack of better words, the musicality went up when using the Breathe C cables to the point I did not want to use what I had been using.
The Silver Qs
Hmmm Kind of hard to want to start this all over again, but nothing like another adventure!
I went to the Silver Qs to compare what I now thought to my initial experiences. The simple answer is, my initial thoughts held. The Silver Qs are very smooth sounding with added detail. No harshness whatsoever, no brightness. Characteristics that had biased me against silver before. But, the added detail is easily heard. While not drastic, I would say the lower bass registers up to the mid bass regions were slightly less pronounced than they were with the copper Breathe cables. This is subjective, and difficult to describe without it sounding worse than it is. The bass was there, just a little less of it, making the Silver Qs presenting more leanness but also more detail.
My room/system has been somewhat bass thin from the start and I have had to work hard on the room to restore the mid bass regions. So take some of what I am saying with that in mind. It may come down to the room, the equipment, the music being listened to, etc. etc. In my system the slight bass reduction would be noticed. But their tonal qualities are very similar. Those who really love detail would no doubt favor the Silver Qs between these two. Goes back to my disclaimers where I stated how we hear sounds is unique to each of us.
I liked the Silver Qs overall. Very nice sound and some songs really came alive with them. That has to also be factored in, the music you listen to. To my ears though they sounded more detailed than did the Breathe C’s but also a bit more lean. The detail was not harsh nor was it artificial sounding. It was interesting hearing certain musical passages and hearing the background instruments more clearly, and then going back to my ICs and listening again. Usually it was, yep it is there but you just don’t hear it. With the silver Quiescence cables hearing these instruments was simple.
How much of my preference is due to my room, or my equipment, or even my ears is difficult to guess. In have been fighting a sense of thinness in my system for a while now and only recently did I feel I had gotten around it. My speakers will soon be upgraded and that may also change my point of view on this. The good news is both cables are made very well, are very attractive aesthetically (if that matters to you), and both provided really nice sound quality. It would be difficult to go wrong with either.
In my system, I preferred the Breathe C’s with the Klei harmony absolute connectors. Everyone should buy them before Jason realizes the gold mine he is sitting on and doubles the price!
Much thanks to Jason for trusting me with his creations, and giving me the opportunity to try both sets of cables in my system. As much as I grumbled about crawling behind my equipment and changing cables while fighting other cords and cables, etc. it was a privilege to have the opportunity.
I’ll end this by stating I did not receive any compensation for writing this up. I did buy the Breathe C interconnects used in this evaluation (just means the broken in cables are NOT available for others to listen to! Sorry!). I found the cables added some body to my system and a little more detail at the same time. While I think your own ears are the best judge, it is difficult to imagine anyone not liking the sound Jason has provided.
PS The end table in the photo (ok I made it but honest I am not showing it off) does NOT normally reside here. I have a 130 pound shepherd who at nearly years of age thinks he is 8 months and he really loves to explore behind things!