Hapa Aero USB cable thoughts

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mgalusha

Hapa Aero USB cable thoughts
« on: 23 Aug 2021, 06:58 pm »
A few weeks back, fellow AC member Tyson came by to have me look at an amp for him, but he also mentioned some goodies to play with...

The goodies turned out to be the Hapa Ember USB  and the forthcoming Aero USB. He also brought along the iFi gadgets Jason is offering with the cables and indicated that in some systems they might be needed but I wanted to try just the cables, no other changes.

In June I moved to a Holo Audio May DAC (KTE edition) and have been extremely happy with it, but had not experimented with USB cables at all since putting it in the system. I used the cable it shipped with, a pretty generic looking cable but since it has a fully opto-isolated USB input, I didn't expect it would really care about the cable. I could not have been more wrong.

We first put in the Ember, I was very surprised at the change, the simplest way to put it, is there was simply more of everything. Greater clarity and detail, better harmonic distinction and overtones, what sounded like additional layers of information. Massed voices gave way to individual performers and the sound stage grew wider and deeper, something my system already does really well. The more we listened, the more I kept hearing subtle nuances that were less clear previously. I mistakenly thought this what the top of the range and then Tyson let me know that this was the entry level cable. Hmm, now I'm really curious about the other one.

We then installed the Aero, it was more of the same, very much like the Ember but with an even large spatial presentation, more distinction on voice and instruments, more resolution and subtle detail. Perhaps the Ember x1.5 or x2, no real way to put a number on it. What I was certain of, was how much difference there was between the stock Holo cable and the Hapa cables. I was also certain my wallet was going to notice. Like the Ember, I ran this without the iFi devices, I had no problems with the computer syncing with the DAC, dropouts or anything else. Jason did offer to send them but as I was totally happy, I declined, this has held true in the 3 weeks or so that I've had the cable, not even one hiccup.

The May DAC is being fed from an Intel 8th gen NUC mounted in a passive case, no fans, running DietPi Linux and roon bridge, it's running via a separate circuit from all the audio gear and is plugged into a high performance common mode noise filter.

I don't know if Jason will be doing a tour of this cable, but if so, I would take advantage of it. A no regrets purchase, very happy with the cable and it's performance.

WGH

Re: Hapa Aero USB cable thoughts
« Reply #1 on: 24 Aug 2021, 02:27 am »
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 AerØ
https://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.

Wayne

Pez

Re: Hapa Aero USB cable thoughts
« Reply #2 on: 24 Aug 2021, 04:48 pm »
Mike and Wayne,

 :o

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I am honored and humbled by your praise.

Regarding your thoughts on the performance of Aero I couldn’t agree more! Ember is an AWESOME cable and does everything right (especially the price!) but once you hear Aero there’s just no comparison. The way it conveys music is simply unparalleled.

Regarding the iFi devices- One thing I want to stress- Aero is designed to work with the iFi ANC devices. Mike and Wayne clearly have a robust digital front end to be able to utilize Aero without them. Most of my personal DAC gear require the iFi stuff in order to function properly and in the few cases I don’t need the iFi devices still sounded better with than without. I can see reasons why in rare instances the iFi devices might not improve the sound quality or, in Wayne’s case, made things sound less than optimal. I won’t speculate here about it, that said, what I am doing for is requiring them to be paired with Aero. If after the standard 150-200 hour break in you are not 100% satisfied with them and your system does not require them I will take them back for a full refund.  :thumb:

Thanks again gents for sharing your thoughts. 

Pez

Re: Hapa Aero USB cable thoughts
« Reply #3 on: 24 Aug 2021, 08:29 pm »
By the way, Wayne - Extra points for using the 'Ø' in AerØ.  :lol:  :P  :thumb:

Phil A

Re: Hapa Aero USB cable thoughts
« Reply #4 on: 23 Oct 2021, 11:08 pm »
I'll had my thoughts as I am on the Hapa Audio Aer0 USB tour.  I received my cable in the middle of the afternoon on Wednesday.  I had gotten a new (well very slightly used) amplifier a week ago Thursday in the main system (and of course we compared it to the old amp).  My friend usually comes over Thursday nights for a few hours and we listen to various things.  With the new amp on the way, we decided on a playlist for evaluation of the new amp.  The playlist was as follows (all PCM files were in FLAC):

1)     Private Investigations – Dire Straits 24/44.1

2)     Liberty – Anette Askvik 24/48

3)     I Remember You – Eilen Jewell 16/44.1

4)     Fistful of Swoon – Vandaveer 16/44.1

5)     Dance Me to the End of Time – Madeliene Peryoux 16/44.1

6)     A Fool for You – Carmen Gomes Inc. 24/352

7)     Tin Pan Alley – Stevie Ray Vaughan single rate dsf

8       Eleanor McEvoy – Mercy Mercy Me single rate dsf

9)     A Case of You – Cristina Branco 16/44.1

10)   Shostakovich Symph 10 In E Min, Op.93 : 3. Allegretto – Nelsons Boston SO 24/96

11)   Libertango – Michel Camilo & Tomatito 16/44.1

The purpose of the playlist was to have something that covers various genres.  Some may not be familiar with the artists/recordings chosen so I'll ad some comments about those.  Numbers 3 and 4 were artists I've seen live many times at my favorite music venue in Northern, VA before I moved to Florida almost 8 years back.  The venue closed just over 4 years ago (https://www.arlnow.com/2017/09/08/breaking-iota-club-closing-this-month/) and was a wonderful small venue, great restaurant and they didn't sell tickets in advance and the tickets weren't expensive (usually $12-18).  I'd usually get there early and eat at the bar and the performers would be eating at the same time and then be doing their warm-ups (which anyone could sit through) and after that they would collect the cover charge if one wanted to stay.  Samples of those songs are here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lby_GXOrNLU   and here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqu9MSfBPN8    Number 6 is from one of my favorite record labels - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kf_S2l3Y_lM  and number 9 is my favorite rendition of the Joni Mitchell song - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mu4eGjF1BWw   (most of the album is in Portugeese).  For those not familiar with number 2, the song can be found here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sU2MBOX4QyM

Anyway, on Wednesday in the early evening I tried the Hapa cable on my PC system.  The current system is my PC running JRiver via the USB output to my Vanatoo Audio Transparent One Encores - https://vanatoo.com/shop/speakers/transparent-one-encore/  (and I was using a WyWires Silver USB).  The powered speakers have a built in 24/96 DAC and the JRiver Audio Output setting are of course adjusted to take that into account.  There was an increase in separation with the Hapa cable, the tonality was luscious and the whole soundstage was better and more realistic.

My friend came over on Thursday night.  The main system (Phil A), without going into detail about everything and every tweak employed but the system is listed here along with a slightly older photo (had the old amp in it and various photos in my gallery have pictures of it - believe me it is better than looking at my picture 8)) and one can see more of the room (and at the bottom of this post a more recent photo of the system) - https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?action=systems;area=browse;system=2298  (the system includes the modded LSA Voyager GaN 350 Amp, Modwright LS 36.5 DM preamp, Lumin U1 music server connected to my EMM Labs DAC 2X and Thiel CS 3.7 speakers).  The music server is connected to the DAC via a WyWires Platinum USB cable and I had a friend bring over his Wyres Diamond USB cable a little over a year ago and I thought it was just marginally better than the Platinum). 

We started the playlist (which was already on the Lumin App from last week) with the WyWires Platinum USB cable.  When the second song got to the sax solo (after I swapped in the Hapa cable - which is a pain to get to in my system), my friend's exact words were when the sax solo came on was "Holy Sh**  Wow!"  Everything described in listening to the playlist on my PC was true except with the system being so much better, it was at an additional level.  Yes, I have ordered one and unfortunately next Wednesday my week is up and the cable will be sent to 'schw06' who is next on the tour.  Well done Jason.




mreeter

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 92
Re: Hapa Aero USB cable thoughts
« Reply #5 on: 24 Oct 2021, 01:24 am »
Great write up! Beautiful set up! I bet it sounds outstanding, with or without the Aero :thumb:
I'm patiently waiting for my my turn with this wire :wink:

Phil A

Re: Hapa Aero USB cable thoughts
« Reply #6 on: 24 Oct 2021, 02:33 am »
Great write up! Beautiful set up! I bet it sounds outstanding, with or without the Aero :thumb:
I'm patiently waiting for my my turn with this wire :wink:

Thank You!  btw - when my friend came over (a few Thursdays back) and I told him the (modded) Voyager GaN 350 was one the way and I was on the tour, he said I'm crazy (well we know that anyway and anyone who says otherwise, let's have a straight jacket party :duh:) as my system sounds amazing.  Unfortunately someone else helped him, who probably meant well (and he has a more limited budget) but was not as knowledgeable as he could be, and now has sold the amp he had (just wasn't enough power for his large room) and has a stereo IcePower 1200AS from Apollon Audio in a shallow depth case (which he needed in his set-up) and the cables the other person had him buy were fine for HT but not for 2-channel audio, so I gave him stuff I made many years back (I have bins in the garage full of cables and btw I was retired once for 6 years and went back to work for medical benefits, now retired again for almost 8 years and before I went back to work for medical benefits) asI was going to go into the cable making business so when I heap praise on a cable take note of it.  Many times now, I just don't feel like dealing with the pain of doing it but can  He has other things I've helped him with as well and his system is sounding much better.

I don't think he thinks I'm quite as crazy now, except for the fact that I moved my EVS 1200 to a secondary system in a small to average sized bedroom (and he said he'd kill to have that amp if it would fit in his set-up).  I have the system playing now (what a pain in the small space I had for it) as of 5 minutes ago (and what a job getting stuff in place that works - it was like getting an army of clowns in a VW - I broke a couple of cables that just didn't squeeze in the space).  It uses a small PC (HAL MS-2 that is old) running JRiver and using the WyWires Platinum USB Cable.  My friend had a DAC (and a separate headphone amp) and I used to own a Teac UD-501 in a secondary system and brought that over and it was better than his DAC and the headphone amp was better.  He ended up trading it to a dealer and got a demo Teac UD-503.  I got a used UD-503 yesterday (figured it would be fun to have somewhat of a similar amp and the same DAC).  Haven't finished checking all the settings yet (playing a 24/96 file now) and and one other thing (Oppo 103D running thru a modded Carver C-9 Sonic Hologram Generator just for fun) I have hooked to the preamp (Sherbourn Pre-1, which I moved out of another system) to check if it's OK.  It's been a pain today (I had other unexpected stuff to do).  The system has Selah Audio SA-2 speakers and a Rel Strata III sub.  I'll check a bit more (OD on audio equipment moving and setting on this second) and then can finish it up when my friend is over Thursday (have to send out the Hapa USB cable on tour after my week is up on Wednesday and hopefully not too long after that I'll have my own).  At some point in the near future (dealing with a builder roof issue), the main room will be painted and that will mean taking everything out and apart so I want a good secondary system for audio for whenever that is and however long it is apart.

artofaudio

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 24
Re: Hapa Aero USB cable thoughts
« Reply #7 on: 25 Oct 2021, 12:55 am »
@ Phil A - Very nice review and audiophile background.  My turn is after schw06 and I'm super excited to audition this cable in my system.  I'm putting together my list of songs now.   8)

Mike B.

Re: Hapa Aero USB cable thoughts
« Reply #8 on: Yesterday at 04:41 pm »
A short summary for those who don’t want to wade through it. This is the best USB cable I have heard.

System Details
Digital playback – I-7 Intel NUC, 16 gig ram, Win 10 with a number of services removed. Fidelizer Plus. Jriver Media Center 26. Western Digital 4TB dual drive. Wyrd4Sound DAC 2V2 SE.
Cables – AQ Carbon – NUC to drives
Synergistic Research Active SE – NUC to DAC

H-Cat Series 9 Preamp, Audio Research Reference 75 amp, JL Audio Fathom 112 subwoofers, Custom built line sources comprised of 10 SB Acoustics mid woofers and 10 Fountek ribbon tweeters.
Cabling – Synergistic Research Tesla series, Transparent Reference power cords, TG Audio power and signal cables, Silversmith Audio speaker cables, numerous Acme Audio Labs AC related products, and far to many tweaks to mention.

Music
Agnes Obel – Citizen of Glass
Chosen for difficulty making out singing lyrics
Tom Russell – The Man from God knows where
(Image size and definition)
Dirty Dozen Blues Band – Medicated Magic
( deep and wide sound stage)
Ray Brown – Soular Energy
( excellent recording of upright acoustic bass)
David Crosby – For Free
( a album that is a  pleasure to enjoy from start to finish )
I did listen casually to a number of other selections as well.



Listening Sessions
I did two sessions a day apart. Both started with the Aero and then to the Synergistic cable.
The Aero presents a large open well defined presentation. Outstanding definition with instruments and performers located in a 3D like sonic landscape.

The Synergistic USB presents a well defined stage but a smaller overall sound field. I was bothered by the amount of midbass energy which the Aero pointed out in the comparison.
Second Session
The Synergistic, for better or worse, is tunable with a variety of plug ins to the active bias/ shielding. I made a change and it brought it much closer to the Aero, but it was still distinctly in second place.   

Thanks to Jason and Sebastien for allowing us to listen to their cables. They have produced an outstanding USB cable.   

Phil A

Re: Hapa Aero USB cable thoughts
« Reply #9 on: Yesterday at 06:31 pm »
@ Phil A - Very nice review and audiophile background.  My turn is after schw06 and I'm super excited to audition this cable in my system.  I'm putting together my list of songs now.   8)

You're getting closer.  I mailed the cable a little bit ago to schw06 and right now USPS is estimating Saturday.  As I told schw06 in the email (with the tracking info), if you wish to save money, don't plug it in and send it off to the next person on the list :lol:   I got on the tour towards the end.  I don't easily get hyped up on cables ( almost went into the business 15 or so years back) but decided it was free to listen and I have made changes to the main and secondary systems of late and wanted another decent cable when I rotated things between systems.  I honestly didn't expect it to be better than what I was using (which is now in my primary back-up system for 2-channel).

artofaudio

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 24
Re: Hapa Aero USB cable thoughts
« Reply #10 on: Today at 04:07 am »
I guess I will start cutting up my credit cards before the cable gets here.  What length did you order?  I had my eye on the In-akustik Reference USB 2.0 cable until I saw the Aero.