Review of Breathe RCA (Silver) Interconnect

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Promee

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Review of Breathe RCA (Silver) Interconnect
« on: 14 Nov 2020, 04:43 am »
The Breathe RCA Silver Interconnect is a revelation. That's really the bottom line of this review, but I suppose it would be a good idea to explain how I arrived at this conclusion.

I have been using the Breathe silvers in my system for a few months now, and I am blown away. For many years, I was far too smart to waste money on premium interconnects. If I hadn't had the chance to demo these, I might still be sitting around with my Audioquest Evergreens (which I thought were an overpriced splurge about a year ago). We all know that electrical conduction is a relatively simple process, right? Just find any old piece of copper and connect point A to point B and you're all set - the rest of it is all in your head. Well, I wish that were true, because then we could all save some money and have one less thing to worry about in our audio setups, but I have seen the light, and it is impossible to ignore.

For starters, I have 1 meter Breathe Silver interconnects with the standard KLE connectors connecting my Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Digital DAC to my Don Sachs custom line stage and another set of the same connecting that line stage to my VTA-70 amp with octal driver board and a whole bunch of other tweaks. I'm listening through GR Research (Carnegie Audio) CST-1's that have rebuilt crossovers, No Rez and all the goodies. Like I said above, all of this was connected using the Audioquest Evergreen interconnects previously. When I switched out those cables, I was astonished. I can't believe that after all of the time and effort upgrading the amp and speakers, the wait for a custom line stage to arrive, the tube upgrades, and all the rest of the adjustments I had made to the system, that the interconnects raised the sound to a whole new level.

I genuinely did not want to believe what I was hearing. I wanted to send those demo cables back and put the Audioquests back in and forget all about what I had heard. So I took them out for a while. But anyone reading this forum knows that such a stark transformation in sound quality cannot be unheard. In a few days, they were back in the system, and I was explaining to my wife how I planned to budget for them.

The most striking difference that I noticed after changing to Breathe was the clarity. I already believed that my system was clear as a bell, but that illusion shattered instantly the first time I played a track with the Breathe interconnects. Breathe may be the most appropriate possible name for this cable, because suddenly I was blasted with fresh air. The increased level of detail was undeniable. There was nothing bright or shrill whatsoever about the sound, just the music, every tiny detail of it, on full display, perfectly balanced. The highs were not enhanced nor dominant, but they were no longer timid. They were present and ready to be explored. When my attention shifted to other elements of the songs, they blended effortlessly back in. There was limitless resolution, but no excessive sharpening. The entire midrange was as textured as you could possibly ask for. Bass was forceful and accurate - not a hint of added boom and definitely no deficit in power or smearing of any detail. From vocals to transients, Breathe effortlessly handles all varieties of tone with impeccable timing and an expansive and coherent soundstage.

My system, including tube selection, is extremely revealing. It is also sitting in snug proximity to several potent sources of EMI. It was with great trepidation, then, that I connected these unshielded interconnects. I have been extremely fortunate with my preamp and amp that they run almost perfectly quietly. I thought for sure that having an unshielded piece of silver in line in front of my preamp would introduce at least a little bit of hum or static or maybe even some rogue radio transmissions. Nothing. Silence. Cranking up the gain on the preamp to unreasonable levels, doesn't matter. No noise. Zero. Ask anyone, they will tell you that I am absolutely insane about stray noise when my gear is at idle, and there has not been so much as a whiff of it. DCSG is no joke. EMI is simply not an issue at these levels.

I say at these levels, because when I connected a Breathe interconnect from my turntable (Ortofon 2M Blue MM cart) to my Pro-Ject Phono Box S phono stage, some faint static buzzing became apparent and was present at a level sufficient to interfere with enjoyment of some very soft passages on vinyl. This was to be expected, as anyone experienced with vinyl knows. There is a massive amount of gain applied at the phono stage (47 dB or almost 5 orders of magnitude just to get to line level) that is again amplified at the line stage. With that said, this problem was fixed by Hapa Audio’s phenomenal Quiescence interconnect. I now run the Quiescence from my turntable to my phono stage and a Breathe from the phono stage to the line stage and there is no static at all. I have left it on accidentally on multiple occasions, as it is totally silent. So, I suppose it is fair to say that the Breathe allows interference that is multiple orders of magnitude too faint to be perceptible, unless you specifically need extremely high gain (basically only for vinyl) in which case, you need one set of the Quiescence to connect your turntable to your phono stage, and you can use Breathe for the rest of your connections without any worries and with supreme clarity, unencumbered by shielding.

Regarding fit and finish, the Breathe shines here as well. It appears robust and looks like it may be somewhat stiff or heavy. It is stunning, then, when you lift it and realize how little weight is actually there. It is extremely flexible, and it is immediately apparent that the build quality is nothing short of luxurious. The intricacy of these hand-braided interconnects is gorgeous. The attention to every detail of functional yet aesthetically pleasing design is evident from the moment you pick one up and holds up under close inspection. Though it may not be terribly relevant to the audio purist, it only adds to the Breathe’s appeal that its appearance is just as special as its sonic performance.

To summarize, the Breathe Silver Interconnect is a tremendous piece of technology and a perfect match for a carefully crafted HiFi setup. It delivers limitless detail that is delicate, but never fragile. The clarity of silver can be enjoyed with a neutral presentation, devoid of any of the feared brightness or harshness, when the design is exceptional. And that is just what the Breathe Silver Interconnect is, exceptional.

***

I'm not much of a photographer, but here are some shots of the Breathe Interconnects in my current system. Note that since forming my impressions described above, I have upgraded to a Don Sachs custom phono stage. I am also currently running in some Psvane EL34 tubes, but the impressions above are from several months of use with Psvane KT-88-T Mk II Premium power tubes.

Overview of my system



Preamp and amp with Breathe in front connectors



Quiescence (foreground) and Breathe (background) living in harmony connected to Don Sachs phono stage





Promee

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Re: Review of Breathe RCA (Silver) Interconnect
« Reply #1 on: 14 Nov 2020, 05:04 am »
Small mistake in the review... But now it's fixed! No harm, no foul  :)

Jon L

Re: Review of Breathe RCA (Silver) Interconnect
« Reply #2 on: 14 Nov 2020, 07:53 am »
Glad you're enjoying music.

Looks like Breathe is $949 per meter with standard KLEI silver RCA and the Quiescence $1249. 
I'm sure they sound great, but there certainly are many options at these price ranges including silver and even more exotic materials, so if you get a chance to compare some other well-regarded cables in the future, please do add to the review.  TIA. 

Tyson

Re: Review of Breathe RCA (Silver) Interconnect
« Reply #3 on: 14 Nov 2020, 05:13 pm »
Jeff is actually a good friend of mine and I can 2nd everything that he says in his review. 

I also have the silver Breathe in my setup and I'll be posting a review here on AC within the next week or 2. 

mresseguie

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Re: Review of Breathe RCA (Silver) Interconnect
« Reply #4 on: 19 Nov 2020, 09:59 pm »
The Breathe RCA Silver Interconnect is a revelation. That's really the bottom line of this review, but I suppose it would be a good idea to explain how I arrived at this conclusion.

I have been using the Breathe silvers in my system for a few months now, and I am blown away. For many years, I was far too smart to waste money on premium interconnects. If I hadn't had the chance to demo these, I might still be sitting around with my Audioquest Evergreens (which I thought were an overpriced splurge about a year ago). We all know that electrical conduction is a relatively simple process, right? Just find any old piece of copper and connect point A to point B and you're all set - the rest of it is all in your head. Well, I wish that were true, because then we could all save some money and have one less thing to worry about in our audio setups, but I have seen the light, and it is impossible to ignore.

For starters, I have 1 meter Breathe Silver interconnects with the standard KLE connectors connecting my Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Digital DAC to my Don Sachs custom line stage and another set of the same connecting that line stage to my VTA-70 amp with octal driver board and a whole bunch of other tweaks. I'm listening through GR Research (Carnegie Audio) CST-1's that have rebuilt crossovers, No Rez and all the goodies. Like I said above, all of this was connected using the Audioquest Evergreen interconnects previously. When I switched out those cables, I was astonished. I can't believe that after all of the time and effort upgrading the amp and speakers, the wait for a custom line stage to arrive, the tube upgrades, and all the rest of the adjustments I had made to the system, that the interconnects raised the sound to a whole new level.

I genuinely did not want to believe what I was hearing. I wanted to send those demo cables back and put the Audioquests back in and forget all about what I had heard. So I took them out for a while. But anyone reading this forum knows that such a stark transformation in sound quality cannot be unheard. In a few days, they were back in the system, and I was explaining to my wife how I planned to budget for them.

The most striking difference that I noticed after changing to Breathe was the clarity. I already believed that my system was clear as a bell, but that illusion shattered instantly the first time I played a track with the Breathe interconnects. Breathe may be the most appropriate possible name for this cable, because suddenly I was blasted with fresh air. The increased level of detail was undeniable. There was nothing bright or shrill whatsoever about the sound, just the music, every tiny detail of it, on full display, perfectly balanced. The highs were not enhanced nor dominant, but they were no longer timid. They were present and ready to be explored. When my attention shifted to other elements of the songs, they blended effortlessly back in. There was limitless resolution, but no excessive sharpening. The entire midrange was as textured as you could possibly ask for. Bass was forceful and accurate - not a hint of added boom and definitely no deficit in power or smearing of any detail. From vocals to transients, Breathe effortlessly handles all varieties of tone with impeccable timing and an expansive and coherent soundstage.

My system, including tube selection, is extremely revealing. It is also sitting in snug proximity to several potent sources of EMI. It was with great trepidation, then, that I connected these unshielded interconnects. I have been extremely fortunate with my preamp and amp that they run almost perfectly quietly. I thought for sure that having an unshielded piece of silver in line in front of my preamp would introduce at least a little bit of hum or static or maybe even some rogue radio transmissions. Nothing. Silence. Cranking up the gain on the preamp to unreasonable levels, doesn't matter. No noise. Zero. Ask anyone, they will tell you that I am absolutely insane about stray noise when my gear is at idle, and there has not been so much as a whiff of it. DCSG is no joke. EMI is simply not an issue at these levels.

I say at these levels, because when I connected a Breathe interconnect from my turntable (Ortofon 2M Blue MM cart) to my Pro-Ject Phono Box S phono stage, some faint static buzzing became apparent and was present at a level sufficient to interfere with enjoyment of some very soft passages on vinyl. This was to be expected, as anyone experienced with vinyl knows. There is a massive amount of gain applied at the phono stage (47 dB or almost 5 orders of magnitude just to get to line level) that is again amplified at the line stage. With that said, this problem was fixed by Hapa Audio’s phenomenal Quiescence interconnect. I now run the Quiescence from my turntable to my phono stage and a Breathe from the phono stage to the line stage and there is no static at all. I have left it on accidentally on multiple occasions, as it is totally silent. So, I suppose it is fair to say that the Breathe allows interference that is multiple orders of magnitude too faint to be perceptible, unless you specifically need extremely high gain (basically only for vinyl) in which case, you need one set of the Quiescence to connect your turntable to your phono stage, and you can use Breathe for the rest of your connections without any worries and with supreme clarity, unencumbered by shielding.

Regarding fit and finish, the Breathe shines here as well. It appears robust and looks like it may be somewhat stiff or heavy. It is stunning, then, when you lift it and realize how little weight is actually there. It is extremely flexible, and it is immediately apparent that the build quality is nothing short of luxurious. The intricacy of these hand-braided interconnects is gorgeous. The attention to every detail of functional yet aesthetically pleasing design is evident from the moment you pick one up and holds up under close inspection. Though it may not be terribly relevant to the audio purist, it only adds to the Breathe’s appeal that its appearance is just as special as its sonic performance.

To summarize, the Breathe Silver Interconnect is a tremendous piece of technology and a perfect match for a carefully crafted HiFi setup. It delivers limitless detail that is delicate, but never fragile. The clarity of silver can be enjoyed with a neutral presentation, devoid of any of the feared brightness or harshness, when the design is exceptional. And that is just what the Breathe Silver Interconnect is, exceptional.

***

I'm not much of a photographer, but here are some shots of the Breathe Interconnects in my current system. Note that since forming my impressions described above, I have upgraded to a Don Sachs custom phono stage. I am also currently running in some Psvane EL34 tubes, but the impressions above are from several months of use with Psvane KT-88-T Mk II Premium power tubes.

Overview of my system



Preamp and amp with Breathe in front connectors



Quiescence (foreground) and Breathe (background) living in harmony connected to Don Sachs phono stage



Jeffrey,

Nice write up!

Tyson did warn you about rabbit holes, didn't he?  :lol: You are correct in that it is difficult to un-hear improvements which makes it very hard to go back to the lesser gear or component.

I thought I recognized that amplifier. How is it treating you? I finally discovered where the tubes were. I had cleverly placed them in two external HD boxes for safe keeping, and promptly forgot about them until 4 days ago.  :duh:

Enjoy!

Michael

Tyson

Re: Review of Breathe RCA (Silver) Interconnect
« Reply #5 on: 20 Nov 2020, 12:31 am »
Hi Michael,
The amp has gone through a few upgrades since Jeff got it.  Namely the input RCAs were replaced with WBT connectors, the output binding posts were replaced with ETI pure copper and the output caps got changed from the meh Russian PIO caps to the outstanding Jupiter pure copper caps.  It's been sounding really nice, I big step up from the stock version. 

Of course some of these mods required that we take a power drill to the case but hey, what's an upgrade without a few power tools? 

dflee

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Re: Review of Breathe RCA (Silver) Interconnect
« Reply #6 on: 20 Nov 2020, 03:32 am »
Nice write up.
I concur with the findings and couldn't have said it any better (and I tried).
I too am quite impressed and hope to have Hapa in my stable in the near future.
The cable works quite well in my SS setup.

Don

Promee

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Re: Review of Breathe RCA (Silver) Interconnect
« Reply #7 on: 20 Nov 2020, 09:51 pm »
Hi Michael!

I suppose Tyson got you up to date on the state of the amp! It was the slippery edge of a very deep rabbit hole, as you are seeing in my setup...

I have been loving the amp! I did, however, try to kill it a few times. I've blown 3 fuses and 4 tubes, but hey, who's counting? It might have a few more burn marks on the wiring from some of these electrical misadventures as well as me learning to solder, but for the moment, it is alive and well and it really sounds out of this world, especially with the D Sachs pre.

We settled up on the tubes before the sale anyway, so no worries on that! I have plenty of them here and a few more on their way from China. I also happen to be in possession of 6 quads that Tyson bravely (foolishly if you consider my track record above  :lol:) lent me to demo.

Good to hear from you, my friend! I hope that all is well in your world and in your stereo  :D

-Jeff

Promee

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Re: Review of Breathe RCA (Silver) Interconnect
« Reply #8 on: 20 Nov 2020, 09:55 pm »
Hi Don!

Thank you, and I'm glad you feel the same about the cables. I really can't wait to see what more people think as these make their way out into the world.

I'm sure you saw it already, but just in case you didn't, Jason just posted a thread to celebrate Hapa's official launch. He's offering some pretty nice discounts on his stuff for AC members, so maybe that would tip the scales on budgeting for them...

Jeff

Pez

Re: Review of Breathe RCA (Silver) Interconnect
« Reply #9 on: 23 Nov 2020, 07:51 pm »
Nice write up.
I concur with the findings and couldn't have said it any better (and I tried).
I too am quite impressed and hope to have Hapa in my stable in the near future.
The cable works quite well in my SS setup.

Don

Hi Don!

Thank you, and I'm glad you feel the same about the cables. I really can't wait to see what more people think as these make their way out into the world.

I'm sure you saw it already, but just in case you didn't, Jason just posted a thread to celebrate Hapa's official launch. He's offering some pretty nice discounts on his stuff for AC members, so maybe that would tip the scales on budgeting for them...

Jeff

First off, Thank you both for your positive reviews! It tickles me pink to see my cables being judged worthy by members of AC.  :green:

Second, yep, with the holidays here and all give me a great excuse to throw the launch party celebration sale. Do it up right this holiday with sonic bliss peeps!

genjamon

Re: Review of Breathe RCA (Silver) Interconnect
« Reply #10 on: 23 Nov 2020, 08:48 pm »
Glad you're enjoying music.

Looks like Breathe is $949 per meter with standard KLEI silver RCA and the Quiescence $1249. 
I'm sure they sound great, but there certainly are many options at these price ranges including silver and even more exotic materials, so if you get a chance to compare some other well-regarded cables in the future, please do add to the review.  TIA.

Agreed.  I'm particularly interested in any comparisons to Dave's Zenwave stuff.  I've been a big fan of Zenwave for years and think Dave provides a huge bang/buck there, and you two are playing in similar price levels with what appears to be somewhat similar quality of materials and build quality. 

WGH

Re: Review of Breathe RCA (Silver) Interconnect
« Reply #11 on: 23 Nov 2020, 09:32 pm »
I'm particularly interested in any comparisons to Dave's Zenwave stuff.  I've been a big fan of Zenwave for years and think Dave provides a huge bang/buck there, and you two are playing in similar price levels with what appears to be somewhat similar quality of materials and build quality.

Ben, that comparison will happen. I will be reviewing the Breathe cables and comparing them to my Zenwave D3's. I have Jason's approval to loan them to members of our audiophile group. If you are interested you can borrow my D3's too for your own in house comparison.

Wayne

dflee

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Re: Review of Breathe RCA (Silver) Interconnect
« Reply #12 on: 23 Nov 2020, 09:53 pm »
I had a couple of Dave's cables quite a while back.
This was when he was sending an assortment around.
They were nice but just didn't wow me. Could of been my system.
On the same equipment will say Quiescence did blow me away.

Don

DaveC113

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Re: Review of Breathe RCA (Silver) Interconnect
« Reply #13 on: 23 Nov 2020, 10:33 pm »
Ben, that comparison will happen. I will be reviewing the Breathe cables and comparing them to my Zenwave D3's. I have Jason's approval to loan them to members of our audiophile group. If you are interested you can borrow my D3's too for your own in house comparison.

Wayne

My D3 is half the price, and has received a big upgrade a couple years ago. I don't think it's fair to test and compare an old model that's half the price. If you want I can send you my new DSR silver ribbon cable and a D4 silver/gold alloy cable, that's far more of an apples to apples comparison. I'm fine with comparisons, but let's make sure they are fair for everyone.

DaveC113

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Re: Review of Breathe RCA (Silver) Interconnect
« Reply #14 on: 23 Nov 2020, 10:33 pm »
I had a couple of Dave's cables quite a while back.
This was when he was sending an assortment around.
They were nice but just didn't wow me. Could of been my system.
On the same equipment will say Quiescence did blow me away.

Don

Hmm, about 7 years ago...  :lol:  As I said, I'm fine with comparisons, but let's be fair about it.

WGH

Re: Review of Breathe RCA (Silver) Interconnect
« Reply #15 on: 23 Nov 2020, 10:46 pm »
My D3 is half the price, and has received a big upgrade a couple years ago. I don't think it's fair to test and compare an old model that's half the price. If you want I can send you my new DSR silver ribbon cable and a D4 silver/gold alloy cable, that's far more of an apples to apples comparison. I'm fine with comparisons, but let's make sure they are fair for everyone.

Oh boy, I bet genjamon would like that  :D

I'm still wow-ed by the D3's. Comparing silver to silver would be fair and I would be willing to do it. I'll send an email to work out the details.

DaveC113

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Re: Review of Breathe RCA (Silver) Interconnect
« Reply #16 on: 23 Nov 2020, 11:06 pm »
Oh boy, I bet genjamon would like that  :D

I'm still wow-ed by the D3's. Comparing silver to silver would be fair and I would be willing to do it. I'll send an email to work out the details.

Ok, sounds good! I also think it would be better to not post about it in this in this thread anymore, this is Pez's forum and I would never have posted here if not for the specific mention. There is a cable review forum I believe, would be much better to post your thoughts there. Thanks!  :thumb:

Pez

Re: Review of Breathe RCA (Silver) Interconnect
« Reply #17 on: 24 Nov 2020, 12:54 am »
Ok, sounds good! I also think it would be better to not post about it in this in this thread anymore, this is Pez's forum and I would never have posted here if not for the specific mention. There is a cable review forum I believe, would be much better to post your thoughts there. Thanks!  :thumb:

Dave no worries from here. Post away! This is what makes AC great, we can have discussions openly and with civility.

genjamon

Re: Review of Breathe RCA (Silver) Interconnect
« Reply #18 on: 24 Nov 2020, 01:16 am »
Wayne, I have a set of half-meter D4 too.  I'm sure between the two of us, we can give Pez's creations a decent comparison.  Let me know when you have them around and what you think, and maybe we can arrange an audition in my system too.  Not that I'm likely to be in a position to invest in Hapa cables anytime soon (nor the Zenwave silver ribbons either) - just not in the cards financially.  But it would certainly inform my wish-list!

dflee

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Re: Review of Breathe RCA (Silver) Interconnect
« Reply #19 on: 24 Nov 2020, 02:13 am »
And as I stated "quite a while back". Hmm wonder what that means?
My comment was not meant to be a comparison.
Just stated the Wow factor of each in MY system of what you had sent.
Now if you (Dave) would like to try it again, I'll be more than happy
to give it a go should you remember the address. If not I'll be happy to send it.

Don