Hapa Audio Interconnects May Be Just Right - Review

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kmate

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Hapa Audio Interconnects May Be Just Right - Review
« on: 18 Jan 2021, 01:41 am »
Hapa Audio Interconnects Are The Cat's Meow

Most of the time I feel content with the way my stereo is sounding. I don’t mean perfect in every way, but just fine, and providing enjoyment. Well so it seemed. You see, my first motto as an audiophile is to never think that my system has achieved absolute bliss, because then there would be nowhere to go. It was with this premise that I accepted to audition and review three new Hapa Audio interconnect cables.

I’ve already indicated in a previous post that my first impressions were undoubtedly very favorable. Yes, I am certainly impressed! The proverbial reviewer’s phrase, something like, "it’s going to be hard to take these out of my system", comes to mind.



I’m reviewing the Hapa Breathe Silver, Quiescence Silver, and Quiescence Gold Silver IC’s. The image above is the Breathe Silver.

Here is a snapshot of my listening setup for reference - custom built Windows Server with Paul Pang USB board and mainboard clock, HDPlex 18v linear power supply, my custom designed 5v LiFePo4 battery supply;  AudioNote Kits DAC 5.1 Signature https://ankaudiokits.com; my custom built Jack Elliano Ultrapath pre-amp https://www.electra-print.com/ultrapath.php with 6SN7 tubes and silver output transformers; refurbished QuickSilver V4 monoblocks http://quicksilveraudio.com/products/v4; and NOLA KO v1 speakers http://www.nolaspeakers.com/products/ko_b.php, and a pair of 10 inch subs. Plus I use my own designed USB cable, the JMaxwellUSB https://jmaxwellusb.com, Data Only at 3 feet in length. I'm including a few images of my gear out of interest. Each of the Hapa Audio interconnects were placed between the ANK 5.1 DAC and the Ultrapath pre-amplifier.



Here’s a listing of the musical pieces I used in this review: Beats Antique – She is Looking for Something; Harry Manx – Nat Bhariav; Fink – Maker; The B-52’s – Follow Your Bliss; 2Cellos – Shape of My Heart; Cat Stevens – Peace Train; Hilary Hahn – Partita no. 3 in E Major, BWV 1006: I. Preludio; Bela Fleck & The Flecktones  – Flight of the Cosmic Hippo; Jesse Cook – Rattle and Burn; The Dave Brubeck Quartet – Take Five; Jimi Hendrix Experience  – 3rd Stone From The Sun; Yo-Yo Ma – Etienne Et Petunia.

I guess it’s interesting to know which songs I used; at least you now know some of  my taste in music.

My first listen was with the Hapa Quiescence GS when Wayne, a fellow local audiophile, brought them by a few weeks ago. I gave him the sweet listening spot, but even though I was off center, I could appreciate the full-bodied, smooth sound I was hearing. Fast forward, and now with these in my hands, I have been listening for many hours to the Breathe S. and the Quiescence S. cables. Both cables sport the same intriguing wire architecture, which are braided by hand. The first is unshielded and the second is shielded, and to me they are both in the same league. And no, we’re not talking junior varsity, but the senior A-team.

Both interconnects have solid bass that’s well defined and without bloom, the highs have a sweetness and ease which is very welcome for a silver wire cable, and without any loss of detail. One thing that’s immediately noticeable is the dynamics across the frequency spectrum. Think attack, even jump factor, with a proper sustain and decay. These cables have great detail resolution, and yet project with a fluid presentation.



The Quiescence S. while shielded, doesn’t seem to hurt the sonic quality at all. In fact, it seems to have a lower noise floor by virtue of the shield filtering out electromagnetic radiation (EMI and RFI). While I found the unshielded Breathe S. had similar sound quality, I did place it carefully amongst the other cables in my system. Note that all three cables employ a neatly done 90° braid of Litz wire that in itself acts as a good filter of spurious ambient noise.

There is a refreshing clarity of detail with these cables in my system. I’m enjoying the distinct instrumentation and minute sounds, which I had to listen closely for with four other interconnect cables that I had. The open and airy sound which presents well defined imaging, is very pleasing. The bass is full and fun, but holds onto the tight and tuneful sound I build into my electronics. Nothing is fatiguing, and the way I gauge that is by playing higher register instruments like the violin, harmonica and flute.  The fabulous violin playing by Hilary Hahn, even at high volumes, still comes across as beautiful.

What about imaging you ask. Well, I’m super pleased with how both the Breathe S and the Quiescence S create a wide, deep and high sound stage. The Nola speakers can dutifully disappear when the mix calls for that, and present pin-point imaging.



The top of the line, so far, for Hapa single-ended interconnects is the Quiescence Gold Silver, which is also shielded like the Quiescence Silver, and has the same wire structure. This cable adds more shimmer in the high frequency range, and in my stereo, it presents a little bit less bass presence. It would be a good fit for a system that is clean already, and meaty on bass. However, it’s not as pleasing in my system, which is bass lean and bright to begin with.  Realize these are subtle differences and dependent upon listener preferences and system characteristics.

Don’t get me wrong, the Quiescence GS is an awesome sounding cable, it’s just that it excels in resolution of detail and beautiful tone, but at the expense of bass response. Therefore, if your system has a bit much in the bass category, and you need some faithful reproduction in the mids and highs, this cable could be just the ticket for you.

In summary, all three of the Hapa Audio interconnects are the cats meow. They excel in revealing detail and resolution in spades. They present a convincing soundstage with clear imaging, and pleasing tone.  It’s nice to hear the growl of the guitar in Jimi Hendrix’s work, the vibrato in the strings of 2Cellos, and the curious and intricate sounds in Fink’s compositions. The imaging is palpable; that’s what makes listening to hi-fi stereo music fun!

I want to mention that the fit and finish of these Hapa cables is impressive. They are remarkably flexible, well assembled, and have KLE Harmony silver RCA connectors which I especially like. My wife asked if I was going to do a double-blind test, and I replied, with confidence, of course not. What I meant was, if the improvement isn’t readily noticeable, then it’s not worth it. These are clearly worth it!

Ken
« Last Edit: 18 Jan 2021, 04:08 pm by kmate »

Pez

Re: Hapa Audio Interconnects May Be Just Right - Review
« Reply #1 on: 18 Jan 2021, 03:21 am »
Fantastic review Ken! That’s quite a setup you have there! Gorgeous system my friend. I’m really excited to hear that the experience you had with my cables was so positive. You mentioned that the QS didn’t lose any detail. That was quite a trick of engineering to make happen. The shielding utilizes both silver plated copper and carbon fiber in a way that prevents inductive thievery from occurring. The results speak for themselves.

kmate

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Re: Hapa Audio Interconnects May Be Just Right - Review
« Reply #2 on: 18 Jan 2021, 03:39 am »
Thanks Pez. You should be pleased with your cable designs. I found them to be a really nice fit in my audio system. Best of luck with the project.

genjamon

Re: Hapa Audio Interconnects May Be Just Right - Review
« Reply #3 on: 18 Jan 2021, 04:43 am »
Great review, Ken!  Looking forward to hearing them myself when it comes my turn. 

And Pez, Ken's a pretty modest guy.  But he's a seriously impressive DIY tinkerer.  I wish he had provided some shots of his equipment rack!

WGH

Re: Hapa Audio Interconnects May Be Just Right - Review
« Reply #4 on: 18 Jan 2021, 03:48 pm »
Impressive review Ken. Yes, these cables are something special.

Wayne

mick wolfe

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Re: Hapa Audio Interconnects May Be Just Right - Review
« Reply #5 on: 18 Jan 2021, 04:08 pm »
Thx Ken. Excellent review from an ear (and system) I trust  :thumb:

Big Red Machine

Re: Hapa Audio Interconnects May Be Just Right - Review
« Reply #6 on: 18 Jan 2021, 04:49 pm »
What are Ken's original cables?

kmate

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Re: Hapa Audio Interconnects May Be Just Right - Review
« Reply #7 on: 18 Jan 2021, 06:30 pm »
"What are Ken’s original cables?"
That’s a valid question. However, I think the answer can be fraught with issues, and possibly raise more questions. Let me attempt to answer, though.

a) If I name specific company’s cables, and say one is better than another in this review, then I would see that as unfair to all of them.
b) My review is my assessment, based upon my listening experiences and my tastes. Having said that, someone else’s experience may be similar or different.
c) As one who wants to at least address a modicum of science, I would say that I would want to measure the impedances of the cables I tried, and address the interaction with my DAC output and the expected input impedance of the Ultrapath line stage (as I built it). But that’s a different discussion, and could be very interesting.
d) I compared the Hapa IC’s to four different cables, three of which are from established audiophile brands, and one which I DIY’ed myself. I don’t mind describing my cable, since while I think it is good, it is literally a one-off build and was an experiment. It uses a solid band of 0.999 dead soft silver (3/16” x 0.20”) for both runs, and inner-sleeved with PET, outer-sleeved in nylon. It has KLE Harmony silver connectors, soldered with Cardas silver solder, and is four feet long.

I found the Hapa interconnects were better overall. I don’t know how much this helps one get a better perspective, but this is all I can reasonably say.

Pez

Re: Hapa Audio Interconnects May Be Just Right - Review
« Reply #8 on: 19 Jan 2021, 12:20 am »
I don’t mind describing my cable, since while I think it is good, it is literally a one-off build and was an experiment. It uses a solid band of 0.999 dead soft silver (3/16” x 0.20”) for both runs, and inner-sleeved with PET, outer-sleeved in nylon. It has KLE Harmony silver connectors, soldered with Cardas silver solder, and is four feet long.

I found the Hapa interconnects were better overall. I don’t know how much this helps one get a better perspective, but this is all I can reasonably say.

This is a very good DIY design. As a matter of fact this is virtually what I was using as a baseline to build both Breathe S and Quiescence S (at the time I was using generic RCA connectors rather than KLE) I'm curious, what did you find were the main things that you felt the Hapa line did better than your DIY?

dflee

Re: Hapa Audio Interconnects May Be Just Right - Review
« Reply #9 on: 19 Jan 2021, 02:18 am »
Ken:
Nice review.
I concur with your assessment of Quiescence Silver cable.
I love it. Didn't get a chance to try the others but man what a cable.
Hapa has something good going on.

Don

kmate

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Re: Hapa Audio Interconnects May Be Just Right - Review
« Reply #10 on: 19 Jan 2021, 03:41 am »
This is a very good DIY design. As a matter of fact this is virtually what I was using as a baseline to build both Breathe S and Quiescence S (at the time I was using generic RCA connectors rather than KLE) I'm curious, what did you find were the main things that you felt the Hapa line did better than your DIY?

I found the dynamics to be the first thing that stood out when first putting in the Breathe cable. The next was the low bass frequency boost with solid control and no bloat or roundness. It maintained my preferred bass sound, just added some oomph to it. Also, then the upper high frequencies were less bright, still there just more pleasing. My DIY cable, while great in detail, is a bit too lean and bright. The Hapa was detailed but smooth, and resolves more instrument separation.

Tyson

Re: Hapa Audio Interconnects May Be Just Right - Review
« Reply #11 on: 19 Jan 2021, 03:18 pm »
Agreed.  Most silver cables (even the very best ones) have a reputation for leaning toward the detailed/cool/analytical side of things.  But not Hapa.  Somehow Jason figured out how to make these things detail kings while at the same time being smooth like buttah. 

Pez

Re: Hapa Audio Interconnects May Be Just Right - Review
« Reply #12 on: 19 Jan 2021, 06:10 pm »
I found the dynamics to be the first thing that stood out when first putting in the Breathe cable. The next was the low bass frequency boost with solid control and no bloat or roundness. It maintained my preferred bass sound, just added some oomph to it. Also, then the upper high frequencies were less bright, still there just more pleasing. My DIY cable, while great in detail, is a bit too lean and bright. The Hapa was detailed but smooth, and resolves more instrument separation.

Ken,
Literally point for point exactly what I experienced with my solid core silver prototype. All of these various 'weaknesses' are not inherent in silver itself, rather they are the result of the particular methods generally utilized in making the silver cabling. Silver is incredibly sensitive to skin effect as well as strand interaction. The Breathe S and Quiescence S cables are specifically designed to mitigate both of these effects while simultaneously retaining the the vast benefits of silver over every other material. By utilizing ultra thin litz (.08mm as thin as a human hair) dampened/separated by even thinner nylon (.01mm stranding) and keeping strand count as low as possible per bundle most of the issues you described are eradicated. It takes quite a bit of engineering in order to overcome these issues, but between that and the geometry the results literally speak for themselves.