September
2022

Country of Origin

USA

AerØ USB copper

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz, Tidal, Singxer SU-6 USB bridge, Sonnet Pasithea DAC; Active filter: icOn 80Hz/4th-order hi/lo-pass; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 mono, Enleum AMP-23R; Headamp: Kinki Studio; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: sound|kaos Vox 3awf + sound|kaos DSUB15 on Carbide Audio footers, Audio Physic Codex, Cube Audio Nenuphar Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, Furutech DPS-4.1 between wall and conditioners; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 6 x 8m with open door behind listening seat
2nd system: Source: Soundaware D300Ref SD transport clock-slaved to Denafrips Terminator +; Preamp/filter: icOn 4Pro SE; Amplifier: Goldmund Job 225; Loudspeakers: MonAcoustic SuperMon Mini or Acelec Model One + Dynaudio S18 sub; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan]; Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~3.5 x 8m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win10/64; USB bridge: Singxer SU-2; Headamp/DAC: iFi iDSD Pro Signature;  Headphones: Final D-8000; Active speakers: DMAX SC5
Upstairs headfi/speaker system: Source: smsl Dp5 transport; DAC: Auralic Vega; Integrated amplifier: Schiit Jotunheim R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a; Active DSP speakers: Fram Midi 120
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Gold Note IS-1000 Deluxe; Loudspeakers: Zu Soul VI; Subwoofer: Zu Submission; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m

Review component retail: $2'200/2m

The op session. Invert the words and arrive at a session op to sample Jason Wong's obsession with creating the best cables in the biz. Would this turn into an ob session for "Oh Boy"? Starting with where such things always start—pretty pix on the Internet—Hapa Audio cables certainly look obsessively finessed. Particularly the IEM leashes suggest fine jewelry. Which makes sense. Wearing earbuds in public doubles as a statement of personal fashionista hipness; or not. But parallel t+a or theory and application read equally obsessed. This isn't prettiness for its own sake. Behind it sit deep thinking, endless experiments, custom tooling, meticulous hand-braiding and a Ukrainian artisan fashioning those titanium chin sliders, barrels and splitters. On Jason's AC—that's his forum on Audio Circle where he was known as Pez before entering the biz—many posts detail his research into geometries and materials, his search for ever thinner 0.08mm conductors dubbed Angel Hair Litz, micron-scale surface polishing, better connectors and learning how to turn aerogel into a reliable workable dielectric. Following these posts from afar finally led me to pen an industry feature on his latest elfin Haiku interconnect above. Using his contact page, I sent him the link.

A day later he replied. "I saw your email and the page you put together. I appreciate the interest in Haiku and Hapa Audio. From the info you sent, I was unsure what your intent was. I'd love to chat about what your thoughts are." Fish. Hooked?

Bespoke means colorized to order.

Actually, I was unsure myself. My business model reviews full-time for a living. Jason was using guerilla marketing of Audio Circle members generating domestic user feedback from chain-mail samples. If that kept his small boutique operation busy, why ever would he want to book international 2-way shipping and professional review fees? I'd really written my feature as a 'check it out' invite to our readers. I now told him so but also expressed sincere curiosity over his cables and natural interest to review 'em. The fish was still in the water, my hook slippery.

When still owned by Matthew Bond, Tara Labs had a flagship cable with a vacuum to transcend typical dielectric absorption/release effects. It was advertised as the cable God uses. Stealth experimented with argon gas so probably was the Devil's plaything. On earth so-called air dielectrics are more common but none can banish all conductor contact with the physical tube that contains the air, gas or vacuum. The two latter extremes also battle perfect seals that won't deteriorate over time. The late Chris Sommovigo shaped his air-dielectric conductor into a 'nami' wave to minimize/control those physical contacts. Foamed Teflon is a popular insulator because it lowers Teflon's already low dielectric constant with trapped microscopic air bubbles. Jason Wong's latest models favor aerogel which in his chemical composition acts like a pliable solid with the highest air-to-mass profile possible. It's 99.8% air but still surrounds his conductor/s from all sides for stable geometry that doesn't change when normal use bends it. It also avoids contact with the surrounding PTFE sleeve so can't drive up capacitance like cables which contact the floor rather than float on risers. Aerogel is also significantly less dense than Teflon which Jason says won't overdamp a conductor yet not let it freely ring as does air. His AerØ digital cables and Haiku RCA interconnect premiere his take on a virtual air dielectric in a stable geometry for predictable performance specs.

Other Hapa highlights include pure copper or silver so exclusively non-plated signal conductors. In Hawaiian, 'hapa' denotes mixed racial ancestry and at Hapa Audio, hybrid cables with mixed copper and silver are available. Finally it's obvious labor-intense production. It's no Happy Audio chop-shopping off the spool, no quick snip, terminations, plastic heat shrink and off they buzz from central Colorado to anywhere in the world. Only unreasonable folks won't expect that not to reflect in final pricing. Hello triple negative. It's when entrepreneurial artisans are expected to work hard then give it all away for the raw cost of materials. If that's your beef, roll your own, hand them out freely then apply for sainthood with the Hifi Pope. I'm sure he's got a discarded harp and halo for you somewhere in his attic. Clouds are a dime a dozen. Pick one and start singing.