The HanSound Audio Zen

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Affordable cable reviews: #2, the HanSound Audio Zen

The HanSound Audio Zen is part of a three-way cable review series of affordable copper cables. As the Zen review builds further on the previously reviewed Effect Audio Ares II, it might be a good starting point to back there if you haven’t read it already.

HanSound Audio

HanSound Audio is a relatively new cable manufacturer, based out of Taiwan. While the brand name HanSound Audio might be a newcomer, it’s a daughter company of one of the major world-wide wire manufacturers that boutique cable manufacturers use to construct their cables. The Zen is their recently introduced entry-level copper cable.

Build

The Zen’s wires consist of an orange-pinkish color, common to many copper cables; nothing out of the ordinary here. The silver-colored Furutech jack and connectors not only provide a nice finishing touch in looks, but provide a sturdy and qualitative feel. The cable is finished off with a dark grey metallic splitter. It has a modern design, with alternating round and straight edges. While it’s slightly on the heavier side, the pull isn’t heavy enough to be noticeable after a while. Where most cables go for a predetermined fit of the connectors by means of heatshrink or memory wire, Zen has neither. I personally might prefer the pre-bent heatstrink for ease of use, but this has the advantage of being able to be match iems with alternative polarisation, such as the EarSonics iems.


Sound Impressions

Han’s Audio Zen has a balanced signature, which can be classified as a slightly warmer variation of neutral. Its moderately enhanced bass provides a nice low-end impact, while adding a smoother tone to the midrange. In addition, its stage is slightly wider than Ares II.

Zen has good low-end extension, which reaches slightly deeper than Ares II. In addition, the general bass presentation has more body, which creates a generally warmer tone. Zen doesn’t have a severely enhanced bass, but it has a nice round texture that carries weight. Ares II’s bass in turn is more compact, and especially its upper bass is slightly more attenuated by comparison. This creates a cleaner stage, but also a slightly drier sound. Ares II’s bass is punchy, but it feels lighter and airier by comparison. Zen’s bass is warmer in tone, and can be considered more engaging.

Zen has a very nice balance in its midrange; neither the lower or upper midrange feels particularly prominent. Its lower midrange is neutral, and vocals aren’t relatively more full or forward-sounding. The instrument size however is a bit larger than Ares II. Zen seems to have a slight bump around 3 KHz, putting a bit more emphasis on the vocal presence area, although it doesn’t affect the tone. Generally, Zen’s midrange is smooth and easy to listen to, due to its warmer tone. It’s a quite natural sounding midrange.

By comparison, Ares II is less warm, and its midrange notes are a bit leaner as a result of its upper midrange emphasis. Accordingly, Ares sounds a bit more detailed. While especially string instruments sound more prominent and articulated, Zen’s midrange sounds a bit more coherent. On the other hand, Ares II’s midrange is a bit more transparent, and sounds cleaner overall.

A similar pattern returns in its treble. Compared to Ares II, Zen’s treble is warmer in tone. Combined with its moderately enhanced bass, this results in a more natural signature. Ares’ slightly brighter tone in turn makes treble notes sound clearer. In addition, it also has a blacker background. As a result Ares II’s signature might be a bit drier overall, it creates a cleaner stage by comparison, resulting in a slight advantage when it comes to separation.

Concluding thoughts

HanSound Audio’s Zen is a nice alternative in the entry-level of aftermarket cables. It contrasts the more technical Ares II with a warmer and smoother signature – a more natural sound. Overall, its midrange is more linear than Ares II, and it sounds a bit more coherent. Ares II in turn sounds a bit cleaner and more detailed by comparison. While Ares II’s signature is a bit uncharacteristic for a copper cable, Zen’s warmer signature seems to more appropriately fit the bill.

 

International distributor:
music-sanctuary.com

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About Author

Nic is currently in pursuit of a PhD degree in social neuropsychology, while trying not to get too distracted by this hobby. In pursuit of theoretical knowledge by day, and audiophile excellence at night. Luckily for him, both activities are not mutually exclusive which helps to lighten the workload. Always on the go, Nic's enthusiasm for hi-fi is focused on all chains of the portable system: iems, cables and daps.

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