I would like to thank Han Sound Audio for providing the Venom in return for my honest opinion.
Han Sound Audio is slowly transcending from newcomer on the cable market, to established manufacturer. And with the transition follows an expansion of their lineup. Their former flagship, the Aurora, is now superseded by the Venom – a cable that, on paper, perhaps impresses more with its thick black shielding, than its silver-gold alloy wires. For the Venom’s multi-layer shielding provides the option of active shielding, where the shield itself is connected separately to the ground. This is either possible by employing a dual jack design, where the 2.5mm jack serves as signal and the 3.5mm as ground, or by utilising the fifth pole on 4.4mm compatible players.
However, for this to function the fifth pole needs to be connected to ground within the player. Unfortunately, the Sony WM1A/WM1Z players have not incorporated this inherently in their design, so this needs to be modded manually, as is done with my WM1Z K-mod by Music Sanctuary. As to why the Sony players do not standard employ the full functionality of the fifth pole even though they designed the 4.4 plug this way, I cannot say. Even so, an alternative route is by simply opting for a dual 4.4mm and 3.5mm configuration.
While the Venom’s active shielding is an interesting prospect, it equally comes with some practical constraints. The black shielding is fairly heavy, making it somewhat ergonomically challenged – it’s slightly heavier than already heavy 8-wire cables. I have no problems using it on the go, but would recommend using it with customs, since the weight can pull universal fit iems out of place. Personally, I’ve never minded heavier cables, so I’m not one to complain easily. But for people that value the ergonomics of a cable as highly as their sonic capabilities, the Venom will be less suitable.
Even so, it’s a relatively supple cable, that will bend flexibly and stay in place. In addition, the wires above the Y-split are not shielded, so the pull primarily comes from the splitter and below. And in terms of looks, it’s quite a beautiful sight to behold. Besides the finely-woven black shield, it utilizes silver top-end connectors and a dark gray splitter, which matches the stealthy design. The jack itself is a high quality Furutech with carbon fiber barrel. My Venom was fitted with a 4.4 termination, but included an adapter for dual 2.5mm and 3.5mm jacks for my A&K player, which is complimentary upon purchase.
Venom provides a lightly warm tone, with a smooth treble. In a way, it constructs a somewhat mid-centric signature. It doesn’t necessarily increase the body or forwardness of the midrange itself, but indirectly tends to put the midrange in the spotlight, by means of its laid-back upper treble. More often than not, contemporary silver-based cables tend to affect the vocal representation by either decreasing the bass or attenuating the lower midrange. Venom in turn constructs sufficiently bodied and lightly warm vocals, resulting in a fairly natural vocal reproduction.
As a result, it diverges from a prototypical silver alloy sound, due to its warmer and more relaxed character. For instance, even other silver-gold alloy cables like Han Sound Audio’s own Aurora or the Rhapsodio 2.98 provide a more clarity-oriented type of sound, while Venom’s tone in turn seems to bare more resemblance to copper-based cables. Yet despite its warmer tonality, it manages to portray a high level of detail, by placing highly resolved notes against a stable black background. Accordingly, it constructs a precise image, which allows detail to emerge in a smooth manner. In addition, it creates a rather spacious feel. This can partially be attributed to its above average stage dimensions, which stretch just a bit further in all directions than the average quality cable.
However, the openness of the sound equally ensues from a controlled quantity of the mid-bass, resulting in an especially airy stage, as well as aiding the transparency of the midrange. For while Venom offers a slight improvement in sub-bass extension, the quantity of the mid-bass remains fairly unaffected – Venom neither increases or decreases the mid-bass quantity significantly. Compared to a copper cable as Ares II the mid-bass is slightly attenuated, but it retains a sufficient amount of quantity to sound engaging. The tone of the mid-bass leans towards the warmer side, resulting in a softer type of impact. For instance, Aurora’s bass creates more clarity in its impact, although the Venom’s bass is more natural in tone.
But the most distinctive difference with contemporary silvers perhaps lies in Venom’s treble presentation. For while the improvement in top-end extension, and accordingly resolution and background blackness, is reminiscent of cables silver-based cables as Horus and the top-tier SilverFi’s, the treble quantity however is not – Venom is a bit smoother up top. Accordingly, it won’t be considered a ‘sparkly’ sound, so for some it might miss a sense of excitement. However for others, it provides the distinct advantage of offering a resolved sound with a smooth nature.
Despite its laid-back character, pairings are not always straightforward. For instance, Venom does not add clarity to a warmer iem with a linear upper treble like the Phantom, although it increases the quality and size of its stage, as well as its resolution. However, when paired with Fourte, the tighter control of the mid-bass opens up the treble, which can increase the sharpness of the treble peaks. In addition, the Venom’s tone can be somewhat source-dependent; with a neutral-to-bright source like the WM1Z K-mod, it can feel a bit dry. However, when paired with the SP1000 Cu, it derives a naturalness from its tone. So while the Venom has a generally warm and smooth character that improves general performance, different aspects of its signature can interact with both the source and iem in different ways.
PW Audio 1960 2-Wire ($999)
Both the 1960 2-Wire and Venom provide a smooth sound with a warmer tilt, and an especially black background. However, Venom creates a more open, spacious stage, resulting in a more effortless separation. Even so, the 2-wire counters with a slight lift in the mid-bass, which is more organic in tone. As a result, it provides a slightly more natural timbre, where Venom’s midrange sounds a bit drier by comparison. Both cables reproduce the lower treble in accordance with the iem’s own signature, while providing a relatively smooth upper treble. So in both cases, neither cable will provide a clarity-driven, sparkly type of sound. Even so, Venom offers a slight improvement in top-end extension, and as a result, higher definition of its midrange notes. In terms of weight and ergonomics, the 2-Wire’s sleeker design is significantly more lightweight and practical on the go.
Effect Audio Janus D ($1399)
Janus D is a copper-based cable, which utilises a palladium-plated copper mixed with silver- and gold-plated copper hybrid design. Yet despite a completely different design and use of materials, the two cables share several prominent characteristics; namely, a lightly warm tone, high resolution, and spacious stage. In addition, both the quantity of the bass, as well as upper treble is fairly similar, leaning towards the smoother side. Within that framework, there are several differences. Venom offers a slightly blacker background, which increases the contrast with its warm notes. In addition, its midrange is slightly more forward, even though it doesn’t add an additional thickness to the note. By comparison, Janus’ midrange is more neutrally placed, although it is a bit quicker. To bring them even closer, they don’t stray far when it comes to ergonomics – both are heavy cables. The Janus due to its 8-wire design, the Venom due to its shielding.
The Venom is a rather unique cable, which seems to blend elements of both silver and copper cables in its signature. For instance, while its staging and performance seems to reveal its silver-based origins, the treble itself is laidback, providing Venom with an overall warmer and smooth character. But of course, the contribution of the shielding cannot be discounted, even though it is hard to isolate its effect. However, based on previous experience with shielded cables (for instance the Rhapsodio Copper Wizard, which uses the same shield albeit it passively), I am inclined to attribute its especially black background and spacious feel to the shielding.
Due to its technical capability, while being neither overly warm, nor bright, one might say Venom is a variation of a reference cable. It excels primarily when it comes to performance, offering a spacious stage with an effortless separation, as it doesn’t add additional body to the sound. Due to its high resolution and stable black background, it allows a high level of detail to emerge in a smooth manner, despite its warmer tone – perhaps its greatest and most unique advantage, forming a smoother alternative for a high resolution cable.
HanSound Audio Venom
Design: Silver-Gold Alloy 4-wire, with active shielding