1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

    Dismiss Notice

Han Sound Audio Aegis

Rating:
5/5,
  1. Deezel177
    HSA Aegis - Rock, Romance N' Rollercoasters
    Written by Deezel177
    Published Feb 16, 2019
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Lively, impactful and yet refined signature
    - Vibrant with healthy amounts of body
    - Headroom is maintained despite added energy in the mid-bass, upper-mids and lower-treble
    - Outstanding build quality and hardware
    - Braids are tight with flexibility to match
    Cons - Not ideal if you want a calmer, laid-back sound
    - Transparency and resolution (though admirable for the price) isn't top-class
    - Staging is rather saturated, so not for those looking for an airy, open soundscape
    DISCLAIMER: Music Sanctuary (Han Sound Audio’s official Singaporean dealer) provided me with the Aegis in return for my honest opinion. I am not personally affiliated with the companies in any way, nor do I receive any monetary rewards for a positive evaluation. I’d like to thank Music Sanctuary and Han Sound Audio for their kindness and support. The review is as follows.

    Han Sound Audio is a Taiwanese cable manufacturer. Despite their relative youth in the public market, the company have been active for years developing a number of proprietary designs. Now, all their conductors and connectors are produced in-house, resulting in their cables being essentially inimitable. Consequently, these innovations have garnered critical acclaim from enthusiasts across the world. My fellow writers ryanjsoo and flinkenick are massive proponents of the Redcore and Venom, respectively, and a recent US tour found the company great success in the West. Today, we’ll be looking at the Aegis: A unique silver-gold/copper fusion capable of excellent energy, musicality and dynamic contrast.

    Aegis-1 (R).jpg

    Han Sound Audio Aegis
    • Wire composition: 23 AWG OCC silver-gold alloy & OCC Litz copper
    • Default configuration: 4-wire
    • Key feature(s) (if any): Fully bespoke design; DuPont Kevlar core
    • Price: S$499
    • Website: www.hansoundaudio.com; www.music-sanctuary.com
    Build and Accessories

    The Aegis comes in a black box with the Han Sound Audio logo embossed on top. Below the lid is a rubbery foam sheet, as well as a foam-lined interior to keep the cable in place during transport. A circular cut-out is where the cable resides, wrapped in an included, faux-leather cable tie. As far as packaging is concerned, this isn’t the most extravagant I’ve seen. But despite the minimal flair, extremely useful features like the foam sheet and the cable tie speak to how well the packaging was thought out. It won’t win points for style, but completion, practicality and safety rank very high.

    Aegis-12 (1).jpg

    Flaunting the company’s experience in the trade, the Aegis is a wonderfully-built cable. It sports one of the most uniform braids I’ve seen yet, and the individual conductors sport a gorgeous semi-matte finish. Although they aren’t as bling-y as the market’s most recent offerings, the brown tint gives the Aegis an undeniably unique look; understated, clean and classy. Han Sound Audio’s cables are also among the most flexible I’ve used. They aren’t as silky-smooth to the touch as PlusSound’s PS Insulation, but they hold zero memory even after tens of coils, and they’re the least stiff in my collection as well. Finally, both the cable’s diminutive wire gauge and tight construction keep weight at a minimum in daily use.

    Aegis-9 (R).jpg

    Completing the look is the company’s in-house hardware. The metallic Y-split and connectors resemble brushed and polished aluminium, respectively; both complementing the carbon-fiber Furutech plug below. The company logo is also engraved into the Y-split for instant recognition. The chin slider – despite its rather loose hold – blends excellently to the Y-split for a coherent, uniform look. Common among them all is great density, so the components feel premium, even if they aren’t vanishing in weight. With an abundance of faux-looking, metal-and-carbon-fibre aesthetics dominating the market, it’s refreshing to see a company with the wherewithal and finesse to pull off the ubiquitous look with style.

    Sound Impressions

    The Han Sound Aegis is an impactful-sounding cable that injects great liveliness to any in-ear it’s paired with. It sports a w-shaped signature with boosts along the mid-bass, upper-midrange and treble, which fuels the dynamic contrasts that its soundscape is absolutely rife with. Thumps follow crashes and vice-versa, but it’s all done in an impressively smooth and mature manner. Despite the Aegis’ punchiness, it maintains stage expansion and headroom remarkably well. Although it doesn’t vastly improve vocal integrity, harmonic detail or stage stability, it doesn’t compromise any of them either, which is a massive achievement in and of itself. Instruments remain rich and well-structured set against a black background, while constant refinement keeps its energy in check. The Aegis truly lets you have your cake and eat it too.

    Aegis-5 (R2).jpg

    The Aegis boasts an addictively impactful mid-bass – meaty in texture, effortlessly detailed and precisely decayed as well. Kick drums feel tight and resonant with a natural tone complementing its physicality. In-ears with a sub-bass bias will reap most from this, as it helps fill out the mid-bass with a natural, fibrous timbre and clarity too. Thankfully, the Aegis positions the low-end behind its upper-mids. So despite the added punch, the focus of the presentation remains the lead melody; an admirable touch that so many similarly-tuned cables miss the mark on. The Aegis also extends bass decay by a hair, which highlights its pleasing tone and enhances the interplay within the low- and high-ends. But, it vanishes before it becomes overtly buttery or congested, maintaining a clean stage and a wealth of headroom to spare.

    The midrange is where the Aegis surprised – and impressed – me most. A lift along the presence region gives vocals vibrancy and energy. But fullness along the lower-mids allows the Aegis to sound wholly coherent and seamlessly linear throughout; unprecedented among cables of this ilk. The mid-bass lift (and resultant decay) bridges the gap between the lower- and upper-mids, resulting in a lively and engaging midrange with realistic amounts of body and density. Further aiding this is excellent smoothness throughout. The treble region may be articulate, but it’s wonderfully refined. So, instruments maintain a lightly warm, clear tone with zero grain or fatigue. In terms of placement, the midrange takes a slight step forward to form a thicker, larger image. This may suggest a slight drop in depth, but vocals and instruments alike maintain strong layering and holography. So, they remain present and vibrant, but harmonically resolved too.

    Aegis-10 (R2).jpg

    The Aegis incites a subtle lift in the treble to complement the mid-bass and upper-mids. There’s now a larger contrast between the top-end and the lower-midrange. This heightens definition, while the mid-bass fills in that gap to preserve coherence. Uniquely, the Aegis doesn’t opt for a crisp, upper-treble-inclined presentation. Instead, it presents an articulate – yet linear – treble where the key highlight is extension and refinement. The top-end in and of itself is clear in tone, but buttery-smooth and graceful in its delivery. It’s reminiscent of Effect Audio’s Thor Silver II, but the Aegis is thicker and more rounded in tone; more pleasing and life-like as well. Excellent extension maintains the cable’s black background, stable stage and headroom. Although you don’t necessarily feel that expanse because the instruments become fuller as well, it’s crucial in guaranteeing the Aegis’s effortlessness and truly sets it apart from the competition.

    Suggested Pairings

    The Aegis’s dynamic-yet-smooth signature makes it relatively easy to pitch. It’s especially ideal for IEMs that sound too laid-back or nonchalant, that you wish to inject some liveliness into. But, as I’ve mentioned numerous times in the review, the Aegis is not a generic SPC-sound-alike cable. Distinguishing it from the crowd are the following key aspects:

    Aegis-16 (1).jpg

    Energy, liveliness and vibrancy without compromise: Dynamic cables tend to introduce a v-shape for contrast – tons of energy up-top and down-low, with little regard for harmonic detail in the mids. The Aegis is capable of unloading excellent energy, but with refinement, headroom and meatiness at the same time as well. This is ideal for calmer IEMs with tons of richness you’d ideally want to keep. For example, the Avara Custom AV2 and the Jomo Audio Haka.

    A fuller, meatier yet dynamic presentation: Because of its mid-bass presentation and the fullness of its midrange, the Aegis carries a fair amount of body as well. As a result, it pairs its vibrancy with healthy amounts of richness. This is ideal for energetic IEMs that suffer from a bit of thinness, which include the Nocturnal Audio Avalon and the AAW A3H 2018.

    Three-dimensionality in the bass: The Aegis adds thump down low, but additionally, it alters timbre and decay. Bass notes are now meatier, better textured and more life-like. And, longer decay endows a physical, authoritative presence. This is ideal for IEMs like the Avara Custom AV2 or the Lime Ears Model X, that are somewhat cloudy and diffuse down low.

    Aegis-17 (1).jpg

    A calm, subdued response: As we’ve strongly established, the Aegis is emphasises liveliness and energy. So naturally, it won’t pair well with bombastic IEMs that require laid-backed-ness and finesse. This would include the Lime Ears Aether.

    Utmost clarity and transparency: In the Aegis’s quest for impact and musicality, it mostly disregards utmost transparency and precision. If what you look for in a cable is superior micro-detail retrieval, a more spacious stage and improved imaging – for IEMs like the Warbler Audio Prelude that need help in those areas – the Aegis will not fulfil your needs.

    An airy, wide open soundstage: Similarly, the Aegis posits a full, rich and lively stage. If your IEMs are similarly rich and full – like Custom Art’s Harmony 8.2 and FIBAE 2 – something like PlusSound’s Exo Silver + Gold would make a better pair.

    Select Comparisons

    Effect Audio Bespoke 8-wire Ares II ($300)

    The Ares II trumps the Aegis in staging and imaging. Instruments are taller, more distantly spread and the air between them is blacker as well. Comparatively, the Aegis is more intimate, engaging and loud. It has a more dynamic low-end with greater clarity and impact. The Bespoke’s is warmer and more relaxed with less upper-bass content. In the midrange, the Ares II portrays stronger resolution. It maintains a brighter upper-midrange with more pep and zing, which is also true of its upper-treble. But, the Bespoke has great headroom to match, so cymbals sound crisp as they shimmer, yet never harsh. The Aegis doesn’t generate as much air, but remains smooth at all times despite its energy.

    Aegis-14 (R).jpg

    Effect Audio Thor Silver II ($399)

    The Thor Silver II’s raised treble region gives it a brighter tone relative to the Aegis. However, it portrays a similar sense of balance and linearity throughout its signature. Stage dimensions are similar between the two, but the the Thor Silver II brings background instruments further forward. This is especially true of stringed instruments, where backing violins sound sweeter and more vibrant. Above all, they’re most similar down low with impactful emphasis along the mid-bass. Conversely, they’re most different up top. The Thor Silver II’s treble is further elevated, but silkier, smoother and more refined. The Aegis’ lower-treble is relatively more raw, punchy and dynamic, yet still far from strident all the same.

    Aegis-15 (R2).jpg

    PlusSound Exo Silver + Gold ($349.99)

    Both the Aegis and the Exo exhibit dynamic presentations by way of w-shaped responses. Staging-wise, the Silver + Gold portrays stronger width, but depth is similar. It also has a more guttural, sub-bass-oriented low-end. The Aegis bumps in the mid-bass, which gives it the edge in timbre. Its throbs are warmer and meatier in texture, while the Silver + Gold’s feel foundational. The Aegis has a lower-midrange bias, so instruments here sound richer, buttery-er and warmer – yet still vibrant as well. Conversely, the Silver + Gold rises at 2-5kHz, which gives it a brighter bite. This is also due to its accentuated upper-treble, while the Aegis articulates around 6kHz; where the Silver + Gold remains subdued.

    Verdict

    The Han Sound Audio Aegis is dynamite done right. In a landscape filled with generic SPC conductors that rob in-ear monitors of harmonic resolution, vocal integrity and tonal accuracy under the guise of impact, it’s utterly refreshing to see a cable with the maturity and know-how to maintain both sides in equal measure. The Aegis utterly thriveson thumps and thwacks, but crucially, it sacrifices nothing in the process. In fact, with that energy comes a warmer, meatier mid-bass, richer, better resolved vocals and top-end headroom to spare. All that plus first-class hardware and build, and you have yourselves one heck of a package. The Aegis is filled to the brim with warm, raw energy, but treats it with the respect and finesse that your 499 Singaporean dollars deserve – TNT in a suit-and-tie; dynamism with class.

    Aegis-11 (R).jpg