had just completed my review
of Lars Hansen’s The King loudspeaker when he suggested I do a quick
follow up on his new Prince loudspeaker, The King’s ‘entry-level’
sibling. The King was such a fantastic benchmark speaker that I jumped
at the chance to listen at length to a smaller version, and allowed the
Prince royal ascent over the next review in line.
Prince uses the same technology of The King, including the advanced "Hansen
Composite Matrix" that comprises the body, and the same hand built
drivers and crossover. The Prince, because of size, utilizes a point source
configuration, unlike that of The King, which utilizes the D'Appollito
way through the review I got to hear the Princes at the 2006 CES
show. Even in a small room, stuffed with gear and warm bodies, the essence
of the Hansen sound came through to the masses clearly. Much like The
King, The Prince plays the music first, with all the technological advances
in the design and manufacture at its service. The sound is super detailed
if you want it to be (a Jacinta CD I used was amazing in the detail retrieved)
or, smooth and powerful (any good LP will help).
most great high-end speakers, The Prince likes to be fed by quality electronics.
I listened to the them at length with both tube and solid-state amps and
preamps. I got to splurge on supreme digital gear for a short time and
caressed the speakers with dCS transports and DACs. Wow! Great stuff.
Even better was the analogue -- a Redpoint Model A turntable with Tri-Planar
arm and Phase Tech cartridge. Along with VAC electronics, this was the
combination that I awarded Best of Show at the CES. The sound was superb.
new VAC Phi 300 Stereo Amplifier and Phi 2.0 Master Control Preamplifier
took on the primary role during the review. These spectacular looking
pieces sound wonderful – kaleidoscopic colour, with rich sound and
plenty of detail. Even better, for me, was the Audio Research VS 110 power
amplifier and Reference 3 preamplifier. This combination was a little
more laid back, a little more lifelike.
CD I threw on was easily assimilated by the speakers. All the amps I used
handled the 87dB sensitivity handily, but the Prince's numbers may present
a problem for more lightweight single-ended's. My Burmester test CD has
more than enough torture on it camouflaged as beautiful music. Goren Sollscher's
guitar in concert with Gil Shaham's violin sounded sweet and vibrant,
the Kodo drummers incredibly powerful, and the Bastille Orchestra's bash
at "Scheherazade" very exciting. The gamut
of emotions I heard from this speaker was definitely A to Z.
Starker’s traversal of all the Bach “Solo Cello Suites”
was a perfect vehicle to hear the Hansens at their best. The cello on
this incredible Mercury is center stage, with Starker’s unique,
sometimes wiry sound easily discerned. The calloused fingers on the fingerboard
were a nice percussive touch that many amp/speaker combinations miss.
This recording was an honour to hear – Starker has always been incorrectly
labelled the poor cousin to Slava and Tortelier, but this LP set is a
must own for Bach lovers and audiophiles. The Princes sounded great, here.
I’d like to hear this LP through The Kings.
to the Princes at length showed the Hansen Audio ‘sound’ has
trickled down from the great Kings. Images were lifelike in tone and size,
a shortcoming of many a fine, expensive speaker of these dimensions. The
aforementioned Starker was imaged perfectly in a pleasant space –
I was 10 feet from the stage, with the cello slightly raised. Off axis
listening was good, but there is definitely a sweet spot. However, if
your listening room includes a three-seater couch, all will enjoy the
spectrum of the speaker's range was incredibly well balanced, seamless
in fact. The repeated oboe, clarinet and bass clarinet lines that descend
into Madame Butterfly’s developing misery sounded like liquid gold
as played by the Orchestre de Paris. The speakers disappeared and allowed
all the emotion of Butterfly’s torment full-throated power. The
Prince also handled Renata Tebaldi’s creamy and high-energy soprano
voice easily, no matter how loud. “Morte, morte’ was heart
deadline loomed and the review period came to an end far too abruptly.
I miss the speakers and often fantasize how they will magically appear
in my listening room. The clarity combined with beauty is hard to beat.
The incredible power is etched in my memory, but the delicacy even more
so -- Debussy piano "Preludes" as played by Michelangeli and
the epilogue of Strauss' "Also Sprach" jump to mind. The harmonics
of the Dresden Staatskapelle's concertmaster were so pure and clean and
the crystal-like tone of Michelangeli cold and somewhat heartless in the
Debussy. Just amazing! But just as this listener got chills over the soft
stuff, in comes the 12 anvils of the Nibelungens on a Karajan "Ring"
LP. Pow! Any genre, any dynamic, and any taste will be satisfied if the
speakers make their way into your home.
“why”, you may ask, should I spend a small fortune on the
Kings when the Princes are so damn good? Lars Hansen, CEO and Chief Designer
has some thoughts: ‘The Prince, being a "Point Source"
system with one built in woofer/sub, allows the listener to listen much
more in the "Near Field" if desired. Having only one woofer/sub,
The Prince also will not over load smaller rooms, i.e. 12x16 ft rooms.
However, The Prince has no problems what so ever, in filling larger rooms
with sufficient SPL and powerful low end frequencies, ie.20x30 ft rooms.
The Kings will however fill rooms of 40x60 ft with full power response.
It is this ability that necessitates the use of 2 woofer/subs and 2 woofer/midband
drivers. The King is called The King for this reason. Using 2 woofer/midband
drivers with one tweeter, makes the choice of having a true point source
like The Prince, out of the question. The best configuration with this
compliment of drivers is the D'Appolito alignment. In summary, for smaller
rooms one would choose The Prince. In medium rooms (most listening rooms)
either speaker would work well. THE KING is slightly better at retrieving
information from large orchestral works. For the large rooms, The King
has the advantage. All this is of course not taking price into consideration.’
There you have it.
did get a chance, albeit a short while, to hear the Princes with solid-state.
The Jeff Rowland Model 302 Stereo Amplifier was detailed and had the richness
for which Mr. Rowland’s gear is famous, but if pushed, I did prefer
the sound of the speakers through both tube setups. With tubes and vinyl,
the sound was a world-beater.
for setup, quite a bit of fiddling was needed. It was time and energy
well spent. The soundstage and imaging were superb from many sources,
but toeing in the speakers 10 degrees gave the best balance of wide/deep
soundstage and pinpoint imaging. Firing straight into the room is usually
my favourite look, but here I deferred to the splendid sound the slight
you are in the market for a full range speaker that looks great (fit,
finish and cabinetry are spot on), will work in all but very large rooms
and fill it with some of the finest sounds you are likely to hear, you
must audition The Princes. But, do so at your peril. They are intoxicating.
you for taking the time to do such extensive and insightful review. It
is always a pleasure to have someone who knows music so well, to sit down
and enjoy our products.
so many people in evaluating audio equipment that use "Audiophile
Recordings", you always choose to use "Great Music" that
is also well recorded. As useful a tool as Audiophile recordings are,
they generally miss a vital ingredient which is "The Emotion and
Magic of Great Music". It is the ability to capture this "Emotion"
and of course the "Pure Magic" of the music in a recording,
that separates Loudspeakers that are 'The Best" from the "Very
Very Good". It is this ability to capture these virtues that Hansen
Audio thrives for. This can best be seen, when a listener sitting in front
of a pair of Hansen Audio Speakers, listening to a great piece of music,
wipes a tear of pure joy from their eyes, at the conclusion of the experience.
incredible insight into great music that you bring to the listening experience
always humbles me. So when you proclaim The Hansen Audio THE PRINCE, to
have "Some of the finest sounds that you are likely to hear"
and say "They are intoxicating", and finally, awarding THE PRINCE
with your highest level of praise - the "AUDIOPHILIA STAR COMPONENT
AWARD", I am very very pleased. Thank you!
Hansen Audio Inc.
GENERAL: Time Coherent; Dispersion Coherent;
Frequency Response: 27 Hz—23,000 Hz ± 2Db; Nominal Impedance:
6 Ohms; Sensitivity: 87DB; All Cabinetry, Subwoofers/Woofers, Midband
drivers, and Crossovers are engineered, designed and manufactured by Hansen
CABINET: manufactured in “Hansen Composite
Matrix” material with Class “A” finish; Acoustically
inert; Sound wave refraction distortion elimination technology.
TWEETER: 25mm high performance dome mounted
on a dispersion optimized 6mm aluminum plate.
CROSSOVER: Frequency and phase optimized;
Hand assembled; High grade hand selected components; Point to point silver
MID BAND DRIVERS: 182 mm driver; Exotic
multi-layer composite sandwich cone; Optimized geometry “Hansen”
motor system; Hand assembled “Hansen Architecture” frames;
Sound wave deformation prevention
TERMINAL CONNECTIONS: “WBT”
connections; High current pole terminal; Decreased transition resistance
WOOFERS: 269 mm driver; Exotic multi-layer
composite sandwich cone; Optimized geometry “Hansen” motor
system; Hand assembled “Hansen Architecture” frames; Sound
wave deformation prevention
WEIGHT/SIZE: 230 lbs. with crate -Height:
42 inches -Width: 14 inches -Depth: 20 inches.
Phi 300 Stereo Amplifier and Audio
Research VM 220 tube monoblocks
Phi 2.0 Master Control Preamplifier and Audio
Research Reference 3
CD: dCS Verdi/Purcell
Speaker Cable: Kimber Select 3035
The Prince Loudspeaker
Address: Hansen Audio Inc. 100 Leek Cres.
Unit 9 Richmond Hill, Ontario. L4B 3E6
Phone: 905.731.8434 Fax: 905.731.8420
Source of review sample: Canadian distributor