Hansen Audio Prince V2 Columbia SC
West Columbia, SC
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Hansen Audio Prince V2
February 23, 2009 By Steve Guttenberg
Break on Through
The most striking thing about Hansen Audio's Prince V2 is its superlative sound, but that's kinda like saying a Dodge Viper SRT10 is a really fast car. It's quick alright, just lacking the reflexes and finely honed sophistication of a Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano.
The analogy can be made for uber speakers—you can buy a speaker for a fraction of the Hansen Prince V2's lofty price that measures nearly as well, but once you hear what the Prince V2 can do, you know there's no substitute for excellence.
Oh, and you don't have to be an audiophile to know the cabinet's luscious curves and seductively flowing lines hint that radically new thinking is at work here.
I'm not sure if designer Lars Hansen sees his work as a means of self-expression, but starting in 2003 he poured blood, sweat and tears into developing a speaker line that would push the limits of sound reproducing technology.
For him, it wasn't just a matter of plucking state-of-the-art woofers, midranges and tweeters off the shelf and building speakers around them, which is what most of the competition does. No, his "holistic" approach required him to master every aspect of speaker design. The harmony of form, function and sound are the underlying principles of Hansen's mission.
Not that he was on an ego trip. When Hansen started his journey he bought the very best drivers he could find, but none quite measured up. The driver materials—paper, plastic, metal, and ceramic—used to fashion woofer and midranges inevitably superimpose their own sonic signatures over the music they play.
After all, when you're listening to a piano recording, the speakers have to do more than reproduce the sound of the piano—you want to hear the musician playing the piano. True, Herbie Hancock will never be confused with Thelonious Monk, but with great speakers the differences in the player's dynamics, touch and timing become vastly more clear.
The Prince V2 does that sort of thing better than any speaker I've ever heard. It plays music, not sound.
The speaker's 10.5-inch woofer and 7-inch midrange drivers feature sandwich cones concocted with epoxy resin, infused with glass and other proprietary ingredients -- the middle layer of this tasty sandwich is Rohacell, a closed cell rigid foam -- and the inside layer is similar to the side of the driver you see, but with a slightly different mix of epoxy and glass. The three-layer cone is eight times stronger and stiffer than an aluminum cone. The idea is simply to make drivers that won't deform as they play music.
The one-inch tweeter is, alas, the only element of the Prince V2 not designed by Hansen. Not that he didn't try to create a superior tweeter, but after nearly a year of building prototypes, Hansen decided to use a top of the range European model.
Next, the Prince V2's curvaceous cabinet was literally designed around its tweeter, midrange and woofer drivers to free the...