Tanchjim Hana: "best girl..."
Hey guys! Today we’re taking a look at another In-Ear-Monitor from Tanchjim. I previously reviewed the Oxygen from Tanchjim, and, if you saw that review, you know that I thought that IEM was pretty special. I’ll also place a link to that review in the description below if you want to check that one out too, but for today, we’re taking a look at the original version of the Hana: the little sister of the Oxygen… if you will? And for this review, I will stress that this is the original variant of the Hana, as Tanchjim, recently, and unexpectedly, announced that they plan to release and updated version of this IEM sometime soon. So, it remains to be seen which Hana will reign supreme, and how either compares to the Oxygen, but since I haven’t got my hands on the Hana update yet, today we’re just taking a look at the original Hana, so let’s… get InToit!
So, the build here is pretty similar to the Oxygen. Like that IEM, the shell is pretty small, and made entirely of metal- specifically stainless steel in the case of the Hana. However; it feels a bit less weighty, both in the ear and in the hand. Another difference is with the nozzle here, as the angle seems to be much better in the ear with the Hana’s stock tips compared to the angle that Oxygen had, which fit awkwardly in my ear with all tips other than E-Pro Horned Ear Tips. With Hana, the stock tips were much nicer, their rubber more comfortable, and they sealed easily within my ears. The Hana comes with two types of white tips, “treble enhancing” and “bass enhancing.” I preferred the “bass enhancing” variety, which is what comes on the IEM out of the box, and I found that this type of tip, produced the most balanced sound.
Like the Oxygen; however, the fit here is relatively shallow compared to a lot of other IEMs, and the Hana just rests gently in the crevice of my concha. The left faceplate is screen printed with HANA, and the right faceplate hosts the Tanchjim logo. The underside is screen printed with TANCHJIM HANA in all upper-cased lettering, with a L denoting left, and an R denoting right. All screen printing is done in gold lettering, while the shell is painted a “toilet-seat white.”
The 2-pin connection at the shell is recessed, and the cable the Hana comes with a single, plastic seethed twisted cable with silver and copper-colored cores. The terminating straight 3.5mm jack is smaller than most, and the same golden color as the 2-pin connectors at the initiation points. The cable looks extremely posh, and matches the IEM aesthetics, but was not the easiest to use without significant break in, as it did tend to kink up a bit, here or there. Whilst this might go away with use, I ended up using a balanced tripowin zonie cable for the majority of this review, as it was easily accessible, and I could run the Hana in balanced operation this way if I chose. But be aware, swapping to some other cables, did change the sound profile of the Hana slightly, as its driver was somewhat sensitive to cable swaps.
Regarding the driver used in the Hana, this is pretty unique technology; making use of a High-rigidity Secondary Polymerized Liquid Crystal diaphragm and a 3rd Generation DMT high magnetic flux driver. And for a single, dynamic driver, the Hana truly does impress, even if it is in unexpected and different ways compared to the Oxygen.
Let’s start with the technical, prior to moving onto the sound profile. Beginning with stage, things are pretty wide, and with some beyond average depth to its sound field. Staging is at least twice as wide as the Oxygen, which is much more intimate in comparison. Separation and layering are good, but not as intricate as the Oxygen. Although separation capabilities and size of its sonics does improve with power, as I am able to observe additional space between notes when the Hana is well amplified. For example, the Hana sounds good off of just about everything, but it really opens up when run of the THX AAA 789. Imaging tracks well and the stage has a natural orientation to its layout. Instrument distinctiveness and placement are also both accurate.
Both male and female vocals isolate well and are slightly forward in the mix, but not as distinct or softly articulate as the vocal presentation in the Oxygen. So, vocals are done really, really well, but the Oxygen is still more of the vocal master compared to the Hana, which was somewhat less sophisticated in its vocal presentation. As a general theme the Oxygen’s presentation is probably more unique, where as the Hana’s presentation is less so. While this might sound like a bad thing, I actually think most people might actually prefer the tonal balance, and more straightforward implementation of the Hana to that of the Oxygen’s. The Hana also excels in its transient reproduction vs the Oxygen, and is tighter, and resolves its notes more quickly than the Oxygen does. In a number ways, I have come to think of the Hana as the the Oxygen’s rambunctious little sister, but, when the Hana is hit with some power, it is most clear that the two are related.
The Hana’s tonality has a slight warmth to it, but is mostly neutral. This surprised me, as I had suspected from reading other reviews that the Hana might be bright leaning, but I did not find this to be the case- even if its timbre was less shadowy compared to the Oxygen’s. Resolution is appropriate for the price-point, and detailing is beyond average, still won’t keep up with more expensive sets. Clarity is similar to something like the Final A4000, so the sonic picture is well articulated, but it probably goes without saying, that one can gain some additional transparency from stepping it up to the Oxygen, Final Audio B3, or another, more expensive, set.
In any case, the Hana’s sound profile is a clear one, which comes across as mid-forward without ever being overly aggressive. It rises somewhat early, and peaks at 2-and-a-half-K, but never sounds shouty, harsh, or strident to my ears. The mid-range always seems full and representative of all major sonics, without any notable peaks or valleys. The general lines of the Hana’s frequency response follow a Harmon tuning, and the treble is well extended- producing a decent amount of information and air beyond 10K. Yet, I also wouldn’t say that air is a particular strength for the Hana either. Instead, I would say that the amount of air produced by the Hana is natural sounding and smooth, and not under or over accentuated. Nevertheless, the treble avoids any sharpness as it does dip slightly from 8 to 11K or so; giving the impression of a nicely rolled top-end, which is not only detailed and pleasing, but also, non-fatiguing to the listener. Overall, I would say the treble is accentuated enough to provide sufficient detailing without fatigue, while the mids are forward enough to sustain interest, but not so forward as to denote any sonic funny business. All genres of music are soothing to the brain with the Hana, and other than a slight warmth to its tonality, it does not appear as if one is listening to a flavored or artificial source.
So, while the treble and mids are excellent, the bass is extra special. In comparison to one of my favorite IEMs, the Final Audio B3, the Hana is less resolving and not quite as separative overall (but given the price difference this is not a major knock on the Hana); yet, the B3, even though it has great bass for an all BA set; still can’t keep up with the dynamics of the Hana. The Hana’s bass is also not as tight as say a Final Audio A4000, and it’s a little less intensive, but there is more subbass representation in the Hana, and I’d say its dynamic enough overall; producing low-end sonics, which are quite natural to the ear in this regard. I would generally describe the bass of the Hana as nimble and mostly quick to resolve. It rumbles softly, but well, and has organic decay and sustain. It’s certainly more dynamic than the Moondrop Blessing 2- that’s for sure! In fact, I think this set could be a “drummer’s dream,” as impact on drumheads are not only heard, but also felt; yet, never fatiguing, even over the course of long listening sessions. Danny Carey’s drums on “Lateralus” by Tool are a great example of drum play by the Hana.
And, while I think the bass is a strength for the Hana, one should also take note that it is stylistically more of an assistive bass than it is an assertive one. So, even though the bass is slightly elevated on the Hana with its bass centric tips selected, it is still not a bass prominent or bass forward set. In other words, the Hana’s low-end is never more forward than the track requires or the recording suggests.
The Hana also has great bass dispersion, meaning that it has a good blend of sub-bass, midbass, and upper bass frequencies across the lower portion of the frequency response range. Negatively, there is a mild amount of sub-bass diffusion, and, while this does detract from the Hana being superbly accurate in its low-end reproduction, it is also still super satisfying to listen too. “Flight of the Cosmic Hippo” by Bela Fleck and The Flecktones depicts a good example of this phenomenon, as Victor Wooten’s bassline was a little bit fuzzier and less tight than it typically is, but was still warmly gratifying to my ears. As a final analogy, I think of low-end in the Hana as similar to a snappy, yet musical, 10-inch, subwoofer in a 2-channel speaker set up.
So, the Hana actually has great tonal balance, and this is why in the emerging battle amongst anime girl flavored IEMs in the current, audiophile market place, the Hana is actually my pick for the “best girl.” But I do hate using the term: tonal balance, these days, as meager reviewers have been over relying on this description, as of late- often using it to inaccurately describe an overly warm, grainy, and v-shaped presentation with boomy bass. But this is not what tonal balance actually is!
As its name suggests, tonal balance indicates balance across the entirety of the frequency response range- with good, evenly distributed sonic representativeness in the low-end, mid-range, and treble regions alike. If in balance, sonics are never overly recessed nor overly emphasized in any particular area. And, in a nutshell, this is what one actually hears with the Hana. While it may not be endgame in terms of its resolve, layering, or separation (or produce haunting vocals like an Oxygen), it images well, and ultimately resolves enough to produce natural sounding sonics with enough musical character and technicality alike to sustain one’s attention for a soothing day’s listen.
But, let’s wrap things up with some brief comparisons amongst other standouts in the price-range. Compared to the Ikko OH10, the Hana is more forward in both its vocals and midrange, while having less of a low-end emphasis. Compared to the FiiO FH3, the Hana is more neutral in its tonality, but more dynamic in its impact, and more balanced across the totality of the frequency response spectrum. Compared to the Tri Starsea, it is less resolving, but with more of a natural presentation- including a warmer tonality, a wider, more accurate soundstage, and smoother imaging characteristics. Compared to the CCZ Plume, the Hana also lacks some resolution, but has a wider staging and is a much smaller iem with a better fit. And finally, compared to the Moondrop Blessing 2, the Hana is more musical, less stark in its character, and simply put, just more enjoyable to listen to over the course of a day. Is it as technical as the Blessing 2, no! But, if given the choice between the two, I’m definitely reaching for the Hana 100% of the time.
So needless to say, I really enjoy the original Hana, and I’m ultimately not really sure why Tanchjim feels the need to update its tuning? But perhaps in this case, ignorance is bliss, and the new variant will be even better? Only time will tell. Still, as of right now, to me, it comes come down to the original Hana, the Tri Starsea, and the CCZ Plume for the “best” earphone in the price-range- with those who favor clarity reaching for the Starsea or Plume, and those valuing tonal balance reaching for the Hana. But, keep in mind that this is also original variant of the Hana, which means we are not sure if the adjustments that Tanchjim has made with the most recent release will be for the better or for the worse.
And with that, I’m out for now, but don’t forget to follow and support the channel here, on discord, at the blog, via Instagram, at the twitter-verse, or become a Patreon for only $1.50 a month! As of right now, there are a ton of reviews up on the Patreon, which will eventually work their way to YouTube, but if you’re looking for my first take on Audio, it’s there- so consider signing up for Patreon access for early-release, written content and photos there. I’ll also ask you to note that I purchased the Hana from Apos Audio, and although I did so with my own funds, I do have an affiliate link with them. I’ll place this link the description below, in case you’re interested in picking up the Hana or anything else from them. It really helps the channel out when my audience uses this link, so consider it, if you’re in the market; but obviously no pressure otherwise, and peace for now!
*Hana Purchased by the Channel from Apos Audio (affiliate link): https://apos.audio/?sca_ref=654128.h9mNwPZr9M
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