May
2024

Country of Origin

Korea

HzCore

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (i5, 256GB SSD, 40GB RAM, Sonoma 14), 4TB external SSD with Thunderbolt 3, Audirvana Studio, Qobuz Sublime, Singxer SU-6 USB bridge, LHY Audio SW-8 & SW-6 switch, Laiv Audio Harmony; Active filter: Lifesaver Audio Gradient Box 2; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos & Gold Note monos on subwoofer; Headamp: Enleum AMP-23R; Phones: Raal 1995 Immanis; Loudspeakers: Qualio IQ [on loan] Cables: Kinki Studio Earth, Furutech; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, Furutech DPS-4.1 between wall and conditioners; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 6 x 8m with open door behind listening seat
2nd system: Source: FiiO R7 into Soundaware D300Ref SD transport to COS Engineering D1; Preamp/filter: Lifesaver Audio Gradient Box 2; Amplifier: Kinki Studio EX-M7; Loudspeakers: MonAcoustic SuperMon Mini + Dynaudio S18 sub; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF, Akiko Audio Corelli; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan]; Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~3.5 x 8m
2nd headfi system: DAC: Cen.Grand DSDAC 1.0 Deluxe; Headamp: Cen.Grand Silver Fox; Headphones: Raal 1995 Magna, HifiMan Susvara
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win10/64; USB bridge: Singxer SU-2; DAC: Sonnet Audio Pasithea; Head amp: Kinki Studio THR-1; Speaker amp: Crayon CFA-1.2; Speakers: Acelec Model One
Headphones: Final D-8000
Upstairs headfi system: FiiO R7; Headphones: Meze 109 Pro, Fiio FT3

2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Gold Note IS-1000 Deluxe; Loudspeakers: Zu Soul VI; Subwoofer: Zu Submission; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m

Review component retail: €6'800 with 1TB SSD for music storage

HzProject. It's not Daniel Hertz by Mark Levinson the man but a South Korean enterprise. Hifistay's UK-based ambassador John Lim introduced me to them. "They launched at Munich HighEnd 2023 and after a massive upgrade premiered in the US market at Axpona 2024 in the MonAcoustic room. At this year's Munich show they were on the top shelf of this system with a Vitus RI-101, Thrax Ares MkII and YG Acoustics Vantage 3 speakers. The HzCore will be available in the second half of this year. It was originally developed to meet the high expectations of Korean audiophiles wanting extreme performance whilst running Roon. We're already testing it to also work with Audirvana most likely Linux based."

Words after my own heart when in that discussion I side heavily with Audirvana over Roon. Having opinions is good. Having options is better.

HzProject consists of Seoyoon Choi, CEO; Joseph Kwon, junior engineer; Gwangsoo JP, senior engineer; Pooh Bear Ryu, design supervisor; and Micheal Choe, senior designer. Their HzCore runs a 10th-gen Intel N5105 PCU with revised motherboard and custom BIOS. The dual-transformer linear power supply runs discrete regulated spurs for the motherboard, Ethernet board, CPU clock, dual-output OXCO for the main and Ethernet boards then the twin SSD. The 15mm thick alu chassis uses Stillpoints isolators, a hybrid wood/alu housing for the clock module, alu/copper cowls for the transformers and extra bracing for the power supply's filter capacitance. The internal SATA storage powers off its own rail and two aluminium bays protect the small SSD for the OS and the larger SSD for separate music storage from EMI and RF.

Miflex coupling capacitors are further audiophile catnip.

Now a brief intermission to riff on South Korean hifi. From aptly named Metal Sound Design behind many an Astell&Kern enclosure to Aurender, Enleum, Hifi Rose, MonAcoustics, Sanctus and Simon Audio Lab, the country has no shortage of stylishly executed aluminium enclosures. Seawave Acoustics transfer this focus onto loudspeakers, Hifistay onto racks and isolation footers. Now HzProject add a crisply minimalist slightly brutalist edge to Seoul's soul. Eye candy. If hifi is to be a multi-sensory experience, we definitely want and deserve eye candy. Cheers to South Korea's metal urge. End of intermission.

… to be continued as this project goes into production with Audirvana support not just Roon…