It’s always exciting to see a new cartridge brand pop up on the market, and even more so in 2015! Hana, like the majority of high-end MC cartridge brands, has come to us from Japan.
The Hana SH has retained all the features of the Hana E, but has picked up an extra ‘H’ along the way – that stands for ‘high’ output. And to achieve this higher output, the Japanese manufacturer has used the technique of extra coil winding. This means it can reach an output of 2mV and a load of 47 kOhms. Despite this still being a relatively low number that requires the cartridge to be used with a sensitive MM preamp, a lower output also signals high quality. MC cartridges with a very high output tend to ‘blare’ and sound more like a ‘common’ MM cartridge!
Hana’s approach to the design and technology of the generator is fairly flexible. Like the rest of the range, the cantilever is made of aluminium, chosen for its lightness and neutrality. It is fitted with an excellent elliptical Nude Shibata stylus, which has been shaped with the utmost precision. With this optimal profile, it nestles perfectly into the grooves of your records. Not only does it boast excellent tracking ability, it also works wonders on surface noise, reducing it to practically non-existent levels and therefore letting the music take centre stage. The body is made from a Delrin-like synthetic material, and this high output model is green.
We tried it out with a lightweight 9” tonearm as well as with a more substantial 12” model. It’s worth noting that its compliance of 10 at 100 Hz – so around 18 at 10 Hz – gives it impressive versatility, which is helpful for you when choosing either a lightweight or average weight tonearm. This Hana SH is an MC cartridge with extra winding (giving it a charge of 47,000 Ohms like an MM cartridge), without the clear, harsh sound of many of its competitors.
We were impressed by the clean, high quality sound from the very opening bars. The music sounds highly nuanced and natural, and the tonal balance was one of the best we've heard in this price range. It is very similar to its low output counterpart, delivering impressive timbre and nuance. All of the instruments are perfectly placed, making for highly enjoyable listening. The bass comes out especially well – it stands out as being particularly tight and well-articulated, without being overstated or heavy. Not that the other registers are far behind – the mids border on perfection, and vocals are present and perfectly defined, with a warm touch that humanises the whole sound. There is absolutely no aggressiveness or hissing. The overall sound quality is detailed, defined and natural at all times, with all of the tracking ability the Shibata stylus has to offer – unheard of in a high output MC cartridge! As a result, it has one of the lowest levels of surface noise in this market segment. Its neutrality means that it is highly versatile and easy to pair with other equipment.
The Hana SH cartridge is an excellent alternative to other brands’ offerings, such as Benz Micro or Sumiko, which can’t always match it in sound quality.
The Hana SH is sure to meet the high standards of any audiophile who owns an MM preamp and loves the timbres and silky smooth sounds of analogue. And the price isn't to be sniffed at either!
Also available in low output model: HANA SL MC CARTRIDGE Franck
Principle: High output MC
Stylus type: Nude Shibata
Balance: > 1.5 dB
Tracking force: 2g
Tracking ability: 60µm/2g
Compliance 10 Hz: 18
Compliance 100 Hz: 10
Channel separation: 28 dB/1 kHz
Frequency response: 15-32,000 Hz
Internal impedance: 130 Ohm
Load resistance: 47 kHz