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.
As the name suggests (‘L’ for Low), the Hana SL is a low output model. Its 0.5 mV mean that is suitable for use with all MC phono preamplifiers available on the market. Despite the recommended 400 Ohms charge, you can get good results at 100 Ohms.
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. The cantilever is fitted with the excellent Nude Shibata elliptical stylus. It has been shaped with the utmost precision to ensure that the profile 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 low output EL model is a shiny black colour.
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. The Hana EL delivers impressive timbre and nuance. With a load of 100 Ohms (which is the load offered by standard MC preamps), the balance is delicate and can sound a little dull through certain systems. If you have a relatively neutral Hi-Fi setup, and if your preamp allows, we recommend setting it to a value above 300 Ohms. With our Hi-Fi system, we achieved the best results after a break-in period with the Sutherland PH3D set to over 1000 Ohms. But with a different preamplifier, we got better results with 400 Ohms.
We were impressed by the clean and 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. 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. It must have some of the lowest levels of surface noise in this market segment.
The Hana SL cartridge is an excellent alternative to the Ortofon Quintet Black, which, despite offering more definition, has a little less substance.
The Hana SL is sure to meet the high standards of audiophiles who love the timbres and silky smooth sounds of analogue. And the price isn't to be sniffed at either!
Also available in high output model: HANA SH MC CARTRIDGE
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Principle: Low output MC
Stylus: Nude Shibata
Balance: > 1.5 dB
Tracking force: 2g
Tracking ability: 60 µm/2 g
Compliance 10 Hz: 18
Compliance 100 Hz: 10
Channel separation: 28 dB/1 kHz
Frequency response: 15-32,000 Hz
Internal impedance: 30 Ohm
Load resistance: >400 Ohms