Following the astonishing success of the Hana SL cartridge and more recently the Hana ML, the Japanese manufacturer comes back with a much more ambitious product by venturing towards a range with few credible manufacturers.
HANA UMAMI RED: BODY
The Hana Umami Red cartridge is truly beautiful! The body is made of duraluminium, an alloy consisting of aluminium (95%), copper (4%) and magnesium/manganese (1%). This material provides excellent damping properties and no unwanted resonance across the sound spectrum.
It features a very “Japanese” finish; red Urushi lacquer. This complex procedure consists of a black Urushi painted undercoat, elaborate red-colouration process incorporating fine silver powder. Then, a final lacquer coating is added with multiple polishing steps.
The “Hana” printing in Kanji is done with pure gold powder on an Ebony wood inlay. Around ten years ago, Ortofon had offered this same “Urushi” finish on the Rondo range cartridges.
The shape of the Hana Umami is very ergonomic and the stylus seems to have been designed by aeronautic experts! Hana Okada was the one who designed and developed the body of the Umami.
HANA UMAMI RED: STYLUS
Hana Hana selected a Nude MicroLine stylus for this cartridge. This stylus seems pretty similar to the one found on the Hana ML MC cartridge.
Here though, it’s mounted on a remarkable boron cantilever. Boron has a hardness similar to diamond. It allows to hold the MicroLine stylus with rigidity and precision. This cantilever allows the smallest sound details as well as microdynamics to be transmitted with minimum loss to the phono cartridge‘s generator.
It’s associated with high-purity copper coils. The armature is made of permalloy while samarium-cobalt magnets are in charge of the generator.
Hana also mentions a cryogenic treatment which was applied on most components.
HANA UMAMI RED: BOX AND ACCESSORIES
Unpacking the Hana Umami Red MC cartridge is not surprising.
Like all Hana products, the packaging is very sober, even pretty cheap for a cartridge in this range. Nevertheless, it’s not the box that makes music!
Three screw sets (4, 5, 6 mm), an Allen key and a brush are supplied with the product. That’s the bare minimum, but also the most important!
HANA UMAMI RED: SETUP
Application is fairly simple and the adjustment is facilitated by the shape.
Its rather high compliance for a Low output MC cartridge and its average weight allow it to be associated with most quality tonearms having average/low effective mass.
Load impedance could have simply been at approximately 60 ohms, but experience has shown that usually, you need to multiply internal resistance by 15 to obtain perfect load with an MC amplifier. This can be different with an MC transformer (Step Up).
Here, we got perfect results at around 100 ohms. However, it’s possible to have superior load on some systems if you’re looking for a little more clarity.
The fairly adequate output level requires a 58-dB gain MC phono preamplifier minimum, but recommended gain is 62 dB.
HANA UMAMI RED: TESTING AND LISTENING
Like other high-end phono cartridges, 2 tracks are not enough to fully enjoy the Umami Red because this cartridge is not demonstrative and doesn’t impose an extravagant personality. This is the reason why listening to your first LPs is surely a little confusing. On the other hand, we quickly notice its qualities, and particularly the balance.
The Hana Umami Red is not made for one music genre only, you can listen to all music styles with the same reproduction quality. The main asset is its balance and ease to transmit the signal with simplicity and finesse.
It’s never demonstrative or excessive. If you’re looking for a “punchy” cartridge or a cartridge embellishing timbres, this Hana Umami is not made for you... It’s well-behaved, everything is in the right spot and every harmony is reproduced with nuance and subtlety.
We also notice that this MC cartridge is designed to easily identify the different instruments even on very complex works. On G. Mahler’s 5th symphony (L. Berstein), we perfectly identify all the music stands thanks to true 3D spatialisation. Forte are perfectly reproduced with no contraction or distortion. The quietest parts and pianissimos can be identified with rare articulation and magnificence. The quality and neutrality of timbres make the performance stunningly realistic and add a surprisingly emotional side. It’s the same with midrange which is its clear “forte”. Vocals, strings and brass shine with a thousand lights!
Treble is provided with great finesse, nice clarity and a complete absence of hardness. This part of the spectrum can be more or less adjusted depending of the selected impedance load. The low end of the spectrum is perfectly integrated to the other registers. Some MC cartridges like the Ortofon Windfeld seem to explore the lower end with more depth and confidence. But that’s a matter of taste as well as tonearm and phono preamplifier combinations.
The Hana Umami Red is provided with very low noise level, allowing it to reproduce even the slightest details.
To conclude, this trip in the high-end world of MC cartridges is a nice success for the Japanese manufacturer!
The Hana Umami Red MC cartridge is surely one of the 2 or 3 best low output MC cartridges below 5,000 euros. It favours neutrality and nuance, and thus musicality, which is the most important! Bravo!
Would recommend +++
Hi-Fi+ - Cartridge of the Year 2020
HiFi Review - Product of the Year 2020
Hi-Fi News - Highly Commended - 2021
Stereophile - Class A Recommended - 2021
Part-time Audiophile - Reviewer's Choice - 2021
Stereonet - Applause Award - 2021
The Absolute Sound - Golden Ear - 2021
Witchdoctor - Excellent 10/10 - 2021
The Absolute Sound - Product of the Year 2021
Stereonet - Product of the Year 2021
Hi-Fi Choice - Reference 2022 2022 Franck
Principle: low output MC cartridge
Finish: red Urushi lacquer
Output level: 0.4 mV
Stylus: Nude MicroLine
Coils: high-purity copper
Internal impedance: 6 ohms
10 Hz compliance: 17 x 10-6 cm/dyne
Channel separation: 30 dB
Channel balance: 0.5 dB
Frequency response: 15 - 50,000 Hz
Recommended load impedance: > 70 ohms
Tracking force: 1.8 / 2.2 g
Recommended tracking force: 2 g
Tracking ability: 70 μm / 2 g
Weight: 10.5 g