The Hana’s were mounted in an SME 5009 arm on a Transcriptor Super Seven turntable. Which is an expensive player for these cartridges, but it gives them a chance to show off their capabilities in a neutral and revealing environment.... I tried the EH version (elliptical stylus, high output). Among general characteristics is the perfect balance between the left and right channels, with a stereo image exactly positioned between the speakers. Tracking was never a problem on any record I played, surface noise is very low, even on older LPs and the styli do not collect much dirt. The EH was a pleasure to listen to over long periods, higher notes play a little softer compared to my reference (Transfiguration Axia) and the Hana sounds warmer. The midrange has a rich sound, good definition and delivers both voices and instruments to a commensurate standard.... With the classic The Köln Concertby Keith Jarrett the charming character of the Hana produces a grand piano in all its glory. Where other cartridges are sometimes too cold this delivers a big instrument in a large concert hall with slowly decaying harmonics. The hall acoustics are easily recognizable, a result that surprises me in a cartridge of this price as does the way the Hana behaves so well.
The best way to leave the Hana EH is with ‘Guantanamera’ from the legendary Weavers concert in Carnegie Hall. It should be possible to hear three microphones, the stamping on the wooden floor and appreciate how soft and tender the female voice is to the left of the male storyteller. The Hana EH shows it all and I enjoy the way that each and every singer has their own place on the stage. When the public applauds the handclapping clearly comes from individuals, it does not blur into a noise.
A week later the more costly Hana SL (Shibata, low output) is run-in. During the run-in period I enjoyed the more open character of the SL and the reduced bass output. This extra definition is a nice boost with ‘Soular Energy’ from the Ray Brown Trio, where the bass plays such an important role. I can raise the volume with ease, in the meantime the snare and body of the bass remain one entity. Drums are unmistakably real, cymbals clear and the piano keeps its light tone. The stereo image stays tight between the speakers but never goes beyond them and ‘Cry Me A River’ goes abyss deep into the bass. The SL cartridge seems made for jazz music like this, playing it in a natural and easy way. Marika Cailly’s ‘Chante’, an outstanding production on Meyer Records, makes the Hana SL very happy. From the moment the music starts my feet start moving up and down following the rhythm section with its finely proportioned bass, lots of guitar accents and a freestanding, fully understandable voice.
Both the Hana cartridges were surprisingly good, both styli had their own strengths. That said, I assume that the output voltage of 0.5 versus 2 Volts has less to do with the final results than the stylus type. I see a bright future for the new Hana brand, its excellent price to quality ratio should ensure that.
Read the full review here.