Hana ML Offers Depth And Solidity In Sound

January 16, 2019
2 mins read
  • 9/10
    - 9/10


Hana ML low-output moving coil phono cartridge

Price: $1595

RICHARD VAREY spends some quality time with the Hana ML and finds it embodies the meaning of Hana: brilliant and gorgeous.

This is a handsome cartridge. It’s visually striking, although the lovely gold top is out of sight when mounted. And it hits you right between the ears. This is a superior music extraction and rendering device.

I heard it right from the first track played – very solid image with clear separation, open, lively, smooth, rich, detailed, and above all, musical. There’s additional depth and solidity to my music, and no surface noise interference. I’m comparing it to the Hana EL that I have been endeared to since the Hana range arrived in New Zealand.

The Hana ML has several advanced features which improve on the E and S moving coil models.

The Nude Micro Line stylus tip digs down into the groove below any surface imperfections and foreign matter, delivering better frequency response (12Hz to 45kHz) and less distortion. The shape of the tip is similar to that of the cutting stylus used on the cutting lathe, and thus it has enhanced tracking ability that extracts delicate musical details with better frequency resolution, channel balance, and stereo imaging.

The body material has been improved for better resonance damping and hardness.

Cryogenic processing of the mechanism delivers less distortion and more precise and musical sound quality, according to the manufacturer.

Very high-purity copper wire is used in the pickup coils.

And I heard it! Probably the best sound I’ve heard from my records – it is, indeed, even better than the outstanding EL model. For example, on the Fleetwood Mac Rumours 2013 reissue, the drum hits sound so real, and the bass notes are deep, rich and palpable. On the James Newton Howard & Friends direct-to-disc album from Sheffield Labs, the drum sticks are hit hard together and the crack is palpable.

And did I mention that captive threaded bolts ensured that installation of this cartridge to my tonearm headshell was so easy? Weighing in at 9 g, and tracking at 2 g, the ML produces 0.4mV at 1 kHz.

This model builds on the strengths of both the EL and the SL. It delivers even more detail than the SL but with the gentle warmth of the EL, and a beautiful natural tonality – instrument and voice timbres are convincing, compelling and very pleasing.

I’ve been a fan of Hana cartridges since they were introduced to me by Simon Brown of Design Build Listen, the New Zealand importer/distributor. Hana cartridges are made by the Excel Sound Corporation, a Japanese company that has been producing Excel-branded phono cartridges and OEM cartridges for more than 50 years. The parts for the Hana range are manufactured and hand assembled at the company’s facility in Yokohama, Kanagawa. They’ve introduced both an MH (high output) cartridge and an ML (low output) cartridge, both of which use Alnico magnets. These are added to the EL and SL models that have been widely and very well received.

They’ve excelled with the ML model. I love the sound it makes with my records. Hana means in English “brilliant and gorgeous”. The range of Hana cartridges are designed as the embodiment of brilliance and beauty for value-seeking music lovers, according to the company, and I certainly agree they’ve even more accomplished that with this new model.

Hana cartridges are available from: Design Build Listen, Dunedin


Equipment used for the audition:

The Wand 14-4 Turntable

TemaadAudio Merlin 12” titanium tonearm

The Wand Plus 9.5” carbon fibre tonearm

Black Ice F159 tube phonostage

Black Ice Audio F360 tube preamplifier

Audiodinamica SUT No 3

Supra Sword interconnects

Viganoni & Viganoni V2 monoblock power amplifiers

Audio Pro Avanti 100DC loudspeakers

For five decades, Richard has assembled music systems that enrich his music listening experience. He writes about the electro-mechanics and social psychology of this technology-facilitated art we call high-fidelity music reproduction, and about his experiences with interesting hi-fi ideas, equipment, and the people who make it.

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