Hana NEW Umami Red Cartridge. Another leap for Performance for Price. Hand Crafted in Japan.
At True Audiophile.
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"The Umami Red’s excellent balance allows you to enjoy all types of music, and you will be driven to play many different types of music to fully experience this cartridge. It does a very nice job of retrieving detail and is excellent at rendering complex overtones.
Another thing that stands out with this cartridge is its ability to maintain its poise. No matter what groove I threw at it, it remained calm and never showed its teeth."
- Ken Redmond, The Audio Beatnik USA
When Hana decided to create a high-end cartridge, Master cartridge designer Masao Okada-san applied the concept of Umami combining brilliant materials and classic Japanese techniques with modern audio engineering.
Umami. /uːˈmɑːmi/ noun. The fifth taste category after salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. Officially coined Umami in 1908 by Japanese chemist Kikune Ikeda-san, it is that very pleasing or delicious flavor on the palette, a synergistic effect resulting in higher taste intensity.
The HANA-Umami Way
The HANA-Umami Red high-end moving coil cartridge combines brilliant materials and classic Japanese techniques with modern audio engineering. Ebony wood, rare-earth magnets, precision-cut diamond, high-purity copper wires, Urushi lacquering, and CNC machined Duralumin synergize under the vision of Hana designer Okada-san.
The synergistic relationship in MC generators between magnet, armature, and coil windings is a critical aspect of outstanding cartridge design; and like a signature dish at a Michelin 3-star restaurant, every element and detail working in concert results in a memorable and emotional experience.
All the major parts in a HANA-Umami Red are manufactured in house by Excel Sound with its rich history spanning over 50 years. Excel’s highly trained craftsmen skillfully hand assemble the HANA-Umami Red ensuring an intensely musical experience furthering the HANA “Brilliant and Gorgeous” sound quality.
Umami Sound - Wonderful Taste in Music
"This is a cartridge that will appeal to a listener with a sophisticated audio palette. Why do I say that? Initially, nothing in this cartridge’s sound “jumps out at you,” and I mean that in a good way. So many cartridges editorialize the sound and, in some ways, impose their personality. This seems to make them work better for one type of music over another.
After a while, you find that you keep playing the music that sounds good with that cartridge and then ultimately grow tired of it. That is not the case with this cartridge. This cartridge will grow on you like the way you come to appreciate the complexity and depth of a good 18-year-old single malt Scotch or a fine Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon.
An Excellent Balance
The Umami Red’s excellent balance allows you to enjoy all types of music, and you will be driven to play many different types of music to fully experience this cartridge. It does a very nice job of retrieving detail and is excellent at rendering complex overtones. Make no mistake about it, like the Koetsu, the Umami-Red builds the sound from the midrange on out. It is an experience to hear a piano with this cartridge, not because it is spotlighted, but because its tone is fully revealed.
Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. I’m not implying that the extremes are lacking. The bass provides a firm anchor to the music, and the top end has a sweetness and openness that is simply disarming.
Another thing that stands out with this cartridge is its ability to maintain its poise. No matter what groove I threw at it, it remained calm and never showed its teeth.
Finally, this cartridge has a very low noise floor and lacks any perceivable grain. This may be attributable to the cryogenic treatment applied to many of its components and the meticulous level of attention paid to the reduction of resonance in the cartridge body.
The Umami Red is one smooth customer, but don’t let that fool you. It delivers when it needs to resolve low-level detail, and dynamics. It performs with power and grace.
This cartridge connects you emotionally to the music. It can negotiate virtually anything you throw at it and never get flustered. Its balanced sound always seems to reveal a new interpretation of music that you are familiar with. You will find yourself just wanting to pull out albums and have a listen.
This cartridge isn’t going to immediately grab you, but if given a bit of time, it could very well win you over. Its beauty is in its subtleties and its balanced tone. Maybe there is something to the fact that HANA meaning “Brilliant and Gorgeous”.
So, my takeaway about this cartridge is this, nothing stands out … yet everything stands out.
If you are looking for a cartridge in this price range that you can have a long-lasting relationship with, one that will drive you to be more involved with your vinyl collection and less involved with your equipment, then the Umami Red simply has to be on your shortlist.
What about those two questions posed at the beginning of this review?
Does the HANA Umami Red belong in the Big Leagues?
Have they raised their game high enough to play in the Big Leagues?
I would answer by saying, “Welcome to the big leagues, HANA. You’ve earned it!”
- Ken Redmond, The Audio Beatnik USA Full Review here
|Finish||Gloss Urushi Lacquer / Red|
|Stylus||Microline Nude Diamond|
|Parts Material||Pure Iron|
|Output Pins||24K Gold Plated|