Hana ML - low output MC cartridge
I tried most of my usual reference LPs with the Hana ML, but the truly remarkable moments came when I was playing the Analogue Productions 45rpm 2-LP reissue of Billie Holliday’s Songs for Distingue Lovers……
With the Hana ML mounted on the Palmer/Audio Origami rig, those first notes from soloists such as trumpeter Harry Edison and saxophone player Ben Webster leap out at you with surprising energy. They’re so independent from the rest of the mix that you’ll think they’re in your listening space hanging out with you, listening to Billie, jumping in when inspired. Webster’s sax is unusually breathy and vibrant, and so close you can easily imagine how he’s moving his lips as he plays.
Overall, I felt the Hana ML had a sound that was steady and dependable, but never in a boring way. There was a calmness and a poise to this cartridge, especially within an analog rig that I’ve already described as poised. Perhaps that’s why I stuck with this combination for so long. I always had the distinct impression that I didn’t want to change a thing. I just wanted to sit and listen for a very long time.
…. the Hana ML was such a stellar performer that I immediately wanted to grab a big-dollar cartridge for review, something at least $3000 to $5000 or more, just to see what I was missing. I’ve owned and/or used plenty of expensive cartridges over the years, including two Koetsus and of course my reference Transfiguration Axia. Where did this $1200 cartridge fall short? I’m not sure that it does, quite frankly ….. It’s a fantastic time for the development of great phono cartridges ….
In any case, believe the hype about Hana. Yes, they make extraordinary cartridges that are very affordable, and I bet some Hana dealers are telling Excel that they need to raise their prices. Before that happens, you should listen to the $1200 Hana ML and decide whether you really need to spend more money than this. I’m not sure I do—I could easily live with the Hana ML for a long time.
Read the full review here.