Hana ML Moving Coil Cartridge
Hana is maybe not a familiar name to anyone looking to upgrade or buy a cartridge. Names like Ortofon, Audio Technica, Koetsu, Lyra tend to spring to mind however while Hana may not be just as familiar they are starting to make a big name for themselves and the ML model is currently their flagship cartridge. Now here is where is gets interesting most people would assume a flagship model is going to cost many thousands of pounds, think of the names mentioned above. Hana however have been building up a big reputation as being seriously good value for money and the ML Moving Coil cartridge is no exception coming in at £995. Yes I’m not disputing that is a lot of money for a cartridge however this sub thousand model is able to compete with many more expensive models from other manufacturers. I should also point out at this stage that there is another model in the Hana range called the MH which is similarly priced to the lower output ML but is simply a high output version of the same model.
However none of the above matters if the cartridge does nor sound any good so here are my thoughts on the sound quality.
From the moment you play this cartridge you realise it is very good indeed. Vocals are stunning, there is good bass weight, great detail retrieval and imaging and sound staging are very precise.
The cartridge also seems to be a very secure tracker which is also important. It seems equally at home with simple acoustic music and more complex rock and classical pieces. This Hana ML has great subtlety and air as well as possessing good dynamics and weight and thats not an easy trick and normally the domain of much more expensive models. It lets music breathe, its effortlesss in the way the best audio equipment is and is dosen’t get tripped up by difficult pieces of music. In fact its very hard to fault, I’m sure there are better cartridges on the market but not at this price. I remember the first time I heard a Koetsu, the musicality it has was simply breathtaking, I have also listened to Kiseki cartridges which were amazing both sonically and visually. However the Hana ML does very little wrong. Its not quite as musical as a Koetsu, it dosen’t have quite the air of a Kiseki or the pure detail retrieval of a Lyra or Ortofon but for under a thousand pounds its a serious piece of kit.
I don’t think any audio product is perfect and any review no matter how much you like the product needs to be balanced so here is what I think. Its not the prettiest cartridge in the World, it is quite heavy so check your arm weight can work with the Hana cartridge and now I’m struggling as I really can’t think of much more wrong with this cartridge at its price.
I have read a couple of other reviews on this cartridge where it has been compared to cartridges costing three to four times its price. I don’t think I can honestly say that, but it is certainly one of if not the best cartridges I have heard at under £1000 and is better than many cartridges I have heard at double its price and thats high praise indeed. This is a genuine bargain and if you are buying a new cartridge or upgraded your current cartridge I would strongly advise you to have a listen to the Hana carriages. There are two smaller brothers at £599 and £399 and while I have not heard them personally based on their bigger brother they would be worth a listen.