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Hana Umami Red - an impressive musical cartridge

Danish distirbuter: Scandinavian Audio Systems - price DKR. 29.500,-  / EURO 3950.-

Hana: HANA |

  Last update - January 30, 2021

A captivating red gemstone - Hana Umami Red

Umami in boxIt is only approx. 4 months ago I listened to the amazing Hana ML. (SEE HERE) An excellent pickup to say the least, which in many areas offers far beyond its price. Back then, I mentioned the new top model Hana Umami Red, which was born on September 22, 2020. Now it has arrived in my home and has been playing music for a while.

Umami Red is Hana's bid for a true high-end pickup. Can it match the exclusive class, of very expensive cartridgess? It stands out somewhat from the crowd, as Maso Okade-san from Excel Sound Corporation has made some choices. Not all choices are. what one would expect nor what one sees in typical high-end cartridges in this price range.

But no doubt attention has been paid to the details in the very nice and immediately aesthetically pleasing cartridge with a finish in nice red Urushi lacquer. The fine curves in the red duralminium house are an attempt to mimic some of those curves. we have in our ears.

The term “umami” is taken from the food world and refers to the special taste that occurs when all ingredients form a synergy and create something beyond sour, sweet, bitter and salty. In other words, something that is more than the sum of the ingredients. After listening to the Red Umami I can better relate to this somewhat strange comparison with gatronomy and the joys of food. Ssomehow there is probably something about it.

Now it should be exciting to hear what Hana can do in this expensive class, where the competition is fierce. Of course, Hana Umami Red has a wide range of features that make it worthy of its high-end designation. If we start where it all begins, then a nude diamond with a microline cut is used. As usual, these tips tracks excellently, but also requires precise setup. When done correctly and given the right conditions, it will reward you with a large open sound stage and a wealth of details.

The cantilever is solid boron, very thin and relatively long. The coil system itself is with high purity 30 micron copper wound on a square permalloy anchor. Here we see something a little unusual. By using a magnetizable anchor, Hana ensures a somewhat higher output, but the moving mass is increased. On the other hand, you can make do with fewer windings for the same signal. With 0.4 mV out and 6 ohms internal impedance, it seems as if output is prioritized. Other competitors typically have somewhat smaller output and a coil system wound on air or a non-magnetizable core.

Hana does not say anything about the suspension, but with a compliance around 17 (dynamic at 10 Hz) it fits perfectly in most not too heavy arms.

The magnetic system is, as on the Hana ML, cryogenically treated samarium cobalt. All other metal parts including the terminals are also cryogenically treated. The house itself is hand-built in A7075 duralmin in combination with mahogany. At the outside you find several lalyers of the classic Japanese red Urushi lacquer.

Umami med coverSpecs:
Channel difference: <0.5 dB / 1 kHz
Recommended tracking: 2g
Tracking capability: 70 / at 2g
Compliance: 10 x 10 (-6) cm / dynamic at 100Hz, 17 x 10 (-6) cm / dynamic at 10Hz
Channel separation: 30dB @ 1kHz
Frequency range: 15Hz to 50kHz
Internal impedance: 6Ω
Suggested load:> 60Ω
Weight: 10.5g

At first glance, I would probably recommend a somewhat higher load than 60 ohms, but it depends a bit on equipment and preferences. I used 100 ohms via my Accuphase C27 RIAA. Alternatively a resulting load of approx. 180 ohms via my Lundahl LL 1933Ag stepup transformer, which gave approx. 6.2 mV out. .

Usually I do not read manuals in detail, but here I was curious about the description and if there were more than what I could find on the Web. No, but in the end it says "WARNING". I definitely had to read that. Three sets of small Allen bolts for mounting 4, 5 and 6 mm long are included. Please note that the screw holes in Umami Red are only 3 mm deep! Trying to force longer screws in can ruin the cartridge! The Oyaide carbon fiber housing I used was approx. 3.5 mm thick, so I chose to use the 6 mm Allen screws. With my Triplanar I had to use the 5 mm version.

Initially, I chosed my Jelco TK-850L arm, which was a very successful combination. My Glanz MH 124s arm and DV 507 mk II were also briefly tested. The last few days of the test period I had my Triplanar Mk IVi arm reassembled. At first there was absolute control and a good combination with the Jelco arm, but via Triplanar the image grew and new details were opened up. In short, a better arm for this task and a distinguished partner for the Hana pickup.

Needle protector

As can be seen in the pictures, Hana has made a smart needle guard that covers the entire pickup. I have often seen needle protectors that act more like small guillotines designed to chop the needle off. This is certainly not the case here. A super needle guard that can be easily put on during assembly and which is easy to remove and put on again.

The pictures show the setting of the overhang using my Feickert protractor. This adjustment takes time - a mobile phone with a good camera helps a lot. In the middle, adjust the needle pressure - as close to the two grams as possible. To the right adjustment of VTA. Note the very thin but relatively long needle tab.

Hana overahng triplanrUmami naaletrykUmami cantilver on record

The sound of Umami

Yes, there is definitely more of everything  compared to the Hana ML. Still the great overview and the ability to reproduce smoothly and effortlessly. A kind of acoustic characteristic of Hana. There is again the immediate calm and the unforced, controlled, yet revealing reproduction
I especially noticed the silence, or what is called "inter transient silence". So how is that to be understood? Take e.g. voices - Jussuf / Tea for the Tillerman. A record I have now heard many times, but not like here. His voice is distinct in the image without wrapping - no exaggeration of the chest or emphasis on s- and t-sounds. But just as importantly, there is silence when he stops singing. The same applies to e.g. an acoustic guitar. Strings start and ring out to silence. Nothing extra. There is an immediacy and an ability for the details to just flow without having to make an effort to hear them even when it comes to complicated music with many instruments. This wil also help you to hear the space and dept much more clearly. There is a presence and an insight into the music experience. Absolutely approved.

Umami in OyaideAnother example is the piano. Here I have chosen Nojima plays Liszt (Reference Recordings pure analog from 1986). A very excellent record and Nojima is a phenomenal pianist. But in addition to being impressed, you are also involved. Something almost magical happens and it is much easier to imagine how he sits in front of the big grand piano. Imagine how hands and fingers fly over the keys. There's an almost organic feel to this way of reproducing the music - maybe Umami? Hifi sound with imaginary images in 3D and colors! At the same time, there is a marvelous ability to separate the individual strokes so that they are defined and clear in the soundscape. In any case, a great musical experience where I heard this record in a new way.

Venice with Solti and Orchestra of the Royal Opera house, Covent Garden I have mentioned this record before. Here are overtures from famous Italian operas. Magnificent and very delicius. Again you get an insight into the experience with a large room and a wide image. You can clearly hear the power in the magnificent music. Should I criticize something, there is a slight tendency to a little harshness in the many strikers. But pickups had only played here approx. 20 hours, so it may change with time. On another recording, I did not experience these tendencies at all, rather the opposite. Lots of delicious top with details that were in no way clinical or exaggerated.

Then one of the favorites came on. Madelein Peyrou, who according to my girlfriend is "old music". It is now brand new, but yes - it sounds like old music. Her voice is often compared to Billie Holliday and there is something about it. The record is not flashy, dynamic and impressive. Instead, it is with soul and empathy. Again that special thing that makes you want to hear more. The voice almost snuggles around the listener and the whole thing is just extra delicious. A large open listening window is provided which just gives the extra that we with good systems aspire to. Yes, this cartridge is hifi and high-end, but it is definitely a music communicator as well.

Details, top and bottom

What impressed me most from the start were voices that stand with great detail and almost breathe down your neck. It all seems more flesh and blood. Absolutely first class. But what about top and bottom? The bottom is powerful and it is controlled. This is even more true with the Triplanar arm, which has an ability to keep in the background and just let the cartridge show what it can do. You will be amazed by the fullness and dynamics that can lie in the grooves. Yello / Point has lots of bottom, and here it seems even more impressive if possible. However, it is a bottom with fullness and not so much leading edges in the upper bass. Strokes on percussion bass or drums are there, but to a lesser extent than I have experienced it on my better cartridges. Thus compared to the much more expensive Ikeda 9Gss, where one hears that it delivers somewhat more control and firmness in the upper bass. Still, I would say that Umami Red at no point lacks level or empathy. It just has a fuller and larger bottom.

Umami in TriplanarThe top via Umami Red is distinct and at times straight with an extra sprinkle of detail. Again, it was more pronounced via the Triplanar arm, where the top just pulled a little forward in the soundscape. On strikes on bells or other metal instruments, it all sounds nice and delicious. Lots of air and a lightness. Primarily on classical music and strings, I experienced a tendency to pull it all just a notch closer. There was a focus on some of the slightly raw and unpolished that may be in the string instruments. Actually, I do not find that it in any way matters to the overall impression. It just shows. that the Umami Red is revealing despite the otherwise immediately very laid-back and effortless rendering.

The contrasts

The biggest difference is often experienced when switching back to something completely different. That was definitely the case here as well. My best cartridges held their pace, although they as expected played differently. My Ikeda is more sober, tight and correct. Compared to the bubbly and almost playful Umami Red. It thus came as something of an anticlimax to switch back to some of my other somewhat cheaper pickups. Still with absolute hifi qualities, but the empathy and joy of playing with Umami Red is something you will soon miss.


At first, I expressed some doubts about Hana Umami Red's chances in relation to the tough competition. But yes - this is definitely a high-end cartridge that can perform among the competitors in the same price range. I have listened to the best Benz, Clear Audio, Ikeda, Dynavector, Koetsu and others. and yes - this is equally good.

Umami Red is distinguished by an enchanting transparency and an insight into the music experience. It is more warm and embracing than sterile and super accurate. I was repeatedly impressed by well-known records - "can they also sound like that?", Is it Umami that makes you experience new things in music? I do not know, but it all happens in an easy way, because Umami Red reproduces with details that just flow out of the speakers. At the same time, it has that indefinable - an ability to draw you into the music and keep you trapped. Definitely not a bad ability, because it means you get even more pleasure from your records. The little red Umami is absolutely recommended - it's still stuck in my Triplanar arm. Maybe it will stay there?

Update January 30th

Yes, i bought the Umami. Now it will stay and play wonderful music!

Hans Umami Red II