Hana Umami Red MC Phono Cartridge
13 August 2021
The Hana did little to sweeten it up, preferring instead to give a neutral, matter-of-fact rendition. That’s not to say it was boring though, as this cartridge proved itself to be great with rhythms and dynamics. When the song moved into its middle eight, the band really cranks things up, and the Umami Red conveyed this superbly; the extra grit in the singer’s voice, the pumped up guitar and harder drum kit hits all came through as clear as day.
The result was an unsentimental reading of this song, but still a really satisfying one. This cartridge has so much insight that it cuts to the heart of any recording it’s asked to play, yet is never analytical and always seems to be enjoying itself. It’s also done in an effortless way – major dynamic swings are delivered in a relaxed, unforced fashion. It’s this confidence and poise that really marks the cartridge out as special. Indeed, I’d say this is a defining characteristic – the Umami Red is a gifted performer who doesn’t need to try hard.
I think its excellent tracking plays a big part here. Even though there appears to be a subtle lift in the cartridge’s upper treble, the stylus always seems anchored to the groove and the sound of cymbals, for example, is always delicately carried. There was no nervousness, skittishness or sibilance as it negotiated a well worn original mono pressing of The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night – bought by my mother in July 1964, borrowed by me about twenty years later, and never given back.