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Hana Umami Blue - a smooth and involving musicmaker

Danish distribution: Scandinavian Audio Systems - price DKR 18.900,-  (approx 2,540.- EURO)
Hana: HANA | Youtek.com

Latest update: June 16 2024                                                                                                                                                                 IN DANISH



A kind of deja-vu - Hana Umami Blue

This time i try the Hana Umami Blue. which I received in March 2024. You could say that it is a slightly toned down version of their top pickup Hana Umami Red Isee my review HERE). There are many similarities, but do they also sound the same?

Umami BlueCould I really just repeat the old review and change the name? No, it doesn't work that way. They are quite similar, but there are differences. Not just in the price, but also in the data and how they sound. Very conveniently, I still have the Umami Red that I bought after the review. It has been used quite a bit and still plays excellently, as a pickup prices at nearly DKK 30,000 should do. The new Umami Blue costs approx. DKK 10,000 less. Still a high price for a pickup, but now it will show how Hana's top model compete. Or more importantly, how it performs compared to other good pickups in this price range.

Umami Blue

UmamiBlue doesn't stand out much from Umami Red, but as seen from the data, there are some minor details.

For the record, let me just repeat. Umami is known as the fifth taste. So in addition to sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Umami actually means “essence of wonderfulness” when translated from Japanese. You can say that the music is reproduced "meaty, juicy, delicate"? Maybe a little vague, but a pickup that reproduces physically and with body is something most of us can relate to.

Thecantilever e is, as on the Umami Red, made of solid boron, very thin and relatively long. The coil system itself is with high purity" 30 micron copper wound on a cryogenical treatede metal core. Here, then, a little different than Red. By using a magnetizable armature, 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 8 ohm internal impedance, it seems as if the output is prioritized. Other competitors typically have somewhat less output and a coil system wound on air or a non-magnetizable core.

Hana does not disclose anything about the suspension, but with a compliance of around 17 (dynamic at 10 Hz) it fits perfectly in most not too heavy arms. The magnet system is Alnico, again a departure from Red, which uses samarium cobalt. How their priority and choice has been, I should not be able to say. But a bit strange that they don't use Neodymium, like many others. The house itself is hand-built in A7075 duralumin. The outer blue shell is made of melamine with a technique that Hana calls MTO.

Overall, the changes compared to Umami Red are very minor.

Data for both Umami Blue and Red.

Soecs
Blue Red
Stylus type
Microline do.
Aantilever Bor (Boron) do.
Magnetsystem Rent jern (cryo) Permalloy anker
Coils  High purity kobber do.
Outputlevel  0,4 mV 0,5 mV
Channelbracking 70 um v. 2 gram do.
Channel separation 30 dB/ 1 khz do.
Frequencyrange 15-50.000 10-50.000 Hz
Outputimpedance 8 ohm / 1 khz 6 ohm / 1 khz
Recommended load mere end 80 ohm more than 60 ohm
Magnetsystem Alnico Samarium Cobalt
Trackingforcet 2 gram 2 gram
Weight 10,8 gram 10,5 gram
Body Construction Duralmin Duralmin and Ivory 
Finish MTO (melamin) Urushi laquer

 I would probably recommend a somewhat higher load than 60 ohms, but it depends somewhat on equipment and preferences. I used 100 ohms via my Accuphase C27. Alternatively, a resulting load of approx. 120 ohms via my Tona T20/40 stepup transformer. In this combination, the output is calculated to be 7.5 mV when the subsequent RIAA loads with 47 kohm.

Assembly

Learned from the experiences with Umami Red, I knew that you MUST use the Allen screws supplied. The threaded holes in the pickup are only approx. 3.5mm deep, so longer screws can damage the body. I mounted the Umami Blue in an Ortofon Precison headshell.
The smart needle guard that covers the entire pickup is still used. It works fine and could also be used during installation of the pickup withou blocking the acces to the terminals. 

Initially the pickup was mounted in my Glanz MH 124 arm where it ran via the Tona T 20/40 SUT to my Acchphase RIAA.. It also ran directly into the RIAA with a 100 ohm load. Then Umami Blue was moved to my second record player. A Technics SP10 mk II with Dynavector DV507 arm. Again an absolutely positive combination, but a somewhat different sound. More in the following..




Blue in headshell

The sound of Umami Blue

Back in 1970 there was a song called "Mammy Blue", In 1971 Roger Whitaker had a hit with his version. If your listen carefully, they very obviously sing "Uh Mami Blue". Well done by af hit song mentioning the Hana cartridge more than 50 years ago!
Smiley


 

Well, jokes aside and back to more contemporary music. It was definitely an advantage to have Umami Red close by. The kinship between the two is heard very easily. They both have a homogeneity and something immediate about the rendering. With Umami Blue, you can say that the unforced and effortless is a kind of characteristic,
.
Here you also find the absence of noise from the records. The stylus definitely belongs to one of the most quiet. There is a transparency and a calmnes about the reproduction. You involuntarily relax and concentrate more on the music than on whether everything sounds perfect. Definitely a valued quality. But what about top, bottom and the all-important midrange? Yes, now I have focused on the whole and the coherence of the way the Umami Blue behaves, It is difficult to say if some asoects does it absolutely much better than others. But the top range, the upper octaves are smooth and with lots of detail. Regardless of whether I drove directly into the MC part or via SUT, it definitely shines through that there are details and air, but again without  anything sticking out and drawing attention.

Umami Blue in DV armHana Blue close up
Hana Umami Blue in the  DV 507 arm on my Tecnics SP 10 mk II. Close up showing the magnetsystem. and cantilever. Very nice work.


Umami Blue in Glanz arm on Platine Verdier - directly into the MC-input

Nojima LixtAgain I have found Nojima plays Liszt (Reference Recordings pure analogue from 1986). This very dynamic recording places great demands on the pickup and certainly also on the rest of the playback chain.
I remember how this record almost magically drew me into the experience of Umami Red on the record player. There is not a big difference between Umami Blue, which has some of the same power. The warm middle tone is not quite so much in focus, but you still have the nice soundscape where he sits in front of the grand piano. There is a physical sensation where the grand piano has power and fullness as well as an attack when the keys are struck. So again an Umami with a reproduction that creates images in 3D and colors! As via Umami Red, there is also a good ability to separate the individual touches so that they are defined and clear in the sound image. In any case, a great musical experience.

Top dogThe latest release from Snorre Kirk / Top Dog has been played a lot. I bought it after a concert in JAZZ CUP, and got a nice autograph on the record sleeve. Whether that's why it all plays so well, or whether it's the Umami Blue... well, it must be the pickup's fault. I've listened to it quite a bit and must once again rejoice at the lightness and fluidity and, not least, the dynamics of the two saxophones. Piaoneg stands distinctly with good definition of touch and you almost feel back at the concert experience. That's how it should be with a good record and an excellent pickup.

Gilvert and SullivanGilbert and Sullivan The good old "The world of Gilbert & Sullivan" Decca recording from 1969, so absolutely analogue. Lovely music and an excellent recording. Voices, space and music merge into a higher unity. Knows the record well and it certainly does not disappoint here with Umami Blue as sampler. There is a nice smoothness and good resolution. No accents on the voices. All "s" and "t" sounds are in place, so listening to the music is a pure pleasure. On the larger choirs, there can usually be some massiveness, but here it is extremely limited. In other words, the pickup handles choirs and many details at once, just as well as individual voices or instruments. For the record, I must note that this record has been played several times. You don't notice that. No crunch, noise or other disturbing elements.


os Macintosh

In the Dynavector DV 507 arm on Technics SP10 - throug Tona T20/40 SUT

Directly substituting the Umami Red. again playing the excellent LP with Lils Mackintosh / "A Tribute to Billie Holiday".). She does it fantastically, to say the least, and with the track "Cry Me a River" there are guaranteed goosebumps and absolute enjoyment. This recording is only available on LP - a 100% analogue recording from ANALOG EXPERIENCE. With Umami Red in the ears, there was less of a difference to detect. There is less digging into the details and the voice moved a notch further forward in the soundscape. They are somewhat more 3D over the more expensive Red, but these are very small differences. There is still the open and immediate about it all. Umami Blue delivers a very liberated and, above all, homogenous reproduction without accents or undertones. It's a pleasure and after one plate side you forget all about the little extra details from Umami Red. You just enjoy the music.

LP Peter Gabriel IoPeter Gabriel is back. This is a fantastically good album. I have invested in the "Brigh Side" version. A double LP with lots of good tracks. Unfortunately, music, as so often before, is characterized by a violent dynamic compression. They never learn! Still, I've listened to the record many times. There is a good bottom and good air at the top, but it could be so much better. With Umami Blue on the SP10, there is a super nice presence. The music and above all his voice move forward in the living room. There is a wonderful power over everything and the "sound wallpaper" actually provides a good experience. With Blue, there is again the physicality and weight in the sound. It is somewhat more forward and somewhat harder than via my other much more expensive pickups. But absolutely approved. This is something you can listen to for hours.

 Here goes rhyminPoul Simon is definitely one of my favorite singers. Have several of his newer records, but this one is from the good old days. "There Goes Rhymin' Simon" is from 1973 pg definitely 100% analog. My copy was bought used, but absolutely flawless. Neither the music nor the pressing is wrong. First track on aide 1 is "Kodacrome". Just the glorious text about how happy he is for the siti Kodacrome camera gives me energy and seems like a breath of fresh air from the past. This excitement comes to the fore via Umami Blie. There is the cash ante and the dynamic. At intense moments, it loses the overview, regardless of how much is going on in the soundscape. Absolutely a pleasure.



The competitors

There are many good pickups in the price range around DKK 20,000. I haven't heard them all. It is e.g. a long time since I have heard an Ortofon pickup in this price range, so I must be guilty of that. Must ask Ortofon if they will lend me one!

Alnic The Rose is very lively and somewhat more dynamic than Umami Blue. It is large, full and does not have quite the same homogeneity. You can say that Umami Blue preserves the calm and the big picture,,where The Rose wants to impress a little. It is round and warm in its rendering, but not as extended and smooth as Umami Blue.

The Vertere Mystic is a somewhat different pickup. Here we have the "old school", where the details have been turned down somewhat. You could almost say a Denon DL103 with extra power. It probably delivers a slightly larger sound image than Umami Blue, but it is also fuller and rounder in its reproduction..

It's been a long time since I put my ears to the Clear Audio Concerto V2. I remember it being relaxed and very natural. An almost fluid reproduction. Hana Umami Blue has some of the same, but to a lesser degree. On the other hand, it is a tad more physical and has more bod.

 
Summming up

Hana Umami Blue is an excellent pickup. If I didn't know better, it could easily be mistaken for the "big brother" Umami Red. Here you will find quite a few of the qualities I fell for when I bought it. Now numbers are a strange quantity, but for approximately 60% of the price you get approx. 90% of the qualities inherent in Umami Red. Although it is still a high price for a pickup, the result is a reproduction that should be able to satisfy even the most critical listeners.

Umami Nlue is distinguished by the immediate homogeneity and coherence across the entire frequency spectrum. There are no emphases or unodes. It belongs to the more round and warm-sounding group, rather than the slightly sterile and very revealing ones. But at the same time it has a firm and quick sound. There is no lack of attack and weight at the bottom. There are certainly no details missing, they just come as part of the whole. During the review period, many types of music were listened to, and it coped with everything excellently. Both modern pop/rock, good jazz and not least classical and opera. It should therefore come as no surprise that Umami Blue gets my absolute recommendation. It plays music and does it absolutely fantastic.

When I close my eyes I can still hear Roger Whittaker singing "O Mami Blue"!


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