The VPI House might be closed for public events because of COVID-19 but you can bet we are still spinning music and trying to have as many virtual opportunities as possible! This past week we finally had the opportunity to work with an evaluate a cartridge that has been a hit item in the US market, the Hana cartridges. For the purposes of this blog post we are only going to focus on the Hana SL with the good, the bad, and joys of music. At VPI we are often asked by customers for our recommendation and opinions on cartridges. We make it a rule that we do not have an opinion either way on any product we haven't physically demoed and listed to in our listening room. That is the only way to be honest and provide the best information for an interested person.
For over a year now people have asked us about the Hana cartridge and I have always given the same answer, "we have heard good things about it from other customers who use it, but we have never heard it in our listening room." We finally made the plunge, called up Garth at Musical Surroundings and got both the high output SL and low output ML into the shop. We chose to demo the SL on an upgraded Prime Scout since that table hit the price point and made sense from a package price.
The rest of the system consisted of KEF Blades with Isoacoustic feet, Moon by Simaudio electronics, and Nordost cabling. Full disclaimer, a cartridge at the price point of the Hana SL would usually go into our "middle of the road" price point system but that system is temporally down. To get a baseline I compared it to a brand new Audio Technica OC-9 that was also brand new (this way both cartridges were on the same level of break-in). I mounted up the OC-9, let it warm up with playing through a full albumin, than pulled out a reference track. Because I live streamed the listening experience I chose the track "Birds" from the album "Nameless" from Dominique Fils-Aime because it is agreeable with the facebook police.
We played through the whole track on the live stream for everyone to hear and than after the live stream I gave it one more critical listen to make sure I really grabbed the sound signature before switching to the Hana SL. I had made jokes during the stream about needing more coffee because this was all very early in the morning, and everything is better with coffee! And this was where I made my first mistake! I should have taken the time for the coffee because I went to mount up the Hana SL to discover the body is NOT threaded.
I posted the above picture and some playful banter expressing my frustration (and need to make my coffee an Irish one). In the midst of the post dialogue someone commented I shouldn't complain like an amateur, and that person to an extent was right. Any set-up "guru" worth their salt can handle mounting a cartridge with through holes, but not everyone is a set-up guru. In fact, most people set-up (of have someone set-up) their cartridge and never have it set up again until they upgrade to their next one. The moral being, products need to be made with the expectation of the amateur handling them with potentially no access to a proper set-up professional. However, that isn't the end of the world as there are many cartridges that do the same. I.E. Audio Technica, Miyajima, and Grado to name a few all of whom we have yelled at about through holes as well.
After a number of records I had a good listen to the Hana and feel for its musical signature. The Hana was dead quite between the notes which let me hear more subtleties that I would usually needed a higher price cartridge to achieve. The Hana had a bit more on the low end/base compared to the OC-9 where I felt a touch more vibration from the floor when a musician would strike a base drum. While listening to the drum solo on my Charlie Byrd, Old Hymn, album I was able to feel the kick drum go right up through my legs!
I love that the Hana is a higher output making it more flexible and easier to match with your system especially from an entry level stand point. With the OC-9 I had the volume cranked up to 52 on my Moon by Simaudio electronics, but has it down to 33 when switching over to the Hana. I forgot to mute when I had the OC-9 which gave me a loud volume pop through my system, wouldn't have had that issue (to that extent) with the high-output Hana).
I have possibly been over hyped on what to expect from the Hana from other's opinions, mainly customers and dealers, which always has a subconscious impact when evaluating anything. Below is actual (slightly exaggerated) dialogue from Harry and myself about movies:
Harry: "That movie is the best, we just watched it and couldn't take our eyes of the screen! It will blow your mind, you need to watch it right now!"
Mat: "Wait, that's it? That's the ending? It was really good, I really liked it, but I was waiting for the life changing moment! I think Dad went a bit overboard."
The Hana is a hero for silence between notes, more base, and the ease of the higher output but there is some ease taken out of the equation from mounting a cartridge with through holes. If you have a set-up technician that isn't a concern, of if you like to have a personal challenge. I can 100% recommend the Hana SL but there are other cartridges that are worth an AB as well. In the end its more about someone's musical flavor than anything else.
Update: Recently got and listen to one of their models higher on the food chain, WOW! More on that later on.
*** Register on our Eventbrite page by clicking the 'Tickets' link ***
The hi-fi dealer Now Listen Here is pleased to announce a two-day event September 26-27 in King of Prussia, PA. Special guest Mat Weisfeld of VPI Industries will be on hand to demonstrate—for the first time—prototypes of their new modular direct drive turntable, universal arm pod, and phono preamp. Special guest Jeff Joseph of Joseph Audio will also be on hand to demonstrate the Pearl 20/20 Graphene loudspeakers. In addition, we will be demonstrating Fyne Audio F704 loudspeakers, Jeff Rowland and Chord Ultima electronics, Transparent cabling, and state-of-the-art digital frontends with Chord DACs and Sonore optical streamers. Special ‘event-only’ pricing will be available on all demonstrated lines.
When asked for comment, Now Listen Here owner Aaron Sherrick said:
“With the many show cancellations this year, including Capital Audio Fest where we exhibit, we really wanted to connect with the hi-fi community in a different way. We’ve heard from many customers how much they miss hi-fi shows so we’re doing our best to deliver a slice of that experience in a safe and controlled way.”
The event will be held at the Hyatt House in King of Prussia, located next to the King of Prussia mall.
In order to create a safe event for everyone, masks and temperature checks are required before being granted admission. No exceptions. To control the number of attendees and comply with Pennsylvania’s gathering limit of 25 people we’ve adopted a seminar format that requires registration (no charge—see link below). The time slots are 2 hours long where attendees will spend an hour in each of our two rooms listening to music and presentations from our special guests. The rooms are large—approximately 1,000 sq/ft each—to allow ample social distancing of chairs. Masks and hand sanitizer will be available to attendees. Hyatt House is following procedures and protocols developed in consideration of guidance and information shared by the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), other leading organizations and experts, and local government requirements and guidance.
The hotel conference center space, where the event will be held, is located one floor down and is accessible by a wide, open staircase off the hotel lobby and by elevator. The conference center has its own ‘wing’ to reduce traffic from other hotel guests, and the entire conference center space has been reserved for this event to ensure privacy and no intermingling with other events. The conference room wing also has its own set of bathrooms.
Register for the event on our Eventbrite page below and choose a session time that fits your schedule:
240 Mall Boulevard
King of Prussia, PA 19406
We had a fantastic with Rich Grado from Grado Labs the other day. We were even more excited that Rich was so impress with the sound of the HW-40 with Grado Aeon he had to take one home with him!
Here is a post from Rich about his listening experience with the HW-40. Thanks Rich for joining us for some great company and fantastic music!
"I visited VPI Industries and the VPI House on Tuesday and snuck out with a new toy. I finally got to set things up today and I must say I'm impressed. Here is the first album, Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life, playing on the VPI HW40, their 40th Anniversary Edition turntable. I have to thank Mat Weisfeld for having me out and Harry Weisfeld for setting the turntable up with my Grado Labs Aeon cartridge before I left."
On February 28-29, 2020 Moscow salon " Note +" invites you to the 6th annual exhibition-sale " vinyl jam 2020 ". Our company will traditionally participate in the event.
What are we going to show? The program is also an integration player of the best " rosewood " in a gorgeous finish of " rosewood " with the newest tonarmom of the card type " Fatboy Gimbal ". The system is also an integration of audio Flight 10 (for the first time in Russia, by the way! ), audio-flight Photo fonokorrektor, acoustic systems of Piega Coax 70.2, Pure audio Design cable.
But this is not accurate. Maybe we won't even take a fonokorrektor with us... Why? Come to vinyl jam 2020 and you'll find out.
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The "Note" salon.
Kazan lane 2-4
FRIDAY - February 28, 2020 from 11:00 to 18:00
Saturday - February 29, 2020 from 11:00 to 18:00
Скучали? Мы вернулись с хорошими новостями: мы едем на «Винил Джем»!
28-29 февраля 2020 года московский салон «Нота+» приглашает на 6-ую ежегодную выставку-продажу «Винил Джем 2020». Наша компания традиционно примет участие в мероприятии.
Что мы покажем? Проигрыватель виниловых дисков VPI Prime Signature в шикарной отделке «rosewood» с новейшим тонармом карданного типа «Fatboy Gimbal». В составе системы также интегральный усилитель Audia Flight FLS 10 (впервые в России, между прочим!), фонокорректор Audia Flight Phono, акустические системы Piega Coax 70.2, кабели Purist Audio Design.
Но это не точно. Возможно, фонокорректор мы с собой даже не возьмем… Почему? Приходите на «Винил Джем 2020» и все узнаете.
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Казанский переулок 2-4
ПЯТНИЦА – 28 февраля 2020 года с 11:00 до 18:00
СУББОТА – 29 февраля 2020 года с 11:00 до 18:00
📝 БЕСПЛАТНЫЙ ПРИГЛАСИТЕЛЬНЫЙ БИЛЕТ здесь: https://nota.ru/info/vinyl_jam/
Have you missed? We are back with good news: we are going to the vinyl jam.
Make sure you don't miss a room at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest!
Homestead 1 - HW-40 with Nordost, VTL, and YG Acoustics
Homestead 2 - HW-40 with PS Audio
Room 9113 - HW-40 with Audio Technica, Krell, Alta Audio, Zensati
Room 10134 -HW-40 with Raidho TD2.2 and Van Den Hul
Room 6105 - HW-40 with Listen Up, Audio Technica, Moon, Focal,
Room 7125 - Prime Signature with MC AudioTech
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