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HANA Shibata Phono Cartridge

13 Reviews

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“The Hana-SL gives a really sophisticated performance, which is very involving and refined… Both (Hana-SL & Hana-SH) are superb cartridges and are strong challengers to rival big-name brands at the price.” - Hifi Choice

Introducing Hana

When an OEM house distributes their own brand, they reserve their best efforts for themselves and Excel is no exception. Hana, translated as “brilliant and gorgeous” represents Excel’s best materials including alnico magnets, cross-shaped armatures, and proprietary manufacturing processes. They have excelled at creating MC cartridges noted worldwide for their sound and value, which retain their “musical magic” regardless of their phono stage pairing.

Shibata High(SH) and Low(SL)

The Hana SL and SH models, distinguished by their black body, provide tighter channel balance, greater channel separation, and improved high-frequency extension compared to their EH and EL counterparts. The SL and SH models also feature an upgraded Shibata stylus.
Technical (SH):
  • Stylus: Nude Shibata
  • Cantilever: Aluminum
  • Output: 2mV
  • Output Balance: <1.5dB1KH
  • Tracking Force: 2g
  • Channel Separation: 25dB/1kHz
  • Frequency Response: 15-32,000Hz
  • Impedance: 130ohms/1kHz
  • Suggested Load: 47k
  • Weight: 5g
  • Color: Black

  • Technical (SL):*
  • Output: .5mV
  • Impedance: 30ohms/1kHz
  • Suggested Load: >400ohms
  • *The SH and SL are identical except for what's specified in the SL section.

    Ratings & Reviews

    13 reviews

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    Amazing sound! I've been Jonesing for an MC cart for a while now, even though I loved my 2M Blue, but it was absolutely the right move. All the detail and huge sound stage I'd imagined is not only a reality, every aspect of the sound quality is so much better than I'd ever hoped. I strongly recommend the SL.



    Unbelievable! I can't imagine prices will stay where they are for too long. I love it when actual manufacturers finally put out their own products...always a good price, and rarely a disappointment. This is no exception. Buy it.



    I was originally looking at some cartridges that were under $500, asked about the Hana with the elliptical stylus and this one, Brian did a great job explaining the differences between the two and the relative merits of the other ones I was considering. Had initially planned to get the lower priced model, but when it was out of stock decided to try out this one, did a comparison to my previous cartridge, a Sumiko Blue Point #2 and within 10 seconds of listening to this one I was sold, simply amazing, well worth the money, extremely musical, does everything well. James helped me out with the comparison. Highly recommend this cartridge and the store, thanks guys!

    I just love it


    I traded in my old EL version of this cartridge for the SL using the re-tipping program and I could not be happier. It is far greater in detail, instrument separation, and representation of timbres than the EL. It's just in a different league altogether, a night and day difference. It takes about 40-50 hours of break in to develop any brilliance or excitement, but it happens, I promise. The bass is also much more direct and impactful, rather than loose and boomy as it was with the EL. The hype surrounding this cartridge is for real.

    More Upgrade than I expected


    I replaced a very good sounding Audio Technica AT150MLX with the Hana SL. At first I was not all that impressed with the sound. But after about 75 hours the Hana really began to shine. Detail and soundstage were greatly increased. Surprisingly enough surface noise was equally decreased. I even put the AT back on to compare and this cartridge that I had really enjoyed now sounded raw and way too bright. All the reviews say the Hana is one of the best cartridges in its price range and I concur. It's going to take a lot to top the sound I'm getting out of this wonderful cartridge.

    Simply awesome!


    Coming from a Koetsu Rosewood, I wasn't sure the Hana would be right for me, but so many positive reviews gave me courage to "go for it"! That turned out to be a great choice, as I absolutely LOVE the sound of the SL, mounted in my Linn Ittok which is mounted to an LP 12.

    Here is how I described the sound:
    1. Crystal clear reproduction from records that were unlistenable with even my mighty Koetsu. I bought it new in 1985 and there were a lot of records that simply sounded ultra-distorted. The SL has played everything I've thrown at with aplomb.

    2. Accurate reproduction that makes you feel like "you are there" with live instruments.

    3. Bass response that is neither lean, nor "full". Just well balanced.

    4. The midrange is right where it should be--not hiding in the background; nor sitting irritatingly out in front.

    This is an outstanding cartridge, and I say that as the guy who has auditioned countless cartridges in the past, w/ few making the cut.

    Wonderful Cartridge


    Huge upgrade from the Clearaudio Aurum Classic that I used for 10 years on my Pro-ject RPM 10. This really opened the system up, improving clarity, response and soundstage. Well worth the price differential.

    Great all rounder that just sounds right.


    This cart was my first venture into the world of low output MCs. Having a shibata stylus, it does require some care in setup, but once dialed in, the sound is sublime. I've had MM and high output MCs carts in this price range. They simply don't compete with the Hana. I've finally found a cart that doesn't leave me wondering what I'll upgrade to next. It'll only be retips/exchanges from here on out.

    A Cinderella story...


    This is the Cinderella story of high end cartridges! It plays as if it were a $2K cartridge! Bass, soundstage expanse, a true 3D presentation, and a sound that draws you in. I never had a LOMC but this cartridge is making a believer out of me! Read all the pro reviews and believe what they say. This is one of those times the reviewers got it right! I need to buy another one of these and save it for I fear that someone will realize that they made a mistake on pricing and jack the price up!

    A Marvel of Engineering and Music


    Based on all the postive reviews of the Hana, I bought one to replace the Rega Exact cartridge that came with my RP-6 table. The Exact never really "did" it for me as to me the Exact was not a very involving cartridge. That cannot be said for the Hana. I have the SL - LOMC and it is a marvelous piece of engineering. The midrange is just what you would want - rich, detailed, lifelike. The bass does what bass is supposed to do and you do not have to worry about dull or anemic bass. The high notes are sweet, pinpoint but not hard or irritating. I have had some pricey Benz cartridges that did not perform as well as the Hana even though they cost more.
    This is a product worthy of five stars!

    A fantastic tracking, warm sounding, wide soundstage, awesome cartridge!

    by -

    Everything you read is true! Fantastic cartridge! If anything, the one thing I may disagree with, which I have read in a couple of reviews, is the bass response. I did not find it too lean at all, especially as the break-in period continues. It is punchy, not boomy, and overall quite even across the board. The mids are exactly right...and the highs are perfectly present without being overbearing. The soundstage is wide and open. In my opinion, most importantly, it tracks almost dead silent...which is a huge plus in my experience.

    Thanks again Brian for your help and expertise and I highly recommend this cartridge to anyone on the fence!

    Pretty great


    Only 10 minutes in and It’s already great. Realistic, detail, soundstage, clear warm bass...all there. Looking forward to messing w it more

    Need another one....just in case


    Also, if this thing breaks in the way I think it’s going to, I’ll be buying a back up within the month.