AnalogPlanet Visits Hana Cartridge Manufacturer Excel Sound Corporation (revised)

Just before heading to Tokyo's Narita airport to go home, editor Michael Fremer stopped by at Excel Sound Corporation in Yokohama, which manufactures Hana brand cartridges as well as OEM-ing for many other brands.

He was met at the front door by publicist and president of Youtek Limited Hiroshi Ishihara and Excel Sound Corporation president Masao Okada.

As you'll see and hear during the tour of the facility, there were frequent translation issues that led to some humorous and/or frustrating communications.

Still, there was much to see and learn about a company that managed to survive the "death of vinyl" by expanding into low priced accessories until the near miraculous resurgence of interest in vinyl records.

gMRfk6LMHn's picture

Very enjoyable video Michael, watching it objectively I feel that the problem was just the translation, they seemed quite amenable and helpful, I didn't get the impression they were being cautious or coy about their products.

James, Dublin, Ireland

Ortofan's picture

... the real rarity was the Mitsubishi broadcast monitor speakers on which they were sitting - the ones with the Dymo labels.

AndreC.'s picture

Great! Thanks for the videos!

... what about a new TV Channel ---> AnalogPlanet TV

gMRfk6LMHn's picture

I cringe to think about how much travel time and effort went into arranging all of that only to be met with such unpreparedness, so thank you for your sacrifice.

Are you suggesting Michael should have learned Japanese before he arrived there, ha!

James, Dublin, Ireland

theboogeydown's picture

Not at all. Did you watch the video? Their translator was not very effective, had hardly any answers for Michael's questions and they didn't even have a Hana cart on the TT. If you were this company's marketing director the reason for your termination would be, unpreparedness.

avanti1960's picture

which ones? they do not look like any cartridges i am familiar with or interested in......denon? shelter?

Ipsofacto's picture

Loved the Hana tour, that new etsuro Urushi MC reminded me of my old AC-2, It sounded great in the critical middle frequencies, with a warmish top end, and had very plucky transients. But it did not end well. It has a very fragile cantilever. it's a man made i.e. (grown), hollow sapphire tube, and I broke it in half while cleaning it one day. Had to get it replaced, so dealerships do matter. Today, I do prefer a Boron cantilever for it's rigidity, for it's neutral tone, and it's lack of resonant qualities. But a well manufactured aluminum cantiliever with a quality nude mounted diamond is quite acceptable as well. I now own an original Koetsu Urushi MC that I treasure, and still listen to a heavily modified VDH MC, the Symphonic Line MC cartridge that I have enjoyed for over 10 years. And for nostalgia on occasion I break out my old Super SD-900 Super Plus MC with a Vital stylus profile or my Nakamichi Reference Pick up the MC-1000 .... Time for an upgrade ???

WELquest's picture

Hi Michael -- Very interesting to see a tour today of the company that made all the 1980's and 90's AudioQuest cartridges except for the ScanTech/Lyra made AQ 7000 series. It was a pleasure working with Excel through prototypes and samples as the AQ404, B200 and others reached fruition.

Those were Excel-made cartridges that first got you and me and Joe Harley together in Laguna Beach, long, long ago.

I think you got hoodwinked by our industry's remarkable ability to corrupt language. My favorite/most hated example is about cables "breaking-in", because while they definitely adapt to a charged state, it's not permanent.

In this case. you tried to ask about "demagnetizing" a phono cartridge because, well, that was the completely incorrect term our industry used. Your Japanese hosts only understood the real meaning of the word demagnetize, and the truth that a demagnetized cartridge would be dead, lifeless, useless.

What you were wanting to ask about was the reorientation of the cartridge's magnetization, which is analogous to what AQ's DBS system does in the electrostatic realm, bringing order to an amorphous state.

I would like to have heard their answer if they had understood your true question -- one that required translation not from English into Japanese, but from audio-world gobbledegook into fact.

The sapphire tube referred to in the comment just above was used on the AQ 808 and 909 cartridges, along with a sapphire base/coupling plate. It wasn't particularly fragile, less vulnerable than most aluminum cantilevers -- but the psychology of a broken sapphire or boron cantilever is very different from the psychology of a bent metal cantilever.

Best wishes, Bill Low/AudioQuest

Anton D's picture

I think they also took your comments with all earnestness, making for difficulty with establish any back and forth on your humor.

It seemed like a 'tough room,' but nice people.

I also liked seeing the cartridge builder flicking the cantilever as he built the devices!