Haniwa Audio has always meant one thing to me–fabulous phono cartridges. I’ve always considered them one of those small Japanese companies, like Miyajima or My Sonic Lab or a half-dozen others that have a Zen-like approach to the art of the “record needle.” I was surprised when I walked into the Haniwa Audio room at the 2019 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest and witnessed an entire system–speakers, amps, turntable, phono pre–all made by Haniwa.
Most unusual was the tiny HSP01 horn speakers ($25,000/pair with the HDSA01 Digital Phase Control System amplifier) that nevertheless produced a big and dynamic sound with LPs from Harry Pearson‘s recommended list of recordings. Oh wait, let me fix that. These were Harry Pearson’s actual LPs purchased from his estate sale by Dr. Tetsuo Kubo, founder of Haniwa Audio. Dr Kubo sat in a chair next to the system, which included the HCTR-CO phono cartridge and HEQA03-CI Current Input Equalizer ($20,000) and The Player turntable ($33,000 with the HCTR-CO and HEQA03-CI), and he carefully played each disc with an uncommon focus that bordered on ritualistic–something many vinyl-lovers understand.
The sound from the Haniwa Audio system was equally focused and clear, with plenty of dynamics and impact. Dr. Kubo played LPs that were primarily classical and from the original Mercury Living Presence and RCA Living Stereo catalogs, so I didn’t hear anything with a lot of low frequency information that could show what those small horns could accomplish. Robert Warren Bean, the Haniwa Audio sales manager, informed me that the frequency range of the HSP01 was true to the original performance thanks to solid magnesium single driver, which eliminates phase control issues and resonances. The Haniwa Audio HSP01 speakers are probably as close to a single point source as you can get in high-end audio.
This was truly an unusual room, with a sound that was anything but run-of-the-mill. I felt an honesty about the sonics, a feeling that I was getting deep into a sound that existed at the original performance. Superb timing and coherence are definitely achieved with the complete Haniwa Audio system, and I would love to hear more from Dr. Kubo in the future.