HMS Listening Booth- 3 Hawaiian Tenors

This “Listening Booth” has a Ko’olau T100 Spruce/Rosewood, a deluxe koa Tenor Kanile`a, and a koa tenor KoAloha and a Corey Fujimoto. All seemed exceptional to me.

This was done as dry and flat as you get. No compression beyond what must happen at upload, just bare mono. Earthworks setup is talked about in the last blog…

This comparison is not fair from a money stand point. The Koolau will cost twice the KoAloha. But especially beyond $1000, it’s all preference. Everyone has their own right to an opinion. Who’s to say something sounds better. We may not even share the same criteria, let alone agree.

What differences do you hear? (listening on descent speakers or headphones?)

Everyone likes different things. That’s about the only given. So give an honest opinion of what you like or don’t but just don’t expect anyone to agree and all will be cool. Give us your take below, what’d ya think?

Comments 6

  1. With my eyes closed and listening through a good headphone I cannot tell the differences or pick out when the instruments change with my wife checking my guesses. Visually I’d take the Ko’olau any day. That reminds me – I gotta’ go run the numbers to see when I can get one. (The T 100).

  2. Corey makes all three sound absolutely amazing!! My preference is the KoAloha, only because that’s the sound I like best, but they all sound amazing. I love the warmth of the KoAloha sound, and the sustain.

  3. Hey Andrew…I’m really enjoying these HMS Listening Booth Comparisons! From what I hear (listening with noise-cancelling headphones), the Ko’olau has the brightest sound of the bunch followed by the KoAloha and then the Kanile’a with the warmest sound. The KoAloha also seems to project more than the other two ukuleles. In terms of clarity of sound I find the Ko’olau and KoAloha very close while the the Kanile’a with it’s bright sound really cuts through. For my preferences, I would be hard pressed to choose between the Kanile’a and the KoAloha’s warm, endearing sound. Hopefully I’ll be able to make it to Hawaii and HMS one day to try them myself and make that choice my first Hawaiian built ukulele!


  4. Listening on a good set of subwoofered desktops;

    First choice, for clearest articulation, the Ko’olau Spruce/Rosewood.

    Second, for warmth, the Kanile’a Koa

    The Ko’Aloha seemed boomy, overly-resonant, till Corey’s last riffs on it…

    Credit to the mic/setup engineer again. Distinct audible differences coming through to my ear.

  5. I think Corey could make a $20 uke sound good. I loved the way you edited to do the comparison. All sounded fantastic, and the differences were pretty subtle, especially with my eyes closed. I’ve been saving for a Kanilea, but the Ko’oalu blew me away.

    At least I have plenty of time to think and listen before I’m ready to buy.

  6. In my humble, and most unprofessional opinion, I think that the spruce top Ko’olau is the brightest with best note to note articulation and separation. However, I most preferred the Ko’Aloha, with the Kanilea coming in as a very close second. The two koa’s are definitely warmer with stronger harmonic content and more sustain than the Ko’olau. It’s nearly impossible to say anything bad about any of them, but I did find the Kanilea just a wee bit muddy. But, put it up against almost any other uke and it would probably be a standout. In a band setting, no doubt, the Ko’olau would probably cut through the mix better.
    Thanks Cory & team!

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