Two pairs: My Sonic Lab Eminent Solo mono and Hyper Eminent cartridges, plus Glanz MH-104S and MH-124S tonearms

montesquieu

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Some new arrivals. Currently working on a write-up but thought I'd share the pics. I feel rather spoilt by this experience, I must say.







 
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Direct Drive

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Crikey.....Nice. Interested to hear your thoughts. The Glanz arms are very much below the radar in some quarter's, particularly vs the Ikeda.
 
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dwhistance

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Yes, very nice. I must admit I'm a little jealous! What are the headshells you are using, they don't look like the Glanz ones?

Also is that a Shun Mook record clamp? Your thoughts on that would be interesting as well...

David Whistance
 

Audiophile Bill

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Lovely Tom! Really nice analogue front end.
 

108CY

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The two arms look stunning together.
 

montesquieu

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Yes, very nice. I must admit I'm a little jealous! What are the headshells you are using, they don't look like the Glanz ones?

Also is that a Shun Mook record clamp? Your thoughts on that would be interesting as well...

David Whistance
Hi David

The headshells are My Sonic Lab - 14 grams, double locking top and bottom. I've been very impressed by them. The Ikedas have more flexibility but the lightest is 16 grams. Clamp is a Shunk Mook clone I got as a gift - I'm not sure I could reliably tell blindfolded whether it's in use or not but it certainly looks cool!

More in a bit I'm still scribbling ....
 
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Solypsa

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Nice to see Glanz getting some recognition as of late!
 
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108CY

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montesquieu

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Ok here goes .. I’ve actually had the My Sonic Lab cartridges for quite a while, but was finally prompted to put something together now the tonearms have arrived.

One or other of the Glanz tonearms has been on the agenda for a while now - I came close to buying an ex-dem example of the 12 inch at one point last year, but for a variety of reasons that didn’t pan out. But it's actually a bit of a surprise (thanks to Mik Bhavnani of Unique Audio) to find myself owning both the ten inch Glanz MH-104S and its twelve inch sibling the MH-124S.

There has been quite a bit written up about these tonearms but I’m not all that sure it necessarily captures all that’s relevant for the real world. For me they stand in stark contrast to the ‘mainstream’ high end approach of on-the-fly super-adjustability and/or adoption of exotic, high-tech materials, which to be honest I don’t really go for: if you have lots of cartridges to play with and want a new production removable headshell arm to minimise the hassle of switching from one to another, there’s isn’t really much out there that competes at the price point - the new Ikeda IT-407 SS is well over twice the price, for example, likewise the new SAEC WE-4700 - and there isn’t yet a 12inch version of that arm. Of course, you can go vintage but that can be a bit of a lottery, and price wise you are at the mercy of collectors snapping up all the good ones.

As ever in this game, it was a small change that triggered a bigger rethink - the arrival of the newly released Allnic Rose. I wrote this up here https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/just-arrived-allnic-rose-mc-cartridge.30845/ and am still as delighted with it now as I was when it arrived. However time went on I’ve been developing a sense that its behaviour in daily use is that of a cartridge of sightly higher compliance than its published specs, and I wasn’t quite sure how to best explore the implications of that. Optimisation efforts initially manifested in a quest for lighter headshells - I tried a quite few from ebony to to titanium, from 10g to 20g but it sounded best on a 12g Dynavector, rather than a 16 or 20g Ikeda. I ended up running it mainly on my 12in Ikeda IT-407 though it was also fairly happy on the 9in IT-345 CR1. Nevertheless I couldn’t help feeling there was even more still to come out of it. This feeling was to prove correct.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with the MSL cartridges.

 
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montesquieu

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My Sonic Lab Eminent mono

Not long after the arrival of the Allnic Rose, a My Sonic Lab Eminent Solo Mono also showed up. I’d had this on order through Martin Brewster at Audio Reference, the UK distributor, for some time previously, following a chance to demo it over several days last year. It impressed hugely at the time indeed it turned out to be the first mono cartridge in a decade to give my Miyajima monos a run for their money (I’ve had a succession of these, including Spirit, Premium BE, and for the last five or six years, both Zeros (1.0 and 0.7mil conicals, for early microgroove and later mono issues/reissues (narrower v-shaped groove cut and pressed with stereo equipment) respectively, as well as a Kotetu 78 (actually an Edison Replica, Noriku Miyajima’s original brand in Japan where the company trades as Oto-no Edison). One or other of the Zeros got installed pretty much permanently on my old 9in Ikeda.

Miyajima’s take on mono is quite distinctive. I’ve played with quite a few vintage mono cartridges, from the Tannoy Variluctance and Goldring G600, to GE VRII and Sonovox MC-4. Using vintage cartridges in a modern system can be tricky, owing to their physical weight, height, and tracking force required, and in some cases to their weird and wonderful impedance and output voltage characteristics. Nevertheless, the benefit of a vintage mono cartridge is the musical coherence you get from using a single output coil activated only by motion of the stylus in the horizontal plane - there is no possibility for this to get confused by vertical modulations on the record as vertical motion isn’t possible. Ortofon’s SPU CG25 and CG65 models are essentially the last of this breed of single coil cartridges, intended for microgroove mono and 78s respectively - vintage cartridges you can still buy today.

Miyajima’s schtick was to come up with a modern take on the single coil mono cartridge, in a body of normal proportions and with dual mono output through four pins. They retained from vintage cartridges the restriction of motion to the horizontal, which can cause damage if a stereo record with vertical modulation is inadvertently played (and over the years I damaged more than one stereo pressing this way); also the single coil output could give hum issues when used into certain SUT or phono stage configurations. But these were not insurmountable issues and the Miyajima concept was incredibly successful; to my the Zeros ears bettered any twin-coil mono cartridges with vertical compliance from the likes of AT, Ortofon, Denon, Lyra and Koetsu that I tried out against it.

Twin coil cartridges can be wired in various ways with the main ones being essentially a normal stereo 45-degree coil configuration but summed electrically (cheapest option which nevertheless provides a degree of electrical cancellation of noise in the vertical plane); alternatively, it’s quite common to see stereo coils rotated to activate only in the horizontal, and either summed (which can lead to some strange gain and impedance characteristics) or simply output to the four pins in the hope that both mono signals will match. (As indeed they should, more or less, if quality control is up to the job) Both of these options retain vertical compliance in the cantilever - no mishaps if inadvertently used with a stereo cut. But neither approach is ideal.

The MSL Eminent Solo (which also matches horizontal only pickup with vertical compliance) goes a stage further in combining the winding for both coils, the closer to match the output signals to give double mono. The approach used is MSL’s low turns/low impedance one which was superbly written up by Shakti https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/my-personal-journey-to-my-sonic-lab.30722/ - I couldn’t hope to describe it better than he has. Impedance is 2 ohms - higher than the norm for MSL but still low by any other standards - and the output a healthy 0.5mV. There’s a diagram of the coil approach here:



Beyond the single or twin coil question, there’s the whole issue of stylus type and size. Early mono LPs have a u-shaped groove that narrowed a little as time progressed (the earliest LPs were frequency limited due to the wide groove width, many have little response above 8 or 10khz). Vintage microgroove styli were standardised on 1mil (25um). In their mono cartridges, Miyajima provides 1 mil and 0.7 mil (the later standard width for use in stereo grooves or on mono cuts pressed on stereo equipment), both conicals, though I often found myself using the 1.0mil Zero not just for early stuff, but for the majority of my mono listening - the wider tip sitting nicely above the u-shaped bottom on early stuff, but also slightly higher than a regular stereo stylus above any noise on the later pressings.

Most mono recordings date from the era where, essentially, all styli were conical, though it's not unknown for elliptical or even fancier stylus profiles to be used on modern-day mono cartridges - Lyra for example use a 3 x 70um line contact on the Kleos mono. I’ve been mostly unconvinced by this approach: they certainly dig out more detail but the fact is a lot of mono out there is less than pristine, for which the fancy profile does no favours, while using such a narrow stylus is well short of ideal with early material, restricting its use effectively to recent mono reissues. In my view this is a bit of a missed opportunity. (I am curious though about a larger footprint stylus with an advanced profile - no-one is currently doing this, to my knowledge - but great care would have to be taken for tolerance to worn vinyl - a real-world constraint that I believe is important.)

Here I think the Eminent Solo treads a careful path with a highly-polished 1mil conical. The challenge with Miyajima's vintage-inspired approach is that the sound itself can be a bit vintage sounding - ballsy, full, stage-filling, but perhaps a little on the thick side. Certainly, detail is being left on the record. My hope when I asked to demo the Eminent Solo was to find a cartridge that was as musically coherent and satisfying as the Miyajimas, but capable of more detail and fine expression. And that’s exactly what the Eminent Solo delivered. The same widescreen mono picture you get from Miyajima (occupying a massive space between the speakers which the mind can then assign to as instrumental and vocal depth, width and even height), but with a more accurate sense of player expression and instrumental timbre - a more modern sound, rather than something that sounds like vintage playback. To a degree that’s what I was expecting and it delivered performances from the 1950s that felt freshly recorded.

What I wasn’t expecting was the energy it delivered, which was at SPU-ish levels. A further benefit was that the 0.5mV signal from the Eminent Solo was a nice match for my Allnic head amp - it’s quiet as a mouse on that level of output.

To cut a long story short, after a month or so of experimenting with the Eminent Solo and comparing it with my Miyajima Zeros, playing mono recordings of all eras from very early microgroove to the very latest reissues, I sold not only both Zeros, but also my Miyajima ETR-Mono SUT. This was not without some sense of loss as I had been pretty attached to all of them and had owned the 0.7mil Zero for six years, following from a Premium BE - but it seemed to me that the Eminent Solo did the job beautifully on its own on cuts from all eras. (I kept my Miyajima Madake stereo cartridge though - more on that later).

Incidentally, there are quite a few inconsistencies in the various MSL web sites out there, which give wrong figures for specification of some of the cartridges. The real details for the Eminent Solo (verified with the factory) are as follows:

Model: Eminent Solo MC dual coil monaural cartridge
Output voltage: 0.5mV
Internal impedance: 2 ohms x 2
Load resistance: 1-6ohm (transformer), 100ohm to 500 ohm (head amplifier) - I settled on 500 ohm
Stylus tip (radius): 1mil (25.4um)
Stylus pressure: 3g +/- 0.3g
Weight: 9.5g

 
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montesquieu

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My Sonic Lab Hyper Eminent

My experience with the Eminent Solo led logically for a desire to try out one of the MSL stereo cartridges. But which one? The Gold and Platinum were out of range price wise. This left Eminent Ex, Hyper Eminent and Ultra Eminent. There is again confusion on some of the web site about specification but I settled on the Hyper Eminent, which again was noted on various web sites as having 1.8 ohm impedance (but 0.8 ohm on the factory leaflet that came with it) and 0.5mV output - a nice match for the Eminent Solo and for my Allnic head amp. Consensus seemed to be that this was perhaps the ‘warmest' of the MSL cartridges, which also allayed a concern I had over chasing more and more resolution, at the expense of musicality - reviews of the Ultra in particular have suggested a balance towards analytical presentation and fine detail. I’ve fallen down the detail-chasing rabbit hole a few times now and when you get stuck in that, the only way out is to into full reverse.

Compliance on both the Solo and the Hyper is stated as 10x10-6, it’s not clear whether this is measured at 10hz or 100hz, but in use the feel is of a proper lower-medium to low compliance cartridge. Indeed instructions give the recommendation that they be used with a substantial tonearm. In fact the quote from the accompanying information sheet is worth giving in full - it could well be written with the Ikeda or indeed the Glanz arms in mind:

’The cartridge undergoes extreme vibration when playing dynamic signals across a wide band, so the tonearm that supports it must have good weight distribution and mechanical strength, and also move smoothly. We recommend choosing one with a solid orthodox structure and reliable contacts of all parts, rather than one with complex mechanisms and special materials. In addition, tonearms made of high tech materials may have their own unique sound character, so depending on the reproduction balance of the MC cartridge, they may not necessarily be well matched. This can also be said of the headshell, so choose one with reliable balance and contact that is neither too light nor too heavy, and that uses conventional rather than special materials’.

Right on my wavelength then. Unfortunately none of the cartridges I was interested in was available at the time on demo. I took a deep breath and ordered the Hyper Eminent.

Out of the box, I have to say the cartridge underwhelmed - I was warned it would need 100 hours but for the first 20 I nevertheless questioned the wisdom of the purchase. It wasn’t totally bad, just a bit nondescript and restrained - but it’s far from a cheap cartridge and I have found in the past that run-in anxiety is proportional to component price. Thankfully the time passed quickly and I was rewarded with a blossoming that was as dramatic as it was gratefully received. Imagine an SPU on steroids, just as muscular but with all the delicacy and insight of a pukka high-end moving coil. Actually I didn’t have to imagine it - the visit of an Ortofon SPU Century towards the end of break-in was revelatory. In terms of boldness and bounce, of energy with jazz and power with classical piano, there was nothing between them. But yet the amount of additional detail coming through and its ability with ambient space and bass articulation suggested to me that for the first time in many years I don’t actually **need** an SPU in the stable. I have a strong suspicion that from where I sit on the musicality vs microscopic detail axis, the Hyper Eminent is the sweet spot of the range. (I’d still like to hear the Platinum though).

I have some more to say on how both cartridges behaved on the Glanz tonearms vs the Ikedas but one thing worth noting here is that even though the official specifications say they are the same weight, in fact the Eminent Solo mono is 0.5g heavier than the Hyper Eminent, which is sufficient to mean that if both are on the same headshell (in my case, the MSL SH-1RH which I consider excellent), they can be swapped on the same arm without necessarily re-setting the VTF - a nice touch which in theory emulates the SPU though in reality there are so many exceptions to SPU weight between different samples that in practice requires VTF always to be checked when swapping between pickup heads.

That’s enough on the cartridges for now - more to follow on the tonearms and how the various cartridges fared with them in a later post.

 

Direct Drive

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What's the effective mass of the Glanz? They look very well designed ... but heavy (?)
They are. 28g-30g as measured by HFN
 

shakti

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Some new arrivals. Currently working on a write-up but thought I'd share the pics. I feel rather spoilt by this experience, I must say.







very nice turntable Design!

Happy to see more Glanz Tonearms at WBF. I definitely like my Glanz 124 :)

I had several MSL cartridge iterations fitted, they all play nicely
(hayabusa, sumile, platinum and more)

Looking forward to read about your tonearm experience !
Which tonearmcables are you using with the Glanz arms?

Depending on the cartridge, I am using the 7N copper Wireworld Eclipse or the 7N Silver Wireworld Platinum
 

montesquieu

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On to the Glanz tonearms …

Glanz MH-104S

First to arrive was the 10in version … a chance conversation with Mik revealed the fact that he had a used example come in at a rather attractive price, that I decided I didn’t want to miss out on. All sorted very quickly, but frustratingly, while the hole for the armbase is the same size as for the Ikeda IT-345 it replaced (indeed the thread is the same making the arm nut interchangeable), the spindle to pivot distance is 239mm rather than the Ikeda’s 230. So a new armboard had to be drilled for the sake of 9mm.

Setup at the stated spindle to pivot distance of 239mm was straightforward, however, alignment threw up some curiosities. All three Glanz arms including the 10in have a specified overhang of 15mm - however there are also statements out there that say the arms are designed for use with Ortofon SPU. All my cartridges have for a long time now been set up effectively for SPU geometry, with a headshell at arm collet to stylus tip distance of 52mm. But when these were used on the Glanz, the measured overhang was 17mm. Moving the arm collet to stylus tip distance back to 50mm (the Japanese standard as used for example in the FR7 pickup head) brought the overhang back to 15mm, and the geometry into line with the official specs. Vinyl engine was inconclusive about which approach would produce the least measured distortion, but after a couple of weeks of experimentation, my ears have at least tentatively told me that 50mm/15mm overhang was the way to go, and I have now setup all my cartridges on the 50mm distance. This doesn’t mean necessarily that the 17mm overhang produced by an SPU will cause problems, but it’s probably not quite true to say that it’s 100% optimised in its geometry for SPU at the standard spindle to pivot distance. (All this applies also to the 9in and 12in arms). Nevertheless, the visiting Ortofon SPU Century was pretty happy, and at the time I had the MSL Hyper Eminent set up to the same 17mm overhang. Both sounded superb. It may well be that I’m not done experimenting with overhang but I’d be interested in the experiences of an other Glanz owners in this area.

From the manual - recommended headshell setup at 50mm:



In terms of size and proportions, I would put the 10in Glanz very much in the same ballpark as the 9 inch (or really, nine and a half inch) Ikeda. First impressions were of something beautifully machined and assembled - the headshell collet screws up as smooth as silk, and overall the machining quality is exceptional. It’s just a lovely thing to handle. Effective mass is not officially given for any of the Glanz arms but while it’s definitely in the high mass category for a 10 inch arm, I doubt it is anywhere near the suggested 28-30g for the 12 inch - probably in the low to mid 20s I would think. Used with a middleweight headshell of 10-14g, I would think the 10in arm at least is capable of working well with cartridges of higher compliance than you’d expect from Glanz’s reputation as a heavyweight. This would be assisted by the very high quality bearing used, and the use of an oversized thrust bearing in the lower position in horizontal dimension - the operation is very smooth indeed.

The only real disappointment was the Glanz headshell, which looks fantastic but I’m really not sure is all that great from a sonic point of view. The first cartridge I tried in the 10in arm was the Allnic Rose, which I had in a 12g Dynavector DV2-2A headshell previously liberated from a DV-505 - really nice quality though not adjustable for azimuth. This was an absolute knockout, the Glanz being able to extract every bit of musical juice from the Schubert Lieder recording I tried it with - piano scale and space, vocal expressiveness, room ambience - all there in spades, the whole thing really secure in the groove. However a quick switch to the Glanz’s own headshell - which is also 12g - both with and without a spacer to distribute contact with the top plate suggested that there were unacceptable musical losses in using it - I did try it again with other cartridges but it’s now back in the box permanently. The DV headshell as well as the 14g MSL headshells and the 16 and 20g heavier Ikeda ones where appropriate were all far happier than the factory headshell.



What quickly became clear was that this arm has quite an energetic, highly dynamic character, really well suited to jazz and other rhythmic music. Indeed I found myself stripping the shelves for 1950s and 1960s jazz recordings, mono and stereo. Certainly it was both more detailed and punchier than either of the Ikeda arms for this sort of repertoire.

This got me thinking … and a week or two later, chatting to Mik again. An interesting trade-in offer on my IT-407 soon saw a 12in Glanz winging its way to join its shorter sibling.

Glanz MH-124S

The 12-incher is, of course, where all the reviews out there and most of the media and forum attention has focused (such as it is - to an extent the Glanz arms are still a bit under the radar). It’s quite fascinating just what a dramatically different beast it is from the 10 inch arm. It’s longer of course (obviously) but it also handles like a much more substantial component. The size of the counterweight alone demonstrates that this is a different animal - certainly heavier than my IT-407, it really feels like a proper heavyweight. And it is much more fussy about cartridges - I felt that the Allnic Rose was less happy on the 12in arm - a bit twitchy and sensitive, whereas it had been rock solid on the 10in arm. I expect mainly to use it on the 10in for that reason.

Also while I would hardly call it slow, the 12in arm has quite a different musical feel, more expansive and open, in comparison to the rhythmically charged feel of the 10 inch - this was particularly apparent with the MSL Hyper Eminent, My normal test for sonority is viola da gamba, lute and madrigal music - small ensembles such as the Dowland Second Book of Lute songs on L’Oiseau Lyre. With the 12in Glanz this was nothing short of intoxicating, as was Joshua Rifkin’s 1987 one voice to a part recording of Bach’s two earliest vocal compositions, BWV 106 and BWV 131. Goose bumps.

Moving round the cartridges I had available, it seemed that the Miyajima Madake really felt at home on the 12in arm - in fact I’ve never heard it sound better, even if the presentation was rather different to how it sounded on the shorter arm The same jazz recordings using the Hyper Eminent or Rose on the 10in, which had sounded particularly spirited or funky, get spotlit in a different way by the Madake on the 12in arm. The Madake has always presented an alternative take - it remains the best cartridge I have for presenting an integrated musical gestalt - and the 12in arm takes that ability to another level. I had at one point thought of selling it due to its relative lack of drama compared to the Rose or the Hyper Eminent, but it’s just won back its place in the stable thanks to the 12in Glanz.

As I mentioned both the MSL cartridges are low enough compliance to be equally happy on either arm, and I think which one gets used will depend on what music I’m planning to listen to - jazz for the 10in, renaissance, baroque and Lieder for the 12in. Mostly. What’s really clear from owning both is that they are very different arms and I would advise anyone looking at them to consider which - the 10 or the 12 - they might lean towards in terms of presentation.

BTW to answer Shakti’s question, the arm-cable I’m using on the 10 inch is an Ikeda HBC-MS-5000 - I am a big fan of this cable and have another coming for use with the 12in arm (currently being used with the Zavfino Highlands silver cable - we’ll see what works best). Using a Furutech AG-12 between head amp and Allnic H7000V phono stage.



 
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westlower

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As ever, excellent and informative writing Tom.
Can't wait to hear the revised system in full flow.
;)
 

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