Timestep’s Dave Cawley has just signed an exclusive distribution agreement to import Glanz tonearms from their native Japan to the UK.

The brand name ‘Glanz’ is not new. It originated back in the 1950s with Japanese company Mitachi Acoustics whose analogue audio products were developed and marketed under the Glanz brand. Several of the company’s products were created by Masataka Hamada, an accomplished audio engineer who, several decades later, poured his skills into developing his own range of high-end tonearms. Keen to honour the brand that nurtured his early audio career, Hamada acquired a special licence from the Mitachi family to market his tonearms under the Glanz name. And so, in 2008, Glanz was reborn.

Glanz tonearms are manufactured by Hamada Electric in Shizuoka, Japan. The range offers three levels: the original very high-end S Series, a subsequent more affordable B Series, and the flagship ‘jewel in the crown’ SD model. All are crafted by Hamada himself.

The original S Series follows the classic aesthetic tradition of the S-shaped arms prevalent in the 1970s. All key body parts of a Glanz tonearm are constructed from a very high grade, extra hard stainless steel. Any metal with this degree of rigidity takes expertise to machine. To attain the desired degree of mechanical integrity, the tonearm’s key parts are joined using an interference fit (also known as a press fit or friction fit), in which the joint is achieved by friction after the parts are pushed together rather than by fixings or adhesives. There is no ‘weakest link’. The headshell, for example, is seamlessly machined from a single billet of stainless steel. The curvature of the S-shaped arm is precisely gauged. The arm pivot features four large bearings, each machined to extreme tolerances to provide optimal ‘tight/loose’ contact, and each is hand-inserted using a jeweller’s hammer. The lower bearing in the vertical axis uses a high-precision thrust bearing, giving a structure that allows the high-mass arm to move with sensitivity.

A Glanz tonearm uses ‘parallel damping’ to achieve the desired result. Among Hamada’s solutions are a thin rubber insert inlaid into the headshell, various strategically-positioned damping structures within the arm tube, and a counterweight assembly incorporating a triple damping system in which layers of carbon fibre, ABS resin and rubber are held in tension by a central screw, eliminating the natural tendency for materials to relax and become less effective over time.

The SD tonearm takes the S Series’ 12” model and adds a number of cost-no-object processes and features to achieve the ultimate performance. Selected highlights include a diamond-hard carbon layer coating on all metal parts; pure silver signal leads wrapped in silk and encased in poly-fibre for the ultimate anti-vibration transmission; a fourth level of counterweight damping featuring heavy tungsten elements embedded within the stainless steel; and carbon fibre rather than rubber damping in the headshell.

The B Series, in which all of the most important aspects of the S series are maintained but a lower cost is achieved thanks to a simpler three-part damping system in the counterweight, while the anti-skating mechanism and cueing lever are manufactured from ABS plastic, providing a cost-effective yet still resonance-avoiding solution.

As an engineer myself”, says Timestep’s Dave Cawley, who has just begun importing Glanz into the UK, “I consider the Glanz tonearm to be a masterclass in precision. Its level of detail in design and craftsmanship is something I could happily wax lyrical about for quite some time. But rather than listening to me I suggest you listen to these arms. Speed, agility, clarity, openness and detail are all superlative. The soundstage is focused yet spacious and the overall air is utterly natural. These are quite honestly the best tonearms I’ve heard.”

Pricing & availability

The full range of Glanz tonearms is available now, priced as follows (incl. VAT).

B Series MH-9B (9”)

MH-10B (10”)

£1,499 (including high quality interconnect cable & AT-HS1 headshell)
S Series MH-94S (9”)

MH-104S (10”)

MH-124S (12”)

£5,600 (including high quality interconnect cable & MH-4S headshell)
SD Series MH-124SD (12”) £13,995 (including high quality interconnect cable & MH-4S headshell)

 

 

 

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