12 inch Graham Phantom

Anyone compared this to the 9" or 10" arm tube?


Yes, it is longer

Syntax - It is obviously longer.
Please share with us any sonic differences you have noticed, as you have both the 9" and the 12" armwands. Thank you very much.
Yes, it is longer

Comment of the month Syntax. I almost fell off my chair with laughter :-)
Comment of the month indeed. Great.
Yes longer indeed, but just on one end.
What it is attached to is important as well, don't you think? Going deep into the groove..
Is longer better?
This is not an easy question to answer. And a lot depends on the recording.
It isn't the length that counts, it is how you set it up and use it.
My wife told me I wasn't qualified to comment on the differences between a 9" and 12" length.
I heard that Holmes Audio is offering a 14" tonearm.

I'd worry about rigidity at that length.
Is there a pill that can increase tonearm rigidity? I need it to last for as long as the music is playing.
I would think that any improvement is minor. I changed my VPI arm from the 9 inch sig to the 10.5, and the change was insignificant. I would think that the arm mass increases with length, and even if the rigidity is maintained, the biggest change is in the mass of the arm.
>>10-01-10: Dgad
Is there a pill that can increase tonearm rigidity?<<

Now this is an excellent question.

Many of my customers use Audioagra. It enables them to have a satisfying listen session when the moment is right and have complete confidence in their system.

And it has a high WAF.
Don't just go in there again ,and use your own arm. Make it nice ! Perhaps a lit candle, to shine on your rack. I believe Onzow makes an excellent gel, always ready when you are. George Carlin, you are missed.

It's not the length. It's how you use it.... if that's what she said.

Well, with all deference to motion-in-the-ocean metaphors, my wife can empirically, emphatically, hysterically, orgasmically, verify my 14 inch Kraken-like length!

But, still, unlike Ozymandias - a real head-out-of-the-sand kinda guy - I continue to maintain my humility in the face of this awesome-ness, even as it is appended to my SELF...

Actually I, that is, ME, have, in fact, compared the 9" and the 10" and the 12" and the 13" arm tubes, and also have factored in the 16" tube, the one that Graham has only allowed certain select people to hear, much less listen to...

And, to maintain perfect objectivity in my endeavor, I had the tonearms - all of the tubes - rewired with Kondo 20yr annealed and tin-ed wire, installed during an eclipse. This, again, made me sure that the objective would tell me the subjective, so that I wouldn't have to ever listen again, much less hear.

Then I called Syntax and Derto to tell me what would complete this empiric loop of METHOD, verifying this DATA with that which was previously, and, in a temporal mystery, relayed to me by my good friends, Thomas Kuhn and Carl Popper.

And these perceptions, of course, I'm sure you understand, can only be initial impressions, mystical thought-traces, morphic resonounces, as it were...

(Insert: Drum roll)

And so, so, I thought that the terrior of the 9" was akin to a 1990 Ch. La Tour, properly cellared, of course - long, long long, on the decay. Then I inserted the Kondo-ed 13"; it seemed to come up from behind on the now-diminutive 10", rearing its, er, head, and introducing a filigreed nuance that is hard to describe, its harmonic depth and infinite spatial perspective ineffable to the cognitively-attched mind.

And the 16 inch? Please, please, I can not even go there, the syntaxial mind vapors too hard to hold...

And so, my final, God-like opinions, perceptions, divinings?

Well, again, I don't know.

But, I would be interested in the opinions of others...
Glai: just kidding around. nothing about you in my jest. people are just laughing.

I looked at your sytem. It is well thought out, we are alike.

A dabble in Prana or Jena wire instead of Stealth? A Shindo pre?

Glai, I took a look longer at your system, and see that you've heard some Shindo, now to Allnic. Its an interesting progression.
This is so far - heads and away - the most sophisticated and educational thread in the analog department in 2010.
But to add to the pure technical aspect of the question: yes, longer is better - obviously. In terms of geometry and in terms of - well .. - feeling. Anything less than 10" is not really serious and the real fun starts with 12".

Longer isn't always better. Some have complained that it hurts. Some like it shorter, some like it thicker, some thinner, and some like it just the way it is. For each there is an optimum length, thickness. Basically we are looking for that perfect synergy. Without it you need to move on.

I forget what I am talking about, women or cartridges?
Dgad, it certainly all is a matter of perspective ......
Length never hurts - if applied with expertise and skill.
Those poor souls who prefer short and thin will still have a wide selection.
Given the fact that the 10" are rare and the 12" are even scare.
Those lucky few who have experienced the advantage of the long versions applied with skill, will never again settle for less -neither skill nor length.
And they KNOW why.
And - yes, I recall! - we were talking tonearms.....
The relaxed handling with a long one and its improved contact area to the side walls can create a different reproduction of tones.
LOL. Try and keep this under control. This thread is well on its way to be deleted.

I think Peter at North Audio also carry some long ones.

I have also seen some >18" ones made with exotic african wood material.
o.k. - back to the mere prosaic world of analog-highend audio.
If the rigidity of a given tonearm AND its moving mass AND its ability (if there is any ability) to transfer energy is NOT diminished by the increased length of the armpipe - then the advantage in minimized geometrical error will show off in "improved" (whatever that is..) sonic presentation.
So - if all strong points of a given tonearm-design are preserved while increasing its length - and thus decreasing its geometrical error (tangential...) - then the longer version will be the "better" version.
As with everything in our physical sphere, there is a "window" or "frame" of superior function under the given mechanical circumstances. Below 9" the error in a pivoted design becomes too large to allow serious high-fidelity sound (at least to my ears). Above 12-13" there will be very few plinth/turntables around to accommodate a tonearm of that length. Furthermore the further minimization in tangential error will be so little, that it won't show off any more in real-world set-ups.
Between 9" and 12" there is a significant improvement in tangential error and the toenarms of that effective length still do show reasonable rigidity and moving mass.
Compare the 12" to the 10" versions in tonearm-designs like the SME, the Ikeda, the Phantom II, the Fidelity Research FR60s-series. While the differences are subtle, they are there. Clear and in all the different designs of the tonearms just mentioned, they are showing in the same direction.
I like it when physical laws and geometry show their impact in analog.
Not all is myth or voodoo.
I remember reading somewhere that mistakes in setting up a 12 inch arm as compared to a 9 inch arm will be more "severe". I forget where I read it but it seems to make sense. A 12 inch arm is less tolerant of poor setup than a 9 inch. Also I find the the Lofgren A vs B vs. Stevenson alignments cater to different arms differently.
Dgad, ...
10-03-10: Dgad
I remember reading somewhere that mistakes in setting up a 12 inch arm as compared to a 9 inch arm will be more "severe". I forget where I read it but it seems to make sense. A 12 inch arm is less tolerant of poor setup than a 9 inch.

.... interesting.
You will supply the geometrical background for this statement ?! At least for this poor educated soul of mine it is not immediately apparent, why "mistakes in setting up a 12" arm as compared to a 9" arm will be more "severe"...".
This rather seems one of those "high-end-audio-only laws of physics" probably stated by one of the self-promoted deans of analog-audio-MIT
Please clarify.
Derto/Dgad: on increased potential for set-up error for longer arms, I remember seeing that too - in one of the mags, maybe Dudley in the last 3-4 mos, maybe when he did the Schick (sic) arm. Or it may have been one of Fremers asides...but I have in my head, Dudley.
Well, the Set Up with a long one can be a real task, but it is worth the time

done right
Dear Asa, thanks for the further hint, but my problem is with the statement itself - not so much its "origin". It lacks even the most basic traces of logic and geometry. It is o.k. with me if an audio reviewer has problems in aligning a pivot tonearm (I guess most of them have...), but it is something else if one tries to hide one's inabilities and lack of expertise behind "technical explanations" which have nothing to do with the real world and are (at least for some) an insult to basic school knowledge.
It reminds me of that indestructible "zombie statement" in tube audio that 12V and higher heaters are somewhat sonic inferior to 6.3V heaters.
Seems that in high-end audio no statement is silly enough, that it don't become "proven statement" if it is only published somewhere online.
>>10-04-10: Dertonarm
Seems that in high-end audio no statement is silly enough, that it don't become "proven statement" if it is only published somewhere online.<<

Each arm is optimized for a different standard. I would propose that it isn't a matter of 12 vs 10.5 vs 9 but more a matter of the individual arm and the setup geometry chosen. Lofgren A vs B vs Stevenson. The arcs they draw are extremely different. Also we need to take into account the different assumed inner Radii on the LP for calculating each arc. All of these add up to what we hear.

And if longer arms are better then why no 14 inches. We certainly have the materials to make the rigidity vs. length argument minimal and maintain a reduced effective mass.
Dgad, "why not 14 inches tonarms"? Because of the lack of available space on most turntables AND because the decrease in tangential error relatively becomes less and less with increased effective length.
14" and 16" tonearms were invented for and mounted on special broadcast turntables/plinth to be able to play transcription discs of large diameter common in the 1940ies and 1950ies.
On the better calculated 12" tonearms the maximum tangential error is already between 1.3° and 0.3°. This is a relatively large advantage to the 2.8° to 1.6° in 9" pivot tonearms. Lofgren A,B,C (vs in between...), Baerwald, Stevenson or any other calculation can be applied to 9", 10" or 12" effective length. It will not alter in any way the inherent advantage in tangential error (read: smaller...) of the longer version.
For those not to be convinced by physics and logic, there is always the opportunity to compare 9" to 12" versions of the very same tonearm.
Which leads us back to Graham and the 12" Phantom II.
Wider soundstage, more stable individual voices in complex choruses, more free and detailed high frequencies and a kind of "relaxed feel" in dynamic scale music.
I'm sorry , I can not see how an arm can be optimized for a particular alignment during the manufacturing process.
It can only rotates on it's pivot and we can choose to align the cartridge's stylus on whatever standard we wish, by simply rotate it's body and the pivot point.
Please tell me what I am missing?

"Also we need to take into account the different assumed inner Radii on the LP for calculating each arc".
I'm sorry I don't get it. What do you mean?
Of course the arm's pivot is different for each given standard but if we place the pointed edge of a pair of compasses at the pivot point & the other end at a point until the Eff. Length, then we can have the arc by simply rotate the compass against it's pivot.
I'm I wrong?

As for your question about why we don't have 14", maybe the answer hides on the easy money & cheap production cost of our times as I cannot find a logical answer.

I remember reading somewhere that mistakes in setting up a 12 inch arm as compared to a 9 inch arm will be more "severe". I forget where I read it but it seems to make sense. A 12 inch arm is less tolerant of poor setup than a 9 inch.

It started from Bob Graham's white paper originally posted in his website. Now it's gone in the Graham's current website but you can still read in this archive.


QUESTION: Which is better - a 9" arm or an 11" arm? Doesn't the longer arm reduce tracking error?

Occasionally we've been asked to produce a longer version of our tonearm (for special applications) and proceeded to do extensive research into the matter. The "standard" 9.0 or 9.5-inch length, which is optimized for the vast majority of reasonably-sized turntables, has proven itself to have the best balance of geometric accuracy combined with optimal performance in the areas of inertial forces which, if too high, will adversely affect the performance of the cartridge. In the 1940's and part of the 50's, 16" transcription records required the use of the longer tonearm. You could hammer nails with some of those tonearms. They were massive and rugged but they didn't sound that good. Today's needs are totally different.

To begin with, a longer tonearm has at least two built-in disadvantages: First, its moment of inertia must be higher, since the cartridge is that much further away from the pivot. This extra force has to be counterbalanced, and this requires a larger balancing system. Even if the counterweight is near the pivot, it still must be larger than the equivalent member of a shorter arm. Remember that the moment of inertia is equal to the mass times the distance squared; therefore, increasing the length of a tonearm will also increase the moment of inertia significantly. With a higher moment of inertia, the arm, which must follow the laws of physics, will become more sluggish in responding to changes of direction and this can become a problem with warped or off-center records. If this problem were severe enough, and with certain delicate cartridge suspension systems, this could even become a strain sufficient to cause early cantilever failure.

There's another area where clarification and a discussion of proper arm length is definitely in order, and leads us to the second important difficulty with a longer tonearm and another question:

QUESTION: Cartridge installation is usually a fussy job and I don't like to do it. How have you addressed this?

In addition to being a tedious, eye-straining chore, normal cartridge installations are usually in error, often to a significant degree. This guarantees that, no matter how elegant the system is otherwise, proper reproduction of LPs is being compromised by geometrical errors. It simply is not sufficient to use a protractor to adjust the cartridge body. Often, cartridges don't have parallel sides and this makes it extra difficult to judge the coincidence with a pattern of lines printed on cardboard or mirrored plastic templates. And most important of all, many cartridges don't have the cantilever truly lined up with the cartridge body. In this case the installation misalignment is sent further awry by this additional cantilever error. It is important to note that even straight-line tonearm designs are not immune to this problem. It is just as easy to mis-align a cartridge in an air-bearing design as it is in a pivoted arm. In that case, the cartridge is traveling in a straight line, to be sure, but now it is in error across the entire surface of the record.

The patented Graham Engineering system solves this problem by providing a two-step process for precise cartridge alignment. We developed a system which ignores the cartridge body and the manufacturers alignment accuracy of the cantilever within the cartridge. Our method allows the user precise and repeatable accuracy in aligning the cartridge properly in the headshell, yielding virtually no significant tracking error. This is obtained first by locating the tonearm correctly on the turntable relative to the turntable spindle. A simple alignment fixture accomplishes this and assures correct overhang, one of the three interrelated dimensions that must be properly observed. The second step is to position the stylus tip exactly at the right place and at the right angle; this is accomplished with our removable arm wand plus a second installation fixture which uses the cantilever itself as a reference and totally ignores the cartridge body or other variables. Correct overhang is now locked in, as is the second important variable, the offset angle. (The third, effective length, is a combination of precise manufacturing tolerances and correct cartridge installation. Our tonearm parts are built to within 0.001" tolerances). This feature also is patented. As a result, and simply stated, greater tracking accuracy will consistently be achieved in the Graham Engineering tonearms than in any other pivoted design, regardless of length. If you think about it for a moment, you can see also that the likelihood of installation error in a tangential air-bearing arm is as great as standard pivoted arms.

But there's more: Only a precisely set up pivoted arm will have it's null (zero tracking error) points correctly located at a radius of 2.6" and 4.76". In achieving this, the tracking error over the entire surface of the record will be extremely small, the remaining error being of little or no actual consequence. On the other hand, an incorrectly installed cartridge will not only give rise to the null points being in error, but also will cause increased tracking error elsewhere on the record surface. The concept of a longer arm having a somewhat lower tracing error is only true if the cartridge is precisely aligned in the tonearm. If the cartridge is off at all in either the overhang dimension or the offset angle, then the longer arm will actually exhibit a larger tracking error than the shorter arm with the very same cartridge installation error. To help illustrate the point, here's a simple example: A 200-mm arm with a cartridge installation error of 0.4 degrees will have it's null points shifted by -2.707mm and +5.159mm. The same installation error in a 300mm arm will increase the error to -4.17mm and +8.14mm, a significant increase in misalignment . (An installation error of only 3-degrees - the same angle as 1/2 of a second or minute when you look at a wall clock - in a 300 mm arm will push the null points completely off the record. Good-bye, accuracy)!!

I'm stressing this point because there must be no doubt about this: there are no free lunches in physics (or other places, either, unless you're in politics). There is an interrelated and unalterable relationship between the various angles and dimensions in any pivoted tonearm. Merely making the arm longer or providing tangential tracking will not guarantee optimum geometric performance without some method of precisely setting up the cantilever and stylus on the phono cartridge. As we have seen, the longer the tonearm the more proper alignment becomes increasingly critical. Using the cartridge body as a reference is simply not accurate enough; the misalignment of cantilevers in the cartridge body is often several degrees, not to mention the inherent crudeness and inaccuracy in trying to view a paper or plastic protractor from above the headshell. Maybe Superman could get it right with his X-Ray vision; he could look at the cantilever right through the cartridge body. The rest of us can't see that way and we're left with a serious compromise. The patented Graham Engineering alignment system gives you back Superman's powers. No, you won't be able to leap over tall buildings, but you will always be able to have virtual X-ray vision when it comes to getting your cartridge aligned properly.


Given the fact that Graham now offers a 12" tonearm may have several reasons: - he has given some of his above statements from the early 1990ies a second thought .....
- the "today's needs" have changed.
- market demand.
The quote that "a longer tonearm only shows a lower tracking error if the cartridge is properly aligned" - please, give me a break !! - sorry Gentlemen, of course, a preamplifier too will only give good results if you switch it on.
Apparently, today the longer tonearm no longer has those "disadvantages" ..... otherwise it wouldn't be an option.
A certain design principle in high-end audio is officially burden with problems - until it is part of the product range.
Logic - isn't it.
After reading the last post, I am puzzled. It states that a longer arm requires a "larger balancing system", yet from my understanding the 12" Phantom uses the same balance weight as the 9" arm.
"The 12-inch wand is available for those who insist. It comes with an auxiliary counterweight which is needed to properly balance the longer wand and cartridge. There is a slight tracing improvement, but I have never been a fan of longer wands as they require a more careful setup in order to provide any benefits, and have the disadvantage of more inertia and possible resonance issues compared to the shorter arms."

"But it's what people want, and so we offer it. In truth, this version is quite good and has not shown any real problems in the areas I mentioned. So, if someone really wants it, we can offer it... Retail U.S price is $1200 for the wand and counterweight..."

That came from the horse mouth, Mr Robert Graham written last June 6, 2010. So he's still consistent with what he advocate during 90s.
Aside from the - no doubt and undisputed - increase in inertia (only an important point if serious off-center pressings are played) and effective moving mass (fairly insignificant with top-flight cartridges - again for obvious reasons), the "longer" 12" pivot tonearm has as well some very simple and obvious mechanic-dynamic advantages (especially with warped records ....) to its shorter 9/10" brothers. Its advantages are not limited to smaller tangential error - it is a bit more complex. Which is again the point where any serious modern day audiophile moves out.
Don't give up. It can be done right

But is was not easy. I needed 5 min.
Phantom II-12 with additional weight
Syntax - did you recall why CD was such an instant success back in teh early 1980ies?
2 strong points going with it which told/tell a lot about the vast majority: - remote control AND plug'n'play (NO adjustments.... CD-tweaks came later...).
I guess we should just settle with the one difference which is apparent to all and restrict ourself to the simple omnipresent economic law of our time: - new= better, bigger=better, more expensive=better, more press-presence=better, "read it somewhere"=better, longer=better. It gives a nice comfortable feel to break complex issues down to the very simple facts of life. All a sudden it is so easy.
Derto: I can not engage anyone here on what you all are talking about on the arm lengths, set-up intracacies, et al - I really don't have the requisite experience. I listen, hope to learn a tad more here and there, but mostly I am just glad that my Graham arm is as easy as it is.

On my last post: I just wanted to try and help someone recall where they might have read something, nothing more.

As for the efficacy of published reviewing, I was a TAS reviewer many life times ago, so, please, trust me, no one understands its regressive nature more that I. That's why I parachuted out; it got in the way of the Music.

But I still read it because I like all of the pretty, pretty, pretty pictures...

And, basically, because I now accept it for what it is (i.e. a symptom of, what would be between us, a larger discussion).

I am not sure if I can trust you on the length difference. Maybe you doped the pictures. I will have to verify this one myself soon.
Syntax - did you recall why CD was such an instant success back in teh early 1980ies?

Huh, this is a very serious question. Give me some time to think about it. Two or three days?
But wait, I can ask my wife. (Yeah, I know, no real Audiophile will do that, but ...)
...the said the real man wants to have the feeling of being the master and the REMOTE (especially when they are made from metal, 3 lbs+) has the most important features: Start + Stop
Probably I can give you a better answer.
In 2 or 3 days...or a week?
Hello guys,

I come from Europe and recently purchased Graham Phantom II tonearm with 12" armwand.I was missing specs for 12" armwand (in manual are specs for 9" and 10"),so I emailed to Bob Graham and asked him for specs for 12" version. The answer was,that 12" version should be adjusted same as SME V 12". Bob sent me document with SME dimensions as well.

So regarding this document specs are Leff 308,8, overhang 13,2, mounting distance ( Pivot-Spindle) 295,6.
To adjust mounting distance is easy using any quality protractor. I used Acoustic Solid.


So with mounting distance adjusted to 295,6,here comes the thing.
I should set overhang to 13,2 regarding to specs for SME V 12",but simply
I cant make less than 15-16mm. It doesnt matter which protractor I use,I dont want to set offset angle,I want to adjust only overhang first. The problem is that the screw,which is holding cartridge in headshell hits the inner edge of headshell and I cant move cartridge anymore. Best result 15-16mm overhang.

I dont know,for which scheme are these specs in SME V 12" manual,but I cant make it with Phantom II 12".
Leff 308,8,overhang 13,2,mounitng distance 295,6,offset angle 17,62

So guys,which dimensions,specs,schemes are you using with Graham Phantom II 12"? What will work with Pivot-to-Spindle 295,6 and overhang has to be at least 16mm? I use Transfiguration Phoenix cartridge.

I would appreciate any help.

Measure the effective length of the tonearm with a ruler from the center of the screw slots to the pivot. Then plug that into Vinyl Engine's alignment calculator. This will give you the mounting distance. Maintain the iec standard and use Baerwald (what Graham tonearms use for the 9 inch). It will give you a pivot to spindle distance. Hopefully you can set the offset correctly.

For example if you elongate the effective length to 312 your pivot to spindle distance would change to 299 (which I assume you can adjust). The offset angle is still in the 17 range which you should be able to handle by turning the cartridge. You can even print an arc protractor from vinyl engine.