Any feedback on the Graham Phantom

Does anyone own a Phantom? Can you share experiences.
How long did you have to wait to get yours?
I installed it a few weeks ago in early February. I placed my order in August, before they were unveiled in October.

I replaced a Graham 2.2. In comparison, on acoustic jazz the Phantom had more air around the instruments, a more precise midrange, and definitely more mid- to low-bass. By "more precise midrange" I mean better clarity and harmonics/tone. Piano notes were better defined. When I played Steely Dan's "Do It Again," the electric guitar notes were rounder and fuller than I recalled with the 2.2 -- almost bell-like in a funny sort of way. Maybe I'm hearing the Koetsu more exclusively here.

I found the Phantom to be an audible improvement over the 2.2, more noticable than swapping cables, power cords, or preamps. Order of magnitude (but not in the same way), it was comparable to getting the right VTA after being off. When I took it out of the box, seeing the magnet move around by itself was a little strange, but it apparently does its job. It's a good-looking piece of engineering, and it looks bigger than the 2.2, although the pivot to stylus distance is the same.

Installation was challenged by close tolerances. While there was no problem mounting my Koetsu Rosewood Signature using Graham's excellent system kit, the ring clamp on my HRX increased the effective diameter of my platter such that I wasn't able to place the Phantom (when on its rest) exactly parallel to the side of the plinth. I had to rotate the base so that the headshell was angled a little to the right. Of course, this is purely an asthetic issue, it makes no difference in play. I also found it necessary to go back and forth a couple times between the settings: VTF, azimuth, and anti-skate, since I found that a change in one seemed to throw the others off just a bit. (Graham did not include a finished manual in my box. Graham provided a manual for the 2.2 plus a few pages of addendum for the Phantom. The Phantom manual should be finished, and I expect to get it in the mail before too long.)

The close spacing also prevented me from using my tonearm lift. I expect this will be an issue with any Phantom being used with a ring clamp, not just with HRX's. I had been using a Profile Lifter (also marketed via Signet and Audio Technica) and an Express Machining The Lift on a prior turntable. I've ordered the larger sized Expressimo Lift2 and hope to install it backward behind the Phantom's counterweight so it will push down on the VTF adjustment knob. There's lots of room in the back.
Thanks for the feedback.
I have an Oracle Delphi MKV SE. I am planning on purchasing the Phantom. I may delay my purchase until the second manufacturing cycle to ensure that all the bugs associated with a new product are sorted out.
What bugs? He didn't mention any bugs.

Would you prefer the term "refinements" instead?
Hopelessly confused, as usual. I thought you were referring to something in Jameswei's report.

If you're just referring to general "refinements" that may appear then I'm with you.
My Phanton just arrived after two weeks. It replaces a Graham 2.2

The tonearm is outstanding. It reproduces more detail with tighter, better defined bass. The soundstage is deeper and a bit wider. The tracking of my Koetsu Jade Platinum has improved with a reduction of glare and hardness in the midrange on difficult to track passages. The resolution of the highs is detailed but without emphasis.

The build quality is excellent. I had no problems mounting it on a Basis Debut Vacuum.

In short,a big upgrade for Graham 2.2 owners.

I'm not doubting the superb performance afforded by the move to a Phantom.However ,I'd like to see some comments from those that have moved from the 2.2 to a Phantom,running a cartridge that is lighter in weight than those already mentioned.The Phantom,apparently has a much higher mass arm-tube,and would,obviously work better with the higher mass cartridges(compared to a 2.2).So,let's not be so quick to bury the 2.2!So far the Koetsu's mentioned are MUCH higher in weight than my 7 gm Transfiguration,and I'm just still a little suspicious of the sudden additional mass of that armtube,in light of the fact that Graham's own Nightingale is 14.5gms!So,the jury is out on how much more performance can be obtained,over the 2.2,until enough feedback with lower mass cartridges is funneled through this forum.BELIEVE ME,I hope my suspicion, that the Phantom is actually only better with heavier cartridges,is proven wrong!!If the envelope is to be pushed,let Graham give it a "GOOD SCHTUUP"!!
Hello Sirspeedy:

Thanks for your treatise on 2.2 damping fluid level tuning on another thread.

The Phantom seems to be a more rigid design with improved resonance damping across the frequency spectrum. Wouldn’t these improvements be manifested even with lighter cartridges?
Gmorris,please don't get me wrong.I know nothing more about the Phantom than you or anyone else.I, personally,don't like the loss of damping capability on the newer arm.I know it still has the fluid,but as I understand it,the 2.2 damping is more critical.A disadvantage?Possibly,yet after all I have learned about the tuneability of the 2.2,I don't want to give that up.

Also,if you look at many of the popular cartridges reviewed,and favored,in the mainstream mags(dreck as they are,the mags,not the cartridges)you have a shift towards higher mass designs.EX:Myabi-appx.13 gms/Dynavector XV-1s-14 gms.Koetsus 12 gms./Titan 12 gms.Graham's own cartridge 14.5 gms.NOW I most likely am wrong here,and admit to it,however,in looking at a Capitolistic market, Graham stands to sell a hell of alot more arms by being more universally acceptable,hence a much more massive design,like the Phantom.

I have mentioned in the past that van den Hul feels a much lower mass over the record groove yields better results.So does the Air Tangent people.Who ever said that the 2.2 is overtly resonant in design,once you know how to tune into the fluid's signature traits?Who wants a Graham/Sme-5 hybrid,which is what the Phantom seems to be,to me.Does adding the cute "magna-glide" lock-in capability really afford one the "UNIQUE" sound of a true uni-pivot?A true uni-pivot should NOT be restricted in movement,IMO!There is a real advantage to that "SOUND".I could see where one would NOT want the sideways(not the movie,which was great BTW)flexure,if you had a fairly heavy cartridge,but my cart. is only 7 gms.Anyway,the 2.2, in structural rigidity, is Extremely Rigid,on it's own.The way my mindset works(not very well,actually,if I have to go on, like this),I would have "LOVED" and had "HOPED" the Phantom was going to be much more like the UNIQUE,but RARER than a rare orchid species,Shroder Reference.NO BEARING FRICTION AT ALL.NO DAMPING FLUID TO FOTZ AROUND WITH!That is what I had hoped for,with all the delays and all.Instead what I see is a 2.2 on STEROIDS.I got rid of my SME-5 some years back.I'll bet the difference between those two arms is not that great!!Before I offend anyone,let me admit that I'm sure some of my comments are just rationalization,though I do feel this way.It's just that I'd really hoped for Graham to REALLY do something GREAT after all the hoopla,regarding his BRILLIANT marketing of the PHANTOM.I expected,and would have gotten in line,to see an arm that ELIMINATED ANY FLUID,through the use of what a TRUE magnaglide design(vertically and horizontally)would have aforded us!

To really let myself off the hook(so I don't feel guilt when I get WACKED,by responses),if I had a significantly heavier cart. I'd probably consider a Phantom,if I did not LOVE Air Bearings so much.Any more money spent by me,on arms, would take me there!!

I share your concerns also, because my Lyra Helikon is only 8 grams. So at the moment I am still on the fence waiting for the second manufacturing run.
I would like to add that ultimately the final verdict as to the success of the new Phantom design would be determined by listening and not by conjecture.
Sirspeedy, your response and concern over the Phantom not being able to handle your cartridge is a bit much.

The Phantom is not a 2.2 on steroids. It is the more elegant design. As for one tonearm being the "absolute best" for everyone is an unreasonable expectation.

It agree that you seem to be going through a set of rationalizations of why you should not buy this arm. The fact is, the 2.2 is a wonderful arm. The new Phantom does not change this reality.

Give Graham credit for taking the time to release a truly completed design that delivers what he advertises.

As for the SME-V, I have owned this arm; the Phantom is something very different.

With every record I play, it is now a new experience with the Phantom.
Splaskin,read my comments more carefully!I never said I thought the Phantom could not handle my cartridge!!I said I felt(and it was only my opinion)the 2.2 was a better match for a low mass cart. like mine.Read van den Hul's comments,on mass over the record groove,before you start to interpret my thoughts to suit you!!

By the way,I am SURE the Phantom will prove to be a great arm.
Sirspeedy, you have no argument here concerning van den Hul's comments on mass over the record groove. As for interpreting your thoughts, well your writing speaks for itself.

By suggesting that the Phanatom is a 2.2 on steroids kind of misses the new design features; neutral balance and reduced resonances due to the new arm design and locking mechanism. The new locking design is quite substantial.

Without meaning to insult you, it appeared to me that your implication was that Graham should have designed a new low mass arm. Perhaps if there is enough demand, he will.

Best Wishes,

Splaskin,glad that we are keeping this a nice and polite debate,or I would not comment any further.I really never should have made ANY comments regarding the newer arm,since any of my thoughts are STRICTLY an uneducated opinion on a product I have never even seen.Who am I anyway?Just a hobbyist like anyone else reading this thread,but critical analysis can be fun.What the heck is Neutral Balance,other than marketing speak?Do you imply the 2.2 or other top arms,like the Triplaner are NOT neutral in balance?Also,I don't see why the new BIGGY arm is more "MEANINGFULLY" lower in resonance than the low resonance of the 2.2 tube(ever check how non resonant ceramic is?)I mean if you want to be rediculously picky,I guess you could say that the 2.2 tube is LESS resonant than the Phantom,since there is another JOINT in the new tube!I have never measured,nor do I care to,and I assume you are merely mouthing what you have read,so,we'll call this one a draw.As for the locking collar,who cares.The collar on the 2.2 is military spec!Even if the Phantom is more structurally rigid here,the problem of resonance STILL rests squarely with the bearing/damping.That my friend has NOT really been addressed,unless you want to recite some more of the web-site.

That being said,I NEVER implied,anywhere,that I'd hoped for a low mass design from Graham.He has a great track record,that I obviously like,or I would not own his products(which I do),or recommend them,which I do as well.All I'm expressing is my own opinion of what I'd have liked to see the Phantom as being,rather than what it actually is(on paper,since I have not seen it).My opinion is not empty,though,since I feel I know what the weaknesses of the 2.2 are.To me,and this is my real dissapointment(though,as I've said,it means nada)is that he did not eliminate "BEARING CONTACT/metal interface" that needs damping fluid to control it(resonance).Hey,this is my own hang up.It's just that The "Magnaglide" feature,to me,is a halfway measure.TO ME,once again.I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything.Just having some spirited fun,around a topic that I know a "little" about,through 4 years with the 2.2,and about30 yrs with other arms.This still only makes me a hobbyist with some experience,NOT an expert,so don't get too overloaded by my comments.You can always get even in your next post.

What I did state I was dissapointed about,was the fact that this Phantom could have been/would have been FRIGGIN GREAT if he had gone all the way with the magnets,and somehow totally eliminated the BEARING contact point alltogether.Maybe Shroder has a patent on this,but that would have eliminated any metal to metal contact,that needs resonance control,ie. damping.Get it?If you have experience in this hobby,and I'm sure you do,as you seem sincerely intelligent in your responses,then you must know the advantage of products like air bearing arms/platter bearings/suspensions.Why should I get excited about the Phantom,massive/chubby or whatever, when I STILL have to FOTZ around with that damn fluid to damp the bearing resonance.The Platine table from France uses magnets to keep the platter from making contact with the bearing.CUTE and EFFECTIVE!

So I feel, that my hope, that Bob Graham would have gone to this extent,to me alone,is not such a dumb argument,even if I'm dumb to even be wasting time here instead of listening to my music.The magna-glide is cute.To have taken it all the way(no metal contact needing fluid damping)would have been the ULTIMATE,and was what I was hoping for.Big deal,it's just a hobby.

As for this more massive means less resonance bit,that's being marketed,I just don't buy into the fact that suddenly the 2.2 has resonances that are addressed in the Phantom.The damn thing STILL needs DAMPING OF THE BEARING.Anyone owning a Graham knows that this is a pain in the ass.Where is the big Progressive step forward.Bigger,wider,more massive,china finish?It's all in the damping,which is still a BIG issue!!It should have been eliminated,like ME,from this thread!
Please take some of this with a little "tongue in cheek",I don't think I can handle to many "let's get sirspeedy" responses.
Dear Sirspeedy,

All I can say is that the new arm has made a significant improvement in my system. Be it reductions in arm resonance, distortion, improved bearing, or the addition of Great Dane Doo Doo, the detail and rendtion of acoustic space is something else!

You are in for a real treat with this arm.

A gezunt ahf dein kop!

Steve,I have NO DOUBT that the arm IS great.I did not realize you owned one.If I were running a heavier cart. than what I have now,or, if I ever upgrade to a higher mass one,there is no question I would seriously consider a Phantom.So long as I didn't go for an air bearing design,which I love,but,they are a pain to run(tubing,pumps etc.).And, it is here,in this thread, that I'm not kibbitzing you!!However,think how great it would be if the magnets were both vertically and horizontally applied.Well,I can always dream!!Good luck,and I hope you get real pleasure from your records.
I would think a completely magnetic bearing would have its own resonance challenges since there would be no solid support.

I think Graham explains neutral balance on his website as a benefit from having the arm's center of mass at the pivot, rather than below the pivot as with the 2.2 and other unipivot designs.

I agree it's premature to judge the Phantom's performance with a low mass cartridge without actually listening.
Not having owned a 2.2 & not being an engineer as well as not caring a great deal about how a result is achieved I will say this. I have the Phantom with the Nightengale II on a Transrotor La Roccia with the Boulder 2008 phono stage.The quality of sound is quite remarkable to say the least. What can be said in my setup is that the slightest amount of adjustment, either VTA, Azimuth, Tracking Force or Silicon Fluid create major soundstage changes. At this point I cannot find any specific areas of weakness, only time will tell any shortcomings. As an aside my XLR interconnect from the Boulder to a Mac C-100 was a subject of considerable concern. Changing this interconnect created large changes in frequency balance & timing. The best cable so far has been the JPS Superconductor 2. I am a bit concerned over the considerable changes with cables as this has been by far the most sensitive application I have experienced. Thanks to all who have contributed experiences with the Fluid damping etc.. It helped to dial in the phono rig. I cannot say what is better or best, just that the Phantom appears to be a very fine precision instrument.

What phono cable are you using with the Phantom?
Bigdog,I think you should change your name to "LUCKYDOG".


PPS--Splaskin,you bring up a VERY important question, regarding the asking around about phono cables.I and my friend have the IC-70.Wonderful performers,but I have heard that the Purist Audio Venustas is superior.The arm to phono stage connection is probably the most important cable in a set-up(I read this on many occassions,not my words here,so I don't mean to be confrontational).I have put out threads asking about "REALLY PRIMO",as in costly,cables,in comparison to the IC-70 and never got a response.Probably 'cause I'm so obnoxious.Maybe a response can come from this thread.I'm open to any feedback,as I have A/B'd the IC-70 with the 30 and heard a huge diff.So,to me,this can be a very sensitive area in phono reproduction!Also,I see you own my favorite table.Basis Vac/Debut.That is one product I lust for.I know other tables are regarded more highly,but,that's the one I want.Some day.After all college and medical school tuitions are paid for!!The sacrifices we make,at the expense of our hobby!!!

I am presently using the IC-70. I am having Brad Vojtech at Revelation Audio build me a phono cable. I tried his power cables, specifically the Precepet, and fell in love with them. I wrote a review of the Revelation Audio Labs Precept AC cable in Audio Asylum "Cables" under Mercman.

Sirspeedy, you can see pictures of my system at Audio Asylum under Mercman.

Splaskin,took a look at your system on Audio Asylum."I Hate You Too"!!

Just kidding.Great stuff!!

Actually there are some "Concept" similarities between yours,and mine.I'll save that for another time.Good luck.

Tomorrow I take the day off,WHEW,to go over to 2 friend's homes.Both audio/fanatics.Doing some arm tweaking/tube rolling etc.Oh yeah,forgot to mention some serious MERLOT will be on hand.I'll probably be too blitzed to apply correct fluid damping!!This is our little secret Splaskin.My friend won't know.I'm his set-up man.HEH,HEH,HEH!!
Sirspeedy, Thank you for the kind words. I am indeed very fortunate to be able to own this wonderful gear. I am using the IC-70 phono cable. This cable uses extremely fine (read thin gauge)silver wire. I would be interested to hear comments on other cables, as the interconnect situation I encountered made me a bit neurotic. In the past silver wire has usually sounded a bit thin (body)& a bit bright. The JPS claims an aluminum alloy, which is less conductive. Maybe it stores energy which makes it very dynamic. (I didn't like the lower priced JPS at all, it had a signature on everything it passed although a pleasant one.) Some professional cables I have used & recommended used West Penn wire which were also aluminum (however with Neutrik Gold XLR's they cost only about $35.00 per meter pair. Hard to go wrong in non critical situations. (I like West Penn 293 which is about 24ga.) Anyway I am going to let this gear break-in a bit before any more changes. Enjoy the Merlot. Good wine is like good audio. Lots of subtlety for different tastes.
Bigdog,unfortunately the wine is probably not really all that good,knowing my friend.However there will be alot of it.Good for me.Bad for tweaking.

As for the cable issue.One friend I am going over to,tomorrow,has a fantastic set-up.Truly world class sound,regardless of price.His system has been developed through years of careful attention to detail.He is a HUGE record collector,and could probably buy an Island in the Bahamas if he ever sold his stuff.Literally "Everything" of note ever discussed in any of the Mags.He actually wrote the Mercury column for TAS.So,he knows his shit.My point being,he has absolutely "CHEAP" crapola(actually,only in price,not performance)cables.I'm talking 10 bucks per eight ft. run.No longer manufactured.The sound in his rig is "INCREDIBLE",and on 22year old speakers(Heavily modded).

I have heard these cables elsewhere and they stunk.Obviously,all systems are cable dependant.All components interact differently.I feel that the "laws of the universe" don't apply to his room.The sound is that good.Probably has something to do with "String Theory",and "Worm Holes".Who knows?Everyone who has gone over to him,manufacturers as well,are bowled over by his sound.Including me.Oh yeah,I hate him too!

However,one can learn alot about their own set-up,by listening,with an open mind,to systems like this one!!We all,too often rationalize the money we just spent on our own stuff,and don't really like to admit something is really better.A defense mechanism,probably.
Friend #2 will be auditioned later in the eve.He has MEGABUCK cables.MEGABUCK power cords(actually he's obsessed with PC's).Newer stuff(Kharma based equip.- good stuff).This set-up,although really good,is just not in the same league as the older set-up,with the cheapo cables.This is universally felt by our audio group.Nothing wrong with the equip,just that the synergy isn't as good.My system falls into this latter category as well.

Moral:We NEVER know how something will sound unless it is auditioned.Forget reviewers.They are just HOBBYISTS,like us.We have to do the legwork for ourselves.Personally,I'm getting tired of this tweaking cycle,but my system has improved in leaps and bounds.I try to have an open mind,and like to think things through.

I have read that Purist Audio offers loaner cables as a test of effectiveness,for some customers.NOW THAT is how one can have the questions of comparisons answered!!
" I am using the IC-70 phono cable. This cable uses extremely fine (read thin gauge)silver wire. I would be interested to hear comments on other cables..."

I use the XLO Signature Phono Cable. My dealer had both ( IC-70 ).

I think, in the analog World, where the "secret" of the right sound is the Holy Grail which has to be found, it is not simple to do that without a rating. Ratings help.
When I remember all the discussions about the Schroeder Arm, The TriPlanar and the Grahams, I think, good as they are, the results will vary, because the following electronic will have it's own signature added ( more or less ). And let's be honest, when someone spends a few thousand, he wants to hear an improvement. And of course, he "can" hear it. Specially, when the bought unit is rare, hyped, expensive or whatever in that direction.
But is it better ? Or just different ?
Well, I own a 2.2 and from my experience, even that one has so much settings to do, you will have the full box of experience with " normal sounding to excellent sounding ".
Sometimes I remember, when owners from a .... told me, NOW they listen to music. Super.
What have they done before ?
I think, it will depend what you want to have from the System.
Thank you gentlemen, Sirspeedy I agree with your observations. Most of my gear is 10 years old or more & I only change when I can hear something better(different). I waited a few years to decide on this analog gear as I wanted a turntable that had a certain look & a suspension that wasn't sprung. I really don't like tweaking, however some things really work (for no apparent reason). The Graham Phantom was coming out so I waited instead of getting the 2.2. The engineering & adjustment capability seemed like the natural choice for me. As well I figured an integrated cartridge & phono cable made sense. I believe the arm is everything expected as the slightest changes can be heard. The Boulder was not even an idea, I was considering the EAR (324 I believe). It was just one of those sweaty palm things when you say OK let's do it. Obviously it is spectacular, but the price is ridiculous.I was using the Boulder for a few months with a Technics 1200 & 12 year old Dynavector XX-I high output cartridge & it made the Technics sould as good as any of my friends high end rigs. Maybe better in some ways although you knew the weaknesses of the turntable. I have never been a big fan of expensive cables as they are all over priced. I have made my own silver cables & still use some today. Believe me the real costs are at least 10 times lower. Butt, as they stick it to me, some of the expensive cables are really better for whatever reason. Some also really suck. It's the same with wine, there are many great values for every taste, however some of the expensive wines are fabulous & with some you wished you opened 2 Buck Chuck. The few of us who love this hobby know price alone does not guarantee musicality. I am greatful to the few manufacturers who strive for greatness & as such I am happy (& lucky enough) to help support them.
Has anyone ever tried a heavy cartridge (18gms) with a heavy tracking force (4gms) with a Graham?
If I were to run a cartridge this heavy,I would not use the 2.2.You would most likely get excellent results with the new(more massive) PHANTOM.There are many relatively heavy cartridges now in favor,in this hobby,which IMO only,seems to have partially influenced the arrival of the "SUPERB"(happy guys?)and heavier PHANTOM!
According to some of the information that I have read, the Phantom is recommended for cartridges from 5-18 gms.

Sirspeedy, its time to move on.
Recommended,and preferred are TWO different varients.I'm sure my 2.2 would work with a Koetsu "ONIX"(as in stone)body design.Never in my wildest dreams would I be tempted to put that match together!

Gmorris,it is perfectly "Legal" for you to rationalize your decisions,any way you care to.Please don't try to "Bait me" though.I've been at this hobby too long.
Sirspeedy: baiting you was not my intent; I do respect your contributions to these threads. I feel strongly, however, that ultimately the actual compatibility of the Phantom, with various weight cartridges, will be determined by actual listening.

I also have been at this hobby for over 30 years.
Gmorris,please report back when you actually "DO" the listening,to determine what compatibility issues are brought out by varied weights in cartridge design.Your 30 years in the hobby should weigh heavily in knowing this,already!BTW,please take any jabs,from me,as just typical debate,as though we were having a GOOD TUSSLE at a commonly shared listening session.I just had one this past weekend,and am still leaving my "Curad's" in place for a few more days.Seems some of my best audio-pals "LOVE" to give the criticism,BUT GOOD,but don't like to receive it.

Recent cause of latest club debate==="The ground loop hum you are hearing is having no impact on the music perceived".==followed by fisticuffs.OUCH!!
Bob Graham is making a heavier counterweight for the Phantom specifically for heavier cartridges. Have not seen a Phantom so I don't know if it is compatible with the older Graham arms.
Regardless of any doubts that I may have regarding the Phantom(and let's face it,I don't delude myself into thinking I'm anymore than "just an audio geek",my daughter's description,not mine,though true),Bob Graham,STILL has a KILLER(as in great)reputation of introducing fabulous products.He,also,has a real knack for tweaking the hell out of them in reasonably priced updates.That is one reason why I "Love" the superb and proven 2.2.

In all honesty,and realizing that my fascination(fantasy)about owning a linear tracker will never happen,due to the "PAIN IN THE ASS" factor of set up, and maintaining the BEAST,I would say that the PHANTOM and SHRODER REFERENCE,with an outside shot of the new 12.6 inch VPI(no damping fluid in this design)look,to me only,to be the REAL DEAL for any potential contenders to either championship belts.I haven't heard a big deal made over the Basis design,and don't know if IMMEDIA is in the game anymore!Oh,yeah!There is always the SME stuff.Been around forever.Hard to kill.

What ever happened to that fascinating DYNAVECTOR arm of years ago.I had a friend who had one running,with a custom Japanes table,on Beveridge Speakers.KOetsu Onyx Platinum Cart.What a COOL set-up he had,and what a nice guy.We'd stay at his penthouse pad,audioing out until 3 or 4 am.Those were the days.He was a retired antique dealer,and while we listened to his rig he would dimly light up his original(real) tiger rug,with full size head intact!.Scared the crap out of us, if too imbibed.No non-stop criticism,of differing audio philosophies.No criticising other people's equipment choices.Just great fun,and sound!!

Is it too late for me to add a new "NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION?
Not having been able to procure a Lift2, I am nevertheless pleased to report success using the original Expressimo Lift as an arm raiser for the Phantom, installed behind the pivot and oriented to push down on the VTF knob. (Perhaps the Lift2 I ordered will arrive in a future month or year.) I had to mount the Lift on a thick washer to give it greater height, but I didn't need to get a heavier falling weight, as I had originally feared.
My new friend Sirspeedy has mentioned how important the tone arm cable is in our systems. I agree!

I have ordered a Revelation Audio Labs tone arm cable. The price is $399.00. I am interested in seeing if this cable outperforms my IC-70. I have discovered that there are many small companies-hobbyists making great cables at very reasonable prices.

From revelation Audio Labs:

Hi Steven,

Our tone arm version of the 'Paradise' analog interconnect cable utilizes the excellent Van Den Hull TAC (Tone Arm Connector), seen here:

Its 5 contacts are 24 karat gold over silver over copper plated. The connector contacts with their standard 270° pin configuration are based in a Teflon disc. The disc can be adjusted in any angle related to the connector housing. This to set the optimal position related to the tone arm. The connector housing incorporates a 90° bend to combine vertical mounting and horizontal cable exit.

The RCA connectors are of course the exquisite WBT Nextgen AG (Silver) Signature.

Like all our cables, we offer a 30-day home may be returned for a full refund of your purchase price if you are not satisfied.

Our 1-meter tone arm cable is $399.

As always, we appreciate your business.

God bless,
Brad Vojtech
Revelation Audio Labs, Inc.

Brad's power cables had the most natural midrange I have ever heard with a tight defined bass and detailed high end. They also had an enormous soundstage. They were $799.00 and outperformed more expensive competitors. Since he has a 30 day refund policy, what have I got to loose? His web site explains his cable design.

I will let you guys know how this cable stacks up to the IC-70. It’s about time we start looking for great performance at affordable prices.

And yes Sirspeedy, I have lusted as well for an air bearing tangent tracking arm. I have tended to end up in the Graham camp as his setup is so easy and permanent.

Steve,if you fail to post these results I WILL come looking for you!!
That's indeed a huge advantage to all other designs.
("I have tended to end up in the Graham camp as his setup is so easy and permanent").Trying a few arms and listening to some others, there is one fact for sure:
It's worse out there.
And Mr. Graham really tries to do something good for a fair price.
It works always.
In my opinion, the only real interesting way, is to go to a Kuzma Airline. All this hair splitting discussions about a half a hair more or less in VTA, or hyping some overpriced arms made from wood, aluminium or whatever, that's pretty uninteresting ( for me ).
It's expensive, but you get something for your money and it is superior to a Air Tangent from it's construction.
When I would have sleepless night's ( not from nightmares ), I would go for that one.
I can't argue AT ALL with your rather well thought out points Thomasheisig.
I'd love to try the Kuzma Airline. Only 8K!


I just tuned in to see what was happening on these pages regarding our newest "baby", and no surprises - there's a lot of opinion out there! Some of it is slow and considered (my preference) while some other ideas, while sincere I'm sure, go askew from the technical mark. Without appearing rude, I will say I just won't have time for on-going discussions about these things, and I also don't think this is the place for "advertising", as such; however, I do think it's important to set a few mis-conceptions to rest, or at least give our rationale behind what we've done.
The first item that needs a little attention is this business if tonearm mass. A few (for example, SirSpeedy, who seems to have a high rate of typing speed capability)have suggested that the Phantom appears to be an enlarged 2.2/SME combo. Looks can be deceiving, and in this case, is entirely wrong. While it's true the Phantom is larger than the 2.2, it's also true that the Effective Mass (not the same as the static weight of the parts) is very nearly the same as the 2.2, but with even better damping control.
In tonearms, it is a mistake to confuse the sheer size of something and equate that with performance. It's Effective Mass (the mass as seen by the stylus tip) that's really important here, not the physical appearance. In truth, the difference in static weight between the 2.2's armwand and that of the Phantom is a mere 5 grams; yet, the Effective Mass remains low, as evidenced by measurements of resonant frequency and Q.
We did want to accommodate heavy cartidges, it's true, but not at the expense of lighter-weight ones. In good cartridge design, the static weight of the body (tare) will indicate the compliance; thus, a heavier moving-coil cartridge should have a somewhat lower compliance than a lightweight moving-magnet, for example. This is necessary so that the all-important resonant frequency can be preserved at the right place and with the lowest amplitude, Q.
The 2.2 was a good performer in this regard, but the Phantom will handle a somewhat wider range of cartridges, and, from the tests I've made with all available cartridges I can get my hands on, with the correct LF performance in the resonance region of 8-12hz. There has been some concern the Phantom won't handle the lighter weight cartridges (Tranfiguration, etc), but in fact it will work just fine. I even have an old copy of the ADC-XLM, a fly-weight moving-magnet from the 70's. This is easily balanced at 1.25 grams, and the resonant frequency is at the correct 9hz point, and with an extremely low Q. (The ADC cartriges were, and are, remarkable performers. It's only too bad they're not still in business today - who knows what they might offer).... Anyway, hope that sheds some light on the Mass issue.
Next is the issue of pivot design. Again, SirSpeedy wishes we could have made a bearing-less design using magnets. Not a bad idea, but I'm not sure how it could be pulled off successfully. As Jameswei said in 03-09-05, there would be resonance challenges to deal with. Also, it depends on the bearings and quality. In truth - and this can be demonstrated - a properly designed bearing can have vanishingly low friction, and in the case of a unipivot, this can be almost non-existant. But the bearing material is just as important as the design itself, and cheaper materials just won't do the job. Tungsten carbide and sapphire/ruby jewels come to mind as the supreme choices for a bearing (why else would Rolex and other fine watches use ruby if it weren't for better performance? The cost difference is insignificant).. In our experiements, steel and stainless steel components had unacceptably high friction.
So why not use magnets for both horizontal and vertical? Maybe some day, but at the moment, I can't think how this would be done without a LOT of compromise and unnecessary complexity. If someone is concerned about friction in a unipivot bearing designed as I'm suggeting, then they're barking up the wrong tree and are worried needlessly about a vanishingly low friction to begin with.
Nautral Balance that is achieved with the stabilizatin system Magneglide(tm) is not "arketspeak" either, as was suggested in one of the posting. The term "Neutral Balance" is a real, physics-based concept that simply states a system in neutral balance will not have a favored rest position. For the Phantom, this means that the tracking force is much less dependent on the arm's pivoting position (over warps, etc) than with the 2.2 and all other unipivots I know about which MUST have a restoring force (stable balance) in order to stand upright. This isn't a gimmick: it's a true concept that works. In addition, the Magneglide(tm) system allows the arm to pivot in the correct plane of the stylus tip (also achieved with SME and other well-designed gimble-bearing arms), rather than the undesirable plane of motion of the armtube itself, which includes the 2.2.
And the last area I'll have time to comment on in this posting is again, our friend SirSpeedy (not picking on him, really, but he has the most comments and so has had more opportunities to perhaps be misunderstood ..). In 03-06-05, he says that "A true uni-pivot should NOT be restricted in movement, IMO!" Well, in the area he may be thinkin of, normal lateral and vertical movement, that's correct; however, we do NOT EVER, under ANY circumstances, want a tonearm - any tonearm - to rotate about it's longitudinal axis! Period! In other words, we don't want an arm which will wobble,changing azimuth, as it so desires. A fixed-bearing arm takes care of this automatically, and unipivots require the use of a low center of gravity (lowered counterweight or side weights) to achieve this. But a unipivot with this approach cannot, so far as any theory I can see allows, ever hope to achieve the desirable state of Neutral Balance during play. That's where the Magneglide(tm) system comes in: it allows the arm to be designed independently of any rotational restoring force (lowered counterweights or side weights) and then uses the magnetic stabilizer to "lock-in" the rotational position of the arm to the desired setting. As a by-product, the Magneglide(tm) system allows easy, repeatable azimuth adjust (but NOT on the fly, please...) and forces the arm to pivot in the correct plane of the stylus tip.
Glad there's so much interest in our new arm. I worked very hard on this for two years, and it was designed from the beginning to be an improvement over the 2.2, not just another version of the same thing. Forums such as this are good to compare notes, and I'll always pay attention to issues and problems (which we hope don't occur) when they're brought up. Already I have noticed, for example, the difficulties in mounting the Phantom (or the 2.2, for that matter) to the excellent HR-X turntable. So, Harry Weisfeld and I are collabering on this, and with his removable armboard version of that turntable, I'm designing a drop-in mounting board and a 1/2" longer interchangeable armtube that is designed for use with larger diameter platters like this. And we'll also be offering a damped cartridge headshell spacer to use when a particularly short cartridge and/or turntable platter requires the arm to be lowered more than the combination will allow. (I was not sure people would like a spacer, but I must report that the night I first listened to this, the system never sounded better! Maybe it was just one of those "good hi-fi" nights, but in any case I can honestly report that the damped spacer, (in medical termss) "First, does no harm!" In fact, there's good reason to presume that the addition of a suitable - but rigid - damping material between any headshell and a cartridge will provide constrained layer damping for improved resonance control.
So, as I look back at this, the comments I've offered may, in spite of my efforts not to advertise, may sound like more ad copy. Tried not to, but it's hard not to write convincingly without doing so, I guess. Also, the posting is a LOT longer than I anticipated, and my wife is calling me on the phone, asking when I'm coming home for dinner!
So, I enjoy the letters, folks - even the ones with technical concepts that are slightly to the left of center. Mostly, it's about the listening, as a few sage contributors have already said. I hope you'll agree that's what it's all about!
Happy Spring to all,
Bob Graham
Dear Mr. Graham,

I’m sure everyone here appreciates your informative comments on the design of the Phantom. Having owned your previous designs; 1.5t and 2.0/2.2, I can honestly say that the Phantom’s performance is truly amazing.

I have had only one small problem using the Phantom with your IC-70 cable. My Koetsu Jade/Basis Debut V Vacuum combination does not work well with the IC-70. The downward projection of the cable’s wires interferes with the free movement of the Basis’ suspension.

I’m sure that this is something that can be corrected in the future.

Best Wishes,

Dr. Steven Plaskin
Bob,thanks for your post.Actually my typing is REALLY SLOW.However I will run REALLY FAST to HE 2005 in hopes that you have a PHANTOM on display,in a working set-up.

Please,please consider this.Too many designers are missing potential customers,when relying on dealers who either don't care to assist in "proper" analog systems,in favor of digital(easy)sales.The alternative is that there are almost NO dealers who can,or want to "Accurately" set up a table/arm/cartridge anymore.You must know this.As you probably know,it took me forever to learn proper damping techniques.A good "OLDEN DAY" dealer could have shortened this path.I don't claim to be anything other than a hobbyist, with some of my own opinions.I guess a good support network,as in some years back,would quell any concerns I may,and still do,have.You must understand that this stuff is getting expensive,and with a college tuition,as well as a medical student to support,I reserve the right to "Rationalize" a bit, it's human!

Please,in the case of HE 2005,don't be like some other designers who,though understandably limited in time, expect potential sales to occur by word of mouth as opposed to "in the flesh" exposure.Sorry for the excessive verbage.Can't help myself.Sort of like my unchecked upgrade "BUG"!!
Before I get to work on some things, I wanted to say that, with typos and all (that's what you get for rushing and not proof-reading carefully!), I hope the explanations helped a bit. As for Splaskin's problem, I already wrote him directly about this, and I think the upcoming damped headshell spacer will be useful in situations like his. As I also mentioned to him, the IC-70 cable can be rotated sideways as well as straight down, so there are options. But I do so wish there were more universal standards among all analog manufacturers regarding mounting spaces, etc, so that issues of height, mass, cartridge spacing, etc would not be a problem. I think this is possible to achieve, even with the various design concepts involved....
One detail I neglected to touch on yesterday is the business of pivot damping. Although a unipivot doesn't HAVE to have damping to work, it will make it behave better. This was particularly true with the 2.2 and similar "stable-balance" systems, where any motion of the finger lift could cause the arm to wobble for some time until friction finally slowed everything down. The Phantom, with the magnetic stablizer at work, has much less of this, but still benefits from fluid damping. But please note, this is NOT FOR PIVOT RESONANCES, which are practically non-exisent anyway; rather, this is to control the arm's own intertia as it moves over warps, etc. Just like the shock absorbers on your car...
For Sirspeedy and the New York show in April, I agree it's good to be there, and with a little luck, we will be and glad to talk to you individually. Musical Surroundings is handling the room arrangments, and of course will have a Phantom there as well...
Now, back to work for me!
- Bob
Dear Sirspeedy,
You wrote:
"don't be like some other designers who,though understandably limited in time, expect potential sales to occur by word of mouth as opposed to "in the flesh" exposure."
Though you didn´t refer to me personally, this is clearly in reference to our earlier exchange and I have to tell you that you seem to belong to those forum members who spend alot more time writing posts than reading responses. I DID appear "in the flesh" at shows countless times, CES 2005 being the last example. I told you that the Munich show, Europes largest high end show, is too close to allow for a trip to New York. And quite obviously, the list of hifi mag- and internet-reviews I posted escaped your attention. It should be obvious that I do not expect potential customers to rely on word of mouth recommendations. Fact is, no manufacturer can tell the potential customer on what to base his/her purchase decision. I´ll repeat myself and recommend to get in touch with Mr. Huschens(based in NJ) or come to Denver(RMAF 2005) for an in depth demo.

Until then,
all the best,

Frank Schröder
Dear Mr. Graham,
You wrote:
"(why else would Rolex and other fine watches use ruby if it weren't for better performance? The cost difference is insignificant).. "
The main advantage of the use of rubies, sapphires or even diamonds(endstones only) as watch bearings is that they are chemically inert and will not be affected by the oil turning acidic over time. While other bearing materials can be polished/burnished to a high surface quality, this smooth/flat surface will develop tiny "craters" as more and more material is "washed out" by the acid.
This happens with ruby equipped watches too. But it is the burnished steel pivot which suffers first, then, as more and more foreign particles find their way into the gap between pivot and bushing, the pivot acts as a file and destroys the finish of the ruby.
And when you are selling hundreds of thousands of watches, the price difference becomes significant.
For an interesting read on Unipivot arm design and as proof that the basis for your new design is well founded but not exactly revolutionary, I recommend:
"Une approche rationelle du bras de lecture
1. Considerations théoretiques"
by Gérard Chrétien
in a summary of articles from the french magazine "L'Audiophile", called "Selection de L'Audiophile", tome2: Les Transducteurs
published by editions frequences 1985(the article first appeared a few years earlier...)
As mentioned in an earlier post, the bearing in my arms can be(and has been) executed so that there is no variation
in tracking force when VTA is changed. The tracking force will ALWAYS vary when any arm/cart combo tracks a warped record. Inertia can´t be overcome...
A question: Am I correct in my assumption that the Phantom has higher friction in the horizontal plane than the 2.2 as it has to move the Magneglide assembly with it as it travels across the record?
Hoping to meet you in person at one of the upcoming shows, I remain with admiration,

Frank Schröder(Schröder tonearms)
Dear Frank,please don't get so touchy regarding any of my posts.As you know I respect you,and your seemingly fine arms.I was the one to start a post asking about your arm,some time ago.I admit to being on a fence regarding my 2 choices.Yours and the Phantom.However I'm just one yutz,who happens to LOVE analog,owning thousands of fine LP's.I'm ONLY frustrated over the fact that so many products that interest me are SO difficult to audition.I'm not about to get on a plane to see and hear one.I come from a time when almost everything was an hour ride away,at most.The problem is MINE,not yours.

PS In the future I will keep my BIG MOUTH closed as regarding any product that could affect potential sales,which are SO deserved by all of YOU fine designers!!I mean it!!
Dear sirspeedy,
Thanks for your response. From time to time it seems that, whatever one tries to accomodate the often well founded requests/demands of (potential) customers, one just can´t win. Actually it is quite healthy to accept early on in the game that you can´t turn every LP lover into a customer. But this pond is large enough to feed all the fish in it and I am certain that almost everyone in the business of turntable/arm/cartridge making is trying hard to give the audience a chance to listen to their babies. When purchasing a 10000$table, 5000$ arm and equally expensive cart, what is spending 200$ for a planeticket and an additional 100$ for a hotelroom? A good investment.
Come to Denver and I deduct the above amount should you decide to buy an arm. Still there is no substitute for an in-home audition, with your system and no pressure to hear all the other rooms too before the show is over... I´m just a little bit too far from where you are to offer that service :-)
Keep up the passion and keep it fun too,


P.S.: I also believe there will be one or more Graham Phantoms demoed at the RMAF, an equally good reason to come.
Hello Bob Graham: I hope you will be making your cartridge spacer available independently of your tonearms to vinylphiles everywhere! I know myself and several others are always seeking a source for these, especially Rega/variant users. Why not?

Hi Frank, maybe we'll get together for currywurst (or Thai curry) and beer next time I'm in Berlin (and maybe I can see one of those fabulous tonearms in the flesh). Lovely city, love the national library, but could you please arrange to remove the Starbucks from within sight of the Brandenburg Gate?! Saw the Berlin philharmonic, terrific experience.