I spent a good deal of winter 2004 on this in my system and a friend's similar setup.The amount of fluid drastically affects performance across the board.However I found that with each level change the vta and tracking force could be fine tuned until you get YOUR expectations fulfilled.Start with damping trough only 1/3 full.That's 1/3 the way up the dipstick then add literally one pinhead (yes,that little)in increments until you percieve the most open sound and maximum bass slam without the feeling of the sound being underwater(too much damping).I've confirmed this technique with Bob Graham himself who felt it was correct.Be warned that to do this properly is TIME CONSUMING,however,if you have a high rez setup you will be rewarded.
I couldn't agree with SirS any more. When I first bought mine, I filled it according to the instructions and found it a bit "shy" across the board. Tried a couple of cartridges to the same basic effct. Then I got a wild hair and cleaned out the damping fluid and did about what SirS describes. Well worth the effort as I realize a huge improvement in openness AND slam. Almost like a different arm. I think that some who might discount the 2.2 as less than a world-class arm, ignores, or is not aware of, the differences changes in the fluid makes.
What type of fluid do you use on your Grahm arm or is there another aftermaket fluid that works well. I remember Brooks Berdan telling me several years ago he does not use the Grahm stock fluid but a similar sub that works better.
Wow! I'm glad I asked. Thank you SirSpeedy and 4yanx for your expertise. Your statements make very good sense but little is said about damping and its adjustment in the Graham manual.
42659 - if you find out what that other fluid is that is purported to work better, please let us know. Thanks.
SirSpeedy - another thought.
Once you got your arm dialed in for a particular cartridge, did you have to change the amount of damping fluid if you changed to another arm with a different cartridge attached?
Sorry to go off-topic on you. But my SME IV.Vi manual states that I should change the damping fluid yearly.
Does Graham say that as well?
Does it evaporate?
Loose it's magic?
I've had my arm for 2-3 years and never tried this. Thanks for amy comments.
Did you start with 1/3 of the damping trough full as sir speedy did ?
What volume of fluid (how full) did you end up at for the ideal sound in your system ?
What cartridge are you running now with your 2.2 ?
Are you using the fluid that came along with the Graham 2.2 ?
Best Regards, Larry
Hi Larry. When I initially installed the 2.2, I followed the instructions that, as a guideline, call for about 0.5cc of the fluid. The stuff is blue and comes in a syringe, making the filling process rather easy but maybe not so accurate. You know this, since you own a 2.2, but others may not. The pivot housing cap that screws on the top of the pivot well has the pivot which also acts as a dipstick on which the fluid level can be measured. I don't recall right now what the instructions said to look for as a level but, at first, I was probably a bit over 5/8 of the way up and found the sound to be characterized as underwater, as SirS said, for lack of a better term. Just shy across the entire range, and a bit muffled. I immediately used a Q-tip to dab out a little, to the point that the dipstick read just OVER 1/2. Improvements were realized in terms of open sound, but it was still a wee slow in the lower end, a trait sometimes ascribed to the Graham. Not so much a lack of bass but kind of a lagging, almost plodding bass. At that time I was bouncing between a Shelter 501 MkII, a Benz Reference2, and a Lyra Helikon.
Then, I decided to start from scratch, and I removed enough fluid so that it was a maybe bit higher than the 1/3 as mentioned by SirS. Here it sounded a touch edgy and I used a wood shish-ka-bob skewer to place one small dollop at a time in the well (about the size of a BB), giving a good long listen over a full day with each succeeding dollop. Like SirS said, this isn't something that one does quickly. One must listen to several tracks from several recordings. Besides, the fluid is viscous and must be allowed to fully settle - at least in my opinion.
Anyway, and to make a long story longer, the edginess kept decreasing, the bass slam kept increasing, the air surrounding the music kept getting more expansive, and the whole balance of things just kept getting better and better. To a point! Once I got just much past what I will call the 1/2 stage, I started to hear the soundstage getting smaller, so I stopped and took a bit out. Bingo! It kinda clicked in at that point and it sounded better by a VERY large margin over what I was able to remember for when I began. Really like a different arm all together. For all of the fine tuning, I used the Benz Reference2 almost exclusively, having since sold my Shelter. I slipped on the Lyra, which I had on a different arm wand and, it too, sounded much more open and balanced. Throughout, I checked azimuth and VTA with a headshell level and hardly made any adjustments at all. I only kept the VTF constant throughout and I did have to fine tune this parameter a few times as I went along. I used only the Graham fluid and cannot comment on other fluids in the Graham.
In short, if you have a Graham, you owe it to yourself to experiment with the fluid level. You might find it even better than you thought! Don't know if the level I used would be good for all but maybe start at 1/3 and build from there.
Larry, if you try this, please post your impressions!
Great thread folks, but Larry's out of luck.
Strange as it seems, I have his syringe of blue juice here in CT. It makes me feel so good I'm keeping it! Bwahahahaha...
BTW, there's about 1.9cc left in the syringe. Maybe 4yanx or sirspeedy can guess how much is likely to be in Larry's arm well based on that.
For removing large amounts, can't you just suck it back out with the syringe? Then add one drop at a time with the syringe? If it's pickier then that, stick a needle on the syringe and you can meter out pretty tiny drops.
Larry, check your email.
Better to hollow out a 16 penny nail than try to drive that stuff through any needle. It's an H of a lot easier just to dip a Q-tip in to remove a bit unless you feel the need to recycle the stuff. Roll it up on a Q-tip and you can remove about a fourth of what's in there in about, oh, 3 seconds.
I think there is 2.5cc in a full syringe, but I'm not sure. Doug, if you have the syringe in front of you and it says there's 1.9cc left, it should be easy to tell how much is gone, and thereby into Larry's arm (tonearm) - provided Larry only used it once. I'll wager there is about 0.6cc missing. I am at work and will check my part full and full syringes when I get home.
Thanks for all of the help and advice. I will drain the damping fluid from my Graham 2.2 and start from scratch when I have a long weekend to work my way through the process of finding the ideal amount of fluid for my set up and report back.
I don't know if I have the patience to keep fiddling with this arm. Azimuth, overhang, VTA, VTF, antiskating now damping fluid. All I know is I have it pretty well dialed in so I think I'll spend my time listening to records.
Did you raise of lower lower your VTF as you added fluid? I only have a Shure Stylus force gauge and can't do any fine adjustments. What about antiskating?
Alephman,sheeeeesh!I thought this thread was dead!!
Firstly,set antiskate for the downforce you will use,then forget it!!Vta,and downforce,and fluid level ALL AFFECT oneanother.Work slowly,over numerous listening sessions and you will find the Grail.Good luck!!
Thanks for the advice. Got things dialed in real good.(Benz Ruby 3, Pass Aleph Ono)
Ok, Has anyone tried different Damping fluids? I could not get rid of a feeling that the 2.2 sounded too damped for a uni-pivot, I just expected more.
With the blue fluid I could not get rid of the feeling that this arm was not performing to its max, even with Sirspeedys damping fluid tweaks. I just felt that it sounded like an SME IV's sound but with more flow to the music. I always felt the 2.2 should have been well beyond the SME IV in terms of openness. I don't know whether the damping fluid I have was too old, too thick or just plain wrong. I asked a friend to come around and bring his SME IV damping fluid with him.
To test whether the SME fluid was thinner than the graham fluid I placed a blob of both fluids next to each other and with a pin in each hand I did stick The afore mentioned pins into each blob at the same time. I then withdrew the pins so as to produce a tail on top of the blobs. The SME damping fluids tail withdrew back into the blob much quicker than the Grahams.
So I tried it in the Graham and following Sirspeedys fluid regime. I found the SME fluid to be Much more open and cleaner sounding, I could use less fluid and still get a cleaner sound. In-fact the more SME fluid I added the more precise the sound stage became without becoming dull or recessed.
It was not a minor tweak.
Anyone else tried something like this?
Interesting,but the caveat is that the arm (2.2)is best voiced with a "combination" of fluid,in conjunction with downforce AND VTA.All three variables sort of "mix" to get the best performance.Maybe the SME stuff is better,but I'd check if Bob Graham has tried it.I'm willing to bet he has,as well as a good bit of others.Yet I do hope you are on to something.