Graham Elite

Is there anyone who still looks to receive his Elite tonearm? Any idea why it takes so long to build that one into current production? If I am not wrong, Graham announced Elite at the beginning of 2013, it almost makes one and a half year. I used to order months ago. Tons of excuses (I do not talk to him directly, but my dealer) so far, then got feedback that tonearm is ready last week. This time, no feedback again hence cargo carrier now could not reach to Graham. Weird. Make no mistake, I really like Graham tonearms, I have one Phantom B-44 and quite pleased with it. Perhaps some others who still look to receive have different information. I would like to hear opinions/feedbacks please. Thanks.
I spoke with him today. He said one to two weeks again. We shall see.
One cannot rush genius. It will be worth the wait, I'm sure.
Have you heard the VPI 3D?
Perhaps Bob heard us! My dealer informed me that Graham sent the tonearms and will be available as of Monday-Tuesday. Fingers crossed!
That's great news! I look forward to some feedback specially in comparisons to what individuals currently have.

Christian when are you getting yours.

I have had mine "not the actual latest production unit" since November of last year when Bob set-it up along with my AF-1. In conversation Bob mentioned the only changes would be cosmetic but I do look forward to the exchange and receive my current production unit but I'm in no rush so I'll step aside allowing all others to receive theirs because I know it has been a long wait.

I have not done any comparison but to provide a bit of info I did own a Phantom II which was paired up with a TW AC-3 but then got a REED 12" which I greatly preferred. I also had a TW 10.5 and found there were differences, both sold both and kept the REED.

I still had them when I purchased a TW BKnight table, gorgeous table and preferred such over my AC3, sold the AC3.

I then purchased a Micro Seiki 5000 along with other accessories to get the most out of it, once completed preferred such over my BKnight so I eventually sold that table also.

All along keeping the REED because it's just a great arm!

So why am I providing this feedback? Well because once I got my AF-1 with Elite arm and paired it up with a A90 cart, got it dialed in this is by far the best my system has ever sounded.

So what's contributing to this? Is it just the table? Not sure - Is it a combination with the Elite arm? Not sure, but what I can say is it has gotten me off the merry-go-round and I find myself just enjoying and listening.

I'm still awaiting for my second rear armboard for the back slot so I can then mount my REED arm and cart, at that time I will be able to do a direct comparison.

So I await to read comments back
Just received my 9" Elite tonearm. Initial observations: No Elite tonearm specifications (one may assume all of its parameters including effective mass, length same as previous Phantom models perhaps?!), user manual is for B-44 still (same manual as my 7 year old B-44's), DIN pin configuration has changed from L shape to straight (I do not know if he changed that for II and Supreme) so my phono cable does not fit into Elite and I need to send the cable back to Transparent Cable to change the DIN head configuration, no paper protractor to locate the tonearm (I have Universal protractors so not a problem). In terms of labor quality, Elite even after its serious price tag does not seem to exceed my 7 year old B-44, even the interior pivot housing seems having slightly better labor for B-44 compared to Elite. And compared to my other tonearm Ikeda 407 in terms of labor quality and precision, both Grahams look like toys!
I hope it will worth its price and waiting when I have the cable to use Elite.
I realized it was a bit unfair to call Graham tonerms as toys compared to Ikeda. Although I admit Ikeda is a special piece of gear, it does not make Graham underdog. So I am correcting myself.
I have yet to receive my Elite arm despite being promised on many occasions that I would be in the first batch. I am not happy.
05-03-14: Number_95
Perhaps Bob heard us! My dealer informed me that Graham sent the tonearms and will be available as of Monday-Tuesday.

From my conversation with Bob today, it appears your dealer secured the arm from Musical Surroundings (distributor) that was shown at the Chicago show ? If so, your's is the first production arm. I have been reassured by Bob that AF1 turntable owners will be the first one's to get the arm before other orders are filled.. which will be very shortly.
Hi Christian,

You must be right, presumably me and a friend of mine have got the first produced arms. Pity, Elite DIN connector config is different than B44 so I await Transparent to remake the L shape Ref MM tonearm cable to straight. So I still wait to use Elite. It is still on its box! :-)
I was just sent this thread, as we've been so busy here - no time to chit-chat. Although the discussions can be lively and sometimes entertaining, it can sometimes result in a poorly-considered sense of judgment, as in the case of Number 95, who wrote that he considered my latest effort was "a toy".. That was a first, in my experience.

It must be nice to be an expert and deliberately dash someone's efforts and livelihood right onto the rocks; myself, I'm not that omnipotent, and certainly would never presume go to that level of hyperbole. But in the world of free-expression, too many times anything goes (as we've all seen in this crazy world)...!! In this day of everyone's-an-expert, for those with an adjenda or unmovable personal bias, it appears that all that's needed is to just make a joke of it, and "Presto" - you're a reviewer! And to hell with the years of building quality reputations for a product and one's best effort at service. Fortunately, cooler heads usually prevail, and others chime in with reassuring reason. Through the years (over 20 now, and counting) pretty much the whole industry seems to have enjoyed our efforts, frequently in the audio press, who have seen more than a few other tonearms in their days. And even more than the reviews, I've received many e-mails and phone calls with happy customers. High priase, indeed, and much, much appreciated...

That being said, I will be the first to admit that the Elite took far longer to get to market than I wished or planned. Part of that is internal, and the early efforts of 2013 showed where we needed to add to the design for efficiency and performance. Not to make excuses for delays (In the end, we do have to produce, after all!) but if customers only KNEW the trials-of-the-damned that most of us small manufacturers go through with vendors; i.e., delivery schedules being promised and kept, quality control that we insist upon, and sourcing other components and vendors as the need arises. All sorts of nightmares behind the scenes, to make quality products and to make it look easy at the same time.

OK, with my pushed-buttons being somewhat relieved, I will also say that the Elite (and new Phantom III) are true advances in our on-going work, and the proof - at least to most people - will be in the listening. We continue to build on our basic design concepts which have proven themselves reliable and also (we believe) provide the highest level of performance attainable, and nowhere is this more evident than in the Elite tonearm.

While it shares a direct heritage with it's earlier siblings, the design has been taken to a much higher - and more costly - level. In addition to a different arm tube and vastly improved wiring (with a dielectric absorption coefficient approaching the ideal "1"), the pivot assembly is altogether more sophisticated and with the constrained-layer damping of a new high-density tungsten insert, results in a smoother, more extended range, with clarity but not brightness, with bass extension without tubbiness or false mid-bass emphasis. As for the pivot bearing that Mr. 95 suggests is different compared to the B-44, I can only add that, if the good 95 has an older B-44, then he may, indeed, have a different version, and one which provides significantly higher bearing loading for even less possibility of bearing chatter. And both bearings, by the way, are made to my specifications by the same precision supplier in Switzerland.

And of course, we all know that each manufacturer says HIS is the best! What else would you expect? However, with the exception of Mr. 95 - whose system and audio taste is unknown - everyone else who has tried this arm, even in prototype form, went wild over the improvements in the earlier designs; and indeed,over other tonearms they had been using or trying.

And in due course, experienced reviewers, who have put their reputations on the line with every word they write, will soon be analyzing and commenting on the Elite (and the Phantom III), so we look forward - with calm and confidence, I might add - to their conclusions..

But please understand I don't turn a blind ear or eye to meaningful and constructive suggestions and criticisms. We may be small (any smaller and we wouldn't be here..!), and take all input to heart. Sometimes these thoughts are not helpful; other times, they can make a lot of difference in how I design a new product, and I'm grateful for the loyal following who do this. (By the way, I also know that our old instruction book is long overdue for replacement, and we are right now working on an entirely new version, complete with lots of detail photos and less words. And printed on nice, glossy paper in booklet form. And with full specifications)!

Being small (like being green, as Kermit would say), and having to deal with quality outside vendors for parts made to our tight specifications is not easy, but we persevere to make the best tonearm we're capable of creating. And one which is not built on re-inventing the wheel or using a fanciful idea as it's centerpiece (such as 3-D printing), but is based on sound concepts and proven results.

The chat rooms are enjoyable (most of the time, anyway), but with the availability of the internet and a keyboard, it seems everyone - even the occasional loose cannon - can be a reviewer. The opinions can vary wildly, and sometimes with reckless abandon; that's why some of us do not share in it all the time - it's far too time-consuming to try and clarify the unconvinced. And I believe,that's one of the reasons why the esteemed Michael Fremer doesn't engage any more. Just remember, we can all have our say, but also remember there's a tacit responsibility in doing that; like the Medical Doctor's creed (First, do no harm) there is a place for opinion and constructive criticism, but do try to refrain from hurtful hyperbole. You're entitltled to your opinion, but just remember others may not agree.

In any event, for those letters and phone calls (which I try to take if we're not too busy at the time) I take them all seriously, and if things need correcting we do it, and try to do so with graciousness and appreciation for the customer's needs and wants. So I say, "Thank you!" - Bob Graham

On the other hand, will there be an upgrade path for the Phantom II to III version or is it best to sell my II and purchase a III although i would prefer the upgrade path if there is one. Any idea on cost and turn around time for same?

No distributor in Canada so l would have to send the arm directly to you in MA just as i did a few years back for the installation of the micro-poise.

You are certainly one of the great innovator of your time in tonearm research and development along with Herb Papier and Alastair Robertson-Aikman before you.

All the best and keep up the great work my friend......
Bob Graham....I'm surprised at you for making that uncalled for belittling comment regarding the "fanciful idea" of 3D printing. I personally don't care if it is stuffed with doggie doe....if it works it works.
Dear Bob,

I wanted to write a note to clarify some of the misunderstandings.

First of all, I did not want to offend either you or any other proud Graham owners. As I am one of those happy Graham users. I have used and still keep B44 with great fun since 2007. Also, the only reason I wanted an Elite tonearm has been the fact that I have been very comfortable Graham. There are also some other serious alternatives to have a tonearm currently at the market but I insisted on having an Elite tonearm (waiting for almost 1 year to have it) while I do not even have Techdas t/t should mean something to you in terms of my loyalty and happiness with Graham.

Yes, as you also mentioned on inet forums, sometimes people may miscommunicate or put their facts a bit different than they intended to do. I also admit with a little bit of frustration (as I considered I have waited ages to have that arm and when I got that, I realized I can not use it as the L shaped DIN connector for B44 could not suit to straight DIN connector of Elite, last but not the least the only user manual from the package was B44 while no specific information including specs for Elite etc) I went too far on my forum thread to make critics. I can take the blame for saying "looks like toy" and I do apologize for that. If you can see the next post right after my initial post of that thread, I even used to correct myself.

I hope if you read this, you can have a better understading of Mr 95's musical preferences and taste as you questioned. As a Graham owner (I now have 2 Graham arms) I appreciate your designs and labor attachted to those. I wish I could use Elite but still wait to get my Transparent Ref MM tonearm cable to fit to Elite. I am sure patience will be rewarded and when cable comes and Elite becomes functional, I can comment more on the similarities and differences (I am sure it will be a major upgrade over B44, well is not it the reason to upgrade!).

I hope now we understand each other better. Again I am sorry if seen like a trouble maker which I am not.

All The Best
I forgot to add my audio system info as Bob wondered:

Acoustic Solid Royal t/t; Graham Phantom Elite+Graham Phantom B44+Ikeda IT-407 tonearms; Ikeda Kai+Miyajima Kansui+Transfiguration Orpheus cartridges; ARC Ref Phono 10 phono stage; EMM Labs XDS1 V2; ARC Ref 10 preamp; ARC Ref 610T power amps; B&W N800 speakers; Shunyata Triton+Typhon; all Shunyata Ztron Anaconda pc, all Transparent Ref MM IC+SC; SRA Scuttle x2 racks, SRA Ohio XL+2 bases; RPG Skyline diffusors
Well said Bob, if they only knew the difficulties of managing all the suppliers - for our company it is materials - large copper - we are slowed down by up to 8 weeks just waiting for raw material.
It takes time to build the best products and it is always worth the wait.

The Graham arm is a superb design, quality and performance at the top of the spectrum.

It helps to be encouraged on the forums not badgered, so please bear with us small manufacturers without us there would be very little innovation in this small and difficult industry.

Congratulation Bob, do not worry art takes time...cheers
Well said Bob, if they only knew the difficulties of managing all the suppliers - for our company it is materials - large copper - we are slowed down by up to 8 weeks just waiting for raw material.
It takes time to build the best products and it is always worth the wait.

The Graham arm is a superb design, quality and performance at the top of the spectrum.

It helps to be encouraged on the forums not badgered, so please bear with us small manufacturers without us there would be very little innovation in this small and difficult industry.

Congratulation Bob, do not worry art takes time...cheers
My thanks for all who chimed in on this, and lively dialogue is to be expected in one's hobby. Audio, in particular, seems to have really polarized thoughts and opinions, so we hope that the real goal - enjoying music - is not lost somewhere along the path. And I certainly appreciate Mr. 95's response - and welcome him (or any others) to contact me directly with questions and/or concerns. We will address them as promptly as my one head and 20 hats will permit...

On to the point that Mr. Stringreen brings up, I simply wanted to state that our designs are based on the best principles and materials we can find and use, not on promoting a certain production technique. For me, if I found that 3-D printing would add measurably to my designs, I would use it in an instant; however, I would NOT try to claim that the mere use of this technique (which is called "addive machining", and has been known for many years) is, in itself, going to be the magic button. Additive machining is slow, rather expensive in larger production runs, and relies on melting and reforming a useable powder into a new shape. While a fascinating proess to observe, it is NOT the magic wand for a good product. The very same results can be optained by traditional, subtrative machining by using pure ingots of the desired material. [And which, by the way, with certified materials, will be guaranteed to be free from voids or other impurities that I don't beleive additive machining (3-D printing) - can control to the same degree, if at all]. Let's just say I would not be comfortable boarding an airplane with a wing made from the process, at least not yet...

When one product (in this case, tonearms) is made identically, but one with 3-D printing and the other with CNC or some of the newer subtrative machining techniques such as "electrical discharge machining" (another amazing technique), then I claim the differences will the MATERIALS chosen, not the method of making them. So, if one tonearm is aluminum, and the other, idential design and dimensions, is stainless steel, brass, or plastic, the results will depend entirely on the difference in materials, including the choice that Mr. Stringreen tossed out in a very colorful example. And I agree with him, at least as far as the sonic results are concerned.

As I tried to make more clear by this note, in my first posting to this thread, I was attempting only to make the point that it's the design and choice of materials that matters most, and how you get there is entirely optional. 3-D printing is fine, and if someone wants to make a tonearm, turntable, living room furniture, or a dog-house with this process, I'm fine with that. But please don't try to tell me that it, alone, is the reason for a better product. That's simply not the case, and I object to the spin that sometimes becomes a buzz-word; in this case, 3-D printing is a useful tool, and an ideal means of making quick prototypes in my office if I want to check out a new design idea. When it gets to some exotic materials such as tungsten, however, it's going to be s-l-o-w, and in my opinion, entirely too expensive to warrant it's use in production. It's the hyperbole that surrounds some of these concepts that rankles me, as the wheel has not yet been reinvented; it's just another way to make one.
+1 to Bob and Larrys Posts

Good Listening


Apparently, the VPI 3D arm sounds quite good also.
So they say. I don't see a plastic tonearm coming to my system anytime soon.
That sounds overly harsh. Is the VPI 3D that different from the Cobra tonearm or composite speakers like Rockport or Wilson? There are plenty of reasons for using plastics to better control resonances. I have not heard it myself, nor have I heard the new Graham Elite.
Does anyone know if these arms are still a 6 month Backlog?