Graham Phantom B44 2 or Taela ?

Am seriously contemplating a 2nd tonearm on a TW AC1. The TT currently has a Triplanar 7 mark 2 with a Transfiguration Orpheus L cart and a Nagra VPS Phonostage, which will stay. Was pretty keen on the Graham B44 with a Lyra Titan i. Am unlikely to get to audition either.
Would love to hear from A'goners who have experienced the Taela in their systems. , more specifically anyone who has done a comparison with the Phantom. Admittedly there are many subjective variables in such an excercise, but any views/comments would be most welcome.
Many thanks.
5730ac72 b4ae 4369 9106 b94235ab9855sunnyboy1956
Hi, so I can't offer any direct advice here. I have a Triplanar and have always wondered about the Graham...

However, you may want to touch base with syntax here on audiogon. He has the new Graham 12inch arm along with the standard version. Also he is using Lyra cartridges, so might have some good advice.

MikeLavigne has the Taela, not sure if he has or had a graham at some point...

How's that Nagra VPS doing? I am still loving mine ! Good luck !
Sunnyboy, I was going to invite you for a listen to my Talea, but then I remembered you're in India. If you get by New England, you're welcome. :-)

Maybe Thom, or Joel, or someone will join in who has experience with both arms. I have heard a Skala, XV-1s, and Universe on the Talea. The Talea easily betters the Triplanar on Galibier and Teres tables.
To me, it is close to impossible to say which combination of tonearm and cartridge is really going to work in any system without an actual trial. Unfortunately, such actual trial before purchase is almost impossible to arrange.

I have not seen or heard the Talea arm. I am familiar with both the Titan and Orpheus L (I own both), and have heard both the Titan and orginal Orpheus in the Phantom arm. I have a Basis Vector arm myself. With this arm, I like both the Orpheus L and my Titan (not Titan i), though they sound quite different.

My friend had both a Graham Phantom arm and the Basis Vector arm on his table and would swap a Titan i and orginal Orpheus (not the low output version) between the two arms. For whatever reason, he much preferred the Basis arm with both cartridges and preferred the Orpheus over the Titan i. I really think this is all a matter of system matching and taste. I did not hear the direct comparison myself, but thought the Phantom sounded quite good with both cartridges. This friend ended up selling the Phantom arm. Another aquaintence who is very familiar with the Orpheus positively hates the Phantom arm and claims that the older Graham arms were superior to the Phantom (he characterizes the sound of the Phantom as unengaging and cold sounding). I have not otherwise heard anything bad about the Phantom and consider this very much a minority opinion.

As far as your purchase of the Titan i, I think it will make an interesting contrast with the Orpheus L. In my system, the Orpheus L has, in comparison with my Titan, a slightly more prominent upper midrange. This makes female vocals a bit more prominent and forward sounding. On well done recordings, this prominence can be seductive, but, where the vocalist is too close to the mike, the overloading is more annoying with the Orpheus than the Titan (more like the singer is shouting). The Titan has a slightly more open top end than the Orpheus, something I like. The bass response of both are quite different. The Orpheus has a very fast, punchy and dynamic low end (great with kick drums). But, that kind of tight bass response can sound a touch "toneless" and make the bass sound a bit disembodied. In terms of bass "tone" I actually prefer the Titan. Both cartridges are very good with minimizing the annoyance of surface noise; perhaps the Orpheus is a little better. If you have any issues with not having enough gain, the Orpheus is noticeably lower in gain than the Titan. I really cannot say which cartridge I prefer. I don't have an easy way to switch between the two (my Basis arm is not easy to setup properly) so I currently use the Orpheus L because it is my newest acquisition. I envy your ability to easily switch between the two. Both are terrific sounding and sufficient different in sound so that the combination makes a lot of sense.
BTW. It just so happens that the Talea mounting bolt pattern will fit within two of the three Triplanar mounting holes, so no machining is necessary. I realize Sunnyboy is looking for a second arm, but I thought I would mention this in case it helps someone.
i do own (and love) my Talea. i have not had a Graham Phantom in my system....although i've heard the Phantom many times in other systems and specifically compared to the Triplaner more than a few times. generally i think the Phantom and Triplaner are at the similar level of energy and resolution as well as quality of build. i somewhat prefer the more neutral Triplaner. i bring up the Triplaner because i heard the Talea in my system a couple of times directly compared to my Triplaner on the same tt with the same cartridge and also in another system on the same tt. the Talea was clearly better; and i think very highly of the Triplaner.

btw; i do own the Lyra Olympos SL; the best sounding cartridge i have heard. it's mounted on my Rockport Sirius III. i have not had it mounted on the Talea but i would expect it a magical combination and eventually i'll try it there.

in the 90's i did own a Graham 1.5tc and then i owned a Graham 2.2 for a couple of years....until i purchased my first Rockport in i do have experience with Graham and it is a very good tonearm.

the Talea is very special and i highly recommend it.
I agree with Mike. The Talea is one of the most special tonearms I have heard. While I would recommend the Phantom over the Triplaner, they are fairly close in performance. I find the Talea to be in another class.

It is a beautiful looking and sounding arm.
Many thanks for all the suggestions/comments/advice.
Am loving the VPS and am managing to squeeze enough gain from the tube only stage. Did contemplate the 12" Graham but was dissuaded from that path by many incl. Thomas of TW.
I may yet surprise you! Whereabouts are you located in New England ?
Really appreciate your honest assessment of the Orpheus L and the Titan. Its pretty much what I imagined but coming from someone who actually owns both is so much more valuable.
Your endorsement and recommendation of the Talea I value.

Ideally would love to audition the Talea. In the event thats not possible the testimony/reviews on Agon would probably sway me.

Cheers and happy listening

Can you comment on the Talea vs the Reed?
Sunnyboy, you've got email. I'm in So. New Hampshire.

I also hold the Triplanar in high regard. This is an arm I can happily live with for many years to come. HOwever, the Talea was just something I could not get out of my head weeks after the prototype left my system. I don't really want to part with my Triplanar so I need to find a way (an excuse is more accurate :-) ) to get both arms on my table. It is going to be a bit of a challenge because I can't really use the mono cart ploy 'cuz I don't own more than a dozen mono LPs. If that many.

My experience with Graham is limited to the 2.2 I owned sometime back so I don't think it is relevant to this discussion.
This posting is only hearsay, no experience. Recently my friend just mounted his graham B44 mk2 and Breur on his Raven with black night power supply. To him Breuer is much better. He has a clearaudio statement with linear tracking. To him , breur tonearm with raven set up is oomparable to his Cleaaraudio Statement and he attributed its performance to the Breuar tonearm
Let's roll a dice :-)
How about a TW10.5 tonearm ? A friend has most of the tonearm mentioned except for the Taela.
He feels that the 10.5 is one of the best tonearm he has even in comparo with his Phantom II, Triplanar, Kuzma reference and Da Vinci. he owns a blackknight.
Hm, one of my friends is a collector and got from Nick Mason (Pink Floyd Drummer) a drum stick. I drilled it, mounted my Lyra Olympos, made some adjustments with a string from an original Keith Monks and being far away from a final product: It sounds very clean and has a real good drive (Pink Floyd Drummer). I love it.
Syntax, that's a great story. which brings to mind....

as Joel Durand was conceptualizing the Talea (before it had a name) he started with a vision of a violin bow as a tonearm. he even worked with a bow maker to help to understand the shapes and perspectives on the music. this was described in a blog he was maintaining outlining the step by step investigation and development from audiophile project to commercial product.

i don't know if Joel actually used one of Heifetz's bows to mount his Universe, but i could imagine it happening after reading your story.
Greetings all,

I had the privilege of being Joel's confidant through the conceptualization and design period of the Talea.

The concept of the violin bow/violinist has quite a few parallels to the tonearm/turntable metaphor.

Visualize two different violinists - 1 with technique that employs a fairly stiff wrist, and the other with a more flexible wrist/technique.

The vibration of the bow will "ground" into each violinist's shoulder and body differently. Because of this, there are likely different bows that are ideal for each musician.

Similarly, for the less than "perfect" turntable, the "ideal" tonearm may differ from one to the other. This is even before we consider the arm to cartridge match.

For the poor tonearm designer, he has to presume that the turntable to which it will be mounted is top flight.

This is perhaps the only "advantage" I have as a turntable designer.

From a mechanical and vibrational perspective, my goal is clear - to provide the most stable platform for any tonearm to strut its stuff. I don't have to worry what the tonearm is or how good it is - only to make the job of every tonearm easy.

Thom @ Galibier
Syntax and Mike,
You guys are too much! Yes, Mike is right, I did quite a bit of research in the area of bows and made a few prototypes that were pretty close to that model.... close but not similar: even transposed (musical pun intended) in proportions to the corresponding length of a tonearm, a violin bow would be too thin to work. That created too much unbalance in the frequency spectrum. They are some elements of a bow that I am still working with, though.
Thom, thanks for expressing those ideas clearly. That's indeed part of my approach to tonearm making.
This Violin bow concept is a beloved one

Touch me gentle

and even turntables, but here is the inspiration from a Piano

Form Follows function

Has anybody heard this?
That lends a whole, new meaning to "resin up the bow". I have seen those pics before. It always struck as being more of some artist's statement than any serious attempt at music reproduction. But what do I know. :-)

Another happy Talea owner here. I also happen to own the Triplanar Mk VIIu. I have heard the Phantom in a familiar system with a Lyra cartridge and it sounded fantastic. While I am unable (and unwilling) to comment regarding the relative merits of the Phantom versus Talea, this is probably a no lose'll end up with terrific tonearm. If finances allow, why not try all three? Keep the ones you like and you'll have no problem selling the one you don't keep. Probably better use of funds when compared to the expense of auditioning in unfamiliar systems. That said, if you are ever in the Pacific NW, feel free to look me up.
The violin bow tonearm /piano base 'table was on display at the Munich High End Show, downstairs in one of the "Halles". It was a static display, although the designer was there and one could talk to him. It wasn't in a glass case, so you have a decent look at it - which I did. Pretty wild.

I was fortunate, nay privileged, to audition the Talea a weekend ago thanks to Doug and Dan.With my Transfiguration Orpheus L mounted alternately on Dan's Talea and Triplanar, I have no doubt which is the superior tonearm. IMHO, the Talea is way ahead of the Triplanar.The amount of background musical information the Talea yielded vis a vis the Triplanar was significant. This is not to even remotely suggest that Triplanar is not a great arm. It is, except the Talea takes a very high quality sonic picture several notches higher. Am about to contact Joel to sign me up as a customer. Have some issues regd a locking tonearm rest which I imagine can be sorted out.
Thank you one and all for your valuable inputs/advise.
A more private thank you to Doug and Dan separately.
Cheers and Happy listening.
Hi Pradeep, it was my pleasure and a lot of fun as well. I hope we can listen to music together again soon. So you went home after a visit with family, and with an arm load of records and maybe a new tonearm. Nice road trip! :-)

Thanks, Doug and Paul, and Pradeep! Anne was really glad she tagged along this time.

It was my pleasure and Paul's to host you in our home. We concur in what you heard. This was our second such comparison, albeit the first with an Orpheus, and the results were the same on both occasions. Thank you also for bringing your Orpheus L. It's a superb cartridge, one of a very few that's come close to the performance of a UNIverse in our system. It might have performed better still if I'd had time to really dial it in.

The Talea's superiority might also be greater than we've heard to date. My relative unfamiliarity with tuning it vs. a TriPlanar may have afforded the TriPlanar some advantage.

More important, we got to meet a true gentleman and a new friend.
Dan and Doug
You are too kind...I am almost blushing!
Seriously, did you get around to mounting the Shelter 901 on the Talea?
I suspect that it may be possible to coax a little more out of the Talea if the cart were to be aligned with a Mint LP.
Thanks for a wonderful time and hopefully in the none too distant future we will get around to spinning more vinyl.

For the sake of your blood pressure and equanamity, I withdraw my earlier comments. ;-)

We did mount the 901 and the results were as Paul and I hoped and expected. The Talea is now the second arm we've heard tame the 901's sometimes over-energetic upper mids (the Schroeder Reference being the other). On four other arms, including our TriPlanar, the 901 sounded edgy. I think it feeds alot of energy into a tonearm but the Talea handled it beautifully. The 901's no Orpheus, XV-1S or UNIverse, but on the Talea it retained all its big dynamics and also made good music, not hi-fi excitement. Proof once again that a great arm (and table and phono stage) can raise the level of a lesser cartridge.

Of course we couldn't resist slipping our UNIverse onto the Talea for a last quick go before Dan and Anne had to. I played one of our favorites: J.S. Bach/E. Power Biggs. The echoes are still fading, my head's still spinning. :-)

The better the reproduction the more superhuman Bach and Biggs become, and the tension they create in an aware listener grows endlessly. On the one hand there's a near overwhelming urge to respond viscerally to the rhythm (toe tapping, head bobbing, etc.). Yet if one doesn't remain entirely relaxed and focused one instantly loses track of the 3, 4 or 5 lines of counterpoint that only Bach's unimaginable genius could weave, and which Biggs' velvet touch, iron-fingered discipline and fiercely accurate timing recreated like no other organist. Thank you Talea (Joel). I've been listening to that recording for forty years, it's never been better played.

Agree about the Mint.
I completely agree that there is more to be had by aligning with a MintLP. I should get off of my duff and order one, but I had to purchase new drivers for my bass horns. Maybe next month.

Yes we did get to mount the 901 for a while. Still sounds like a Shelter to me, but Doug is much more familiar with that cartridge so I'll let him speak more to that if he wishes. I may try my Denon 103r against it next time we all get our toys out, and I think Doug has an MM that would be fun to hear on the Talea as well.

If you get back to NY, you now know which train it is. Unfortunately they don't run up to New Hampshire, but with more time we could still do something farther north.
I read that in the meantime there is already a 2nd generation version of the Talea. Can someone please explain the improvements of this version as compared to the "old" one?
Hi Gemini05,

details are still forth-coming as the un-veiling will be this weekend at RMAF. Most of the changes are in materials selection, but there is also a refinement to the VTA tower that features a better coupling when the VTA tower is locked in place. I haven't heard the new generation Talea (mine is down the list, behind customers who have already placed orders), but I know Joel is very excited about the improvements over the first gen. The first gen Talea is very, very good so I expect this new one will be spectacular.

dealer disclaimer

You need to update your system photos to include that remarkable looking Talea on your Galibier. See you and the new arm at RMAF.
Hi, Peter. You're right. :-) See you this weekend.
i own an original Talea, and am on the list for the newer 2nd gen Talea.

Joel did do some listening tests in my system of the various 2nd generation changes as he went along; he visited 6 or 7 times over the summer. it was a real privledge being involved (watching and listening). the changes to the 2nd gen Talea (as i understand them to be from my memory) include a new arm wand both in shape and wood, a different tower clamping system which makes it easier for on-the-fly VTA, different metalurgy to the tower and bearing, an arm rest (very clever), and new metal finishes (the dark nickel is stunning).

the original Talea is a ground breaking design. wonderful.

the 2nd gen (the final version that i listened to which may not be the very final version) is breathtaking. it was beyond anyone's expectations. these are not incremental tiny improvements; it's a new ballgame to my ears in my system.
My Talea(sl no. 26) arrived in mid December and I reckon I have managed between 75 to 100 hrs listening. Though I did exchange a few mails with Joel, I was hesitant to post any comments until I had achieved some familiarity with the arm and confidence that the setup was right. In the course of the last six weeks or so, my audio minded friends and I are convinced that the Talea is a truly special arm and IMHO probably among the best tonearms currently available. On a personal note the Talea is everything and more than I had hoped.
On every genre and piece of music ranging from rock to blues, jazz and classical, it clearly outperforms the Triplanar by a long, long way. There is a longer sustain and decay to each note. An almost organic wholeness to the music that was missing. I have no intention of selling the Triplanar but there is no great longing to acquire a Lyra Titan. The Triplanar sits on my TW AC 1 forlorn and barely lamented.
The Talea unlike any fixed pivot arm is a bit finicky to set up and it took a fair while to get the arm to balance with the azimuth weights. Initially, I used the A/S weight but have found no sonic disadvantage in abandoning it. IMHO in an arm so finely crafted the less of dangly metal stuff the better. Cart alignment with the Mint LP is a breeze with the single headshell screw. My only gripe is the on the fly VTA adjustment which is a bit of minor pain with the headshell of the Tripnanar in close proximity to the rear of the Talea. Manoeuvring the VTA key is a little tricky but this only applies if you are running two arms in close proximity on a TW AC.
All the comparisons with the Triplanar are in the context of music I am familiar with and love and with all the components in the system remaining constant ie Transfiguration Orpheus L, Nagra VPS phono, TW AC1. I should mention that a Loricraft PRC 4 arrived a few weeks before the Talea.
My renewed thanks to Doug and Dan for showing the light and all the Agoners on this thread and elsewhere who chimed in with their comments.
I guess some, if not all of us, are on a personal audio journey....With the Talea I have reached my vinyl summit.
Cheers and Happy listening

Hi Sunnyboy,

On your Triplanar headshell in close proximity with the rear of the Talea....maybe you need customize armboard, like mine :

Customize armboards
Hi Sunnyboy,

Sounds like the Triplanar and Talea need to swap 'table positions, but I understand that would require re-mounting both.

Glad you are enjoying the music! Alas, I have a few more weeks to wait. :-( On the other hand, I'll have a new XV-1s by then.
Mike, Better have some oxygen handy when you finally get your v2.0 Talea. I heard a v2.0 at my neighbor's house. (Yes, there are two crazy audiophiles living on the same street in Bethesda, MD.) He is using a ZYX and a Doshi preamp with which I am not familiar, but the rest of his system is well known to me, both spkrs and amps. The Talea did do some uncanny things. The sense of space around instruments was more 3D than I have ever heard, and the sense of the reality of the instrument as well, particularly violins, in keeping with the Durand ethos. The bass was a bit recessed compared to mids and treble, but I do not or cannot attribute that to the tonearm, except maybe a VTA adjustment was in order.

I did wonder whether some of the magic could be due to the wooden arm wand in combination with a euphonic kind of "resonance", for want of a better word, that could occur in the unipivot tonearms I used to listen to in days of yore. But who cares, even if there is any validity to that idea?
Definitely resonance management. Every part resonates to some degree on a tonearm, and they don't all behave the same due to being made from different materials. Joel's approach certainly seems to sum things up nicely.
Sunnyboy, very happy to "hear" about your results with the Talea. Out of curiousity, were you using a the captive cable Triplanar? or one with the RCA or DIN termination.

Also same question for the Talea since I am not familar with it's termination it hard wired (and if so with what cable?)

Thanks so much and congrats !
Dear Lewm: +++++ " o the wooden arm wand in combination with a euphonic kind of "resonance", for want of a better word, that could occur in the unipivot tonearms I used to listen to in days of yore... " +++++

as almost always but especialy with tonearm/cartridge resonances/distortions are of the kind that you like it and the kind you don't like it so much and of course exist the possibility to find out that always evasively neutral/accurate quality performance, very hard to attain.

Regards and enjoy the music,
That's a really impressive set up. A little too classy for Lady Gaga ?? Are those 12" arms?
You are absolutely spot on. I can easily swap arms.
I have the Triplanar with RCA termination and it's hard wired. Ditto for the Talea except it's a Discovery cable .
Hi Sunnyboy,

Yup, they're 12". In your case, change the armboard on the left side to a shorter one. I think the TW armbord has 90mm C2C.

I bought the lp before I found out she was a he. Still I think he is a better singer than Katy Perry or she, whatever.