Graham Phantom DV XV-1s setup question

I took the plunge and moved from a DV XX2 MkII to the DV XV-1s :-) My TT is the TW Raven One. I have been playing around with the setup and currently have the loading at 100ohms, VTF 1.87gram, no anti-skate and no damping fluid.

After doing some searches read about the 2.5 tracking force option. I tried it at 2.20 grams for a couple of days and briefly at 2.50grams and it seemed to kill the dynamics. What I am experiencing now is slight thin/bright sound on some recordings, not what most people report as the character of this cartridge. Moving the VTF seems to kill the dynamics.

I've only had it now for 3 weeks, 20-30 hours. Is this the breakin character of the cartridge? is anyone using the damping fluid with this cartridge? how much if you are? Ideas? my phono stage can do 30,100,500,1000,47K.

I like the XV-1s at 2.08 grams, top cartridge surface level to platter, and loaded at 200 ohms.

The XV-1t performs best as above but loaded around 500 ohms.


Dealer disclaimer
I am with Bill on VTF, I have my XV-1 at between 2 and 2.1gms. I load it at 100ohms.

Now onto the Phantom. You definately need damping fuild, otherwise it will take on a glassy exterior, which is what you are experiencing.

I would start off with fluid 1/3 up the shank and go from there on personal prefence. I use mine around half way up the shank
I agree with the others.
100 ohms loading and about 2.0 grams of VTF.

(Sorry, I can't help you with the Phantom though, I use a Basis Vector M3 myself.)

As far as the sound, it is the best cartridge I've owned, and easily bested the Shelter 90X as well as the Koetsu Rosewood Signature. It has a wonderfully refined and extended treble response when it is dialed in correctly, so your experience of thin and bright does not coincide with my experience at all.

Good Luck and hang in there, as the XV-1S is a wonderful cartridge.
Agree mostly with Bill.
I like my XV1s at 1.9 gms VTF, loaded at 220 ohms. Phantom II arm level with the platter and damping fluid up to blue mark as recommended by Bob Graham.
I think you'll find the XV-1s will relax quite a bit over the next 50 hours or so. It is not a bad idea to run with a heavier VTF (2-2.2) for this breakin period, and just keep the VTA neutral for now. Once it does begin to relax would be the time to experiment to find how you like to set things. I agree with others, any loading from 100-500 should work fine.
Listen to Dan. Cartridges, like caps, are taking longer and longer to break in. The ZYX took at least 100 hrs to fully break in.Then worry about setting VTA and other variables.
Hi Halcro, I have a Phantom II as well but i can not locate that blue mark you are refering to for damping fluid level. Is this blue mark somewhere in the well or perhaps my arm is an earlier version of the II. It's about 1/4 up the shank now. I also have an XV1's and Ortofon A90 on 2 separate armtubes.
Hi Smoffatt,
On the Phantom II with Micro-poise, when you unscrew the knurled chrome cover to access the pivot damping well, the bottom of the 'shank' where it changes from circular profile to square (and then pointed), is coloured blue.
This may not be the case with earlier models?
The Set Up is a bit individual, for example the loading. 100 ohms with Phonostage A is not identical with Phonostage B. It is like a chain, Phonocable, Gain from Preamp, Amp and so on. My choice would be in the 1k area, but it depends on the Phonostage or System.
I would use the range of recommended tracking fore, around 2.0 gr to be on the safe side. Too much is bad for the cantilever and there is also a compression in sound.
Bearing fluid
I use very little of it, it will need some time to settle (room temperature) or you can try a little bit of bearing oil instead.
The break in time is overrated, after a few hours it is the way it is, in general.
Next is that the owner gets used to the Presentation and accept it the way it is (or not). I am skeptical to answers when someone write, the Performance changed dramatically after 100h. I never had this in 15 years with my cartridges.
Hi, anywhere between 1.9 and 2.0 always seems preferred.
Stop overtracking this cartridge! It's insanity at its best. Also, 100 hrs breakin time is the rule. Keep playing, knock off the insane overtracking, and you'll be fine. Sorry, no experience with your arm, why not try your dealer? (just a suggestion)
I have my XV-1s on a JMW 10.5i arm with an VPI Aries 3 table. I actually have my tracking force set at 2.174 g and also have a tad of anti-skate applied. It's still within the recommended range (1.8 - 2.2 g). Not sure if its the arm/table combo compared to the Graham, but 2.174g seems perfect to me.
Thanks for the responses. I moved my VTF up to 2.0 grams for now until there are more hours on the cartridge. I previously had it at 1.87grams which was the weight where the highs and lows seem to balance out, any heavier the highs got dampened any lower the highs were over emphasized. This cross over point might change as it breaks in. Sounds a little dull now. Regarding the damping fluid I am going on the advise of my dealer who said to use none with the XV-1s. He states the damping fluid should only be used with a select few cartridges as it effects how well the pivot works. I tried it both ways with my XX2 MkII and preferred it without fluid. Sounds like most people use the damping fluid, so I will need to try it later once the cartridge breaks in.

Good discussion. What you heard as you tweaked VTF (balance of highs vs. lows, altered dynamics) is exactly what I've been advocating for years based on my experience with other top level LOMCs:
1. Take VTF down to the mistracking point (on real records).
2. Then nudge it back upwards in TINY increments whilst listening for exactly what you described. With practice, you'll eventually hear differences from changes of .01g or even less.

Of course this ideal VTF point will vary with break-in, with the weather and even from record to record. It's a moving target because the molecular characteristics of elastomers are unstable by nature. So I tweak our VTF daily, as do many on this forum, but I haven't had my scale out in weeks (the last time I changed cartridges). For daily listening I don't need to know a number. I just adjust by listening.

Question: why not trust your ears and listen at the VTF that sounds optimal, starting right now? You paid nearly $3K for a very fine cartridge. Why not enjoy its superb highs and dyanmics for every hour of its (limited) lifespan?


P.S. Excessive Antiskating has the same sonic effect as excessive VTF: dulled highs and smothered dynamics. Try setting A/S to zero before finding your optimal VTF. Once you've dialed VTF in really well, play some challenging tracks (real music, not test tracks) and listen for R channel mistracking (with your ears on the tweeter axis). If that occurs, nudge A/S upward until mistracking disappears or is even on both channels. Use too much and you'll hear the same sonic negatives as raising VTF. You'll probably end up using much less than most people think is needed.
Thanks Doug, I have taken your advise and moved the VTF down to 1.90grams. Getting every minute out of this baby is important :-) Interesting points you make about the VTF continually changing and dependent on the record as they are not all cut the same. That logic explains what I hear, you either continually adjust or you accept a compromise on some. This level of equipment clearly reveals the micro adjustments. Regarding A/S I compared the minimum with the weight and no weight and preferred the sound with no A/S slightly more dynamic. Not sure but suspect AS and damping fluid for the Phantom II are mechanisms for tweaking sound but compromise the performance of the pivot so there's a trade off???
Jumping in late here, but I wanted to put a fine point on Doug's sage advice. It holds true even after compensating for the change in VTA/SRA after the tracking force change.

I've often wondered what makes people want to track the XV1* family at such high forces, considering that they might be compensating for either a bad setup, a noisy turntable, or some other shortcoming.

I've had 6 XV1s's chez Galibier (unfortunately, no "t" yet), and not one of them liked to track over 1.90.

Thom @ Galibier
Hi Thom! I was beginning to think you had gotten lost. :-)

Yes, I find mine works beautifully right around the 1.85-1.87 area. It might go a tad lower with the Talea but I haven't optimized things yet. Not sure what the cause of the brightness is that Musichead reports.
I think the brightness comes from pivoting on the VTF cross over point and the cartridge not broken in yet. For some recordings it's spot on then another a tad bright. Increase the VTF by 0.03 grams and the bright recording is fine.
Hi Dan,

I've been prototyping a new armboard design, along with other cool stuff (Audiofest is just around the corner), so I haven't had much time to visit over here.

I've been spending time getting to know the Myajima mono cartridge, which is very nice ... problem is ... I have a whole lot of stereo records and a handful of monos. That's for a whole 'nuther thread.

It's good to get back to my trusty Dynavector, and yes, I too am arriving at the opinion that with the Talea, we can knock off a few hundredths of a gram.

Thom @ Galibier
Musichead, it sounds like you have a good handle on the XV-1s. Enjoy!

Thom gave me a great tip when I got my Dynavector. Even with suboptimal set up it will probably sound terrific, but don't be satisfied. Take your time and experiment methodically with the last incremental changes in setup. I found it useful to keep a written log documenting my progress (or lack thereof). You will be amazed at the improvements resulting from that last little bit of tweaking. If you haven't done so already, I highly recommend investing in a MintLP arc protractor to optimize alignment parameters. This will almost certainly take care of any higher frequency stridency after break-in is complete.

Thom and Dan, I have found that on the Talea, the XV1-S is happiest with VTF @ 1.82-1.83.
Interesting points you make about the VTF continually changing and dependent on the record as they are not all cut the same. That logic explains what I hear, you either continually adjust or you accept a compromise on some.

BTW, I second Jazdoc's recommendation of the Mint if you don't already have one. Major improvement on my rig too, well worth the cost.

Regarding A/S I compared the minimum with the weight and no weight and preferred the sound with no A/S slightly more dynamic.
Exactly, again!

One problem with all A/S mechanisms is that they apply a force via a different vector than the skating force they purport to counteract.

Skating forces pull inward on the STYLUS and CANTILEVER. Anti-skating devices pull outward on the TONEARM. What mediates this imbalance of forces? The only compliant connection between them, i.e., the suspension inside the cartridge.

So, all A/S devices press the cantilever laterally against the elastic suspension (just as VTF does vertically). What happens when you pressure a vibrating rod against an elastic polymer? You dampen the vibrations, reduce their amplitudes and slur their transients. Sonic result: reduced dynamics, blurred transients and smothered HFs.

Skating forces exist, so some A/S may be required by some cartridges for clean tracking. But the less you can get away with the greater the dynamics and the faster the transients. Now all you need is downstream equipment good enough to reproduce these without distortion. It seems like you have that.
Doug, interesting I wonder if I can take this idea further and state that the game with the XV-1s is to minimize pressure on the cantilever to maximize the vibration rather than the efficiency of the tracking the needle. In other words the cartridge will track perfectly say within 1.80 and 2.00grams (depending on the TT) and the fine tuning objective is to maximize vibration. The XV-1s is an amazing tracker, not sure why, but I noticed it immediately when I first installed it.

BTW, I ordered a MintLP last week :-)
Agreed, and it's not just the XV-1S. This has been my experience with other high end LOMCs (Lyra Olympos, ZYX Atmos, ZYX Universe). For any particular LP on any particular day, optimal sonics are obtained by applying the least downforce and side force consistent with clean tracking.

One could imagine an MC built such that the downforce required to center the coils in the magnetic fields differed significantly from the downforce required for clean tracking. In such a case, optimizing sonic performance would be impossible. One would have to compromise between maximizing cantilever freedom or maximizing coil/field centering. That would be frustrating, as one optimizes speed, micro-dynamics and HF response whilst the other optimizes amplitudes and ensures the most accurate reproduction of waveforms. I suspect that many unbalanced sounding cartridges suffer from this ultimately insoluble flaw.

Good job ordering a Mint!
Great thread, lots of useful info.

Question for anyone.

I was having my table set-up last night, I have the same table, arm and cart as mentioned above, the person doing the set-up mentioned while listening that I don't have enough gain with my current phono which is; VAC Sig. MK2a pre w/phono 64 db of gain

How much gain is the norm when using the Dynavetor XV-1s cart


TW-Acustic Raven One
Graham Phantom MK2
VAC Sig. MK2a pre w/phono

I also have a Audia Flight phono to compare which he said shouls work, we did not hook-it up as of yet because it got rather late. I was really hoping the VAC would work.

Thoughts, sugestions


First, do your line stage, amp and speakers produce acceptable SPL's and dynamics with line level sources at a reasonable gain setting on the line stage (i.e., somewhere between 10 and 2 o'clock)?

If so, then the phono stage gain you need for any cartridge can be calculated using the KAB Preamp Gain Calculator . Plugging in the 0.3mv output of an XV-1S indicates that 61db of phono gain would be suitable. Your VAC's 64db should be more than adequate.

Further, I've heard the VAC Renaissance (62db MC gain) in my system with both XV-1S and ZYX UNIverse (similar output). The gain was ample and the VAC was among the two or three best phono stages I've heard after my Doshi Alaap. It's a fine unit and an excellent match with that cartridge.

The VAC website indicates that phono gain is selectable (and also that the inputs labelled phono may optionally be just another set of line inputs). Make sure that you actually have a phono stage installed, ;-), and also that you're on the MC (64db) setting and not the MM (44db). I don't know where the switch is, check the manual.

Assuming everything's adjusted right, what did your setup guy hear that made him want more gain? From the information you posted it seems unlikely.

Thanks for the info., I'm new to vinyl so I'm relying on others to do the set-up. Info. like what's in this thread greatly assists me in learning.

My friend spent some time last night setting it up, in the end he seemed to be having issues with anti-skating and the arm wanting to move outwards when dropping the needle. Didn't really get to spin any vinyl just too late and not properly set-up, he did put on a pce that I had not heard before that he uses to test and at that point made reference to saying you will need to hook-up the Audia Flight because there isn't enought gain in the VAC phono. At this point I did not question him because he wasn't done and I had no reference to base such on, he is coming back tomorrow and once set-up and if he feels the same way I'll ask, hopefuly get to hook-up the Audia Flight and hear what he is talking about.

I have plenty of SPL's with my RedBook line stage, most recordings I listen to the volume at set slightly before 9 and slightly above 10 o'clock.

My speakers are MBL 101E, amps are Bryston 28 Squared mono blocks.

I called VAC today and spoke to Brian, apparently I have it hooked up correctly otherwise I would not hear any music. Two dials on the back for phono section, one for switching to either MC or MM and the other for load. Brian said if I need more gain 6db is available by changing some jumpers and wires inside which of course involves sodering etc.,my preference would be not to do this.

I asked Brian which carts he feels are ideal for the VAC and he mentioned any which are 0.7mv, big difference from what I have at 0.3mv.

I await to see what happens tomorrow and will post the results.
Too early to draw any conclusions. lets finish setting up the arm first. We're only 1/2 way through only.
I'm not gonna argue w VAC but I will also tell you that my VAC Ren Mk2 phono stage has more than sufficient gain for a 0.3 mV LOMC. I'll also tell you that the KAB phono pre-amp calculator shows 62 dB (which is in fact the spec for gain for the MC input for a Ren mk2) to be optimal for 0.3 mV cart. Leaving theory aside, I've heard it w my own ears in my system and in doug's. However, my Ren Mk2 had two phono inputs, one for MM and one for MC. Are you SURE you have the phono plugged in to the proper input. I also note from VAC's website that the newer Ren MK3 can apparently be configured for 2 MMs; is it possible that yours is a late model Mk2 that is set up for MM only despite there being an MM/MC switch (their picture of the back panel of the Mk3 shows the MM/MC switch or dial and a loading dial). My Mk2 did not have externally adjustable loading but yours apparently does so its not a stretch to think it is set up similar to the MK3 on the website. If you got it new, check w your dealer; if not ask VAC to check their records using the s/n of your exact unit. If it was purchased used, its possible that the gain was customin=zed for the initial purchaser who might have had a v high gain amp or v sensitive speakers. I'd be very hesitant to lay this on the VAC's phono stage (gain or otherwise). The VAC h
My VAC is the latest Sig. MK2a, it's only a couple of months old purchased "NEW".

My friend "Rickmak" was nice enough to come by earlier today and completed the initial set-up which was really appreciated. Everything is brand new, Stealth Hyperphono cable, cart, arm with no hours including the phono stage of the VAC unit so it's now time to just chil and put some hours in and then Rick will come back to re-ajust.

There was a bit of an issue with antiskating but that has now been taken care of, Rick can tell you what the culprit was.

I'm looking forward to doing some listening.

THX Rick.

Doug: Centering the coils is why Immedia suggests letting the cartridge sit on the LP while using the Audio Physics fluxbuster.

That makes good sense for active demagging/fluxbusting, where the potentially conflicting requirements for music play don't exist.

1. The LP need not be spinning, there's no need to optimize VTF for clean tracking.
2. You're not playing a modulated groove, there's no need to optimize VTF for maximum cantilever freedom.

Maximizing the fluxbusting effect obviously requires that the coils be centered in the fields. Now tell us the precise VTF that centers the coils when the cantilever isn't moving - good luck! ;-)

Whether one should actively demag a cartridge at all is of course subject to debate. As I'm sure you know, active demagging would destroy any MM, any MI and some HOMCs. Whether a LOMC should be actively demagged depends on the cartridge. Many LOMC manufacturers advise against it and will void the owner's warranty if it's done. FWIW, I prefer the less dangerous "demagging" tracks on the Cardas LP.
I closed the chapter demagging/fluxbusting 10 years ago. And yes, I had this Audio Physics unit. I developed this idea, because I didn't want to ruin my cartridge, looked for an indian medicine man and found a retired Apache. 2x a week he dances around my Turntable, charges me a few $ and it sounds better after that. No danger and good for my garden, too. When he leaves my place, it is raining, too.

Yes was referring to fluxbusting with the cartridge sitting on a stationary record.

You may have seen this already but Jonathan Carr posted this excellent review about fluxbusting on Audioasylum back in 2001 that answered a lot of people's questions eg. why some manufaturers recommend fluxbusting and other don't.

If Jonathan is reading this, wonder if you have anything to add to the subject 9 years later ;),+or+not+to+demag?
In our High End world there is a Theory for everything. Later you see, what was really right and what is (was) more or less a mistake.
"Fluxbusting" is a typical High End result.
Of course you will find an exception for everything, but in general the Degauss makes the Permanent Magnets weak after several times of use. We noticed, that the cartridge needs "this" in always shorter periods (like a junkie), the Dynamic ability is reduced time after time, the magnetic field is getting more and more weak.
A real no-go (for me).
There are some exceptions, when some magnets are covered with dust which contains some metal parts, here it can help.
In Germany (or some other countries) some companies "refurbish" old magnets from speakers, they reactivate their magnets to full, new specs. this is not cheap. Maybe they are doing something wrong.
Well have never experienced anything but improved sound with fluxing with my Lyras. If you're skittish, what about George Cardas' test LP that supposedly can fluxbust the cartridge too?
Honestly, I forgot that. I have the Cardas record, too, but can't remember when I used it the last time. I used it a few times at my "Fluxbusting-Time", but I guess, this chapter wasn't really important for me.
Quick update, my MintLP arrived last week and went through the process of aligning the cartridge. Shocked to find out the Graham tools aren't 100% accurate. Had to adjust the placement of the arm slightly as well as the cartridge. Everything snapped into place sonically. With a more correct alignment the VTF and Azimuth adjustments were a snap and sonically very obvious. I was surprised how much the Azimuth impacted the sound. The XV-1s is stunning!
Shocked to find out the Graham tools aren't 100% accurate.
Heh. I've never used the headshell jig when setting up Graham arms. Even before the Mint arrived on the scene I got superior results with on-platter protractors. The jig is quick, easy and idiot-proof, but given its self-evident limitations it was never particularly accurate.

Of course nothing is 100%, especially in vinyl, but the Mint gets us all orders of magnitude closer. Glad to hear you're enjoying fresh music!
I also am surprised the setup with the jig was apparently that far off. I'd never expect it to match what the MintLP can facilitate, but it seems like it should have been better that what was reported. Anyway, glad it is strutting for you now.
Hi I just wanted to bring this thread back to life.

Allot of good advise and some great discussions.

With my TW Raven AC3 placed on a custom made Minus K + Graham Phantom MK2 arm which I have a small amount of damping fluid in it + XV-1s latest version cart, phono cable is Stealth Audio Hyperhono, load set at 100, arm level and have it set currently at 187 grams is my preference in my set-up.
My SME IV.Vi arm is without a damping mechanism, my Dynavector XV-1S gives its best to me between 1.87 and 2 grams, depending on whether the temperature is warmer or colder and loading is in the vicinity of 100 ohms, pretty much in line with most others.