Graham Phantom mk II & JA Michelle ORBE se help

I purchased a new Phantom with SME mounting for my ORBE se. According to Bob Graham's ad slick, its a drop in replacement. Not so. The geometry doesn't work. Using the orbe tone arm board cut for a sme mount, the set up is not acceptable. Then when playing a lp, the counterweight hits the vta column and the last groove will not play to the end. It's also not possible to use Graham's set up procedure due to the position of the arm relative to the spindle. JA Michelle doesn't have a new armboard for a Graham with SME footprint. Only the new Graham mounting. Not to mention the extra weight. This is very frustrating. Any easy solutions other than to recut the arm board, and try to shave some weight off of it. Had I ordered the Graham with the Graham mount, and purchased a new arm board, all would be ok, but again, the ad slick said it was a drop in replacement.
Hi Jimi,

Let me see if I got this correct. You purchased the Phantom arm and reqeusted Bob to send you one with an SME base so that it would fit into an existing SME armboard?

According to Bob, it was supposed to work, but you are finding out that it doesn't. Correct?

I would send Bob an e-mail letting him know. I am sure he will take care of you. My suggestion would be to get it refitted with a Graham base, and spend the money for a Graham armboard.

Hi Jimi
I've had a similar problem coupling my Graham 2.2 (it has a very similar VTA system)with an Orbe armboard ,the graham type holes, not the SME type.Unfortunately Michell send me an armboard with a wrong front mark. Armboard is fixed by three screws so I've rotate it until reach a position where the arm works well. No problems at the end but......a lot of sweat!
I had a similar situation when upgrading from the Graham 2.2 to the Graham Phantom using the Graham mount. Like your case, the counter weight hit the VTA post when trying to set the arm to spindle distance. I backed off the counter weight to avoid the post and get this distance set correctly. However, unlike you, I am still able to play all of the groves with the counter weight reset for proper VTF. I still plan to redrill the arm board at some point to get the arm properly oriented.

I am posting this to alert others contemplating a Phantom upgrade, that this situation can occur with the Graham mount as well. Do not let this disuade you from the purchase, just be aware.
Thanks for the advice. I see I'm not alone. Mr. Graham should mention that with a slight modification the SME would be a drop in replacement. I've had a Graham 1.5t for 17 years on my SOTA Star Saphire and now on a JA Michelle ORBE II se. I un mounted the arm, positioned it using the Graham arm wand and alignment spindle adapter. Marked and redrilled the arm board. It was not difficult, just a pita. I wanted the SME mount because its more universal and the (to and fro) movement of the entire unit helps to get the precise position for a spot on alignment.

Now the good news. One of the most significant upgrades I've ever made. WOW.

Frank C: I considered that, but, I'm not sure it could be refitted. My dealer would have to get involved and I really like the SME mount for the reasons stated above.
So, I've also been considering to add a Graham Phantom arm to the other mouse ear of my Orbe SE. The SE version is the "nake" version and does not have the acrylic platform/cover. What is the best way to do this?

1. Get a Phantom w/ SME mount, and use an SME armboard from Michell?
2. Get a Phantom w/ Graham mount, and get a Graham armboard from Michell?

I just noticed this thread, a week or two later. Just to clarify, the word "drop-in" is, I see I should explain more bluntly, conditional on the turntable having things exactly as SME themselves do; i.e., position the direction of the slot so that the counterweight clears the VTA tower at all times.

I designed both the 2.x and Phantom arms on an SME turntable (SME-30/II) and so I know that works. Other manufactuers who have consulted me for proper angles (SOTA, Basis, and others) also get it right. I thought Michell had worked this out too, but apparently not.

The relationship of the parts in a unipivot like this one require careful placement of the angle cutout. If it's done correctly, then it is a "drop-in"; otherwise, like other arms and tables being matched up, it may take a bit of work.

Thanks to Jimi_p for his comments regarding the final performance. Working a bit to get it right is often well worth it!

- Bob Graham
Hello Audiodany, could you explain what 'the wrong front mark' is on your Michell armboard, don't think mine has this:

..........o o
..........o o

As long as I position it like this the only problem is a bit of a tight squeeze with the counterweight against the vta post when setting the pivot to spindle distance

Zargon, could you tell me how re-drilling the board will help

The main problem is the Orbe likes to have a combined tonearm + Michell armboard weight of about 1kg, anything significantly over/under then suspension setup is a pain and is compromised. My armboard has always been too heavy with my 2.2 so I've just had it machined thinner - better but still too heavy, I have ordered an acrylic armboard from Michell.

It's my understanding that the Phantom is heavier than the 2.2 so are owners using Michell acrylic armboards? How is the suspension with the Phantom?

Lastly, what tonearm cable are Michell/Graham users using? and do you have enough clearance between the Graham output post and the turntable?


Hi Ade
My problem was the sticker "front" attached under the armboard.
Now my armboard is mounted like your plan ( but sticker "front" is always under the actually right hole
...O.............OX this was marked like"front"
..........o o
..........o o
I'ven't got any problem about the arm weight. I've found a stable level relatively easily, with no great difference between spring's charge. Other matter was the DIN connector clearance: space is narrow, very narrow! I've a Synergistic Resaearch Tricon Phono ( great cable!!) but it was a fight to stick it in place! The only advantage is that I'll never try another phono cable, I think, for a long long time :-)))
Did you ever contact Artech about the armboard? Are you still using the orig. alum. armboard for the Phantom? Acording to Artech, the Phantom's 1100 g. weight is too heavy for use with the orig. armboard and you should get the newer acrylic one made specifiaclly for the Phantom's added weight. Have you noticed that the suspension is more easily set into motion with the Phantom?
When I first set up the Orbe+Graham I had three different armboards all marked Graham 2's. All three were different. One was actually for a SME arm and the others were for the Graham 2 differed in weight (and height) by 40 grams or more. I also have issues with the way the holes are drilled and my weights come in contact with the VTA pillar when I swing the arm back to the arm rest. I experimented with the rotaion of the arm base and the armboard holes and found that you could mount it so the VTA pillar was farther to the rear. Unfortunately, the SME style mount doesn't work that way.
Please I have the same problem
Impossible setting correct, the counterweight hits the vta column
The J.A Michell have solved the problem?
The SME V has the base facing slightly towards the turntable spindle. The older
traditional SME arms had the base facing more directly at the spindle. Some
arms with SME bases can accommodate being mounted with the base facing the
front of the deck (as can SME arms with a reduction in range of adjustment of
overhang on the base slide).
I would imagine that the Graham SME mount is like that for a SME V. I know the
old standard J. Michell SME base can be rotated by 120 degrees to point forwards
or at the spindle. The illustrations above look like the traditional SME arm board.
Perhaps the SME board for the Phantom is like that for the SME V, except with a
different weight. Have a look at pics of Gyros with SME V. Hope that helps.