Graham Phantom , simple tweak for improved sound

All you Phantom owners , don't tighten the locking set screw after you set your VTA. . Big improvement in my system.
Must admit I have never tightened the locking screw. Seems counter productive as the screw up/down VTA tower is hardly loose and never moves when adjusted.

Good that it does make a positive difference thou - seems like i am not missing out on anything

Interesting, if partly counter-intuitive. On the face of it one prefers rigidity in an arm mount. All threads have free play, else they couldn't move, thus we have locking screws to prevent even slight movements which absorb dynamics and soften or muddy the sound, not to mention allowing tiny deviations in mounting distance, azimuth, etc.

OTOH, tightening a lock screw does affect energy transfers between the male and female halves of threads. I'd posit that snugging the Phantom's VTA threads together allows stray energies to reflect off that interface back down the armwand toward the cartridge. Leaving a tiny bit of free play allows those stray energies to be dampened by free motion of the resonating part - less noise reflected back toward the cartridge.

Rega arms are well known to behave in similar fashion. Tightening their lock nuts is widely observed to degrade sound quality. OTOH and IME, Schroeder, TriPlanar and Talea tonearms do not behave so. On those arms the sound is clearer, more dynamic and more stable with the VTA threads snugged down. Presumably they manage stray energies by other means. Every tonearm's implementation is unique ...

I don't own a Phantom but it would be interesting to read owners' detailed descriptions of the sonic effects of this set screw. Downunder hasn't investigated but JebSmith73 reports significant sonic differences. What are they, specifically? As we know, one audiophile's improvement is another's disaster. ;-)
I recall reading a post where someone tried the same thing with a VPI tonearm and got the same result. If I remember the post correctly, the person called VPI and Mike told him that what he was hearing was a "pleasing distortion". Maybe it's the same case here?

You can also try:

1. Different cartridge screws (material aluminum, Steel, copper...)

2. When you live in areas with different temperatures, replace the Silicone with Bearing oil
Interesting. I didn't hear any sonic difference with tightening or not tightening the VTA screw. Great that serves as a tweak to improve the sound for you.
I played around with this quite a bit on both the 2.2 and Phantom for about two weeks,a "while back".

I really had a hard time being "absolute" in my preference.One day I'd like a snug fit,and another listening session I'd opt for slightly loose.

I came away leaving it snug,but only because I then thought it was technically more correct.

Now,if I still had the arm,or a similar design,I'd opt for Doug's explanation,and the reasonable scenario of diminishing stray resonances coming back to the cartridge, as it just makes the most sense.
Welcome back Speedy !!!!!!!!!!!!!
Downunder,thank you,but I'm not really back.

I just felt Doug made a good point and it seemed quite valid.I wanted to extend a positive thought to his interesting ascertion,after my being a contrarian at times,in the past.That's it,no more....but...

I "do" wish you and all other hobbyists I've known the best,these days....Enjoy!


The lock screw on my Phantom MUST be locked down because when loosened, the tonearm tilts to one side slightly due to play in the ground body that moves up and down in the tower. If I don't tighten it, the whole assembly is tilted so azimuth and spindle to pivot are off. I don't see how contact from a single point set screw would make a sonic difference, but I think it makes more sense to lock it down given the level of fit I have on my tonearm.
Hi Frank,
I saw this and your post about the arm wand. I've got a Phantom II and have neither problem. You may want to consider emailing Bob Graham a digital photo or two and ask him whether your tonearm needs servicing. Best of luck, Jeff
I spotted this during another search and decided to give it a shot. I found the experience useful. Although the sound was excellent when "loosely set", I found that barely "nipping" the screw up by 1 degree was slightly better - not a massive improvement - which was probably close to the setting I had when I initially set azimuth for this cartridge. That might also confer a wee bit of damping too.

I've a feeling that it may well turn out to be a "fine azimuth adjuster" (and perhaps a fine damping adjuster) - at least between the limits of being loose and tight. I've now considered noting the angle of the lock screw's Allen key e.g. in the manner of the hand on a clock face, whenever altering VTA so that I can fairly precisely replicate the setting.
A useful experiment so thanks to the OP for that. ;)