Graham Phantom vs. Phantom II

Hi, I own the Phantom and think about getting the Phantom II.
It is quite rare, but is someone out who did the change from one to the other?
When yes, may I ask, what do you think about the sonic differences. Some say there are none but I think from technical paper there are...

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I dont know if it's true or not but I was told there is a Phantom Mk. III available now. If you were going to upgrade then might as well go for the latest. Personally I have not heard the latest so I cant tell you if it's worth it or not.
I never owned the original Graham Phantom arm but I have just taken delivery of the latest incarnation of the Phantom MKII (there is no official MKIII designation). The main differences between the original and the MKII are a more refined Magnaglide stabilizer system, titanium as opposed to ceramic arm wand, better internal wiring for improved detail retrieval and freedom from mechanical resistance, and an improved bearing pivot design. There is also a small spirit level attached to the pivot housing which makes levelling the arm and setting VTA easy.
The fit and finish of the arm are superb and easily comparable to an SMEV (my previous arm, owned for 20 years).
I have the Phantom II mounted on a TW Raven One turntable with a new Transfiguration Orpheus L mc phono cartridge.
The mc phono stage is built into my Karan Reference MKII preamp and provides for 70db of gain and adjustable resistance and capacitance settings.

I had a Phantom and thought it was a great arm. Mine was a Phantom, but it essentially was a II. I think the only difference at that time was the armwand.

A friend has a old Phantom, one of the early ones. I helped him set it up and thought the sound was as good but it was not as easy to setup as you had to be carefull because the magnets would pull the bearing out of the bearing pocket, and mine would never do that. The fit and finish is improved as well on the more current models.

I think the Magnaglide refinements make it a better arm in that repect as it is more stable and predictable, other than that I think the old one sound great still.
I own a Phantom II but it does not have the spirit level attached to the pivot housing ... when did Bob add this feature to the II? Very happy with the arm and found it to be a noticeable improvement over my 2.2.
I used to have the Phantom I and now have the II. It is not day and light difference, but noticeable. With the Phantom II, I heard quicker transient, more air, deeper bass, better dynamics (more explosive), and more presence with instruments and voice. I really like the upgrade and the counterweight can accommodate heavy cartridge like the Goldfinger v2 which is 20g.
I do have the II as well but it does not have the spirit level. Perhaps this is the III version some people are talking about.
Smoffatt - We must have the 1st production run Phantom II tonearms. I e-mailed Bob asking about this feature but I doubt I will get a reply ...
I e-mail Graham too, but I never get reply from them.
I got the Phantom I and ask about upgrade to II, but some info show that II has longer armwards, so I ask the Graham that it can be a direct replacement of II over I .

Let me help clear the confusion for you all.

Crystalref already stated the differences between Phantom I and II. The latest Phantom II has a spirit level (bubble) on the right side of the arm tower.

I asked Bob Graham a few months ago this question, "Other than the bubble (micropoise) on the right side of the arm tower of the new Phantom II, is there any other difference between the old Phantom II and the new Phantom II?"

He answered "No, that's the entire difference... And older arms can be upgraded easily (well, quite easily, if the customer is handy at all...

Additionally, he said, "new Phantom II is the same as the first Phantom II, the Micropoise was an after-thought..."

So, there is no Phantom III. The latest Phantom II does not have longer arm tube. The current Phantom II arm tube fits any version of the Phantom.

I don't think there is any sonic improvement with the spirit level. It is only a convenient feature. I do like this feature because I can easily start with parallel on the VTA first with the bubble in the middle of the markings. Then I can adjust it up or down very easily. Without the bubble, I used to eyeball it to start with parallel. Not any more. Bob is a genius.

Hope this clears everything for you all. Happy listening.
Bob is a genius.
Agree, he always thinks useful improvements. This is a good addition.
Thanks for the info Audiolui ... too bad Bob is not responding to e-mail messages. I assume the micropoise is not an upgrade that can be made to existing Phantom II's ... it does sound like a useful addition to the tonearm.
Bob mentioned "the older arms can be upgraded easily (well, quite easily, if the customer is handy at all..."

So I think the older II can be upgraded to the latest with the micropoise. As to how it can be done, ask your dealer or wait patiently for Bob to answer your email. It took him a while to respond to my emails back in March 09.
I did a search for a picture of this new II, but all renewed the text, but all pics show model I.
Can someone shoot a pic from II+ gauge and link it here?
If anyone hear from Bob about adding this feature (micropoise) without having to send the arm back to him, please post here. Thanks
I will take some pictures of my new Graham Phantom II with Micropoise bubble level today and post a link to my Photobucket page.
Please Crystalref do post it on photobucket, I had a look and your system pics, they are very nice. You can have a look at my photobucket pics, also Phantom based.
Same name, jloveys.
Latest system photos including pictures showing Micropoise bubble level on pivot housing of latest Phantom II, now uploaded to my Photobucket page. Sorry for the delay and please pardon my mediocre photography skills.
Thanks for your kind words. You have some interesting pictures of vintage turntables, omnibuses and vampires on your photobucket pages!
I didn't know Crystalref already posted some pictures. I also took some. I don't have a virtual system posted. But I created one just for the Phantom II pictures. You can look at them at the following link.
Great pictures on your system page. Alot better than I managed to get. Must be my shaky hands and failing eyesight!
Nothing wrong with your hands or eyesight. I am lucky. No, I have been taking pictures for years as my secondary hobby. I guess I have taken more pictures than you and learned from lots of mistakes. The point here is to share and help each other out.

I know a person who works for the Graham distributor. I am going to ask him if there is any information about the Micropoise upgrade.
I received an e-mail from Bob yesterday regarding the Micropoise bubble level. The new spirit level is a new addition and can be added. He recommends that it is done at his factory but as Audiolui mentioned, it's possible for a user to do it themselves ... but risky! I will be dropping Bob an e-mail today to get more info.
Phantom II
Can you tell us what you think of it in comparison to the original.
Has anyone heard from Bob about cost to have the Micropoise installed and turn around time. If not, i will send him an email. Thanks

If possible, what was the serial# of your Phantom I.


If possible, what was the serial # on your Phantom I?

after listening and comparing...there is a new King born, true in tonal color, sensational from dynamic range and probably the real thing in analog of today, the Masterpiece from Mastermind

I'll do something, I do very rarely
"Kudos Mr. Graham"

you should triple the price, even then it is a bargain compared to others
My goodness - I missed seeing this thread before, and I want to thank everyone for their input.. First of all, I want to apologize to any who did not receive a reply when they wrote; we try to answer all e-mails, but with spam-filters being what they are, sometimes a letter gets lost in the system.

Now, about the Phantom I, II, and so on. The main difference in the II is the new titanium wand; however, it goes a bit beyond that. The headshell is slightly revised (only slightly) and gives a more direct patch for energy to be swallowed up by the damped armwand. Also, the internal wiring has been updated a little in order to reduce mechanical friction even further.

Another detail we have been addressing is the occasinal problem someone notices (PCosta on 6/19) of having the pivot not centered. We do recommend that, as a last adjustment after setting things up, the user would then carefully slightly lift the pivot housing just a small fraction and then reseat it into the pivot cup. This will ensure proper location (much like making sure you put in a vacuum tube properly in it's socket) and will not pop out from the magnets.

To help make this a bit more automatiac, we've recently reduced the size of the magnets (less pull), but placed them further out from the pivot (more leverage); the result being a high level of lateral stability, but with less sideways forces. If your arm is not causing troubles in this regard, there's nothing to be concerned about with whatever Phantom you have. If not, that's part of the upgrade to the "II" status.

The "Micropoise" bubble level system was an afterthought, and came to me within a month or so of the previously-described upgrades, and after the "II" had been announced. I thought of saving this for a "III" designation, but who knows when that might be, and the notion of this was so handy, I thought, that I'd start to include it. (Concidentally, our own manufacturing costs, like the rest of the crazy world, have gone up, so when we raised the retail to $4900.00, we added the "Micropoise" at the same time. That way, no one who purchased at the older, lower, price would be penalized).

Can the arms be upgraded? Absolutely. The armwand can be swapped by the user, obviously. And we're considering offering the "Micropoise" feature as a kit, although this will require care, a steady hand, and only one chance to get it right, since the retros will have to be applied with a drop of Krazy Glue.! (The production units are attached with a machine screw, but the earlier arms have no provision for this).

Generally, I'd recommend anyone wanting the upgrades to contact us and arrange for a return. Here, we can exchange the internal wire and the Magneglide components, and install the Micropoise" leveler. Cost for this is $475.00 and, when used with the Titanium armtube,will bring you completely current.

Thanks again to all who have purchased, enjoy, and support our products. Without customers, we wouldn't be here, and you're all - to a person - very appreciated..!

Hope this helps explain things a bit..
-Bob Graham
I never owned an original Phantom. I had a 1.5t for 16 years, but recently broke down and ordered a Phantom Mk ii. I exchanged e-mails with Bob Graham during the process. There is no Mk iii.

Here's what I learned: When original Phantom came out, Bob indicated that he continued to tweak things and over time this got to the point that enough had changed to warrant the Mk ii designation. A few posts mention these changes accurately.

After the Mk ii was officially released, Bob indicated he still continually tweaked things - it is in his nature. This included the bubble level, a screw tap to mount the bubble level and a few other "minor" tweaks he thought of along the way. Certainly nothing to warrant Mk iii.

I bought mine from a dealer that is heavy into analog and sells a bit of Graham - relatively speaking. He shipped my Phantom Mk ii back to Graham for an "upgrade" to include the last few "minor" tweaks, but they are very minor and it probably was a waste of shipping.

That's what I know.
Flyfish, like you I have owned the 1.5T for a long time (18yrs) but finally cracked and got a Phantom 2.
I don't think you'll find the 'micropoise' level a waste of shipping. I find it a really handy feature - and yes, you wonder why no-one else has thought of putting this on an arm before.
I've only just installed the P2, and have very little listening/tweaking time, but already I'm thrilled with the gains over the (very respectable) 1.5T. Everyone talks about the bass improvement, but the increased clarity, presence, sound-space, air and dynamic ease are immediately apparent.
I agree that the micropoise is a good idea, but I wonder why Bob didn't put it on the bearing cap so that you could level across all angles. THAT would have been far more valuable.
Because the main cylinder is moving on one plane when you set the azymuth with the magneglide, mine is leaning left side to have the right azymuth. Micropoise is a help for VTA to have armwand parallel to the record.
After using the Phantom II for some time now, I would like to say, it fascinates me more and more. I guess it is based on the new Armtube (probably on the new wire but this i can not check) and it is a excellent match with the Lyra systems. They are designed to move a lot of their energy into the arm and the better that one is (Bearing etc.) the more subtle details are offered, they are not "smeared" like with other Arms (in comparison). Another miracle for me, with that Arm the Lyras show a kind of "musicality" which is really rare to get. Seems, those Lyras have a very high limit which is not available for every Arm. The high frequencies are not sharp like most users write, they have a effortless speed with a holographic 3-dimensional body. I had a lot of carts, but they can show a killer performance. Even with VERY complex music (Spanish Flamenco) I can follow every instrument sharply in focus. We will see what goes on but I bet, this will be one of the great Arms when out of production.
which lyra do you prefer?
Glad I waited long enough and ended up with the version II.

Was listening to my system late this past weekend and was transfixed! This arm does resolve a lot with my Orpheus
Perrew, I did try most Lyras with the Phantom II and my favorite one is the Helikon. It is so much better than the much more expensive Koetsu RSP, it is depressing.
Haven't tried the Titan i, will do it in the next days..
interesting, do you think the helikon would be even better with allnico magnets?
Good question. You are on the right track...when I would have the chance for a custom made cartridge, I would prefer AlNiCo's. But to be honest, these alone are not the secret, there are outstanding cartridges (Miyabi for example) which sound very life-like and some don't (XV-1s) or you go to one of these FR-cartridges, they have a kind of Pysical Force which is rare to get. Even today. But then you need a different Arm and a real high gain Phono section.
But to go back, the Helikon is right, when you have the chance to get one used, try it. There is worse out there.
Hi all,

Does anyone know the effective mass of the new Phantom II?


The armwand of the Phantom I is 1 gm heavier than the Phantom II. That doesn't answer your question but the effective mass of any arm is a function of the distance of the couterweight to the pivot and possibly in the Phantom's case the amount of damping fluid would change things. I would assume for a fair approximation about 11 gms.
As for ALNICO - even if there are "better" (read: stronger, smaller (=concentrated) and more homogenous field emitting) magnets on hand today, the "oldschool" Alnico as well as the rare earth samarium-cobalts magnets in cartridges old and new often (not always....) do have a sense of "rightness" and "live-likeness" going with them. I suppose however that this is a kind of side-effect of and interaction with human hearing similar to the 2nd order harmonic distortion which is one of the technical basis of the seductive sound some SET-amplifiers can produce in the ears and minds of some many listeners.
On the large scale however I think one single parameter is paramount in the design of a true outstanding cartridge.
The clear concept in the mind of its designer and (most important..) his individual taste in sound and the ability to bring this particular taste into sonic output.
Isamu Ikeda and Takeda certainly didn't design outstanding cartridges because they are technically better in this than other skilled designers.
Or because they used mysterious materials others didn't find out about.
Maybe they just had a very attractive and precise vision about the sound they wanted.
And didn't settle for less than a product which did exactly what they had in mind.
The distance of the counter weight from the pivot does NOT determine the effective mass of a tonearm.
The damping fluid is located circular around the pivot and thus the amount do have ZERO effect on the moving mass of the tonearm.
The effective moving mass of the Phantom 2 is between 15 and 17 grams I would estimate. This is the effective moving mass sans the cartridge. So the effective total mass is always and in any tonearm depending on the added cartridge body weight and the distance this added mass (the cartridge body) has from the pivot. Thats why similar designed tonearms (DaVinci in 10" and 12" version and - oldskool ... - FR-64s/FR-66s) do have different (and the "longer" tonearm of course always more) moving mass despite almost identical design and material.
It is true however that you should always try to get the counterweight as close as possible to the bearing.
The reasons are obvious.
Thanks for the inputs.
Oct. issue of Stereophile is reviewing the Phantom II and answers many of the questions asked.


The damping does in fact damp the tonearm. It is a resistance to motion or vibration. It would change how the arm behaves dynamically.

Below is a quote from another website. This is the best summation of what is effective mass and how the distance of the counterweight (obviously in relation to the weight of the cartridge) does change a tonearm's effective mass.

"Equivalent Mass of counterweight at stylus tip=M*Lb^2/La^2(g)
If counterweight M weighs: 120g for example
Lb=counter weight centre mass distance from pivot: 5cm for example
La=effective length of arm from pivot to stylus: 24.5cm
Then "equivalent" Mass of counterweight as seen from stylus point can be calculated approx 5g.
Thus adding effective mass 5g on the cartridge+shell (when ignoring other masses of wand and fitting etc).
Effective mass is changing in accordance with the position of counterweight to balance the head mass so that "any" effective mass of arm is only "nominal or representative" value - useless for determining the actual resonance frequency expected from cartridge compliance and total effective mass (especially when the counterweight shaft is elastically connected with arm body as in "DYNAMIC DAMPING MECHANISM")."

Now to go beyond this explanation, I will add that a lower mass counterweight further away from the pivot in fact resulted in a lower resonant frequency for the same cartridge in the same arm. This gave me close to an 10Hz resonant frequency with extreme sonic benefits.

I myself did sonic tests comparing lower mass counterweight away from the pivot and a very heavy counterweight close to the pivot. I preferred the result with the lower mass weight away from the pivot. This in effect explains that the cartridge/arm type and combination is important in determining what is best.

I myself don't subscribe to the universal rule that is being put forth that the closer the counterweight to the pivot the better the performance of the arm.

Now, lets take what many people mention in regards to any of the dynamically balanced arms where the VTF is via a spring. Many suggest to disengage the dynamic VTF and use only the counterweight. I would suggest that this is more a function of the cartridge and arm combination. That in fact the best sound might result from a combination of the 2. Some dynamic VTF & some static VTF. This would yield an ideal combination in some cases. In the case of my Breuer this is easily realized. So in the end the cartridge sees the spring and the counterweight as a form of mass in terms of VTF. Effective mass can not be a defined number for a tonearm.
Dgad, let me quote myself:

"The distance of the counter weight from the pivot does NOT determine the effective mass of a tonearm.
The damping fluid is located circular around the pivot and thus the amount do have ZERO effect on the moving mass of the tonearm."

Now tell me, what your post 09-15-09 - which is obviously written as a direct answer - does have to do with what I said ?
I said that the distance of the counterweight does not DETERMINE the effective mass of the tonearm (take for instance that the countermass is not a moveable weight, but a fixed shaft or a ball - to illustrate the principle...).
And of course does a circular located damping fluid has no effect on the moving mass. It would certain had if it was located in the armtube (which it isn't for obvious reasons).

And yes - we all had the model of the simple lever and the very easy calculation of force being a result of mass and distance in fairly early high school (my sons turns 11 next year and it is in his curriculum for next school-year) - you do not need to search for it on the web.

Let me quote myself once again:

" This is the effective moving mass sans the cartridge. So the effective total mass is always and in any tonearm depending on the added cartridge body weight and the distance this added mass (the cartridge body) has from the pivot. "

Just give it a brief thought, why certain (most..... if technically allowed by their design....) tonearm designers do offered their products with a range of different mass counterweights (even - and especially so - if dynamically damping mechanism (Technics) was incorporated in the design...).
And sorry - physic does not care, whether you personally preferred in your specific set-up and with your taste in sound a low mass counterweight further away from the pivot vs. a higher mass closer to the pivot.

Again - the (obvious... if sad) fact that still most audiophiles do not understand the true nature of dynamically balanced mode and its very special interaction with the cantilever's suspension isn't physics problem either.
That several do prefer a mix of balanced and static mode is certainly fine with me, but is again a result of their sonic preference in their specific set-up and viewed (heard) through their individual matrix.
That try and error in audio does give individual satisfying results is great - that these great results all too often loose their magic touch in a few days or weeks should tell something.
The proof may be in the listening for some - but it is always an individual proof suitable of the one recipient only.
And many times just a lucky cross-out and vice-versa compensations of many sonic mistakes.

The fact that even Joseph Stalin was once backed by a large portion of his people did not make him a great statesman and philanthropist either.
Sorry again, - but this is not an empirical nor an objective set-up according to any scientific rule.
It is a personal impression as a result of a complex bundle of variables and viewed through a private matrix of preferences all your own.

Dgad, I do not want to lecture you nor anybody else.
As you wouldn't believe me anyway let me just suggest you send a PN to Schroeder or Bob Graham - you are in possession of both designers babies and they will happily explain the points to you.

I can't be bothered to argue with you but you are wrong. There is effective mass & nominal effective mass. Please understand the difference.

By the way such also applies to effective length of a tonearm.
Dgad, great - now you tell me I am wrong.
O.K. - wrong, but.... wrong with what ?
Anyway - after having learned so much from your two posts, I won't die a stupid man.............
Syntax - you were so right!

Your physics seems to be faulty here. Assuming that the counter weight is indeed firmly connected to the tonearm tube (which is always the case in a well designed pivoted arm), then, the effective mass of the arm must be dependent on the distance of the counterweight from the pivot (ie. the moment of inertia “I”is dependent on the radius squared). The composite "I" for the arm tube/counterweight and subsequently the "effective mass" would essentially have the same dependency.