A long time ago I compared - at home - three arms wih an Ortofon SPU (which had been rebuilt). The arms were the 1.5 graham, a Triplanar (the first Mk with a fat arm-tube) and an early Breuer 9" (with damping trough).
Now I know that this is not experience directly related to your question as the arms were much earlier than contemporary arms: also the cartridge was not - probably - what you have in mind. But here are some points which you may like to bear in mind.
The Graham was not suitable with a high-energy low compliance cartridge...everything was wrong.
The Breuer was excellent however it only worked at its best - especially in the bass region - with some damping applied.
The Wheaton was a better all round cartridge in my opinion. It performed with gusto and greater musical ability, though the Breuer was pretty close. I bought the Wheaton.....and then my troubles began!!
Both were excellent within ALL the specific areas which interest you.
As I have said the SPU is a very high energy cartridge and thus puts enormous strain on the bearings. It was not long before I heard the sound quality roll off, and after much exploration I found that the bearings were loose and damaged.
I still had the Breuer and by now it shone out as the better arm. A little work by fitting a carbon shaped platform (to house the non-flat top surface of the SPU) obviously increased its mass. This really turned a very good arm into a superb arm. I had the Wheaton rebuilt and sold it (along with the Graham)
Most of the problems with the Wheaton have been solved in the contemporary version and I am sure that I would like to try the new one as even the Mk11 sounded sublime. The Graham was simply a mismatch in my case and the Breuer was a compromised, but effective solution.
I would also like to try the Ikeda arm as I replaced the Breuer with a Fidelity Research 64S. This was the absolute best in my system.
You will probably be using a totally different type of cartridge and thus will find most of this inapplicable.
Can't help but hope you get an answer. I'm getting a Raven AC and am putting a 12" Ortofon AS-309s on first and will be adding another arm in the fall. I'm leaning towards a Phantom but am curious about the Tri-Planar myself.
It depends on your Phonostage, the connected cable and the Cartrdige in general.Klick me softly
Downunder,I know you are an experienced 'phile,so I am going to give my personal opinion.If you actually believe one is "across the board better",with the criteria you give here,than I am simply at a loss for words.
Based on the latest improvements made to both(classic) arms I'd be happy with either one!So would you!!
Yes,the cartridge will determine which is the best choice,but I have to assume you already know this.
I am pretty convinced that a thread asking which particular cartridge would maxx out "your" particular system/music preferrences(a pretty good set-up,as I can see)would be far more meaningful.
I think you already know the scoop,but what the heck,let's see what comes up,on this thread.-:)
to clarify, all I am asking is one's personal view of both arm's relative to each other if they have indeed heard both, as they are both SOTA. Understand there is no such thing as best in this obsessive world of hifi.
My preference is for a slightly organic, warmer tone compared to my current table, the HRX while maintaining great dynamics and bass.
I believe that may be the triplaner, however I know the phantom is a lot differenmt beast to earlier versions and I have not heard either in my system.
my cartridges are dyna XV-1, koetsau rosewood, denon 103r, ortofon jubilee, clearaudio concerto, audio tec OC9.
Downunder,my response is not to dissuade you from any inquiry,which you are absolutely entitled to......Yet,the Phantom is NOT a different beast from earlier versions,on sonics!I have owned the Triplanar,and am extremely familiar with the Phantom.Even though my three year stint with the "Tri" was not perfect I'd be hard pressed to give one a thumbs up,over the other at "this point" in time,with these "latest" versions!
I just cannot believe one of these "newest" versions is more than a "tiny" bit better than the other,in specific areas,with the most popular,and highly regarded cartridges.C'mon...The cartridge is WAY more important,based on these two great arm designs!!Actually,as has been demonstrated to me,on countless occassions,the "best(early)LP pressings" are far more important than all this minute discourse!Not on absolutely every occassion(I know A.Salvatore loves a ton of re-issues,but he is wrong about a good majority of early pressing vs re-issue comparisons,for the most part...not always,but pretty darn often...Often enough,to make the search for the best early stuff worthy!Meaningful,if you love the best in LP replay!)It would be better to worry about "this",more than the differences between two such good arms!How come nobody seems to care much about this?
Just an opinion,or five,but I can't wait for the rational of those thinking one is actually superior,to the other.Be it arm,or pressing worthyness....Whew,feels kind of good,to be a bit like my old self!OK,the feeling went away-:)
BTW Downunder,sorry if I come across as a bit rude.I truly wish you the best,and have no doubt whatever arm you move to will be fabulous.Whichever one!!Go for the best deal,and spend the balance on the Australian Open tix!!Lucky guy!!!
BTW,Downunder...as a good amount of my friends own the VPI TNT(latest,with heavy platter)why are you not interested in the new VPI 12.7 arm?Just curious.
Hi Sirspeedy. Watching the Aust Open at the moment - pity Roddick got rolled last night - go Hewitt!!
You have not answered any of my questions :-) - come on your opinion is valid or are both arm that similar??
ps - I was comparing phantom with graham's previous arms prior to to when the phantom came out, as I believe they are quite different sounding.
I have the HRX with heavy platter. I am not that interested in the 12.7 as valhalla cable will probably add more detail and less weight, when I have plenty of detail now. I also have 2 x 12.6 arms so changing to a 12.7 is a little counter productive.
I find the HRX/12.6 a little forward / thin in the upper mids/lower treble. cartridge makes a difference however my impression of the sonic trait is always there.
My Linn LP12 / naim aro has a slightly smoother treble however does not have that great VPI bass weight.
OK I'll bite!....I do love the Phantom,with the experience of using one(my friend's/with my own on order)in conjunction with the Transfiguration Temper-v,and the Transfiguration Orpheus.It is SO good,that I finally gave up on my beloved(boy,I really liked it)Graham 2.2(which is a steal on the used market).
The only reason I decided to go for the Phantom was the amazing performance(way beyond the Temper-v,which seemed fabulous,to me)of the Orpheus.Yes,I have received personal E-mails from a dealer who sold both the Orpheus and the Air Tight PC-1,and he stated emphatically the Orpheus was superior.It was just hobby talk,with NO hype,or expectations.Just his opinion,but that resonated with me,so (if you can believe this,which is true....and a bit pathetic...unless one is a vinylista)when I vacationed in Vegas this past summer,I decided that all gambling monies would go to the Orpheus purchase,and was a "cheap bastard" at all gaming tables/slots.The crupiers hated me!!I think I spent a total of 60 bucks that week gambling(a scratch out lottery ticket is BIG TIME gambling to me,btw)but knew my Orpheus would come that much sooner!On the monies the The Mirage was "not" going to get-:)...Had a great time at the restaurants and shows,but the "easy loser monies" went to the big "O" fund!
So I came home(this "does" lead to something,about the Phantom,btw)and ordered the big "O"!Got it in two days.The importer,Bob Clarke is an amazingly fine person to deal with!I was actually shocked at his good naturedness,in holding the old pricing,and traded in my Temper-V!
Happily I mounted the "O" on my Graham 2.2.My friend now had the Phantom/Orpheus combo(which I set up),and I had the 2.2/Orpheus.We both have the same set-ups,except he has the Magico Mini,and I have an Avalon Ascent MK-II/Rel Stentor combo(believe it,or not,there is an amazing similarity here,from about thirty five hz on up).My room is larger,and is dedicated to two channel audio....OK....thought everything would stop there,as I have spent way more on new stuff(Exact Power EP-15a/Ultrapure,amp upgrades,new tubes,accessories,turntable updates,P/C changes,new circuit box etc,etc....I really wanted to be done with it,and get back to collecting new,interesting vinyl.My first love,which took a back seat for too long!
In went the "O",and yes I was happy(I thought).Then I realized the "O" was so good,I simply heard a different "tracing/tracking/noiselessness" at my friend's home,which I knew was the difference in the two arms.Sometimes you just know stuff from experience.If this was three years ago,I'd have been clueless about what I was hearing,but knew the Phantom "had" to be gotten.
OK...it was amazing in dynamics,tone color,detail,stage width and stage height(which literally jumped up the back wall).There was a "hugeness" to the sound,which was had with his older Kharma speakers too(the Phantom was in "the Kharma set-up as well").I NEEDED "that" aura,in my set-up,and knew how to get it!!
I played around,alot,with the Phantom(at my friend)and we played my reference discs aplenty.There is no doubt in my mind(as of now)that I really believe this arm is on par with the performance I remember the the Air Tangent got,in terms of "no noise artifacts" riding along with the music.THIS IS a BIG deal!!NOT the linear advantage of the Air Tangent,but the "absolutely no noise/resonance" which many pivoting arms seem to have,to some degree.
Now,sadly(I mean sadly,since I am reaching my patience/ limit in tweakery,and just want to spin some damn discs again)I knew I was not going to be happy until I got a Phantom(which my armboard is drilled for,as there is always a financial consideration in equip purchases).
I don't know if a gimbal bearing is as quiet,but am willing to give the benefit of the doubt to those in the know,who say these new "best" ones are super.I just know the Phantom is great!
My own audio pals group is laden with lovers of different arms,from various mfgrs,and I respect their choices.BUT I still go for what I like.So should you!
Intuition and good logic,with a decent set of ears seldom screws up!
Hope this helps.
Good luck(btw,Hewitt won't last long...field is too deep)
Hey Downunder,forgot to mention I have a close friend with the Art series II!What a great pre!!!!!!I think it is amazing!!!!!!
Best of luck.
Hey Downunder......I can't believe that being in Australia, you don't take advantage of having access to the Continuum Copperhead tonearm?!
This arm quite frankly, moves design parameters to a new level.
It's big brother (the Cobra), is the REAL reason that Michael Fremmer is hearing his Continuum Caliburn as a reference vinyl source like no other.
I've got the Copperhead mounted on my Raven AC and whilst it did take over 6 months to actually obtain one (Asia is taking all the Caliburns and Criterion tables that Continuum can build)....it is a bargain for us in Oz at AUS$8000 compared to the US$12000 price in USA.
There are many advantages to living in Australia.
For audiophiles, Halcro and Continuum Audio Labs are 2 more!
Do you live in Sydney. I would luv to hear the raven and copperhead.
Can one get a demo of tyhe copperhead or cobra??
Does the copperhead have VTA on the fly??
I had both tonearms on the Teres 340 which accommodate 2 arms and did them under very similar conditions so it was a very fair comparison - i tried to match them very close for this comparison (using both Dynavector XV-1s, same phono cable with Audioquest Leopard and going to the wonderful steelhead which allow me to hook up both tonearms at the same time and with only a simple switch i can go back and forth). Look at my systems setup to get a better idea of my other equipments.
This is my conclusion about the 2 arms:
Phantom: a warmer and laid back sound; tonally sweeter and better midrange and more musical in my opinion. If you crave dynamics, details and live sound, this is not the tonearm for you. With the Koetsu, it's too laid back - i found this arm match better with the Dynavector or the Lyra (tame down these cartridge).
TriPlanar: a very aggressive, live and dynamic arm. Give you all the details you want and very neutral - too neutral in my opinion and can lead to listening fatigue. Very well match with warmer cartridge like the Koetsu.
It's nothing wrong with getting both arm as they are very different in my opinion, i don't think one was better than the other, it's just a matter of taste.
I ended up getting the phantom for a while as i am a midrange freak but when i heard the Kuzma Airline, i am SOLD. Hope that help...
From Kdtran's post it sounds like the Triplanar retrieves all of the information in the grooves while the Graham ignores some of it to make a more "musical" presentation?
I live in Sydney in the eastern suburbs.
Copperhead has VTA 'on the fly'.
You're very welcome to come over to hear the arm which has the Dynavector DV1s attached.
I have the Hadcock GH228 with ZYX Universe also attached and am waiting for the arrival of the Schroeder Ref tone arm to replace the Hadcock.
The only Cobras you can hear are mounted on Caliburns and all the other Copperheads are mounted on Criterion TTs.
Email me if you want to come over?
based on your listening experience I would prefer the tonal balance of the Phantom.
I totally disagree with Kdtran's description of the Tri-Planar. It certainly retrieves what's in the grooves but if he found it to be "very aggressive", he'd better check elsewhere in his system. Also, ain't no way it causes "listening fatigue"; what a crock!
Over the years, besides owning other "name brand" arms, I've owned the Graham 1.5T, 2.0 and 2.2, each in somewhat different systems. All were mounted on very pricey tables and used with numerous cartridges such as the Clearaudio Insider, Insider Gold, Koetsu Rosewood Sig., three different Onyx Platinums, several expensive Benz's, a couple VDH's including a Black Beauty and a few other names that escape me.
For me, none of the Graham arms delivered the musical goods. I found all of them to be pleasant but quite boring. I was never able to just sit back and enjoy what I was hearing because the music never sounded believable. I was constantly making adjustments trying to get more out of cartridges that I knew to be better than what I was hearing.
A dealer friend of mine who happens to carry Graham, Clearaudio, Basis, Aestetix and some other very nice gear went through the same tedious exercise trying to get Graham arms to sound good in his own system. We both love the ease of setting up a Graham but neither of us would own one.
I presently own a Tri-Planar VII mounted on a Galibier Gavia table using an XV-1s and I can't say enough good things about this set-up. I have had other analog systems that sounded wonderful(not using a Graham) but tracking error with all other pivoted arms used to bother me. It was always a distraction but I figured it came with the design.
It was after reading posts from guys like Thom Mackris, Ralph Karsten and other Tri-Planar owners, mostly on Audioasylum, that I decided to investigate Tri-Planar. Reviews in the audio rags don't mean squat to me but when I saw people I respect using and talking up a product like Tri-Planar, I took notice.
Besides making my record collection sound better than it ever has, I no longer notice tracking error with the Tri-Planar. I have no idea why this is but I've had others tell me the same thing. I can now play entire sides of albums and just sit back, relax and enjoy music without distractions. I thought this would only be possible with linear trackers and had once considered the Kuzma Airline. Unfortunately, it has it's own problems with compliance issues and would limit my cartridge choices. The Tri-Planar will accommodate pretty much any cartridge worth considering .
Down the road the XV-1s will wear out and be replaced (perhaps an Orpheus or Universe) but the Gavia and Tri-Planar will stay!
One last thing, I went to CES again this year and was amazed at the number of Tri-Planar arms being used by numerous turntable manufacturers. I counted maybe twenty of them including Allen Perkins(Immedia Turntables) who had one mounted on his $15k SG2 table and Merrill who had one on his $24k MS21. In years past Grahams were everywhere but this year I counted maybe three. I think the word is getting out.
I have to agree with Rfogel. The Tri-Planar has great leading edge energy but listener fatigue is not from the Tri-Planar. IMHO, there is not a better value in a tonearm. It seems to get the most out of a wider range of carts than the Graham. I am listening to a Koetsu Coralstone mounted on a Tri-Planar right now. Magic!
There are a handful of great arms on the market today. The Phantom and the Tri-Planar have to be included in that list. However, they sound quite different. To answer a few of your questions, the TP has better bass and treble for my taste. The Phantom is warmer and more laid back. To answer the rest of your questions, you need to listen for yourself and pick your own poison!
Ask 5 Audiophiles and you'll get 6 opinions :)
Each of them has some strenghts and some "weaks", it depends on your cartridge, your Phonostage, Turntable etc. how they will show it to you.
I am always ready to learn, specially about that drift from the Kuzma Airline. I use it for a longer time now, but I never had something like this, but I guess, it is because my TT is level.
That's important too.:)
Thomas, considering you have both arms I would appreciate your views on the strengths and weaknesses of both arms.
Of course any views are only relative, however considering my musical preferences and how my system currently sounds, smoother upper mids/lower treble coupled with good dynamics and tonal "meat on the bone" are my priorities.
This to another is warm and turgid. each to their own.
I have seen but not personally tested these arm and their picadillos. I have a VPI arm wired with Valhalla, and I too was prepared for increased brightness, and detail. It took a long while to break in, however, it is now very natural overall. I suggest you listen to it before ruling it out. The VPI seems like the perfect arm for you with its very easy repeatable VTA, and seperate arms for all your cartridges making almost an instant swap.
The Triplanar VII is a excellent unit with its good cable and when using Cartridges below 10gr.
With heavier carts it simply looses information in the high frequency area, it is a bit lifeless and the "airy speed" is not there anymore (compared to other Arms, for example the Phantom, DaVinci or very heavy Arms).
I know, some use this Arm with Koetsus and are happy, but to be honest, what's not there, you can't hear....
The Phantom is much better in this, based on its very heavy block, it can handle lots of different cartridges (I used a few from 4-14gr) at a superior level.
To the sound
I like the Triplanar, it is good to listen to.
The Graham Arm is very precise and the results can vary based on the connected Phono cable. The differences can be huge (I tried XLO Sign., Siltech, Purist, IC-70 Graham Phono, Kondo Phono cables and some others with it).
The Phantom has a excellent frequency range, linked with an absolutely amazing Speed in the lower range.
With the XV-1s a amazing trip into dynamic reproduction.
The Triplanar VII is a excellent unit with its good cable and when using Cartridges below 10gr.
With heavier carts it simply looses information in the high frequency area, it is a bit lifeless and the "airy speed" is not there anymore
Take that damn dampening trough off of your Triplanar and then come back and tell me the highs are missing. :-) The Triplanar works very, very well with my 13 gram XV-1s.
I do agree that some people like what they call a more "musical" sound. To me that just means some component is hand-waving over notes it doesn't want to play.
FWIW, I've never heard the Phantom, but I can assure you that a fully tweaked Tri-P with a Universe cart does not induce listener fatigue and I would never characterize it as bright, harsh, or analytical, when used with a world class phono stage. Dynamic, great attack and decay. Can handle the range of musical styles from classical (instrumental and vocal) to jazz, to folk, singer/songwriter, bluegrass and alt-country. And this was through B&Ws, which many would agree are never described as laid back. Everything from Bach chorals to Mozart to Louis Armstrong to Parton/Harris/Ronstadt. Since vinyl is not my primary medium, I did not get one when I upgraded my arm, but if it was....
I've been running the Tri-Planar for a few years now. The VTA tower (that allows for on-the-fly VTA adjustment) is much more precise than earlier models.
I've had the ZYX and Transfiguration Orpheus; something that becomes apparent with these combinations is that a lot of 'noise' that is often attributed to other things like the phono preamp and also a worn record are neither- just the manifestation of mistracking. Its a hard setup to fault- certainly one of the best tonearms made.
Thomas has it pretty much nailed down,as far as I am concerned.
As far as my own opinion...you really have to look(hard)at the particular hobbyist/set-up person,or dealer with regards to "voicing"(getting the best)an arm/cartridge combo has.
Sorry,but knowing how sensitive some arms can be,"anything definitive" stated by a hobbyist/owner must be taken with a grain of salt!Myself included(and especially)!
Ex....if I don't know how an arm like the Graham 1.5/2.0/2.2 is set up(to the exactitude)no comments have any meaning,other than hobbyspeak.
Not to say I don't love to read this sort of critique,but too many variables are at play,and many folks are quite satisfied,way too soon(meaning some folks may not even go beyond a certain set-up point,once good sound is had).We each have no exact idea of just how critical each of us is. Of course there are those who seize a negative comment(even if wrong) and try to make a provocative post,just to see what comes out of it(I have no problem with that tactic,and it IS fun to see what gives).I've done that alot.
Knowing what I know,from extensive experience with all Graham arms,I cannot believe the Phantom is too warm,or weak in some detail area.Certainly,Graham arms are not boring for that matter!Yes,the earlier series had some dynamic issues,but they were greatly improved over time.
I also cannot possibly see where an arm like the Triplanar could be fatiguing,over ANY length of listening.THIS arm has been around,and refined for over thirty years.
Personally I DO think the "hobbyist/owner" is the weak link in the analog chain,from what I have experienced,with "myself" and other experienced guys.
We jump to conclusions way too soon,don't really max out much stuff(not just arms/cartridges),before annointing something as good or bad,and like to reinforce the findings of fellow friends and other hobbyist owners,who have equipment we like,or want.
I have seen experienced owners who had cartridge/arm set-ups way off the mark(myself included)and thought they had the "performance personality" down pat(easy to blame poor tubes,or something else on a sub optimal arm/cartridge issue)!Of course it is SO easy to blame something like non optimal cable matching,antiskate settings,vta,vtf,and azimuth...not to mention the very sensitive bearing fluid issue,in the Graham 2.0 and 2.2(I had both)that "literally" makes or breaks the performance here!!YES too much fotzing around is needed here,for maximizing the damping fluid.....but boring sounding....if you got it right?
I think some cartridges used are definitely NOT ideal,on some arms mentioned here,and this IS a major sticking point!Some of us don't even realize this,as we have come to like some particular cartridge family so much,the arm choice(as being absolutely optimal)is not taken to the max.
A heavy stone bodied Koetsu(I owned two)on a Graham 2.0 or 2.2? Yes,that would be "boring",AND a non optimal match,IMO.No amount of playing around with parameters can overcome sub optimal cartridge matching,to specific arms.
Also,as to specific dealers reinforcing the thought of a particular product as not being so hot( I had one,very recently,as I was considering the Phantom,tell me the the latest Vector was a piece of "garbage",which I don't believe for a minute)...well I don't think I have to go "there" at all!My advice....learn your set-up,on your own.Then when someone knocks something you own,you will truly know if the statement is accurate.
I have gone six months without realizing my azimuth was off,and kept playing around with damping fluid,and vtf/vta to get a satisfying sound.It was OK on some LP's ,but did not hold up in the long run.Yet I was too affixed to "thinking" I knew it all to well,to realize I was "clueless".
This could(just an assumption)be one particular reason why some make blanket statements about specific products!
If I,myself,have no experience with "your" particular set-up,NO amount of nice color pictures tells me anything about a particular product.Sorry if this seems rude,and I LOVE all the input,and PLEEEEASE keep it up!!It is the only way to make a decent "judgement" on some products(if unavailable)and is VERY helpful to all of us!
I just don't think it's the best idea to take an eyebrow raising comment,from a particular poster,as the gospel.
A fun read YES,YES,YES...but we should go with what makes the most sense to us.
One thing that DOES make the MOST sense to me(from experience with the Air Tangent,and Forsell arms)is the ABSOLUTE superiority of a really good "linear-air bearing" arm!!!.....If you have not heard a good system that employs one of the "elite" units around,you DEFINITEY have not heard what can be had with the "best" discs!That may seem like one "eyebrow raising" statement...but it will be an "eye opening" one to the uninitiated!!!
Best of luck.
Let me say again that my impression of these tonearms is based on MY OPINION and on my SYSTEM. Everybody has their own opinion on what's too bright or too warm - so the best thing sometimes is to try the tonearm yourself and see what's suit you but often it's hard to get both of these yourself so i really understand the need to ask everyone before you commit yourself!
Let me say something about myself too - i prefer warmer sound and looking more for midrange. I have other friends or audiophile who look neutrality or live and dynamic sound; i understand that my taste is kind of colored but hey, that's my system and that's the way i like it.
Both these arm are great and you can not go wrong with either but depending on your taste, one may suit you better so keep reading and most important is to look at what condition and systems these arm are set up - all equipment/arm/cartridge are very system dependent so pay attention to these facts when you read other people opinions about these arms...
Good luck Downunder with your search,
Sirspeedy, having heard a variety of linear tracking arms including the Air Tangent, and also as a fan of the idea, nevertheless its been my experience that they don't get the bass right- something that both the Graham and the Triplanar have no problem with.
Of course, as soon as you increase the air pressure, things get better, but the problem is simple- there should be no play *at all* between the platter spindle and the body of the cartridge. Air bearings, regardless of air pressure, have play and it is something that you can always hear if you have a system that has good LF definition.
If someone were to come up with a linear tracker that had zero play/slop in the track, then they would have something!
I have to second Sirspeedy's discourse on the fallibility of the hobbyist in setting up their arm/cartridge/table combination optimally. As such, definitive statements (including mine) must be tempered by this obvious fact. I have had the Phantom for well over a year now and would certainly not characterize it as contributing to a dull or boring sound. Additionally, this arm is very dynamic and allows the cartridge to extract a tremendous amount of detail/information from the record groove. It is a superb arm in all performance categories.
Atmosphere,yes I cannot disagree with you,but the vast amount of my own experience with airline arms was at my friend Sid's home.He,and his close friend, had the Air Tangent set up with the original pump.Sounded about how you would describe it.Very good.Not great.Sid wanted more,so got in touch with his audio network. Then...one of them came up with the idea of getting a MAXI(in size) pump,which was sourced from a dentist(in Canada).It literally was the size of a motor boat motor!Sid got the OK(he was very tight with audiophile "A") to try to get one,and was lucky to source one from another dentist in Brooklyn.I know this is really laughable,btw.
Well the difference in bass,and stage dimensions(not to mention an ambient texture to die for) was huge.I heard it both ways,and this new version was used for a long time.I've heard it on dozens of occassions!
Since I knew his system very well,when the arm was removed,for a commonly used unipivot(not mentioning which one,but NOT a Graham),the performance took a nose dive!!
Some pals of ours kind of predicted this,but that's how it played out.Sadly.
The Air Tangent/Mega pump was responsible for all the Mercury,and RCA reviews in TAS!
Of course this is one of those posts which is included in the "why take my word for it" category.Which is how it should be!!....It's how I,and about a dozen guys heard it too,btw!.....A GREAT ARM!!!...and I don't believe I will ever hear such a fabulous audio component again.
I'll bet the Kuzma is in that company,but I cannot afford one.I'll have to settle for a Phantom,if it ever arrives!
Btw,as a humorous afterthought...the maxi pump(what I called it)was housed in a closet,in one of three LP rooms(each chocked with amazing LP's).Not in the main audio room.It was on the floor,in between three pillows(used to damp it).Hysterical,in the best ha,ha sense.
When the unit's compressor kicked in,about every fifteen minutes or so(from memory),the whole house shook for a second or two....Talk about great bass!!-:)
I used to laugh watching Sid get down on all fours,in this little closet,to bleed off air,after long listening sessions.
An absolute classic,in both listening fun,and the actual audiophile himself(Sid)!!!
Sorry that the last two posts got switched around!
I may as well add some additional input(hey I have no vinyl replay,until my new arm comes,so I have some time to bore a good majority of you,and I'm home sick).
To re-emphasize about the "bass" issue on the "modded"(we'll refer to it that way,as it basically was SO different,this is appropriate) Air Tangent....NOBODY I have ever been familiar with(with the exception of Richard Foster) has a record collection even remotely close in quality,and desireability to that of Sid Marks(in the Classical and Jazz genre).For those loving the "smell" of old vinyl,and the history of where these LP's came from,it is HEAVEN on earth!!You enter his home,and you get a contact high!!We are literally talking "buy a BIG house value",in LP worth!Hence,when he wanted to demonstrate the "superior bass quality" of many LP's(he happens to be a bass "fanatic",btw,and maybe a bit too much, Imo)he could pull out particular discs that could throw a serious vinyl collector into withdrawal(think.. a woman,at Tiffanys,with alot of cash,who just won the lottery).I mean it is amazing how many GREAT LP's exist,that we will NEVER even see a picture of for it's cover art alone!!!...He's got em!!!BIG TIME!No wonder his column used to be called FROM THE RECORD VAULT!
SO the multitude of "amazing bass" discs that have been played for me,and some other local guys,seems almost incomprehensible when one factors in that I have been seriously collecting LP's for over thirty years,and whenever I go to Sid there is a plethora of "I gotta have that" discs to be heard!!BUT,guaranteed they won't be found!!!
Trust me(and I hope I'm not too boring in this "ode to Sid" piece)the quantity of organ,organ with chorus,orchestral,orchestral with organ....and chorus stuff.....even Glee Club stuff,recorded live---somewhere in Europe(if one can believe it,and I don't blame you if you don't)has caused me to leave his "Vinyl Vault" shaking my head in dis-belief!As to the "music" on tap,but since we are on the bass subject,the "reality" of THAT bass too!The pitch definition of really deep bass(done the Maxi/Air Tangent way) is something many have no clue exists.Especially with twelve bass drivers working "correctly"(another topic).
OK I'm getting somewhat carried away!!
He has mega modded four tower Infinity speakers(NOT "colored",as a well known blogger has incorrectly mentioned on his web-site,about these designs,btw)so the "bass" issue is irrelevant!!!
I had been invited to another home,of a well known reviewer,who had the LATEST darlings,in both speakers,and equipment(Forsell there,btw).This was ONE day before the new Air Tangent mega set-up at Sid.The guy was obviously an expert,and was a lovely host.I had a great time,and heard a very nice set-up,which the host thought was "SOTA" and could not really be bettered,at the time.A HUGE NYC loft/room,which was an amazing listening space.Cool art all around(thought I'd throw that in).
Next day(about twelve hrs later),went to hear the new Air Tangent/Maxi,in Sid's set-up.The speakers were about eighteen years old,btw(Sid could care less,as it "IS" all about performance,in HIS room).The rest of the stuff,other than old Krell bass amps,is very well heeled.
NO CONTEST!!!!!Totally exposed the hole in the previous set-up's mid bass,and I then realized that the night before,I was not hearing any low bass at all( on a really BIG speaker).Not a hint of pitch definition,as compared to what this new Maxi Air Tangent had in store for me,and the others,who were in total agreement/disbelief.This is the kind of audio stuff that is the most fune for me.Being SO happy for a good friend,who "has got it"!Nothing competitive.Just joy!!Some good NY cheese cake too.
Suddenly the "fine the night before" super system dropped three notches,in hindsight!The night before I had loved it...almost!
Sid is the kind of guy who absolutely could care less about the latest rave,or folks doing the "raving".He is ONLY concerned about how something sounds in HIS room,with HIS stuff.....AND his irreplaceable record collection!!!
BTW,the friendliest guy you could ever want to meet,and one of the most hospitable and good natured too.Imagine,with some house painting being done,last year,the guy grabs a load of "doubles",in Decca Wide bands,and just gives them to me,to "make space",so he claimed.."take them,take them,I have to make some more room".........One of the GREATS!!!!!!!!!!
Hope my long winded post had some relevence.Time for my Sudafed.
Dear Downunder: IMHO you can't compare the quality performance of two tonearms " per se " ( any ) because a tonearm is a " incomplete " product/item it needs ist couple/partner: the cartridge and you can't compare two different tonearms with the same cartridge and say that the one that performs best for you is the best tonearm because it is not: it only perform best because that tonearm is a better match to that particular cartridge and that's all and that's the real subject.
Now, I think that all the today tonearms like the named on this tread and several other are very good tonearms but its quality performance depend ( between other things ) with which cartridge are matched.
One of the first posts in this therad comes from Thomasheisig and he resume in a few words whjat is all about.
All the other posts like mine are going around Thomasheisig one and of course around our very particular own experiences.
Post like the one that say that at CES almost all the TT exibitors comes with Triplanar or to say that that reviewer or manufacturer use the Triplanar say and means nothing ( IMHO ) because all those are marketing: all those Triplanar users are business/commercial oriented. Anyway the Triplanar can't ( like any other tonearm ) be " the best ".
Of course that our opinions can differ each other. I have experience with the Triplanar and XV-1 and Orpheus cartridges and I have experience with these cartridges in other tonearms where these cartridges performs in a better way a lot better, so chances are that those Triplanar/XV-1 or Orpheus owners ( and as good as they heard it ) combinations are not hearing those cartridges at its best, yes they are best that you imagine.
Downunder, that's why I " heavy " support the universal removable headshell tonearms like today: Dynavector, Audio technica, Ikeda, Audiocraft, Ortofon or " old " ones like: Lustre, Micro Seiki, Audio Technica, Grace, Technics, Ortofon, etc, etc..
All these ( new and old designs ) tonearms are very good but have a critical advantage over those non removable headshell tonearms ( pivot or linear tracking ): that can match almost any cartridge to obtain/achieve the best cartridge quality performance.
Every time that you change the cartridge on a different headshell ( different weight/shape/material build /headshell wires ) in the same tonearm you and me achieve a different cartridge quality level performance till you find the best for that tonearm/cartridge combination.
So if you have one tonearm ( any ) of this kind with 7-8 different headshells then you have in reallity 7-8 tonearms and if you have two tonearms then you really have 16 tonearms.
This you can't do it with a non removable headshell tonearm ( pivoted or linear traking ).
Donwunder, where do you think you can achieve the best cartridge performance? testing it with one and only tonearm or with 16 tonearms different options?
The other critical subject that Thomasheisig touch is the Phonolinepreamplifier that has a paramount importance for achieve the best of the cartridge signal performance and that from my point of view is the most important link in the analog audio chain.
So Downunder my advise is to look to those universal removable headshell tonearms and concentrate into own the best Phonolinepreamplifier you can find.
Regards and enjoy the music.
As a reviewer and publisher, I get to try a lot of things. I bought the Phantom. The Triplanar, I think, is also surpassed by the Basis Vector.
It is normal, that one or the other has some favorites and lets be honest:
When there would be THE perfect Arm (I know, I know, but in Theory... with the perfect Cartridge and the perfect Phonostage ....) and you would ask 10 Audiophiles, do you think, that all 10 would say, YES, THAT's the one!!??
I think they would say "... yes, that's GOOD but ... slow timing ... weak Bass ... too heavy .... too light ... too black... :)
There is a new Arm coming, from Kuzma, with removable Headshell .... "wink wink" Raul next for you :)
>>The Triplanar, I think, is also surpassed by the Basis Vector.<<
I sell both and agree with you.
Audiofeil, in your experience do you sell many Vector's to non Basis table owners.
I have heard the Vector on a Oracle table and found it very enjoyable. Just wondering if non Basis TT folks step up and take than arm serious on other tables.
You are starting to add a complexity to my question that sounds like a lot of work :-) I like the lazy options of repeatable, adjustable VTA etc.
eg - re the dynavector arm with 6 headshells for my 6 cartridges. Don't you have almost reset most of the tonearm parameters each time you change a headshell??
The VPI solution of replacable arm wands seems a lot cleaner and quicker as you only have to set up the arm once and then change the VTA each time a new arm is added to the table.
Since when does Ortofon and Audio technica sell new tonearms??
Why is an Ikeda or any tonearm with removable headshell any better than a VPI, Graham, triplaner etc arm??
Are there that many different headshells available for all these arms? Where??
I know thats not my question, but I know of only one person
using the Vector in a non- Basis setup. If you do go to
member systems, and type in Vector you may find more. I
honestly have not heard many. Audiofeil, while you are
receiving questions, may I ask one more.
I noticed in your ad for Hadcock tonearms, that in the
specs it lists ideally for cartridges up to 12 grams. What
is the max grams ideal for the Vector. FWIW, I use a Jade
and Vector3 and already have the heavier Vector counterweight.
Now back to our regularly scheduled program!
IMHO you can't compare the quality performance of two tonearms " per se " ( any ) because a tonearm is a " incomplete " product/item ...
I agree with Raul on this point, which "per se" can be extended to any component. You can't listen to an arm alone. You can maintain a stable system context and swap out a single component and compare those swaps, but there will always be other components within the system that *could* vary.
I agree, an analog front-end is a product of its pieces: turntable, turntable drive mechanism, cartridge, fastening hardware, headshell, tonearm, armboard, tonearm wires, phono stage, phono stage impedance resistors, tubes, etc. etc. If I'm off a half newton-meter of headshell bolt torque, from you, well ...
Not to mention the vagaries of semantic nuance even when we use the same vocabulary. "Tonearm X has superior top-end extension, asymptotically spinning heavenward with receding gossamer grace." (hmm... not bad, maybe i'll use that line.)
And then, we each have a different room. Not to mention humidity. Heh.
What does tonearm X sound like compared to tonearm Y? As the master says: "hard to predict all the variables are".
Yes, its a system. And yours will never be identical to mine. But lets never stop talking about it, the collective community of opinion is a joy.
And then, after all the headshell swapping, damping trough removing, and the four prelude passes ... after all the needle mr. cleaning, after the vta adjusting and antiskate donut twiddling, finally ... finally .... a record is played! Hooray!
Gawd, I love this hobby. Thanks to each of you for helping me enjoy it even more. honest! :-)
Yes I agree, hifi is a great hobby and it is enjoyable reading and listening to other people's experiences even if there outcomes are not the same as yours.
Are you still looking for a new tonearm to replace the SME V??
I use a Vector on my Galibier from time to time. Is it better than my Triplanar? Might be with some cartridges. But the Triplanar is much, much more user friendly. I like both arms quite a lot.
Dan_ed's remarks about the Triplanar are spot on. It is an extremely user friendly arm. Perhaps the best.
My previous comments alluded primarily to build quality, fit and finish, trackability, and noise level.
I agree with Raul that there are lots of other variables when it come to tonearm comparisons. There is NO one tonearm or for that matter one cartridge that can do it all - that's why Raul have 7-8 tonearms and more cartridges than i can count that freaky Lucky Bastard (sorry, i just jealous :-)
But all of us can afford such luxury as Raul so it come down to one Tonearm and maybe if we are lucky, 2 or 3 cartridges. When i did my comparison of these 2 top tonearms, i tried to match all parameters as close as i can (same Turntable, same cartridge and same Phono) but at the end, i end up choosing the Graham because of these factors:
1. Versatility - you can easily swap cartridge with diff removeable wand; it's more expensive than the headshell like Raul mention but it's great if you have just 2-3 cartridges that you really like
2. DIN connection that allow you to experiment with different cable - tonearm cable make a big difference but Triplanar also have that option
3. Quality and workmanship - personally, when i have both tonearm with me, the Graham look and feel like a more quality product (very well built and heavy) while the Triplanar feel flimsy (prob going get a lot of hate mail regarding this but that's my opinion - Post your opinion)
4. Product support - i had the Graham 2.2 before and Bob is a sweetheart when dealing with when you can get a hold of him (sorry to hear that he had personal problems lately). He sent me free of charge, counterweight supplement for my old Graham when I was having problems with heavier cartridge. A really nice guy
5. Lastly resale value - you know us audiophile, eventually we all will sell our gears and look at the resale value of both Graham and Triplanar; the Graham still retain it's value and never have problems reselling (maybe because Bob Graham cannot keep up with demand so his product is not flooded in the market like Triplanar - kind of like the Schroeder Tonearm)
I do love this hobby though, so many opinions and too much gear to try out - hope that help Downunder...
OK, here is my 2 cents on this issue. I have a TW Raven Acustic AC Turntable on order. I made a trip to Jeff Catalano's Hi-Water Sound in NYC to hear my purchase and to listen to 3 arm/cartridge combinations. You can never seperate what you are hearing of course so trying to say that one arm is better than another is impossible. The arm/cartridge combos I heard were:
2. Tri-Planar/Zyx 4D
3. Dynavector Arm/ Dynavector Mono Cart.
Dear Downunder: +++++" The VPI solution of replacable arm wands seems a lot cleaner and quicker as you only have to set up the arm once and then change the VTA each time a new arm is added to the table. " +++++
+++++ "Why is an Ikeda or any tonearm with removable headshell any better than a VPI, Graham, triplaner etc arm?? " +++++
It is obvious that you don't understand very well what I posted.
There is no single advantage ( speaking to achieve the best cartridge quality performance. ) on VPI tonearm when you change the arm wand because all those arm wands are build with the same material, are build in the same precise shape and with the same arm wand weight.
In the other hand what happen with all and any of the universal removable headshell tonearms?, that you can choose to mount and test the cartridge ( trying to achieve the best cartridge quality performance. ) in different headshells that are made each one of: different build materials ( aluminum, magnesium, wood, ceramic, etc, etc. ), different shape construction and different headshell weight, all these different universal headshells have a different frequency resonance and different resonance " path " and when you mate it with the cartridge that cartridge performs different with different headshells.
This fact give you the huge opportunity to obtain the best for your cartridges that you can't do it through non removable headshell tonearms.
Btw, if you have time please read this link about:
You can find different hedashells through Ebay, Audio Cubes, LP gear, Agon, etc, etc.
Audio technica tonearm: the AT-1503II and Ortofon has four new tonearm models all with universal removable headshell and with three different headshells.
Dear Thomasheisig, thank you for the tip about new Kusma removable headshell I will be alert about.
Regards and enjoy the music.
Are you still looking for a new tonearm to replace the SME V??
Hey Shane - yes I still plan to replace the SME V. I almost pulled the trigger on that last fall, but have been dawdling.
You may recall I had a longish thread with many helpful responses on this exact topic (G vs T), but the Audiogon gods decided to toast it - or I can't find it. It went through a lot of the technical/ergonomic issues only hinted at here. The conclusion I drew from that was the Phantom had a higher build quality (almost equal to SME) and the Triplanar was a bit more fiddly on its adjustments, cueing, etc. I believe several of the latter have been addressed.
During the time that thread was running I heard offline from some folks whose ears and experience I trust. The word I got there was likewise that the Graham has the edge in construction quality and being more dynamic and up front, it might be able to rock n roll a bit more though could be a bit brash, whereas the Wheaton is a touch sweeter ("a bit colored, but nicely so...") and perhaps better suited for classical music. I received a comment that the Graham is balanced well in terms of trade-offs with "less than linear" carts such as koetsu and benz.
From the same sources I likewise heard good words about the Basis Vector - v. quiet in the groove, neutral, and super-dynamic. Perhaps some of its positives being masked on cantilevered armboards or unsuspended tables.
At the end of the day, without in system listening, I've come to believe every arm has its positives and some trade-offs and some of these are tied to the table its on and the cartridge in use. Not an earth shaking conclusion, but one that points to what Raul was suggesting in terms of system matching.
All three (Vector, Phantom, TriPlanar) are tempting. If I had to make a choice today without the benefit of a trial with my Orpheus on my deck in my room, etc., I'd probably roll the dice in favor of the latest Triplanar if for no other reason than its a known quantity, highly adjustable, and there are several people who can lend an assist with advice.
No easy choice - best of luck.
Back on topic(for me),and hopefully with some "opinions" relating to a little "intuitive reasoning".....Also I want to warn you,I am home sick,with not much to do,so this is going to be a "long" post........I am NOT a mega "technical" school person,but am very much in the "practicality" school.Hands on,is a good way to garnish an educated "opinion"!!Admittedly there is always much to learn.
From some(not all) questions asked,from the originator's post..."more organic midrange/greater treble detail/plays music better"....here are some of my personal thoughts,which are arrived at from my own agenda,and way of looking at "what gives" in a product's design,and ultimate performance.
Firstly,make sure the arm fits your table of choice!!!(I once made this mistake).
Secondlyly(and most easily found out),make sure the cartridge of choice(whether it is an existing possession,or one you "want to get")mates well with the arm/s you are looking at.This info is usually found on website,or one can call the mfgr.Most current arms work well with alot of new cartridges,but some cartridges "need" the best mating for that... "absolute audiogon obsessive hobbyist approval" (that was in jest). Call it the Sudafed talking -:)
Some really fine cartridges,like the superb(I owned two)Koetsu Stone body designs work best with heavier arms!You are NOT going to "max out" a heavy Koetsu,or some others on an arm like a Graham 2.2.It may "work",but not at it's peak,and if you have a great cartridge(which is really what we "want" to "try" to hear,that is....the actual cartridge personality,"itself",with ALL OTHER EQUIPMENT just getting out of the way........this is how I view it)you won't get the absolute maximum performance from it!OK fidelity...but not the "best"!That is why some arms,like the Fidelity Research still are desired,by many for Koetsus.They work best with heavier cartridges.I remember loving my old MDC-800,here.Nobody posting here wants anything less than ideal performance,especially when we consider just how expensive some stuff can be!
Considering that the "best" arms are very well designed(especially those having been around for a while)lets give the benefit of the doubt, on the subjest of correct geometry to these designer works.Set up an arm correctly,and you are OK, on this subjest.Unless you ascribe to the school of parallel tangency(which is a darn good arguement)the vast majority of the "now" pivoting arms are fine....IMO!
Now,here is where I look CLOSELY at "what makes the most sense to me"(other than experience,which should be invaluable,and NOT overlooked....but sometimes you have to rely on a dealer to aid you with the decision,and hope he knows what is really the better choice,for you).........
.....Assuming all other parameters are met,which should be NO problem really,I like to look HARD at the subject of what particular arm design characteristics offer the best,and "most logical" means of negating/negotiating,or eliminating the "resonant characteristic" which comes with the act of playing a record!!Assuming you have a quiet table!IOW,where are those areas,in a particular design, most susceptible to "resonance"?What arm designs address this the best?
To my way of thinking(only my opinion)and from the experience of hearing a "superb" air bearing/linear arm,for so many years,playing so many familiar lp's,it is in the "bearing area" where the MAGIC is "most likely" found!....Assuming all else previously mentioned is taken care of(which IS the easy part)!
Of course we are talking about bearing friction!!! WE DON'T WANT ANY!!!!
So,based on simple logic....the design that seems to deal with this issue the "best" should yield the "best" sound...as in "most organic"!...Provided the other "not too hard to meet" standards are met.....When I say not too hard to meet,I mean that many competing designs have these issues fairly well coverd(well damped arm tubes,good cabling,good geometry,good material choices,which are put together carefully etc).
A great linear air bearing arm,like the current Kuzma should have this covered,though I have not heard one.I'd take one in an instant though!!
I DID read that Kuzma is about to release a pivoting arm,that uses "magnetics" in the bearing/antiskate area(this is just from memory,of what I read,last week).Very interesting!!
I really think my time listening to the Air Tangent was SO FABULOUS(and understatement)due to the "no bearing noise" issue,aside from the fact that all other areas were very well addressed(the pump had high pressure,and much more-so than the standard unit,and I know what I,and others heard,so don't even go there).
From what I have been able to digest...one of the gorgeous Schroder arms' biggest strength seems to come from the unique approach to the "almost non existant bearing".A REALLY GOOD THING!I have always loved the "thought"(since I did not think I had the patience to wait for it's back order,or extra cash needed for the model I wanted)of this arm,and have NO doubt as to how fabulous it must allow an lp to "sound".Even though it was reviewed in Hi-Fi Plus,and was not given the kind of enthusiastic review I had expected( I know,from good sources that "it" was not really maximized in "that" review,and I will be beaten up if some friends of mine read this,but "tough").The Schroder is too unique,and has been around too long,with refinements to NOT be fabulous,IMO!Way too much good word of mouth!Once again,I'd take one in a minute.
BTW....don't take my lomg winded posts too seriously!!!I don't want the same guilt that I had a long time ago!!
So,here is where the "rubber meets the road" for ME,and the "why" of my personal choice of a Graham Phantom as compared to the "gimballed ball-race bearing" types,like the Triplanar(an arm I am sure is everything "good" stated about it).....BUT the Graham Phantom has the "unique" feature of only ONE ULTRA QUIET/STABILIZED "to the max" contact point as it's bearing(so do the other unipivots,almost,but there is more)....The Phantom,with it's massive, almost completely non resonant material assembly(not to mention the absolute BEST/EASIEST means to "dial in all meaningful cartridge parameters")has that friggin' "Magna-glide" feature,which TOTALLY stabilizes,and damps the single point bearing(one reason why so little bearing fluid is needed,with some cartridges)!We are talking "REALLY,REALLY LOW FRICTION"!!This,SURELY is a BIG reason for it's non existant "resonant signature"(the MAJOR strength of the greatest arms,and those previously mentioned)!
I spent a year in denial about buying one,as my friend has the Phantom,which I re-set up,at his request....yet it was SO "audibly obvious",as to it's complete sonic superiority,AND uniqueness in playing "believeable" music,along with a staggering build quality/finish/attention to detail.Having been SO happy(and completely secure)with my Graham 2.2,once I had heard the "amazing" potential of the Transfiguration Orpheus,I could hold out no longer!!"IT"(the Orpheus) had to be maximized,to tha absolute MAX!With as little a "resonant signature" as could be had!In my own set-up,and with regards to what I could afford financially.The Phantom just made the most sense to me,with regards to least resonant signature,from "that" area most likely to have it....the "BEARING"!!Not to mention it's actual performance in my friend's rig,which was amazing(he has an Orpheus too,so it was not a big stretch,for me).
I know,as usual,I am getting long winded(I'm still home sick....how much TV can I actually watch?),but remember I had stated that ..."what makes the most sense"...(provided we understand some major attributes of the best sound attributes of the "best" arm designs)is how I decide on the BEST arm,for me!I don't think it is too big a stretch,but I have no question there will be doubters -:) Fine!
It seems "just logical" that, though the best "gimbal/ball race" arm designs,like the SME's and Tri Planars are wonderful(of that I have NO doubt)....if your cartridge/table parameters fall into the acceptable area of arms like the finest Air-linear,Schroder magnetic,Graham Phantom-stabilized and damped unipivot designs,then the "BEST" most life like music "should happen",in your listening space,with these designs!
Makes the MOST sense to me.
What is the max grams ideal for the Vector. FWIW, I use a Jade
and Vector3 and already have the heavier Vector counterweight.
I have had cartridge/headshell weight type combinations of up to 20 grams in the Vector Model 4 with great results. IMO, the Basis Vector is a very stable arm and an excellent tracker.
Sirspeedy, I don't think its been mentioned before, but the bearings in the Tri-Planar are a special super-polished super-hardened variety that have to be special ordered. Here in the US Tri tells me that there is only one manufacturer left who can even build them.
Calibrating the arm (setting the bearings) takes him several hours for each arm. In the end the wiring is by far the more important issue, not the bearings- something that is in common with the Phantom. IOW, the bearing type has no 'bearing' (heh heh) on the matter insofar as friction is concerned. I just had to say that :)
How the bearings *do* help is in maintaining absolute azimuth- especially important with record warp, extreme bass passages and if the table is not perfectly level. Azimuth is adjusted by a worm screw adjustment at the bearing end of the arm wand, so you can get it exact at all times.