Fremer did a review with a SME IV.Vi on a 30/2 with comments on a Graham 2.2 installed.
I know its not exactly what you asked for but it may give you a bit of an idea? http://www.stereophile.com/analogsourcereviews/796/index3.html
Dear Macallan25: TheRedscouser link is a very good place to start.
Now, I know the importance that the tonearm has on the analog chain but I recomended that before you choose for a tonearm try to think about the phono cartridge that must match that tonearm: this couple is really that: a couple, the choice of tonearm must have to take it with a cartridge in mind. Which is your?
Btw, wonderful TT you have that I understand comes with the SME V, right?
Regards and enjoy the music.
No SME V comparison can be considered valid unless you consider upgrading the tonearm cable & the internal arm cable. Only then will you get the maximum quality from the tonearm. None of the comparisons done by MF had this modification done. The tonearm cable inside the PHantom is far superior (to most people) than the internal cable inside the SME V and hence any comparison would not be a level playing field. The SME V is still considered a standard to judge against and is a great "starter" tonearm. In addition it excels in bass reproduction and controling the cartridge due to the nature of its design. I can't speak for the Graham but many others can.
What wire mods have been done to your arm to make it better than the stadard SME V.
The SME V should be purchsed with (or upgraded to) the MCS 150 internal silver wiring for a valid comparison with the Graham Phantom. Both should be used with a quality phono cable rather than the pitiful stock phono cable which comes with the SME V arm. Be careful - the 30/2, when used with the SME V, requires a special orientation of the phono cable DIN plug to fit well inside the arm mount. The DIN plug orientation of SME arms is 180 degrees opposite that of Graham arms.
The V, a gimbal bearing arm, excels with the 30/2, delivering especially good bass. The Graham, a unipivot design, has the advantages of easy adjustability and quick change of cartridges(with arm wands).
IF you buy an extra tonearm mount for the 30/2, you can have your cake and eat it, switching quickly from one arm to the other, the best of both worlds. For a table of the caliber of the 30/2, you should have both.
I never changed my internal cable but I did change the external cable. I used Harmonic Technology Crystal Silver Phono cables. It was a night & day difference. As they say, veils were lifted. Treble became very extended and bass solidified. The tuby bass was reduced. The internal cable within the arm is similar to the external cable so the "cable bottleneck" is still there. I can only imagine how much better it would be after the internal wire is upgraded.
The big advantage of a gimbaled arm is the stability of the cartridge. Cartridge life will be extended compared to most unipivots.
For me the choice would be simple.
Of these two, only the Graham gives you the full adjustability that a top quality cartridge demands. The SME-V assumes that the cartridge/cantilever/stylus is perfectly aligned....unfortunately this is rarely the case. The Graham jig allows proper alignment using the cantilever as a reference - not the cartridge body.
The SME-V doesn't offer proper VTA-on-the-fly adjustment (nor calibration), nor any azimuth adjustment.
I owned the SME-V 15yrs ago and made the switch to the Graham 1.5T - never regreted that move for a second. I far prefer the sound of the 1.5T to V on my TNT. Choosing between the new Phantom and the SME-V is an absolute no-brainer IMO.
The Phantom simply is in a total different Hemisphere. In EVERY Area.
I'd give a call to Brooks Berdan (Brooks Berdan LTD) in Monrovia, Ca. Brooks is a well known analog guy who made a name modifyng Oracle 'tables until Oracle decided to update the 'table and incorporate the Berdan mods into stock units. He sells both arms.
FWIW, he's mentioned to me on a couple of occasions that he's not crazy about SME arms, but that they seem to work very well on SME tables. BTW, he likes the Graham a lot, but I believe he prefers the Triplanar to either the Graham or the SME.
Dear Macallan25: In my opinion there is no " best " tonearm perse. Every top high end tonearm has its own up and down strength but when you copled with a cartridge that up strength could go down or could go higher, it depend on the cartridge combination and the arm board.
To say that one tonearm or other are the " best one " is a misunderstood about.
In my long analog audio experiences ( not only because I own several tonearm/cartridges ) the best tonearm is the one that help and permit that " that " cartridge always " shine " over other tonearm combination.
Do you have any opinion about?
Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul,great point mentioning the "armboard" in the "mix" with the arm/cartridge!It will definitely influence the performance of the arm/cartridge,aside from the obvious table impact!
I'm willing to bet that most table mfgrs still have not experimented with as many board material composites as they could have.As with cartridges,there lies the possibility of a wide variety of potential "perfect matches",for a specific arm and it has to be tough to for a designer to experiment with all possibilities.I'll bet there is more to come on this subject!
Dear Sirspeedy: Yes, the arm board makes an audible difference.
I think that the TT manufacturers put on all their " attention " in the TT it self with out any or at least very low interest in how crucial is its own interface with the outside world. Parts of that outside world are the tonearm/cartridge and us and our music priorities.
Some of those manufacturers don't take that responsibility and others, like Rockport and Walker, go beyond that responsibility and take decisions that, in my opinion, are and individual decision of each one of us about which tonearm we prefer: they take " our decision " and put their own tonearm!?!?!?!?!!
I think and I'm sure that in the times to come the TT manufacturers will take seriously that arm board responsibility .
Regards and enjoy the music.
All the contributors above have made valid points. However, Maccallan25 asked the original question of how these two arms would differ on the SME 30/2, not in an absolute sense, or on a variety of other turntables. The synergy of cartridge, arm, and table strongly influences this evaluation, as Raul has stated. Yes, Raul, there is no best tonearm in the absolute sense, but given the 30/2, and perhaps a particular cartridge, what would be the better choice. Fremer's review is a good starting point in this discussion.
Pcosta, you have a 30/2. Wally Malewicz has one. I have one also. There are other owners out there who could ring in on this subject.
The synergy of the 30/2 with SME V is quite significant. Yes, the V is not as quickly or completely adjustable as the Phantom. IF a particular cartridge can be set up correctly on the V, if it sounds good on that arm, and if quick cartridge change is not a factor, THEN the synergy of V with 30/2 may be the choice.
So if there is consensus, given a particular TT (in this case the sme 30), that the cart/arm match is more important than the qualities of either by itself, which carts with each of these arms seem, to the ears of the experienced, to be the stellar combinations?