SME V, Tri-Planar or Phantom B-44 ?

my table is j michele orb se
Dear Benson139: It could help to give you some advise if you can tell us which cartridges do you own or with which one do you want to match that tonearm.

Regards and enjoy the music.
The Phantom and the Triplanar seem to operate at a level above the SME V. The reason for that seems to be arm tube resonance- all three arms have some sort of damping system to control that, but the SME seems to be the least effective, and has a slight signature relative to the other two arms. Its construction otherwise is superb.

The Phantom and and the Triplanar are nearly neck and neck. The Phantom solves a lot of the issues that the earlier 2.0 and 2.2 struggled with- you can use a wider range of cartridges and not get in trouble. The Triplanar features on the fly adjustment of VTA on a repeatable basis, and is very consistent with adjustments- very easy to set up.

There have been many comments about the differences between these two arms elsewhere. If you read through them, I think the only rational conclusion is that the two arms are very similar in sound, and that setup likely has more to do with the differences heard than anything else.

I myself have a Triplanar, and I find that with the right cartridges, such as the Transfiguration Orpheus or ZYX Universe, that the overall tracking effect is so good, so stable, that it actually compares to tape. If you have heard a good tape setup, the image stability is what I am talking about- something that most tonearms simply cannot do.
Ralph, It is always gratifying to hear someone else echo your own thoughts. The incredible image stability of the Triplanar is why I bought one so many years ago and have never looked back. I agree, like a good master tape, when all else is copacetic.
Graham Phantom is the best
Dear Atmasphere: +++++ " I think the only rational conclusion is that the two arms are very similar in sound, and that setup likely has more to do with the differences heard than anything else. " +++++

I really would like to agree with your statement but it is almost impossible to do that, let me explain about:
first the Triplanar and Phantom are two totally different designs, one an unipivot one and the other a gimbal bearing one, both use totally different build materials and shape construction, different internal wiring, etc, etc, etc
Every single of those build/design factors ( and many others ) makes a difference and its combination in each design too.
This is not something that I just " talk " by " talk ", Guillermo and I already have two years on our self tonearm build/design and ( like you ) we have many years of different experiences through different tonearms designs ( today or vintage ) with different cartridges ( almost any. ) and we know ( for sure ) that two different tonearms have a different " signature " when you match with a cartridge ( even the same cartridge ).
I can't tell you ( for now. ) all the whole different tests ( scientific/measures and by ear. ) that we already make ( some ones are incredible like incredible its results. ) where we are learning some of the complexity interaction between a tonearm and the cartridge where " minute/insignificant " changes can/could make a difference when we can't wait/predict about, our target on our tonearm design is to be dead " neutral " ( almost no signature ) to take out of the " equation " ( the tonearm ) and leave any cartridge to show its best.

I have experiences on those three tonearms and I can't say that it sound alike: specially ( in reference ) the Triplanar/Graham like you say.

Obviously that like always the result is system dependent and ears dependent too along each one person priorities.

That's why I ask Benson139 to share with us which cartridge he own.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Im curious about the SME resonance. What is the frequency of this resonance? How was it measured? who measured it? Is this actually documented in some tests? Ive heard this before but never accompanied by any data. I figured it was more internet lore.
Am running a Triplanar with a Lyra Skala on a Michell Orbe and I can only echo what some others have said, the Triplanar is a fabulous arm and mated with the right cart you are in audiophile heaven. In my case it works well with the Orbe, but so will any other top class arm. A minor point, if you ever contemplate an upgrade to the Orbe Dec with the acrylic cover etc, you can't close the lid during playback coz the Triplanar is too long. Off course there are many who will advise that the lid should be removed during playback coz it attracts unwanted resonances etc
Hi Raul,

I read Ralph's comment about the equivalency of the Tri-Planar and the Graham Phantom in the context each arm running with a compatible cartridge. Nothing new here for us (grin).

Of course, since Ralph's main experience is with the Tri-Planar, he shared his experiences of cartridges that have worked for him with it.

I would add to this Tri-Planar compatibility list, the Dynavector XV-1s, the Benz Ebony LP (the original - I have not tried the newer incarnations), and yes ... as surprising as it sounds the Denon DL 103R (albeit a bit lower on the sonic food chain).

Indeed, the Tri-Planar and Graham Phantom are different architectures. I have not played with the Phantom, but I wouldn't be surprised that with a compatible cartridge that the two arms would be more alike than different.

In my experience (I'm repeating myself from other posts), competent designs from designers who know what music sounds like, applying differing architectures, sound more alike than different. Yes, each architecture will reveal its distinguishing characteristics, but the designs will be shockingly alike.

Why? Because good designers know what real music sounds like.

The more pieces of good gear I discover, the more I learn later that the designer is not only a solid technician, but that (s)he has at least played a musical instrument - perhaps not mastered it, but played one. Of course, there are exceptions.

Thom @ Galibier
My personal ranking after a few years of using and listening.
The ranking is based on a combination from maximum Performance with different cartridges (weight, compliance ...) mounted in each Arm
Best is above

1.FR-64s, FR-66s
2.Graham Phantom, DaVinci Grandezza
3.Kuzma Airline
4.Graham 2.2, Triplanar VII, Kuzma 4P
5.SME V, Schroeder Ref., Well Tempered Ref.,
6.Hadcock, Rega
Dear Tom: +++++ " would be more alike than different. " +++++

IMHO it is obvious that any two-three top tonearms are more alike ( they are tonearms ) than different but that " different " makes the whole difference, if not every top tonearm can be the " same ".

You can make a simple test with any tonearm to understand exactly what I mean: try to change the tonearm internal wiring or to by-pass it and put a different wire ( external ) or make a change on the headshell wires.

It is the same with almost any audio item, example a TT: almost are more alike than different, of course its main targets are almost the same ( all are TT and have to spin at precise speed with stability. ), but the sum of each one " tiny/small " differences makes the whole performance difference/signature.

Well, this is only my opinion and like always I respect the other people ones.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Thanks everybody
As to raul qestion, i own the Kondo IO-M,had the SME V for
a short while ,and now im on the market again for a new ton arm,and i wish to add Scheu Taco Tonearm to my earlier qestion
Hi Raul, I've not had direct experience with the Phantom as I have a Triplanar for each of our Atma-Sphere 208s. I've seen a lot of people argue about which of arm is better and I don't doubt that there are differences in sound nor (more importantly) do I care to debate their merits.

But with all the 'goner' arguement about which is better, to me the only rational conclusion is that they must be very close, and set up issues (the room, the amps, the speakers, cables, etc., etc.) are playing enough of a role to account for the differences that taste does not. To that I add that Tri Mai's Of Triplanar tends to be very complementary of the Phantom and I know he would not say that to me if he did not mean it.

IMO the Triplanar, if not in fact the bona-fide item, is very nearly the state of the art. But earlier I tempered that opinion in an effort to allow for other's opinions as well...
Dear Benson: Very good cartridge and demanding on the tonearm due to its special characteristics.

My personal advise is that you go for the IKEDA 345 tonearm in its silver wire version or the Audio Note AN-1s, both are tonearm current models.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Hello all,

Its been a while since I posted something on the gon. Its unfortunate to have these types of"best of", "a vs b" posts answered by folks who have not done direct comparisons in the same system. Indirect comparisons, conjecture, assumptions, etc can have the unfortunate effect of confusing and misdirecting people.

On the other hand, very few people have the time and money to make direct comparisons in the same system. Maybe that's why we tend to settle for the next best option.even with direct comparisons, system differences can lead to different conclusions.

I am in the process of comparing the Phantom-2 to the triplanar-7v2 in my own system and will be offering my opinions in the near future.
The only person who has made direct comparisons of these arms that I'm aware of is "thomashesig"here on the gon in a related post, and mickelson on Soundstage and Garcia in the absolote sound.from what I hear so far "thomashesig" hit the nail on the head in his comparison.there are big differences between these particular two.

I would like to go back and forth one more time before posting my final conclusions.

Stay tuned
Dear Atmasphere: Now I understand your statement.

The problem with " open " questions ( like this ) is that any one of us speaks of what are our experiences and in our systems and many times we think that the " best " is what we have but in the tonearm case that " best " is almost impossible to find in a precise way. Let me explain:

to say that the Phantom is better than the Triplanar ( it is only an example, I'm not saying it is. ) means almost nothing, maybe the Phantom is better with a specific cartridge in a specific audio system but we can say too that the Triplanar is the best with a specific cartridge/system. In either case we can't assume ( for sure ) that the Phantom/Triplanar is better than the other one.

The fact that a tonearm/cartridge combination is one product/item not two items makes things complex.

Now, IMHO even trying to take the tonearm as a stand alone item makes things only a little less complex but does not resolve the whole " best ", let me explain:

to obtain a winner we have first to " write " the standards/factors/targets " ( technical, subjective ones, look/appearance, execution, build quality, et, etc, ) against be " measured/challenge " any tonearm. Where are those standards " approved " or where can we find it?.

Imho, does not exist and IMHO too almost everyone of us have our self and unique standards. The Tom_mackris standards are different from yours/me or Syntax/Lewm ones.

Of course that exist a " best " but first we need those " standards " to qualified about.

I almost always give my opinions on audio subjects with first hand experiences and always with almost the whole characteristics of the items involve on a specific subject.

Now, I know that each single opinion from any person is welcome and was made triying to help to the person that ask. IMHO the person that ask ( sometimes ) has a very hard " task " to choose the right/better answer because ( sometimes ) some of the answers were/are even contradictory but this is what is an open forum like the Agon one.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Thanks Raul,what do you think about the synergy between my orbe+kondo and the Scheu Taco,thanks again
Dear Benson139: I don't have any experience with that tonearm but I can't feel " free " and " calm " trying to match that unipivot design with a very low compliance ( 6cu on the IO-M ) cartridge.
I understand that Sheu have cartridges made by Benz-Micro that are at 12-14 cu and lower cartridge weight than the 11grs you have, a lot more reasonable to make a good match.

Other factor ( between other things ) is that I don't know which kind of internal wire use the Sheu where the Ikeda and Audio Note use a first rate silver one that could go better with your all silver cartridge.

Synergy is always the name of the game in audio, IMHO and if I was you I will go for the Ikeda or Audio Note.
Of ourse that you can go on a different " direction " and nothing wrong with that because at the " end of the day " you are the one that must live with it and your satisfaction is first than all.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul, Thom and others,

The concept of cartridge/tonearm matching has always intrigued me. What intrigues me is that this seems to preclude discussions of absolute best or better tonearm as a separate component.

I understand that a cartridge and tonearm need to be properly matched in weight and compliance to produce a specific range of resonance frequency.

However, that aside, what is it that drives desireable combinations. I suspect it is a matter of sonic and mechanical synergy.

1)For example, sonic synergy

Imagine a very bright, strident, analytical cartridge. I suspect this would be considered a good combo with a warmer,slightly slow, musical tonearm.

To me neither of these components would seem "neutral" on their own in this scenario. But what if there really are "neutral" arms and more neutral cartridges. Then it would be appropriate to rate tonearms and cartridges separately.

2) Mechanical synergy

I suspect some cartridges emit more vibration than others based on their construction, and certain tonearms dampen more vibration than others. I would think the better cartridge, all else bein equaln would be the one to emit less vibration. Since this may be difficult to control, I would think it is more straightforward designing a tonearm that was capable of dampening various types of vibrational energy. In this regard the tonearm that isbetter at damping is a better tonearm.

Of course specific tonearm design and cartridge designs have their inherent superiority over others.

Anyway, my point is that there probably is some justification in judging the merits of a tonearm separate from the combination.
Aoliviero, could you provide the link to the "Thomasheisig" thread comparing the Phantom and the Tri-Planar? Thanks. It sounds interesting.

(I searched on those key words and could not retrieve it.)
Here is the link to the thread. I think his relevant post is on page 3
I tried to find it.
I think, it is this Thread

Dear Andrew: I wish thigs can be so " simple " like what you posted but it is a lot lot more complex than that, even if you try the ame cartridge with two different tonearms IMHO the best you can affirm is that that cartridge match better with one of those tonearms but not that that tonearm is better than the other.
Anyway, I think that the in deeep tonearm subject is for other new thread and not this one, sorry Benson139 for deviate your thread.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Syntax, yes this is the correct thread. Thanks.

Raul,let's consider starting a separate thread at some point.
Hi Aoliviero. Welcome back!

In regards to you comments, any structure under load resonates at a particular frequency. Such is the case of the cartridge/tonearm system.

The cartridge "compliance", determined by its suspension stiffness, and the tonearm "effective mass", determined by its component's mass distribution, must play at a frequency that does not overlap with the frequencies of the sound being reproduced. A general consensus is that the cartridge/tonearm frequency should fall in between 8Hz and 20Hz, so that it does not have much effect on the signal generated by the cartridge. Since the cartridge generates its electrical signal by the motion of the cantilever relative to the cartridge, it will be ideal if this interface is not being biased by external conditions.

One can refer to "cartridge compliance / tonearm effective mass" charts to determine what cartridge/tonearm combination will have a more effective frequency for playback. The problem is that cartridge compliance and tonearm effective mass are dynamic in nature. Therefore, it's not guaranteed that a particular cartridge/tonearm combination will play according to the "cartridge compliance / tonearm effective mass" charts. One of the reasons for this is that the cartridge and tonearm will be affected by outside forces, such as the frequency of the platter, the frequency of the sound, standing waves, resonance of the walls, etc. Another reason is that since effective mass is related to mass distribution, the effective mass can be changed on some tonearms by the relative configuration of its parts, such as the use of balancing weights. Also, the use of damping fluids on some tonearms can change the tonearm's frequency.

This is why it is so difficult to assert that one particular tonearm is better than the other. It is easier to accept that a particular cartridge/tonearm configuration is better. But for this statement to be true, the design goals must be defined first.



Thanks for the welcome and most of all the explanation. Honestly I have been enjoying my system so much that I have been spending less time on the internet. I also find it a bit frustrating some times seeing threads go back and forth and with a lot of always seems that a given component someone owns is "the best". I tend to appreciate the threads that are more informational in nature. Anyway I hope to contribute some more directly and try to provide my opinions based on direct comparisons.

I see you have the Mambo. I used to have it and think itis a very very good table. I wish I kept mine for a second system. Also Rauls preamp is a tour de force.

This is a great hobby...obsession. I wish I could own the number of components that raul and Syntax have. On one hand I would like to experiment with different tonearm-cart combos but I wonder if I would just end up listening to one combo.

Adios for now

Great Thread. Benson 139, I pretty much have the same question as you. I have a SME 20/2 table and have long thought a different tonearm will yield a little more for me (maybe more than a cartridge upgrade).

Both the Graham Phantom II and Triplanar VII u2 are on my list. My dealer recently ordered a new Triplanar and I've heard it in my system, but mounted on a Grand Prix Monaco Turntable. So, to many varibles from my SME 20/2 changing. (same lyra Skala Cartridge)

Honestly, I'll likely will have to take a leap of faith and just order one of these for my SME 20/2. Seems like the Graham is slightly favored-both as a match for my SME tt and as a match my Lyra skala.

Albert Porter just posted under his system some comments on the SME 312s. He loves the micro overhang adjustments using the rack and pinion setup the SME arms have. Of course the 12 inch arm is a another "varible" here than some of us can't take advantage of.
The Triplanar is not first rate with cartridges, which transform a lot of energy into the Arm. The Lyra Skala is one of theses cartridges. The best performance was with the heavy DaVinci (by far)
You're welcome, Aoliviero. And thanks for your kind comments.

Please let us know once you start forming your impressions about the Phantom and the Triplanar in your system.



Your system looks exactly the same as the now deleted Thomasheisig. Are you one & the same?
Dear Dgad: I think that only because 2-3 tonearms and 2-3 cartridges but the whole system is totally different.
Where do you see it " exactly the same " or compare it? or maybe he has two different systems.

Regards and enjoy the music.
Lamm Amps. Same speakers. Same everything but slightly different photo perspective. 100% sure.