Graham Engineering Phantom III Tonearm
Phantom III is the same specification as the Phantom II, but has an updated arm wand, new internal wiring for arm wand and bearing housing.
The Phantom III has exceeded our highest expectations, surpassing even the highly-rated Phantom II.. And when compared to other tonearms on the market, tests and preliminary user comments have confirmed that the Phantom III is in another, altogether higher level of performance.
Compared to the orignal Phantom, as well as the Series II, the III has a similar outward appearance, but has important internal differences. In addition to the refined Magneglide (tm) stabilizer, new internal wiring for even better detail and improved freedom from any mechanical resistance, an upgraded pivot design for even greater dynamics, and a new titanium armwand, the III has incorporated a new pivot housing assembly.
This assembly, comprised of a constrained layer combination of brass and tungsten, provides greater energy control and damping, along with improved bearing peformance. Incorporati ng a slightly reshaped counterweight to allow for great cartridge weight ranges and lower moment of inertia, the result is greater transparency, broader soundstaging (both side to side and front to back), with greater bass impact and extension.
Combined, these refinements yield greater performance in the areas of thundering dynamics and sheer musicality, while retaining the delicacy of detail, quality and convenience features the earlier Phantom was noted for.
A tonearm with Stable Balance can be identified by measuring the tracking force at the record surface level and again at a raised position above the record. If the tracking force INCREASES at the higher position, the arm has Stable Balance. Our own previous designs - the best we could make at that time - also had this limitation due to the use of side weights to provide lateral stability.
Other unipivots with low-slung counterweights will all exhibit this force; the lower the weight, the more counter-force is applied. Although this technique is often promoted as a "high-stability" design, it does so at the expense of consistent tracking force and linear cartridge performance. . It actually results in varying tracking forces during play when traversing even small warps, accompanied by non-linear cartidge operation, and increased record wear.
Once Neutral Balance is chosen for use in a unipivot tonearm, one must remember that both the vertical and lateral planes will be affected the same way; without proper lateral stability, such a design would not have consistenent, proper vertical alignment, and the pivot would tend to flop over to one side or another (usually in the direction of the weighted cartridge offset angle mounting). Obviously this condition must be avoided.
The answer to this lies at the very heart of the Phantom's design and its unique ability to retrieve groove information unprecended, we believe, in tonearm design. The key to this achievement is a magnetic stabilization system which we have called "Magneglide" (TM). With this unique, patented system, all lateral stability, and a portion of the damping, is provided by powerful neodymium ("rare-earth") magnets, placed in a horizontal line from the pivot point of the tonearm
In combination with pivot fluid damping (similar to that used with the Model 2.2), the Magneglide (TM) system allows normal vertical pivoting of the tonearm in true Neutral Balance, with vanishingly low friction; yet, provides a strong lateral stability that feels almost like fixed bearing arms. (No wobbling of the arm as it is lifted, for instance).
In addition, this dual-damped system forces the Phantom to pivot in the correct vertical plane of the stylus tip, with no rotation as the arm is raised. No regular unipivot can achieve this important geometric requirement. Even a few fixed bearing arms don't get this right!
If the vertical motion of the tonearm is in plane of the armtube itself (and not the correct plane of the stylus face angle), the cartridge will tend to tip over to its side as the arm is raised, as when tracking over warps. This will cause noticeable channel imbalance and reduced tracking accuracy.