Tonearm- Graham Elite
Moving to tonearm, Graham Elite is one of my very first serious tonearm. "Serious" means its not cheap. Since I am using Air Force 1P, the one that naturally fits is the 10 inch arm. The standard arm comes in "Titanium" shaft. That's according to the information I read on the web. But if weigh the 10 inch origianal arm and is around 43g pretty much consistent with the weight if aluminium is used. The titanium wand listed on Techdas page is around 54g and is exactly the same as my titanium wand. So, I do not know the hidden story inside. I would describe the sound as dynamic, exciting and explosive. The bass is very vibrant to the extent that it is almost out of control at times.
Techdas actually offers a titanium wand upgrade. It does cost an arm and is beautiful. But I have placed an order for over 1 year and still has not received yet. So I gave up in the end.
Looking at the structure of the arm, it seems that one can DIY a version of it for fun. One reason titanium is a good option is because of its stiffness.
Titanium tubing is actually not difficult to come by and can be sourced at a very reasonable price. The only problem is machining. I was able to find a workshop that can fabricate a tonearm wand for me.
Reverse engineering is actually an interesting hobby. it takes a lot of research in material technology and machining. Learning to use CAD is another challenge. But thanks to Google and Youtube, nothing is impossible.
This is the first prototype. 3D printing makes prototyping very easy. Just output the CAD drqwings to STL file and you are done. There are sufficient clearance without the shaft rubbing on the LP surface. If you read Grahams design principle. He places the center of gravity of the tone arm at the same level as the pivot point. My DIY wand has the same principle in mind.
The wand is actually divided into 3 parts making machining a bit easier. The problem now is how to assemble them to maintain full strength? A simple "press through" is not good enough. In this case, the diameter of the inner part is made 0.1mm bigger than the outer part. In normal case, they won't fit toghter. But during the assembly process, the outter part is heated up and the inner port is frozen. This temperature difference causes the hearted part to expand and the frozen part to ontract. So the inner part will have a small diameter than the outer part during the assembly process. Once the material is brought back to normal temperature, everyting is lock into place tightly.
This is the parts. The headshell together with the shaft is made of Titanium TC4. The small connector is made of aluminium and serve as the constrained damping layer. The connecting ring is also made out of titanium to connect all parts to the mother body.
You can see that before the damping layer is installed, the arm rings with pretty bad resonance. With the damping layer installed, the rings is pretty much controlled.
Sorry about my dog being in the seen. But afterall, this is DIY!
This shows the original wand with the DIY wand
This shows the 10 inch Vs the 12 inch wand
All parts installed. Left is 10 inch and ther right is 12 inch.
Let's listern to some music for Christmas!
The main difference between my DIY wand and the original one is the much increased dynamics. Every beat has more bite, more punch and the transients are much faster than before.
BTW, the arm lifter is made our of titanium too. Guess where did I manage to source it in titanium? Well, its a titanium tongue pin!
Fitted with 悦郎漆-金 Etsuro Gold. One of the very best cartridge I have ever heard.
This TopWing belongs to my friend. Again a very good performing cartridge
This version is fitted with 7N copper wiring. The added warmth in the mid range together with the dynamics brought by the Ti arm makes it a perfect match with Koetsu cartridge.