Graham Robin tonearm Michael Fremer May 2003
Graham Engineering's Robin tonearm ($645, reviewed by Art Dudley in April, p.121) has been designed to drop into a standard Rega mounting hole, using a base plate that permits spring-loaded VTA adjustability. Raise or lower the arm height, find the VTA sweet spot, then lock it down. The arm can also be fitted to a mount identical to the Graham 2.2's. That way, you can get your dream turntable and have it drilled for the 2.2, but save a few thousand by buying the Robin now, and switching when you can afford to.
The Robin is based on the very familiar PT6 design, made in Japan and long marketed by AudioQuest. Graham's edition uses a much heavier bearing housing, the "best" gimbaled bearings he could obtain, a redesigned pivot assembly, a specially damped armtube, and a removable headshell that takes advantage of the Graham 2.2's ingenious alignment system (available as option).
I dropped the Robin into the Rega P3 I've had on hand for a few months and installed the Sumiko Blue Point cartridge I'd had on the RB300. No, it makes no sense to put a $795 arm on a $750 turntable, and I can't say I heard an improvement over the RB300 in this application. The Graham arm allowed for easy VTA adjustability and sounded different, but not necessarily better. The Robin had an open, airy, effervescent sound that I preferred in some ways to the RB300, but the RB300 (with replacement counterweight) had greater solidity and punch. When I get back to my Simon Yorke turntable, I'll drop the Robin in the 2.2 slot and do a more serious evaluation.—Michael Fremer