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thescarletpronster's picture
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Most effective upgrade for Rega RP3?
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Hi there,

Note: this is a long post. In short: I'm interested in upgrading my RP3 and am looking for guidance as to which, if any, upgrades are essential to get the best out of this TT.

I bought an RP3 with the fitted Elys 2 cartridge about a year ago, hooked up to a Brio-R amp and Monitor Audio Silver RX6 speakers. It's my first experience of hi-fi above entry-level, and it sounds fantastic to me.

However....

There's always that 'what if?' question. How much better could I make it sound by spending a bit more? When the dealer installed it he talked about upgrading with the TT-PSU, the Fono stage and a better cartridge when the time came to replace the Elys.

My question is, if I was to treat myself to one of these three upgrades, which one would you recommend to give the greatest improvement in sound quality? Which is the really essential upgrade to get the best out of this deck? (If I got them all I might as well buy an RP6.)

- TT-PSU: to be honest, I can't understand quite how the PSU works to improve the sound, but I've seen comments on here that it does make an appreciable difference. But what sort of difference, and how much?
- phono stage: The Rega Fono Mk II is the obvious choice, but is there another one I should consider? My concern with this upgrade is that I would lose an input, because, as I understand it, I'd no longer be able to plug the TT into input 1 of the amp as that includes an internal phono stage. Is that the case? If so, could I get Rega to change that input so I can use it with an external phono stage? I currently use all 5 inputs, so it would be good not to lose one.
- cartridge: obviously this will need replacing at some point anyway, so the cost is only the difference between an Elys and a better cartridge. However, this cost would come around every time I replaced the cartridge, rather than being a one-off. The dealer recommended the Exact, but I'd be interested to hear about others as well. I've seen Nagaoka raved about here.

If you could give me some detail as to exactly what sort of improvement in performance I could expect for whichever of these you think I should go for, rather than just telling me which one you think would be best, that would be a real help.

I've seen complaints that some Rega setups lack punch and excitement, favouring detail and precision. From what I can understand about this, I think I prefer a more neutral and detailed presentation, as it seems to me that the recording itself should provide all the excitement that's needed, and the equipment should bring out what's presented on the recording as accurately as possible. And the speakers border on the over-exuberant - it feels as though the rest of the system just about reins them in enough. One thing I've loved about my new system is being able to hear things in my vinyl for the first time – I can hear more instruments individually, and also it sounds more like people playing instruments live in my living room than I've ever heard before. I guess this last aspect is what's meant by 'warmth and musicality', so that is also a good thing. But as I listen to everything from very loud and aggressive rock/electronic music, through soul, reggae, jazz and classical and various forms of experimental music, I don't want something which is going to boost a particular aspect of the sound such as attack or bass, if you see what I mean. (Of course, if the stylus can minimise surface noise, crackle, etc, that can only be a good thing!)

There are of course other upgrades available, and I'd be grateful if you could tell me what I can expect from them and if you recommend I should consider any of them:

- Rega's white drive belt. I saw this mentioned here the other day, and it's only £20. But does it really improve the performance of the deck significantly?
- I've read about replacing the platter, either with an acrylic one, or the weighted one from the RP6. What difference could I expect from either of these?
- likewise, I could replace the felt mat with heavy acrylic one. Is it worth it?
- then there are platter damping kits.
- isolation platform or feet: the TT stands on an Optimum Prelude glass platform, which should give pretty good isolation. But could I get better results by adding a platform or feet (maybe the trusty old half squash balls...)?
- etc etc... I'm sure there are plenty of other upgrades available. Most of these last upgrades that I've seen are from a company called SRM/Tech. Does anyone know this company, and are their products good? Or should I be looking elsewhere if I should be considering any of these last upgrades.

As I said, I'm only looking at the really essential upgrades to get the best performance out of this deck without spending too much. Also it's not worth upgrading the deck beyond what the amp and speakers can reproduce.

I'd really appreciate any guidance you can give me to start me on the right road.

Thanks in advance!

Rega RP3 / Elys 2 || Rega Brio-R || Rega Apollo-R
Monitor Audio RX6 Silver || Chord Cobra 3 interconnects || Chord Sarsen cable

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RE: Most effective upgrade for Rega RP3?

The simplest answer I can give, 'been there, don that, got the T-shirt' . . . look up my back posts and threads, I did it with a P5, sounding like a million dollars too . . . Smile

Start the ball rolling, treat yourself to a 'White belt'. I compared a PSU with the white belt, at the time £150 for a PSU against £20, the whit belt is a bargin. It depends on if you want 45rpm at the touch of a button?

Careful on Rega cartridges, whilst they are OK, look at the numerous 'Rega TT, what cartridge', threads there are better.

Once you have read that lot and absorbed it, you will be understand a lot more about 'how, what and where' to put your money, time and efforts?

In the meantime, enjoy your music and keep your eye on this thread, I'm sure there will be much well meaning good 'advise' given . . . ?

My practical experience took over 2 years of trial and error, I am a tweaker, looking for value for money. I'm there now, at the end of my road, enjoying my music.

There are contributors to this site who can confirm my efforts have been successful.

CJSF

Al ears's picture
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RE: Most effective upgrade for Rega RP3?

Sorry to disagree previous poster but the only real way to upgrade a TT is to buy a better one.

Yes you can tweak here and there but essentially you are not going to change it significantly.

There are ways to improve your lot that do not involve a lot of money and firstly you have to ensure it is well isolated.

A wall-mounted shelf is best for this.

Personally I think the white belt is a bit of a joke but if you want to try it then as you say it is only £20.

The power supply is only useful if you are constantly swithching from 33 1/3 to 45 rpm records and cannot be arsed to remove platter and change the pulley each time.

The phono stage is only a concern if you are going to move on to a moving coil cartridge at some point.

Platter upgrades are generally a waste of money as they can often be detrimental.

The ONLY way you can be be sure of improving the sound quality from your RP3 is to upgrade the cartridge - full stop.

And yes I have had years of wasting money on an old Planar 3, I confess, which is why I sold up and got the turntable I have now.

 

 

Motto: Never pay full price for anything, there is always room to haggle!

Tom Evans Audio Design amplification / Acoustic Zen speakers.

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RE: Most effective upgrade for Rega RP3?

And I have to disagree with a few of Al's very confident and also quite ubiquitous advices:

"The power supply is only useful if you are constantly swithching from 33 1/3 to 45 rpm records and cannot be bothered to remove platter and change the pulley each time."

SO not true. Please try the PSU if you can. It's actualy the kind of upgrade Al is advocating - buying a new deck.

"The phono stage is only a concern if you are going to move on to a moving coil cartridge at some point."

Again have to disagree, strongly. I think there is much more to phono stages than to different cartridges.

"The ONLY way you can be be sure of improving the sound quality from your RP3 is to upgrade the cartridge - full stop."

Absolutely not. Changing carts can be fun, can bring educating experiences, is the first thing most people do, but is actualy the least important.

In my book it goes like this: #1: deck (that includes power supply), #2: tonearm, #3: phono stage and the thing you can save for last: cart.

 

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RE: Most effective upgrade for Rega RP3?

As I said . . . "enjoy your music and keep your eye on this thread, I'm sure there will be much well meaning good 'advise' given . . . ?"

Correct upgrading will give worth while benefits with 'value for money' results . . . but they have to be the right upgrades often followed by appropriate adjustments and understanding.

If you dont know what you are doing, then stick with the standard TT of your choice and/or pocket with its 'ad on's'.

Another factor is one of satisfaction, 'I did that, it is my sound' . . . You dont have to be part of the 'me too crowd'?

Fact, my P5 TT cost me £500.00 as an ex dem unit, £250 was then spent on basic upgrades, much time was taken over adjustments and getting the best out of the system as I matched each components best points, did not cost much but the time factor was high.  I dont include arm, cartridge, amplification etc., as these would be required in any upgrade programe on any TT.

So for £750, I have a TT that sits at a lot higer price point in SQ tearms.  Again, there are contributors that can confirm the SQ factor . . . It does not realy matter, I have the satisfaction of doing it myself, understanding why it sounds the way it does and knowing it is probably unique, Carlsberg did not have anything to do with it . . .  Dirol

CJSF

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RE: Most effective upgrade for Rega RP3?

Al ears wrote:

Sorry to disagree previous poster but the only real way to upgrade a TT is to buy a better one.

Yes you can tweak here and there but essentially you are not going to change it significantly.

There are ways to improve your lot that do not involve a lot of money and firstly you have to ensure it is well isolated.

A wall-mounted shelf is best for this.

Personally I think the white belt is a bit of a joke but if you want to try it then as you say it is only £20.

The power supply is only useful if you are constantly swithching from 33 1/3 to 45 rpm records and cannot be arsed to remove platter and change the pulley each time.

The phono stage is only a concern if you are going to move on to a moving coil cartridge at some point.

Platter upgrades are generally a waste of money as they can often be detrimental.

The ONLY way you can be be sure of improving the sound quality from your RP3 is to upgrade the cartridge - full stop.

And yes I have had years of wasting money on an old Planar 3, I confess, which is why I sold up and got the turntable I have now.

 

That's pretty much my view. Wonder if CJ will give you equally a hard time as he did me? :cheers:

@The OP. Buy a RP6 or a Pro-ject Xperience X-Pack or a ClearAudio Concept, and save the faff.

Amp; CDP; Turntable; Tuner; Speakers

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RE: Most effective upgrade for Rega RP3?

plastic penguin wrote:

Al ears wrote:

Sorry to disagree previous poster but the only real way to upgrade a TT is to buy a better one.

Yes you can tweak here and there but essentially you are not going to change it significantly.

There are ways to improve your lot that do not involve a lot of money and firstly you have to ensure it is well isolated.

A wall-mounted shelf is best for this.

Personally I think the white belt is a bit of a joke but if you want to try it then as you say it is only £20.

The power supply is only useful if you are constantly swithching from 33 1/3 to 45 rpm records and cannot be arsed to remove platter and change the pulley each time.

The phono stage is only a concern if you are going to move on to a moving coil cartridge at some point.

Platter upgrades are generally a waste of money as they can often be detrimental.

The ONLY way you can be be sure of improving the sound quality from your RP3 is to upgrade the cartridge - full stop.

And yes I have had years of wasting money on an old Planar 3, I confess, which is why I sold up and got the turntable I have now.

 

That's pretty much my view. Wonder if CJ will give you equally a hard time as he did me? :cheers:

@The OP. Buy a RP6 or a Pro-ject Xperience X-Pack or a ClearAudio Concept, and save the faff.

I must say CJSF has been pretty lenient, the storm front appears to be coming from a different direction. :grin:

 

Motto: Never pay full price for anything, there is always room to haggle!

Tom Evans Audio Design amplification / Acoustic Zen speakers.

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RE: Most effective upgrade for Rega RP3?

I will give my 2 pence woth!

A former RP3/Elys2 ownner and IMO is a massive step up from an RP1 - so much more bass, detail and seperation.

Like the OP I was hooked, then I went to an RP6/Exact - yes the RP6 IS better, but not by a massive amount in its stock form.

In hindsight with the RP3 being so close to the RP6, personally I would keep the RP3, stick a white belt, Nagaoka MP150 or 200 on  it and get the TT PSU and that will bring more or less up to an RP6.

Don't under estimate the RP3 for the money it sounds brilliant!

Gyrodec SE owner here of a few weeks now and this things sounds A LOT better than an RP6, it looks the dogs bollox and is beautifully built.

 

PS for the record I have spoken to a few people who have heard CSJF modded Rega deck and apparently is sings like a canary - on the subject of upgrades CJSF & Floyd practically sold the idea of a valve amp purely for the fact I could get a clean sound without any coloration from PCBs so any tweaks with VTA VTF gain etc are very noticable - not forgetting how low outputs MC change the presentation.

Valve amps are not for everyone, I daresay a lot of people on here probably prefer a SS amp - my main source is Vinyl and with the ST40 this is how I like my music being presented to me - beautiful (just need to save for a valve phono & low output MC now)

 

 

 

Michell Gyrodec, RB303, Benz Micro Ace H, Icon Audio ST40 w/KT88s, PS1 Phono, Kudos X2, Rega Apollo R, DAC

 

 

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RE: Most effective upgrade for Rega RP3?

stevebrock wrote:

....yes the RP6 IS better, but not by a massive amount in its stock form.

That wasn't what you said at the time. You salivated on how big the upgrade was... but since the wobbly platter and the Gyro, how opinions quickly change.

Amp; CDP; Turntable; Tuner; Speakers

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RE: Most effective upgrade for Rega RP3?

Get the TT-PSU. (I have heard a remarkable difference on a friend's P3-24.)

Upgrade the standard counterweight to Rega's tungsten version ...

http://www.analogueseduction.net/rega-upgrades-parts-accessories/rega-tonearm-tungsten-counterweight.html

A new belt is always a good idea if you have used the TT a lot. (I won't get into standard vs white debate, but it's so cheap you might as well try both.)

If you don't do this already, always (gently) start the platter revolving with your finger just before switching on the motor. Don't switch off to change side or change record. It prolongs motor and belt life.

Buy a Rega wall support for the turntable (assuming you have a perfectly plumb block or brick wall to affix it to). Otherwise look at the Pro-ject Wallmount It 2 (levelling adjustments possible unlike the Rega shelf and will accomodate non-Rega TTs if you ever change.).

Much 'fancier' isolation platforms / feet etc. are available, but rarely beat getting the thing on a solid wall and wall-mount.

Ensure you are not overdoing the bias/anti-skate. Usually you can hear improvements if you dial down the bias/anti-skate to a value less than half of the tracking force. (I used to go further and use about 0.5.)

Obviously, ensure the deck is on a perfectly level surface (as measured with an 8" Stanley spirit level on the plinth and platter when I was setting one up).

 

 

"We are currently awaiting the loading of our complement of small lemon-soaked paper napkins for your comfort, refreshment and hygiene during the journey."

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RE: Most effective upgrade for Rega RP3?

plastic penguin wrote:

stevebrock wrote:

....yes the RP6 IS better, but not by a massive amount in its stock form.

That wasn't what you said at the time. You salivated on how big the upgrade was... but since the wobbly platter and the Gyro, how opinions quickly change.

your right PP

 

Michell Gyrodec, RB303, Benz Micro Ace H, Icon Audio ST40 w/KT88s, PS1 Phono, Kudos X2, Rega Apollo R, DAC

 

 

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RE: Most effective upgrade for Rega RP3?

stevebrock]</p> <p>[quote=plastic penguin wrote:

stevebrock wrote:

....yes the RP6 IS better, but not by a massive amount in its stock form.

That wasn't what you said at the time. You salivated on how big the upgrade was... but since the wobbly platter and the Gyro, how opinions quickly change.

Placebo I think - but that was with the Exact - the Exact has no place on that TT

 

 

 

Michell Gyrodec, RB303, Benz Micro Ace H, Icon Audio ST40 w/KT88s, PS1 Phono, Kudos X2, Rega Apollo R, DAC

 

 

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RE: Most effective upgrade for Rega RP3?

Anyone any thoughts on a subplatter upgrade on the RP3??? Worth it or not??

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RE: Most effective upgrade for Rega RP3?

Critical Mass wrote:

Anyone any thoughts on a subplatter upgrade on the RP3??? Worth it or not??

Absolutely, it can make a world of difference, the question is which one, I use the Isokinetik GT sub platter with Ceramic thrust ball baring, I have also isolated the platter from the sub platter with very small hard rubber 2mm stand-offs as well as using damping to stop the sub platter ringing. These are the little tiny, what appear to be insignificant tweaks that mark out my thinking and effort from the normal 'replace the sub platter'. :?

As Steve has found, the better the amp and set up in general, the easier and more obvious small tweaks and adjustments become. However, at the bottom end, it can be 'chicken or egg' because the changes tweaks make are less obvious. Some times it requires a step of faith and belief in those that have trod the path?

The better the deck becomes, the more precise the adjustments have to be . . . because you can hear the poor quality that poor adustment leads to . . . 'simples'!

CJSF

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RE: Most effective upgrade for Rega RP3?

I think no-one has yet answered your question about SRM Tech.  I believe the owner is one of the Michell Engineering family who went their own way.  I've never tried their kit, though have followed their eBay store as my Rega OEM would similarly benefit from mods like the counterweight.  Their tables have had good write-ups in UK mags.

Having had two decades of tweaking turntables and cartridges myself, and having lived with a Linn LP12, Syrinx PU3 arm etc. until recently, I now appreciate having a relatively tweak free turntable these days.  But as you've sussed, a belt and maybe a power supply are risk-free trials, but unless you have CJSF's experience and patience I too would suggest going for table at two or three times the price next time, once you've heard it persusively demo'd.

Enjoy! 

Krell CD and amp, Michell/Rega/Grado record player, Hitachi and Sony tuners, Nakamichi cassette, SBT streamer, Sonus faber spkrs.  Sony and Samsung BDP & TVs. Qobuz > iPad > AudioPro Allroom Air One

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RE: Most effective upgrade for Rega RP3?

Hi everyone, thanks for your suggestions. Plenty of conflicting advice, I see! I'll have to digest it and come back with more questions. Hope that's OK.

A bit more info: buying a more expensive turntable is out of the question. I bought the best I could afford. I'm wondering whether for an outlay of a max. £200 more (i.e. one of the three upgrades, PSU, phono stage or cartridge, or a selection of the others) I could significantly improve the performance of the TT I own. I simply can't afford to ditch this one and buy one twice the price, so there's no point telling me that this is what I need to do.

Rega RP3 / Elys 2 || Rega Brio-R || Rega Apollo-R
Monitor Audio RX6 Silver || Chord Cobra 3 interconnects || Chord Sarsen cable

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