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.
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!