First impressions of Rega's Exact cartridge aren't promising. With its yellow plastic shell it feels a bit cheap and the fact that it doesn't use captive nuts means it's also rather fiddly to fit. Three hands would be a bonus here.
One big plus is the intimacy of the soundstage it produces – next to the comparative wideness of the Goldring 2500 and Roksan Corus Black, the Rega works on a smaller scale.
When playing a mellow, intimate and emotionally involving track such as Sinatra's With Every Breath I Take this works to its advantage, drawing the listener in.
This is a bright and fun-sounding cartridge with a pleasant midrange, and detailing here is good for the money, too.
In essence then, the Exact has a great midrange and sense of subtleties. The treble has more warmth and body than the Roksan Corus Black, but we found that the bass lacked grip and power when needed.
It may not cope as well as the class leaders in some areas, but it should definitely be on your audition list.