Rega P3 upgrade + cart options?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by HiredGoon, Mar 17, 2019.

  1. HiredGoon

    HiredGoon Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I haven't been playing LPs much for the last couple of years (too much Bandcamping, etc) but a few weeks back I dragged the office system (Rega P3 turntable / ME-15 pre-amp / ME-550 amp / Orpheus Aurora 3 speakers) into the lounge room and started playing my records and tapping my foot again. [​IMG]

    But the sound is strident and muffled ... something needs an upgrade.

    The Rega P3 was bought used about 10 years ago. Dunno what model tonearm (RB300 maybe?)

    There's a Nagaoka MP-100 cart on the P3 ... one I brought back from the USA many years ago. Seems like an entry-level cart. I also have a Sumiko Pearl cart lying around ... this also seems to be an entry-level cart. Not sure of the hours on either ... maybe a lot [​IMG]

    And I haven't really done much setup except to balance the arm on the P3, mount the cart (eye-balling it to get it straight) and adjust the stylus pressure to the mid-point of suggested range of 1.8g - 2.3g.

    So I'm thinking definitely a new cart for starters, or maybe a new turntable + new cart?

    If going for a new cart on the P3 ... I'm looking at an Ortofon 2M Bronze or similar. Maybe a 2M Black if it's worth the expense and hassle.

    If the P3 is limiting ... for a new turntable + cart, budgeting up to AUD$2000 (US$1500) maybe.

    A quick sniff around the (Aussie) retailers showed a Pro-ject 2xperience SB DC turntable + Ortofon 2M Black cart for AUD$1800 new ... could be tempting.

    I had a Pro-ject 2xperience clear acrylic turntable in the USA that I thought looked super cool and sounded pretty good. Brought it back to Oz but it needs an Aussie power supply and a 50Hz pulley. Also needs a new perspex cover coz the original one got damaged in transit. So that's a possible repair pro-ject, if possible and economical.

    I'd rather spend less than more so "good enough" is good enough here ... not chasing perfection (I still listen to digital mainly, and there's lots of camera gear that I still want to get).

    Any recommendations appreciated.

  2. Fishoutofwater

    Fishoutofwater Forum Resident

    I have been using a P3 for 17yrs. It sounds fantastic. I have added a quality sub platter, oak coned feet and an acrylic platter. This table sings! The biggest upgrade was a Heed Orbit power supply. My friends who all have real high end TTs cant believe the sound i get from it. Have you thought of upgrading the P3 bit by bit as i have done. I have no need to change it. Oh i forgot, i also changed the counterweight for a Pete Wriggle version. Not sure it changed much, but hey, it looks good.
    HiredGoon and Bob_in_OKC like this.
  3. Bob_in_OKC

    Bob_in_OKC Forum Resident

    Dallas, Texas
    The easy answer seems to be to put a new cartridge on the P3, make sure it’s set up accurately, and enjoy some records. Maybe a Dynavector 10x5 cartridge. The P3 is a fine turntable for the situation described. I’d probably consider a machined metal subplatter and a fresh belt.

    The muffled sound can be different things. The sound running a MM cartridge into a MC phono stage could be interpreted that way. Maybe stylus not being installed correctly. Debris on the stylus tip. Tracking force too heavy. Or if it’s more subtle, it could be that it’s just not a good cartridge or stylus.
    HiredGoon likes this.
  4. Echoes Myron

    Echoes Myron Forum Resident

    In my experience 2M Bronze is great, Rega Exact is a better tracker and a natural fit for your tonearm.
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  5. theprivateer

    theprivateer Active Member

    Doesn’t look like any of the Project alternatives you mention will be a significant upgrade to the Rega. I’d go with a new cartridge if I were you, Ortofon 2M bronze is a good place to land if the Black is too much.

    Get a set of setup accessories like a protractor and a digital scale and you may wring more out of that table than spending on a lateral move.
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  6. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Chicago metro, USA
    your cartridge has a conical profile which is most likely contributing to the lack of detail. it is also 4mm taller than a rega cartridge which is creating a severe tail down condition which also contributes to your issue. my advice is to buy a rega exact cartridge or a better nagaoka e.g. mp 200 and 4mm tonearm base spacer rings.
  7. Netnomad

    Netnomad Forum Resident

    + 1 for the Rega Exact IMHO it is more musical than the Ortofon's (Swapped out my Ortofon Blue for the Exact)
    Fishoutofwater and HiredGoon like this.
  8. bever70

    bever70 It's all about the soundstage

    Keep the table, spend your money on a better cartridge because THAT can make all the difference in the world imho.
  9. HiredGoon

    HiredGoon Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Thanks for the suggestions. I'll look into the Rega Exact cart.

  10. HiredGoon

    HiredGoon Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I was very close to getting a Rega Exact cart today (around AUD$400) but then thought about the wisdom of putting it on a really old P3 ... there's lots of upgrades available (new power supply, new subplatter, new belt, etc) so I wondered about biting the bullet and getting a new Rega Planar 6 + Exact cart (around AUD$2400). Quite a big leap in price, and I'm not sure how much of a performance benefit I would get for the $2K increase.

    Maybe I'll just get the Exact cart now for the P3, then save my pennies for a Rega P6 later.

    BTW wasn't there an Exact 2 on the market? Or is the current Exact model the latest and greatest?

    I might also look into fixing my US-model Pro-ject 2xperience clear acrylic turntable ... maybe under $300 for an Aussie power supply and 50Hz pulley. Gawd that thing looked cool.

  11. Bob_in_OKC

    Bob_in_OKC Forum Resident

    Dallas, Texas
    The current Exact is the latest and greatest and has often been referred to as Exact 2. Rega doesn’t call it that, though. There’s a timeline of all their products online and it shows the 2nd Exact issued in the year 2004.
    HiredGoon likes this.

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