I do not post often, mostly I just read the stuff that informs my choices and teaches me new skills or tricks to get the most out of my equipment.
One of my main hobbies is to record lps to CD. That way, I can help friends listen to music that is not otherwise available in CD format and, and this is the big reason, I don't want to repurchase music I own already in a 3,500 lp collection, to listen to while I am on the road camping for most of the summer.
Over the years I have upgraded my equipment to do a better job of that. For example, I now use a Whest phono preamp PS.30R and a Tascam DV-RA1000HD pro recorder. In December I decided my B&O TX-2 with MMC2 cartridge was long, long overdue for an upgrade. Since I have owned Rega CD players and liked them, after a decent search, I settled on the RP3 with a TTPSU (separate power unit) coupled with the Ortofon Black 2M. That equipment choice was alone a galactic jump in hyper-performance. My dubs are happier. And let me add that the RP3 is a really fine turntable straight out of the box.
Based on forums such as this, where knowledgeable users comment on how to get the most from their equipment, I became aware of the upgrades to the RP3, which, fortunately, I purchased prior to the introduction of the RP6. I checked them all out, read reviews, asked folks who know better, even talked to the guys who make this equipment, Frank Smillie as one example.
After considerable due diligence, I purchased from Groovetracer the reference subplatter, the Delrin platter, and the 110 gram counter-weight. The counter-weight was the piece of equipment that forced my hand, since the Rega height adjustment spacer was needed to get the most from my larger profile Ortofon. I read that about 3.2mm of increased height was needed, so I settled on 4mm with the Rega spacer. However, to close the dust cover, I had to have a lower profile counter-weight. So I took the plunge on bits about two weeks ago and the goodies were all installed one at a time a few days ago. Now I am ready to comment on what I heard (or thought I heard due to known conforming buyer purchase bias).
This is what I sent to Frank Smille:
I replaced each element on the Rega RP3 then listened to a set of records I was familiar with. Most of the music was folk (Judee Sill's debut in particular) or rock (various).
Step one was to replace the Rega plastic subplatter with your (Groovetracer) reference subplatter. Right away I noticed a lot of detail, extended high end, better definition in the base, and lots of clarity all around. People talk about a lower noise level and to be frank, I am not sure I gave the table enough time to hear that. But the noise level is very low, I did notice how quite the background became. I have noticed with the Rega subplatter some issues with speed variation; with the reference subplatter, that was eliminated.
Step two was to replace the glass platter with the Delrin platter. Wow! Maybe it was the combination, but I noticed detail and subtleties that right away put a broad smile on my face. I heard details on my lps that I did not know existed. For example, the reed sound of the oboe and the tambourine timber and the vibrato plucking of strings on an acoustical guitar. I heard it in voices too, more rounded and natural. I liked it.
The 110 gm counter weight did require the new stub. The nice aspect of that upgrade is being able to lower the dust cover. There was probably some subtle changes, but compared to the prior two upgrades, they were not as noticeable. I expect that the tone arm will better track challenging music, while I did not push it. I did listen to a thorny rock lp that I had recently recorded to CD via a Tascam DV-RA1000HD. The sound of that record was noticeably better, clear and natural with lots more detail and depth to the sound. I think the counter-weight allowed this lp to track better and it sounded like it.
While not a Groovetracer product, I did insert the Rega variable height adjustment part and set it to 4mm for my Ortofon Black 2M. That adjustment was a bit more than subtle also, providing just that extra measure of detail. I heard it most in the way the sonics can overwhelm and fill in the room at certain points in a song. It added just that extra measure of audible sparkle and special timber to the sound.
All in all, it was a great day for my turntable and my eventual enjoyment of my lp collection. I just noticed so much more development of the sound, sonic purity, clarity, roundness and fullness. I love it.
Thank you Frank. Great products. But you know that already.
So to close, I am happy that purchased the RP3, I am more than pleased with all the upgrades that allow the most to come from my cartridge without the turntable getting in the way. That money was more than well spent, even if stock the RP3 is a fine piece of equipment.
A final point, Frank suggested that I not rely on the weight adjust of the Rega. I purchased a rectangular-shaped, battery-powered electronic scale that you see in all the on-line shops, you know the one. I used a (U.S.) dime and a nickel to make sure it read correctly and it is amazingly precise. Anyway, what surprised me was that I need to adjust my Rega dial to 3.2gm to get 2.5gm weight on my needle. After I installed the Groovetracer CW, the same adjustment was required. Now I know why when I lowered the tone arm, it would drift to the right, it did not have the proper weight adjustment. Now that is corrected and my records just sing.
The bottom line is that the tweaks may not be necessary, certainly you can listen on without spending another dime. But with them, the Rega RP3 becomes an amazing instrument.