Old Rega P3: to upgrade or to not upgrade?

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gattonero
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Old Rega P3: to upgrade or to not upgrade?

Post by gattonero » 07 Jul 2019 11:11

Hello, re-issuing this thread after it was deleted. Apparently registering with a "tiscali.it" email address does trigger an automatic account delete :cry:

So here is the problem: my old P3 works reasonably well, but I have a noticeable hum when the cartridge moves towards the center of the record. Also, I can't get rid of "sibilant S" on male/female vocals.
For the former, I am thinking to go for a new motor and get the 24v motor kit (which comes with the dedicated PSU, I assume). For the latter, is probably time for a new cartridge.

Let's start with the "sibilant S".
The tonearm is an RB300 that has not have any rewiring or mods (aside from removing the pesky VTF spring); I tune it with two different protractors (a TNT-audio one and the one from the HiFi News record) and a digital gauge for the tracking force, running the HiFi News record I get a nice tracking from the Grado Gold that I've had for over 15 years now (but does not have many hours of listening), still the high range can be a bit "buzzy" if I can say that.
My thoughts are that the stylus/suspension are a bit worn or have hardened or simply have aged. I can't complain as this cartridge is now well over 15 years old, so although it has hardly been used for the last 7-8 years, and before that wasn't massively used either, it's probably time to send it to retirement.
My eyes were onto an Exact2, but may consider a Goldring 1042. Suggestions are very welcome, thank you. (i listen mostly blues/rock and old hard rock, plus a fair bit of classical music. No jazz or pop or dance/electronic)

The second problem is the humming motor. A new, better one can only be beneficial.
However, my plinth is the old (?) type made out of laminated fiberboard, the motor hangs with and elastic band that is screwed onto the laminate. A crude solution, similar to my old Pro-Ject2.1 for which I had to modify it with a cast-lead (no joke) outboard motor housing.
To my knowledge, the 24v motor kit comes with "sticky pads" to fix the motor onto the plinth. My question is: right now, the pulley has to go through the laminate only, which is just over one mm or two, so the new motor fitted with the sticky pad has a longer pulley spindle?
And the new motor with its PSU does not require the on-off switch (mounted on the front-left top corner) anymore, so this can simply be left where it is and redundant. And I suppose the new PCB fits just as the old one under the plastic cover.

Would it be better to make a new plinth with dedicated space for the new PCB, and a some way of de-coupling the motor like the M. Lim isolation base?

As you see, I've plenty of options and ideas in my head, comments on this list of upgrades will be much appreciated:
-new cartridge (Rega Exact2 or Goldring)
-new 24v motor & PSU (Rega kit) plus new belt
-internal and external rewire of the toneram (Cardas Ingognito?)
-possibly new plinth made with OSB board or carbon-fiber, keeping the same dimensions and "light&rigid" philosophy
-I think I'll skip the Origin Live mod for the tonearm counterweight

A few info's on the setup:
-Rega P3 with RB300 and Grado Prestige Gold, all have many years but are well kept
-original wiring from the P3 goes into a Graham Slee MM preamp
-all the signal cable is QED or Audioquest, not too fancy but decent quality
-the amp is a Krell KAV300i
-speakers are Mission 761i

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/j7MvH ... 14-h963-no

ClaudeG
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Re: Old Rega P3: to upgrade or to not upgrade?

Post by ClaudeG » 07 Jul 2019 13:20

Hi

I am a happy 1042 user since 2 decades - go for it, you won't regret it.

It was designed around the Rega arm and it is faultless while being also forgiving on normal records. It is also on top of what I consider MM that make sense (ruling out some $$$ exotica). Yes, there are some newers cartridges like the Ortofon 2M Black, but at the end I find they lay in the same league with the latter having a more modern CD sound while the 1042 is a tad less precise but more musical. This is though just a general impression as I haven't compared directly them in my system but on 2 different ones, so not apples with apples as I do usualy, but it was relevant enough to make me NOT wanting to try further and this feeling was also backed up by some test reviews.

As for mods, there are many things you can do and I did many things to my Rega, but I would first consider the Tangospinners kits (subplatter / pulley / belts) as these made the biggest difference and it was a massive one. Other of there products like clamps and bearing also, see my reviews here.

As of other bits, there were sonicaly less important (bare the off board motor) and TBH many things can be DIY, saving a lot of money.

All IMHO

Enjoy music

Claude

gattonero
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Re: Old Rega P3: to upgrade or to not upgrade?

Post by gattonero » 07 Jul 2019 15:22

Thank you Claude, the Goldring has the benefit of a user-replaceable stylus, and it seems it's shared with other cartridges like the Roksan ones? That makes for the possibility of buying a second hand unit for low price and replace the stylus...

Alec124c41
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Re: Old Rega P3: to upgrade or to not upgrade?

Post by Alec124c41 » 07 Jul 2019 15:37

The Grado cartridges are not shielded, and have been long known to hum on a Rega turntable. I switched my Grado Signature 8 out for a Denon DL-110, and never looked back.
The motor suspension can be renewed, with a 6 inch O-ring. They get old, and stretch.
You can ak=lso put one of those foam rings from the top of a spindle of CD-Rs under the motor, held in place by the cover.
Have you oiled the top and bottom bearings of the motor? And the platter bearing?
I heartily recommend the replacement of the sub-platter, with a machined aluminum one.

Cheers,
Alec

ClaudeG
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Re: Old Rega P3: to upgrade or to not upgrade?

Post by ClaudeG » 07 Jul 2019 17:48

gattonero wrote:
07 Jul 2019 15:22
Thank you Claude, the Goldring has the benefit of a user-replaceable stylus, and it seems it's shared with other cartridges like the Roksan ones? That makes for the possibility of buying a second hand unit for low price and replace the stylus...
Yes and yes... also Audio Note etc., all variations on the same theme

Enjoy music

Claude

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Re: Old Rega P3: to upgrade or to not upgrade?

Post by fudgemaster » 10 Jul 2019 20:41

+1 for a metal subplatter upgrade, it really will improve the sound.

DeepEnd
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Re: Old Rega P3: to upgrade or to not upgrade?

Post by DeepEnd » 11 Jul 2019 09:01

As others have said the hum is rather cartridge and cable layout dependant and Grado and perplexingly Rega's cartridges have been known to show this.

Sibilance is Cartridge and stylus dependant. Some cartridges seem to show this more than others and even stylus within the same cartridge. I did a comparison of three styli on my Nagaoka body. None of them were particularly bad for sibilance with the 110 stylus giving just a hint, the 200 almost none and the 11Boron with Paratrace tip non at all.

With regard to modifying older units then minor mods/service like new belts (including motor support belt) relube, new bearing and metal subplatter are worthwhile. However before more extensive mods like a motor/plinth/PSU it might be more cost effective to sell the current unit and buy a newer model. I did the sums on my 1987 unit and now own a RP8!!

gattonero
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Re: Old Rega P3: to upgrade or to not upgrade?

Post by gattonero » 13 Jul 2019 08:57

Alec124c41 wrote:
07 Jul 2019 15:37
The Grado cartridges are not shielded, and have been long known to hum on a Rega turntable. I switched my Grado Signature 8 out for a Denon DL-110, and never looked back.
Ah, then it's a bit of a common problem that I didn't knew about, Thanks.
The motor suspension can be renewed, with a 6 inch O-ring. They get old, and stretch.
You can ak=lso put one of those foam rings from the top of a spindle of CD-Rs under the motor, held in place by the cover.
Have you oiled the top and bottom bearings of the motor? And the platter bearing?
I heartily recommend the replacement of the sub-platter, with a machined aluminum one.

Cheers,
Alec
I do have several types of foam scraps around, one that looks like Sorbothane has been used under a glass plinth with very good results in isolating the whole turntable from the TV unit where it stays: now I can knock on the cabinet and won't be heard as before.
I have oiled the main platter bearing, but not the ones in the motor. Good idea.

What's the advantage of the aluminium sub-platter?

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Re: Old Rega P3: to upgrade or to not upgrade?

Post by gattonero » 13 Jul 2019 09:03

DeepEnd wrote:
11 Jul 2019 09:01
...

With regard to modifying older units then minor mods/service like new belts (including motor support belt) relube, new bearing and metal subplatter are worthwhile. However before more extensive mods like a motor/plinth/PSU it might be more cost effective to sell the current unit and buy a newer model. I did the sums on my 1987 unit and now own a RP8!!
Thanks for your thoughts.
The mods I was thinking about will come under £500, while a new P6 is no less than twice that price and a P8 goes for about £1400. Both without cartridge, so if I can get some improvements by making a new plinth for cheap, plus a new motor and sub-latter plus rewiring; altogether with a new cartridge of about £300 it should all stay below the price of a new P3 (which goes for about £600 without cartridge)

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Re: Old Rega P3: to upgrade or to not upgrade?

Post by ClaudeG » 13 Jul 2019 09:30

What's the advantage of the aluminium sub-platter?

+> I posted a detailled review here a while ago, subplatter separately and then other tweaks, ranking them in term of sonic improvements. Search for my posts in the TS (Tangospinner) thread. Subplatter did a massive difference...

Claude

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Re: Old Rega P3: to upgrade or to not upgrade?

Post by DeepEnd » 15 Jul 2019 09:04

gattonero wrote:
13 Jul 2019 09:03

Thanks for your thoughts.
The mods I was thinking about will come under £500, while a new P6 is no less than twice that price and a P8 goes for about £1400. Both without cartridge, so if I can get some improvements by making a new plinth for cheap, plus a new motor and sub-latter plus rewiring; altogether with a new cartridge of about £300 it should all stay below the price of a new P3 (which goes for about £600 without cartridge)

So if you spend £500 on mods then the gap is not as big as you think.

New P6 would be £1049 (which is about what I paid for my ex-demo RP8). You might get £325 for your unmodded “3” which brings it down to a net cost of £724 so only £224 more than the mods you are considering.

I got a bit more for my lightly modded 3 so the gap was not that big.

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Re: Old Rega P3: to upgrade or to not upgrade?

Post by gattonero » 21 Jul 2019 09:26

DeepEnd wrote:
15 Jul 2019 09:04
gattonero wrote:
13 Jul 2019 09:03

Thanks for your thoughts.
The mods I was thinking about will come under £500, while a new P6 is no less than twice that price and a P8 goes for about £1400. Both without cartridge, so if I can get some improvements by making a new plinth for cheap, plus a new motor and sub-latter plus rewiring; altogether with a new cartridge of about £300 it should all stay below the price of a new P3 (which goes for about £600 without cartridge)

So if you spend £500 on mods then the gap is not as big as you think.

New P6 would be £1049 (which is about what I paid for my ex-demo RP8). You might get £325 for your unmodded “3” which brings it down to a net cost of £724 so only £224 more than the mods you are considering.

I got a bit more for my lightly modded 3 so the gap was not that big.
Yes I've considered that.
Have been on the search for a Planar6 but nothing is coming up at decent price, there's a few RP6 but it doesn't look like is worth the trouble (plinth, arm and motor on the RP6 are far behind the new Planar6) so I'll wait.

The cartridge should go regardless. Or I could just fit a new stylus to the old one, which has the advantage of removing a dramatic change in sound like is a completely different new cartridge. I'll keep this cost away from the turntable upgrade or new buy.

And I have to say that the current subplatter spins very, very well and with no vibrations (pencil-test done), nor it seems to have raised spots. Won't invest in a TangoSpinner one, but a Fidelity Design seems a more sensible choice.
I'll take the general advice that seems to come about the subplatter vs a new motor, the latter being far more expensive and not regarded as giving a substantial sonic improvement. With that money I may get a Cardas Incognito wiring kit, that can only be positive if compared to the really cheap stuff that is fitted as standard on a P3 :(

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Re: Old Rega P3: to upgrade or to not upgrade?

Post by ClaudeG » 21 Jul 2019 11:03

My OEM plastic subplatter was spinning perfectly, no irregularity, no vibration, no slip of the belt. The TT was quite moded at that stage, with offboard motor, rewired arm, offset heavy weight counterweight, special wall mount subchassis, special PS for the motor, acrylic platter, clamp etc.

Didn't really expect any improvement and was just curious TBH. Given the built quality and price decided to go for the TS kit. Massive improvement, biggest mod by far, excellent VFM IMHO a must do. I kept the OEM plastic subplatter as this measures well (I tried to find if the axle could be untrue or worn or else to explain such a gain) and the spindle is in perfect condition, but nevertheless that TS subplatter killed it square.

To give you an idea, that subplatter upgrade is IMHO equivalent to a 2 class TT upgrade. My wife loves Tracy Chapman's first album and without telling her I had changed anything, I had the LP playing and waited for her to turn up to see if she would notice such a big difference... or if it was just me LOL. She didn't need turning up: first song played while she was in teh kitchen and from there she said "what have you tweaked on your hifi, sounds different"... and she came at once and listened to the entire record twice. She loved the extended bass and the extra details on the voice. Oh, she sings solo and in a choral...

Just sharing my own experience

Claude

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Re: Old Rega P3: to upgrade or to not upgrade?

Post by DeepEnd » 22 Jul 2019 13:41

gattonero wrote:
21 Jul 2019 09:26

The cartridge should go regardless. Or I could just fit a new stylus to the old one, which has the advantage of removing a dramatic change in sound like is a completely different new cartridge. I'll keep this cost away from the turntable upgrade or new buy.

And I have to say that the current subplatter spins very, very well and with no vibrations (pencil-test done), nor it seems to have raised spots. Won't invest in a TangoSpinner one, but a Fidelity Design seems a more sensible choice.
I'll take the general advice that seems to come about the subplatter vs a new motor, the latter being far more expensive and not regarded as giving a substantial sonic improvement. With that money I may get a Cardas Incognito wiring kit, that can only be positive if compared to the really cheap stuff that is fitted as standard on a P3 :(
I would suggest a metal subplatter like the Fidelity Designs would be my first change (given you have been used to the hum from the Grado for so long). I changed mine (1987 model) expecting a slight improvement in stability but was very surprised at just how much better it was (I have an IsoKinetik one ~£150), wider, taller sound-stage with more space around individual instruments/singers better leading edges and one of the best changes I made (Rega use them for P6, P8, RP8 and RP10 for a reason).

No personal experience of the new Grado Prestige 2 range but are supposed to be a change the reduces the "warmth" loved/hated with the original versions so might be a radical change from the existing "sound" and will still suffer from the hum. Also the higher end styli seem rather expensive for bonded elliptical styli.

If you like the "traditional vinyl presentation" of the Grado then I would not consider something like one of the AT VM range or even the Ortofon 2M range with their more "modern" (some say CD like) presentation.

Assuming the Slee unit only covers MM levels then in between I suppose the popular options could be the Goldring 10xx series (the 1042 seems very good value compared to some options @£247) or the Nagaoka range (problem is the MP200 seems rather expensive in the UK) or even the popular Denon DL-110 (~£170) or at a higher cost perhaps the Dynavetor 10X5MK2 (£499).

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Re: Old Rega P3: to upgrade or to not upgrade?

Post by gattonero » 11 Aug 2019 10:40

I am glad I have replaced the stylus of the Grado Gold. Didn't want to break the bank, nor to downgrade, so an 8MZ stylus was chosen.
I've only played a dozen of vinyls so far, but the improvement is big: a lot detail has been found, the high range is extended yet pleasant to listen to, and the sibilant "S" a lot reduced.

If I am to list the improvement in the works done so far, from 0 (nothing) to 5 (night do tay difference) here they are:
-glass plinth on EVA pads under the turntable: 2 (seismic noise noticeably reduced)
-upgraded belt: 1
-lubricated motor bearings: 1
-cleaned and relubricated the hub bearing: 1 (less rumble noise)
-cleaning inside the cartridge: 2 (removed a lot of dullness)
-new cartridge stylus: 4 (a lot more detail, yet tireless listening)

This that I need to work to:
-stabilize the speed (it runs a little faster than it should) >>> new subplatter first, then maybe new motor
-reduce the cartridge hum when gets close to the motor >>> will try to shield the motor bay, maybe can try a new cartridge in future
-improve the outer and tonearm wiring (the outer cable is the standard one, may well be catching noise from nearby electronics, the inner wiring in the arm may not be shielded)

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