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Refreshing an old Planar 3

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Refreshing an old Planar 3

Postby dleh » 23 Apr 2017 14:34

Hello everyone,

I've a 25 year old Planar 3 in need of a little TLC to bring it back to its former glory, having spent most of the past 15 years up in the attic. I fitted a new Rega white drive belt and cleaned/re-oiled the bearing with hypoid gear oil. Next up the original Elys cartridge needs replacing - there's a lot of sibilance/IGD and generally it just doesn't sound as good as I remember. Hence I'm in need of some recommendations.

My local Rega dealer recommended an Ortofon 2m blue but if I go down that route I'm also going to have to add a VTA spacer and possibly a sleeved arm nut which is going to make this even more expensive than just opting for an Elys II.

Given that the rest of my equipment is of a similar vintage and not at all high-end (Aura VA-100 Evolution amp / Mordant Short floor standers), is the 2m blue going to be worth the extra over an Elys II? Or maybe there are other cartridges I should be looking at?

Regards,

David
Rega Planar 3/RB300/AT440MLb; Micromega Stage 2; Aura VA-100 Evolution; Mordaunt Short MS914
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Re: Refreshing an old Planar 3

Postby zacster » 24 Apr 2017 00:12

What tonearm do you have? Is it the Rega RB300 or something else? There are a lot of cartridges out there that you could mount, the Ortofon isn't a bad choice. I use a Quintet Blue on my old Planar 3. My tonearm height is adjustable, but I guess the RB300 isn't.

Have you tried to re-align the existing cartridge to eliminate the sibilance/IGD? It would be worth a try.
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Re: Refreshing an old Planar 3

Postby james73_2008 » 24 Apr 2017 00:31

zacster wrote:What tonearm do you have? Is it the Rega RB300 or something else?

He said it's a 25-year-old Planar 3, so it'll have a RB300 arm.

Avoid Rega moving magnet cartridges - they don't have replaceable stylii so are utterly
and completely pointless. Look at the Audio Technica AT120E cartridge as an upgrade.



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Re: Refreshing an old Planar 3

Postby dleh » 24 Apr 2017 05:26

zacster wrote:What tonearm do you have? Is it the Rega RB300 or something else?


Yes it's a RB300. Never modified in any way. It does have the tungsten counter weight though, which I think helps when it comes to installing shims for VTA as it won't foul the lid?

zacster wrote:Have you tried to re-align the existing cartridge to eliminate the sibilance/IGD? It would be worth a try.


Yes and I also increased VTF to 1.9 which helped but it's still there.
Rega Planar 3/RB300/AT440MLb; Micromega Stage 2; Aura VA-100 Evolution; Mordaunt Short MS914
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Re: Refreshing an old Planar 3

Postby DeepEnd » 24 Apr 2017 09:08

As an owner of a 30 year old "3" I have done a few things to mine (owned from new).

If your unit has the motor suspended by a belt then you may have to change this as well as the platter belt as they stretch and allow the motor to droop (easy way to tell is to have quick look under the mat as the suspended type have two screws either side of the motor pulley).

My subplatter had warped slightly over the years (try the pencil test) so I changed this for a metal one and got the improved stability expected but was staggered by the improvements to dynamics and imaging and with Ruby bearing fitted a lower noise floor too.

With taller cartridges (just about everything except Rega) you may have to fit a spacer and for this you will need a sleeved nut (I also had to open out the hole a tiny amount to get the sleeved but to fit). Time do this was about 15 minutes and not difficult. The good news is with the Tungsten counterweight and not having the braces of the later RP3 even with the 4mm of added height there is still plenty of clearance to the lid. Solid spacers are not expensive (go see your local bike shop for headstock washers) but you can buy variable ones (OL version for me). You can always try without spacers first.

I also had an Elys fitted and it's not a bad cartridge (there are better) but I am surprised your dealer did not advise of Rega's trade in scheme where when you hand in your old cartridge they give you a discount against a new one. This should make the, already cheaper, Elys 2 significantly cheaper than the 2M Blue.

The 2M blue is a nice cartridge but is quite expensive for a nude elliptical tip.

The Elys2 is probably the lowest cost option
AT120Eb is also nude elliptical ~£120 can be a bit bright in some systems.
AT440MLb is nude Microline ~ £170 can tend to brightness dependant upon loading
The earlier generations Ortofons are available from Thakker e.g. Super OM20 €169 and Vinyl Master Red €179 are both nude elliptical too.
You can even pick up a NOS P77 nude Parabolic (line contact) styli and tested bodies here (£155)
http://www.theaudiofiles.co.uk/items.html (I have no affiliation with the company other than a satisfied customer)

Other options (bonded not nude) Nagaoka MP-110 or Shure M97XE

Lots of options but if you are struggling with IGD etc then perhaps the more sophisticated tips of the AT440MLb or P77 may suit you.
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Re: Refreshing an old Planar 3

Postby dleh » 24 Apr 2017 13:48

Thanks, lots of food for thought there.

Yes the motor is suspended. The band was replaced about 15 years ago, so I'll look into getting another.

I believe Rega's trade-in only applies to current cartridge models, hence my original Elys isn't included.

The appeal of the 2m blue is that the dealer will fit it, plus a 2mm shim, saving me the time/effort/worry of trying to set it all up. Although it can't be very difficult and we all need to start somewhere. He did also suggest a Goldring 2200 as another alternative.
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Re: Refreshing an old Planar 3

Postby DeepEnd » 25 Apr 2017 09:04

Another nice (made by Nagaoka for Golding) cartridge with a nude elliptical stylus but similar price to 2M Blue so my previous comments still apply. Without knowing how you perceive the performance of the Elys (dull, bright, not bad, pretty good) apart from IGD and sibilant (my Elys did not suffer from this) I cannot narrow down your choices any further.

If you are not happy with fitting alternative cartridges yourself (it's not difficult but does take time (lots) and patience) then go with your dealers suggestions or just buy an Elys 2 or even an Exact (as with 2M Blue plus spacer etc. you are getting close to it's cost) which just bolt into the three mounting points.

Can your dealer demo any of the cartridges or are you having to purchase sound unheard?
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Re: Refreshing an old Planar 3

Postby dleh » 25 Apr 2017 13:32

DeepEnd wrote:Without knowing how you perceive the performance of the Elys (dull, bright, not bad, pretty good) apart from IGD and sibilant (my Elys did not suffer from this) I cannot narrow down your choices any further.


That's a difficult one to answer as it was long ago, but I do remember being really impressed with the P3+Elys when new, despite it costing around half what I paid for my CD player. On that basis I'm somewhat tempted to just take the easy/cheaper option of an Elys II.

One question though, do the more expensive stylus profiles tend to last longer?
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Re: Refreshing an old Planar 3

Postby DeepEnd » 25 Apr 2017 14:01

With lots of potential other influences (age of records, cleanliness, quality of stylus polish etc.) generally yes. The more sophisticated styli spread the forces over a larger contact area slowing down wear.

This link is my deck with the NOS Arcam P77Mg (line contact) cartridge/stylus with the metal subplatter and VTA adjuster when I was trying different mats.

https://youtu.be/RlMfjWileVI
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Re: Refreshing an old Planar 3

Postby fudgemaster » 25 Apr 2017 19:59

My Nagaoka MP110 sounds great in my RP3, bright but not aggressive top end, accurate bass, certainly not lacking, smooth mids, works well on my old records, as well as new stuff. your RB300 arm is a very good arm, and if you want to go for it, have your arm serviced and/or rewired by Audio Origami or Origin Live, which will improve things no end. Then a Tangospinner subplatter.
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Re: Refreshing an old Planar 3

Postby dleh » 26 Apr 2017 17:42

Thanks everyone for all the help. I just pulled the trigger on an AT440MLb. I am worried it might be a bit on the bright side, but at £119 it was too much of a bargain to resist. Can't wait for it to be delivered.

To begin with I'll probably try without a VTA shim, and can always add one later if necessary. As for alignment, should I just use the Rega protractor or something else?
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Re: Refreshing an old Planar 3

Postby Legrace » 26 Apr 2017 18:35

That is a popular cartridge. The Rega Stevenson protractor located in the Tools area (click Tools above, protractors link is right at the top) improves over the standard included Rega protractor, which seems meant more as a quick check tool. Best printed out on photo grade paper.
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Re: Refreshing an old Planar 3

Postby dleh » 27 Apr 2017 21:33

Had a bit of a disaster today with a new motor suspension belt. After fitting, the pulley was fouling the platter. Thanks to another thread here I inserted a piece of foam from the top of a pack of blank DVDs between motor and top plate, but that seems to have introduced a noticable hum from the motor. Oh and I also managed to snap one of the screws that holds the motor in, although fortunately found one to fit from my box of spares.

Are there any better suggestions for lowering the height of the motor/pulley? Or perhaps a different subplatter that might be slightly higher? Mine does look a little out of shape anyway. Or is the 24v motor upgrade my best option?

David.
Rega Planar 3/RB300/AT440MLb; Micromega Stage 2; Aura VA-100 Evolution; Mordaunt Short MS914
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Re: Refreshing an old Planar 3

Postby fudgemaster » 28 Apr 2017 11:41

Sorry to hear that, David, and after 25 years perhaps it's time to bite the bullet and go for the 24v upgrade, which should last for some time and give improved sonics.
Though my 1983 Planar 3/R200 lasted 30 years problem free (smug face).
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Re: Refreshing an old Planar 3

Postby dleh » 28 Apr 2017 12:02

fudgemaster wrote:Sorry to hear that, David, and after 25 years perhaps it's time to bite the bullet and go for the 24v upgrade, which should last for some time and give improved sonics.


Yes I am tempted. The money I saved on the AT440MLb almost covers the cost of the motor upgrade kit. That said, my motor cutout looks to be very thin laminate/chipboard and I've heard the stick on motor has a tendency to fall off with these plinths.

For now I've put the old suspension belt back in. It wasn't in bad condition anyway. Just awaiting delivery of the AT440MLb this-afternoon.

David
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