Rega RP78 vs P78 - mini review

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mvno_subscriber
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Rega RP78 vs P78 - mini review

Post by mvno_subscriber » 09 Sep 2019 10:51

In April this year I started on my shellac journey and bought a Rega P78.. or so I thought.

I wanted the newest, fanciest version of Regas 78 machine, but the store gave me the older RP78. They didn't know better.. and I don't really blame them (I got to trade the old one in at no extra cost, so fine). Fast forward 5 months, and I finally have the correct P78. Up until now I've used the RP78 quite heavily, so I thought I should post my thoughts after having used the P78 somewhat.


First of all, RP78 is basically RP1 with 78 rpm. Same with P78, it's P1 with 78 rpm. Amongst other things, this means going from an AC motor to 24v DC, as well as upgrading the tonearm from RB101 to RB220. The finish also changes from matt dark gray to piano gloss. The last part is a matter of taste, but the P78 is style wise more aligned with my current P3. On/off switch moves from top to underneath. The platter on the P78 is way less wobbly than the RP78, but measuring-wise they're pretty much the same, so that's only looks.

Surrounding equipment was the same, including pickup, to be sure any differences I heard was due to the turntable itself and nothing else.

Pickup: Rega RB78
Phono stage: Rega Fono MM
Power conditioning: Torus TOT MAX + gigawatt power strip (mentioning this especially due to switch from AC to DC)

Audio is also fed through a DBX 215 graphic equalizer (to compensate for pre-RIAA curves) as well as an el cheapo AD converter before entering my preamp/DAC (Benchmark DAC1 HDR).


So, do they sound different? Absolutely!


Wow/flutter is considerably improved - that I noticed right out of the box. Overall the recordings are more detailed - but in a good way. I was a bit afraid higher fidelity would mean more audible flaws and less enjoyment, but far from it.

Choirs that used to be a mushy porridge are now discernible and makes sense (1930s-1940s).

Distortion is also, in some cases, drastically reduced. I have started enjoying Enrico Caruso. I have several acoustic recordings that distorted heavily and were unpleasant to listen to when Caruso strutted his stuff. Now, they make music.

Not sure if it's less surface noise on the P78, but the motor doesn't hum like the RP78.

I'm not 100% sure yet, but it might be the P78 is a bit less good at tracking than the RP78. It struggles a bit more with some of the leadout grooves, but that might also be due to tiny differences in VTF.

Anti skating adjustment was present on the RP78, but removed on P78. Apparently they don't need it anymore.



Hope this small review was of any interest or help to those who might be having the same qualms regarding what to buy as I did. And also, to share the (for me newly gained) knowledge that even a hundred year old records can benefit greatly from improved, modern equipment (a small anecdote - when installing power conditioning, playing 78s was what really improved - I hardly noticed anything with normal LPs, to be honest :shock: )

Bob Dillon
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Re: Rega RP78 vs P78 - mini review

Post by Bob Dillon » 09 Sep 2019 18:05

Rega's characteristically have low torque motors. I'm a believer in torque when it comes to spinning 78's, for the drag imposed by heavier tracking weight. I don't know of the difference in torque (if any) between your Rega units.

Coffee Phil
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Re: Rega RP78 vs P78 - mini review

Post by Coffee Phil » 09 Sep 2019 19:30

Hi mvno_subscriber,

Welcome to the fast spinning club! Wow! You don't mess around! Most of us just modify our players or get old vintage stuff. That is a pretty fancy 78 spinner! My main 78 spinner is a highly hacked Kenwood KD 500. I am also working on a NOS 1946 Admiral 78 only changer.

I have never had a graphic equalizer until just recently. I have a dedicated mono phono stage which sums to mono either lateral or vertical and provides an assortment of bass turn frequencies and treble cuts. It has been quite good for all electrically recorded records. Old acoustic records still left more to be had. Bob Dillon posted a book from ~1929 which had a typical response curve of records cut with acoustic cutters. The curve showed some fairly sharp resonant peaks and dips. Looking at the curve just screamed for a 1/3 octave equalizer so I bought a used one to test. I followed the mono stage with the EQ and I haven't had too much time to play with it so far but I would say it is here to stay.

Phil

mvno_subscriber wrote:
09 Sep 2019 10:51
In April this year I started on my shellac journey and bought a Rega P78.. or so I thought.

I wanted the newest, fanciest version of Regas 78 machine, but the store gave me the older RP78. They didn't know better.. and I don't really blame them (I got to trade the old one in at no extra cost, so fine). Fast forward 5 months, and I finally have the correct P78. Up until now I've used the RP78 quite heavily, so I thought I should post my thoughts after having used the P78 somewhat.


First of all, RP78 is basically RP1 with 78 rpm. Same with P78, it's P1 with 78 rpm. Amongst other things, this means going from an AC motor to 24v DC, as well as upgrading the tonearm from RB101 to RB220. The finish also changes from matt dark gray to piano gloss. The last part is a matter of taste, but the P78 is style wise more aligned with my current P3. On/off switch moves from top to underneath. The platter on the P78 is way less wobbly than the RP78, but measuring-wise they're pretty much the same, so that's only looks.

Surrounding equipment was the same, including pickup, to be sure any differences I heard was due to the turntable itself and nothing else.

Pickup: Rega RB78
Phono stage: Rega Fono MM
Power conditioning: Torus TOT MAX + gigawatt power strip (mentioning this especially due to switch from AC to DC)

Audio is also fed through a DBX 215 graphic equalizer (to compensate for pre-RIAA curves) as well as an el cheapo AD converter before entering my preamp/DAC (Benchmark DAC1 HDR).


So, do they sound different? Absolutely!


Wow/flutter is considerably improved - that I noticed right out of the box. Overall the recordings are more detailed - but in a good way. I was a bit afraid higher fidelity would mean more audible flaws and less enjoyment, but far from it.

Choirs that used to be a mushy porridge are now discernible and makes sense (1930s-1940s).

Distortion is also, in some cases, drastically reduced. I have started enjoying Enrico Caruso. I have several acoustic recordings that distorted heavily and were unpleasant to listen to when Caruso strutted his stuff. Now, they make music.

Not sure if it's less surface noise on the P78, but the motor doesn't hum like the RP78.

I'm not 100% sure yet, but it might be the P78 is a bit less good at tracking than the RP78. It struggles a bit more with some of the leadout grooves, but that might also be due to tiny differences in VTF.

Anti skating adjustment was present on the RP78, but removed on P78. Apparently they don't need it anymore.



Hope this small review was of any interest or help to those who might be having the same qualms regarding what to buy as I did. And also, to share the (for me newly gained) knowledge that even a hundred year old records can benefit greatly from improved, modern equipment (a small anecdote - when installing power conditioning, playing 78s was what really improved - I hardly noticed anything with normal LPs, to be honest :shock: )

mvno_subscriber
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Re: Rega RP78 vs P78 - mini review

Post by mvno_subscriber » 10 Sep 2019 08:18

Bob Dillon wrote:
09 Sep 2019 18:05
Rega's characteristically have low torque motors. I'm a believer in torque when it comes to spinning 78's, for the drag imposed by heavier tracking weight. I don't know of the difference in torque (if any) between your Rega units.
At least for the pickup I'm using, 1.75g is the recommended tracking force. So it's identical to whatever you'd typically have on your normal record player.

However, I guess increased speed should give more drag. I worried a bit about this since I use a cork mat instead of felt and the shellac records do tend to slip a bit whenever I give the platter a tug before playing (can't stand to wait for it to get momentum by itself :oops: ). However, switching between felt and cork didn't seem to matter anything sound-wise.

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Re: Rega RP78 vs P78 - mini review

Post by mvno_subscriber » 10 Sep 2019 11:05

Coffee Phil wrote:
09 Sep 2019 19:30
Hi mvno_subscriber,

Welcome to the fast spinning club! Wow! You don't mess around! Most of us just modify our players or get old vintage stuff. That is a pretty fancy 78 spinner! My main 78 spinner is a highly hacked Kenwood KD 500. I am also working on a NOS 1946 Admiral 78 only changer.

I have never had a graphic equalizer until just recently. I have a dedicated mono phono stage which sums to mono either lateral or vertical and provides an assortment of bass turn frequencies and treble cuts. It has been quite good for all electrically recorded records. Old acoustic records still left more to be had. Bob Dillon posted a book from ~1929 which had a typical response curve of records cut with acoustic cutters. The curve showed some fairly sharp resonant peaks and dips. Looking at the curve just screamed for a 1/3 octave equalizer so I bought a used one to test. I followed the mono stage with the EQ and I haven't had too much time to play with it so far but I would say it is here to stay.

Phil
The turntable might be fancy, but the EQ I got used for $20 and I have no fancy phono preamp. I've summed the channels manually, though, so I do get proper mono. I would love to have a preamp that would enable me to play Edison/Pathé discs, but that's an adventure for another time..

Regarding your Admiral 78 changer -- nice! Do you have any pics? Did the spindle mechanism exist back then or was there something else? How easy is it on the records?

Coffee Phil
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Re: Rega RP78 vs P78 - mini review

Post by Coffee Phil » 10 Sep 2019 19:04

Hi mvno_subscriber,

Here is a picture of my admiral as it came out of the box:

https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_f ... 912/medium

I do believe the claim that it was NOS. I don't think it was turned on since 1946. As expected the lube was dried out and the idler wheel and a rubber cam wheel for the changer mechanism had to be rebuilt. Sound of Music handled that. I was surprised to find that the OEM Shure crystal was still good. The rubber bearing / suspension was looking a bit funky so I drilled the rivets and opened the case and inspected it surprisingly the rubber looked good so I re-assembled it with little screws and re-installed it. It uses a thumbscrew retained needle. There are jewel tipped styli (needles) available. Voice of Music also supplied that.

The mechanism uses bristol set screws which are in concept similar to Torx. I think they were more common in the '40s. I secured one of the tools from McMaster Carr. It turn out there were two sizes which I noticed when cleaning it up.
Instant gratification guy which I am, I did not stop and order the other tool. I used spray cleaner and spray lithium grease for the parts which I could not disassemble. DON'T DO THAT! I did have a vacuum cleaner standing by since I knew what I was proposing was folly. I was able to clean the stains so only I would know they are there, but Good Grief, NOS! I was so angry with myself.

Here it is with a stack of 78s:

https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_f ... 500/medium

Crystal cartridges are amplitude responding so they do an acceptable job into a high level input with no EQ. The caveat is that the input should be very high (~1 megohm). For this test I just ran it into my mono magnetic phono stage through a small (~100 pF) capacitor to convert from amplitude to velocity (like a magnetic). OK, admittedly this is not as good as my Shure M44 body with a proper stylus for 78s, It is not bad. Those 1940s Shure engineers did seem to know what they were doing. I figure that a 75 year old cartridge which still works deserves to be allowed to keep working, so it is here to stay. In the 1946 Shure catalog there a schemo of https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_f ... 01/mediuma network in from of the tube stage which is promised to give the sound which the recording engineers intended. The plan is to build a cathode follower with the Shure network to buffer this cartridge and run it into the aux input of my main preamp.

This is the old Shure cartridge:

https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_f ... 915/medium

Here is under the machine:

https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_f ... 914/medium


This is my legacy mono phono stage under the Roku soundbridge:

https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_f ... 201/medium

This is the schematic:

https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_f ... 919/medium

The above phono stage does pretty well for all my mono records Lps as well as 78s. It has an assortment of bass turn and treble cut frequencies. It also sums the channels of a stereo cartridge in phase for lateral cut mono records or out of phase for vertical cut records. I think it will handle virtually any electrically recorded record. For acoustics there is still something more to be desired. For those records it will be followed by a 1/3 octave EQ to try to smooth out the lumps and bumps in the response of the acoustic recording system. First tests of that show promise.

If you would like to build one of my stages for your use, I would be happy.

Phil

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Re: Rega RP78 vs P78 - mini review

Post by mvno_subscriber » 11 Sep 2019 11:18

Coffee Phil, that's a really cool piece of machinery! Must be an awesome project too! How long do the styli last on these? Are they sapphire or something different? Crossing my fingers you get around to sample a couple of records off of it, I've always wondered how the original equipment would sound. What kind of equipment would you hook it up to?

Regarding your preamp - I'm pretty good at soldering, but not very used to circuit diagrams. I really want to learn, though. If you have a parts list and some pictures outside and inside of your unit, and wouldn't mind mentoring a bit, I'd love to give it a try!

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