A suitable cart and possible practical tweaks for a Rega Planar 3...

Hello All -

I own a Rega Planer 3, with the RB300 tonearm - purchased in 1996, and lightly used; and still have my original cart - a Signet AM40 cartridge. I have gone through periods of moderate use, to little use, to no use; but now, after several year, I am ready to start listening to vinyl again.

I'm thinking about changing the phono cartridge, but I am unsure of what will make an appreciable difference - and pair well with the RB300 tonearm.  The Signet is not a bad cartridge - and it still sounds 'good', subjectively.  However, I believe that I can do quite a bit better without a significant investment - LESS than $800.00.  I'm looking for well-defined lower bass, warm and clear midrange and clean high-end without distortion.

My phono stage is an Acurus P10, about 20 years old and I've always been fairly pleased with it, as it is can acommodating both mm and high and low output mc. Again, open to upgrading if it will make an appreciable difference, and would go used to save some money.  I am also open to a less expensive cart, and one or two tweaks that I can hear.

My research has brought me to consider these phono cartridges which are in and slightly above my price range:

Rega Elys 2 mm

Ortofon 2M Black mm

Denon DL-103 mc

Hana EH mc

Goldring E3

Goldring 1042

Sumiko Blue Point No. 3

Dynavector DV 10x5 mc

I know variations of this very question has been asked many times over the years on these boards, and I apologize for the repetition and all of your patience!

Many, many thanks to all for the benefit of your knowledge and experience.


The low-output Hana MC's sound better than  the high-output versions. The Shibata SL is an easy recommendation.

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Replacing a very old cartridge is a good idea since the suspension is likely to be very tired. However, there are various theories and opinions about how to apportion your spending for an analog setup. One viewpoint is to spend in approximately the following ratios, 30% for the table, 30% for the tonearm, 30% for the phono stage and 10% for the cartridge.  When you consider the cost of a current model Planer 3 with tonearm, a $500 to $800 cart seems to be way over the top and may not provide the best bang for the buck..

While I am not an expert, I suggest that you spend a lot less on the cartridge and upgrade elsewhere. There are many upgrades out there for Rega tables, better belt, better power supply, better bearing/sub-platter, better main platter. Take a look at the Groove Tracer and Tango Spinner sites. 

Another thing to consider is that for moving magnet carts the Accurus P10 has a fixed capacitance of 270 pf. If you assume that the phono cable capacitance is somewhere from 50 to 100pf, then your total will be 320 to 370 pf. Picking a cart that wants to see a low total capacitance in the 0 to 200 range will be a bit of a mismatch that can result in a lot of brightness. One older phono preamp that is very adjustable and upgradable is the Jolida JD9 which is a tube hybrid (solid state input and tube output). It can be bought used for about $400.


I would go with either Goldring 1042, Dynavector 10x5, and add Rega Exact (not Elys). All excellent, good matching with your arm and no need to think about mm or mc low or high output.

Even if at later stage you want to improve elsewhere (phono stage, upgrade path for P3), you would still have a good cartridge ready for the task.

You cant go wrong with the Dynavector 10X5, it is a amazing sounding combo with the RB300 tonearm. However, the key to great vinyl is the phonostage. I really liked the Rega P3 with the Dynavector using a Musical Surroundings Phonomena II , this was a very musical sounding package with great dynamics and excellent pace. This is all elevated by platter and sub platter/ bearing upgrades via Groovetracer.com :-)

Another tweak I liked a lot for the Rega P3 is the Mapleshade maplewood platform with 4 of their isoblocks underneath the platform, these are made of cork and rubber, they work very well. this tweak substantially reduces the noise floor of the table to new levels of quietness.



Matt M