Help: New Rega P3 & Grado Platinum; No highs

This is my first table and it seems terribly simple
to set up but alas, I am defeated. The sound coming
out of this combo is muted, dull, and with no high
frequencies. Switch to my CD and things seem
right again.

What I did:

I aligned the Cart with the cardboard alignment gadget
I set the bias and tracking weight to 0
I balanced the arm to just above the LP using the weight
I set the tracking weight to 1.5
I set the bias to 1.5

Result: dull, lifeless, mushy sound with no highs.

I increased the tracking weight and bias to experiment
but it didn't help. After two 3 hours I decided the right
thing to do was to search for a rope and hang myself but
I couldn't find one so I had a shot of tequila and went to
bed instead.

I also notice that the tone arm lifter level doesn't rise
high enough to push the arm up so I have to slowly
drop the arm on an lp. This seems like it *could*
easily bend the cantilever so I would like to know how
to fix this as well.

I'm in Seattle so if there are any local analogue experts
reading this, I'd love to chat on the phone.

#1 You have to use Grado Platinum with proper VTA. You can get 2mm and 4mm rings to adjust your cartridge-record profile.
#2 Grado-Rega isn't a good combo(never heard a successful setup)
#3 Make sure that you get enough gain in you phono(not sure what output version of the cart you have)

And finally I've just placed a thread with the problem that is very similar to yours and I want you to get in there.
My Setup:

Grado Platinum Ref 1.5mv
Rega P3 with the tonearm that comes with it.
Classe 30 Preamp set to mc operation. (Good volume range)
Classe 100 amp
Martin Logan Aerius i
Before you go nuts, give the unit some playing time to burn in. I just set-up a SME table with a Grado reference, and it took a good 40 hrs. for the sound to open up. I am not familiar with the table; just know of it. Can the phono cable to the pre-amp be replaced with an after market premium cable (most stock cables are dreadful!) Also, what are you using for a phono pre-amp? You might want to give Grado a call. They told me that that for the VTA, their cartridges should appear to have a slight backwards tilt (the bottom surface of the cartridge should not be parallel to the record surface but appear to be SLIGHTLY higher in the front than the back. Email me if I can be of help. Good luck!
Fatparrot is making a right point about arm's original internal and phono wires. They're horrible.
I assume that not only the phono stage but tonearm wiring is also important to match the cartridge.
Hi, Eastsideguy: I'm a fellow Seattle resident, so you are welcome to contact me and we can talk about your problem. So you know, my analog front end includes a Rega RB900 arm with a Grado Reference cartridge, so I have some familiarity with your setup.

You may have a combination of factors that are causing the symptom you describe. Here are some general comments to think about before we talk:

1. As others noted, the vertical tracking angle is important, but only a seriously out-of-whack setup would account for the severe symptoms you describe. The Rega arm can be raised using spacing washers, and I have a set that you are welcome to try (I don't use them).
2. The procedures you used to set the tracking force and anti-skate aren't the best methods for the Rega arm. The best results will be achieved if you set the Rega's tracking force gauge to the maximum (3 grams, I think). This may seem counter-intuitive, but the maximum setting actually disengages the tracking force spring. Then, set the tracking force using a decent gauge, such as the Shure balance-beam gauge which you can buy for $20 (or you can borrow mine). To set the anti-skate, I usually use a vinyl LP that has a special grooveless section. To adjust the anti-skate, you place the tonearm down on the record, and watch to see if the tonearm skates inward (toward the center) or outward (toward the edge). You simply adjust the anti-skate force until the tonearm remains stationary while the LP is rotating. You are welcome to borrow a test LP from me that has one of these grooveless sections. I must tell you, however, that having a bit too much or too little tracking force and anti-skate would not account for the severe lack of highs that you describe.
3. The tonearm wiring in the Rega arm that comes with the P3 isn't the best, nor is the counterweight. You might want to consider the "mod" available from Expressimo Audio, which includes upgraded tonearm wiring and their "HeavyWeight" counterweight. I recently bought the "HeavyWeight" counterweight, and found that it made a very significant improvement on my RB900 arm. I'll give you more detailed comments about these mods if we talk.
4. The problem you describe -- specifically, the lack of highs and air -- sounds to me as though there is a cartridge impedance mismatch. You did not state what cartridge impedance setting your preamp has, so I suspect that may be the main problem area. The Grado cartridge is a moving iron design, and they usually work better when they have an impedance similar to a moving magnet design. I suggest you check the cartridge termination in your preamp to be sure it is compatible with the Grado.

If you'd like to talk by phone, drop me an E-mail with your phone number and I'll be glad to call you tonight after work, or this weekend.

Best regards,

Scott C-
Yes, the Classe must be set to mm operation via internal jumpers. Dull sound results from gain mismatch using mc setting with an mm cartridge.
For a brief time I had almost the exact same setup as you do, and it sounded absolutely marvelous.
Grado and Rega actually do synergistically work, I do not know the basis for Marakanetz' observation here. The only problem with the setup is some hum from the high output cartridge when the cart. moves closer to the motor on the P3 (as it gets closer to the center) - unless you have the low gain version of the Grado, in which case my first point is nullified.
VTA adjustment is not necessary, the Grado's height actually gives the arm a nice slightly tilted back orientation that gives good sound.
Break in as also a factor but check the phono gain first!
All the best
I think that Tacs has his finger on the problem. After I read your second post, Eastside, I saw that the cartridge setting in your preamp is for moving coil, which is not what you want to use with your Grado cartridge. Set the preamp for moving magnet inputs, and if you can adjust the impedance settings, I'd try the 47k ohm setting (usually the standard setting for moving magnet cartridges). If your preamp has various alternative settings, you might do a little experimenting to see which ones sound best, but the 47k ohm is the place to start. You may also be able to adjust the gain settings -- if so, a gain of 40 db is sufficient for higher-output Grados (such as my Reference, which has an output of 4.5 mV), while a gain of about 60 db (the gain for many moving coils) may be best for Grados with a 1.5 mV output.
Scott,you the man! The Regas and Grados are a very good match.VTA should be fine with no spacer(s) Set the phono pre to 47K,let the Grado play for 30 or so hours and enjoy sweet analog music! Please let us know how sweet it is!!
Wow, you guys are great!! I have many leads now.
I set the preamp to MC via an internal jumper because
it seemed like MM didn't have enough volume. I only
tried it for about 10 seconds and felt like the
preamp distorted when it got to 1 o'clock and still
wasn't loud enough. That's why I switched to MC.

I'll see if the MM sounds right if not too soft. If
this fixes it then I just need a highier output Grado.
I went out of my way to get the VPI 1.5mv version
because people said it did better with the hum problem. Well I still hear the hum but its not that bad so long
as the music is playing to drawn it out.

Does the P25 have the hum problem too? I'm thinking
mabye I should have gone that route.

It sounds like you have a mis-match somewhere.Better take Mr.Campbell up on his offer.
I have a P-25 with a 4.5mV Platinum.I only hear a light hum when the tonearm is raised above the platter.I have never had a hum during music or even between tracks.
I'm not familiar with the Classe 30 preamp, but shouldn't there be a way to set it to the higher-gain MC position and still select the 47 k-ohm impedance load? If not, I'd bet this would be be an easy modification to perform. Perhaps you should call Classe and ask them about it. Most MC phono preamps can be set to 47k as far as I know.

If you are looking for good phono pre-amp with selectable gain and selectable impedance, I have an Acurus P-10 that I'm considering selling. Great pre-amp at a very reasonable price. Email me if you would like the details. First, check out your output and impedance specs on the cartridge to see if it matches the MC or MM phono input on the Classe pre as Plato suggests.

Good luck
Tom,you may want to upgrade to a stand alone Lehmann Black Cube solid state phono-preamp...can be had used for $350-$400 and has all the settings you need.
To all posters above: I talked with Eastsideguy last evening, and eliminated a few possible causes of the problem he describes. Of interest to me was the fact that a friend of Eastside's had brought over an old Stanton turntable with a $50 Shure cartridge, and this setup sounded "great" when connected to the system. Based on Eastside's comments, I am beginning to wonder if he's gotten a defective Grado cartridge -- at this point, I can't attribute the problems he's experiencing to the turntable or preamp. Anyway, Eastside and I will probably get together this weekend and do some trouble-shooting to see if we can find and fix his problem. I'll make a final post when we find out what the problem is.

Time for me to speak. We were up late again last night.
But this time it was to enjoy my P3 with my friends
modest Shure m95 cartridge. My P3 really took off when
I swapped the cartridges. I mean WOW!!!

We listened for a good 2-3 hours. That Shure had no
business sounding that good! I think my Grado 1.5mv
has too low an output for my classe preamp.

I called Grado and got their answering machine. The
dealer I bought the Grado from had a verbal squabble
with Grado over something un-related to my purchase
and now he isn't carrying Grado anymore so I have to
talk directly with Grado about a cartridge swap to a
4.8mv. Any one have any connections with Grado and
can help me out?

Thanks for the call last night Sdcampbell..

I'm affraid that it will be easier for you to aquire a step-up transformer than negotiate for exchange with Grado.