Nothing too ridiculous? I built an SME-type dovetail slide with VTA adjustment for the RB300. Makes setup easy and secure.
15 responses Add your response
Okay, here we go. You have to get the Origin Live or Expressimo Audio structural mod. It replaces the rear stub, with a better one that is coupled differently. This is the biggest single thing you can do to your arm. Then get the HeavyWeight counterweight from Expressimo. This is not just a heavier one, it has an offset hole, so it drops the weight below the arm tube. Major improvement. The finger lift is microphonic, so you can either grind it off, or damp it well. Set the tracking force to 3 grams, which will defeat the spring, and set the VTF with a scale. It sounds like you may already have done this. You should also get the OL or Expressimo VTA adjuster, so you can really dial-in your VTA. A little self-stick felt on the headshell can help with vibrations before they get to the arm tube. I like the felt better than rubbery compounds like Blu-Tak. The rubbery stuff just catches and releases the vibrations, and the felt quiets them. I have found that 2 rubber O-rings on the Counterweight helped, though. You've already done the re-wiring. Also, play with the tightness of the arm nut that holds it to the plinth. It should not be too tight or too loose, there will be a tightness level that sounds best. Find it by experimentation.
All in all, the RB 300 is a very good arm that can be brought to "giant killer" level with these few mods. The RB250 can go a little higher than the 300, but the 300 will be very close.
If you like the modded RB300, you should hear the OL Silver Tonearm. It will knock you over. You can do better with the OL arms, than any of the up-market Rega arms. For modding, the 250 is best, and the 300 second best. The 600,900,and 1000 are too expensive and don't mod any better than the 300.
If you do all of these mods, your arm will sound about twice as good as it does now. I know that sounds amazing, but it will.
Well,heres a tweak I've read works.
Bust off the finger wand on the head shell.
Well,maybe busting it isnt cool but cutting it off and filing it clean will do.
From what I've read the finger wand is microphonic and the removal of it cleans up the music some.
Do it I dare ya!!! I couldnt do it with my old RB-600.
I will look into these with interest.
I have heard it rumored that the rb-300 has better bearings than the rb-250. The same, just better. I don't know if it's true, but it would be good to know, just the same. Other than that, is not the only difference between the rb-250 and rb-300 the spring, and if that is the only thing that makes the rb-250 a better candidate, than why not remove it altogether?
Also, I understand that the rb-900 uses completely different bearings than the rb-250 and 300. I can see why it not be a good candidate, as it has that different base. What is a rb-600 axactly? A rb-1000?
Thanks, twl, for all that info. Thats the kind of stuff I like. tons of ideas.
And david99, I will take your dare. I'm not afraid.
The reason that you don't need to do the mods on the RB 600,900,1000 is that you can get the OL Silver Tonearm for $750, that will be a way better arm than any of the Regas, before or after modification. Why buy an arm that costs more and won't do as well? The OL arms use Rega bases, and fit right into the Rega arm hole. The 250 and 300 are cheap enough to be good candidates for mods, and not cost too much after you're done. Anything over $750 is a wrong move. If you plan to spend that much, buy the OL Silver Tonearm. It has the better bearings, a widened bearing yoke distance, and a totally different armtube/headshell. This is better than any modded Rega.
You have to be careful when doing mods, that you don't spend more than the amount where you can do better by buying something else.
No, I haven't listened to the new 1000 yet. I expect it would be a very good arm. From what I can see of it on the website, it appears to continue the Rega practice of refinements on the RB300 theme. It still has the spring VTF adjuster. All of these arms, including the OL arms still need the Expressimo Heavyweight. I was shocked at the improvement I got on my OL Silver with the Heavyweight. IMO, this mod is not optional. It should be standard on all these arms.
I am beginning to see. I checked out some webs. It would appear that the reason the rb-250 would end up being better after mods is because it is coupled to the base on both ends of the vertical bearings, where the arms built with the springs are coupled on on side only; the are not coupled where the spring is attached(except by the spring itself).
Furthermore, it seems the reason rb-300's and above are better "out of the box" is they use better materiels on the end stubs, where the rb-250 uses plastic.
What I can see is the importance of the end stub & counterweight, as this is a place where resonences can reflect and the mass is significant as to compete or interfere with the mechanical grounding of the arm.
What I don't see is how couplng the counterweight rigidly with a set screw would make a improvement, or coupling the end stub solidly, for that matter. I understand that the origin mod is supposed to be solid with "less" coupling. The expressimo end stub appears to be the same as a stock one, with the exception of having a allen screw to torque it down, I can't see how the origin is attatched.
Question; is there something about a rigid mount to the end stub/counterweight assembly that makes a tonearm perform better? (as opposed, for instance, to coupled with some sort of damping?)
Question 2; is there something to the "torque" involved that makes the end stub behave differently, as to perhaps be better than further or appropriate "decoupling" of the whole assembly?
Has anyone done any exploring with the attatchment of the counterweight, either before or after the mods? Or with other tonearms?
I am sure there is something to this that can help us build a better tonearm. I am especailly curious as it appears that there is knowledge in this area that I may have been previously unaware existed.
I prefer the OL method of coupling the end stub to the arm. This coupling method actually causes a tuned de-coupling of the vibrations which may excite the end stub and counterweight. By doing this, the overall amplitude of the vibrations is lessened because the high mass items are de-coupled from the tube/bearing. It also allows the rigid coupling of the counterweight to the stub, so they act as a single mass, instead of letting the heavy counterweight vibrate on the rubber ring/plastic stub. This changes the basic design of the Rega arm, which uses direct coupling of the stub, and de-coupling of the counterweight via the rubber ring. Any time that something as heavy as the counterweight is allowed to get moving, it is going to transfer large amounts of that movement to the surrounding parts. This is why the rigid attachment, tuned de-coupling, and coupled counterweight/end stub is a good combination. As has been said before, "Rega made one of the best arms in the world, when they made the 250. They just didn't finish it."
The torque of the stub is importand to the tuning of the coupling. It changes the resonance characteristic of the coupling. The same is true with the tightness of the main nut that holds the arm base to the plinth. Too tight sounds dead, too loose allows information loss, and unstable mounting. There is a very musical "moderate tightness" that this nut has to be tightened to, by ear. It never needs to be more than "finger tight". No wrench is needed.
I have tried all kinds of counterweights and attaching methods at all different stages of mods. The rubber ring method is crap at any stage. However, interestingly enough, a pair of rubber o-rings around the circumference of the counterweight works well at any stage of mod for a 300. You can try this out with a rubber band wrapped around the counterweight, as an experiment. This will work, but the o-rings are just as good and look a hell of alot more acceptable. And they are only about 75 cents each. The OL end stub with the Expressimo Heavyweight counterweight is the best combo, at any stage, and will give you the most increase of any mod you can do to that arm. If you are laughing out loud now, just wait till you do this combo to your arm. You will be laughing hysterically, that you thought you were doing great before. The total will be under $200, and is worth every penny of it. Since you already have re-wired the arm, this end stub and Heavyweight is all you need to take that arm as high as it can go. A little damping here and there, depending on the cartridge used, and you have an arm that really never needs to be traded-in, unless you are "going for broke" and want to spend big bucks. And you would need a really great table to reap the benefits of any more arm than a fully modified Rega. I can't remember what table you have, but if it is not a $5k plus TT(or equivalent performance, like a Teres) then you have no need for any more tonearm than you've got. Unless you want to get a 250 to do the mods to instead. If it were me, and I already had a re-wired 300, I would just mod it up and be done with it.
TWL....My god... my head is spinning. I have to get busy with my 300... I thought it sounded good already... Now I have to check the tightness of the base on the plinth, get a heavyweight...go to home depot for some felt and o rings..
rewire the arm.. I am going to be busy next weekend!!
You should consider making your own flavor of Tonearm..
The TWL Ultimate Analog Arm !!
OK, great thread; glad I found it. Here is my situation. I have just purchased a used Rega 25 that is coming shipped with a RB900 arm. After reading up on the mods for the 300 series arms (specifically the OL end stub and Expressimo Heavyweight) I am wondering if I should a) sell the 900 and mod a 250, pocketing the difference; b) mod the 900 with the OL and Expressimo Hweight; or c) sell the 900 and purchase an OL Silver...
Assuming I decide to mod the 900 (I may also purchase a 250 to mod for kicks), is there someplace in the states that I can purchase the OL stub and Expressimo weight?
Grado Sonata (I know, I know, I may get hum, but previous owner had no issues)
Gold Aero DB-45
Classe CA151 or Unison Research Aria S2
Sonus Faber Concertos w/ sf stands (shot and sand filled)
Cabling is Transparent Super but getting ready to demo a Nordost setup.
Thanks for the insight.
Okay, Twylie, I've been down this road, and helped alot of others down it too.
First, your RB900 is a very good arm, I wouldn't knock it.
Second, the modded RB250 will outperform it at half the price.
Third, the OL Silver tonearm will knock them both in the dirt.
Okay, now we know the rankings, so what do we do?
If you want a OL modded RB250, which is called the OL-1, you should buy it already done. It will cost the same if you do it yourself, and you can be sure it's done right if you buy it from OL. The end stub has a special torque setting, and must be done right. Also, it is possible to injure the bearings if you don't know how to do it. Just get the OL-1 arm already done if that arm is what you want.
No sense in having your RB900 modded because you can get the OL-1 for half your arm's cost, and the OL-1 will outperform a fully modded RB900, due to the presence of the spring loaded VTF adjuster on the 900, that is not present on the RB250. That's the difference.
Buying the OL Silver tonearm is the best thing you could do, because it outperforms nearly anything, and costs a little less than your RB900 does. It is a little more money than the other options, though.
That being said, there are some things that will improve the sound of any of these arms, regardless of their state of modification or price. These are the Expressimo Audio HeavyWeight counterweight, and VTA adjuster. The OL Silver already has a VTA adjuster included. The Heavyweight is about $90, and is worth every penny, for all of these arms, including the OL Silver. VTA adjustment is mandatory, so you have to get one of those.
Now I will shamelessly plug my own product. On the A'gon classified, under Analog, you will see an ad for the HiFi Rega tonearm upgrade. You can read all about it on there.And see the photos of it on my OL Silver tonearm w/Heavyweight. I invented it right here on the Audiogon forum, and had Audiogon members do the testing. All were ecstatic about the improvement levels, and there were no negative comments at all. It will put any of these tonearms into the top league, sonically. This thing works, and it works well. It may look simple and inexpensive, but it will do more to elevate the performance of your arm, than any other single mod you can make. It is worth every penny of the cost, for the performance increases, even if it is only a set of simple weights. After all, the Heavyweight is $90, and it is only a simple weight also.
If you get an OL Silver, a Heavyweight, and the HiFi mod, you will have an arm that is in the State-of-the-Art category for under $1k. That is what I did, and is what I own, and I can categorically state that this is the best tonearm I have ever heard, bar none.
Also, get rid of the Sonata, and get a Shelter 501. If that is too much money, get a Denon DL103R from Martin on the Audiogon classifieds for $230. I use this cartridge myself, and it is a mind-blower on the modded OL Silver. It has .27mv output, so you need to have about 60-65db of gain in your MC phono stage(or a step-up transformer). You can probably sell your used Sonata for more than the DL103R will cost new. The DL103R will stomp the Sonata into the dirt. And it won't have susceptibility to hum like the Grados do. It will work on all the arms we discussed here.
This is the ticket for the "best bang for the buck" arm/cart setup in all of audio. If you work it right, and sell your other arm/cart, you can probably get into this setup for less than $250, out of pocket.
Thank you very much for your thorough reply. As I continue to do more research on the subject, I keep coming back to the same solution you provided. I've already ordered my Heavyweight since I'll be able to use it with either the 900 or the Silver.
I believe that I will go in a few steps stages here to better understand what each change is doing. This will also let me keep my vinyl system up and running (since I'll add and mod before selling) without an immediate cash drain.
The table/arm/cartridge should show up late this week. I'll set it up and establish my baseline. My Heavyweight and stub should show up in a couple of weeks and give me an opportunity to assess the changes. I'll then add the HiFi mod, with a couple of weeks before the next change. Next, I'll move into a different cartridge, again giving myself a few weeks to get used to it. Once I feel I have a pretty good handle on that sound, I'll order a Silver and get everything dialed in. Once I'm in budget nirvana, I'll sell the stub structural mod, the stock 900, and the Sonata and use that cash to buy more records.
My phono stage has plenty of gain for a low output cartridge so I think I've got a lot of flexibility in cartridge selection.
I've been listening to a lot more vinyl lately and am really excited about starting new with some better quality equipment.
Thanks again for all your help.