You can get a Goldring 1042 for a lot less than $350 if you order direct from the UK http://www.mantra-audio.co.uk/ and use the Rega as a trade-in.
I can't answer your question directly, but my past experience has been that rega's own cartridges are not too bad, but certainly not up with the best at their price point.
It wouldn't surprise me at all if the 1042 was better than the exact, and direct from the UK costs about 1/2 the price.
Thanks - yes, I've been able to find the 1042 for around $300 or so and the Exact around $350. I guess I'm just curious as to how it would compare to the Exact and if it would really be an "upgrade".
I'd also be faced with purchasing spacers for the RB-700 in order to get the VTA correct with the 1042. I've not seen any VTA adjustment options for the RB-700 short of the Rega OEM spacers due to the new mounting system.
With musical fidelity and VR1 monitors I'm guessing that your system perhaps errs towards the brighter side of neutral ? Excuse me if I'm wrong.
One thing I have liked about the rega cartridges is that they certainly are anything but bright and they have good bass. I have also heard comments from some quarters that the goldrings might be a little on the bright side.
Putting that and the VTA issue together might make me lean towards the rega exact. Check on ebay first as there's a seller in hong kong who regularly hawks new rega carts. and he has excellent feedback.
I have a planar 3 and currently an old Linn K9. I had to raise the arm 2-3 mm to use the K9 and I did it by buying 1" internal diameter machine washers from my local hardware store. It cost < $1 and seems to work perfectly OK. I'm not sure it would work for you, and the P5 is certainly well above P3 level, but I just thought I'd throw out the suggestion. I balked at spending $25 for a glorified washer from a rega dealer. Another option for a spacer is to get a piece of acrylic made with a hole cut ... very cheap from a local hardware or plastics store.
I had a Rega Exact on my Rega P25 for quite a while. I bought it used on the A'gon and then sold it later on A'gon as I was satisfied with my replacement cart.
First, I liked the Exact. It was warm sounding and generally a nice match. However, I replaced it with a Denon DL 103R and found that the Rega sounded veiled compared to the Denon. Which I guess can be said when comparing any MM cart to a low output MC cart.
After I had lived with the Denon for a few weeks I went back to the Exact just to compare. I planned on using the Exact for a week or so before going back to the Denon. However, I couldn't make it past day two. I went back to the Denon and put the Exact on the market.
The Denon DL103R is a low output MC so you need a good phonostage with plenty of gain (55 to 60 as a min) or you'll need a transformer to boost the signle of the Denon. You can order the Denon from www.audiocubesII.com in Japan for $259 shipped. It's a great buy. And I didn't need any VTA adjustment for the Denon it's just about perfect at the stock Rega height.
I'm testing an Audio Technica OC9ML cartridge right now. It's been getting rave reviews just like the Denon and I wanted to see what the fuss was all about. I like it quite a lot, but I've only had it two days. It's higher output than the Denon (.28mV for the Denon and .4mV for the AT) but you still need plenty of gain. Again with the AT I didn't have to change my VTA. The cartridge is slightly tail high without any VTA changes or adjusters added to the P25. The AT OC9ML/II is about $350.
All in all, I'd have to say you can do better than the Exact for similar or less money.
The Exact isnt very good. It's dynamic but shrill as hell. You'll do better with a Clearaudio or Grado.
Thanks again for all the responses.
Seandtaylor99: Actually I've found the VR-1's to be a good match to the Musical Fidelity. The A300's top end is anything but bright and is actually been noted to be a bit too subtle for some listeners. I found this to be the case with other speakers I tried that had a more "laid back" treble response.
The RB700 tonearm on the P5 has a totally different arm-mounting system than prior Rega tonearms - it's got a triangle shaped flange at the base of the arm that screws to the plinth at 3 points. Rega's attempt at keeping all the aftermarket modifications in check I suppose.
Creativepart: Thanks so much for your response, it's been most helpful. I've read some great things about the Denon DL103R cartridge. I've never used a MC cartridge before and am sure I'd need to also purchase a transformer to boost the signal. Any suggestions on that? Here are the specs from the phonostage on the A300 integrated:
Input sensitivity (MM input) 3.5mV
Input sensitivity (MC inputs) 350uV
S/N Ratio (MM) > 78dB A weighted (Ref 1W)
82dB A weighted (Ref 150W)
S/N Ratio (MC) > 70dB A weighted (Ref 1W)
73dB A weighted (Ref 150W)
Thanks again everyone - I'm getting some great information here!
Sunsetsuperman: Ooops, forgot to respond to your suggestions! Sorry about that. I really like the Grado's sound but had a horrible time with hum on my old P3 when I had it set up with the Grado Reference - not something I want to revisit. Do you know if the Clearaudio carts would require VTA adjustment on the Rega?
I would get different size Rega spacers and get one of the recommended cartridges. Previously I had a Rega Elys on a P3 (sorry can't compare to the exact) and replaced it with the basic Denon DL103, better bass, more detail, more live. The DL103R is another step up from the basic version.
Another option to consider is the Kontrapunkt A which can be found on Agon for around $400 and from Needle Doctor for a similar price. Look at some of my recent responses in Viggen's system and my system for a very basic comparison.
Both the Ortofon and the Denon require spacers for vta. And both require a good MC phono stage. For MM you could try the really cheap DL160 high output MC. You might get surprised how good a $150 cartridge can be.
I have the "exact" same set up you are inquiring about. I currently own the Rega P-5, with the Rega Exact cartridge played through an 'all' Quad system with 909 amp. The records sound superb!
I previously owned the pro-ject perspective with blue point cartridge, and prior to that the Music Hall mmf-7 with goldring Eroica.
I can tell you first hand, and so can my listening buddies, the combo of P-5 and Exact are superb. Rega built their fantastic new 700 arm to maximize sound quality from the Exact cartridge. In my discussions with Rega the arm length, materials and design were created for perfect synergy with that cartridge.
I have actually heard instruments on certain records I did not know were on the recording with this new set up. Worth every penny! And....a joy to use.
I can share my experience with a similar setup, but not exactly the same you are referencing, hope it helps:
I owned a P3 table fitted with an ELys cart, the sound was just OK, and always thought it was the table sonic signature (I came from a downsizing of my system having had a Gyrodeck/rb300/VdH MC10).
The Elys broke, and I bought a Denon 103 as a replacement thanks to other inmates here and the sound improved a lot, the Elys was the weakest link in the chain.
My conclusion was that Rega has great tables and just average cartridges.
I use a Clearaudio Aurum Alpha Wood on the P3 and it does require VTA adjustment, however the cartridge is nothing short of magical. (for the money, of course)
Well - I ended up trying out a Goldring 1042 and a Rega Exact. I can honestly say that I much prefer the Rega Exact. Maybe it's just my system, but it sounds great through the P5, Musical Fidelity A300, and the Von Schwiekert VR-1's! I couldn't be happier.
Okay - I've got a new problem! I'm fairly certain that the Exact is overloading the phono stage in my A300. The Exact puts out 6.4 - 7.2mv which is insanely high and the phono stage is rated at 3.5 although they don't state the overload point.
On some really dynamic passages I'm getting some audible distortion that I can only presume would be the phono stage being overloaded. It's not the amp - I'm not at high volumes and ther's no way the MF A300 is running out of juice.
Would a good way to test if it's just in the recording be to hook the TT up to one of the line level inputs? Those are rated for 300mv so I know I wouldn't be overloading them - I'd have to turn it up to hear, but at least I'd be able to determine if it's in the recording or if it's an overload clip - right?