Rega P25...upgrade or replace

I've owned this rig for a while now, having upgraded from the P3. While it sounds very nice, it lacks the refined sound and resolution of...say a well recorded HDCD disc on my CD player. Table is stock, used with a Grado Ref. Platinum 1.5mV and Grado PH-1 (tried a ARC phono stage that was lifeless). I'm considering a step up to the Sonata cartridge, and tweaking the table/arm with one or more of the following: machined sub-platter, new counterweight, Cardas re-wire of arm, acrylic platter, Boston Audio platter mat.

Plan "B" would be picking up a nice pre-owned VPI Scout/JMW 9 setup...not sure on cartridge, but most likely the Sonata.

Any suggestions/advice from some of the analog gurus here?

System: BAT VK-300x w/ tube front end, Cardas Golden Cross cabling, CAL CL-15 CDP w/ JPS Digital AC power cord & VansEvers digital power conditioner, Tyler Acoustics Linbrook floorstanding monitors wired w/ Cardas.
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What the Rega is lacking is the perfrct pitch digital offers. You need to upgrade to a TT with adequate speed/rotational stability.
Verify the speed of the Rega. They tend to run fast. My belief is the cartridge is your limiting factor. While OK, it is not the last word in resolution. Consider a Sumiko Blackbird.
I agree with Wendell (Narrod). A better matching cartridge would help.

Also I have found that upgraded "to the max" the Planar 25 is hard to beat. The upgrades you mention (machined sub-platter, new counterweight, Cardas re-wire of arm, acrylic platter, Boston Audio platter mat) ALL make a huge difference.
Replace ...

I figured that most of them would make a difference, I'm just weighing the upgrade cost vs. an actual new/er table. I don't know if I want to own a $2,200 P25?!

At the very least, the cartridge will need to be replaced. I've also been told that the stock VPI Scout is a considerable improvement over the stock P25. Unfortunately, I don't have a dealer nearby to be able to check it out for myself.
An alternate opinion......I think that the phono preamp is, by far, the largest bottleneck in your system. You can upgrade your deck all day and I do not believe that it will materially effect the quality of the sound. The deck, while not my favorite, is a very capable player and has a decent level of refinement. A nice upgrade would be to the EAR or Gram Slee phono stages, though there are many competent performers available. Just because the ARC phono was not consonant with the sound you prefer does not mean that the phono stage is not a problem. After that, the cartridge could go. The Dynavectors work well on the Rega arms.
As a long time owner of a P25 I can echo MoFi's advice. I have done the Incognito(cardas)rewire. I gained some clarity and solved a grounding issue. Then the E-Z Riser VTA adjuster, I would look at the newer ones now, but that gave me that adjustment. I added the Michel Techno-weight and boom there was bass and the bass was good. I then added at MoFi's advice the Deep Groove sub-platter/bearing assy. and yes the bass was more defined. Than I added the acrylic platter and that seemed to bring the whole thing together. I started out with a Grado Reference, then a Benz- Glider and now have a Lyra Lidian B. I may be stepping up to a Argo or possibly the New Rega MC cart. or the possibility lingers for a new table. But my point is the P25 can really add years to it's life with these tweeks and upgrades.
replace, go for the p9.
Thanks, for all of the valuable input guys.

Viridian, I have used the table/cartridge with phono stages from Plinius, Musical Fidelity, VTL, ARC and Classe'. Outside of the Grado, the VTL was the only one better. I have heard great things about the EARs, and I may try one someday.

Theo and MoFi...thanks. Maybe I will tweak around with the ol' P25 a bit. One nice thing is that it can be done a little at time, not requiring large lumps of cash at a time. Theo, who did your re-wire work for you? If you had to pick two upgrades/tweaks, which two would you perform first?

Decided to go with a couple of small upgrades for the time being. Ordered the Boston Audio Mat 1, and the Kerry K2 Titanium H/W.
I graduated from a P3 to a P25 like you and after a year of that I heard a VPI Aries 2/10.5 in my system and the world started to move. I've been very happy with the Aries 2 for almost five years now. It is truly a state of the art table for the price point. If ever I trade up it will be another VPI.
Replace. Never really liked the regas. Maybe with a nice used well tempered.
Good choice of upgrades. I have compared the Grado phono stage favorably as well. I would go with the Sonata if you like the Grado warmth or a Clearaudio Aurum Beta S if you want more detail. Also, if you want to breathe serious life into your system and you don't mind it being ALOT more revealing you should try Mapleshade Clearview Excaliber Plus Interconnects and Double Helix speaker cables or for more refinement step up to their Mapleshade Insound Planar line.
I'll most likely go with the Sonata. I do like the Grado sound, plus I can offset the cost a bit with my Platinum trade in. Still waiting on my Mat 1 and K2, can't wait to work them into at a time, of course.
Replace, I think is a better rig the VPI, and maybe the excitment of a new table makes you give more attention to certain details that REga can' give.
I've decided to tweak, at least for the time being. My wife threw the shipping box to the P25 in the trash, is one reason.

I can say that the F2 titanium heavyweight was a nice addition...more detail, without harshness, and a tad more air.

The Boston Audio Mat 1 added a bit more air, blacker background, and a larger soundstage. The bottom end is ever so slightly less plentiful, but is tuneful and less wooly.
Thanks to Piedpiper/Tim, the P25 is sounding absolutely amazing. At his suggestion, I purchased a maple platform; 3" from Timbernation...Solidwood here at the 'Gon. Between my maple rack and the platform, Tim suggested sorbothan pucks (2x2x0.5). Tim suggested replacing the rubber footers that come on the P-25 with Mapleshade Heavyweights, and he even cut the threaded portion down a bit for me.

The little bit of bottom end lost via the Boston Audio platter mat is back, and then some. It is also even more organic and natural sounding. The upper frequencies have more sparkle and sound more natural.

I'll try to post pictures of the system some time next week. It looks fantastic as well.
Just added a couple of Walker Audio 1/2" resonance discs on either side of the tonearm. What an amazing difference for cheap money. Added quite a bit of "weight" to the sound. The background is more silent, as well.
I'm glad it's working out. Perhaps there is more than one way to get a Rega to sound good?

I missed this thread and would have offered the Rega SOP. I'm actually surprised none of this was suggested. Personally, I would have done *none* of those tweaks without having done SOP for Rega tables. I would have:

1. Wall Mount (one must need this table "in air" instead of mass loading on a rack, so to speak. even if your rack is stable, the mass loading should be eliminated). But, if you want a much thicker, less PRat-like, less energetic sound...then get a new table (and keep the maple platforms you bought, they will come in handy)
2. Heed PSU or some other frequency control/stabilization device.
3. Neuance shelf on wall mount (or use Rega's shelf, Target, or make your own) or mount table on Ikea LACK tabletop.
4. Incognito Arm Rewire
5. Try a different cartridge/phono stage. If you want more resolution, ditch the Grado. If you like the Grado sound, great! Music isn't always about resolution.
6. That said, for more resolution, clean the stylus after each lp. I use the magic eraser and the stylus is still totally clean. The buildup on the stylus is cumulative and thus mandates consistent, repetitive cleaning. Johnathan Carr of Lyra once said that with each play, a thin film of vinyl is essentially welded to the cartridge (likely at microscopic levels).

Not affiliated, etc...

I would have done the deep groove subplatter but at it's cost, I would have done the more fundamental changes first. I switched tables before getting to this upgrade.

I would consider acrylic platters and counterweight "upgrades" as "sound changers" only. If you like the sound change, then consider it an upgrade. You made the assumption that the ARC phono stage was lifeless but really, any Rega table not setup on on light and airy platforms will sound less energetic. Perhaps the cartridge/phono match had something to do with this also.

A Dynavector properly matched to a phono stage will go a long way to an engaging sound on a Rega table. You might find the 20XH to your taste (dynamic, darker, yet likely more resolving than the Grado).
The "less energetic" label does not apply at all. I listened to Count Basie's "88 Basie Street" last night, and it absolutely boogied.

The Grado has been replaced. I replaced the LS-15/PH-1 combo with the Atma-Sphere MP-3.

I already use the Magic Eraser, and I agree with its efficacy.

The arm will be re-wired this Spring/Summer; once golf weather hits NH, I don't have the time for much listening.
What did you replace the Grado with?
I'm glad it boogied. I love the Basie records for that. I guess there are more ways to improve the table. The light and rigid school always seems to be mentioned as mandatory with Rega. I never tried the maple platforms and what not with my P5.
Tim, I replaced the Grado PH-1, not the Ref. Platinum. Sorry, for the confusion. I won't be replacing the cartridge right away. I want to get you to rewire the RB-600 this Summer prior to a cartridge change. Otherwise, I won't get an overly accurate idea as to what changes occur with the rewire.

I started a post to inquire about a rebuild/upgrade of my existing cartridge. I have done a bit of reading on Soundsmith's site about their service. I may upgrade within the Grado line...don't know yet.
got ti. interesting re: Soundsmith. I've seen there sight but have no direct experience. I was thinking of calling them sometime to inquire. I'd be curious to hear about any real results as well as any theory specific to the your Grado.
Tim, I'll certainly post my observations if/when I do anything with Soundsmith...probably in late Summer/early Fall.