Rega P3-24, Pro-Ject RM-5, or Technics 1200?


I'm in the market for a turntable and have been looking at the Rega P3-24 and the Pro-Ject RM-5. I was a DJ, so I already have 2 Technics SL-1200 MK2s, but based on things I'd read elsewhere assumed that these would never really be "hi-fi". I came to Audiogon to see what people had to say about the Rega and Pro-Ject tables and was surprised to find quite a few postings saying that the 1200s could sound as good or better than either of these. Most of these posts discuss KAB modified 1200s. I've already got the tables, can I get the modifications made to one of my existing tables, and which mods would folks suggest? Also, if people think this is the route to go, what cartridge would you suggest? If this isn't the route to go, which table would you suggest?

Just for reference, here's my current system:
- NuForce IA-7 integrated amp
- Reference 3A MM DeCapo speakers
- Arcam CD36 CD Player
- Bellari Moving Magnet Tube Phono Preamp

Thanks for your suggestions!
mcarlson
If you've already got the table - no brainer...keep it and seek some KAB mods. Perhaps the dampener and a tonearm re-wire for starters..I can vouch for the dampener, but only am repeating the testimonials of others on the re-wire.

Denon DL-110, DL-160, Ortofon 2M line, Dynavector 10x5 are common pairings...search The Vinyl Asylum for other suggestions.

Depending on how far you want to take it, you may want to consider another phono pre???

Good luck!
There are many things that can be done to improve what you presently own:
cartridge, KAB mods, phono preamp, MintLP BestTractor protractor. You can
make incremental improvements to what you have and be happy for a long time.

Or, you can make a wholesale change to a Rega or Pro-Ject, but I wouldn't
recommend making the change unless you can buy a used Rega table and
compare it to the Technics (and keep the one you prefer), or unless you can get
a dealer to demo a new Rega/Pro-Ject in your system. Otherwise, you're flying
blind. Each table will have its own sound; its own strengths and weaknesses.
I would say a P2 easily beats the RM-5. I haven't actually heard the new P3-24, but I have heard the P2 and the RM-5. I would also say it beats the Technics easily. I think that the Regas have a much bigger soundstage, and image quite a bit better as well. If these things are not as important to you though, then you might as well stick to what you have.
Learsfool, do you recall the Technics set-up(s) you heard on which you based
your opinion? Was it a stock Technics, or one with KAB mods? What cartridge
was installed?

All these factors can make a signifiant difference, from my experience.
12-08-08: Learsfool
I would say a P2 easily beats the RM-5. I haven't actually heard the new P3-24, but I have heard the P2 and the RM-5. I would also say it beats the Technics easily. I think that the Regas have a much bigger soundstage, and image quite a bit better as well.
Not me. I heard the Rega 3/24 in an all-Rega demo rig and I'll stick with my SL1210 M5G, thank you very much. Some of the "Rega detail" sounded exaggerated and didn't have the solid center image and timbral focus I get from the SL1210M5G.

As for mods to one of your SL1200s, I'd recommend you get the tonearm rewire first and foremost, followed by the KAB fluid damper and the Isonoe footers. Get a better mat, at least KAB's 17-oz. Technics "Supermat" or an aftermarket mat from Herbies, Iron Audio, etc. Change out your headshell for a Sumiko or the ZuPreme from LPGear, and upgrade your cartridge to a Denon DL-160 or Audio Technica AT150MLX.

To beat that you'd have to spend a LOT more money starting from scratch with a belt drive 'table .
Tvad, I used to have a Technics that was a stock model. I have always considered Technics to be very much mid-fi, I am a little puzzled about the great numbers of people who seem to like it here and on that other audio forum. I have not heard it with modifications, but it never struck me personally as a table that would be worth modifying when there are better options available in the first place, IMO. Perhaps I would change my mind if I heard a modified one, but in the meantime I would disagree with Johnny, I think the Regas have a far better soundstage, image much better, and have much better resolution of instrumental timbres than any Technics I have ever heard. I am also not a tweaker, so the simple Rega set-up appealed for that reason as well. Getting back to the original post, I would also add that many people, including myself, consider the Bellari mentioned a good match for the Rega tables, another reason to choose the P3-24.
I had a modded NAD533 which was a Rega on steroids. I like my SL-1200 better.
Learsfool, is your comment about not being much of a tweaker in reference
to KAB mods being tweaky? If so, then I can say unequivocally that there is
nothing tweaky about the KAB mods from an end user's standpoint. Send the
table off to KAB, and Kevin installs the mods (or DIY types can install them at
home). The table looks and sets up just like the stock table, with the
exception of having to add damping fluid to the tonearm damper if it has
been installed. No big deal. Easier than cleaning a record. The Technics table
is as plug-and-play as any I have seen.

I'd love to hear a Rega table (at an equivalent price point) in my system in
comparison to the KAB Technics, because I'd like to hear the differences
between them, as well as how they compare to my digital source (with the
same recording). It'd be educational, and I'd be quite happy to buy a Rega if
it opened my ears to a new and better world. I'm always open to audio
discoveries.

We all have our preferences, and it seems to me opinions are more valuable
when we comment on the things we have heard rather than conjecturing
about things we have not heard (or experienced). Is that a fair statement?
12-08-08: Learsfool
Perhaps I would change my mind if I heard a modified one, but in the meantime I would disagree with Johnny, I think the Regas have a far better soundstage, image much better, and have much better resolution of instrumental timbres than any Technics I have ever heard.
In other words, you have not heard a Technics set up as I described, so you have no frame of reference for what it can do. Much of the inner detail, microdynamics and macrodynamics come alive in the Technics with the add-ons and platforming mentioned previously.
I am also not a tweaker, so the simple Rega set-up appealed for that reason as well.
Just changing the speed on the Rega to play 45 rpm requires removing the platter and moving the rubber band... er... drive belt to a different pulley. On the Technics you push the "45" button. On the Rega, if you want to change VTA you either shim the cartridge or unbolt the tonearm and add extra-cost shims there. On the Technics, you flip a lever and turn a calibrated helical height adjuster. On the Rega, users often let the platter spin awhile before dropping the stylus onto the record to enable the platter to come up to speed and smooth out. Some owners even make a point of changing records while the platter is spinning so they don't lose momentum between sides. On the Technics as you would well know, it's up to speed in less than a second. On the Rega you change the belt about every year; on the Technics you add some bearing oil every 2,000-3,000 hours of play. On any tonearm with integrated headshell you have about 1-2" clearance to get under the headshell and mount the cartridge and hope that the stylus protector works if the cart slips out of your hands before you can thread the nuts onto the bolts. On a Technics you remove the headshell and can give yourself as much room and any angle you'd like to mount the cartridge with the least risk of damage. Which type of turntable is tweakier to operate and maintain? As Tvad said, once the improvements are installed, they don't change how you operate the turntable it all. It just sounds better.
Getting back to the original post, I would also add that many people, including myself, consider the Bellari mentioned a good match for the Rega tables, another reason to choose the P3-24.
The primary factors for matching a Bellari to a turntable would have little to do with the turntable itself, but would have everything to do with the output of the cartridge and somewhat to do with the capacitance of the interconnects to the Bellari, and possibly from the Bellari to the line stage. The Bellari has a great reputation, but it also has a fairly low amount of gain. This would limit you to high output moving magnet and moving iron cartridges, and maybe some high output moving coils, but they'd be playing on the low side.

There are some great HO carts out there for the Bellari though, such as the Grados, the Rega MMs, Cartridge Man MusicMaker, and the Audio Technica AT150MLX. I'd put the AT150MLX in the same performance ballpark as the Elys, only you can get the AT150MLX for $250, and can replace the stylus for $180.
Hi guys - I thought I made it clear that I had not heard a modified Technics, and that therefore my comments only applied to the unmodified one, which I have heard. I take your word for it that the modifications improve it, but I stand by what I said about the unmodified ones compared to the Regas.

As for the Bellari comment, I posted that because the OP already has one, and I use one myself with my Rega P5/Exact 2 combo - I am fully aware that it is for MM only.

A couple of other comments about using the Regas - the platter comes up to speed within 5 - 10 seconds, this is not an issue to me (I also use the TT-PSU), and I don't see why one would turn off the platter in between LP's anyway? What would be the advantage of doing this? Also, the Rega's are designed so that one does not have to mess with VTA - I have never found an adjustment to be necessary, assuming the table was set up properly in the first place. They do have an anti-skate adjustment. I don't own any 45's, but it is very easy to move the belt if one wanted to. As for having to change it once a year, that I hadn't heard before, and I have only had mine eight months now. The belt shows no visible signs of wear yet. I would think it will last much longer than one year.

By saying I am not a tweaker, I meant that I was never very technically inclined, so the Regas, which are about as close to set-it-and-forget-it as it gets, appealed. Mine was set up for me by my dealer, who also mounted the cartridge, and I don't plan on messing with the set up in the future unless I have to (though I did brave a small anti-skate adjustment, which was easy and made a huge difference). Since then I have learned quite a bit more about the whole thing, and am still learning - I have learned a great deal from everyone on this site in particular. When I eventually do upgrade the whole analog rig, which won't be for a long time yet, I will know much more than I do now, and will be ready to be more of a tweaker if required. But in the meantime, the Rega both sounded better and was less overall fuss, the perfect combination for me.
Learsfool, some very good comments. Thank you.

There is one that raises a question:
12-09-08: Learsfool
...the Rega's are designed so that one does not have to mess with VTA - I
have never found an adjustment to be necessary, assuming the table was set
up properly in the first place.

Why do you suppose there are aftermarket VTA adjusters made for the Rega
tables, if the tables/arm are designed to not allow this adjustment?

I have to assume some Rega owners discover improved sound from their
tables by dialing in VTA. Would you agree?

If so, do you suppose the Rega VTA is optimized for Rega cartridges, and the
use of other cartridges might require VTA adjustment?
Very good explanation, Learsfool, and good question, Tvad....... From what I've gathered by reading a gazillion reviews of Rega TT's in preparation for my upcoming purchase of a brand new Rega P3-24 with a Rega Exact cartridge mounted and set up by my dealer (Yea !!!....only a week away.....I can hardly wait !), the VTA of both the RB-301 and RB-700 arms is pre-set for Rega cartridges. Using other brand pick-ups will require the proper use of single or multiple 2mm. shims under the arm base to provide the proper VTA. VTA adjustments should not be necessary with the Rega cartridge line. One of the many reasons for my choosing the Rega Exact instead of the Dynavector 10x5 or Benz-Micro Ace is that I feel the "systems approach" of matching a Rega cartridge with a Rega arm and a Rega table makes sense. Obviously, others may disagree, but that's how I feel.
Now,....let's all relax, cue up our favorite record, and enjoy the music !!
Hey folks - thanks for all the responses. Based on suggestions, I think I'm going to start off by changing to a Sumiko Headshell and get the Audio Technica AT150MLX cartridge.

Then I'll get the KAB fluid damper and the Isonoe footers. I'm not sure about the tonearm rewire, as my tables are so old I don't have the original boxes to ship to KAB, and I'm not sure that's something I can do myself.

In fact, after reading through various posts on here, I'm worried about just swapping out the headshell and cartridge. What kind of tools am I going to need to get this set up properly? I see mentions of stylus force gauges, protractors, etc. This is all a new process to me. It's beginning to sound more complicated than I thought it would be and I want to make sure I'm going to be able to pull it off ;-)
Swapping the headshell requires no tools, and changing the cartridge
requires only a screwdriver to fasten the cartridge screws, and a pair of small,
needle nose pliers to attach the cartridge wires to the headshell.

You will need an alignment protractor to align the stylus, and a small, flat
make-up mirror to set azimuth.

Honestly, if you decide to change your headshell and cartridge, a MintLP protractor would be the best $110 you ever spent on the Technics. I'd suggest also buying the magnifying loupe for an additional $10. If you use the MintLP protractor, then you will not need an additional mirror.

As far as shipping to KAB is concerned, why not contact Kevin? He might have
an empty Technics box and packing he could send to you so you could pack
your table in it and return it to him. No guarantees, but it's worth asking, and
he might have some other ideas for shipping solutions.

You don't HAVE to spend a great deal of money, but you will have to invest
some time and patience if you choose to change your headshell and cartridge.
It comes with the territory.

As an alternative, KAB sells modified Ortofon and Stanton cartridges that are
plug-n-play with the Technics. You wouldn't need a protractor or any of the
other tools.

Finally, the option of a Rega with an Exact cartridge also appears to be a
hassle-free alternative.

Many options.
Tvad, that is an excellent question. Adam18 has basically answered it for me, as well, thanks. I have heard that if you want to try a different cartridge on a Rega, you have to buy their spacers to do so, as Rega's cartridges are not quite the standard size. Another reason for the after market stuff is that in this hobby, as I am sure you are aware, there are a great many people much more interested in the equipment than the music, and these folks usually can't leave well enough alone, they have to keep messing with stuff.

I should emphasize that this is NOT a criticism of the great many DIYers who use musical reasons as the basis for their experiments. I would love to build my own SET amp, for instance, or my own horn speakers like my uncle did, if I had any engineering skills whatsoever. Maybe after I retire, but that's a long way off yet. In the meantime, I figure that the manufacturer knows alot more about it than I do, so I will not mess with my Rega setup.
12-09-08: Learsfool
... in this hobby, as I am sure you are aware, there are a great many people
much more interested in the equipment than the music, and these folks usually
can't leave well enough alone, they have to keep messing with
stuff.

I believe most people who add VTA devices to Rega tables are seeking to
increase the performance of their systems and are just as interested in music as
you are...even considering your profession as a musician. They are simply
seeking to make their in-home musical experience as real as possible.

I consider the ability to adjust VTA an important element of correct set-up, not a
tweak.
I already have 2 Technics SL-1200 MK2s, but based on things I'd read elsewhere assumed that these would never really be "hi-fi"

Trust your ears and don't care about professors around that speak without to have listened
I have owned many super turtables starting from the first Transcriptor , Thorens , Linn Sondek , Michell , passing through Well Tempered Reference and my latest SME20/a and now I'm enjoing a SL1210 MKII cos I'm waiting to find a super TT
Well, the SL1200 is so good I can wait long time ...
Obviously you should be able to set up a SL1200 at its best .. and not for disco!