Rega P3: Neo PSU or New Cartridge?


Hi everyone,

I have a Rega P3 upgraded with a Groovetracer Reference sub-platter and Rega’s white belt. I’m looking to upgrade the table further, but not sure which would be the most advisable option: Rega’s NEO PSU or a new cartridge (either the Exact 2 or Orotofon 2M Black). I’m content with the Elys 2 at the moment, but do plan to move up soon. The power supply is what I’ve been leaning towards getting next, but I’m new to planar-style belt-drive turntables, and so I’m unsure what sonic improvements to expect from such an upgrade.

I know many would recommend getting a P6 rather than upgrading the P3, but I’m not a fan of the color of the P6. I love the sleek look of the white P3 plinth with the metal bracing, metal sub-platter, and glass platter. This table is sort of of my fun foray into the world of planar-style belt-drive turntables. I’m primarily a direct-drive fan (I have two Technics SL-1210GAEs), but always loved the looks of the Regas, so the P3’s aesthetics, for me, are a factor to consider in addition to the sound quality. I know the P3 cannot achieve the same level of sound quality as other tables in the Rega line-up, but I’m just trying to get it to sound as good as it can.

Any advice would be much appreciated.
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NEO...without a doubt
The stock power supply is fine! I doubt paying more for a p/s will "improve" the sound! Get a better cartridge/phono stage.
The Hana SL ($750) is an easy recommendation.
NEO. Clean motor power is critical. Buy from a vendor with a return policy and judge for yourself. 
jasonbourne52
"The stock power supply is fine! I doubt paying more for a p/s will "improve" the sound! Get a better cartridge/phono stage".

No offense, but have you heard a stock power supply vs a NEO ?

It`s a noticeable improvement top to bottom. You don`t have to try to hear a difference it s that good. 
I`m sure the op heard a big difference between the stock subplatter and the Grovetracer especially the reduction of surface noise, well, it`s on the same level if not more so.

Get a NEO and I agree with noromance. Get up with Taylor @ Goldprint Audio in NC he`s an authorized Rega dealer and is easy to do business with....highly recommended



@jasonbourne52:
Thanks for your recommendation, though I think I’ll probably avoid MCs for the near-future. My phono stage was recently upgraded to a Lehmann Black Cube SE II, so I don’t feel the need to upgrade that just yet. 
Could someone briefly explain, in general outline, how the external PSU improves the sound? I’d like to understand this a bit more. Thanks. 
Could someone briefly explain, in general outline, how the external PSU improves the sound?

The NEO generates a clean 50Hz(60Hz) waveform to power the 24v AC motor. Without the NEO, the motor uses mains power which can be inherently dirty. The clean power cuts down on phase-related speed variations and electrical interference that raises the noise floor hiding low-level detail.
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Did you hear an improvement when you put the Groovetracer subplatter in ?

@noromance 
Thank you for the explanation; that’s helpful. 
@scm 
I noticed improved speed and pitch control. It also seemed that the playback was a bit “clearer,” maybe due to the higher quality bearing in the GT Reference? I’m not sure. 
  undefined ... I agree with your observations. 
The runout on the GT subplatter is so much tighter vs the plasticky stock one and that alone helps in a better more defined sound. 
I noticed that the surface noise dropped dramatically as well.
The NEO does all of that while doing its job.
There`s a number of threads about the NEO on the Steve Hoffman forum that you might want to check out
 
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A friend of mine is farther along the same path that you are on. He has the same table with the same upgrades. He has the NEO PSU and he also bought an aftermarket linear power supply (sorry I don't know the brand or source) for the NEO to replace the wall wart that comes with the Neo (this does require another IEC equipped power cord). He has a Clearaudio Performer V2 cartridge  Also, he has a Herbie's Audio Way Excellent II platter mat (I recommend it). Each of these were done one at a time and each step was a definite improvement. 

There are many people here that are better able to advise you on a cartridge for your table and arm combination than me but, I suggest that you not get too far ahead of the limitations of the arm with your cartridge choice. Should you put a $750 cart on a $600 arm? My tone arm cost about three times the cost of my cartridge.
@scm
Thanks for the heads-up; I’ll check those threads out!

@mwh777
I have been thinking about putting one of my cork mats on the P3, but I want to get a spacer for the tonearm first.

I agree with you regarding the cartridge-tonearm combination. I don’t intend to move into MC anytime soon, and the Ortofon 2M Black has been a cartridge I’ve been wanting to get for one of my SL-1210GAEs for a while now (I think the two have good synergy). I just figured that once I get the 2M Black, I could try it on the Rega. However, I’m leaning towards just putting an Exact 2 on the Rega instead because I abhor the tedium of cartridge alignment, so I want to do that as little as possible. I’d say a $600 cartridge on a $600 dollar arm is at the upper-end of reasonable.

I have taken a stock Rega Planar 3 (2016) and added the following components (I will include the orice of same so that you can determine if these upgrades are for you):

Base REGA Planar 3...................................... $ 995.00

Groovetracer Reference Sub-Platter................$ 275.00

Groovetracer Delrin Platter...............................$ 350.00

MCM Tech Sorbothane/Aluminum Feet............$ 129.00

REGA White belt...............................................$   39.00

REGA Neo PSU power supply..........................$  395.00

The total investment for my Planar 3 was $2,183.00.....The base Planar 6 is $1,695.00. The $488.00 difference in price with the upgrades has helped me create what I dub a P7. Hearing them side by side, I am delighted with the upgrade path. Groovetracer is a serious company. The SIngle machined Sub-Platter and NEO PSU made the biggest difference and my table more than holds its own against any other $2000 TT available. Adding the Rega ANIA Pro Cartridge sealed the deal. At $3,200.00 with a top quality cartridge it sounds awesome and close to the P8 (which is 3995 with Ania Pro MC aboard) I was coveting, though I dislike the unfinished skeletal path and the need for a fully closed unit with plinth and dust cover was required for my kit set-up.

Ultimately, you can buy a Planar that is 90% of my table as configured and plug n play. But The path I chose was gradual and fun -- listening to the subtle changes as I replaced and added these upgrades was part of the audiophile journey for me. Other knowledgeable fellow audio aficianadoes will propose a different path. Ultimately, my next REGA model leap will be to the P10, but I am very satisfied presently.

Good luck in your REGA upgrade path.