Review: Rega Planar 3 Turntable

Category: Analog

Not much more can be said of this venerable performer. It has been an icon of analog playback since day one, when it was equipped with the Lustre arm. For about 20 years Rega has had their own tone arm. Mostly used with the 3 has been the RB 300 tone arm. Another icon performer that has withstood the test of time.

Simple design with way above average parts and a rock solid build quality are the hallmarks of the Rega Planar 3 with RB 300 tonearm. Few have done it better and even less are in business today such as Revolver.

Found this piece in a high end store that carries a vast prior owned inventory. Came with the Sumiko BP MC cartridge. Most of the staff here are into vinyl in a big way. Was totally gone through and set up to specifications.

Once home placed it into the Forte system. Used the Sumiko Fluxbuster FB-1 to demagnetize the Blue Point. Had to reset the gain on the Forte pre amp for high output MC and loaded the Sumiko to 100 ohms. Leveled out the turntable with a circular level.

In years gone by have had several of the Sumiko Blue Points, so I knew what to expect there. If this becomes a keeper it will get a Dynavector. This Rega Planar 3 is bone stock without any mods whatsoever. Now to the music.

First up was Dave Grusin Live at Budokhan on the JVC Label. Have heard this many times on the Oracle with Dynavector Ruby. Performance was on par with the Oracle,which was somewhat a shock, considering the vast differences between the two tables. However the Oracle gets the edge there,though not by much!

Next up was the debut album from Ricki Lee Jones. Now this was a fabulous presentation. Ricki,s vocal just came to life in a very unexpected way. Depth, and clarity were astounding. Now this was getting interesting to say the least.

So now on to direct to disc on the Telarc Label. Album was Frederick Fennel and the Cleveland Symphonic Winds. The Holst Suite No.1 in E-flat and Suite No.2 in F. The Rega Planar 3 was very adept at this demanding recording. The anvil strikes were with complete authority and the sonics in the bass region were right on tight and defined without any bloom at all.

There were a few caveats. Such as fixed power cord,fixed tone arm leads,the RCA jacks are quite pedestrian for a table of this caliber.

This table may very well become a keeper. There are just tons of mods for the model 3. Know I will have to get a VTA adjuster in order to use a Dynavector cartridge.

Okay all you Rega tweakers out there. Let's have your input on the mods. Which are snake oil and which are substance, biggest bang for the buck mod,and so on.

Make no mistake the Rega Planar 3 with RB 300 arm is an Icon in its own right. Has withstood the test of time and continues to do so this day.Here is one high end product that came out in 1974 and continues to impress to this day. Damn few products can lay claim to that statement.

Associated gear
Click to view my Virtual System

Similar products

I think that the Expressimo Heavyweight counterweight should be on your short list for good mods. They also make a VTA collar for a reasonable price. They might make you a package deal if you buy both. That arm would do well with a DL103R on it. Also, put a small section of black heat-shrink tubing on the finger-lift of the headshell. This is known to be a microphonic part of the arm, and heat-shrink tubing deadens it down nicely. Make sure that the big nut holding the arm on is only finger-tight. Too tight on that nut will deaden the sound. Also, the glass platter tends to ring a bit, so some deadening on the underside of the glass, or a Ringmat or something may help with that. Put it on a lightweight rigid stand. And always completely remove the dust cover from the TT when you play it, and replace it when finished. It sounds better with the dustcover completely removed. That should about do it. Enjoy!
How does it compare to your Yamaha PX-3? I am very sensitive to glare in the upper midrange/lower treble and it pretty much puts this table out of contention for me. I think that it is the table, not the arm as I have mounted the arm on other tables with different results.
The PX 3 remains a true joy to use and listen to. Recently found an Sumiko Acrylic Mat. Using it on the PX 3. This has made a tremendous difference. The PX 3 with this simple addition has moved several steps up on sonic signature. Separation and soundstage dramaticaly improved.Plus the PX 3 is fully auto/with manual over ride.For plug and play with superior sonics the PX 3 is a hands down winner.

The Rega Planar 3 with RB 300 arm is a hall mark table in all respects. The midrange and treble you speak of is only slightly there. This has more to do with the Sumiko BP. Thats why I loaded it at 100 ohms instead of 47K ohms. It has been said that the acrylic platter, that replaces the glass platter totally addresses the issue you have menetioned. Plus a change in cartridge is in order. If this is a keeper it will get a Dynavector or Benz cartridge.

When new the Rega Planar 3 was $775.00 while the PX 3 was $695.00. So price wise the comparison is on target. However both are vastly different in their execution. The PX 3 is a techno marvel, with superb sonics. While the Rega Planar 3 is a high end hobbyist table, with great potential. At this point in time, if push came to shove and I had to live with one the PX 3 would be the keeper. However as time goes go and the tweaks and mods are done to the Rega that might change as well.

But neither of these tables can compete with the Oracle Alexandria. But again there is a vast price difference here as well. Oracle has just released their acrylic mat and this has pushed the sonics of the Oracle further up the sonic spectrum. Appears that acrylic mats and platters,have a clear and decided edge in music reproduction. Just amazing to hear the difference.
Thanks so much for giving such a detailed and informative contrast.
Update One:

Have installed the Expressimo Threaded VTA Adjuster. This is a very worthwhile addition to the Rega RB 300 arm. Allows precise adjustment to get the cartridge right on to the manufacturer specifications for the cartridge you may be using. Highly Recommend the VTA Adjuster.

Also have installed the Acrylic Platter. I am a big fan of acrylic mats. Using them on the Oracle and Yamaha PX 3, major improvement there. Totally surprised to find no improvement in the Rega when using the Acrylic. So have return to the Glass Platter. It is simple the Glass Platter on the Rega just sounds better...period. Do not recommend the Acrylic Platter for the Rega.

Soon will be trying the other mods - will keep all posted.
Have had the Expressimo off center counter weight installed now for about 5 months. Have to admit that this is another worth while upgrade to the Rega turntable. It has elevated the peformance of the arm to another level. Sound stage and definition have improved considerably.

So if you have a Rega table with Rega arm this is a improvement over the stock counter weight.

I have seen another counter weight for the Rega arm, that seems to be getting a lot of press lately. It is from J.A. Michell. May try one of these to compare the Expressimo.

If anyone has first hand experience with the J.A. Michell on a Rega tone arm, let me know.