This review will deal with the current Rega P3 turntable with Rega RB 300 tone arm and some of the updates that are
available for this venerable performer.
There is not much sense in going into a lengthy review of this table. It has been reviewed many times in the past years and in the Planar 3 or the current P 3 it has remained a bedrock of analog playback for well over 30 years and was updated by Rega to P3 in 2000.
However over the years some after market companies have offered several upgrades for the P 3. This will deal with the J.A. Michell Techno Weight for the RB 300 Tone Arm,the Deep Groove sub platter and the Iron Audio Acrylic Platter. Each of these upgrades brings the performance of the P 3 to a higher level of analog playback and each of these items are quite cost effective for the price/performance dollar invested.
Straight out of the box the Rega P3 is a great table and at its price/performnce ratio there is little in the market place that can touch it. In recent years the RB 300 tone arm has become somewhat of an icon in its own right,with many high end tables employing this arm or a derivative of the RB 300 in higher priced turntables.
However there is on the market today several counter weights for the RB 300. I have used the Expressimo and the Clear Audio offset counter weight with excellent results and this has moved the overall sonics of the RB 300 to loftier performance levels and has improved tracking to another level.
Although this time sought to use the J.A. Michell counter weight, which is the new buzz in Rega counter weights today. This is a well thought out design and the machining is top class all the way. This is a four piece system, which consists of new end stub,slider,2 counter weights and adjuster for stylus pressure. One counter weight for 3 to 6 grams the other counter weight for 6 to 13 grams, so virtually any modern phono cartridge is usable with the RB 300 arm. It does take a little more finesse to get this counter weight right than with the other two menetioned,but once properly set up, brings the overall sonics of the RB 300 several levels up from the other contenders. Vinyl Engine on the net has covered this counter weight and while I thought their claims were somewhat over embellished, I now have to admit that for the most part their analysis of the Michell Rega Counter Weight was right on. One just has to hear the RB 300 arm with this counter weight. It is a major leaque improvement of the stock Rega Counter Weight and easily surpasses the Expressimo and Clear Audio Rega counter weights. The Michell is far more precise in its overall execution and allows the RB 300 arm to far excell its performance bar. I highly recommend this J.A. Michell Counter Weight for the Rega RB 300 tone arm. A very worthwhile upgrade, that far belies its modest cost.
Next upgrade was the Rega sub platter, to the Deep Groove sub platter with ruby ball bearing. Not a lot has been written about this. However the stock sub platter on the P 3 is slighly off speed on the fast side and the general trick has been to add to electrical tape to the perimeter of the stock sub platter to get spot on speed. However the sub platter does not have much weight to it and is made of some plastic fiber material. Therefore the flywheel effect if any is quite minimal and the start time to speed is about 2 1/2 to 3 revolutions to 33.3 rpm.
The Deep Groove sub platter for the Rega P 3 solves a multitude of those inherent problems with the stock sub platter. The Deep Groove sub platter is precisioned machined from aluminium stock and is ever so slightly larger to avoid speed problems. The ruby ball bearing along with its lubricant allows the platter to reach full rotational speed in one revolution and appears to put less stress on the belt and motor pulley assembly and due to its slightly heavier weight adds the much needed flywheel effect to the P 3. This is a very easy install and can be
handled by anyone with basic turntable skills. The directions are clear concise and step by step and with 20 minutes at most the job is done. Using the VPI strobe disc confirm the one revolution to speed and was rock steady at 33.3 rpm. A great upgrade that is more than offset by the price and brings up the level of the P 3. I do recommend this upgrade as the Rega greatly benefits from the lower noise floor,flywheel effect and the reduced stress on the motor,belt and pulley.
The platter on the Rega P3 and other Regas has been the glass platter with felt mat. Although it was considered a revolution in its day, time and technology has pushed forward and the word today is acrylic platters. the one used here is the Iron Audio pure acrylic platter as replacement for the glass platter. This is a very nicely machined acrylic platter with frosted top and polished clear side. It is well balanced,flat without visible warpage and fits precisely of the Rega and Deep Groove sub platter. It is somewhat thicker than the glass platter and is slightly recessed underneath so that the stock height is retained. Nice side benefit to this is that the sub platter becomes less visible with the recess. The Iron Audio Acrylic Platter makes a tremendous difference in the sonics of the Rega. Sound stage is vastly opened,depth front to back is seamless and well defined and detail one thought that was not there, comes to life. This is one of the most dramatic upgrades with immediate benefits I can think of. Can be used with the stock Rega Felt Mat, or in this case the Herbie turntable mat.
These upgrades are more than cost effective,greatly enchance the overall performance of the venerable P3 to loftier heights and if your really into analog, these are a must have for the Rega Planar 3 or P3.
The Rega P 3 now competes and is on par with my VPI Scout and the overall cost is less.
The J.A. Michell Counter Weight was $125.00
The Deep Groove Sub Platter was $189.00
The Iron Audio Acrylic Platter was $95.00
The Rega P3 was purchased for $500.00
So at a total of $909.00 here is a great analog playback system that is on par with my VPI Scout at $1,500.00.
This is just posted as food for thought if one is considering the upgrade path for a Rega Planar 3 or P 3. Plus these do not have to be done all at once and can be added as time and budget dictates.
So if you have been looking at some of the higher priced tables, but budget dictates else, here is a solution that delivers perfomance one can get easily spolied to and one does not have to make excuses for. One of analogs great turntables with updates that bring it to higher levels of resolution with cost effectiveness a priority.
Doesn't get much better than this.Associated gear Click to view my Virtual SystemSimilar products
VPI,Oracle,Project, you name it,has been through here at one or another.