Cartridge and Phono amp advice for upgrading P3/24

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I looking to improve the sound from my Rega P3/24 with TT-PSU. Currently I use an Elys 2 cartridge and the Project Phono Box II into a Primare I30 and Spendor A5 speakers. I like a full, involving and musical sound but without losing too much detail. I listen to a wide range from rock to classical - but especially blues and more recently jazz.

I would be grateful for any recommendations on cartridges and phono stages that you think would improve on the current setup and provide a rich full sound. I am also interested in what is a sensible upper budget before the law of diminishing returns sets in with a vengeance as I intend to stick with the deck and the rest of my system for a while at least.

Many thanks

Penfold
 

Lost Angeles

Well-known member
Apr 24, 2008
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Penfold64:

I looking to improve the sound from my Rega P3/24 with TT-PSU. Currently I use an Elys 2 cartridge and the Project Phono Box II into a Primare I30 and Spendor A5 speakers. I like a full, involving and musical sound but without losing too much detail. I listen to a wide range from rock to classical - but especially blues and more recently jazz.

I would be grateful for any recommendations on cartridges and phono stages that you think would improve on the current setup and provide a rich full sound. I am also interested in what is a sensible upper budget before the law of diminishing returns sets in with a vengeance as I intend to stick with the deck and the rest of my system for a while at least.

Many thanks

Penfold

Goldring cartridges are supposed to go well with Rega arms, The 2500 or similar could be worth looking at, there is a review on this site.
Some other people on here have fitted Ortofon 2M Bronze or Black carts on their Rega if my memory is correct.
The Phono stage worth investigating is a Trichord Dino 2 which will give a full sound and also offers the possibility of a later upgrade to a MC. These come up quite regularly on E-bay
Hopefully this might kick start some other comments. I'm sure Chebby has recommended Goldring carts in the past.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Penfold - I'll strongly second Lost Angeles' recommendation for the Trichord Dino - I've currently got two of them in use and am really happy with them - (didn't plan it this way, but I've got a Mark 1 and a Mark 2 - got the original Mk1 before there was a Mk 2)

If I'm honest I can't determine a massive difference between the Mark 1 and 2 (worth bearing in mind if you are looking for a second hand one) but I did think getting a Dino+ power supply improved the sound if you're thinking of upgrading in the future. I had a Project Phono box 2 before the Dino and found the Dino sound a big improvement - somehow seemed more detailed, yet smooth and musical at the same time. Might be worth looking at the Trichord site as they often have ex-dem ones for sale.

As for cartridges I do like Goldrings (on my Systemdek with Rega RB250) - I've tried both the 2500 and the 1042 and to be honest think I prefer the 1042 (its my current cartridge) - although the 2500 is pretty good too. The 1042 has been going 20+ years now and Goldring are still shifting them so it can't just be me.

Hope that helps a little

Simon
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Thanks to both of you - the Trichord does look interesting and I will see if I can find somewhere to hear one. I am also grateful for your cartridge suggestions and after looking at various reviews I am particularly interested in Denon DL-110, Dynavector 10x5, Goldring 1042 and Sumiko Blue Point No2. The last 3 have the benefit of being stock items for my local dealer so it should be possible to dem them. Unfortunately, though, they do not sell the Denon which looks particularly interesting because I have read it is particularly forgiving of older or used vinyl and low on surface noise.

Some of my vinyl collection was too well loved in my youth (when frequent lack of sobriety may not have contributed positively to tip top maintenance) so is not all in great condition - with noticeable surface noise on some and a few clicks, pops and scratches. It is by no means all trashed, some of it is still in good nick and I have also recently taken custody of my dad's collection which is in much better condition - but it would be good to find a forgiving cartridge if that is possible, so as to really enjoy revisiting some of my old favourites and try scouring some of the second hand stuff around.

I would be grateful on your thoughts or experience of the carts above - particularly their abilities with surface noise and less than pristine vinyl or any other recommendations that would excel in this area.My preference is towards a full musical sound. I do like detail too but definitely do not like cold and clinical - so performance in these areas is also of interest.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Hi Penfold - As I said above I really rate the 1042 and I can't say I've noticed that its any better or worse than other cartridges for background noise. Of the other cartridges you mention the only one I've tried myself is the 10x5 and I really didn't get on with it. I'd seen plenty of reviews that really rated it and felt it to be smooth and warm but I found it to be very bland and flat.

I asked about this on another forum (even considered it might be a duff cartridge at one point) because it seemed odd to me that such a well regarded cartridge came over so flat- and several other users responded that they had felt the same. When I replaced it with my current 1042 to me it sounded like a significant upgrade despite the fact that the Dynavector cost £100 more. Trouble with cartridges is you can't really tell until you buy it, fit it and use it - but I think I'd probably consider the 10x5 my most unsatisfactory hi-fi purchase for many years - but as ever maybe that's just me.

Hope that helps

Simon
 

respe

New member
Apr 16, 2009
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I have used a denon dl110 cart (not the same one) for years, starting with it mounted on a P2, then P3, then P25, and finally on a P9. at each stage as the deck improved, the 110 just showed more of what it can do. Although it is a high output moving coil, aimed at MM stages, it will work very well through stages with adjustable gain such as the Rega MC phono. I tried the 10x5, and really was dissapointed with it, the 20x however is a different beast altogether.

I would suggest that you start with a Denon 110 or 160 using your current stage, just be prepared to increase the gain on your amp to counterbalance the low(ish) output on the 110. Then at a later stage treat yourself to a MC stage that has the capacity to run the 110 for a while. That would allow you to progress to something like the Dyna 20xl in easy steps. If your local dealer has one, you could also try the 20XH from the off, but I personally much prefer the L version, and they seem to enjoy life on Rega arms.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Thanks again - it has certainly increased my interest in the Denon cartridges and I will try and find a dealer prepared to demo them if I can. I am also interested in your views on good phono stages to consider - obviously there is the Trichord Dino already mentioned; others that look interesting are Graham Slee Era Gold V, Icon Audio PS1.2 or pushing the budget alot harder Astin Trew AT8000, Quad QC24P or maybe the Primare R32 would be a good match for my I30 amp. Any knowledge or comments on any of these or other recommendations would be much appreciated.

Now I have started looking into this - on the one hand it is encouraging to see how many different ways there are to upgrade the Rega P3 but it also a bit overwhelming. It seems you can really go as far as you like (or can afford) - with sub platter upgrades, counterweight upgrades, platter upgrades and fancy reworks of Rega arms etc. I would be interested in other forum users opinions on what in general make the most significant differences in percentage terms - e.g. the right cartridge change may make a 20% difference but the counterweight upgrade may only make a 5% difference for example. It would just help to know which areas are the most important to concentrate on.

Thanks again

Penfold
 

respe

New member
Apr 16, 2009
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as you have the psu, you have a major improvement on the P3-24. The next step I would suggest would be the sub-platter. I used the Groovetracer on the P25 and was really happy with the extra solidity, and reduction in back ground noise this brought. The counter stub change is much harder to evaluate. On a RB250, its a real benefit as it takes away the plastic end stub. On a RB300 it is less obvious, and to me (I used a technoweight) its more a ease of use thing. Given the choice between a techno weight and a wall shelf for instance I would go for the wall shelf everytime. In fact I would be tempted to say wall shelf first, then sub platter. As for platter upgrades, I would say that they are a flavour variation rather then a upgrade. The deck will sound different with a acrylic platter, or glass plus different mat. That may be an improvement to one, but a downgrade to another. I tried acrylic and went back to glass.

When you have the basics of the deck sorted, try and think of the cart and stage as one unit. I appreciate that the stage will have to live with more than one cart, but the way in which the cart and stage see each other in terms of load has a much bigger impact on the overall sound than may be expected. You should realy try and decide on a total budget for these two items, and work towards that. If you have a decent dealer handy, try and have a listen to the Rega MC phono, and the Dyna 20xl on a P3. If that sound appeals then you have a route. Buy the 110 now and use it with your current stage. Then change the stage to the Rega MC, then when the 110 is worn, or you have the money add the dyna, open the MC phono change the dip switches to suit, sit back and enjoy.

It is a personal choice of course, and you need to hear as much as possible, but my rega mm stage (Built into the pre-amp) and separate MC phono have withstood comparison with stages from Slee, Dynavector, and others. The MC phono may well have just been ousted from my system however. I have just popped a ios stage in (on a home demo), and for the first time have heard a replacement that I do not want to loose from the rack.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Thanks again. A wall shelf is not really an option - the only space for my kit at the moment is in a bay window - but the floor is ceramic tiles over concrete and the system is sitting on an Atacama Equinox stand so it should be reasonably isolated from vibration. Would something like the Isokinetik Isofeet be worthwhile instead?



The Groovetracer subplatter does seem to be well reviewed but it is as much as a decent cartridge - which will have the most beneficial effect?

Unfortunately my local dealer where the TT came from only seems to stock one phono stage (Gram Amp 1) so I am going to have to search around for one with a wider choice that is happy to arrange demo's of cartridges.

Cheers

Penfold
 

Lost Angeles

Well-known member
Apr 24, 2008
130
0
18,590
Penfold64:

Thanks again - it has certainly increased my interest in the Denon cartridges and I will try and find a dealer prepared to demo them if I can. I am also interested in your views on good phono stages to consider - obviously there is the Trichord Dino already mentioned; others that look interesting are Graham Slee Era Gold V, Icon Audio PS1.2 or pushing the budget alot harder Astin Trew AT8000, Quad QC24P or maybe the Primare R32 would be a good match for my I30 amp. Any knowledge or comments on any of these or other recommendations would be much appreciated.

Thanks again
Penfold

I think you have to be careful to get the balance correct here.
Spending £800-£1000 on a phono stage which is considerably more than the TT may be overkill and although you will probably get a fantastic sound it is feasible that the TT will not do the phono stage justice. It may be better to spend some of that money on vinyl.
WHF usually recommend spending about 25% of the TT cost on a phono amp.
 

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