How To Hot rodding Rega 3

ProgDr

Well-known member
Jan 25, 2021
34
18
45
I see a number of threads on here talking about hot rodding older turntables and I thought my experience may help someone else who was contemplating going this route.

A few years ago i dragged my old Rega Planar 3 turntable out of the loft and decided to resurrect my vinyl collection. It had the ADC XLM Mk2 cartridge an early RB300 arm and sounded very much like any old Rega 3. I serviced it replaced the belt and bearing oil and very quickly found myself frustrated with the sound.

Being a tinkerer i decided to try to improve the sound and set about lowering the noise floor.

First swap was the new Rega 24V AC motor kit and the rega white belt (£150). This made a difference to the speed stability and there was a decrease in the background noise but it wasn't quite what I had hoped. The sound was still a little undefined and lacked warmth.
Next came the sub platter and bearing (£100) from Fidelity Designs. This was a HUGE upgrade. It dropped the noise floor significantly and in doing so revealed details I hadn't heard in recordings I had listened to many times. The breaking of the glass in Dire Straits Private investigations jumped out at me and Neil Pearts Cymbal work on Tom Sawyer were suddenly centre stage This was £100 very well spent.

61843905353__81ED391C-7028-4E39-91D2-0A46B0772D89.JPG

At this point I added the Neo TTPSU (£235) which I have to be honest didn't make a huge difference at this point, it helped with the speed change but as I rarely played 45's it wasn't a big deal. It did improve the accuracy of the rotational speed but it wasn't miles out before.
The next upgrade was a Delta 24mm acrylic platter (£100) as I had heard a friends turntable and it made a big difference on theirs.
61843917455__C4163141-C139-418A-8EED-1CD1FC41783D.JPG

This killed the top end and sounded horrible. The lack of VTA adjustment on the RB300 meant the arm just sat wrong and the results were very disappointing.
Not to be deterred I ordered an Origin VTA Adjuster kit (£25) and since I was going to have to remove the arm I decided to rewire it with Cardas Litz kit (£100)
This brought everything back into focus again and I could hear a further improvement in reduction of noise. The rewire also gave me a dedicated earth instead of routing the earth via the left channel. Interestingly at this point the TPPSU made a big difference, it appears to work really well with the rewire possibly due to the better earthing. Removing the TPPSU was much more noticeable than when I added it a few months before.

61843931666__38AE2C75-AA1E-4CEC-9645-DAE82189F7FE.JPG

The ADC stylus was starting to wear so i purchased a Denon DL110 (£250) high output moving coil cartridge which was a great match with the Quad 99 pre power i was running and as i was changing the cartridge I decided to upgrade the counterweight for an Isokinetic offset weight (£45) at the same time as I was told it made a big difference. It didnt. It made the top end very very slightly almost inaudibly more defined by reducing resonance down the arm.

I had found that every time I reduced background noise the sound improved. It didnt change character but removing the motor and bearing noise just made everything clearer so when I saw the SRM-Tech Silentbase I thought this is bound to make it better.... so £145 and a couple of days later...
F90FDAD7-10CB-401E-A865-776909558398.jpg

The SRM Silent base is probably not the best investment. Yes it has nice sorbothane isolation feet and it decouples the motor from the platter to virtually remove motor noise which is great, but the motor is held in what looks like a neoprene tube and it doesn't help the wow and flutter figures, also the neoprene compresses and reduces tension on the drive belt increasing the problem. The wow and flutter never rose above 0.2% so remained inaudible but my subconscious engineer keeps telling me it isn't as good as it was or could be.

My last upgrade really should have been my first a dedicated wall rega bracket (£170). This makes a very big difference if you have elephants for kids.. I cant recommend this one enough! One tip though, i was loaned a shelf from a friend who had purchased it from an online auction site claiming it was an original rega shelf and it was awful.

61843965147__C4E1800E-1710-4D71-97B8-8A6CD2AFD89A.JPG

It lacks the front crossmember of the Rega product and the arms resonate like a huge tuning fork... The proper rega shelf may be a few quid more but worth every penny.

So what did i end up with, well it is still a rega, it still has that typical rega presentation but its a significant improvement on where it started. Its quieter, its clearer, it presents detail that i have never heard on any Rega Planar 3, P3-24 or latest generation. It is still slightly sterile in its sound and needs carful cartridge matching to generate any warmth without sounding bloated. I tried the Ortofon 2M Bronze which was a dreadful mismatch making it sound thin and wearing but I tried a Goldring 1042 just before i swapped it and it sounded really sweet. It would give a RP6 a run for its money.

Would i do it again? No! I spent over £1000 not including the turntable and many many hours on my upgrade journey and when i compared it to a Thorens TD309 with Goldring G2500 and Swagman PSU... I swapped it immediately. I was chasing a sound that i had in my head and I was never going to achieve it as that sound wasn't a Rega sound.

In summary i will rate the upgrades in order of improvement per £ in my opinion.
1 Rega Wall shelf
2 Bearing and subplatter
4 24v AC Motor Kit & Belt
5 Cardass rewire
6 Acrylic platter
7 Neo TTPSU
8 Counterweight
9 SRM Tech Siltentbase.
I have not put the cartridge on there as while it made a huge improvement, my ADC was old and depending on what you have results may vary.

I hope this helps anyone thinking of tinkering with their old Rega.
 
Last edited:

ProgDr

Well-known member
Jan 25, 2021
34
18
45
Just a quick follow up. The guy I sold my Rega to had a Manticore Mantra with RB250 (rewired) external PSU and AT VMS20 cartridge. His response comparing the 2 side by side was the Rega was just ‘more’. More of everything he wanted, More rhythm, more clarity, more dynamic, more tuneful and much quieter than his Manta. He was about to buy a Project x2 but preferred my Rega so it couldn’t have been that bad..
 
  • Like
Reactions: Al ears

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts