Rega Planar 3 Upgrades

mcooling

Active Member
Hi there,
Looking at some potential upgrades to my 2016 Planar 3 / Elys 2. Current setup: -
  • Brio-R integrated amp
  • Neo PSU
  • White belt
Had a look around various forums, and quite a few people suggesting cart and sub-platter upgrades can make a big difference. Lots of people saying the Groovetracer Reference makes a big difference from the stock Rega sub-platter, and similarly that the Exact cart is a big jump from the Elys.

Has anyone made these upgrades? Nearly £500 for both, so it's a lot of money. Are they worth the ££ or is it snake oil? Any alternative sub-platters / carts recommended, over the ones I've mentioned?

All comments welcomed.

Cheers,
Marc
 

Apollo83

Active Member
In my experience a cartridge upgrade can make an easily noticeable difference.
Also depending on the condition / lubrication on the current subplatter a subplatter upgrade can make a slight but noticeable upgrade.
If you're worried about price I would consider the cartridge first and subplatter second.

My upgrade journey (including the base!) described here:
https://www.avforums.com/threads/srm-azure-turntable-a-diy-upgrade.2232669/
 

MaryWhitehouse

Well-known Member
Most importantly what do you hear that you want to improve?
 

oscroft

Member
There's a thread about my Planar 3 upgrades here.

It started with an arm upgrade, but I went on to upgrade sub-platter, platter, motor, Neo, cartridge, belt, bearing... so much that I had enough leftover parts to build another turntable for my nephew.

Starting from scratch again, I'd prioritise a new sub-platter and platter, in that order. My sub-platter is an alloy one from Fidelity Designs, and platter is an acrylic one from SRM/Tech.
 

Luceo non uro

Active Member
Changing from the Elys to the Exact was a big difference for me. I bought a second-hand cart, so not sure how much life it has left in it (they are always sold as less than 100 hours!).

Changing the belt didn't make any audible difference, to me anyway. If you're curious I would wait until your belt needs replacing, then try the white or Little Belter belts.

If you don't want to splash out on the Groovetracer, there is another subplatter called the Tangospinner, which apparently gives a similar upgrade, for less money. I bought one, but haven't swapped it out yet. It ships from Argentina and arrived to me in about 10 days. Oh and it came with a silicon belt, if you want to scratch that itch!

The audible returns for upgrading to the Neo are less than the cost, IMO. It does sound a bit tighter, and if you play lots of 45s then there is the laziness factor to consider - no more belt swapping! Worth buying if you have the spare cash, but not essential.

My other suggestion would be a standalone Phono stage. That and the cart change made the most noticeable differences to me. Both 'lifted a veil' as they say! I went for the Fono MM initially and it sounded great. I've since picked up a second-hand Aria with a view to trying MC carts at some point. But the Fono MM gave excellent bang for your buck (again, IMO).
 

bogart99

Well-known Member
Couple of guys over here doing sub platters/ platters to rival the USA ones. Seems on consensus, from what I have read, is that a sub platter made from Delrin performs better than a metallic one. And platters are also available in Delrin also. I noted with interest that one can buy a 20mm thick sheet of Delrin 500mm x300mm for around £50. Stick some sorbothane feet under that and you may have
an ideal isolation platform that does not cost the earth like most do. Oh and I can vouch for the Little belter blue belt. Doing checks on rpm gave much better accuracy and stability rpm wise over the standard Rega belt
 

BT Bob

Distinguished Member
Hi there,
Looking at some potential upgrades to my 2016 Planar 3 / Elys 2. Current setup: -
  • White belt
I wouldn't get the white belt at the present time. It's being replaced by the MBLT that's standard on the P10, P8 and this year's P6. I don't think they're available to0 buy as an upgrade yet - probably Rega waiting to exhaust the white belts already in dealers.
 

mcooling

Active Member
Hi all,

Thanks for the comments. Just to clarify, the setup I mentioned above is what I already have, not what I'm considering. I've had it a couple of years. I've raised a separate thread about my speakers, which seem to be causing the biggest issue with overall sound quality...seemingly improved massively by sticking some hiking socks in the rear bass port!

Been faffing with various measurements and among other things, turns out the TT isn't very level. Sorted for now with some business cards, but just bought some very smart looking adjustable cones from Iceni Audio. They also do a sub-platter, but the honest advice I got back from Iceni was that gains on a sub-platter would be marginal at best, given that I have the Neo.

Also got an email back from Ben at Fidelity Designs who also do sub-platters. He said a very similar thing to Iceni. Have to say, very impressed with the honest feedback from these guys, given they are selling these things.

Both of them advised upgrading the cart before platter and sub-platter. In Iceni's own words he rates the Elys cart as 'basic'...which takes me into another hornet's nest!

Elys vs Exact vs AT-VM540 vs Nagaoka MP-200...any thoughts? AT and Nagaoka get great reviews, but I have been 'warned' they both need spacers and setup can be hard work. Not sure I'm competent enough for that.
 

BT Bob

Distinguished Member
Patrick (Johnson?), from Iceni Audio, is a regular contributor on the Rega Turntables Facebook group and he's a really helpful guy. Worth joining if you're a FB user.
 

bogart99

Well-known Member
I wouldn't get the white belt at the present time. It's being replaced by the MBLT that's standard on the P10, P8 and this year's P6. I don't think they're available to0 buy as an upgrade yet - probably Rega waiting to exhaust the white belts already in dealers.
And come up with a stupid price.
 

mcooling

Active Member
Patrick (Johnson?), from Iceni Audio, is a regular contributor on the Rega Turntables Facebook group and he's a really helpful guy. Worth joining if you're a FB user.

Ah very good, thanks for the heads up. Yeah been exchanging email with Patrick today. Just bought the cones and feet from him, and he’s going to come back to me with some cart upgrade options. Seems a really sound bloke
 

bogart99

Well-known Member
Hi all,

Thanks for the comments. Just to clarify, the setup I mentioned above is what I already have, not what I'm considering. I've had it a couple of years. I've raised a separate thread about my speakers, which seem to be causing the biggest issue with overall sound quality...seemingly improved massively by sticking some hiking socks in the rear bass port!

Been faffing with various measurements and among other things, turns out the TT isn't very level. Sorted for now with some business cards, but just bought some very smart looking adjustable cones from Iceni Audio. They also do a sub-platter, but the honest advice I got back from Iceni was that gains on a sub-platter would be marginal at best, given that I have the Neo.

Also got an email back from Ben at Fidelity Designs who also do sub-platters. He said a very similar thing to Iceni. Have to say, very impressed with the honest feedback from these guys, given they are selling these things.

Both of them advised upgrading the cart before platter and sub-platter. In Iceni's own words he rates the Elys cart as 'basic'...which takes me into another hornet's nest!

Elys vs Exact vs AT-VM540 vs Nagaoka MP-200...any thoughts? AT and Nagaoka get great reviews, but I have been 'warned' they both need spacers and setup can be hard work. Not sure I'm competent enough for that.
Sub platter maybe think your a fair way off needing a new platter maybe try an acrylic mat.
AT VM95ML easy to fit no faffing.
 

matthewpiano78

Active Member
Earlier this year, I packed my RP3 with Elys 2 away in favour of a new Project 'The Classic' with Ortofon 2M Silver. I was attracted by the traditional look of the Classic, quite redolent of the old Thorens TD150, and thought it would represent a worthwhile upgrade from the Rega.

I've had some issues with the Pro-ject so I put the RP3 back on tonight and I'm kicking myself. The RB303 arm is much better than the carbon arm on the Project, the Rega motor is quieter both on start-up and during playing, and there is better clarity and balance in the sound. In short, the Rega is a better deck.

The point in me sharing this here is that I think it's easy to get carried away with 'upgrades', whether they're a whole shift from one turntable to another, or changes of individual parts. If you're happy spending on the upgrades it's your choice, but the conclusion I've come to is that Rega know turntables and cartridges inside out, and you may find that the 'improvement' in sound from changing parts doesn't balance with the cost. Of course, that depends how much disposable money you've got, but I'd rather upgrade to a P6 or P8 than mess around with the RP3, which is an extremely good turntable in itself.
 

mcooling

Active Member
Yeah @matthewpiano78 I definitely take the point. Tbf my P3 is pretty much out of the box. Only tweaks I’ve made are adding the Rega white belt (was only a tenner) and some adjustable isolation cones, as my deck surface isn’t level. I added the Neo PSU and Brio-R, which I viewed more as pairings to the deck, than changes to it. I’m sure the Elys cart would serve me well for a few more years, but I do see a lot of people saying I can get a lot more out of the deck, with a cart upgrade. I could probably justify the cost of Exact or similar, if the sound quality is going to be noticeably better. But not the cost of jumping to P6 or higher.
 

bogart99

Well-known Member
I am not a mad fan of Rega cartridges. My honest opinion is the Elys cartridge is overpriced for what it returns. You can always buy a cartridge try it if not to your favour do not think you would have too much problem shifting it on here. Interesting that @matthewpiano78, with whom I am in dialogue about our new Dali speakers but that is another matter, has used an Ortofon 2M. I thought, might be totally wrong often am, that the 2Ms due to the large body altered the VTA too much and necessitated fitting a spacer under the arm base, a bit more of a faff. You could always consider a standalone phono stage there are some damned good ones about for not a lot of money, though I think the Brio phono stage is no slouch anyway.
 

ben38

Active Member
Patrick (Johnson?), from Iceni Audio, is a regular contributor on the Rega Turntables Facebook group and he's a really helpful guy. Worth joining if you're a FB user.

I second that, I bought the sub-platter (which i'm going to be selling soon having upgraded to a P6) and the low slung counterweight from Iceni and Patrick is very friendly and helpful. The products are very well made too, fantastic quality.
 

BT Bob

Distinguished Member
And come up with a stupid price.
probably - I've been trying to source one for my P6, which is a 2019 model with the while belt, even though I didn't get it until 2020 as an ex-demo. I can't even get a price on what they might be.

My honest opinion is the Elys cartridge is overpriced for what it returns......

I thought, might be totally wrong often am, that the 2Ms due to the large body altered the VTA too much and necessitated fitting a spacer under the arm base, a bit more of a faff.

I think, especially in the UK, Rega's pricing makes all their cartridges a bargain when they're bundled with a TT. If you buy just the cart (and I'm not sure I've ever seen anything from any one who has in the UK) they look very expensive, and there are better options at the same relative price-point.

VTA is an interesting one. Gandy has written about this extensively and claims a change in arm-height increase of 12mm won't affect the VTA (+1°) sufficiently to affect distortion/sound. (YMMV).


If it was me, I'm not sure my "OCD" would let me live with an arm that sloped to that extent.... ;)
 

matthewpiano78

Active Member
I am not a mad fan of Rega cartridges. My honest opinion is the Elys cartridge is overpriced for what it returns. You can always buy a cartridge try it if not to your favour do not think you would have too much problem shifting it on here. Interesting that @matthewpiano78, with whom I am in dialogue about our new Dali speakers but that is another matter, has used an Ortofon 2M. I thought, might be totally wrong often am, that the 2Ms due to the large body altered the VTA too much and necessitated fitting a spacer under the arm base, a bit more of a faff. You could always consider a standalone phono stage there are some damned good ones about for not a lot of money, though I think the Brio phono stage is no slouch anyway.

Hi @bogart99,
I haven't been using the 2M on the Rega. That's what came bundled with the Project 'Classic'. One of the reasons for me buying the Project was being in the dark about how to replace my Elys2 (nearly 10 years old) with a new Elys2, given the 3-point fixing. The one downside of Rega cartridges (Carbon aside) is that the styli are unreplaceable so when you would normally replace the stylus you have to mount a whole new cartridge. Ultimately however, I find the Rega to be the better deck and the Elys2 to be the better cartridge. I've also realised my current Elys2 still has life left in it.

VTA and Rega turntables is an issue that has seen much discussion but I'm inclined to go with Roy Gandy's view overall. It's really not an issue for me, as I actually like Rega cartridges a lot, but it was another factor that originally made me buy the Pro-ject because I got caught up in the idea of being able to swap and change cartridges more easily if funds ever allowed.

In short I'm now sticking with Rega and if I change my turntable at some point, it will either be to the latest spec P3 or to a P6. With either I would use a Rega cart, though it is possible to use others.
 

MaryWhitehouse

Well-known Member
I second that, I bought the sub-platter (which i'm going to be selling soon having upgraded to a P6) and the low slung counterweight from Iceni and Patrick is very friendly and helpful. The products are very well made too, fantastic quality.

Definitely interested in that ;)
 

MaryWhitehouse

Well-known Member
VTA is an interesting one

On my Planar 2 I adjust VTA with cds between the platter and subplatter (with small sorbothane domes in 4 of the sub slots for damping. Hides the ugly sub under the glass platter, helps arm angle ‘OCD’ but does nothing for sound.
 

oscroft

Member
The thing that would keep me away from the Rega Elys 2 is its elliptical stylus, having heard the big improvement a fine line (or whatever you call it) stylus can make. Admittedly, I've never heard an Elys 2, but after upgrading my Ortofon Super OM to an OM30, I'm sure I'd never go back to an elliptical stylus. And given the extended stylus (and record) life you typically get with a fine line stylus, I reckon they can be better value than an elliptical too.

To go beyond elliptical with Rega, we're looking at the Exact and its "complex fine line micro-ground" stylus, and a price point of around £270. That's by no means a ridiculous price, but it's up against some stiff competition. That includes the AT-VM95ML at around half the price, and the Goldring 1042 at about £50 more - both of which have a replaceable and upgradeable stylus path.

On the subject of VTA, I read a fairly in-depth article on it recently which came to pretty much the same conclusion as Roy Gandy - that it takes a big change in arm height to affect the VTA to any significant amount. Unfortunately, I didn't keep a link to it and can't find it now, sorry. (But yes, put me in the OCD camp as someone who couldn't stand having a sloping arm).
 

MaryWhitehouse

Well-known Member
I’m a big fan of the AT VM5/7 series. The elliptical nude is a particular sweet spot with plenty of upgrade choice. Whilst more than the 95 series I think they’re worth it and a really big jump from there upwards.
 

bogart99

Well-known Member
Personally I would take some of Mr Gandy's point with a large pinch of salt especially his wonderful
statement that one does not need to clean records:laugh:. And as mentioned by others Rega have shot themselves in the foot in my opinion in not having replaceable/upgradeable stylii .Have currently got AT VM95C, for knackered recordings, and both VM95EN and VM95ML. I prefer the ML sound plus it ,according to AT, should last nearly 3 times as long making it much better value than the EN.
 

bogart99

Well-known Member
probably - I've been trying to source one for my P6, which is a 2019 model with the while belt, even though I didn't get it until 2020 as an ex-demo. I can't even get a price on what they might be.



I think, especially in the UK, Rega's pricing makes all their cartridges a bargain when they're bundled with a TT. If you buy just the cart (and I'm not sure I've ever seen anything from any one who has in the UK) they look very expensive, and there are better options at the same relative price-point.

VTA is an interesting one. Gandy has written about this extensively and claims a change in arm-height increase of 12mm won't affect the VTA (+1°) sufficiently to affect distortion/sound. (YMMV).


If it was me, I'm not sure my "OCD" would let me live with an arm that sloped to that extent.... ;)
So I wonder then why do Rega sell VTA spacer brackets?
 

MaryWhitehouse

Well-known Member
Personally I would take some of Mr Gandy's point with a large pinch of salt especially his wonderful
statement that one does not need to clean records:laugh:

Mr Gandy is undoubtedly a genius. Just not in the way lore would have you believe. Anyone that can sell, essentially, the same products unchanged for decades and still be seen as cutting edge deserves kudos! Some of the product design to keep costs down is amazing if not good for sound.
 

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