Stay tuned while I set up, fine tune and run in the amp and the new goldring 2500 cartridge! In the mean time, check out some pineapple thief.
Having first tried all the previous modifications, (part two), on my P3-24, I had to agree that there may indeed be a good argument against the fundamental components left on my P3-24 which are built to a lower price point. It’s very probable that the high quality parts that I had assembled so far, would always be held back by the stock plinth and the standard RB 301 tone arm.
First on the agenda then, finding a better plinth. I spent a lot of time looking through the options, mainly wood plinths, but I was after a material that was better at deadening vibrations, modern looking and that would give me the opportunity to de-couple the motor from the main plinth. A lot of high end TT manufactures, such as Clearaudio, use acrylic plinths and who better to use as your inspiration than a company that builds a 150,000 dollar TT, although that might be a little more advanced than what I’m putting together…but just a little…
I settled on DB industries double acrylic plinths. I went for the black but they do come in other colours. Dave who owns and runs DB industries, sells mostly to the UK where he will also fit the electrics from your donor deck for free. However, he does sell internationally as well, with the option to either send your donor parts to him to be assembled or have the plinths sent with installation instructions. I had the plinths sent to me, they came carefully packaged with recycled packing material in perfect condition, the plinths are covered in a clear film for protection while installing the different components.
When they arrived, I was so eager to get into the build that I forgot about the instructions and went hard… It is, for the most part, quite straight forward and if you read the instructions, even more so, after a couple of e mails to Dave that were returned promptly, everything went together the way it was supposed to.
The bearing housing, tone arm and motor spindle holes are all pre drilled and everything fits easily. Perhaps the most difficult part for me was getting the motor placement right, but this to is not that difficult if you read the instructions first… The motor is attached to the bottom plinth into a pre cut area that also fits the circuit board. The motor is held in place with two-sided tape and the circuit board simply screws into place.
I needed the tone arm opening made larger to accommodate a Peter Wriggle VTAF, which turned out to be no problem for Dave. Putting on the Lim double pulley made it easier for me to match the exact height of the Groove Tracer sub platter to the pulley, because it could be adjusted for hight as it’s fastened to the spindle by screw. The rest is simply putting the plinths together and putting on the fantastic looking aluminium cones for feet. The finished look, as can be seen on the top photo, is really high end. The polished plinths look great, the feet and the double plinths really give the deck a modern minimal look, just what I was looking for! In fact the longer I look at my TT the more I like the look of it! Dave mainly sells his plinths through ebay uk (look under rega and you should find him), I’m very pleased, it was the best plinth set up that I found and I would buy again.
Just when I thought I had the best available parts… while I was checking the Groove Tracer site for some material on the sub platter, I cam across Frank’s new delrin platter… So let me straighten this all out… I have a SRM/Tech acrylic platter which I think is an excellent product, but there is a superior material with properties closer to vinyl called delrin… “Derin® is considered the material of choice for record platters by many of today’s high end turntable manufacturers. There are several reasons for this but the primary consideration is that it shares many of the same properties of the vinyl record. It also carries more mass than the majority of high performance thermoplastics available which is important in terms of maintaining speed stability. The sonic benefits include well-balanced frequency response with no loss in dynamics. Upper frequencies are better defined which in turn allows more inner detail to shine through. The improved presentation of instruments within the soundstage provides better imaging” (Groove Tracer).
So there we have the second last piece of the puzzle in creating the Giant killer! So what’s left? The RB 301 is a good arm at its price point, but not great, upgrade? started in that direction, you can re wire, put a better counterweight, strip the arm, put foam inside the tube, drill etc. When I added up the cost of all the upgrades, for just a little more I found I could afford the legendary… and what about the phono stage… all that and more in the final part of The Demolition of a Perfectly Good Rega P3-24.
Last time we left our intrepid hero, second chance vinyl guy, he was trying to save the world from the no mods rega-ites in part one. We now take you back to the ongoing action…
Having concluded that the sound was not as good as I was looking for from my P3-24 and not wanting to sell and simply buy a better deck, we arrive at the first of the new and hopefully improved modifications. The first on the list was an acrylic platter, the glass platter that came with the rega was lacking low-end base, the mids were a bit muddied and the treble was a bit harsh at higher volumes. There are a myriad of choices for after market acrylic platters, I came to the conclusion that one of the better value for money options was the SRM/Tech deluxe 20mm acrylic platter. The difference was easy to hear, the base increased, the sound was fuller and a little less muddied in the mids. Success, some of the no mods rega-ites argue that the sound is not better, but simply different, it’s a fair argument, but to my ears the music had taken a step up in sound quality.
I also bought a silicone mat from SRM/Tech to see if further enhancements could be had from the platter. SRM/Tech state in their literature that depending on your setup the mat will either benefit the platter or not. In this, they were absolutely right there was no middle ground, records sounded better straight on the platter, which has a recessed centre for the label. The platter looks really nice in polished black, it would have been a shame to cover it over with the silicone mat, which wouldn’t win any beauty contests.
Next up, the sub platter, by a lot of people’s reckoning, maybe the most important single upgrade. The P3-24, comes with a plastic sub platter, a measure of its cost point. There is no argument here for me, all better quality decks come with metal sub platters, after some research, I settled on the highly revered Groove tracer reference sub platter. According to Groove tracer, “Each Subplatter is actually a three-piece precision assembly. This unique design only offered by Groovetracer allows the record spindle to be completely decoupled from the bearing axle to eliminate vibration transfer from the bearing thrust point to the record spindle…It also incorporates a sapphire thrust plate (integral with the bearing shaft) that rotates on a zirconia (ZrO2) ball. This combination offers a superior low frictional interface that will last many years and produce an almost silent background for the music to emerge”. Did it do what it said it would do…in a word yes, the quality of the Groove tracer subplatter is a million miles ahead of the stock plastic sub platter, and the music did indeed take another step up. Indeed the reference sub platter is so good, that I think it’s benefits won’t fully be realised in the package of the P3-24.
Most high end tables, including top of the line Rega’s, use twin belts to rotate the platter, obviously with two belts you are going to have a more consistent speed, and because everything on a TT affects the sound, even the type of rubber compound the band is made from can change the sound. I upgraded my band, soon to be plural, with Rega’s new white band, is it better, I don’t really know, it was the first thing I did when I bought my P3, but all the reviews were very positive…
An electrical engineer named Michael Lim manufactures a twin pulley system for Regas and it makes simple sense. Lim suggests, “With one tiny belt, there is less efficient energy transfer. Thus it is ”strenuous” for the motor to move a combined load of more than 2 kg (sub-platter, platter, record.. etc). However, if two belts are used, much more energy is transferred to turn the platter. This is evident from half the time taken for the platter to attain full speed with two belts compared to time taken using single belt”. Lim’s double pulley is well made from stainless steel with the option for either a 50Hz or 60Hz motor. The other great advantage for me was that the pulley is fastened, instead of glued and this would really come into its own later on.
I´v gone this far, so whats stopping me from making the deck of my dreams…a giant killer perhaps.
Tune in for part three, the re-build using double acrylic plinths and the giant killer is borne…