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Rega Planar 3 (P3) Turntable

February 18, 2023

I don’t consider myself an audiophile, merely a musichead who likes good sound. I am not technical, so this is non-technical subjective review.

I recently upgraded my Phoenix location (AKA Desert 🌵 Sessions) turntable. I had been using my daughter’s Music Hall. I knew eventually I would need to return it to her and I thought I would give myself a retirement gift.

I am 64 years old and have been serious a collector of LPs for 45 years. When the CD era began I switched over to CDs, but thankfully I never got rid of my LPs. I have about 4,000 LPs, 3,000 CDs and 200 45s. I had a pretty nice Sony turntable (Sony PS-X600 Biotracer Full-Automatic Direct Drive with a Shure V15 Type V Cartridge) that I picked up in the late 70s. By the mid-80s I mostly listened to CDs, but sometime in the late 00s I started listening to vinyl again and in the spring of 2011 I purchased a new turntable: a Pro-Ject Audio RPM 1.3 Genie. The Sony was wearing out. The Pro-Ject continues to serve in Minneapolis. I love that turntable except that I get a mild hum, which I assume is the motor – no amount of isolation has solved that. So I thought for this next purchase I would try another brand and double my budget.

I selected the Rega P3 (see link for details) because it got great reviews, was in my price range (below $1500) and it came in red. I found a great hi-fi dealer in The Valley: Audio Video Excellence who sold Regas and had various models set up in-store for auditioning. I brought several LPs into the store and owner Bob Koopman set me up in a listening room and let me audition in peace. After 30 minutes I was sold. They did not have a red P3 in stock, but had some inventory coming in a few days. I bought it and picked it up a few days later. Bob personally checked it out and assured me it was properly set up.

A new turntable (actually the cartridge) needs about 50 hours to break in. Although, it sounded great from the get go. It is now broken in and sounds fantastic – better than my Minneapolis turntable (as the P3 should at more than twice the cost of the Pro-Ject). What do I like about the P3?

  • Low to no noise
  • Visually gorgeous
  • Sounds fantastic
  • Love the build quality of the arm
  • Great factory cartridge
  • A cool feature is that the ground is built into the RCA cables – why don’t all manufacturers do this?
  • The platter is slightly smaller than a 12 inch LP which makes it easy to switch and flip records – again why don’t all manufacturers do this?
  • Did I say it sounds fantastic?

The P3 is not turntable perfection. A few issues:

  • The dust cover was scuffed. The dealer quickly addressed the dust cover and got me a replacement.
  • The motor has a weird noise on start up and slack in the belt (see video below). Googling this and talking to Bob I learned this is normal. The good news is there is no motor noise coming through the speakers and once up to speed there is vey little to no ambient motor noise. Is this why I see so many people in the Rega Facebook group upgrading their sub-platters?
  • Like a lot of manual turntables, changing speeds is a production: remove the platter and shift the belt. However, this can be resolved with an optional external power supply. This is not much of an issue for me as I rarely play 45s.
  • I wish it was a little heavier. Not due to sound, but if you don’t lift the dust cover with two hands the table moves. I had similar issues with the Music Hall. Rega claims their lightweight plinths are low mass/low energy storage resulting in better sound. I do love the visual profile of the thin plinth!
  • The feet are not adjustable and so you have to improvise leveling. This is not a unique problem to Rega and not a big deal.
  • The spindle is short and so my Michell record clamp doesn’t work. The Rega user base is of mixed opinion on record clamps (this is not unique to Regs users) – with the majority anti-record clamp. Allegedly Rega advises against clamps, but I have not seen anything official on that. This is not a big deal as Michell makes a clamp for short spindles.
Weird noise and belt slack

Overall, I am very pleased with the Rega P3. It is not perfect as I note, but the audiophile business rarely is – especially pure analog like turntable. The most important feature is the sound, and on that note, the P3 is heavenly. Although, I shouldn’t care, looks do matter and the Rega is a visually beautiful piece of equipment.

Final point: never underestimate the value of a good local dealer. You can’t audition, talk to an expert, double check the set up, or resolve a damaged dust cover easily on line. Audio Video Excellence is a top notch hi-fi dealership and they made all the difference in this, dare I say, transaction. Correction: experience.

🌵Desert Sessions rig

From → Audio, Spending

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