Rega RP3

From Wayne Garcia for, originally posted Sept. 13, 2012:

“With the RP3—as well as the new RP6 ($1495)—the clearest visual indicator of Rega’s latest thinking can be seen in the shape of a double black strip containing a trio of O-shaped cutouts. This twin strip, which Rega calls a “double brace,” is made of a phenolic resin, the same material the plinth’s skin is fabricated from. The idea is to create a bridge, or what Rega refers to as a “stressed beam” assembly, to increase rigidity between the main bearing hub and tonearm mount. One strip runs above the plinth, the other below. Rega’s research proved that doubling the thickness at this critical junction point provided further weight reduction and increased stiffness. Forgive the die-hard geek in me, but rapping on the base of the RP3 while it was playing an LP at a normal level and hearing no audible thump through the speaker was a first in my Rega experience.”

“But Rega didn’t stop there. Although the 24-volt low-noise motor is the same one found in the P3 24, the RB303 tonearm is an upgrade over the highly respected RB300. The 303 features a newly designed tube said to increase rigidity at the bearing housing, arm carrier, and headshell mount. Moreover, with the aid of new 3-D CAD and CAM technology, Rega has been able to redistribute the mass of the arm and also reduce the number of resonant points.”

“Rega’s have always been relatively easy to set up. And should you elect to purchase the RP3 pre-mounted with the Elys 2 cartridge for a modest $200 extra, your task will prove that much simpler. Simply set the tracking force to 1.75 grams, adjust anti-skating accordingly, et voîlà. You’ll be spinning tunes in no time. Funny thing, in the past I always felt the need to “upgrade” from Rega’s supplied cartridges to something “better.” But the obvious synergy between the RP3/RB303 and Elys 2, with its smart three-point mounting system, was so musically satisfying that I never felt the desire to switch it out for another model.”

“So what have these new improvements brought to the presentation? Well, a lot. And though my descriptions may not sound earth-shaking, the audible improvements Rega has wrought are significant.”

“Rewinding to that knuckle-rap-the-base test tells you a lot, as settling the stylus into the lead-in grooves presents a silence unheard in previous Rega designs. The simple fact is that lowering mechanical noise from our analog playback systems lowers our awareness that we are listening to electro-mechanically reproduced music. But more accurate stylus-to-groove contact not only lowers distortion, it also brings with it wider as well as more finely nuanced dynamic range, and higher resolution of the musical details embedded within those miniscule grooves. Indeed, the word “grooves” is entirely too gentle, too deceptive a description of the jarringly jagged and downright treacherous canyon-like vinyl walls a stylus must be dragged through.”

“But the RP3’s much improved detail, dynamics, and the like don’t translate only into how much we hear, but how we hear it.”


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