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A short review of a cart brand that not many people like...

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I've read a lot of comments and watched a lot of Youtube video's on people who just don't like Rega carts. I'm talking about the Rega entry level carts, Carbon and Bias 2. 



I'm not going to make a comparison between the Carbon and the Bias 2, I'm mainly going to concentrate on the Bias 2. Now as some of you will know, the new P1 comes loaded with a Rega Carbon from the factory all set up. I used this cart for about a month just to make sure it had enough time to stretch it's legs.



I wasn't expecting much from a $50 cart however surprise number 1... This budget cart didn't sound bad, in fact it sounded good. Maybe lacking in detail somewhat but I am comparing it to one of the most detailed MM carts around, the Audio Technica AT150MLX. 



What can I say, for the price and what it is, I enjoyed it. So I thought I wonder how much of a step up a $300 Ortofon Blue would be. Set it all up (the blue was already run in) and had a good listen. It did sound better. More detail for a start. Timing improved but the sound became slightly bright, not annoying but just a change. I have to say that the Carbon was right up with it in the bass department. Mids were clearer are jumped out more, felt more 'there'. 



So my next step is the crutch of this short review. Along came the Bias 2. Free from a good home, owner upgraded straight away and just didn't want it (had read too much about Rega carts). So off came the Blue and on went the two! (That's clever for a Sunday afternoon).  After a period of run-in I began to have a serious listen. Again wasn't expecting a great deal as I had read the comments as previously said. Wow.


A step up from the Carbon? For sure. More of everything, faster, cleaner, more detail and more presence. Same flavour as the Carbon but a second helping. I listened to it for hours, trying to work out what it was I liked about it. To me, it sounded better than even the Blue. The Blue had more detail, was brighter, very different. The hours stretched into days (I did manage to eat and sleep) and then it dawned on me what it was. 


This cart is just so easy to listen too. It's not muddy, bright, fast, overly detailed, it just sounded good, damn good. It made me think about what I was trying to achieve with my AT150MLX and lounge room setup. Detail, transparency, openness. Then it made me think I actually put effort into hearing those things on that system. This cart turned the detailed idea on it's head. It had so much of not much at all it just let me listen to the music.  


It was/is relaxing, relaxing to the point where my wife and myself spin a vinyl at bed time to help us go to sleep. There's no stress to concentrate if the detail, image, bla bla bla is there, you just kick back and enjoy. I guess I see why people aren't overly fussed on the Carbon and Bias 2. They don't knock your socks off with that wow live detailed sound that a lot of people look for. It's just a good sounding balanced cart that fits into a niche that I am liking. It's not fussy about the quality of the recording either which is a bonus. Beg, borrow, steal (no not really) or hijack one. Have a listen and see what you think. Or if you have/had one, what did you think? 





This was all done on a entry level system too which sounds way too good for what it is. Components used:


Amp: Cambridge Audio Topaz AM10

CD Player (not used): Cambridge Audio Topaz CD10

Turntable: Rega P1 (new edition)

Phono Pre: Onboard AM10

Speakers: Equinox Pluto

Speaker Cables: Van Den Hul 'The Clearwater'

IC's: Standard Rega

Carts: Rega Carbon, Rega Bias 2, Ortofon Blue

Music used:

Beastie Boys - Licenced to ill

David Bowie - Legacy

Sade - Diamond Life

Erykah Badu - Mama's Gun


First half serious review done :) 










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This will give you no idea what it sounds like so I'll put it up...


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Good effort - it’s a relevant and honest review

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Nicely done Blake.  



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Nice review, and good to hear a different perspective on these entry level MM carts from Rega.



Edited by anandpkumar

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14 hours ago, Cafad said:

Nicely done Blake.  



I thought I'd see what it's like to spend a Sunday afternoon like you :) Thanks for the positive comments guys, I enjoyed doing it and just told it how it was. I haven't got to the level of description that Jeff gives but with a bit of practice things may improve.

Edited by blakey72

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Posted this on another thread a while back, a budget MM cartridge that might be worth investigating.


< Thomas Schick mods a bargain cartridge see below


FYI the Tonar Diabolic!



<This is a high quality moving magnet cartridge designed primarily for DJ & Disco use, but has also found favour with audiophiles thanks to its sound quality and Elliptical Diamond stylus. The already dynamic sounding original cartridge comes with a lot of refinement, too once modified.Certainly not a competitor to top MC systems, but so appealing in character that it delivers a lot of listening fun. Maybe a silly (and not quite precise) food comparis makes you get the idea.If your High End MC cartridge is Champagne and star cuisine, then this MM system is Whiskey with a BBQ Steak.

I've found the cartridge to really excel with rock-n-roll records, but there are still timest. For example, on Transformer the bass is full and round in just the foundational way that I want it to be. It's big and in-your-face without tubbiness or any obvious distortion. Of course, it's also less than neutral, but I hardly care about that when it sounds so much like real-life rock-n-roll sex music.-Lenco

It is still possible: you can buy in well-known marketplaces disc players, which are still far from the 100 euro mark. This can even be a device that provides decent quality. If it still does not sound, the problem almost always at the very front of the tonearm. ... The Tonar system offers ... an appealing performance, perhaps playing a track harder and more mid-tweeter than the ATs - in any case, it does not have to go back in terms of quality behind the proven hi-fi systems. LP Germany

Tonar – Diabolic E cartridge with high output : 8mV.
The Diabolic-E cartridge is suitable for classic mixing and scratching.
The stylus has an eliptical diamond needle for excellent playback and reliability.
Ebony or Cocobolo Improved Wood Body Version
( with simply  partial emoval of standard plastic body for improved performance ) 
Ideal Low Cu Cartridge for new / classic High Mass / Medium Mass - Jelco / Sme etc
wooden body version . I really like this cart especially with the mods, if you have original 50's and 60's Jazz vinyl the sound is very addictive to say the least. Ive tried the combo on a wide range of music and still enjoy the sound its awesome on rock music from the 70's. - LPReview >
some more info:
Several wood bodies are available for the Tonar. 
Thomas Schick even offered a highly modified version for a while, you can see pics and read about it here. The stylus assembly is stripped of all of its plastic, if you have a steady hand with a skalpel it could be DIY
< I offer this cartridge with a modified needle assembly.

The plastic around is being cut away. This makes a very big difference, even to glued assemblies, which is a common ‘trick’ to improve systems with removable needle.
Glueing does not eliminate the problem of the massive amount of thin walled plastic at the needle assembly,it dampens the effect a little. Once cut away the problem is eliminated.

Also the colored dot on the needle is removed, reulting in a lighter cantilever.

Then there is the new housing from the same material I use for my plinths. Very good sound properties here as well, the cartridge is fitted without any cavities, as opposed to the original plastic case.

The already dynamic sounding original cartridge comes with a lot of refinement, too once modified.
Certainly not a competitor to top MC systems, but so appealing in character that it delivers a lot of listening fun.

Maybe a silly (and not quite precise) food comparism makes you get the idea.
If your High End MC cartridge is Champagne and star cuisine, then this MM system is Whiskey with a BBQ Steak.

The modified cartridge is available only together with a graphite headshell. The cartridge is pre mount and cabled in the headshell. >


One correspondent says this on a Tonar Diabolic thread


< Appears to be a variant of Nagaoka 321 also branded as Technics epc 270c. Very good cart, but if you think the vtf is high you can try the Technics or Nagaoka needle. It tracks at 1,8 gram. >



regards Ian >


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