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Rega Planar 3 - Cartridge suggestions?


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So,  I am thinking about pulling the plug on a Planar 3, but have read some very middling reviews of the Elys 2 Cart that (can) come factory fitted. I'm also led to believe (and correct me if I am wrong) that the Rega isn't great for installing non-Rega carts and requires spacers. 

 

If the above is true, can anyone recommend a decent non-Rega cart that would suit the Planar? I've in the past been seduced by ortofon, and while I've found them good (Especially the 2m Blue), I don't have much to compare with

 

Any thoughts appreciated

 

Al

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So, I pulled the trigger and bought the RP3 and put my existing 2M Blue on it. It's good. Really good, and a definite step up from my Debut Carbon. I feel though that I'm at the lower end of the ladde

If funds allow, just my opinion, go the bronze, of which you can update to the black, reason being, all you would have to do is  purchase just the stylus (needle) as the bronze is interchangeable with

You already have VM95 body, the ML stylus will bring out the detail without loosing the mids, and is the most cost effective of your options. That would be my suggestion. 

Ortofon is great match to rega however you will need a spacer 2mm to 4mm. 

Another one is dynavector which I also have good result with the rega. Hana also nice cart which i had long time ago.

You will find that most non rega cart will need a spacer.

Also there is article published by Roy Gandy (rega founder) that the minor difference on VTA won't matter...hence no spacer would be required....but I won't comment on that as many ppl will disagree. I used 4mm spacer for both dynavector and ortofon as my rega came with them when I bought them. You will be the best to make the call.

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Thanks for the response. Interestingly I had a chat with one of the more reputable hi-fi dealers in melbourne and they said that even in store, some staff members insist on spacers when using Ortofon carts, but the fellow I spoke with was ith Roy Gandy and said they weren't necessary. 

 

I think for now I'll go the blue and possibly upgrade to a Bronze when I can afford it

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If funds allow, just my opinion, go the bronze, of which you can update to the black, reason being, all you would have to do is  purchase just the stylus (needle) as the bronze is interchangeable with the black (body). I didn't have a spacer with the bronze, however staff at Carlton Audio  Visual stated need 2mm spacer for black.  They (CAV) set it up for me. 

Great cart. (I have an RP3).

 

 

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5 minutes ago, mattd2308 said:

If funds allow, just my opinion, go the bronze, of which you can update to the black, reason being, all you would have to do is  purchase just the stylus (needle) as the bronze is interchangeable with the black (body). I didn't have a spacer with the bronze, however staff at Carlton Audio  Visual stated need 2mm spacer for black.  They (CAV) set it up for me. 

Great cart. (I have an RP3).

 

I'd love to go the Bronze and I will shake the piggy bank to see if there's enough there for it.... if not, I am going to have to stick with the Blue for now. 

 

Thanks for the reply., It's nice to have an RP3 user give their feedback 

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I currently usea Garrott Brothers p77i on my Rega P3 and have enjoyed this cartidge.  I originally installed with no spacers and it sounded great, however I recently popped in a 4mm spacer in anticipation of a future cartridge upgrade and imo this improved things a little- more top end clarity.  I have had a Ortofon Blue on a previous TT and this was good, however I would also vouch for the Bronze if the funds allow

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I used the 4mm spacer on my rega P25 with both a Garrott p77 and ortofon 2M blue. It definitely tightened things up with the p77, it has always been in place for the ortofon.

 

either of these options would be good with a P3.

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I have a 2M Bronze on my P3, which I got after hearing it at Carlton Audio after auditioning new amps. Liked it so much I had to get one. I previously had Denon DL-110,  which is good but Bronze is better and has replaceable stylus and can be upgraded to Black.

 

I do use a 3mm spacer as the carts are taller than standard Rega carts.

 

You could also consider AT-VM95ML or LP Gear The Vessel A3SV, I have both and they are almost as good as the Bronze but in same price bracket as the 2M Blue, but IMO are better than the Blue.

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I recently purchased an RP40 (essentially a hotted up RP3 or Rega 3) with the express aim of changing out the Rega MM cart on it pretty quickly. I've also used an older RB300 arm on a table previously (not a Rega, I'll admit) and got great results with Dynavector and Goldring MC carts for about $1500ea. I know the arm is very under-rated and yes, the Rega plinth, etc could limit its potential but the arm and a nice cart should do very well and can easily be swapped over to a new base at some stage down the track as finances permit.

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  • 2 weeks later...

So, I pulled the trigger and bought the RP3 and put my existing 2M Blue on it. It's good. Really good, and a definite step up from my Debut Carbon. I feel though that I'm at the lower end of the ladder and a better cartridge (obviously...) is going to start to get the best out of the table. 

 

When I can afford, I'll look at either the Bronze of something like the Sumiko Moonstone


Cheers

 

Al

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If funds allow look at the better Sumikos like the bps or blackbird.... have had positive experiences with sumiko, garrott and dyna on Rega...  each was good in their own way...

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On 06/03/2021 at 8:42 AM, shailesh said:

If funds allow look at the better Sumikos like the bps or blackbird.... have had positive experiences with sumiko, garrott and dyna on Rega...  each was good in their own way...

 

I've had my eye on the Moonstone tbh. I like my 2M blue, it's great and I think that ortofon make great carts, but sometimes they feel a little omnipotent. maybe that's a mark of their quality or good marketing. Who knows. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

So an update on this....

 

I've been living with the 2M Blue on my Planar 3 for a couple of weeks and it's good. 

 

But....

 

As I've read elsewhere, the 2M blue is on the brighter side of things and there are times I feel like I'm listening to a CD (again, a comment that i've heard mentioned about some Ortofon carts). The bass is there, but it's certainly not prominent and I feel like a) I'm not getting the best out of this table with this cart and b) it's lacking that 'vinyl sound'

 

I understand that the 2M is a well respected and popular cart, but for my ears it's a quick fling and won't be putting a ring on it 

 

Al

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Don't get a bronze then! You just get more of that. Maybe a Grado cart with wooden body? 

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In this case I would be inclined to try a Garrott P77i. It is well balanced  and doesn't scream at you, but still has good detail and very good musicality.

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I’d highly recommend checking out a Sumiko cart...they’re lovely and pair well with a Rega (as noted earlier in the thread). I love the Amethyst in their MM range, but the Olympia is also decent.

 

A left field suggestion if haven’t tried and you want to take out a little brightness is to square your speakers a little i.e reduce the toe-in. High frequencies tend to be very directional so reducing toe-in can send some of the high end past your ears as opposed to at them.

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7 hours ago, RNWau said:

I’d highly recommend checking out a Sumiko cart...they’re lovely and pair well with a Rega (as noted earlier in the thread). I love the Amethyst in their MM range, but the Olympia is also decent.

 

A left field suggestion if haven’t tried and you want to take out a little brightness is to square your speakers a little i.e reduce the toe-in. High frequencies tend to be very directional so reducing toe-in can send some of the high end past your ears as opposed to at them.

 

Hey mate, interestingly (or not), I've been looking into the Sumiko's and the olympia gets good press. According to one review, it was the best pound for pound performer out of the range (though not necessarily the best)

 

Given that I've discovered my speakers are naturally bright (Denton 85s), the 2M was never going to be a good fit. 

 

The Olympia is in my budget so will give it a pop

 

Cheers

 

Al

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20 minutes ago, Rawshack said:

 

Given that I've discovered my speakers are naturally bright (Denton 85s), the 2M was never going to be a good fit. 

Sometimes this occurs.

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Just now, blakey72 said:

Hey @Rawshack Al, which phono-pre are you using?

 

I'm using the phono stage in the i/o. It's pretty decent (same stage as in the Brio, I believe)

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Ahh ok. Do you think the speakers are a little on the bright side of neutral with other sources? Say cd?

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Was just going to say, I went from a Rega Fono Mini A2D to a Project Tube Box S2 which I think toned down my Audio Technica cart quite a bit. I also got a Van Den Hul IC which made a 'tiny' difference but every bit helps. The Sumiko carts are on my radar too as I'm after a warm relaxing system ;) 

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5 minutes ago, blakey72 said:

Ahh ok. Do you think the speakers are a little on the bright side of neutral with other sources? Say cd?

 

Yup, with other sources they're on the brighter side of things, but the 2m tips them into Mr Brightside territory 

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It may be the amp too possibly. I remember Jeff @Cafad saying he thought the Rega's (except Brio) did sound a little on the bright side. He admittedly hasn't heard the i/o from what I know. Do you use copper speaker cables? 

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What about one of the Nagaoka carts - the MP110/150 or MP200 depending upon your budget? Nagaoka carts are usually known to be on the warmer side

Edited by anandpkumar
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Interestingly, I stuck an old AT-95VMEN that i forgot I had lying around and the difference was incredible. Obviously it's not the same class as the 2M blue and there was a sacrifice in detail, but the overall sound was much warmer, rounder and richer... More 'vinyl'

 

I can obviously do better than the Audio Technica, so might look at the Sumiko

 

Thanks everyone for taking an interest and replying. While I am relatively new to this, I am discovering that carts are - and to my partners dismay - becoming my passion in the hi-fi world

 

Al

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Sumiko should definitely serve you well.

Also +1 for Grado cart range. maybe wooden body as mentioned by @blakey72 or standard eg Green/Silver/Gold cart within the range.

 

Also perhaps don't discount the Audio Technica. I know many people here use/have used Audio Technica VM540ML Dual Moving and VM740ML in the same microline range, and swear by them. Might be well worth exploring as they would be massively more detailed than AT95 but having already identified an affinity with AT cart may work for you, as the carts further up the range would likely build on and have that same affinity - while more sophisticated.

 

Edited by zippi
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24 minutes ago, Rawshack said:

Interestingly, I stuck an old AT-95VMEN that i forgot I had lying around and the difference was incredible. Obviously it's not the same class as the 2M blue and there was a sacrifice in detail, but the overall sound was much warmer, rounder and richer... More 'vinyl'

 

I can obviously do better than the Audio Technica, so might look at the Sumiko

 

Thanks everyone for taking an interest and replying. While I am relatively new to this, I am discovering that carts are - and to my partners dismay - becoming my passion in the hi-fi world

 

Al

 

 

If you like the AT  (I do too btw)  why keep looking? Just upgrade to an ML stylus/cart from that, or one their better ranges. You'll get the detail back and retain the sound you like.   Personally I love my AT  VM95ML.

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19 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

 

 

If you like the AT  (I do too btw)  why keep looking? Just upgrade to an ML stylus/cart from that, or one their better ranges. You'll get the detail back and retain the sound you like.   Personally I love my AT  VM95ML.

Yeah thanks mate I've heard there's a massive leap when you get to the ML and there does seem to be a lot of love for it out there in cyber hi-fi land 

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1 hour ago, Rawshack said:

Interestingly, I stuck an old AT-95VMEN that i forgot I had lying around and the difference was incredible. Obviously it's not the same class as the 2M blue and there was a sacrifice in detail, but the overall sound was much warmer, rounder and richer... More 'vinyl'

 

I can obviously do better than the Audio Technica, so might look at the Sumiko

 

 

Don't underestimate the humble AT95. When i had my Rega RP8 / Apheta 2 I swapped the Apheta with an old Linn (AT95) I had lying around with an LPgear HE stylus and the AT95 embarrassed the Apheta to the point where the Apheta was boxed and sold with less than 8hrs.

 

If I were looking for a new cartridge now I would give serious consideration to the AT VM540ML.

Edited by Warren Jones
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On 30/03/2021 at 12:51 PM, Warren Jones said:

If I were looking for a new cartridge now I would give serious consideration to the AT VM540ML.

I would love to find this, but can only seem to get it premounted on a headshell. 

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Other option I am looking at is a VM95SH but it's hard to find any real decent reviews of this

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7 minutes ago, Rawshack said:

Other option I am looking at is a VM95SH but it's hard to find any real decent reviews of this

 

The SH Shibata shape is an older design with it's loyal followers.  I much prefer the ML microline.

 

13 minutes ago, Rawshack said:

I would love to find this, but can only seem to get it premounted on a headshell. 

 

Not saying this the cheapest price, but it's certainly available 

 

https://www.amazon.com.au/Audio-Technica-VM540ML-MicroLine-Turntable-Cartridge/dp/B01MEI1RPC/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=vm540ml&qid=1617253700&sr=8-1

 

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1 minute ago, aussievintage said:

much prefer the ML microline.

Plus one ☝️ 

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So i had some free time yesterday and did some comparative listening. I've give the usual caveat that me describing audio quality is like someone without taste buds trying to describe a '82 Petrus. 

 

So with that in mind, here's a brief summary

 

  1. 2M Blue - Bright, detailed, punchy. Lacks a little detail in the bass. My 'all sounds the same to me' partner remarked this was her favourite. 
  2. AT VM95EN - Lots of mid weight, definite drop in detail from the 2M Blue, but engaging, warm and rounded. My personal favourite
  3. Elys 2 40 Special Edition - Doesn't do anything wrong, but doesn't really do anything particularly well either. It's warm and a decent all-rounder is the best I can say. I haven't spent a huge amount of time with it, but early impressions reinforce what I've read around Rega carts. 

 

With this in mind, I've narrowed down to 3 options

 

  • Upgrade the stylus on the VM95 to the ML. Cheapest and easiest option, the stylus can be had for mid-$200 range
  • Get the VM540ML,  which seems to get a lot of praise. Looking mid to late $300s for that bad boy 
  • Take a punt on the Sumiko Olympia, which sounds like it's got everything I'm looking for. 

 

Curious to know what peoples thoughts are. 

 

Cheers

 

Al

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Personally, I’d go for the more revealing diamond profile as my first choice. In other words, upgrade to a microline. IIRC the Olympia is an elliptical, so you would have a more refined version of the AT95EN sound IMO Sumiko are generally warm, and the Oyster series has a lower mass cantilever).

 

Wiser heads can probably add more, but if it were my spending the money, I’d upgrade the AT95 to ML and see how you go

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46 minutes ago, Rawshack said:

So i had some free time yesterday and did some comparative listening. I've give the usual caveat that me describing audio quality is like someone without taste buds trying to describe a '82 Petrus. 

 

So with that in mind, here's a brief summary

 

  1. 2M Blue - Bright, detailed, punchy. Lacks a little detail in the bass. My 'all sounds the same to me' partner remarked this was her favourite. 
  2. AT VM95EN - Lots of mid weight, definite drop in detail from the 2M Blue, but engaging, warm and rounded. My personal favourite
  3. Elys 2 40 Special Edition - Doesn't do anything wrong, but doesn't really do anything particularly well either. It's warm and a decent all-rounder is the best I can say. I haven't spent a huge amount of time with it, but early impressions reinforce what I've read around Rega carts. 

 

With this in mind, I've narrowed down to 3 options

 

  • Upgrade the stylus on the VM95 to the ML. Cheapest and easiest option, the stylus can be had for mid-$200 range
  • Get the VM540ML,  which seems to get a lot of praise. Looking mid to late $300s for that bad boy 
  • Take a punt on the Sumiko Olympia, which sounds like it's got everything I'm looking for. 

 

Curious to know what peoples thoughts are. 

 

Cheers

 

Al

You already have VM95 body, the ML stylus will bring out the detail without loosing the mids, and is the most cost effective of your options. That would be my suggestion. 

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Al, have you tried toeing out the speakers as I suggested earlier? Extreme toe-in (so that the apex of the sound ‘triangle’ ends up in front of your listening position) can also work?

 

For me personally, speaker setup/fiddling can yield major benefits without spending any dosh?

Edited by RNWau
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