Turntable Reviews

Rega RP3 Turntable


The Rega RP3 Turntable In Use

I started out listening with the Elys 2 cartridge. It needed a typical break in period of about 30 hours to start sounding its best. After the break in, I was very pleased with the sound I heard. Many consumers will be thoroughly satisfied with this cartridge. It culls a lot of information from both old and new record grooves and puts many cartridges to shame in this respect. But it didn't track every challenging record as well as the best cartridges out there. And even though it has acceptable bass extension, I found it lacked the delicacy and air in the treble when compared to more expensive cartridges.

So I replaced the Elys 2 with my Sumiko Blackbird cartridge ($1,099) for the majority of my below listening sessions. I found the BB to be more extended in the bass and treble with greater depth of soundstage. The BB also had better transient attack properties. Bear in mind that the BB is more than three times the price of the Elys 2. It delighted me to learn that the RP3 is an accomplished turntable capable of revealing all but the subtlest differences between the two cartridges.

What can be said about Foo Fighters "Wasting Light" that hasn't been said already? Not much that I can think of! On this record, the RP3 surprised me by communicating a high amount of detail, even at nearly irresponsible playback levels. The detail retrieval was aided by the characteristically low noise floor.

"These Days" had an epic scale like the Foo Fighters' live shows only cleaner, with good transient attack. On the speed tune, "A Matter of Time", the pacing was better than average over the Rega. The treble was smooth and the cymbals had a natural sheen without glare. There was excellent sonic consistency throughout this album when played back over the RP3.

Next up was Joss Stone's album, deftly titled "LP1". I was really hoping for more from this album but it is unfortunately hampered by some inconsistent material. Still, the musicianship is good throughout and some of the material is indeed captivating. For example, "Drive All Night" is a satisfying tune, particularly in the way the RP3 passed all the inflection in Stone's voice. The bass was solid and tight being shy only in the very lowest of fundamentals. (I was listening over a pair of Legacy Audio's Classic HD speakers with their dual 8" carbon-fiber woofers bi-amped with a pair of 200 wpc amps.) The rimshots had a satisfying "thwack"! But Stone's voice sounded a little on the husky side here.

On "Cry Myself to Sleep", the acoustic guitar's strings were right in the room with me during the opening refrain. The Rega RP3 nimbly passed the large and small dynamic swings, breathing life and energy into the music.

I wanted to listen to some chamber music so I put on the Orpheus Trio, "Debussey, Ravel, Faure & Devienne". This record sounded nicely balanced with good dynamics on the Rega. Once again, I commented on the low noise floor in my notes and felt that this low noise allowed the delicate harp solos to flow unfettered from the system. The "Debussy Sonata for Flute, Violin and Harp" came through extremely nuanced with a natural fluidity.

Now for a real classic – the 1975 original pressing on the Warner Brothers Label - Tower of Power "In the Slot". This record is an excellent test with its complex mix. It's a real blast from the past!

The RP 3 had the best bass I've heard on this record on any table under $2,500; full, clean, tight, tuneful and true to pitch. On the Rega and over the Legacy speakers, I found that all the instruments and singers were in their proper perspective size-wise and spatially as well. There was very low surface noise again, making this old record sound brand new again. I was able to get high SPL's before feedback started to set in. It was an amazing, fatigue-free jam session.