Rega P3/Exact/SN2/HiCap upgrade path

Hey all, I’ve been enjoying my current system for quite a while, but recently I caught again the upgrade bug. Currently my main setup is vinyl oriented and I’m using:

Rega P3 (TAD anniversary edition) + Rega Exact → custom made tube RIAA from Etheraudio → SN2 + HicapDR → Chord Epic → Monitor Audio Gold 200 5G

I think I’m searching for even more open, detailed and 3-dimensional sound with more space, without loosing midbass. Sometimes I find my combination a bit mellow and soft. I tried different interconnect cables and although some made the sounds more bright and open I noticed decreased bass response, so it seemed to have some tradeoffs.

I want to experiment and find a different sound moving towards the characteristics I’m searching for.

Is it time for a P8 or first I can try adding 282 to the set? Happy to hear different thoughts.

Your TT is very much the weak point. I’d be getting a P8 or, even better, a P10. A 282 will show up the source weakness even more than the SN2 does already.


Analogue is easy. As HH says, a P8 or P10 will ultimately pay dividends.

But there are synergies to be had on the way, even down the range with your Planar 3.

You say you want to experiment. I would try a Rega Fono MM. In the short term, the marriage of Rega’s turntable, arm, cartridge and phonostage may give you something of the characteristics you say you are looking for, and take away the ‘softness’. Always assuming of course that you haven’t already rejected the Fono MM in favour of a tube stage.

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You could do either. It is your choice. The ‘conventional’ advice would be to upgrade the Turntable first, though… :upside_down_face:

PS. A 282 will need a power supply to run. AFAIK, the SN2 cannot power it… :thinking:

Hit eBay! There’s a Kuzma Stabi plus Avid, Clearaudio, Rega P8/P10, Michell, Technics, Roksan and of course Linn options, and more - all for bargain prices. You don’t need to spend £3K to take a big step up from a P3.

Give them a listen. If they sound right, they probably are. Also several are being sold by dealers, which may help to reduce nervousness.

Any of those options will be clearly better than a P3 (good value though they are), and can stay with you through many more upgrades (if you want to them) or you can buy and replace nothing ever again (except cartridge when it wears out).

Good luck!

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@Christopher_M I actually also have Rega Aria and wanted to upgrade it with the tube stage, which I initially liked better. I haven’t listened to the Aria from a lot of time, so I may give her a second try indeed. Sometimes, I wonder whether the MA Gold speakers are a good match with tube stages, since the MA already have very refined, balanced sound and adding additional roundness off the edges with tubes might be too much, but these are just my thoughts.

@IanRobertM You’re right. I think the key point here is it’s hard for me to determine which is the weakest link in my system, but it seems it might be the turntable itself or the turntable/RIAA corrector combo. Btw, I have a HiCap DR, so I think I would be able to power 282.

@NickofWimbledon You’re right. I actually like the organic and warm sound that Rega gives and just want to enhance it with more open sound. But this may also have to do with the RIAA stage pairing as others mentioned.

:crazy_face: :grimacing:

Your Hicap will power a 282 (or old 82) but your SN2 will support a much better source, and that is what I’d upgrade first.

If you ever want to go further in amplification, options could include a 282 (or 82) and a 250. Mind you, for pure value for money, a 272/250 (with good but slightly restricted streaming included) is probably the stand-out second-hand bargain today.

Are there any particular turntables that you know and like/ hate, either for sound or any other reason?

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I have experience with few brands. I’ve heard Audio Technika LP120 with AT-VM95E cartridge. It sounded very open and detailed, but for me lacked the cohesiveness and organic sound Rega brings. Probably I search for a combination of both.

Unfortunately I don’t have much dealers in my area and my demo/listening options to other brands are limited.

Where are you?

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Sofia, Bulgaria

Do local dealers sell turntables from Technics, Clearaudio, Thorens or Thrax?

I think Kuzma are based in Slovenia, so you may see more second-hand examples of their excellent turntables than we do in the UK.

Hearing and looking at a couple of choices before buying would make sense.

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I think these models can be find from local dealers, but not all of them could be auditioned, especially at home. Thrax audio is a hi-end Bulgarian company, so they have a shop there, indeed :slight_smile: I often lean towards reading reviews, buy a component, test it for a few months and if don’t like it - sell it. It’s not the easiest and cost-effective option, but gives me better idea whether a given component would suit my taste in my own system and room.


Do you have the Neo power supply on your P3? If not, that is a surprisingly excellent upgrade.

Yes, I have one.

I realised I haven’t tried the Rega Aria Mk1 only with Ellys 2 and I haven’t heard Exact + Aria combo. There is a chance this combination would provide more balanced and matched sound signature. I saw there is a new Mk3 Aria, but I’m not sure whether there is a substantial hardware upgrade and is it worth to change my Mk1 with Mk3.

I’m running a Heed Quasar phono stage with an Exact and I’ve found that quite a bit better than the Rega Fono I was using before. The Quasar runs of their large Obselik power supply, so it’s getting a lot of clean power. The Heed matches nicely with Naim too, and probably available for you as it’s made in Hungary.

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I’m pretty sure the Rega Aria MK1, MK2 and MK3 are all fundamentally the same internally, and it is only the outer casework which has been updated each time.

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Yes it is. You already have an Aria which will be a great match for it if your Etheraudio doesn’t pair well. Just get the best turnable you can afford and worry about the rest later.

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I can see dealers for Rega and Technics in Sofia on Google. A listening test is probably the next step, and you may find magic happens if you ask about ex-dem turntables.

There are older options that would sound great (including above-mentioned brands), but I wouldn’t try buying an old Stabi, Gyrodek, LP12, Clearaudio or whatever without hearing them first, unless you feel positively adventurous.


Please try her again before doing anything else!

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