Turntable Head-Scratching (Rega P3 / phono stage / cart?)

I’ve long been happy with my old laptop + DAC-V1 + XS2 + PMC 20.22s. I’d like a comparable quality of sound from vinyl, but I put together my Rega P3 (Bluepoint ‘1’ cart) and Bugle 3 with less budget and thought, and they struggle to compete. Whats more, the Bugle 3 seems about to give up the ghost.

I have $1,000 I can spend to upgrade this now, more ($3,000?) if that’s simply not enough, but I’m a big fan of spending money on music rather than kit. I have an option on a $200 used Stageline E, but wonder if this would limit the cart upgrade options. Generally happy to buy used.

I’m open to directive advice (‘buy X+Y’) and compfortable with the risk of the next stop not being perfect. Searching the forum seemed to generate more questions than answers, but I appreciate that that’s the nature of the vinyl beast.

Any recommendations?

Many thanks!

When I got my first refurbished and updated Planar3 Elys set, I auditioned it at the dealer through a Stageline versus Rega Fono, and bought the Fono. I thought it sounded a touch livelier and more interesting.

With your cartridge, it could break either way.

My Planar3 really competed well against my wonderful CD5X. There were the expected trade-offs, of course; but I admit I was astonished at the lack of most surface noise, rumble, and speed variance I had expected with vinyl, from years of experience — even with older records I had thought I had worn out! The Rega system was a revelation, to me.

I later upgraded to an Exact cartridge, and finally to the Rega Aria phono stage — both positive, if small steps up.

The Planar3 was at the same time insightful with details, yet forgiving — quite a trick! And I was surprised that the Exact was more of both.

Good luck.

Nick

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How old is that Bluepoint cartridge?

Overall I’m not such a big fan of HO MCs, mostly preferring a good MM instead at that price level, or one of the handful of excellent budget LO MC. I’ve never heard the Bugle 3 or the BP1 together, but knowing the Rega P3, I’d say it’s very capable provided the cart and phono stage are sympathetic to it.

With a $1-3,000 budget, you have a whole world of choice available to you and you should certainly be able to find something that will not only give your Laptop and DAC-V1 a run for its money, but on a decent piece of vinyl, should show it a clean pair of heels for enjoyment. For starters, how about a Rega Planar 8 with Ania Pro or Apheta 2 and Fono MC phono stage? I reckon that’s where my money would go in your shoes. Too much? Then a cheaper MM cart such as one of the ATs and a Fono MM would fit the bill too. Plenty of other options too, but as I say, that’s probably where my own money would go…

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Thanks, Richard. The Bluepoint is at least 5 years old. It came with the P3. The Planar 8 looks excellent.

I may upgrade the cart and phono stage before the deck. Is there any reason the Ania Pro wouldn’t work on the P3? I’m sorry if this is too basic a question. I know much more about the DAC-V1 side of the setup.

It will work on a P3, but not nearly as well as on a P8, which is better in every area (as it should be). If you really want to hang on to the P3 then I would rather put a Neo PSU on it before a new cart.

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Having a cartridge that costs more than the deck and arm combined would be weird. The deck is the most important, then the arm, then the cartridge.

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Thanks. Yep, that’s what I thought. My question was about upgrading in stages, but I’ve started looking closely at the Planar 8. Great advice all round!

I went from a 15 year old P3 with few year old Elys 2 cartridge to a new P8 and Apheta 3 and have been delighted with the improvement.

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