Rega, Pro-Ject, Technics SL-1200

A few months ago I bought a SL-1200 M3D and put a Shure M97xe cartridge on it soon after. Its not nearly broke in but I have to say while it sounds ok its not what I consider "audiophile" quality or at least not yet. And in no way is this a slam against the 1200. A buddy of mine let me borrow his Pro-Ject RM5.1SE that comes with the MC Sumiko Blue Point and 9" carbon fiber tone arm. Honestly after comparing the 2 last night the Pro-Ject was the clear winner. Not that the Technics sounds bad at all but I would say rather on the thin or edgy in comparison. My question is how does Rega lets say a P3 or P5 compare to the RM5.1SE? What is each mfg house sound? I know the Technics can be upgraded by KAB but not sure its worth the cost or time. I am just getting into vinyl so not really too experienced when it comes to different manufacturers and value per dollar. Seems the Rega has more upgrade path from what I've seen. The RM5.1SE does sound very sweet but not sure how it would compare against a P3 or P5?
Ag insider logo xs@2xsamzx12
I have had all 3 and can tell you that I totally agree with your assessment of the 1200. That TT, to me, has a "metallic" quality.I like both the Project and Rega. I could live with either very easily.
There is a like new Nottingham Interspace here on sale. You might consider getting it, and if you do you may not have a wish to upgrade for a few years or longer.
Yes, I have Nottingham Spacedeck/Spacearm.
Nottingham ownership would also put you in a club.
I started out with $500 Pro-Ject and got rid of it quickly.
That Technics is not supposed to be an audiophile table and it isn't.
Have you considered changing out the Shure M97 cartridge of the Technics?

I have two different turntables in my systems ... one is a Stanton ST150 , which would be similar to your Technics.

I tried the Shure M97 cartridge and did not care for it. Cartridges I have liked are the Shure SC35C , a bargain at it street price of $35. Discovered it from reading a review in Stereophile. Another is the Denon DL 103 . The one common factor of both these cartridges is that they were designed for broadcast use.

Rich I have considered changing and to be honest after researching carts the M97xe seemed to be a logical choice. However, I almost bit the bullet and bought a Denon MC cart and can't remember the number. It was around $200. Is your Stanton modified and if so did you hear it in stock form? On another note I don't want to buy several carts as those alone can get pricey. I really like the idea of a direct drive like the Technics but right now disappointed in the sound. I know I can modify it but not sure I want to go through the hassle and will the mods be a substantial improvement?

Lindi what is your opinion on the Rega vs the Pro-Ject? Which models have you owned? P3 or P5? Thanks!
Hi Sam -

The Stanton ST 150 is in stock form. The changes I made were to the supplied cartridge, the turntable mat (went with a NOS Technics 1200 rubber mat), and use isolation footers.

I have tested a few cartridges and what I like about the turntables with universal head shells is that I can swap the cartridges out when the mood hits me.

I am curious as to what you are finding disappointing. I feel this way sometimes, but if my memory is correct, a lot of vinyl pressings were not that hot back in the day also.

It is why I have been psyched about the $35 SC35C Shure cartridge. It really sounds the most alive in my system. This one system consists of a Rega Brio R integrated and Omega Super 7 monitors with Audio quest cabling. I am listening to a Paul Simon Live album from the 1970's and the sound is pretty good.

My only experience with Pro-ject is the Debut Carbon and i was only so so about that turntable.

Rich I totally agree that some pressings aren't the best. I used Steely Dan's Greatest Hits as a reference because its recorded well. The 1200 sounded thin and edgy where the Pro-Ject sounded smoother, airy and more robust. The 1200 wasn't awful but nothing like the Pro-Ject. The 1200 was definitely more alive but not in a good way in my opinion. I wonder what the differences are between the 1200 and ST-150? Does the ST-150 sound less metallic or thin than the 1200 in stock form?

Inna...I will check into the Interspace more. The only negative thing I see so far is the tonearm can be susceptible to vibrations. It looks very interesting however, as I know Nottingham makes great TT's.
Sam 12...just for the heck of it get three dominoes, but one under the middle front, and two in the back corners. You can get used dominoes from the Salvation Army, etc. Another thing you can try which also might improve the sound is getting 3 small cans of Hunts tomato paste. Put them in the same place as I suggested the dominoes,...laying down. This will enable the turntable to roll if not careful, so don't do this if you have cats or kids.
LOL Stringreen. I actually heard Del Monte tomato paste made better isolation platforms. I do have cats so I better make sure I have a dustcover :) Any suggestions? think I'm kidding or out of my mind don't you. I actually made lots of money with these cans as an idea to create a company that sold the end result of the idea to audiophiles all over the country.
Sam: I've owned the P3, P5 and Project Perspective. Pick of the litter? Tough call. All good.
I have had Music Hall 5.1, Project expression III, Rega P3, P5, RP6, and RP8. I also have a Technics SL 1200, original not MK II. I compare all these with the 13 cartridges I have, the Technics vs. the modern belt drives mentioned above. My conclusion is the Technics is about their equal, but the cartridges have to be equal as well. The Shure M97 is not in the same category as the Sumiko you mentioned. You'd have to put the Sumiko on the Technics for a fair comparison, and if you did, I bet you'd be surprised.My comparisons always involve the turntables playing directly against each other, installed in the same cabinet, with phonostage having 2 inputs.
Yeah, unlike Spacedeck, Interspace's motor is not isolated. But even with the Spacedeck I put one small Walker Audio resonance control disc next to the motor to absorb vibration. The difference was quite audible though not dramatic. I think, I will try another one on the other side of the motor or near the armboard. With the Interspace the effect might be bigger. Those discs are $50 each directly from Walker, good stuff if you don't overdo it.
Boofer great point. Makes perfect sense and so glad you pointed this out. Part of me wants to go ahead and try something different but I'm trying to be patient.
Sting I really didn't know if you were serious. Now that I read it again I understand. Sorry about that :)
Rich I'm going to try a Denon DL 110. I've heard very good things about this cartridge. Local vintage audio dealer has one.

When I first got back into vinyl, I picked up a Denon 37F DD turntable. I have been hooked on DD turntables ever since. Added the DL 110 and it was the best sounding combination I have ever owned.

Hope you are ok with mounting the cartridge on the head shell. After you do it a few times, you can do it in your sleep.

Good luck. Give it a while to break in and you should be fine. Check in and let us know.

I'm taking the headshell to my buddy and will watch him install and line it up. This may give me a better comparison between the Technics and Pro-Ject.

I will keep you updated. Should have the cart late next week. Thanks for your input.

The Technics brings some outstanding performance parameters at low cost, such as s/n ratio (78dB weighted) and speed accuracy (wow & flutter 0.01 to 0.025%). The shortcomings, often erroneously attributed to the direct drive mechanism, are vibration damping issues and easily and cheaply fixed.

Headshell: Get an LpGear ZuPreme headshell. You can't begin to hear what the Technics can do without upgrading the headshell to a Sumiko for ZuPreme. The ZuPreme costs a lot less and is easier for mounting cartridges. Both enable you to adjust azimuth alignment.

Mat: Get a better mat, whether a Herbie's Way Excellent or a cowhide one or whatever. With the right mat, the platter won't ring when you flick it with your fingernail. I use an Oracle Groove Isolator. Long out of production, but if you come across one, snatch it up.

Get KAB's fluid damper. Don't fill the trough more than 1/3. This settles down the tonearm and enables it to track even hideously warped records.

Record Grip: Get a low cost record grip such as the one from KAB or the Clearaudio Clever Clamp. I have an earlier version of the KAB. It lowers spindle and surface noise and makes a 70g Dynaflex LP sound almost as full-bodied as a 180-200g thick one.

Oil the motor spindle.

Get the tonearm rewired with something good. I have the M5G which comes from the factory with OFC tonearm wire so I let it be. KAB's low-friction Litz wire is crazy cheap.

Wrap the tonearm with Teflon pipe thread tape. The tonearm is a hollow aluminum arm with no damping. It rings in the upper midrange and is the source of that edgy glare. Wrap it (including the knurled collar) and that upper midrange glare disappears.

The stock feet look impressive but they suck. Unscrew 'em and place the threaded sockets on the ball bearings of Vibrapod Cones. Set the Cones on #2 Vibrapod Isolators.

If you want to lower the noise floor a bit more, set your turntable on a thick maple butcher block cutting board. Place silicon gel computer keyboard wrist pads underneath.

I have had my M5G for 8-1/2 years. I gradually added these tweaks over the first few years until I got it where I like it. I routinely visit high end shops and listen to records. Although I was impressed by the Carbon DC, esp. for the money, the high torque and higher speed accuracy of the Technics DD trumps it and the vibration control tweaks mentioned above make the Technics competitive with more expensive TTs for not a lot of tweak money. Each of the above tweaks will lower the noise floor, increase dynamics, frequency extension, and especially inner detail to compete with significantly more expensive turntables.

Many cartridges work well on the fluid-damped tonearm. I've been using an Audio Technica AT150MLX to good effect for 7-1/2 years. The wood-bodied Grados get good reviews as does the Denond DL-103, especially the Zu-103 version.
Awesome recommendations Johnny. Thank you very much. The mods are cheap and very doable. I changed cartridges yesterday hoping to hear a big difference but I'm hearing distortion or its like 80% of the music is playing. I put on a Denon DL110 and tried to adjust the tonearm and the arm wants to return unless I place it halfway across the platter. The Anti skate is at zero.