Upgrading Rega Planar 2 turntable

Recently I work on my Rega Planar 2 which is in the store for some time, believing that it's possible to attain 'audiophile' quality sound by doing some tweaks.

After studying the Planar 2, I have identified the the following areas that matter most in obtaining better sound:

1. It's a well-known fact that plastic sub-platter is generally inferior to metal sub-platter (aluminium or aluminium compound). Based on this I upgrade the plastic sub-platter with the aluminium one with anti-resonance design. In fact, if we were to look at the higher series of Rega turntables, P7 and P9, they actually use aluminium metal sub-platters too.

2. As I had mentioned in my earlier post motor vibration is the greatest enemy of turntables, so the motor is removed and fixed onto the stainless steel motor isolation base using 3M acrylic tape or stainless steel screws. Now I would safely say that the motor vibration is almost completely eliminated from the board. It's quite simple (no drilling required). The end result of this motor base mod is much better than the motor upgrade itself (refer to my post on motor upgrades).

3. I replace the glass platter with the acrylic platter. This, combined with the aluminium sub-platter, lowers the centre of gravity of the rotating platter system. Hence less stress and vibration is generated from the bearing housing and stainless steel spindle. In addition, since most of the mass of the acrylic platter is concentrated at the outer segment with lower centre of gravity compared with the flat glass platter, excellent flywheel effect is attained when the acrylic platter spins. We get better speed stability and of course, better sound and more importantly, less noise due to anti-resonant property of acrylic.

4. Substitute the plastic end-stub with stainless steel unit for better rigidity. I also change the mild steel counterweight with stainless steel one that lowers its mass to be in-line with the cartridge for better sound effect.

5. Rubber feet alone is good but not good enough to isolate most of the ground-borne vibrations, thus acrylic isolation platform with three brass points( adjustable for leveling) to provide additional layer of isolation is used. The result is clearer and louder music due to the lower noise floor.

6. Replacing the felt mat with rubber/cork mat and raise the VTA of the tonearm with 3-point stainless steel shim give surprising improved results and after this step, you can sit back to enjoy the beautiful music now ........

The music emerges from this upgraded Rega Planar 2 is intoxicating even with the original(more than 10-year old) Golding 1010 cartridge that I bought together with the turntable.

So you don't have to burn a big hole in your pocket to get 'audiophile' sound. You can buy a Rega Planar 2 or Planar 3 and proceed with the above steps which is very simple for any layman. You would be presently surprised and thrilled by the 'real' analogue music!

Other upgrades or mods for Rega Planar 2 available :

Aluminium isolation feet (3 pcs) retrofit existing Rega rubber feet

...

Stainless steel pulley and silicone belt:

...Read more >> Standard pulley (33.3/45 rpm)

...Read more >> Double pulley (33.3/33.3 rpm)

...Read more >> Silicone belt

Motor thrust bearing:

...Read more >> thrust bearing

Paul Bowen of USA has upgraded his 20+ year old Planar 2 with counterweight, stainless steel dual pulley, aluminium isolation feet, thrust bearing and 3-points VTA spacer. Here's his comments:


I finally got around to installing the Planar 2 upgrades that you sent and all that I can say is WOW. The components by themselves might yield subtle changes in sound but when added together it's a whole new ball game. The Planar 2 is my first Rega deck and although it is a 20+ year old turntable I was impressed with the simplicity of design and the sound quality. Now after adding your upgraded components the "old" Planar 2 sounds so much better than my other more "modern" (and more expensive) TT. 

Cheers Michael and a sincere well done!! 

Paul Bowen

pbinp57 has upgraded his Planar 2 and here's his comments in AudioKarma.org :

Michael Lim mods are worth considering. I've recently modded my Planar 2 and the improved SQ is more than subtle.

Read more on :
*upgrades of Planar 2 :  Jani's joyful experience!
*Hi-Fi Avenue : Review on Upgrading Planar 2 

Upgrading of Planar 3 is very similar to Planar 2:
*Refer to my post : Tips on upgrading Planar 3

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This is an extension to motor mounting on motor isolation base.

For those with electrical knowledge and soldering skill, you may want to remove the power supply pcb together with the motor from the board and house it in a plastic container with an on/off switch.

Motor mounted on isolation base

PCB mounted in a plastic box with on/off switch at the side

Power supply cord fixed to the PCB

This becomes an out-board power supply and motor and it's very handy as you can continue to use it on other models of Rega TT should you upgrade your TT.

This out-board motor can also be shared by two TTs', e.g. one for stereo and one for mono playback!

My advise is don't attempt this step if you don't have the knowledge and skill due to the presence of 230V/115V AC.

Other Outboard motor kit for RP6 & RP3  : 

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Motor base (model IB22) - USD100.00
( for most Rega and Project TT's )

Motor vibrations

As we know for the Planar 2 ( and Planar 3), the motor is suspended to the plinth using a rubber band. No doubt it's effective to a certain extend for isolating the motor vibrations since the motor is not directly mounted onto the board. However as the motor spins, it also wobbles when the rubber belt stretches or contracts. As a result, there would be speed inconsistency.

In other later models like P1, P2, P3, P5, RP1, RP3, RP6 TT's(with low-vibration motors), double-sided tape is used instead of rubber band to attach the motor to the board. This is a simple way to reduce motor vibrations from reaching the record surface and the stylus. But low vibration does not mean no vibration. The stylus is sensitive to vibrations that is micro in nature.

There are many ways suggested to reduce this motor vibrations e.g by dampening around it or to upgrade to a low vibration motor/high performance motor. But, nothing is better than to "separate" the motor which is mounted to the plinth!

The idea of an off-board motor

Separating the motor from the plinth looks like involving a lot of work. Many might just wonder how easy is it for them to put the motor "off-board" or out-board? In my case, I put the motor "below-board" (also "off-board", of course). This is done without involving any drilling.

Let me show you how I do it:

i) Remove the motor by opening the the motor compartment cover, loosens the two screws holding the suspended motor, the bracket and rubber band.

ii) Fix the motor onto the stainless isolation base, IB22 ( my "invention") either by screws or acrylic tape.

iii) Change the rubber feet to slightly higher ones so as to raise the height to accommodate the isolation base, IB22. The motor is now anchored firmly ( by the weight of the isolation base) below the board by about 2 mm.

iv) Align the motor pulley to make sure that the motor is not touching the board.

(For Planar 2/3, we will see two holes on the plinth which are not used anymore)

This stainless steel isolation base, IB22, that I've used above not only acts as a vibration-sink, but also a heat-sink; the motor runs much cooler due to faster heat conduction as well as better ventilation. It actually out-performs the Planar 3 motor upgrade (click link to read comparison).

Holding the loose off-board motor

In order that we can still move around the turntable (whenever necessary) with the motor/isolation base unattached to the plinth, I use a piece of rubber mesh netting to hold the assembly. This rubber mesh netting covers the motor/isolation base and power supply compartment and is kept in place by plastic brackets using the existing screws holes (originally for the stock plastic cover). No drilling is required.

Note: The rubber mesh netting is slightly slack and the motor base actually rests on the same surface as the turntable feet. It's not touching the plinth or hanging on the plinth/netting.

Now you can sit back and enjoy surprisingly nicer music!!!

*Keep the original Rega rubber feet (3 pcs) and motor compartment cover as motor isolation base upgrade is reversible. You may put it back to original Rega TT should you decide to upgrade to other TT's in the future.

I got my motor isolation base and double pulley yesterday. Well since I have not received my puller for my pulley yet, I decided to install the isolation base anyway. So far after a couple of hours of play, I can honestly say this ; it is Silent! I can hear more detail, and the music takes on a living, breathing thing! I guess the more silent you can make the table, the greater analog experience it becomes.

And :

I listened to the P3 today with the motor isolation base, and here are my findings.
[1] it sounds more human than it has a right to.
[2] the bass goes to subterranian depths like never before
[3] every record that sounded screechy or was on the borderline acceptable is now a pleasure to listen to.
[4] this is besides the subplatter replacement in my view ,the biggest upgrade so far.

I just completed Michael Lim's motor isolation mod and add his double pulley but don't yet have a second belt on. By removing the motor from the plinth, the music has just lept forward in a big way. More dynamic, wider presentation, quieter background, tons of bass on and on.

Just can't get over all the 'tunefulness' this latest motor mod has done for the table!!

The base was the biggest improvement. As if I have a whole new, tuneful record collection.

Now there is refinement, clarity and accuracy on top of that .

My wife last night mentioned how good an album sounded, Grieg's Lyric Pieces played by Gilels. This is a rare occasion for her to notice, and I believe speaks to the improvements of the tweaks.

Chris Tasker of Canada gave his comments after using the motor isolation base on his P5 :

Hi Michael,
Got the isolation base installed, no problem - very nice indeed ...... . Now I have NO trace of motor noise at all - totally black background that the table to reveal all details - great design and idea on your part - well done.

Al Sands of New Zealand gave his comments after using the motor isolation base on his Planar 3 :

Hi Michael,

I've completed your motor isolation mod and my turntable is making ..... is making beautiful music.

I haven't used the netting, I like to see the shiny base under the turntable. I only needed 3 spacers at 50mm x 2mm. I then made a minor adjustment to the pulley on the spindle to get accurate alignment with the two belts.

You might want to mention that this is the better option if anybody is intending to use Rega's white belt upgrade. My Planar couldn't manage the torque on the white belt (due to the fact that the motor is suspended on rubber band)!

Bernard Gould of United Kingdom gave his comments on motor isolation base and dual upgrade for his Rega P25(24V motor):

"Hi Michael,
 I was surprised and delighted to receive the motor base the following Friday after you shipped(6 days to the UK). I use the word ship, advisedly as it got here faster than the Higgs Bosen particle. My last four upgades have been your esteemed dual pulley/Rega 24v motor and Rega psu and now the motor base. 
Together with other notable added quality components. My bog standard Rega P25 can now manifest the spirit of passion and glory in music making. "

Jan Beltman of Netherland gave his comments after using the motor isolation base on his NAD533 (with 24V motor) :

Hello Michael,
The Motor base arrived right before Christmas. Installed it this week. First impression: More detailed sound with more "blackness", more "depth of stage" and more "space inside the music"; the different details and instruments are more separated. So far I'm happy. More listening with albums still to come.

Kogfy of Larkspur Colorado, gave his comments after using the motor isolation base on his Planar 2 :
Michael, The Motor isolation solution is brilliant! The motor isolation is absolutely astonishing, As is, the turntable sound infinitely better than it has before.

James Houston of Glasgow gave his comments after fixing motor isolation base to his Origin Live motor :

I'm VERY HAPPY with the difference your product has made to the sound on my Planar 3. It's very noticeable that everything about the sound is more detailed and solid. The bass improvement is amazing, it goes right through the floor now! 

VE feedback - motor base upgrades


I could not believe the level of improvement that this upgrade did for my P3!                          Cheers, Doug


During the years I have upgraded my Planar 2 with some Michael Lim aftermarket products, and I      have to say that they are both cost-effective and easy to install. The motor-isolation base proved to be an excellent upgrade for me. 

Thiago of Brazil gave his comments after using the motor isolation base on his P5:

Hi there Michael, 
The motor base arrived yesterday and I have just installed it. From the very first tests what it showed was a whole new level of silence, with lots of detail popping out with ease. I'll keep testing throughout the week and I'll let you know, but first impressions were really great. 

Thanks again for this great upgrade.

This isolation base is also suitable for most Rega and Pro-ject turntables as well as some Thorens models.

Arthur of California gave his comments on motor isolation base upgrade for his Pro-ject 2.9 wood:

The isolation base does make a big difference, I don't hear the motor since it is well isolated from the plinth. Thanks again Michael for the invention. I now enjoy listening to my table more than listening to CD's."

Ronald Bonner of Dallas gave his comments on motor isolation base upgrade for his Pro-ject Debut Carbon:

Got it and installed it. Did exactly what I was wishing it would do and more. Thank you so very much....

Laszlo of Houston gave his comments on motor isolation base upgrade for his Pro-ject Debut Carbon:

Hi Michael,
The motor isolation base arrived safely yesterday. I was so excited, so I started to work on my turntable immediately. I separated the motor as you and others suggested on your website. One more check and connections, test drive and no more motor noise! Perfect. 

Convenient to those who are spinning a few Rega TT's. This can be a common motor!

Also it's easier to move around your turntable with this option.

New: outboard motor with PCB mounting kit 

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Motor Vibrations.....motor vibrations......

Vibration which comes from the ground, the air, the bearing and the motor itself is the greatest enemy of the turntables as many us would know. Great efforts have been put in by all manufacturers to isolate or minimize this problem which seriously causes deterioration in sound quality of the turntables.

The turntable motor itself also generates vibrations as it spins while driving the sub-platter or platter. This is unavoidable. If we let this vibration transmit freely to the record surface or the tonearm cartridge, we would expect poorer sound quality being produced and amplified.

Another undeniable fact is all motors vibrates whether it is high-vibration or low-vibration types or whether it is 220/110v or 24v types-it's matter of degree. There is no such thing as "no vibration motor". Any vibration, no matter how low, would cause a degradation in music quality as long as it finds it's way to the tonearm or record surface.

Is there a solution?

I think every turntable designer has this same headache when designing their fabulous turntables i.e how to mount this vibration generating culprit so as not to affect the performance of the turntable!

Can we isolate the motor "completely" so as to cut down the transmission of this motor vibrations to the plinth? And in order to experiment out, I removed the motor of my Rega Planar 2 from the main plinth. With the motor detached from the plinth, I could feel no vibrations on the plinth (where the motor is originally mounted). I tested the turntable immediately to prove to myself that the idea of "motor in isolation" would bring about very substantial sonic improvement to the turntable .

I was surprised to see the results. In fact the results of tweaking the Planar 2 from "motor isolation point of view" were much more effective than I'd expected!

I shall discuss and share with you in detail what I have done with my motor in my next post.

Stay tuned .....

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Award-winning Thorens turntable - model TD309

I have tested recently the latest awarding-winning Thorens TD309 turntable on the acrylic isolation platform. The music emerged louder and clearer as a result of good isolation from ground-borne vibrations provided by the platform.

View of Thorens TD309 on Performance acrylic isolation platform

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Those who are looking for new entry-level manual turntable to begin their analogue experience should serious consider the award-winning model-Essential, from Pro-ject.

It is equipped with a uni-pivot tonearm, low vibration motor, silicone belt(not rubber belt) and resonance free MDF platter. USB model with built-in phono preamp is also available-a big saving for amplifier without phono input.

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The humble Rega P1 turntables can be further improved without problems using many third party products/accessories. This could be one of the many reasons that makes Rega turntables very popular. Another reason is that the Rega turntables are simple, rugged and very well engineered - to last for a long time.

The stock Rega P1 is equipped with Ortofon OM5E stylus. By just changing the stylus to OM10E, you get an upgrade immediately. Just plug and play - a very simple upgrade. OM10E costs around USD 50.00-60.00, depending on where you buy it from.

Ortofon OM10E stylus

The first thing I am going to do is to change the original mild steel counterweight. Just remove the counterweight, followed by the plastic end-stub. Then screw in the stainless steel end-stub and fix the under-slung stainless steel counterweight.

Under-slung stainless steel counterweight (USD100.00)

The original wooden fiber platter of Rega P1 could be replaced or upgraded cheaply either by getting a used 10 mm glass Rega Planar 2 from the flea market for USD 20.00-30.00 or a new acrylic platter (24 mm thick) for ~USD 130.00. You can hear the difference immediately after the change.

Rega P1 with original wooden fiber platter

8 mm /10 mm glass platter (~USD 45.00)

Upgraded Rega P1 with
Acrylic platter (USD 130.00) and
Rubber/cork mat ( USD25.00)

To change the original plastic sub-platter to the aluminium metal sub-platter with anti-resonance pattern brings about immediate sonic improvement that no one can deny. Remove the plastic unit carefully and insert the aluminium metal sub-platter after wetting the stainless shaft with suitable lubricating oil.

Aluminium sub-platter (USD150.00)

All turntables are susceptible to ground-borne vibrations and a good isolating platform would help to reduce this undesirable effect, thus improving the sonic performance. So lastly I put my Rega P1 turntable onto a 20 mm acrylic isolating platform for better isolation from undesirable vibrations.

Rega P1 turntable with aluminium sub-platter, acrylic platter,
stainless steel counterweight, record clamp,
and 20 mm acrylic isolating platform (USD110.00)

Presto, now you are ready to spin the vinyl!!

Shall we sit back and enjoy beautiful music from this upgraded Rega P1 turntable!

Proceed to :

on Motor isolation base upgrade if you are adventurous.

ii) Stainless steel pulley ( Standard and dual ) for a surprise.

iii) Aluminium feet ( à la p7/p9 feet)

iv) Main bearing sheath 

( For P1 and RP1 only)


1. All upgrades for Rega P1 turntable are also applicable for Rega RP1, P2, P3, P3-24, P5, P25, Planar 2 and Planar 3 turntables.

2. Counter-weight upgrade can also be used for Rega P7 and P9 turntables to improve the performance.

*Read more on : "Tips on upgrading ........">>

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