A Mid-Winter RP1 Upgrade Project in Chicago

Sharing with you here a very "COOL" Mid-Winter RP1 upgrade project by Joe Borzetta of Chicago, USA :

Hi Michael, 

I wanted to let you know how pleased I am with the results of adding your reference mods to my RP1! 
My new year is off to a great start! 

I ordered: 
Dual pulley, dual silicon belts 
Thrust bearing 
Bearing sheath 
Aluminum feet 
Acrylic platter 
Brass record clamp 

I've finally had a chance to perform listening tests, first with the stock OM 5E, then with the OM 2 Blue. With the 5E the difference was not subtle! The noise floor was lowered, the lower bass range was extended and the midrange became much more transparent. I chose to add sand to the inverted rubber feet before retrofitting them to the aluminum feet and the subsequent increase in volume gain was very apparent, thanks for that tip! 

My next step was to swap out the OM 5e with an OM2 Blue. The 2.8 mm VTA spacer worked perfectly and installation was very easy. The tone arm is now perfectly parallel to the acrylic platter. This brought the RP1 to a whole new level of performance. The OM 2 Blue needs time to "burn in" however the increase in high end detail, with a wider soundstage and low end oomph is already apparent. The midrange is also much more dynamic, with more detail and a less "compressed" presentation than the stock RP1. The mods certainly bring out the best in the OM2/ RB 101 combination! 

In all I had a very enjoyable experience adding your mods and would highly recommend them to any Rega RP1 owner looking to upgrade their deck

I've enclosed some photos below: 

Everything unpackaged and ready to be installed:

A drop or two of acetone (my wife's nail polish remover) did the trick to loosen the plastic pulley. 

I ordered the pulley remover, however I did not want to remove the motor from the plinth, (at least not yet). So I just removed the top screw from the pulley remover, screwed it directly into the top of the pulley and with a gentile pull with a set of pliers it popped right out! 

Dual Pulley with dual silicon belts in place. 

I drilled a 5/8 inch hole in the motor cover, which was a tip sent in courtesy of Rafe Arnott which allowed the thrust bearing to be placed without adding rubber spacers. Thanks Michael and Rafe! Note newly installed bearing sheath top left. 

Awesome sound and great aesthetics! 

My newly (Michael Lim) upgraded RP1 next to my beloved vintage Spica SP-1. Right speaker. My Spica's are paired with a Denon receiver and an Energy ESW-8 powered subwoofer. 

Thank you Michael, 

PS. Looking forward to more upgrades late Winter or early Spring especially the motor isolation base and tone arm under slung counter weight.

Thanks Joe!

* All the projects done by Joe :

1. A mid-winter RP1 upgrade project in Chicago

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Upgrades for Jos Cenens's NAD C522

Aluminium sub-platter, dual pulley
and silicone belts upgrades

Dear Michael, 

Included a picture of my upgraded NAD C552. 

The upgrades went fine: the pulley installed without a problem, the sub-platter was indeed very tight to get in as the air under the shaft could not get out easily, it took a few minutes before the platter was in place (I turned it around and gently pushed on the top spindle). The 2 silicone belts were also quite easy to put in place thanks to your instructions. 

I now had a good week of listening and I do hear an improvement. The music sounds better, more steady, the details present on the record are easier to hear (almost in all records that I put on). I am all in all quite pleased with these improvements. As you can see on the picture I recently installed a new element (Ortofon 2M Blue) and that gave a boost to the turntable. 

Your pulley, aluminum sub platter and dual belts further improved the turntable and I conclude that the investment in the 2M Blue element is supported by your material.

Jos Cenens 
Linden Belgium

Thanks Jos Cenens!

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Endrik of Philippines had earlier added my aluminium sub-platter to his P3-24 TT. Before I introduced the pulley puller, he was unsure of doing the dual pulley upgrade for fear that the motor might be damaged using the "hack method". Now with the help of the new pulley puller, he successfully upgraded his P3-24 TT with dual pulley and silicone belts. 

Take a look at some of his additional tweaking ideas using bitumen and Kamagong pucks. Do you notice he has added a top bracing too?

Here's his comment and pictures with the upgrades:

Hi Michael, 

I was able to install the dual pulley last night. It was so much easier to remove the motor in order to pull out the pulley. 

What it did was a noticeable increase in details, PRAT and a lower noise floor. I'm so happy with this upgrade. 

If you notice the motor cavity, I placed bitumen to strengthen and deaden resonance:) 

*I placed Kamagong pucks on the periphery of the platter to increase the flywheel effect. 

Thank you so much Michael, The next time ..., I'm planning on getting the motor support! :)

- Endrik 

Thanks Endrik.

Read more on Endrik's further upgrades on top and bottom bracings .....  >>>>

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Antonio Amaral of Toronto, Canada is another RP6 owner who went for dual pulley with silicone belts upgrade. I believe many of us are curious to know if the dual pulley combo makes any difference to the performance of this well-esteemed RP6...

Here's the feedback and pictures from Antonio Amaral.

Hi Michael: 

I have attached some pictures. 

Your double pulley gear is a definite upgrade for my Rega RP6. With the double pulley, I find that the music is more focused. Sound stage has widened slightly. Bass has slightly more impact and punch. I highly recommend the double pulley. Rega uses them on their higher end tables and now I can hear why. 

Many thanks.

Antonio Amaral

Removing pulley with Pulley Puller

Dual pulley installed 

Silicone belts in place

Thanks Antonio!

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You definitely must take a look at this project of Tommy Andersen from Denmark; you would be impressed by his ingenious way to conceal his wall-mounted slab. Even my wife who'd said before, " Nothing to be mounted on the wall, please!" now gladly return to me my Rega wall-mounting brackets ("confiscated" by her earlier). 

I am exciting about trying out on my wall-mounting brackets! (Thanks to Tommy).

Here's Tommy Anderson's project in detail. Enjoy!

Hi Michael, 

I am the owner of an early Rega Planar3, dating from 1979. The TT came with an S-shaped R-200 tone arm (Acos-Lustre). This was quite fashionable at the time. I used it with a variety of Dynavector and Pickering cartridges until 1993 where the arm was changed to a RB300 with an Elys cartridge. At that time the tungsten counterweight was still mounted as standard. 

The cartridge was exchanged with a new one occasionally, but the TT was otherwise unmodified until 2012. Time was running out for the TT in this unmodified guise. Especially the speed instability caused by the original motor suspended in a rubber band was unsatisfactory. 

Rega offers a 24V motor upgrade kit, where the motor is bonded to the TT. I was not convinced that bonding a motor directly to the thin phenol-resin would be satisfactory.  

I was tempted to buy a new P7 or P9. In the end I decided to modify the old Planar3. Before this decision was made, I checked that the plinth wasn’t warped. I checked with a steel rule, and it seems that warping is absolutely minimal, although the surface as such can seem somewhat uneven. 

I decided to upgrade and/or replace the following: 
 · Tone arm · Cartridge 
 · Sub platter · Bearing 
 · Motor ( 24V upgrade) 
 · Drive belt 

I also added a Rega TT PSU. 

These parts were bought in the beginning of 2012. I did not start any work, as I had not yet figured out how to mount the motor in a satisfactory way. This lasted till I was introduced to your BlogSpot. Everything now fell into place. The motor could be mounted on an isolation base, and I could fit the motor with a dual pulley in order to aid speed stability. 

The parts I ordered from you, arrived in little more than a week. I would like to add, that your Blog Spot has been a great source of inspiration. It does seem that the analogue scene is well and alive. 

The procedure: 

I stripped the plinth and checked it for straightness. For various reasons I decided to keep the original rubber feet. 

I now wanted to replace the original single pulley on the new motor. This involves using acetone to dissolve the glue and a puller to extract the pulley. It is important to ensure that no solvent or glue enters the motor bearing. As the picture below shows, I used a slightly different approach than usual to ensure this. 

I poured acetone in a little glass. The motor was then positioned upside down on the glass. I ensured that the solvent would only just cover the pulley. The arrangement was left to itself for a couple of minutes. By positioning upside down, the solvent cannot enter the motor. 

I now used your pulley puller, still keeping the motor upside down. 

The puller is in my opinion the gentlest method to do the job without damaging anything. 

The pulley came off with very little effort. The shaft was then wiped clean to ensure removal of any glue residue. 

The shaft was also checked with a magnifying glass to check the surface. All looked fine. 

The double pulley was a snug, but not overly tight fit. It was possible to slide it onto the shaft with light pressure, so nothing was damaged. 

It was placed as close to the motor as possible, without touching the motor bearing. 

Motor Mounting: 

For years the TT has been placed on a 10Kg. granite slab as shown below, which in turn is placed on two pieces of angled iron and bolted to the wall. The slab is grinded and polished on the top, in order to ensure a smooth surface. I thought I might as well make it an integrated part of the TT assembly. 

I wanted to fasten the motor and PCB to it. Holes were drilled in order to make it possible to fasten the components to the slab. The motor base was fastened from the underside of the slab with a M6 bolt through a Ø10 hole in the slab. This gives the possibility of finetuning the tension of the drivebelt, without moving the TT around. 

The PCB was mounted upside down with screws in two 5mm rawlplugs. A couple of washers were used as spacers to ensure that the underside doesn't touch the slab. The original cover was put on top. 

A 25mm hole was drilled to ensure that the rather thick tonearm cable, can pass through the slab. 

The motor is placed with a1.5mm shim under the base. Together with the early type of feet this ensures a distance of 2mm between the motor and TT. 

The slab is mounted on two angled irons, bolted to the wall. In order to be able to level the TT, the top of the angled irons are mounted with M6 bolts on which the slab is placed. To ensure the slab can't rock, three bolts instead of four are used. 

The whole arrangement is placed in a book shelf with adjustable shelves. In order to make the arrangement less visible, a shelf has been modified with cutouts. The shelf rests approximately 2mm above the slab, and there are 10mm between the shelf and underside of the TT, so there is no contact between the parts. 

A wood plate on the front conceals the slab. 

The finished TT

The TT is now equipped with a RB700 tone arm, fitted with an Exact cartridge. I have chosen to keep the glass platter and felt mat. The PSU beneath the TT is a new addition. I will keep the TT in this guise for a while, in order to collect some substantial listening impressions. I will then decide if I will do further modifications. 

It is reasonable to question the practicality of the whole arrangement, considering the fact that motor and PCB are fastened to a heavy slab. This does make moving the whole lot around a little troublesome. But in this case the TT has been in the same place for years, so this will not be an issue. 

The picture below (obviously), shows the new sub platter and dual pulley, together with upgrade drive belts. It was given 35 hours of running with the platter on before listening. 


So how does it perform? The short answer is that performance is very satisfactory. Obviously when doing several modifications in one operation, it can be difficult to be sure which modification represents which change in sound. Never the less I have gathered some impressions which are mentioned in an order that not necessarily represents the gained effect. 

The first obvious improvement is speed stability. This is very obvious on piano and violins. A good example of this is Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge over troubled water”. At the end there is a very long stretched violin tone. This is very clean and powerful with sharp definition. The details on instruments and voices in general, are also very clear and well defined. Bass is firmer. This must also to some extent be a consequence of speed stability. 

The level of undefined background noise is very low. The background is darker, and hiss from the mastertapes can now be very evident on some recordings. I suspect this effect must be a consequence of the new motor and base fitment, as well as the new bearing. Most recordings now reveal details and character that weren’t obvious before.  

The general “colour” of the music is probably down to the tone arm and cartridge combination. I recognize the warmth and liveliness from before the modification. Vocals do seem a bit more present though, and everything is reproduced with a little more precision. 


Is it reasonable to use a fairly large amount of money on a rebuild/upgrade instead of buying a new player? In my case the answer is yes. First of all you can tailor the modifications to suit your taste. Secondly you can defend doing things you would not do to a new TT. For example I would not have pulled a bonded motor out of a new player and placed it on a slab. 

Over the latest period it has become quite clear, that good sound is a question of getting the fundamentals working. Good sound is not voodoo and snake oil. Although the end result is a consequence of several complicated factors, in the end it is a matter of good engineering principles. In the case of a TT, even the finest and most exotic tonearms and cartridges, will not deliver their best if you don’t use quality motors with good decoupling from the plinth, precision pulleys, subplatters and quality bearings. 

Best regards 
Tommy Andersen

Thank you, Tommy for sharing your ideas with us!

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Many TT owners are sceptical about tweaking turntables. Other than to hear it for yourself, sometimes it's hard to be convinced just by the theory behind. But sure you can imagine the difference between a plain cake and another one with cherry on top!

Here's the feedback and pictures from F- H of Paris

Hello Michael,

I have received and installed the double pulley on my Rega P3. I had a short listening cession last night with two LPs : Miles Davis Kind of Blue and Archie Shepp Africa Blues. I confirm the double pulley is a great upgrade, the cherry on top of the cake ! Music is more “fluid” with a better timing, probably because of an improved speed accuracy and better belt-sub platter grip. 

As requested some pictures for your blog.

Thank you so much.

Best regards

F- H from Paris

Thanks, F- H !

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The first RP6 with dual pulley....

Thomas from California, USA was the first Rega RP6 TT owner from North America to enquire on a dual pulley. Making the wrong assumption that his RP6 came with a 60Hz pulley like P5 (aren't RP6 a replacement for P5??), a 60Hz dual pulley was sent to him... 

I was terribly wrong! And because of this, I had made Thomas and a few other RP6 owners waited longer than necessary for their dual pulleys. My sincere apologies here to them all.

So actually there is only one version of RP6 ; both North America and Europe are using the same 50Hz pulley and TTPSU like P7.

Thomas had finally settled his problem and here's his comments in vinylengine :

" I've had my RP6 for a little while now and I really love it, one thing that I had noticed over time was a little wow, most noticeable in long sustained notes. Not experience-ruining by any means, but I had read about the dual pulley upgrade and thought that might be a good way to shape it up. Contacted Michael, who said he had not seen this done on an RP6 yet. He said that the 60hz (N. American version) shorter pulley should work, so I ordered that + 2 of his silicon belts, and an acrylic mat just for fun, and off I went.

Received the parts from Michael about 1.5 wks after ordering (I'm in California). Michael provided good instructions for performing the surgery, which I more or less followed. I ordered a pulley puller from him, which worked well - just put down some strips of tissue to protect the plinth, twist away on the pulley puller, and hope that cracking sound you hear is the pulley glue and not the plinth. :twisted: 

Once the stock pulley is off, putting the dual on is a breeze - slide onto the spindle, find a good height, and tighten up the set screw. This is where I hit a minor snag in that the 60hz pulley was unfortunately not the right size. I had a moment of concern when I quickly compared the stock and 60hz, but chalked it up to difference in styling and pressed on. Upon trying to play a record and hearing it in slow motion... nope. The 60hz pulley is too small for my RP6.

Michael was very responsive and helpful, asking me to confirm the diameter of the stock pulley (3/4") and then sending a replacement 50hz pulley right away. Received it this morning (took about twice as long to get here due to the holidays) and the first glance tells me everything is going to be alright.

Set screw vs glue makes adjusting the pulley, or in this case replacing it, a breeze. Popped on the larger pulley - looking good (this shot may actually be the 50hz pulley, I took lots of pictures and now they're all mixed up - but you get the idea).

First Impressions:
When I received the first shipment from Michael, I put one of his silicon belts onto the stock pulley to see how it sounded over the stock Rega belt. Immediately noticed an improvement, I would assume similar to what people have experienced with the white belts - everything focused up a bit, tighter bass.

I also tried replacing the stock felt mat with the acrylic one before fiddling with the pulley - dramatic change, bass much tighter and everything more airy. It kind of shifted the mix, if that makes sense - a more balanced presentation with more low and mid than the felt mat was putting forth.

Now that I've got the dual pulley added as well, I am overall very happy with everything I ordered from Michael. Starting and stopping is now faster (duh). Noise floor seems to be lower than it was in the previous configuration, not sure how much the pulley + belts can really impact this but I am hearing it - maybe I am just subconsciously choosing my most noise-free records (or they're the ones I like best because they sound good :lol: ). The wow issue seems to be addressed as well, and this very well could have been taken care of in the first belt swap - timing seems rock solid. And on that note, I am pleased to report that the quickness that is a huge part of what makes this table so fun is still present and accounted for. 

A+ would buy again. "

Thanks Thomas!

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