OLD turntables don’t die, not in the 21st century. Vinyl’s revival, indeed, its defiant refusal to fade way in the digital and download eras, has ensured geriatric record players of a new lease in life. No matter the age, it’s cool and hip to be a turntable these days.
Garrard, Thorens and Lenco units from the 1960s are being painstakingly restored to prove they can take on the new vinyl spinners. Technics, Pioneer, Luxman, Akai and Sansui turntables from yore, discovered in storerooms and attics, are being dusted off, serviced and taken to flea marts and posted on online sites for sale.
If you’re a vinyl addict who bought into the Rega Research philosophy decades ago, you may be wondering – sell off and get a new one? Hold on… you may be interested to know that you can bring your old Planars, or even newer Rega turntables, to a new level of performance.
The wonderful thing about Rega turntables is that you can do a number of things to them, at a reasonable cost…. from standard upgrades like a new platter mat (I hate the standard felt ones), belt or cartridge, to more sophisticated ones. Read on…
Malaysian engineer and vinyl enthusiast Michael Lim has, for a number of years, been providing upgrades for Rega turntables, and his clients range from far and exotic places across the planet. His website, lpturntables.blogspot.com, is dedicated to pleasing Rega owners who want a step up in performance.
The Petaling Jaya-based Lim, who is in his late 60s, started off a few years ago offering an aluminium sub-platter/pulley to replace Rega’s plastic units on the cheaper turntables… there was also a record clamp and a better quality counterweight and tonearm stub.
Today, the range of modifications includes an isolated motor base/housing, plinth bracing, adjustable aluminium feet, and an even better counterweight and stub, among others. In fact, you can probably build a whole new turntable around a Rega tonearm and motor, with the parts he offers, like a simple acrylic plinth for old Regas to a fancier one for the new RP-6.
Lim tells us a bit about his background.
“Basically, I am an engineer by training but was doing business for 30-plus years. Now I am retired and have more time for my hobby. So I am completely ‘devoted’ to analogue music and my turntable-tweaking hobby. It’s interesting as I can still use my engineering knowledge.”
As for what led him to this business, and why he chose Rega turntables for his tweaks, Lim has this to say:
“I won’t say it’s a business but more of a hobby-cum-retirement fun. It helps to bring out your value in life after retirement; you just feel that you are still useful, able to continue to contribute in some ways.
“Actually, I had my hands on tweaking various models of turntables. Lenco is one of the models that I am interested to go into more detail tweaking. But the simplicity of my Rega Planar 3 made me feel that more could be done on it.
“The Rega started as a budget turntable with good engineering that can last for decades. It’s of superb value for the money you pay. Some of the components or designs in Rega, I would say, it’s more of economics, not weaknesses i.e. a compromise to produce turntables that are affordable and yet sound fairly good.
“Rega is very consistent in design and philosophy – minimalist, simplicity and low-mass. Fairly little changes over the years. This, in fact, is a good point as it helps to keep your turntable serviceable even after 40 years, with value retention.
“Replacement parts are easily available at affordable price (original or third party).
“Evergreen or ‘timeless’ is the best word to use on a Rega! How many other turntable manufacturers that you know can offer or match the same? Either they are already out of business or there may not be replacement parts for most old models… or you may be quoted astronomically high prices for those in-house mods.”
What Rega turntables benefit from your stable of modifications?
“My mods apply to most of the Rega turntables, old (Planar 2/3) and new (P1/RP1 to RP6) but some of the components could apply to (older) higher series like the P7/P9.”
So to what extent can you upgrade, say a Planar 3 from the 1990s, and its current equivalent, the RP3?
“Rega turntables are almost completely upgradeable, whether it’s the Planar 3 or the new RP3. Just upgrade to a level that you are satisfied with. It’s very flexible as every component can be upgraded separately in stages, depending on budget. And there are plenty of aftermarket mods available.”
The design and manufacturing process of these modification parts must have taken up much of his time and resources, but Lim doesn’t see it that way.
“As I am a retiree, I have all the time to spend on R&D. It’s more of a hobby to me than a rigid task to be completed in stipulated time. Especially if you are doing something with passion, you will be indulging in it day and night without bothering how much time you have to put in.”
His clients, he says, come from all over the planet.
“Vinyl enthusiasts all are over the world. Rega owners who use my components are from North America, the UK, EU, Australia, NZ and so on.”
What about other-make turntables?
“Some of my Rega mods can be applied to certain models of Pro-Ject and Thorens turntables. Other common items like rubber/cork mat, record weight, 45rpm adapter, acrylic isolation platform and aluminium feet can be used on any model.”
The company, obviously, is a one-man show, but Lim intends to keep it going for as long as he possibly can.
“Lpturntables is kept alive and going by enthusiasts world-wide and I believe that it can continue as long as the support is there for many years to come, even after me!”
For a whole list of mods, upgrades, prices and sample work, go here.