HiFi Bargains: Rega P3 (2000) w/RB300 tonearm

The Rega P3/RB300 combo (also called the ‘P3 2000’) is about as classic a HiFi Bargain as they come. So says Captain Obvious.

I bought my P3 back in 2006 (the P3 2000 was manufactured from 2000–2007) and have used it for years (and years) as my turntable of choice. From the get-go I paired my P3 with a Denon 103 MC cartridge, another super-duper-classic HiFi Bargain, and the incomparable Auditorium 23 Moving Coil Step Up Transformer which is designed for use with the Denon.

This setup was retired when I ‘cleaned house’ last year. This isn’t the first time I’ve emptied the nest but it was at its most full this time around. I may or may not talk more about this someday…

Today, at this very moment, I am rebuilding my analog-ness, once again using the trusty P3/RB300 as the foundation.

During this past year post-emptying, I had a Nagaoka MP-110 MM cartridge going directly into the Phono inputs of this:

Together, they made some sweet music and played my now-tiny LP collection to satisfactory levels.

As I step back into a reviewer role, my system has changed and I’ll be adding an outboard Phono Preamp to the system mix (very, very soon) and perhaps another cartridge.  But enough about that!

The Rega Planar 3 was introduced into the world in 1977(!) and stuck around until 2000 when it was replaced by the P3 2000. In brief, the P3 is a belt-driven design with a solid plinth, 12mm glass platter, rubber suspension for the plinth-mounted motor, hard-wired interconnects, and employs Rega’s controversial “light and rigid” gestalt. The P3 2000 came with Rega’s RB300 tonearm, a one-piece die-cast aluminum-alloy tube with a decoupled counterweight and coil-spring–type tracking force adjustment.

A few of the things I enjoy about the Rega P3 is it’s a breeze to set up, it comes with a hinged dust cover, it plays 33 1/3rpm records and 45s (just move the belt), it has an arm lift, and it can sound vibrant and rich when paired with stuff that sounds vibrant and rich (like the Denon 103/A23 Step Up). Is it perfect? What is?

I don’t know the original 2000-era price, but the the P3/RB300 combo cost $750 in 2007. While that’s not cheap in the real-world, I figure when spread over its use-years here, $53.57/year is a great price to pay for 33 1/3 and 45 enjoyment.

The current incarnation, the Rega Planar 3 ($945 sans cartridge), has been completely redesigned (the hinged dust cover remains), and while I have not had the pleasure of an extended listen, my friend Herb Reichert has a lot of very things to say about it.

It’s worth noting Rega’s much-lauded entry-level P1 costs $450 (sans cartridge).