Monday, 25 February 2013

Investing in a RM90 rubber band

The filmsy plastic envelope had been lying almost forgotten in my cupboard since I acquired it a few days before the Chinese New Year. I never got round to seeing it again until yesterday. I opened the door and it just fell off the shelf. Really! Funny, it must have been calling out to me all this while.

Oh well, might as well get down to it. What I am referring to is this: a drive belt upgrade for my Rega Planar 3 turntable. Ever since I bought the turntable secondhand about a decade ago, I never thought of changing anything except for the magnetic cartridge. But lately, I had been giving the turntable a serious look-over. It still gives a very good service but boy, I would greatly love a new tonearm. However, it will definitely set me back by at least RM1,500. This is out of the question, out of my consideration, even in the medium term.

The next best alternative was the turntable belt. The original that came with the turntable was a black thin rubber belt. It had been there for so long, enduring all the abuses to the turntable, that I feared that it could snap at any time. A call went out to a friend in KL who knew a chap selling these Rega accessories. Hey, I told him, next trip back to Penang, please bring back a new drive belt for my turntable. He duly obliged.

This new belt was white. I must say that the first time I handled it, I was curious to see how different it was from the old one. But apart from the colour, I couldn't exactly see any difference. Oh, maybe, the black one looked slightly stretched but I couldn't tell with just a visual inspection. However, Rega had claimed that the improvement was in the rubber which was not only undyed but was also smoother and stronger. Hence, the inference was, it imparted improved motor control and performance.

I slipped the new white rubber band onto the base, replaced the glass platter and the felt mat, slipped on a record and then switched it on.

My first surprise: unlike with the old belt, the turntable started quickly and came up to speed almost immediately. My second surprise: yes, the music did seem tighter and delivered a slightly fuller sound.

Of course, I wouldn't expect the improvements to be utterly drastic and subtle though they were, I must admit that it was a good decision to replace the turntable belt.

Am I still looking for a new tonearm? Erm...

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