The time has come to once again modify our Rega RP6 turntable. In previous instalments, we’ve explored a range of sub-£20 cost-effective upgrades including a belt replacement, bearing and counterweight dampeners, and new oil. We’ve also touched on tuning the motor for quieter operation, and optimising the TTPSU to reduce its grounding hum.
In this post, we’re going to cover the TangoSpinner upgrades. Originating from Argentina, the aptly named TangoSpinner range includes belt, sub platter and pulley upgrades designed for Rega turntables. They also offer a range of record clamps, adjustable turntable feet, and a range of upgrade kits.
The kit on test here is the D´ARIENZO upgrade kit for the Rega RP6 turntable. It consists of a metal sub platter, triple brass pulley and 3 silicone belts. Being from the UK, the model I received was the 50HZ model; it’s worth noting that the belt and pulley sizes differ slightly between the 50 and 60HZ models, and that you will receive the model appropriate for your location at the time of ordering.
Shipping time from Argentina to the UK took just over a week. I’d also like to take the time to thank Gus from TangoSpinner, as the customer service I received throughout was truly exemplary. The upgrade kit arrived in a deceptively small box, well wrapped and secured. Inside, the products are well packaged, in multiple layers of bubble wrap and protective plastic.
We’ll explore the products in the order in which they were packaged. First up is the sub platter; fashioned from 6061-T6-grade aluminium with a low carbon extended stainless steel spindle, the replacement sub platter is surprisingly heavy. 2 silicone rings adorn the top, and are used to protect the underside of the main platter and help to isolate it from vibration. The record spindle is longer than the stock Rega spindle, allowing the use of record clamps and weights; most of which cannot be used with a stock Rega turntable.
The sub platter is the same height as the combined 2-piece Rega sub platter so VTA adjustment is not a concern. The sub platter is supplied with a hardened steel ball bearing, designed to complement the hardened steel spindle. Both the bearing and spindle are rated for 80,000 hours (lifetime) use. Full instructions are also provided, though the process is simple and takes a matter of minutes.
First off, the old sub platter must be removed. It simply lifts from the bearing housing; at which point both the old sub platter, and the bearing housing itself, should be cleaned. I recommend obtaining some isopropyl alcohol for this purpose. Once cleaned, the existing ball bearing must be removed; an extendable magnet is the most effective way to lift it from its trough at the bottom of the bearing housing, though it can also be removed with a standard thickness drinking straw. Once removed, the bottom of the bearing housing must also be cleaned.
Next, 3 drops of the included oil (or another oil of your choosing) should be applied to the bottom of the bearing housing; at which point your new ball bearing can be dropped into place, and 4 drops of oil applied atop that. 6 drops should be evenly distributed along and around the axel of the sub platter, before it is placed into the bearing housing and allowed to slide down, the pressure of which will evenly distribute the oil throughout the bearing housing.
The brass triple pulley is, as its name suggests, a pulley allowing the use of 3 belts to drive your sub platter. Use of such a system results in greater speed stability, higher torque and a smoother-running platter.
The triple pulley is a 33 RPM-only unit; as the RP6s speed is electronically controlled via the RP6, there is no need for a pulley supporting 45RPM speeds. It features a rubber insert, designed to grip the shaft of the motor which is a nice touch and a clear advantage over the Rega method of gluing the pulley in place.
Removing the existing pulley can be a hit and miss operation. Rega pulleys are held in place by a drop of glue which can require softening, and are also pressed tightly over the motor shaft. However, I was able to remove my pulley by wrapping the ends of 2 flat-bladed screwdrivers in standard electrical tape, and, having carefully slotted them beneath the pulley at either side, using them to evenly and gently lever the pulley up and off the shaft.
Once removed, I was left with a clean motor shaft on which to install the new pulley. It’s important to note that installation of the pulley will require you apply a significant amount of pressure to the top of the shaft. As the Rega motors are held in place using only a double-sided sticky pad, it is necessary to remove the motor cover beneath the turntable so as to support the underside of the motor as you press down to install the new pulley. Failure to do so will result in the motor becoming dislodged or the thin layer of plinth being cracked by the pressure.
With the pulley installed, the 3 belts can be placed around it and the sub platter. My kit was supplied with 3 red 50HZ silicone belts, which are a tad longer than the standard Rega belts. Initially I encountered a problem whereby the belts would fail to grip the sub platter, often dropping from the bottom edge as soon as the motor was powered. I soon discovered that the solution was in the pulley height; and, after some trial and error, I was able to adjust the pulley so that the 3 belts rode around the middle of the sub platter in operation. This worked flawlessly.
The effect these upgrades have on the RP6 is far from subtle. The noise floor drops considerably, the rhythmic timing is vastly improved to the point where sudden musical crescendos are startling, and the speed stability is rock solid. Such alterations mean you’ll hear more of the music (and along with it, more of the vinyl imperfections), but this does not detract from the fact that these modifications take the already exceptional performance of the RP6 to another level.
Not only do these modifications have a profound affect on the sound, but they also remove the 1 weak point of the RP6. For me, the combined 2-piece plastic/aluminium sub platter always appeared cheap and flimsy; as if it were the last part part of the turntable design, and the one which incurred the most cost-cutting. Adding the TangoSpinner sub platter, in particular, removes this weak point and gives the excellent glass platter of the RP6 the solid, dependable base it should’ve had from the start. The pulley and belts are the icing on the cake. Highly recommended.