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Express Machining Heavy Weight for Rega Tonearms

and the

Express Machining Stainless Steel End Stub for Rega RB-250 Arm

[Italian version]

Product: Express Machining Heavy Weight for Rega Tonearms
Express Machining Stainless Steel End Stub for Rega RB-250 Arm
Manufacturer: Expressimo Audio - USA
Address: Post Office Box 641251, San Jose, California 95164-1251 USA
Telephone: 707-725-7808
Prices: Heavy Weight: $75.00 plus shipping
Stainless Steel End Stub: $34.95 plus shipping
Reviewer: Nels Ferré
Reviewed: January 2001


[Heavy Weight]

Back in 1999, Thorsten Loesch reviewed the Origin Live modifications for the Rega tonearms for TNT-Audio. I have enjoyed a Rega Planar 2 in my system since last winter, but had been wanting to have the stock RB-250 arm modified by Origin Live, thinking that, if someday, I changed turntables, I can move my "Hot Rod" RB-250 to the new 'table.
Two things stopped me: first, I really didn't relish the idea of packing up my arm and shipping it off to the U.K. Second, even with "accommodation pricing" afforded to members of the audio press, I still found the mods to be a bit pricey (including the rewiring of the arm with Litz cable), so I happily lived with the stock RB-250. Still, I found myself wondering how much performance I was missing by not shipping the arm away.

Then, nearly a year later, I received an e-mail from Sal Calaio, President of Expressimo Audio. Expressimo Audio manufactures the Heavy Weight, the LIFTer (an inexpensive end of record arm lifting device), adjustable VTA for Rega arms, and some absolutely stunning turntables with granite plinths and modified Rega arms. Would I be interested in a review of the Heavy Weight and the Lifter? I jumped on the offer. The LIFTer review will be posted shortly.

For those who wish to rewire their Rega arms as well, Expresimo Audio offers a high quality Rega rewiring kit using Cardas cable that can, like the rest of the modifications, be done at home by the user.

Why change the Counterweight?

The Rega arms are, in stock form, an excellent value. They are found mounted not only to Rega 'tables, but also those offered from Mitchell, Basis, and VPI, to name just a few. The main attraction to the Rega arms are the quality of the bearings, and the one piece arm tube construction.
As I am sure you know, many arms use a separate headshell assembly, which not only reduces the rigidity of the arm, but also introduces an extra set of electrical connections in the arm. The Rega arm is mostly very rigid, except at the counterweight end, where, on the RB-250, a doughnut shaped metal counterweight fits around a plastic end stub.

[End Stub]

In this type of arrangement, any vibrations that travel up the arm tube from the cantilever/cartridge assembly will not be squelched, but rather will turn back down the arm tube, and will undoubtedly muddy the sound.
Expressimo Audio has an ingenious solution to this problem, a beautiful stainless steel counterweight that is precision fitted to fit perfectly on the end stub, and is secured tightly with a set screw. Additionally, the vast majority of the weight and mass ride below the arm tube, instead of equidistant around it, which lowers the enter of gravity, greatly improving tracking ability.
The Heavy Weight will fit directly to all Rega arms, except the RB-250, which requires replacement of the stock plastic end stub with a beautifully machined stainless steel end stub.

I replaced the end stub, mounted the counterweight, set the tracking force and anti skating adjustment (with help of my HFN&RR Test Record) in less than ten minutes.

Listening Impressions

When I was offered the Heavy Weight for review, Sal indicated that I would hear a big improvement in bass response. I wasn't disappointed. Every record I played had more bass authority and slam (where appropriate). What I did experience, on every album I played, was a substantial improvement in focus and clarity. Dynamics also improved greatly. Music simply sounded more real after installing the Heavy Weight.

I had upgraded my cartridge from a Rega Bias to a Rega Elys a couple of weeks before receiving the Heavy Weight. While I was aware that the cartridge was still breaking in, I expected to hear an improvement from the upgrade. I didn't, until I installed the Heavy Weight. The difference, as expected, was a more relaxed presentation overall, as well as a smoother, and much more extended top end.

Additionally, I was able to verify the claim of improved tracking ability due to the lowered center of gravity of the arm with the Heavy Weight. I use the HFN&RR Test Record for setup of anti skating, tracking ability, and azimuth adjustment.
While the Elys was unable to trace the +18db "Torture Track" without mistracking, the anti skating adjustment did become much more precise with the Heavy Weight With it installed, I now have a very small "window" where the anti skating adjustment is perfect; before, I had a rather large area on the adjustment with no audible change. Sal advised me that other cartridges, such as the Grado Reference or Statement, will navigate the +18db band after installation of the Heavy Weight.

Expressimo Audio vs. Origin Live

[Rusted Origin Live]

Before I make any comparisons to the Origin Live modification, I do want to make it very clear that I have never auditioned any Origin Live product. That said, I do still see some advantages that the Heavy Weight setup has over the Origin Live. First, it's easy and can be done at home.
Second, should the buyer not be thrilled (which I can't imagine), it's totally reversible. Additionally, the Heavy Weight is made of stainless steel; the Origin Live is not. What's the importance here, you may ask? Simple. Stainless steel will not rust.
I am not implying that the Origin Live modification does rust, simply that it can. Finally, the Heavy Weight is very reasonably priced, and not just in comparison to the Origin Live mod.

Replacing the stock donught shaped counterweight with the Heavy Weight certainly increases the performance of the Rega RB-250 to the next level. If I ever upgrade my 'table, you can be sure that I'll move the arm to the new rig. The Heavy Weighted RB-250 certainly won't be the weak link in my "new" analog setup.

The Heavy Weight is heartily recommended. Not only is it well engineered and constructed, but it leaves enough change in your pocket for an excursion to your favorite vinyl vendor.

I would like to thank Sal Calaio for sending me the Heavy Weight (and Stainless Steel End Stub) for evaluation.

© Copyright 2000 Nels Ferré - http://www.tnt-audio.com

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