Hmm, i dont think i had heard anyone say that the cart makes the biggest difference. A friend was recommending the RP3 with the elys cart it comes with, mostly because of how good the tonearm is that it comes with, and to get a cheaper phono stage to start with. And if i went with the Traveler i was probably going to go with a 2M Blue. What cart upgrade would you be recommending for the RP1?
My dealer feels the cart is the magic piece, too. Though I was kind of lumping tonearm and table together. The tonearm is extremely important. The biggest issue I had with my Scout was the hollow 'ping' noise from the arm.
It was one of the main reasons I got my Amadeus. Highly damped, sand filled arm. Goodbye arm noise.
I'd absolutely say stick with the 2M series up until about 500 bucks. After that I like Dynavectors (10x5 at 450. 20XH at 850). I plan to get a Dyna XX-2 (1950) this year and be done cart wise.
Just run it til it needs a retip and do that. While the RP3 is a good choice I still think you should invest heavier in other places because Rega offers a ton of upgrades for the RP1 to get to the same level as the RP3. You can get great sound with an RP1 + good stage now and get the cheaper upgrades for your RP1 as time goes on.
The smaller upgrades will keep major upgradeitis at bay because you'll still be hearing improvements.