Rega Turntable Comparison – A vibration measuring machine
We’re often asked what are the differences between the Rega turntables and just how clearly audible they are. So we’ve prepared this article to describe what they are and what they mean.
If you’d like to learn a little more about turntables in general you might like to read this.
It is also worth noting that Rega follow a top down design approach. Put simply R&D for the higher end turntables trickles down into the more affordable ones.
The new Planar 1 is the most user friendly Rega turntable to date and is pretty much plug and play. Now with preset bias force on the brand new RB110 tonearm, the Planar 1 is set up in seconds after unpacking. Simply slide the balance weight onto the rear of the tonearm as far as it will go, remove the stylus guard and start spinning your favourite vinyl.
For the first time the Planar 1 is now running a 24v, low noise, synchronous motor to reduce vibration transfer combined with the brand new RB110 tonearm fitted with Rega’s bespoke zero play bearings.
If you are looking to get into vinyl, or rediscover your old records then this is a great place to start. The turntable is fitted with a Rega Carbon MM cartridge. This is a modified Audio Technica and is inexpensive but rather good. It also has a detachable stylus which makes it easy to replace without taking the turntable into a retailer or getting your tool box out.
This is an ideal place to begin or to rekindle your love affair with vinyl. At home in a budget to a mid-priced system you’ll love the P1.
The P1 costs £248 and can be seen here.
The P2 has a number of improvements over the P1 as you would expect.
The plinth is made of a different material; a laminate acrylic which is stiffer in all planes. Light and rigid are key components to all Rega turntables.
The tonearm is also improved. On the P1 the headshell is glued onto the main arm tube. The P2 however is a continuous one-piece casting. This offers greater rigidity and better performance at the frequency extremes. Rigidity is massively important in a tonearm because the stylus is measure minute movements. If there is any give or play in the tonearm then that will lose the valuable data recovered from the groove. Put simply; less music.
The P2 also has an improved bearing housing and an improved power supply board.
And finally the platter changes from an acrylic one to a glass one; offering more consistency.
The P2 is also fitted with the Rega Carbon MM cartridge.
The differences are clearly audible and most people are pleasantly surprised. The P2 gets more information from the groove. The music is easier to follow the dynamic range is better. In the domain of the turntable; extracting more information from the groove is everything and that is Rega’s business.
With the P2 selling for £375 people often ask us if the extra £125 (over the P1) could be better spent fitting a more expensive cartridge onto the P1. Our findings indicate that this isn’t always money well spent. Some customers do it as a after-purchase upgrade and whilst this does offer an improvement; the P2 remains a better turntable. Bearing in mind that Rega decks hold their value well, it is often cheaper to upgrade the turntable in this instance.
The P2 costs £375 and can be seen here.
P3 has always been Regas’ best selling record player and it was where they started. It really is something of a “perfect storm” combining all the Rega design elements and yet still maintaining high value.
The P3 is the first turntable in the range to offer bracing between the main bearing and the tonearm. This increased rigidity is a hallmark of the Rega design and offers substantial and measurable improvements. In fact the P3 has two forms of bracing with the purpose of improving rigidity.
The P3 also sports an improved tonearm which features even greater rigidity, and improved counterweight, a different way of adding downforce to the cartridge AND totally improved internal wiring and cable/plugs. Even the internal bearings are higher tolerance and the bias set up is manual as opposed to calculated by the arm itself.
The platter is thicker and the bearing is also improved.
Finally the P3 is designed to allow the addition of an improved, external power supply as an upgrade.
Unlike the P1 and P2, the P3 is supplied without cartridge OR with the option of a factory fitted one that is supplied at a better price. Currently that is an Elys 2 but we understand that Rega will soon offer an Ania MC cartridge with the P3. We’ll keep you posted when that happens.
Listening to the P3 is a treat. It hints at high end performance but for a far more sensible price. The difference between a P2 and a P3 is extremely big and that’s not to under praise the P2 either. Often we get the chance to compare an older Planar 3 with the new P3 and you can see exactly where the money has gone. There is simply more information and whilst the basic character is the same the improvements are quite surprising. It is for this reason that the P3 remains the most highly reviewed turntable and is Regas’ best seller.
The P3 costs £549 or £625 with an Elys2 and can be seen here
The new P6 costs £998 or £1398 with Ania MC fitted and can be ordered here.
Super lightweight foam core plinth, derived from the RP10 and RP8.
Plinth laminate: New Polaris HPL (high pressure laminate). Non marking matt finish scratch resistant high rigidity skin.
High gloss black polymer edging.
Upgrade white drive belt fitted as standard.
Custom dual layer smoked / clear float glass platter.
New Single piece aluminium sub platter.
New Custom machined high precision drive pulley.
Patent pending central brass hub.
Rega’s double brace technology, with integral custom matched aluminium tonearm and hub pillars to ensure maximum rigidity and accuracy.
New NEO power supply, advanced anti-vibration motor circuit, with user adjustable electronic fine speed adjustment. (as seen on the RP10 PSU)
The Neo uses the RP10 DSP (digital signal processing) generator built upon a high stability crystal. The DSP generator will divide the accurate signal from the crystal to the exact frequency required to turn the platter at the selected speed. The DSP generator will also generate a near perfect sinusoidal waveform to drive the motor. This, along with an efficient drive amplifier, generates a 24V AC balanced signal of less than 0.15% distortion, which is completely un-affected by any changes in the mains/line voltage and conditions. This then drives the turntables anti-vibration circuit, which is situated beneath the turntable.
RB330 handmade precision tonearm with custom stainless weight.
New high spec Rega 24v low noise synchronous motor – each motor matched by hand to its own NEO PSU ensuring optimum anti-vibration control.
New smoked dust cover.
New aluminium foot trims and Planar style feet.
Available with Ania MC cartridge factory fitted.
The P8 is extremely different to the other Rega turntables.
Indeed almost every component is different from any other model in the range (except the P10). It is the first to use the phenolic plinth that is light and yet incredibly rigid. It is essentially an expandable foam that is hardened between two tough skin layers.
Controversially Rega has always researched methods of producing light but stiff and rigid plinths. The technology is simple: unwanted noise at microscopic levels is developed by the turntable motor and main bearing. The plinth can also pick up airborne vibration from the music.
From the beginning in the 1970’s, Rega pioneered the use of a stressed skin structure for the plinth. This uses two layers of phenolic resin with a lightweight particle or fibre board sandwiched between the skins. This technique has been used in many applications where stiff, light structures are needed such as an aircraft wing or a Formula 1 chassis.
The current increase in interest in turntables has allowed Rega to research and develop higher technology structures for the customer who is happy to pay a little more for higher sound quality. The RP8 turntable utilizes a unique new stressed skin structure produced from thin phenolic skins sandwiching a featherweight nitrogen expanded, closed cell, polyolefin foam core.
- ULTRA LIGHTWEIGHT PLINTH
The Planar 8 is the second Rega turntable constructed using our latest ultra-lightweight Tancast 8 polyurethane foam core (a material developed for the aerospace industry). This material is sandwiched between two layers of HPL (high-pressure laminate).
HPL is exceptionally thin and extremely rigid. This new construction makes the new Planar 8 skeletal plinth 30% lighter than the original RP8 while offering increased rigidity over the previous model.
A super lightweight plinth combined with a phenolic resin double brace mounted specifically where the increased rigidity is required (between the tonearm mounting and the main hub bearing) forms a structurally sound “stressed beam” assembly. This rigid plinth design prevents energy absorption and unwanted resonances which will add unnatural distortions to the music.
Equally, heavier mass can transfer more unwanted energy such as motor or bearing noise directly into the rotating record. The use of braces instead of the complete skin allows double thickness phenolic resin in these key areas while providing further weight reduction to the plinth which directly addresses the issue of mass absorption and unwanted energy transmission.
The Planar 8 uses a three-piece laminated glass platter which is the result of collaboration with a British glass engineering company. This brand new platter is constructed from two different high-quality Pilkington glasses.
As a general rule, the only part of a turntable that requires extra mass is the turntable platter in order to achieve constant rotational speed. However, a heavier platter creates more problems for the main bearing design so again an ideal compromise creates the best solution.
Practically this means keeping as much of the mass to the outside rim of the glass platter to create more flywheel effect but keeping the inside of the platter as light as possible without sacrificing stiffness.
The P8 also features the Neo PSU and the new ELBT drive belt.
The P8 costs £1698 without cartridge or can be supplied with a choice of cartridges.
Find out a little more here.
This is the current flagship of the Rega range.
P10 Custom power supply
Housed in Rega’s vibration and speed control circuit dedicated to running the 24v low noise motor. The speed and control of the motor is achieved by using a new DSP (Digital Signal Processing) generator built upon a high stability crystal. This device will divide the accurate square wave from the crystal to the exact frequency required to turn the platter at the selected speed. The DSP core will also generate a near perfect sinusoidal waveform to power the motor. Factory set vibration and speed adjustments are then made to the power supply to tune the motor for optimal performance.
- RB3000 TONEARM
Rega is renowned for the quality of its tonearm bearing assemblies. In particular the accurate manufacturing of our bearing housing and bearing spindles. Technical characteristics such as “roundness” and “parallelity” are critical.
Over the past three years, Rega has found a new manufacturing process which improves on all these characteristics resulting in a micron perfect bearing fit. The RB3000 is the first Rega arm to benefit from these improvements. The entire tonearm structure is designed to have the minimum of mechanical joints while using the stiffest materials in all critical areas.
The tolerance of the RB3000 tonearm is so tight that no adhesive is used at any point throughout the construction. Our latest low mass, precision engineered, vertical bearing assembly has been manufactured to further complement the inherent design philosophy of the Planar 10 turntable.
The RB3000 tonearm uses our advanced, preloaded zero tolerance bearing assembly adjusted to less than 1000th of a mm. This gives friction-free movement and zero levels of unwanted play. Simply put, friction-free bearings with no play enable ridges in the record groove of less than a micron to be read.
The RB3000 also uses our latest award-winning, aluminium, Rega arm tube (each one of which is meticulously hand polished, keeping mass to an absolute minimum) which was redesigned to redistribute mass and further reduce stresses and resonances. This advanced design tube increases the stiffness and rigidity of the overall assembly whilst reducing stress on the bearings even further.
Aluminium skin and Phenolic bracing
Dual bracing – A super lightweight plinth combined with a double brace mounted specifically where the increased rigidity is required (between the tonearm mounting and the main hub bearing) forms a structurally sound “stressed beam” assembly. This design prevents energy absorption and unwanted resonances which will add un-natural distortions to the music.
Super flywheel effect ceramic platter
The P10 uses a custom ceramic flywheel effect platter. The platter is produced from ceramic oxide powder which is compressed, fired and diamond cut to ensure perfect accuracy and flatness across the surface. The new platter features a modified construction over the previous P9 version with improved coupling to the sub platter.
24v Low noise motor
The motor is a high specification, 24v twin phase synchronous unit. It is controlled by Rega’s unique and innovative P10-PSU power supply. The motor drives the CNC machined pulley, sub platter and hub-bearing assembly via the twin belt drive. Each motor is individually hand tuned to its own custom power supply in the factory to minimize vibration, motor noise and ensure optimum performance.
- ULTRA-LIGHTWEIGHT PLINTH
The Planar 10 is the third Rega turntable constructed using our latest technology the ultra-lightweight Tancast 8 polyurethane foam core (a material developed for the aerospace industry). This material is sandwiched between two layers of HPL (high-pressure laminate). HPL is exceptionally thin and extremely rigid.
This new construction makes the new Planar 10 skeletal plinth 30% lighter than the original RP10 while offering increased rigidity over the previous model.
The P10 costs £3598 and can be supplied at improved prices with the Apheta2 and the Aphelian MC cartridges.
Discover more here.
The Rega designs will work with a wide range of other manufacturers cartridges. We get extremely good results with Nagaoka, some Ortofon, Dynavector and others.
Rega’s own cartridges tend to be one piece designs chosen for increased rigidity. They are also perfectly designed to suit the geometry of the Rega arms and don’t require height adjustment. We’re happy to offer advice on any alternatives you may consider.