During the dark days of disappearing vinyl, a number of turntable brands fell by the wayside. CD was taking over. Digital was crushing all analog before it. Or so it seemed.
Yet some turntable brands endured, and managed to last through the slump. These days, while not exactly a mass market, vinyl and the turntable are back in the game.
The British firm Rega Research Limited, founded way back in 1973, these days produces amongst other products some two thousand turntables each month. Now it has released a new version of the Rega Planar 2 turntable, the latest version of a model first released in 1976.
The Rega Planar 2 features a distinctive ten millimetre thick glass platter. Rega was one of the brands that revolutionised turntable design, and a heavy glass platter has been a marker of the brand right from the start. It is vital that a turntable platter rotate without any speed variations (known as ‘wow’ for slower shifts, and ‘flutter’ for fast ones). A belt drive design with a weighty platter does just that. The rotational momentum strongly resists any changes in speed. A felt pad atop the platter provides a soft surface for LPs.
Two years went into developing the new Rega Planar 2 which, while retaining the original concept, has been upgraded in a host of ways. Roy Gandy, the founder of Rega, says that “From the inception of the original Planar 2 in 1976, our team has worked tirelessly to evolve every aspect, with a dedication to improving ergonomics, usability and sonic performance.”
The plinth – that is, the main body – of the turntable has been designed for both rigidity and light weight in order to reduce resonances, while providing a sturdy platform to which the working parts of the turntable are attached. It is available in a high gloss acrylic laminate in white or black. The plinth rests on feet which have been redesigned to reduce the transfer of vibrations from the surrounding area. The perspex lid is hinged at the back and can be easily removed.
A new 24 volt low vibration motor and controller board has been introduced along with an enclosure which features integrated cooling. Speed can be changed to 45 from 33 by lifting the platter and moving the belt to a different position on the pulley. The main bearing for the platter has been improved with a patent pending 11mm self securing design and a housing with improved fit.
Then there’s the all important tonearm. Rega’s new RB220 tonearm has been fitted to the Rega Planar 2. This is a hand-assembled unit, employing aluminium construction and designed for high rigidity and light weight. The headshell is integrated.
The tonearm is a self-biasing design. That means that there is no need to determine and set a specific anti-skating force to overcome the tendency of a tone arm to apply greater force to the inner side of a record groove.
The turntable is also supplied with Rega’s entry level ‘Carbon’ moving magnet cartridge, designed to track at two grams stylus pressure.
The turntable is delivered with minimal setup required. With the cartridge already installed and the self biasing tonearm, all that’s needed is for the counterweight to be screwed onto the tone arm and a moment spent on balancing it, as explained in the manual.
Should you wish to change to a different cartridge, a cartridge alignment protractor is included with the turntable.
Philip Sawyer, the Managing Director of Synergy Audio Visual, the Australian distributor for Rega products, said that Synergy is “excited to celebrate the resurgence of vinyl by bringing the newly re-designed yet iconic Planar models into Australian homes. Rega’s Planar 2 is so simple to use and guarantees to retrieve more music from your vinyl than ever before, whether you are a keen first timer or a vinyl enthusiast of whatever age.”
The Rega Planar 2 turntable is available in Australia at a recommended retail price of $849.