My relationship with these storied British turntables is almost 40 years old, too.
Back in the 1970s, when I was growing up, the Technics SL-1200, now considered a DJ turntable, was the go-to table for many music lovers. Much of the iconic turntable’s reputation was centered around a direct-drive mechanism, derived from Technics’ experience building broadcast decks.
However, with the high-end audio industry’s birth in the mid-to-late ’70s, the highest-performance audio systems were using belt-drive turntables because they sounded more musical. The British led the charge with the legendary Linn Sondek LP-12, which was expensive and somewhat out of reach for the average audiophile at the time. A young Roy Gandy, then a mechanical engineer for Ford in Europe, happened to be quite the audiophile and anxious to solve this problem.
Rega was soon born, with Gandy producing belt-drive turntables that offered high performance at a reasonable cost. The first Rega turntables depended on someone else’s tonearm. Soon after, however, Rega would be building everything in-house, a practice it has continued to this day.
The audio world embraced Rega, and by the early 1980s, its flagship Planar 3 had become an audiophile standard, and a turntable one step above the mass-market offerings from Technics, Dual, and Pioneer, to name a few. I bought my first Planar 3 in 1981, and have owned about 10 Rega models since then. Rega’s turntables have always proven to be simple yet of high quality, requiring minimal setup. It’s a definite plus during review-time, when using a turntable as a source component to compare to others.
Today, I use the latest P10 with Rega’s third-generation Apheta moving coil cartridge. It offers a stunning performance, and it’s easy to see the roots of the original Planar 3 in this design.