Rega’s new Planar 3 – Review

Rega’s new Planar 3 – Review


The Planar 3 is, for my money the best turntable you can get near this price range and is probably the only one you’ll ever need to buy

First up, fret not, the new Rega Planar 3 is as good as you hoped it would be.  Rega has re-worked everything save the lid and the motor for the new Rega Planar 3 and it is a triumph. This was risky venture, you would imagine, given the multi, multi award winning and five times What Hi-Fi Product of the Year RP3 is an icon of the modern vinyl revival. But what an outcome.  We are to call it the Planar 3 now but it has the same heritage and quality and outstanding value as before, just more of it.  Oh, and it got five stars from What Hi-Fi, again, without drawing a breath.

Design, Planar 3 – What’s new

The RB330 tonearm has been designed on CAD using 35 years tonearm design expertise.  It features a new bearing ensuring mass distribution is more even and resonance from the tube design is minimised.

The Phono Cables are new, low capacitance and a proper feel, with better end plugs.  I would still prefer to use my own cables but there we are.  It looks to me like the new phono leads are from the very very nice RP6, that I reviewed last year.

(click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pictures)

Rega Planar 3

Old RP3 Phono cables

Rega Planar 3

New Planar 3 Phono leads

New design Balance Weight, made from 100g of mild steel.  

RP3

RP3 Balance Weight

Rega Planar 3

Planar 3 Balance Weight

The Plinth is now a laminated high gloss acrylic make-up with improved look and stiffer dynamics.

There is a new Brace fitted made of metallic phenolic material, it looks to me as if it has been taken from the RP6 as a development to increase stiffness and response.  Anyway it looks good.

RP3 no brace

RP3 no brace

Rega Planar 3

Planar 3 has a brace fitted

The Power on switch is now underneath the plinth, improving the aesthetic look of the turntable.

RP3

Old RP3 Power switch

Rega Planar 3

Planar 3 Power switch

The Pulley is still under the platter so you have to wholly remove the platter to change speeds.  For me this is not much of an issue, I’m used to it and it is only Ed Sheeran’s annoying, but beautiful, ‘multiply’ which causes me regular problems.  You can rectify the speed problem by buying the TT-PSU power supply, which enables speed changes at the touch of a button.

The brass Bearing Housing has been redesigned giving improved fit and the construction reduces stress on the bearing itself (it says here).  The Housing is on the three pin Rega fitting.

The Platter is new, it is lovely, ‘Optiwhite’ with a polished rim.   The Sub Platter has been redesigned to increase accuracy and stiffness.

RP3 subplatter

RP3 sub platter

Rega Planar 3

Rega Planar 3 sub platter has been redesigned

The three Feet have been redesigned to increase stability and reduce vibration transfer

Rega Planar 3

Old RP3 Foot

Rega Planar 3

Planar 3 Power switch with new rubber foot

Rega Planar 3

Lower ride height on the Planar 3!

I’ve noticed the Ride Height of the new Planar 3 is lower than the RP3, dropping down the suspension always improves handling!!

The Motor Control has changed with a new PCB and detachable power input.

RP3 power supply hardwired

RP3 power supply hardwired

Rega Planar 3

Rega Planar 3 power supply is detatchable

Planar 3 Quality

Almost goes without saying, overall, the unit feels really nice to the touch, with the finish, gloss white in my case, an improvement on the old RP3.  There is just gloss white and black at the moment but I would guess the other colours will be along in due course, I’ll be looking out for the gloss red similar to the RP6 I had on review last year, gorgeous. The lid is the same apparently, but still nice.

Performance

The Rega Planar 3 is hooked up to the MM Line 1 input of the Rega Elicit-R, it is a match made in heaven

The key issue is how do all of the design changes affect the performance.  The RP3 is a wonderful high quality but affordable turntable that can take you a long way up the audiophile ladder, and can be upgraded at later times to suit the budget, what about the new Planar 3?

Sadly for me, I have imparted a very nasty, though not fatal, scratch on my favourite piece of vinyl, on my favourite track, which means my review of the new Rega Planar 3 is compromised quite badly.  My Ryan Adams ‘Live at Carnegie Hall’ has the nasty impediment on side three, ruining ‘New York, New York’ but luckily missing ‘Sylvia Plath’.  I went straight to this album, nonetheless. The Planar 3 is hooked up to the MM Line 1 input of the Rega Elicit-R, it is a match made in heaven.   ‘Sylvia Plath’ has all the detail and more that I needed to be transported to the New York venue.  It is a truly gorgeous piece of music, the whole six sides of this album reflect this incredible moment in time.  The detail is crisp and clear, with the odd interruption or cough from the crowd or Adams himself.  The soundstage delivered by the Planar 3 is dominant in tandem with the Elicit-R.  There is depth and width in the soundstage and the Elys cartridge digs out the lower frequencies better than ever.  There is plenty of tonality delivered by the Planar 3.  Moving to a cleaned up copy of American Pie by Don McClean I was able to hear rasps in his voice and fingers rubbing on the guitar strings, a wonderful experience.   I’ve noticed, only today, that the track between ‘American Pie’ and ‘Vincent’, titled ‘Til Tomorrow’ is at least as good as the others.

Swapping to a 45rpm Bauhaus EP, ‘Kick in the Eye’, from the early 80s, I lifted the platter and swapped speeds.  The outcome was familiar with a full powerful soundstage.  I’m not sure why it is, but I feel the need to play my old vinyl records, many of which are original, winging me back to my youth.

I’ve put a lot of time into this Planar 3, not hard I hear you say loudly, and I have cleaned and played a lot of old vinyl.  It has been a pure joy and the rhythm and bounce of the music surrounds each piece.  I have a (second press) copy of Blue Monday and it has not sounded better as I tip toed around, wondering if I can afford a wall rack for the turntable, and where would I put it anyway.  Like all turntables and cartridges it would certainly benefit from a solid base to work from but it just does’t work in my room.

Overall

For the money, I just don’t think you can touch this combination, particularly with the Elicit-R and its flexibility.  The Planar 3 is, for my money the best turntable you can get near this price range and is probably the only one you’ll ever need to buy.   This is a true HiFi icon.

Awards

I’m thinking of trying to do some awards at the end of the year, it does seem to be a webby fashion at the moment.   This is my first ‘Outstanding Buy’ winner

The Planar 3 retails at £550.  The Planar 3 with Elys2 fitted cartridge comes in at £625 as a package price.

UK and International Retailing link here:

3 Comments

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  1. 1
    Simon

    Just to add that the Planar 3s arm leads are not the same as the RP6, although they looked like it on initial inspection. I will have a review of the remodelled RP2, called the Planar 2, coming soon. Simon

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