Rega Planar 10 – HiFi Review

Rega Planar 10 – HiFi Review


hifiandmusicsource.comThis is my HiFi Review of the Rega Planar 10, it is an outstanding piece of engineering from one of the best of our British HiFi companies, who somehow seem to extract more and more from a piece of vinyl.  I must say, I have sat here for quite a while listening to my favourite pieces of vinyl knowing how fortunate I am to experience this turntable.

Design

Taking inspiration from Rega’s concept Naiad, the Rega Planar 10 is engineered to bridge the gap and take the best learning points from the unaffordable (near £25,000, if you can find one?) to a turntable a little more real world (near £4,500!).

Ceramic Brace

I’ll not go through the specific design highlights, as they can be accessed on the Rega site here.  But in concept, Rega has focussed on a low mass, (aerospace derived) plinth designed to minimise energy loss and deliver a super rigid base.  The plinth is double braced (between the tonearm mounting and the main hub bearing) as with the Rega Planar 8, although with the Planar 10 the top brace is ceramic which contributes to reduced energy absorption and unwanted resonance, as well as minimising mass.  The bearing assembly is similarly low mass and has a micron perfect fit.  The particularly noticeable feature of the Rega Planar 10 is the flywheel effect ceramic platter that is made of a compressed ceramic oxide material that is then diamond cut to perfect flatness.  It is certainly a thing of beauty to look at and feel.

Additional features in the Rega Planar 10 include the RB3000 tonearm that is highly polished, again to reduce mass.  This tonearm carries the new Apheta 3 moving coil ultra-low mass cartridge, which is in fact 50% lighter than the original Apheta cartridge.  This is the recommended cartridge for the 10 and can be factory fitted.

Finally, there is a separate 24v low noise motor that is designed to minimise vibration and resonance that powers the 10 through a balanced DIN supply to the turntable motor.  The power supply is customised to the motor on the turntable and features easy speed control, through a choice of buttons with the classic Rega glowing lights to the fore; it always looks good in the dark.

Quality

The Rega Planar 10 is predicated on pure quality.   You can see from the design section that every aspect of the Rega Planar 10 is carefully thought through and the look and feel of the turntable is a marvel.  As with the P8, the Rega Planar 10 has the skeletal design so the the ultra-lightweight Tancast 8 polyurethane foam core is exposed to the eye, it looks lovely and demands a soft touch rub with your fingers, only once or twice mind.  Similarly, the tomearm, polished within an inch of its life has a super soft feel.   The tonearm and cartridge assembly are very easy to cue up as I think I noted with the P8 that had the Apheta 2

Ceramic platter

cartridge.  There is a dust cover for the turntable but to be honest, I have not used it as I’m flipping vinyl on it at every opportunity!

Specification

Dimensions in mm: Turntable (with dustcover fitted)

Width 420mm
Depth 315mm
Height 125mm
Weight 4.7 Kg

Dimensions: P10 PSU

Width 218mm
Depth 320mm
Height 80mm

Rega Aura Moving Coil Phono Stage

Weight 3.00Kg

Rega Aura

I have the Rega Aura Moving Coil Phono stage with the Planar 10.  It is THE choice for this turntable, the Aura is dedicated to moving coil cartridges.  It has easy to access gain, and cartridge settings to suit any choice.  In this configuration with the Apheta 3 cartridge on the 10 I am able to adjust gain settings and capacitance as needed ( I have not changed anything incidentally).  At the point where the Moon 700i integrated amplifier turned up, however, I was advised to turn the gain setting off on the Rega Aura and adjust gain in the amplifier itself which is a decent way of managing levels, see below for the outcome, but it is useful to be able to do this with such ease.

Performance

Review Set-up

There is nothing like dropping a needle on a piece of vinyl in HiFi terms, especially when you know it is going to sound as good as it can be

I’ve reviewed the Rega Planar 10 with the Rega Aura Phono MC pre-amplifier with Atlas Mavros interconnects to my 272 pre-amplifier.  I also have the PL10 PSU custom matched advanced power supply, so there are boxes, everywhere, this, therefore, needs thought.  My pre-amplifier is my own Naim NAC-N 272 powered with the Naim XPS DR power supply.  I have a Naim NAP 250, with a Vertere interconnect, driving a pair of fantastic Paradigm Persona 3F speakers (review to follow) through well run Atlas Mavros speaker cables.  In sum, each of the elements is of a very high level and certainly provide a platform for the Rega Planar 10 to perform (and it does).

The Rega Planar 10 has the new Apheta 3 moving coil with it.  I have it weighted at 2g, adjusted slightly from the supplied 1.9g weight.  It just sounds better to me but I don’t think it is a huge deal.  I have the Rega Aura setup by Rega with 1000pF capacitance and 100Ohms load.  Rega recommends to set the gain ‘On’ with the Rega Aura.

The room I’m in is a wooden floored lounge (with rugs), I have a low coffee table in front of me and I’m about three meters from the Persons 3F speakers, in turn, 3 meters apart, on a sofa.

Review Discography

This seems necessary in this particular review, so, in no particular order.

Gold, Ryan Adams

Trouble, Supernova – Ray LaMontagne

Gold, Live at Carnegie Hall – Ryan Adams

The Pefect Kiss 12″ (FAC 123) – New Order

Hunky Dory – David Bowie

Closer – Joy Division

Darklands – Jesus and Mary Chain

In Rainbows, OK Computer – Radiohead

Chaos and the Calm – James Bay

Abbey Road – The Beatles

Everyday Life – Coldplay

Colfax, The Imperial – The Delines

Led Zeppelin 2

Beggars Banquet – The Stones

So – Peter Gabriel

Presentation and Soundstage

The first thing to say is the presentation from the Rega Planar 10 is immaculate, I really like it.  I’ve just looked through my Planar 8 review and there I was struck by the deep bass and the volume delivered by the 8.  Here it is similar, with deep rasping vocals from Ray LaMontagne’s track ‘How Come’ falling through the soundstage.  In ‘Jolene’ the vocal is set back, perfectly in the centre with such clean guitar strings, you look from side to side looking for the rhythm guitar players.   There is nothing like dropping a needle on a piece of vinyl in HiFi terms, especially when you know it is going to sound as good as it can be.  After an introductory bit of Ray LaMontagne I was then on to Amazon buying a vinyl copy of Supernova (sorry Head Records, Leamington), I really like this record.

Next, it was time to have a long listen to a random selection of favourites just to see how I feel.  The recent Coldplay album is still working nicely for me, particularly given the production quality and the content of the songs (Guns is such a great track, lyrically!).  Here it is deep and wide and the rhythm and energy in the album are joyful indeed.  Similarly, the Planar 10 takes Ryan Adams’ second studio album ‘Gold’ and transfers perfectly the naivety and the energy from the disc to ears and it is a real treat.  It is still easily one of my top 5 albums of all time.

The overall outcome of this exercise was the ease with which I was able to access and enjoy the vinyl records.  My overall feeling is one of getting everything from the vinyl and just simply enjoying the music I love.

Resolution

What is happening here is I am getting such depth from the turntable through the amplifier and it is startling.  I am bound to say I’m almost listening to a super clean digital file, such is the resolution and clean delivery from this set-up.  I just wonder if the focus on reducing resonance in the plinth and all of the myriad of fine-tuning has removed the warmth of the vinyl experience.  I’m guessing the Aura is probably another culprit here, collecting the analogue signal perfectly and delivering such accuracy.  For example, ‘Colfax’ by The Delines is such a crispy well-produced piece of vinyl the resulting sound is crystal clear and yet the cymbals still resonate softly in the quietest parts with this spectacular HiFi set-up.

I’m generally listening at moderate volume, 25 ish, not loud but comfortable.  When I thought I would turn it up a bit for Led Zeppelin II; ‘What Is and What Should Never Be’ sounded spectacular.  Still clean but the dynamic changes are comfortably handled.

Rega PL10 PSU

A couple of other tracks to note, I had a play with one of my favourite 12 inches, ‘The Perfect Kiss’ by New Order (FAC 123).  My copy is from Gray’s Records (East Grinstead!) straight from 1985!  What a track.  The tight drum thwack of the introduction comes to life and the bass line draws you forward.  The Planar 10 loses none of the energy of this original 12 inch.  Of course, it was a simple matter to change the speed using the PSU 45 speed switch.

New Amplifier Arrives

Towards the end of the review, I received a Moon 700i integrated amplifier.  What a piece of equipment, my review will follow this one!  It was suggested that I could turn off the Gain setting on the Aura phono stage and let the amplifier input setting manage the gain.  I thus adjusted the Phono input in the 700i to see if it made a difference.  If I’m honest it has not made much difference to this amazing presentation and combination.  It still sounds fantastic.

My final listen has been to submerge into my favourite record, Ryan Adams’ Gold.  The rhythm, joy, and angst are all here as it was recorded from the studio.  What a great piece of music and a joyful set-up I have here.  The resolution from the tracks, the guitar strings are all here and bass extension is beautiful, particularly in ‘The Rescue Blues’.

Overall

hifiandmusicsource.comClearly the Rega Planar 10 gets my ‘Outstanding’ recommendation without a second thought.  It is such a beautiful piece of engineering and sound reproduction that nothing is getting close to it in my, albeit slightly limited, experience.  I feel the Planar 10 expresses the joy of vinyl and it leaves nothing behind.  Thinking back to P8, retailing near £1.699, and comparing it to this P10, retailing near £3,599, I think it is a matter of personal choice on how to spend your money.  The Apheta 3 cartridge is an extra £900, factory fitted and I would recommend this option.  At this level, the Rega Aura phono stage seems to be a wise investment if you are laying this amount of money on a vinyl solution.

If you have this kind of budget for a vinyl solution, this is the only place to look

I had, and rebuilt, a damaged (broken armboard, bent springs, tonearm etc.)  Michell GyroDec several years ago and had the PSU upgrade and the Orbe platter upgrade (all 8kg of it).  The GyroDec was all about mass at the time and was a lovely thing to look at and listen to.  It was always a talking point when people saw it in my front room.  The Rega Planar 10 gets the same attention with the skeletal design and fabulous white ceramic platter.  The point is both are fantastic at what they do and they both look great doing it.  What the Rega Planar 10, and the 8, has is a further 20 years of technology in it and therefore it demands a test drive.  If you have this kind of budget for a vinyl solution, this is the only place to look.  And if you don’t, just slide down the Rega range until you find your budget, the technology is trickling down from the reference Naiad to this Rega Planar 10, the Planar 8, the Planar 6, the Planar 3, etc.

Love

Accuracy

Bass extension

Ceramic platter

Ease of use and set-up

Like 

Skeletal look

Wish 

There were fewer boxes

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