Rega Pla­nar 1 £249

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Awards 2018 -

The sim­i­lar­ity be­tween the Pla­nar 1 story and that of its big brother, the 3, is strik­ing. Both are long-run­ning de­signs that have been care­fully honed over the decades. That evo­lu­tion has kept both right at the cut­ting edge of per­for­mance at their re­spec­tive price lev­els.

Much like its big brother, this lat­est gen­er­a­tion of Pla­nar 1 has seen ma­jor changes, de­spite show­ing lit­tle out­ward sign of the progress made. Pretty much ev­ery­thing you see has un­der­gone some form of mod­i­fi­ca­tion, from the Ther­moset, gloss-lam­i­nated plinth, with its on/off switch hid­ing be­neath the front left cor­ner, to the new RB110 tone arm with its pre­ci­sion bear­ings and au­to­matic bias ad­just­ment. Even the plat­ter has a higher mass than the last ver­sion, which im­proves speed sta­bil­ity by in­creas­ing the fly­wheel ef­fect.

There are also hand-me-downs from higher up the range. The Rega Car­bon MM car­tridge (also supplied on the pricier Pla­nar 2 deck) is fit­ted as stan­dard, and this is the first of Rega’s en­try-level turntables to house a 24V syn­chro­nous AC mo­tor with an alu­minium pul­ley, of­fer­ing low noise and, again, bet­ter speed sta­bil­ity.

It takes a few mo­ments of lis­ten­ing to our first LP of choice, The Tallest Man On Earth’s Dark Bird Is Home, to re­alise the new Pla­nar 1 is a shoe-in for this Award. We’ve long ad­mired Rega’s spry pre­sen­ta­tion and it wel­comes us like an old friend as Kris­tian Mats­son waves his hand over the al­bum’s open­ing chords.

Im­pres­sive de­tail

This is not an en­try-level amount of de­tail: the roomy-sound­ing acous­tic gui­tar is com­pli­mented by the re­verb in Mats­son’s first vo­cal line; the dis­tinc­tion in treat­ment of each part is clearly au­di­ble, set­ting the vo­cal apart like a bird glid­ing low but par­al­lel to the ground.

Some turntable man­u­fac­tur­ers could be said to have a ten­dency for play­ing up to ‘ana­logue warmth’, but if you can ren­der a record as faith­fully as the Pla­nar 1 does, that warmth of its ri­vals be­gins to feel like the sonic equiv­a­lent of dous­ing your Christ­mas din­ner in tomato ketchup.

There is en­ergy in the Pla­nar 1’s ren­der­ing of more an­i­mated num­bers and a so­lid­ity that sup­ports the sub­tler ones, while of­ten its com­bi­na­tion of pre­cise tim­ing and broad dy­namic reach makes its ri­vals’ per­for­mances sound like half-hearted re­hearsals.

No other record player at this price can bet­ter the ’1’s depth of en­gi­neer­ing or its abil­ity to bring records to life.

Rega’s mov­ing­mag­net Car­bon car­tridge helps the Pla­nar 1 achieve ex­cel­lence

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