What Hi-Fi (UK)
Rega Planar 10
Like the Planar 8 (see p42) the ‘10’ takes its inspiration from Rega’s no-expense-spared Naiad flagship turntable. The result should be something that offers a good slice of the Naiad’s performance but at a far more approachable, though still premium, price.
There’s that cut-out plinth design again… The material used is an ultralightweight Tancast 8 polyurethane foam core sandwiched between two layers of HPL (High Pressure Laminate). The idea is to create a rigid but extremely low-mass base to support the various elements of the deck.
When things get heavy
One of the few areas where the company likes to have more mass is the platter. The one used here is made of custom ceramic, which has most of its mass concentrated on the outside edge to maximise the flywheel effect. The platter’s increased inertia helps with speed stability.
The Planar 10’s main bearing design is a work of art. It uses a single-piece machined aluminium sub-platter with hardened tool steel spindle running inside a brass housing. We couldn’t detect any free-play on our test sample, and it spins with impressive smoothness.
This turntable uses a 24v AC motor driven by an external power supply. Each individual power supply is adjusted to work with its partnering motor optimally, so reducing any vibration.
The motor drives the beautifully made sub-platter through a pair of roundsectioned belts. Rega spent three years developing these belts so that they could be manufactured with the required precision and have just the right amount of elasticity. Every detail matters.
The RB3000 tonearm’s design looks familiar enough, but it has more tightly toleranced bearings as well as a classier finish than its cheaper siblings. There’s also an improved feeling of luxury thanks to the use of metal rather than plastic for the bias-adjustment mechanism.
It’s possible to buy the Planar 10 without a cartridge for £3599, but Rega’s Apheta 3 cartridge (£1250) makes such an ideal partner that going for anything else doesn’t make much sense.
Any turntable at this price deserves a top-class system. As a starter, Naim’s Supernait 3 amplifier (plus a dedicated outboard MC phono stage such as Rega’s Aria or Vertere’s Phono-1) and a pair of Proac Response D2RS speakers will work a treat. But such is this turntable’s ability that it doesn’t sound out of place even in our reference system, made up of Burmester’s 088/911 Mk 3 pre/power (£33,300) and ATC’S SCM 50 speakers.
This deck’s sound isn’t as instantly lovable as that produced by its more affordable siblings. There are no sonic fireworks here or any attempt to spice the sound up to make it more impressive.
The Planar 10 chooses a more measured approach to music replay; one that takes time to appreciate. Give it that time and it becomes apparent that there are few price rivals that get close to matching the Rega’s combination of transparency, detail resolution and dynamic expression.
You can add rhythmic security to those attributes, as we swiftly did while listening to Four Tet’s There Is Love In You. The Planar handles the album’s complex rhythms in a wonderfully surefooted way, rendering each beat with precision while managing to deliver the whole with considerable drive and punch.
The Planar 10/Apheta 3 resolves a great deal of detail but never comes across as overly analytical. All that information is presented in a coherent and wholly musical way.
A move to Bob Marley’s Catch A Fire shows that the package has an expressive midrange. Marley’s voice comes through with clarity and passion on Concrete Jungle, while the backing instrumentation is presented with an insistent drive that has our feet tapping.
We love the weight and authority of the bass. It’s agile and underpins the music brilliantly. Equally, there’s enough in the way of refinement to prevent any excess edge in the music despite the Planar’s transparency showing up the limitations in the production.
Orff’s Carmina Burana shows off the Rega’s ability to draw a stable, expansive and layered soundstage. It’s an open and spacious presentation that effortlessly transports us to the recording venue.
The Planar 10 manages that rare feat of being able to surprise us with the force of our music’s seismic crescendos, but still handling it all with enviable control.
The Rega Planar 10 is quite some statement. Visually, it’s as striking as turntables get at this level – but this isn’t design for its own sake. Each detail is backed with solid engineering reasons, and it all comes together to create what is unarguably the most sonically capable turntable we’ve heard at this price.