Rega Planar 8 Turntable
The Planar 8 was inspired by the ultimate Rega turntable, the 'Naiad'. We decided early on that instead of an evolution of the previous RP8, the new Planar 8 was to be developed and engineered to encapsulate the essence of 'Naiad' at an affordable price. Our aim was to deliver a level of performance far beyond what has been achieved at this price point before.
Every aspect of the Planar 8 is engineered to extract as much detail from the vinyl surface as possible. We have used the most advanced materials and engineering solutions built around a supremely lightweight plinth to ensure the greatest level of performance.The Planar 8 is supplied with the new RB880 tonearm and Neo PSU as standard which offers electronic speed change, advanced anti-vibration control and user adjustable electronic fine speed adjustment to ensure total accuracy and control over the motor. The outer frame of the previous model has now been removed and a new stylish, removable, single piece dustcover has been introduced further reducing the overall mass of the turntable.
The Planar 8 will be available with the recommended Ania or Apheta 2* MC cartridges factory fitted at an attractive, discounted package price.
Ultra lightweight plinth
The Planar 8 is the second Rega turntable constructed using our latest ultra lightweight Tancast 8 polyurethane foam core (a material developed for the aerospace industry). This material is sandwiched between two layers of HPL (high pressure laminate). HPL is exceptionally thin and extremely rigid. This new construction makes the new Planar 8 skeletal plinth 30% lighter than the original RP8 while offering increased rigidity over the previous model.
DB Technology (Double Brace Technology) “Mass absorbs energy - lost energy equals lost music”!
A super lightweight plinth combined with a phenolic resin double brace mounted specifically where the increased rigidity is required (between the tonearm mounting and the main hub bearing) forms a structurally sound “stressed beam” assembly. This rigid plinth design prevents energy absorption and unwanted resonances which will add unnatural distortions to the music. Equally, heavier mass can transfer more unwanted energy such as motor or bearing noise directly into the rotating record. The use of braces instead of the complete skin allows double thickness phenolic resin in these key areas, while providing further weight reduction to the plinth which directly addresses the issue of mass absorption and unwanted energy transmission.
For the new RB880 we have introduced an improved vertical bearing assembly constructed using an aluminium and stainless-steel, low mass assembly with vastly improved stability and rigidity. This tonearm is using our advanced preloaded zero tolerance bearing assembly adjusted to less than 1000th of a mm, this gives friction free movement and zero levels of unwanted play. This subtle but effective new structure is only visible via small windows at the rear of the new bias housing assembly (see image below). A thinner stainless steel balance weight is used, allowing greater adjustability and compatibility. Finally, the RB880 is terminated with a re-designed, low capacitance phono cable terminated with high quality, locking phono plugs to ensure the best possible connection.
Hub bearing assembly
The Planar 8 uses a new low mass central bearing assembly. A single piece machined aluminum sub-platter and hardened tool steel spindle run inside a custom brass housing which is cleverly mounted within the chassis. This new mounting is designed to eradicate unwanted potential energy being transferred or stored in the plinth.
Super flywheel effect triple layer glass platter
The Planar 8 uses a three piece laminated glass platter which is the result of collaboration with a British glass engineering company. This brand new platter is constructed from two different high quality Pilkington glasses. As a general rule the only part of a turntable that requires extra mass is the turntable platter in order to achieve constant rotational speed. However, a heavier platter creates more problems for the main bearing design so again an ideal compromise creates the best solution. Practically this means keeping as much of the mass to the outside rim of the glass platter to create more flywheel effect but keeping the inside of the platter as light as possible without sacrificing stiffness.
24v Low noise motor assembly
The Planar 8 uses Rega's latest generation, 24v, synchronous, low vibration motor technology. Uniquely mounted using the highest level of coupling while retaining higher vibration isolation than any previous model. this new motor mounting technique (mounted from the bottom) has been taken directly from the ultimate Rega turntable, the Naiad. This unique mounting method removes all stress on the motor body. The reduced vibration and more rigid mounting delivers superior drive from the new EBLT drive belts. Each motor is hand tuned to match its own custom Neo power supply before fitting to the turntable to optomise the anti-vibration circuit.
EBLT Drive Belts
For three years Rega has been researching and developing with chemists the use of a bespoke new rubber compound for drive belts. Using a specialised curing system, the new drive belt offers superior consistency of modulus (a constant representing the degree to which a substance has a particular property, especially elasticity).These new belts are manufactured on Rega designed, state of the art, super-accurate tools which produce 'perfectly round' and 'dimensionally accurate' belts, critical for perfect speed stability.
The Neo PSU offers a smooth power supply, an advanced anti-vibration circuit and fine electronic speed adjustment. It uses the RP10 DSP (digital signal processing) generator built upon a high stability crystal. The DSP generator will divide the accurate signal from the crystal to the exact frequency required to turn the platter at the selected speed. The DSP generator will also produce a near perfect sinusoidal waveform to drive the motor. This, along with an efficient drive amplifier, generates a 24V, AC balanced signal of less than 0.15% distortion, which is completely unaffected by any changes in the mains/line voltage and conditions. This then drives the turntable's anti-vibration circuit, which is situated beneath the turntable.
The Rega Planar 8 is something of a departure from Regas normal design strategy. Normally, Rega believes in evolution rather than revolution. Never heard of the Naiad? It’s something Rega considers the ultimate representation of its engineering ideas when executed with little regard for cost or ease of manufacture. In other words, the best turntable Rega knows how to make. Don’t look for it on the Rega website though. It’s in limited production, likely to be capped at around 50 units. It costs a cool $50,000 AU, but you also get a titanium tonearm and a host of Rega accessories. Roy Gandys new Planar 8 is designed to encapsulate the essence of the Naiad at a far more affordable price.
The Planar 8 looks even more extreme than the the previous RP8 with its angular shape and aggressive cutouts. The idea is to minimise plinth mass while increasing rigidity.The plinth is has an ultra lightweight Tancast 8 polyurethane foam core sandwiched between two layers of HPL (High Pressure Laminate). This new plinth is 30 per cent lighter than that used on the last model and more rigid with it. Rega believes that mass absorbs energy and that ends up taking the life out of the music. Rega thinks that rigidity is most needed between the tonearm mounting and main bearing, so it adds a phenolic brace between the two – a clever way of adding reinforcement without significantly increasing overall mass.
The RB880 tonearm may look like the designs used on Rega’s cheaper turntables but it has an improved vertical bearing assembly and impressively high standards when it comes to free-play. The bearing assemblies are adjusted to an impressive play of less than a 1000th of a millimetre. The arm uses low capacitance phono cables terminated by some high quality, lockable plugs to ensure a good contact. The Planar 8 with the RB880 tonearm is tonally well balanced. It’s smooth when required but still has enough bite when the music demands. In absolute terms it’s possible to get more in the way of sonic authority and weight – the Planar 8 has a strikingly taut and agile presentation – but you’d have to spend thousands extra to get it while matching the Rega’s strengths.
The platter is something of a work of art. It’s made of three pieces, with two different types of laminated glass. While Rega goes to extreme lengths to avoid mass, this is one area where more mass leads to better results by creating more of a flywheel effect to smooth out any small speed fluctuations. The company’s solution adds mass at the platter rim, rather than make the whole thing heavier. Keeping the platter as light as possible also makes the main bearing’s job easier. The platter itself is brilliantly efficient, and so lovely to look at it’s a shame to put a slip-mat on it.
Rega’s well-proven 24v motor provides the drive to the platter. It’s powered by the Neo outboard power supply, which is hand-adjusted to match the motor optimally. The company even goes as far as developing its own drive belts to ensure consistency and therefore improve speed accuracy. Like every Rega, the Planar 8 doesn’t feature suspension. Instead, isolation and positioning are provided by three biggish, softish feet. A level, isolated platform far from any sources of vibration are, ideally, what’s required to hear the Planar 8 at its best.
Even down to the drive belts Rega has paid articulate attention. The Planar 8 uses a pair of EPDM belts that ride on the sub-platter and dual-grooved machined aluminum pulley. Rega continues its research into drive belt materials and fabrication and here uses a new material formulated by a just retired chemist said to provide even greater speed consistency than previously attainable. They have used EPDM that produces a more even stretch and compression, which gives the turntable greater speed stability.
The Planar 8 doesn’t so much impress with the way it extracts the finest details from the vinyl as startle the listener. The Rega draws back all the veils and lays the recording bare, with the difference between played and sampled instruments, drum kits and drum machines, made absolutely plain. Such a level of insight is rare even in record players costing quite a bit more than this. The Planar 8 understands the recording on a gut level, doesn’t overplay the rough edges but doesn’t gloss over them either. It’s punchy, but not musclebound.
The Rega Planar 8 is articulate, it’s expressive. It has a fluent, naturalistic and authoritative way with music and doesn’t sound analytical even when it’s extracting the finest details from the depths of a mix. It’s convincing in every way. It has a wonderfully articulate way with bass that combines punch, power and texture beautifully. The lows don’t dominate, but they do give a solid foundation for the rest of the frequency range to shine.
The stable and focused stereo imaging is a trademark of the design. This record player renders an expansive soundstage and locks instruments in place even when the production becomes dense. Image scale is exceptional for the price. While delivering each musical strand with clarity, it manages to tie everything together to produce a cohesive and massively enjoyable whole. It’s this combination of hi-fi analysis and simply communicating the emotion in the music that the Rega does so well.
The Planar 8 is the racing model, the track-day specialist that’s had all the thought put into what can be honed or minimised rather than into what can be added. As a consequence there’s an absolute purity of purpose, and a corresponding purity of performance. In being so ambitious with this record player’s engineering, Rega has pushed the boundaries of performance at this level and has given premium rivals positioned above it plenty to worry about. None of the competion, even at getting on for twice the price, have the all-around game of a Rega Planar 8. It’s a remarkable record player......all you have to do is choose your level of hand assembled Rega cartridge to match.