Rega RP8 Record Player and Apheta Moving-Coil Cartridge

You Say You Want an Evolution?

Equipment report
Rega RP8
Rega RP8 Record Player and Apheta Moving-Coil Cartridge

The wonderful New Yorker cartoonist Michael Maslin frequently draws amusing tableaux picturing human evolution from fish to man. One favorite ends with a strutting Groucho Marx brandishing a large cigar. Another shows a startled restaurant patron approaching three restroom doors. The first has an image of a walking tetrapod; the second door depicts a crouching Neanderthal, the third modern man.

If you’ll imagine me taking pen to paper, I’ll sketch for you the evolution of the Rega turntable. It begins with the relatively rudimentary Planar 2, which was essentially a thin slab of fiber board with a phenolic- resin skin for a plinth, a tripod of rubber feet, a simple low-vibration motor with an O-ring “suspension,” a felt-mat-topped glass platter supported by a plastic belt-driven sub-platter, and an s-shaped tonearm. This was nearly 40 years ago, and the Planar 2’s simple low-mass design and engaging playback qualities quickly established it as the “go-to” company for a good sounding, affordable, and reliable record player.

Rega’s first great leap forward came in the early 80s with the RB300 arm, which in turn became the “go-to” affordable tonearm for consumers as well as other small turntable manufacturers who didn’t have the ability to produce their own arm—or at least one as good for the same money.

Subsequent Rega turntables morphed and multiplied, and became available in an array of colorful plinths; while outboard power supplies and many other tweaks brought the P series to its ultimate conclusion with the recently discontinued, ceramic-platter P9. Although the P9 was quite good, and certainly fits into this evolutionary progression, and brought Rega’s design, craftsman, and performance to new levels, for whatever reason the P9’s sound never quite grabbed me.

But in the past year or so Rega is suddenly rocking it. In relatively quick succession it’s released the RP3, RP6, and now the RP8. Each subsequent model is an evolution unto itself.

To recap, the $1095 RP3 (with Elys 2 moving-magnet cartridge) includes the latest incarnation of the RB300 arm, the RB303, a 24-volt low-noise motor, and a lighter, more rigid plinth. But the most dramatic design, and (I speculate) sonic, improvement arrives via Rega’s “double-brace” plinth technology, which can be seen as the thin silver strip with O-shaped cutouts bridging the main bearing hub and the arm mount. Fabricated from the same phenolic resin material that clads the plinth, the double- brace—one on top of the plinth, the other on the bottom—creates what Rega calls a “stressed beam” assembly to increase rigidity between these two critical points.

At $1990 with the Exact 2 moving magnet, the RP6 incorporates each of these design elements plus a few others of added significance. Most notable is a two-piece, 16mm-thick flywheel platter made of float glass, a technique wherein molten glass is floated over molten tin in order to create the flattest possible surface and overall uniformity of thickness. To form the flywheel platter, Rega joins two separate pieces of float glass, bonding the secondary “ring” platter to the underside of the main platter, thus adding mass to the outer circumference to increase the platter’s natural flywheel effect, improving speed accuracy and stability. The platter sits atop an aluminum “top hub adaptor,” which sports six-raised plateaus as points of contact, further ensuring a very flat surface for records to spin on.

The RP6’s tripod feet are improved, too, over Rega’s standard rubber-cup-like jobs. The new feet are made of a much more stable sandwich of aluminum and rubber.

Finally, the RP6 is delivered with the latest version of Rega’s TT PSU outboard power supply, which I highly recommend as a significant performance upgrade for RP3 users.