Rega Planar 25 turntable Sam's Space, May 1999
You certainly won't have to accept surround sound if you purchase a Rega Planar 25 turntable, recommended in the March issue by Michael Fremer, who got the jump on me. (He visited the Rega factory last fall.)
As I said earlier, Rega made its mark with turntables. For its first few years, the company made only turntables—not even tonearms.
For their 25th anniversary, they've introduced the Rega Planar 25, which sells for $1275 complete with RB600 arm. Since the arm sells separately for $695, you get quite a bargain with the turntable: it's only $580 more.
Outwardly, the Planar 25 doesn't appear to be much more than a dressed-up Planar 3. Fancier plinth, with a handsome wood-veneer frame. Spiffier tonearm—looks like an RB300 arm done up with "titanium-look" paint. Same glass platter.
But appearances can be deceiving.
I substituted the Planar 25 for the Planar 3 in my living-room system. Cartridge is a Goldring G1042 ($300), an excellent moving-magnet. Phono stage is Tim de Paravicini's EAR 834P, with Pathos Twin Towers integrated amp and B&W CDM1 SE speakers.
Almost. Mikey points to a key difference between the Rega 25 and the Planar 3. In the 25, the motor is hard-mounted; in the 3, it's suspended—meaning the speed is always changing. (See Mikey's explanation in the March 1999 issue, p.39.)
Whatever the explanation, the sonic difference is significant. Bear in mind that I changed nothing else in the seestem: even the cartridge remained the same. All that was changed was the Planar 25 for the Planar 3.
The difference between the 3 and the 25 is, curiously, rather like the difference between the Rega Planet CD player and the Rega Jupiter/Io combo. Resolution improves. Timing is more precise—the 25 is even more dynamically assured than the 3.
Fremer says the sound is more focused. That's a good way to describe it. Looking at a blurry picture at the movies, do you get fatigued? Well, blurry sound can do the same thing. The Planar 25 is sharp, clear, crisp. It's a killer.
Special praise is due, too, to the Goldring G1042 cartridge, which I always liked on the Planar 3. But on the 3, this cartridge did not show what it is capable of: extraordinary detail, excellent dynamics, and a very sweet, extended, super-clean top end. The G1042 is an expensive cartridge—too good for the Planar 3, perhaps, but a fantastic choice with the 25. Roy Hall, the Goldring importer, could use the business.
Finally, I want to thank David Wilson—no, not that David Wilson—of Accent on Music, in Mount Kisco, New York. I just couldn't get the Goldring mounted. (No sex jokes, please.) Poor eyesight, perhaps. Lack of practice.
David is a genius when it comes to setting up tables—he's one of the best Linn setup experts around. And no wonder—he was born in Scotland. The Scots, as we all know, have good turntable karma. Even Roy Hall!
David saw the problem immediately. He filed down the lugs on the Goldring so the leads from the Rega arm would slide easily over them. At any rate, as I know from experience, a turntable touched by David Wilson is a turntable that sounds the better for it.
I joked with JA recently that I really didn't think there were any records "to die for." Or CDs, for that matter. However, I do think there are turntables to die for.
This is one of them.—Sam Tellig