Rega Planet CD player Page 2
My only other quibble has to do with the otherwise excellent owner's manual. On p.20, under "Trouble Shooting," the reader is treated like an idiot:
"Is there a disc in the player?"
"Load a disc."
"Is the disc label side up?"
"Turn the disc over."
My God, could anyone smart enough to buy a Rega Planet in the first place be that stupid?
Operation is straightforward, with a minimum of front-panel fuss. Full functions, including programming, are available from the remote. You can turn off the display LEDs from the remote. Unfortunately you can't invert polarity, either on the player or from the remote handset. Hey, what do you expect from Rega? This is a company that doesn't believe in height-adjustable tonearms.
The transport mechanism is a collaboration between Rega and Sony—a straight-line laser sled. Unusually, the transport is fixed rigidly to the chassis; there is no suspension. Instead, four viscously damped feet suspend the entire chassis. Tap the top of the cast-aluminum chassis and a CD will indeed skip. But tap the table or shelf on which the chassis sits, or do the macarena on the floor, and the player remains imperturbable.
Rega maintains that the traditional subchassis suspensions in CD players actually encourage error correction. The more error correction, the worse the sound. Terry Bateman of Rega, who did a lot of the engineering to put the Planet in orbit, says, "We were amazed that so many of the high-dollar transports supported inexpensive transport mechanisms in fancy cases."
The receiver, or interface chip, is by Sony and is part of the transport mechanism. The digital low-pass filter was developed jointly by Rega and Burr-Brown, as was the DAC. "We gave Burr-Brown the design philosophy, to get us a certain type of analog output, and Burr-Brown have achieved that for us using their mathematics and modifications to an earlier Burr-Brown chip."
The player is said to use a "unique Rega analog post-conversion filter." The analog output section was designed by Rega in cooperation with Sony and Sanyo. The op-amp chips are manufactured by Sanyo.
Roy Gandy told me that he wanted to avoid some of the problems that other British specialty firms faced when they produced CD players. For instance, according to Roy, one British electronics firm (whose name he chose not to mention) helped drive itself into insolvency by designing a CD player around a Philips mechanism that suddenly became unavailable.
So how does the Planet sound? Astonishingly good, considering the relatively reasonable price. Of course, the average person expects to spend no more than $199.95 for a CD player, and wants a changer. Eight hundred bucks will seem high.
It isn't. Like the Rega RB300 tonearm, the Rega Planet CD player is one of the biggest bargains in hi-fi, and for many of the same reasons: it's not overengineered, not overbuilt. There is no bullshit about it.
There is astonishing value for money here. And, as I've hinted, the player is an ergonomic delight. Elegant. Simple. Solid. Downright brilliant in its engineering. To see this player and use it is to want it—even before you listen.