Timeless, Unforgettable, Enduring
We recently posted all of our coverage of two classic turntables: The Rega P3 and the Sota Sapphire. And when I say "classic," I don't mean old. I mean timeless, unforgettable, enduring. Take a look at our Hot 100 list of all-time most important products, and you'll see that the British Rega ranks at number 30, while the all-American Sota stands proud at number 54. Our reviews of these turntables date back to 1984, and provide information that is still very much useful and interesting today.
I've mentioned that I love the Rega P3, and I plan to buy the updated P3-24. I was therefore happy to learn that Sam Tellig is also a fan. He does, however, mention that the Rega suffers from some pitch instability. I've read about this in other reviews, too. I haven't heard it myself, however. Either it's no longer an issue, or I'm not sensitive to it yet. We shall see, I suppose.
Interestingly, Sam also mentions that "the motor turns off with a dreadful pop, so you better mute your preamp or turn your system off first." While I wouldn't go so far as to call it "dreadful," I have noticed a pop upon switching off the Rega. Consequently, I have gotten into the habit of muting the Exposure 2010S integrated amplifier every time I complete a listening session. No big deal. Other downsides for Sam, such as the hingeless dustcover and poor isolation from vibrations and resonances, have not been problems for me. Since the P3's introduction, Rega has taken several steps to eliminate motor vibrations and increase overall rigidity. I am reaping the benefits.
While I do love the simple, user-friendly Rega, I am more than intrigued by the Sota and its gorgeous wood-veneered top panel and plinth, and its unusual (to me) vacuum record-clamping system. Wild! Wouldn't it be fun to play with one of these for awhile?
Lucky me, I will get the opportunity. Turns out that my dear friend Eden happens to own a Sapphire. It was a surprise to us both. At first, all she knew was that this big, wooden thing was supposed to play records, but all it was really doing was taking up space on her shelf. It was given to her by her mother who, for some time, worked as a sales rep for Home Theater. While Eden grew up around the high end audio scene and is a voracious music lover, she has never gotten into hi-fi. The poor Sapphire has not been played in years. That, however, will soon change.
It was Eden's idea. She mentioned it while we enjoyed small plates of lobster tacos and something else (she told me to pretend it was chicken). We were at the bar near the lobby of the grand Waldorf. Our Shirley Wallbangers were still half-full.
So, she said, what if you help me bring the turntable back to life?
A brilliant idea, I replied.
We might have toasted to it. Clink!
Eden admitted to not knowing much about the turntable. She wasn't at first certain whether it had a tonearm or cartridge or power cord. She did, however, mention that the thing was wicked heavy. Eden only uses the word "wicked" for special occasions, so I knew she was serious.
I have since contacted Sota's Donna Bodinet, who has agreed to help me identify Eden's specific turntable and will assist with any parts it may need. And, coincidentally, we have since posted several years of magazine coverage, including thoughts from some dude named Steven Watkinson, some other dude named Anthony Cordsman, and even the great Gordon Holt himself. And I have since discovered that the Sota Sapphire was born in 1981, just like Sonic Youth and MTV and Mad Max 2and just like my dear friend Edenwhich makes the whole thing seem even more perfect, now, doesn't it?