Rega Planar 25 turntable Page 3

No point in further hammering CDs in a turntable review. What you probably really want to know is how much better the Planar 25 is than the 3, and how much better the 9 is than the 25. To determine that, I had to (reluctantly) remove the Grado—which, based on limited listening on the Planar 25 and through a $699 phono section, convinces me that it is among the finest cartridges I've ever heard at any price—and switch to more familiar transducers.

I tried the Clavis D.C., the Transfiguration Temper, the Grado Reference, and the $595 Rega Exact. I also substituted the Ringmat for Rega's supplied felt mat, and put inexpensive but extremely effective Vibrapods under the Planar 25's rubber feet. (To keep the 'table level, you need to put an unnumbered pod under the right front foot, a #2 under the left front foot, and a #5 under the rear foot, where the motor is.) Toward the end of the evaluation, I received a Paulson isolation stand, which uses monofilament to create a spring suspension between two platforms. But I didn't have it long enough to draw any meaningful conclusions about its benefit under the Rega.

The Planar 25 is worthy of the finest cartridges in the world, though you can't adjust VTA without using spacers, or one of the many VTA adjustment add-on devices on the market. Even without optimizing VTA, the Planar 25 offered far richer, more refined sound than the 3, with a smoother, more graceful, and far more transparent midband; deeper, better-controlled bass; and pristine high frequencies.

Like the 9, the Planar 25 produced the kind of deep, tight, authoritative bass and rich, buttery highs I usually associate with far more expensive 'tables. And like the 9, the Planar 25 had the snappy, focused rhythmic decisiveness found on the better turntables.

The 3 sounded somewhat hard and thin compared to the Planar 25, and couldn't control wide dynamic swings nearly as well. At less than twice the price, the 25 is way more than twice as good as the 3. If I owned a 3, I'd trade up to the Planar 25 in a minute. And while the 9 is, as I remember, somewhat more refined, I don't think it's worth the extra $1600 or so. You're better off investing in a higher-quality cartridge and putting it on the Planar 25.

The Planar 25 is a fitting tribute to Rega's 25-year legacy of producing great audio gear at reasonable prices. If you're in the market for a new turntable, you ought to hear it before you buy one at any price. It's an incredible value, and a fine performer.

Lauerman Audio Imports
519 Noelton Drive
Knoxville, TN 37919
(423) 521-6464