Back in the 1970s, when I was growing up, the Technics SL-1200, now considered among the definitve DJ turntables, was the go-to table for many music lovers. Much of the iconic turntable’s reputation was centered around a direct-drive mechanism, derived from Technics’ experience building broadcast decks.
However, with the high-end audio industry’s birth in the mid-to-late ’70s, the highest-performance audio systems were using belt-drive turntables because they sounded more musical. The British led the charge with the legendary Linn Sondek LP-12, which was expensive and somewhat out of reach for the average audiophile at the time. A young Roy Gandy, then a mechanical engineer for Ford in Europe, happened to be quite the audiophile and anxious to solve this problem.
Rega, which will celebrate its 48th anniversary in September this year, was soon born, with Gandy producing belt-drive turntables that offered high performance at a reasonable cost. The first Rega turntables depended on someone else’s tonearm. Soon after, however, Rega would be building everything in-house, a practice it has continued to this day.
The audio world embraced Rega, and by the early 1980s, its flagship Planar 3 had become an audiophile standard, and a turntable one step above the mass-market offerings from Technics, Dual, and Pioneer, to name a few. I bought my first Planar 3 in 1981, and have owned about 10 Rega models since then. Rega’s turntables have always proven to be simple yet of high quality, requiring minimal setup. It’s a definite plus during review time, when using a turntable as a source component to compare to others.
Today, I use the latest Rega P10 with Rega’s third-generation Apheta moving coil cartridge. It offers a stunning performance, and it’s easy to see the roots of the original Planar 3 in this design.
Jeff Dorgay is the Founder of TONEAudio Magazine.