If anything, Rega is pragmatic. Nothing makes it into a Rega design if it does not have a functional reason to be there. If it adds complexity or cost without adding performance, it is not likely to make it into the final product. Call it idiosyncratic, but they view a HiFi component as a tool to listen to music. It may mean that some new cool feature is absent, or that it isn’t the first to market. What it does mean is that you get the best possible device that does exactly what you need.
You can easily see a high level of cleverness to Rega designs. By sharing technologies, parts and manufacturing techniques across multiple models, they are capable of keeping to the mission of ‘sensibly priced’ components. This is an area where simplicity really does work for the consumer. Sharing most non-essential parts (think knobs and buttons) and some essential parts (think arm castings and transports), Rega can build in a level performance for their basic product that is a direct result of trickle-down engineering.
Built by Hand
When a product is built by hand, it’s built with great care, skill and love. Every component in a Rega product has a purpose and is manufactured by Rega or from a manufacturer near the Rega facility. From its manufacturing warehouse facility in the South East of England, Rega currently hand assembles more than 40 different products! Nothing cookie-cutter at this facility as each assembly line has its own story to tell.
Rega views manufacturing in a fundamentally different way than your average company. They view assembly as an art form, and parts are simply the materials from which art is created. To its skilled employees, it’s so much more than bolting and wiring together boxes. It’s knowing there is a better way. Machines can’t feel or touch to discern the weight or texture of each item, humans can. A machine is not committed to building the best tonearm, turntable, or whatever – a human is. So, as you unpack your Rega product, it’s important to understand that it is unique, and that a person conscientiously selected each piece to make it the very best.
40+ years of Rega Research. For his entire life, Rega founder Roy Gandy has been passionate about HiFi systems. Gandy built his first set of loudspeakers at age 18, which became the stepping-stone for Rega’s success. This natural path to success is due, in part, to the interconnectedness of its products. He knew from the start that Rega would be different. It started with a garden shed speaker and led to a better turntable. Which led to a better tonearm, and then a better cartridge… The rest, as is said, is history. A quick highlight of Rega’s history follows.
- 1973 – Gandy’s day job, as technical editor with Ford, affords him evenings to design what would become his first Rega Research product, the Planet turntable.
- 1975 – the first Planar turntable debuts, launching the iconic Rega aesthetic
- 1980’s – the company grows quickly adding necessary funding to allow expansion of the product range
- 1983 – their first tonearm is released, the award-winning RB300, which will go on to become the best-selling tonearm ever
- 1987 – they release their first cartridges made in house, the original Elys, Bias and RB78
- 1990 – the original Elex and Elicit amplifiers, and Ela loudspeakers are introduced as Rega takes the final step into the complete HiFi system
- 1990’s – a busy time for Rega sees further evolution of electronics, analog and speakers with the introduction of many touchstone products like original Exact, Brio and Fono
- 1997 – introduction of Jupiter CD transport and Io DAC mark their entrance in to the digital world
- 2000’s – the first half of the decade is spent making major revisions to earlier products, further expansion of digital components, and more turntable products
- 2005 – A new chapter is opened when Apheta and P1 turntable are announced, their first moving coil cartridge and first entry into budget HiFi respectively.
- 2007 – the Naiad project starts, signaling a major reinvestment in turntable technology
- 2009 – they take a major step forward in electronics design with the release of reference Osiris amplifier and Isis CD player
- 2011 – RP3 and RP6 are released, the first products using technology developed for the Naiad project. A series of half-chassis electronics are released with Brio-R, Apollo-R and DAC.
Low Mass, High Rigidity
While at times controversial, Rega has always designed turntables that emphasize light weight teamed with high strength. This method reduces resonance and improves sound quality, and can be seen in many of their products like the turntables and cartridges. Achieving this combination of low mass and high rigidity isn’t easy, necessitating high tech materials and manufacturing techniques, many only available at these prices because of Rega’s ability to scale production. From the stressed skin RP1 to the nitrogen-foamed polyolefin RP10, these bantamweights hit hard.
Using the same engineering concepts as high-rise buildings, Rega has sought to stiffen their plinths using the unique Double Brace technology. Positioned at the stressed weak point between the main bearing and tonearm pivot, these braces add critical rigidity to reduce resonance. The net result is improved bass and treble, and reduction in background noise. This is the essence of simplicity and elegance in engineering.
Stressed Skin Structure
Intrinsic to the low mass design ethos of Rega turntables, stressed skin design allow their engineers to use lightweight materials like foam or fiber board. The skin itself is either laminated phenolic or sprayed acrylic, that once bonded to the core material increases stiffness and strength and drops resonance. These are not thin coatings, as is seen if you look at the plinth cross section of RP6 or RP8. The same technology is used for the wings of jet aircraft and other designs that require both light weight and strength
High Tech Platters
Whether ceramic, glass, or phenolic, Rega has always applied a great deal of engineering know-how into its platters. Deceptively simple, the platter is critical to the sound of a turntable. All Rega platters are focus on low resonance, balance and stability. Phenolic is used in the basic tables because of its natural balance, non-conductivity and very low audible resonance. Glass is used in step up models for its greater stability and smooth surfaces. Applied in multiple layers, glass has even greater speed stability created by the “flywheel effect”. The very best tables use ceramic oxide, because of its ultimate stiffness and extreme resonance control.
Tapered Arm Wand
The tonearm is where all the heavy lifting is done, and the arm wand is often times the weakest link in this system. Rega uses a gently tapered one piece arm that was profiled using advanced 3D modeling, and has won several awards in the manufacturing world for its unique design and implementation. This design allows Rega’s engineers to optimize its weight balance, tipping the heavier end towards the pivot point where it belongs. Most importantly, conical shapes naturally reduce resonance and redirect unwanted energy away from the sensitive cartridge hanging from its tip.
Hand Matched Bearings
Bearing quality and fitment is an area the Rega has unique experience in, starting with its very first turntable in 1973. Each and every bearing is hand-graded to ensure maximum quality. Fitting the bearing to its mate is the next step, as the individual quality matters not if it doesn’t work well as an assembly. This approach is unique at this end of manufacturing, as its usually only done in very high end. The sound quality improvement is notable, making Rega tonearms top of the heap and well worth the effort. Yet another reason why Rega ‘tables are of such extraordinary value.
Low Noise Motors
All motors produce some kind of noise, whether audible vibration or electrical radiation. Even though small, these noises can be easily picked by the tonearm and cartridge. Rega uses low torque motors that produce a minimum of vibration, often twin-phase 24V shielded units. Some tables include, or can be upgraded with the TTPSU. This clever device tunes the motor to reduce vibration to essentially zero, and radically improves speed consistency.
CD Mechanisms & DAC's a brief explanation:
So, what’s inside of a CD Player? Well, first there is a power supply and regulation components to make the thing work and then a transport with a laser for reading the CD disc. The CD player's job is to spin the disc and retrieve the digital information with a laser reader.
The power supply and regulation for the many myriad of components inside of a CD player make a huge difference to the sound, much as they do for any other HiFi component. The transport and quality of the laser inside make as big, if not even bigger difference, since if the information is not retrieved off of the disc correctly in the first place, how can you expect it to be good in the second place. Finally, the DAC makes an overwhelming difference, and DAC chips and their matching components are available from just a few pennies to many hundreds and hundreds of dollars.
Custom Disc Mechanisms
The weak point in most CD player designs, the disc “tray” decreases sound quality and reliability because of its mechanical instability. For this reason, Rega has always used top-loading mechanisims that eliminate the more commonly used tray. The top-loading mech is controlled by custom written software developed by Rega that optimizes playback by reading ahead and selecting the proper method for playback and correcting for flaws.
Rega has a close relationship with Wolfson, and has used that to their benefit in extracting the maximum amount of performance from their DAC chipsets. Great lengths have been taken to reduce noise in circuits, and provide the best possible environment for the chips to operate in. Custom dedicated power supplies for each digital, analog and control sub-systems ensures to cross contamination and delivers wide dynamics. Galvanically isolated inputs and bit-perfect asynchronous USB reduces negative interaction with source devices. Advanced buffers and filters, audio-grade components throughout, and unique clocking that reduces jitter, makes for the smooth, high resolution and analog-like playback you’d expect from Rega.
Whenever possible, Rega eliminates op-amps and other ICs in critical audio pathways. These pesky little devices are very noisy and don’t deliver the best performance. Instead, they prefer discrete components which always live up to the task and deliver the highest sound quality. They cost more and they take up more space, but are so, so worth it.
The average transformer is bulky, inefficient and noisy. Toroidal transformers are elegant, efficient and especially quiet. Crucial to the final performance of any audio device, Rega uses toroidal transformers almost exclusively. Where they can’t use them, the power supplies are kept outside of the main case. Clever.
Unlike many manufacturers that require you to establish a proper ground for your turntable, Rega has taken the fuss out of setup. Simply connect the standard RCA leads from your turntable to phono preamp, and you are good to go. This brilliant scheme drops background noise, and works perfectly for the vast majority of HiFi systems. If you need an alternative, there are plenty of options. See your handy local Rega dealer for help.