Planar 2 Turntable Review
Company & Product Overview
Many of the best and most legendary audio companies that are still around today got their start in the classic stereo days of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Formed in a garage by a couple of friends who loved tinkering and were looking to come closer to the sound and experience in their own systems that you get from a live concert. You know the story.
Roy Gandy, the founder of Rega, was no exception. He started out modifying turntables with his audio buddies. His first turntable was the original Planar 2, which was introduced in 1975 -- just three years before Audio Advice was founded.
In fact, our founder, Leon Shaw, purchased his very first manual turntable in 1976. It was a Rega Planar 2!
Rega and Linn were two of the biggest players in the turntable industry in the 1970’s and both went against the common audio philosophy at the time. While many focused on the speakers and other components, Rega and Linn both argued that if you don’t get things right at the source, you’ll never recover. Decades later, most of the audio world now agrees with this philosophy.
Today, with the renewed interest in vinyl, Rega now manufactures over 2,000 turntables per month, along with a variety of other amplifiers, source components, and speakers.
For today's review, we’re going back to where it all started as we discuss the latest model of the Rega Planar 2 turntable. Over four decades later and it’s looks and general design philosophy are still reminiscent of the original P2. Take a step closer, however, and you’ll see that every single aspect has been updated and improved in order to advance its sound.
All Rega products have that classic British sound which is very true not only to the tonal quality of the music but also for keeping the timing just right, which draws you much deeper into your recordings.
Design & Build Quality
The Planar 2, also known as the P2, sells for $675 with the Rega Carbon cartridge included.
For over 40 years, all Rega turntables have been manual, belt drive types and the P2 is built to the same standard. We also love the sleek appearance of the P2. It is available in black, white, or red and includes a dust cover. It will certainly add a classic, clean look to your audio system.
There are a few reasons why these designs are common amongst the best high-performance tables. The primary reason is simplicity. The more features you have, the more gears and parts, and mechanisms are required.
For example, automatic turntables (as opposed to manual turntables) lower and lift the tonearm for you. While this sounds like a nice convenience, the extra parts required to accomplish this leads to noise and puts drag on the tonearm, resulting in some of the information getting lost on the way from the record grooves to the speakers. When you look at the bottom of a manual table, all you see is a tonearm cable coming out of the arm -- not a bunch of gears and mechanisms.
The same logic applies to why belt-drives are preferred. Direct drive tables, which are a favorite among DJs the world over, allow the platter to spin in either direction and get up to speed nearly instantly due to a motor which is part of the platter. The noise from the motor tends to make its way up to the platter and eventually to your stylus.
Belt-drive turntables, by contrast, isolate the platter from the motor. While the motor still makes noise, the fact that it’s separated from the platter and doesn’t make contact minimizes the amount of noise that will get to the stylus. Instead, a rubber belt turns the platter. It takes longer to get up to a stable speed -- sometimes as long as 30 seconds or so, and it’s not made for DJ-type spinning. But when it comes to pure sound, we think belt-drive turntables are your best best.
Belt drive, manual tables also seem to last forever as the only moving part that can break is the motor and belt drive motors can run for a very long time. We see 40+-year-old Regas coming into our shop for a new cartridge and new belt and they are good to go for another few decades!
In terms of build quality, Rega tables have a fit and finish that is second to none. From their entry-level P1 all the way up to the top-of-the-line RP10, it is hard to tell much difference in the way they are put together. They’re all done so beautifully well. The fact that all of their turntables are made in Rega’s UK factory is pretty amazing too at a time when outsourcing is the norm. As a matter of fact, some people working in the Rega factory making turntables have been doing so for over 35 years! Rega has a very loyal and dedicated set of employees who all love great HiFi!
Features & Technology
For our feature overview we will start at the bottom and work our way up. Let’s begin with the plinth. This is the base, or platform of the turntable that everything else connects up to.
Rega’s design philosophy is to use a very lightweight material for the plinth, in order to help filter any noise down to the turntable’s feet and out. The P2 uses the same type of plinth as the more expensive P3. The inside is a material called medite. This is a very rigid material composed of resin, blended with recycled wood fibers. The outer layer is a high-pressure laminate. Whenever you sandwich materials like this, the combination results in a plinth that is super dead and rigid. Perfect for filtering away vibrations.
Moving up to the platter, the P2 is the first turntable in the Planar line to get Rega’s signature float glass platter. Glass can be machined to be super precise and flat, which is why Rega loves to use it on most of their tables. Rega uses a special 10mm thick material called Optiglass.
It’s quite heavy, which helps in getting a great flywheel effect. While it make take a few seconds to get up to speed, once it does, it stays consistent. Speed stability is the holy grail of turntable manufacturers turntable as it makes the music more emotionally involving and brings you closer to a live music experience. The float glass platter accomplishes this goal while also providing an elegant and sophisticated look.
Rega is a not only manufactures their own tables, but the tonearms as well. In fact, some turntable manufacturers even opt to use Rega arms on their tables. The P2 uses the new RB220 tonearm. It’s a one-piece conical design, which is made from a rigid piece of aluminum and helps reduce resonance. The P2 includes Rega’s zero tolerance bearings, which allow the cartridge to track better in the record grooves with no bearing chatter.
The Planar 2 comes with the Rega Carbon cartridge, but the RB220 can easily support better Rega cartridges if you’re interested in upgrading down the road. With a simple adjustment of the counterweight, you can upgrade to a Rega Exact, Elys, or even some cartridges from other brands such as Ortofon.
The main bearing, which supports the platter, is another critical component of any turntable. If there is any noise created by the bearing, it can easily be transmitted up to the platter and to your cartridge. Rega has always taken great care to use incredibly precise table bearings. The main bearing sits in a small hub made of a phenolic material with little ridges that support the glass platter. A stainless steel spindle then fits into a bronze bearing well. The tolerance is so tight that when you first put the inner hub into the bearing, it takes a while to sink down all the way. Another sign of a great bearing design!
Over the last 40 years, Rega has pretty much perfected their motor design. All of their motors are 24V AC and as you move up, the motor itself is more precision made. The P2 uses a twin phase, brushless type. It is then suspended in isolation material to keep any noise from getting into the plinth.
You certainly get a ton of proven tech in the Rega P2! For just $200 more than the P1 you’ll have the upgraded tonearm, glass platter, better plinth, and better motor.
Setting up the P2 is a snap. You should be up and running in less than 5 minutes.
When you spin your first record, you’ll probably find yourself sitting there smiling. Rega tables are just flat out fun to listen to. This is due to the combination of their great speed stability and superior tonearms. The music will just flow out from your system with an effortless sound that will keep you wanting to spin more and more vinyl.
Rhythm and pacing are amazing for this price range. We feel this is one of the most important things a turntable needs to get right as it allows you to hear the subtle emotional qualities of the artist, thus drawing you deeper into the sound.
The jump up from the P1 is pretty astounding. Bass goes deeper, you’ll hear more small little details, and the music takes on a more effortless quality. Even though the cartridges are the same on both, the better components in the P2 really help the Carbon shine.
All of this shows the $60 Carbon cartridge included with the P2 is a truly great value for the money. It does a lot of things right without having any traits that might irritate your ears over time. We do feel like if you move up to better cartridge you will hear more information and small details in the music, but you honestly won’t know you’re missing anything until you compare.
The Rega Planar 2 is a great gateway into the world of better performing turntables. You can start out with the basic Carbon cartridge, then later move up to a higher level of performance with a cartridge upgrade. It is the least expensive table in Rega’s line up where you get a glass platter, one piece tonearm, and zero tolerance tonearm bearings. This is a table that might just last you 40+ years too! It is easy to see why it has already won 6 awards since its introduction.
HIGH NOTES UNPACKED
Float Glass Platter
Great flywheel effect and incredibly flat.
New RB220 Tonearm
Ultra low friction new Rega patent pending tonearm.
New Low Noise Motor
Even better than their previous motor with reduced noise.