Planar 3 Turntable Review
An iconic turntable returns not only improved but truly NEW.
Company & Product Overview
Like many reputable audio companies, Rega was born out of a garage from a couple of guys seeking to create a better product than what they could find on the market. In the case of Rega, this was in the UK in the early 70s.
The subject of today’s review, the Rega Planar 3 hails from the original Rega Planar 3 introduced in 1976 receiving rave reviews from the British press launching the company on a long history of great value products.
The original Planar 3 was eventually replaced by the RP3, which received multiple awards including winning Product of the Year 5 times! But even after 40 years, the team at Rega wanted more. They came up with so many improvements to the RP3 they decided to return the iconic name of the Planar 3.
Design & Build Quality
Like all Rega turntables, the Planar 3 is a belt drive manual system. It’s equipped with Rega’s new RB-330 tonearm already pre-mounted. We appreciate how Rega tables are some of the easiest on the market to set up, and always have superb fit and finish. And remember, when you get your Planar 3 from Audio Advice, we will set it up and fully test it out in our turntable facility to ensure your cartridge is perfectly mounted. You’ll receive a link to a set-up video on everything you need to know about setting it up the way it should be.
At Audio Advice we love a well-executed tonearm design that lacks any friction or play. The RB330 arm that comes with the Planar 3 is one of the best out there in this regard, and there is zero play in the precision bearings. This doesn’t come as a surprise since Rega tonearms are known throughout the audio world for the almost friction-free horizontal movement with zero play in the bearings. Rega is so fanatical about this they continue to improve the bearings while measuring changes in microns. The tapered tonearm tube took hours upon hours of work with 3D CAD design to build it in one piece, thus greatly reducing any unwanted resonances.
While you should not lift the inner platter all the way out, you can rest assured the bearing is just as precise as any other part of the turntable. This ensures you will not have any noise coming up into the platter from a less-than-perfect bearing.
Many audio enthusiasts seeking a new turntable will discover the best-selling models generally start at around $400-$500. So why would you spend $995 on the Planar 3 over, for example, Rega’s popular RP-1 at $445?
Enjoying vinyl is like many of the other pleasures we enjoy in life. Whether it’s cooking, cycling, travel, or anything else, the more you learn about your hobby the further you want to advance it. Not only does the Planar 3 start out with some seriously good features, but it also has an upgrade path to feed your passion for better sound should you want to improve things.
The Planar 3 arrives already outfitted with the following features:
Double Bracing Technology: Starting with the Planar 3 all Rega tables employ this unique design to reduce resonances.
RB330 Tonearm: This handmade, one-piece tapered design is a huge step up from the RB101 found on the RP-1.
Float Glass Platter: Rega developed the glass platter system in the 70s and it’s been their trademark ever since. The precision surface and heavy weight ensure a constant speed for your vinyl. The new Optiwhite finish on the Planar 3 is also visually stunning.
Upgraded Bearing Well: The critical inner platter bearing gets a big upgrade from the RP-1 to the Planar 3 for reduced noise.
24 Pole Quiet Motor: Jumping from the RP-1 to the Planar 3 gets you the same motor found in the $2995 RP-8.
The unique part about Rega tables is that many of them have the following options to add now or later on for performance improvements:
Reference Drive Belt: Precision ground belt for reduced wow and flutter ($59).
TTPSU: This is the external motor power supply, which we feel is one of the best possible upgrades for the Planar 3. It provides even better speed stability and reduced motor noise ($395).
Tungsten Counterweight: The fanatical engineers at Rega figured out a tungsten counterweight offered some audio improvements over their standard counterweight ($135).
Have you ever experienced a live band in a small club environment where their perfect timing and rhythm was almost drug-like in the sense of euphoria it stirred within you? We feel this is the best way to sum up the sound of the Planar 3. It delivers an intensely accurate sense of stellar live music because the timing of the music is just spot on. Bass is extremely clean and detailed with no measure of bloating. The RB-330 tonearm will shine with the Rega Elys cartridge or consider stepping up to the Ortofon Bronze or Black for even more 3 dimensional sound from your records. In summation, the Planar 3 just sounds right. It does not add any coloration and is extremely true to the music.
We rank the Planar 3 as a top value product at Audio Advice. It’s difficult to find another turntable on the market offering all the features of the Planar 3, especially one with the added bonus of the option to upgrade over time. Couple these features with its simple, elegant setup and you have a definite winner for your vinyl collection.
HIGH NOTES UNPACKED
Glass platter coupled with a superior motor and tonearm add up to an unbeatable value
New RB330 Tone-Arm
This handmade, one-piece tapered design is a huge step up from the RB101 found on the RP-1.
Stellar Speed Control System
There is a circuit board that is individually tuned to each and every motor. This results in great speed stability. Plus you have the option of adding the external TTSU for even better performance