Planar 6 Turntable Review
Company & Product Overview
Rega produced their first turntable back in 1973, in a garage that was just a short hop away from their current UK factory. For nearly 45 years, they have continued to manufacture their products in the UK, focusing on producing turntables that not only sound great but are an incredible value, no matter the price point. Rega backs up everything they make with a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects. It’s not uncommon to see 40-year-old Rega turntables in our shop that still run and look great all these years later.
One thing that makes Rega unique is that they do not create new products simply for the sake of releasing a new model. It is only when their engineers come up with enough improvements to make a significant difference, that Rega releases a new turntable.
In today’s review, we are taking a look at the new Rega Planar 6 (P6). The P6 falls right in the middle of Rega’s great turntable lineup with the RP8 and RP10 above it, and the P1, P2, and P3 below it. As you might have guessed, it is an improvement on their long-term standard, the RP6, which has been around for many years.
The P6 is available in three different versions. For $1,595 you get the table itself with no cartridge. Above that are two versions where Rega bundles the Planar 6 with two of their cartridges, offering significant package savings.
For $1,995 you can get the Rega Planar 6 paired with the Rega Exact moving magnet cartridge. If you want another step up, you can get a package that includes the Rega Planar 6 and Rega’s brand new Ania moving coil cartridge for $2,195. Regardless of which package you choose, you will save $200 by purchasing the package versus buying the cartridge and the turntable separately.
Design & Build Quality
The design philosophy that Rega adheres to for all of their turntables focuses on three primary objectives.
- Spin the platter at the most consistent speed possible
- Minimize vibrations by using a light and stiff system that dumps resonance out through the turntables feet
- Utilize a tonearm and cartridge combination that tracks your records perfectly.
With the Rega Planar 6, the team at Rega combines technology they’ve used in some of their more expensive tables with a few new tricks, to set a new standard.
Every Rega turntable is a pure manual design, and the Planar 6 is no different. This means you will need to start it up with a button press, lower the tonearm onto the record yourself, and at the end of the record, pick up the tonearm. The majority (actually probably 99.9%) of the high-performance turntables in the world today utilize a manual design.
If you make turntables designed to last 40 years or more, they have to be built extremely well. The new Planar 6 is no exception. From the minute you pull it out of the box, you can tell it is a fine piece of machinery.
While the plinth on the new Planar 1, 2, and 3 turntables have glossy finishes, the Planar 6 opts instead for a Polaris Grey matte finish with a high-gloss black polymer edge trim. The finish is just beautiful! When you pull the turntable out of the box and you have just the plinth in your hand, you will notice that although it hardly weighs anything, it feels extremely rigid. It is truly a great combination of technology and design!
Features & Technology
The Rega Planar 3 has been one of our best-selling turntables since it’s release. Now that the Planar 6 has been released, some folks may be interested in the differences between the two tables. For those of you who have narrowed your options down the Rega Planar 3 and Rega Planar 6, check out our comparison write-up.
The Planar 6 is loaded with high tech components designed to improve your vinyl playback experience. We’ll start at the bottom and go up from there in order to touch on all the great features found in the Planar 6.
Rega, as always, paid a lot of attention to their turntable feet and came up with an improved design for the Planar 6. The feet are made of a new, ultra-lightweight rubber material called Santoprene. They are hollow cones with aluminum reinforcement trim rings. The feet are a crucial component of the table as they are designed to filter out any external energy through them.
The feet are attached to the new plinth, constructed from a new, ultra-lightweight Tancast 8 polyurethane foam core that is sandwiched between two layers of ultra-thin high-pressure laminate. Tancast 8 was developed for the aerospace industry and it turns out is a great material for the type of design Rega deploys in their tables.
According to the engineers from Rega that we spoke with, this new plinth is a true breakthrough in material technology and offers big performance improvements over their previous designs.
The main bearing is Rega’s classic brass bearing, but with the Planar 6 they step up to a single-piece machined aluminum hub. The hub is the small round part that goes down into the bearing. The larger outer platter sits on top of the hub. The outer platter only touches the hub in a few spots along its outer edge where there are tiny raised pieces on the top of the hub.
The Planar 6 has a dual layer float glass platter. It has more glass around about the middle 50% and out for a better flywheel effect to keep speed consistent. As you might suspect, float glass is super flat, which also helps keep things spinning at a perfect pitch.
To drive the hub, Rega includes their new white Reference belt with the Planar 6. This is machined to a higher tolerance than their standard belt. They also developed a new custom spindle for the motor side of the belt that is tapered to reduce friction.
The motor itself is a low-noise 24-volt design. Each motor is individually tuned to the external Neo power supply that comes with the Planar 6. The Neo PSU uses a DSP-based sinewave generator and a high-precision crystal clock oscillator to generate a super-consistent speed. The speed can be fine-tuned with a little screw on the back side of the Neo PSU. The AC power cable attaches to the Neo PSU and it connects to the Planar 6 with a custom cable. Having an external motor power supply is a great way to reduce any noise from a power supply that your phono cartridge might otherwise pick up. This is not unique to Rega as many high-performance turntables use this method.
Like Rega’s other high-performance tables, the Planar 6 has an aluminum brace that locks the tonearm base to the main bearing. The tonearm used on the Planar 6 is their relatively new RB330 which was introduced with the new Planar 3. The RB330 is an engineering feat in and of itself with its zero tolerance bearings. We loved it on the Planar 3 and think it is a great match for the Planar 6 as well.
As we mentioned earlier, the Planar 6 is available without a cartridge or you can purchase one of the packages that include either the Exact or Ania. The tonearm cables are non-detachable but are very high-quality with great materials and solid connections.
Finally, the Rega Planar 6 includes a dust cover that appears to have a slight grey tin, rather than the clear covers that come with the Rega Planar 1, 2, and 3.
Before we get into this, let us just say that we may have gone a little overboard on our setup rig to listen to the new Planar 6. We wanted to be able to reveal everything and anything to truly test the turntable. For the phono stage, we used the Sutherland Duo, feeding a Mark Levinson 512 integrated amp, driving a pair of Martin Logan Impression 11A’s. Cables were all Transparent.
We pulled out three classic vinyl albums, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors, Robbie Robertson’s solo debut album with the same title, and the classic Verve release of Gilberto and Getz’s The Girl from Ipanema released in 1964.
We tried to test it on one of our favorite heavy-duty isolation bases that we usually use with VPI turntables. It became apparent right from the start that something was missing so we removed the isolation base -- the improvement in bass detail is significant. Our suggestion is to just let the Planar 6 do its thing.
The sound of the Planar 6 with the Exact is super smooth and almost mellow, really exuding what vinyl is all about. We found ourselves tapping our toes on some of the more rhythmic songs thanks to the Planar 6’s great speed consistency.
Compared to the Planar 3, which we love, we were able to immediately tell that the bass in the P6 went much deeper with an improved impact. There was also a significant reduction in surface noise. We find this with every really great turntable that has good speed control and isolation, but it was unusual to experience it in this price range.
Separation and dimensionality were amazing, especially on The Girl from Ipanema. The Planar 6 is one of those audio products that just gets you excited to dig out more and more old records to play.
Tracking with the RB330 arm was impressive as well. On some tables, as you get to the last song, you might hear a bit more distortion. This is not the case with the Planar 6. It tracks precisely to the very end.
We decided to then give the Ania cartridge a whirl. Once it was mounted up (we love Rega’s three-point cartridge mounting system on their better cartridges by the way) we changed the loading and gain in the Sutherland to match the Ania, which is a moving coil cartridge.
If you have a good phono stage capable of dealing with a moving coil, we strongly recommend that you spend the extra $200 for the Ania combo. You’ll get a much more extended top end, slightly tighter and more extended bass, and a better level of detail extraction. But if you really love that super sweet and smooth sound of a moving magnet, you’ll be plenty happy with the Exact combo.
At around $2,000 for the table and cartridge, the Planar 6 is not going to be for everyone. Considering the popularity of the Planar 3, however, we feel confident that the Planar 6 is going to find a large and loyal audience.
If it’s in your budget, the Planar 6 is a table you should be able to love for the next several decades. Like any great turntable, the better your system, the more you will appreciate it.
At Audio Advice, we love the way music comes through on a table that has pure speed. The Rega Planar 6 is one of the least expensive tables we’ve found that really brings that aspect to life.
HIGH NOTES UNPACKED
If you pair the Planar 6 with Rega’s new Aria cartridge, you’ll approach the performance of turntables costing twice as much and more.
Full of Tech, Yet Classic
The Planar 6 may look like a classic 70’s Rega turntable, but it utilizes the latest features and high-tech materials to give a great performance.
Built to Last
Rega tables last for decades. The Planar 6 exemplifies this with its high build-quality that should mean your grandchildren’s grandchildren will enjoy your Planar 6 as much as you will.