Rega Turntable Comparison:
Planar 1 vs Planar 2 vs Planar 3
Introducing the 2016 Planar Lineup
In 2016, the RP line of Rega turntables received a major update, going back to their roots by reverting to the original Planar name that helped make them famous. In fact, our founder bought his first good turntable in 1976 and it was a Rega Planar 2!
Today we are going to take a look at three Rega turntables -- the Rega Planar 1, Planar 2, and Planar 3. We’ll discuss the differences between them as well as some of the new features Rega has included in the 2016 line versus the RP series that they replaced.
When it comes to turntables, the name of the game is keeping vibration and noise to a minimum. This allows you to get the purest and cleanest sound to your speakers.
We're going to dive in on each of the elements of these tables to compare the materials and features in order to help you determine which table is right for you.
First, let’s talk about a few things that all three tables have in common. The plinths are similar on all three -- they use a sandwich construction, high-pressure acrylic laminate over particle board on the Planar 1 and heavier, denser MDF on the 2 and 3. The feet are also the same on all three, though they’ve been redesigned from the RP line to provide increased stability and to reduce vibration pickup.
The Planar 3 is the only table of the three to utilize Rega’s signature double bracing which increases the rigidity of the plinth between the main hub bearing and tonearm.
We want a turntable platter to be heavy enough to provide a flywheel effect for consistent speed and be made from as rigid a material as possible. The Planar 1 uses a heavy phenolic material. It’s good, but you will notice a real difference when you move to Rega’s single layer, float glass platter which is used in the Planar 2 and Planar 3. The Planar 2’s platter is 10mm and the Planar 3 is just slightly thicker and heavier at 12mm for a better flywheel effect.
A turntables’ bearing also greatly affects speed consistency and noise. You want it to be as friction-free as possible and to be as rigid as possible to support the platter without suffering from premature wear. The Rega engineers have really nailed the bearing, using great materials.
The Planar 1 and 2 use a special hard thermoplastic called Makrolon for the hub. The hub bearing spindle is EN31, a very hard tooled steel and the bearing is a special grade of brass.
With the Planar 3, Rega uses the same materials but steps things up to an 18mm bearing well and the hub gets beefier. You can tell how precise they all are if you just pull up the hub and spindle and watch how long it takes to seat itself.
Let’s move on to the motors used in these three tables. It’s the motor’s job to spin the platter at a consistent speed while at the same time not transmitting any noise into the platter.
All three of these models use a 24-volt low-noise, brushless motor, and a motor control board. This helps to maintain that consistent speed we were talking about.
It’s hard to notice the differences by looking at them, but the Planar 3 upgrades to a high-spec version of the same motor as the Planar 1 and 2 .The Planar 3 also allows you to add Rega’s external speed control unit -- the TT-PSU.
Now, let’s look at the phono cartridges that come with these tables. Both the Planar 1 and 2 come with the Rega Carbon, which is a moving magnet cartridge.
The Planar 3 can be purchased without a cartridge or with the Rega Elys. The stylus tip on the Elys cartridge is a vast improvement over the Carbon and also has a great 3-point mounting system.
Finally, let’s check out the tonearms. Rega tonearms are known for having incredible bearings and zero chatter. For the Planar series, Rega actually re-engineered all of their tonearms. The Planar 1 comes with the new RB110, which is a 2-piece aluminum design. The Planar 2 has the new RB220 arm -- a one-piece design that provides more rigidity and features Rega’s famous zero tolerance bearings.
The Planar 3 includes the new RB330 tonearm with even tighter tolerance bearings and a new tonearm cable clip. As you move from the Planar 1 to the Planar 3, the tonearm cable also improves -- allowing for better transfer of information with little interference. You even get Neutrik connectors on the Planar 3!
You Can't Go Wrong!
All three of these turntables are very easy to set up without the need for any real tools. If you are going to get serious about vinyl playback, the Planar 3 provides the best upgrade path for future add-ons to improve performance. Take a look below for our video review and setup guide on the Planar 3.
No matter which you decide to is right for you, you really can't go wrong. The entire Planar line offers an incredible value in their price range and is built by one of the most iconic turntable manufacturers in the world.