Rega Planar 3 vs Planar 6
The Rega Planar 3 is, without a doubt, the best-selling turntable at Audio Advice today. When it was introduced in 2016, it had so many improvements over the old RP3 that it received numerous awards all over the world. It is still probably the best table you can buy for under $1,000.
Rega also recently released the Planar 6, an update of the RP6. Like the changes from the RP3 to the Planar 3, the upgrades are substantial. If you’re in the market for a new turntable in the $1,000-$2,000 range you may be wondering about the differences between the Rega Planar 3 and Planar 6. What do you get for the additional $650 when you move from the P3 to the P6?
To help you choose the right table for you, we thought it would be fun to break each of these tables down, piece by piece. We’ll talk about each of the important components and discuss the differences.
The feet on the Planar 3 are a hollow cone design, made out of a rubber material known as Santoprene.
The Planar 6 utilizes the same feet but are upgraded with aluminum reinforcement trim rings that help to transfer even more energy out of the feet and away from the table.
The Planar 3’s plinth uses a sandwich construction made of a dense MDF material. The new Planar 6 takes things one step further with a Tancast 8 foam core sandwiched with lightweight high-pressure laminate. According to Rega, this new plinth is a huge performance improvement that further helps to eliminate external energy from the table.
It’s also worth noting that the Planar 3 is available in high gloss black, white, and red while the Planar 6 is only available in matte “Polaris Grey” with a high gloss black polymer edge trim. We happen to think it’s beautiful, but if you have your heart set on a certain color it’s something to consider.
Bearing Hub Assembly
The Planar 3 uses a patent-pending, ultra-low-friction brass hub. The Planar 6 actually utilizes the exact same bearing, but it is anchored to the plinth with a larger, machined aluminum threaded collar for increased stiffness.
The sub platter is part of the bearing assembly. It’s the small round part that the outer platter sits on. The Planar 3 uses a phenolic hub with a machined aluminum adapter while the Planar 6 has a new, single-piece machined aluminum sub platter that offers better speed stability.
Rega is known for their float glass platters and they are featured in both the P3 as well as the P6. The Planar 3 has Rega’s new Optiglass platter, which we love.
The Planar 6, however, takes things to a different level by adding two more layers of glass. The increased mass from the two extra layers improves the flywheel effect and leads to even better speed stability.
Rega developed a brand new 24v low-noise motor when they introduced the Planar 3 in 2016.
The P6 uses the exact same motor, but adds a custom-made aluminum spindle for the belt. Since the Planar 6 has an external speed control unit, the spindle only needs one section and is designed to reduce friction.
The P6 also includes Rega’s precision machined white Reference belt. If you go with the Planar 3, you can still purchase this belt as an upgrade for $59.
The aluminum spindle and upgraded belt improve speed stability and further eliminate noise as compared to the Planar 3.
The Planar 3 has an internal speed control, but you have the option of adding Rega’s external TTPSU for $395.
The Planar 6 comes standard with a new and improved version of the TTPSU, known as the Neo PSU. The Neo uses DSP technology to generate a perfect signal to drive the motor and is completely external to the Planar 6.
This will provide far better speed stability over the standard Planar 3 and will even be an improvement over the $395 upgrade TTPSU. The chance of noise entering the table is reduced, as is the weight of the plinth. As a bonus, all it takes to switch from 33 to 45 is the push of a button.
Rega pioneered this technology years ago in their upper end tables where the motor bearing and tonearm mount are coupled with an aluminum brace. This bracing is included in the Planar 3, but the Planar 6 utilizes a method of securing the tonearm to the plinth that is used in their higher-end RP8 and RP10 turntables.
While there is some added benefit to the way the Planar 6 bracing is secured, the biggest improvement comes from having the bracing itself which is found on both the P3 as well as the P6.
Tonearm & Connections
Both the Planar 3 and Planar 6 come with the RB330 tonearm and the same high-quality cables and connectors on the output side. This one is a wash.
There is nothing to report here from a performance standpoint, but the Planar 6 features a new tinted finish on it’s Perspex dust cover while the planar 3 is a typical clear finish.
Which Turntable is Right for You?
As you can see, there are quite a few differences to justify the upgrade in price between the Planar 3 and the Planar 6.
If you have a system that can really show off the differences between these two tables, such as a great set of headphones or good quality speakers, you will hear a real difference between these two tables.
Bass is deeper with the P6, the speed is much more stable (which results in more emotional involvement in the music), the instruments are better separated, and you get a sense of a quieter background.
On the other hand, if you’re listening to vinyl through a pair of $200 bookshelf speakers, you probably won’t be able to tell much of a difference. It all comes down to what you have and what you want to achieve.
One last note -- if you have the budget and decide on the Planar 6, we strongly recommend getting the package that includes the Ania MC cartridge. It’s an incredible combo and we promise you won’t be disappointed.
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