Dave’s Faves – Rega Planar 3

Rega Planar 3 Turntable ($945)
With Rega Elys 2 Cartridge ($300) Package Price $1145


The vinyl revival has been fun to watch. It’s a delight to have people actually select the music they want to listen to. As in, let’s think about investing some energy in this listening session- because I have to physically walk over to where the records are to grab one. While it’s spinning, maybe I’ll go so far as to read the notes to learn something about the effort that went into making this record.

Rega turntables have always been strong values. The new Planar 3 brings more to the party than ever at $945 for the table alone. Rega takes the time to select superior materials like copper (instead of aluminum) in its bearing wells. Rega machines its own bearings for the main drive hub and tonearms. Ultimately, Planar 3 is the point of diminishing returns. With exquisite float glass platter, upper and lower bracing system & magnificent RB 330 tonearm, Planar 3 is the embodiment of value.

Turntables do indeed contribute to the quality of your sound. Rega tables are famously clear
and unmuddled. Heavy, spring suspension tables are out of alignment more than they’re in. They typically sound as murky as a mediocre direct drive table. Spring loaded tables require skilled set up.
A skilled technician can make it sound better than the average bear. Good luck amigo!

The Rega Elys 2 cartridge ($300 by itself, $200 when purchased with Planar 3) features a singleRega RP3
piece cantilever design. That provides the best transmission of energy from the stylus to the generating modulus of the cartridge. Almost everyone else has a 2 piece interface- to make stylus replacement easy. But that’s swimming with your boots on. The transmission/sound isn’t as immediate.

Elys 2 has 7.0 mV of output. That’s almost twice as much as the other guys. The advantage of higher output is- that your phono section doesn’t have to be dead quiet. If you take a cartridge with low output and feed it into a generic phono section, it’s quite normal to hear hiss/hum. If you have a cartridge with double the output running into that same phono section, the noise floor of the phono section is not similarly EXPOSED.

We are seeing a lot of young adults go nuts for phono. It’s fun to see the enthusiasm! But, they’re using rickety old turntables full of rumble and cheap cartridges with a two piece cantilever interface.
They’re not getting nearly the bang out of albums that they should. Oh, and they buy used records that other people have ice skated across!

My advice is to consider Planar 3, a wonderful value in a turntable, because the table, arm and cartridge form a synergy. When you run the Elys 2 cartridge, you’re making sure that overhang,
VTA and azimuth alignments are all RIGHT, because Rega built this to meld together properly. They guaranty it with a dedicated 3 point mounting system for the cartridge.

Further, Planar 3 is a good enough table that if you have a hankering to chase a fancier cartridge, like Rega’s own Exact 2 ($600, Line Contact stylus instead of elliptical), the table is up to the strata of the cartridge. We’ve even had people “shoot the moon” and run Ortofon moving coils for a grand or more. The Planar 3 is quite appropriate for the task!

In short, we encourage you to dive back into vinyl if you do it well, meaning with Rega. Did you save your records? If not, buy new ones that use virgin vinyl of 180-200 grams. Pursuing vinyl with a 30 year old turntable/cartridge and used records… is a lost cause.