The Planar 8 follows the principles that Rega applies to all of its turntables from the highly affordable Planar 1, all the way to the flagship Planar 10. It is a belt drive, unsuspended turntable; where there is a single chassis, to which everything is attached with no additional form of suspension or secondary section. It is designed around the concept of concentrating mass where it is wanted and doing everything to reduce it where there is no need. The Planar 8 takes this idea further than the smaller Rega turntables; which more closely follow a pattern that the company has been using for decades because it dispenses with a complete plinth and moves to a skeletal design that is made of a lightweight foam called Tan-Cast8. This is stiffened by a brace that runs between the bearing and the arm and supported on three feet.
The motor is built into the plinth on a special mount and acts on a metal subplatter and glass platter combination that uses multiple layers of different glass, again to concentrate weight; this time at the outer edge. Speed control is electronic and performed via the external Neo PSU power supply which is matched to the motor.
New for the Planar 8 is the RB880 tonearm. This is visibly similar to the standard Rega pattern arm but features a newly upgraded bearing assembly. You can fit a wide selection of cartridges to this but Rega offers a choice of three; the Ania, Ania Pro and Apheta 3 aligned and fitted at the factory which all work extremely well. The prices for such are: No cartridge is £1,870, with the Ania £2,330, with the Ania Pro £2,585 and with the Apheta 3, our review sample, £2,860.
The result of this singular approach to materials and design is a turntable that could be a pictorial definition of ‘minimalist.’ Absolutely nothing on the Planar 8 is there for show, decoration or ornamentation and it gives it a feeling of pared back modernity that is a world away from many turntables. The simplicity of the Planar 8 gives it an elegance and beauty all of its own. By far the cleverest aspect of the design is that it manages to feel (and be)6 extremely solid and confidence inspiring despite there being so little of it relative to some rivals. This extends to it being simple and logical to setup and use day to day.
As well as looking different to the simpler Rega turntables, the Planar 8 represents a step change in the performance on offer too. This is a turntable where you need to make no allowances for its performance, both against analogue rivals but also equivalently priced digital. With a clean and well looked after record, it has the scope to be utterly silent during silent passages and the positive effect this has on how dynamic music sounds is considerable.
Neither is the Planar 8 done there. The bass extension it offers is deeply impressive and there’s no shortage of detail and articulation. This means that the Rega can take even the most frenetic and complex time signatures going and make sense of all of them. It also never struggles to create a convincing soundstage, ensuring that music has a three dimensionality that greatly helps the suspension of disbelief. This is vinyl as a high performance medium, it’s not ‘warm’ or ‘nostalgic,’ it’s simply very, very good. With a decent pressing in particular, the levels of performance on offer are right up there with the very best at the price point and the Rega manages this without leaving poorer pressings sounding unplayable either.
The choice of Rega cartridges has some interesting effects on the Planar 8 too. The partnership it forms with the Ania, the simplest and most affordable of the three models is arguably the most compelling. In exchange for a fractional loss of fine details over the more expensive models with their more advanced styli, there’s a warmth and sweetness to the combination that is greater than the sum of its already impressive parts. All of the pre fitted cartridge options are extremely capable partners though and offer a hassle free way of getting up and running.
As the Planar 8 doesn’t have a flat edge at the back, it has to dispense with a conventional lid because there is nowhere to put the hinges. Rega supplies a Perspex cover for the Planar 8 that aligns via a spike that slots into a hole at the back of the plinth. It’s a clever and effective solution although it’s not as childproof as a conventional lid. Rega also offers a wall shelf designed to work with the Planar 8 and this can be a useful boost to performance as well a convenient means of mounting it.
The utterly compromise free manner in which Rega has designed and built the Planar 8 has resulted in a fabulous looking turntable that offers a level of performance that is right up at the very top of what is possible at the price while still being entirely user friendly and easy to live with.
The Planar 8 is a device that allows you to get the very best out of your records while still having a turntable that is no harder to use or live with than Rega’s more affordable models. It is an outstanding all rounder.
The Comet is Coming Channel the Spirits
Only a turntable as revealing and unflappable as the Rega can take this astonishing sounding- half jazz half sci-fi soundtrack album and really make sense of its startlingly vivid presentation
Fink Sort of Revolution
The Rega ties together this gorgeous collection of pared back but gloriously engaging songs, and has Fink himself sounding truly wonderful while capturing the former DJ’s ear for a great rhythm.
Little Barrie/Malcolm Catto Quatermass Seven
Give the Rega the chance to play this near reference grade pressing; a genuine all analogue master, and it will reward you with a performance that truly shows how astonishingly good vinyl can be.