September 13, 2016
Rega Planar 2
Price: £375 with Rega Carbon cartridge
Pros: Extremely engaging with great timing and plenty of detail, superb build quality.
Cons: Needs well isolated support and would benefit from a cartridge upgrade.
Verdict: The best turntables at this price can sound more refined but none can match the power to engage on a physical and emotional level. The Planar 2 is a scorching turntable that is well built and looks pimpin’.
Rega has been on a major revision tip of late, all three of its most affordable turntables have been given a serious going over to improve both looks and sound. The Planar 2 has done more than that, it has come back to the life. Back in the day there were only two Regas, the Planar 2 and 3, but a few years back sales for the more affordable model dropped off so it took the fall. But today’s buoyant market for turntables has been its salvation.
The Planar 2 is very similar in appearance to the 3 but there are some key factors that account for the £175 price difference. They share the same shiny black or white plinth but the brace between arm and bearing is omitted on the 2, as is the ability to upgrade the power supply via a socket on the back. The arm differs by virtue of a simple dynamic downforce setting – you adjust the position of the weight to give the right pressure at the stylus, there’s no dial and spring.
One thing in the Planar 2’s favour is that it comes with a Rega Carbon cartridge as standard, which makes overall price more competitive and greatly simplifies set-up. All you have to do is remove the stylus guard, preferably without pulling the removable stylus off at the same time like me, balance the arm and turn the weight inwards by a single turn and you have the desired 2g downforce.
The rest of the turntable consists of a belt drive motor with pulleys for 33.3 and 45 rpm, and a glass platter with a felt mat on a good quality bearing. The on/off switch is under the front left which keeps the styling clean and, as ever with Rega, it comes with an attractive dust cover to keep dirt and little fingers at bay.
The Planar 2 is a great sounding record player, or to put it another way, the vinyl you spin on it sounds great. It has that classic Rega trait of being able to get out of the way and give you the vibe, the intention and the heart of the music. It’s not as sophisticated as a Planar 3 and you don’t hear as much fine detail, but every record it spins has oodles of character, whether it’s Aphex Twin or Tame Impala, it’s easy to be drawn into the music and forget your worries, cares and the mechanics of the playback process!
So acoustic instruments and voices sound natural while guitars and drums have the bite and kick that they deserve. A drum kit can sound powerful or subtle, the Planar 2 lets you know which, and let’s you hear this at the same time as illuminating the other instruments and voices in the mix. But more than that it’s the groove that gets you with this turntable, it is totally irresistible. That’s because the timing is spot on and the tonal balance is not skewed for phatter bass or brighter treble, it tells it like it is and with a good record it is a gas.
Type: Belt drive, manual operation turntable inc arm and cartridge with lightweight plinth and dust cover
Cartridge: Rega Carbon moving magnet
Rotational Speeds: 33 1/3 RPM, 45 RPM
Tonearm Length: 9 inch
Drive Mechanism: short belt driven via 24V motor
Speed change: manual with two pulleys on motor
Platter Type: 10mm Optiwhite glass 12-inch platter
Bearing Type: 11mm self securing brass
Plinth Configuration: high rigidity plinth on isolating feet
Dimensions (HxWxD): 117 x 447 x 360mm (lid closed)
Finish: gloss white, gloss black
Reviewed by Jason Kennedy, Editor of audiophile magazine The Ear