Rega Planar 3, Then and Now - Mikey Likes It!

Michael Fremer has reviewed many iterations of the iconic Rega Planar 3 

First released in 1976, the Rega Planar 3 has been in continuous production under similar names for many years now. While it has been improved many times over, the basics are unchanged- easy to use, durable, and above all else, amazing sounding. Here are a few outtakes from Michael Fremer's 1996 review and 2016 review of the Rega Planar 3 turntable. You tell us. How much have things really changed?

Rega Planar 3 circa 2016

Rega Planar 3 circa 2016

Rega Planar 3 circa 1996

Rega Planar 3 circa 1996

Can any turntable manufacturer be enjoying the vinyl revival more than Rega? I doubt it. It saw compact discs coming and yet spent a considerable amount of money creating a tool to produce cast pick up arms. I keep mentioning this in Rega reviews but in the face of the digital onslaught it demonstrates their determined commitment to vinyl playback. -MF 2016
I used a variety of test discs to check out the two ‘tables’ (Planar 2 & 3- ed.) speed accuracy, wow and flutter, noise level, rumble, etc., and the arms’ tracking ability and resonance points when fitted with a variety of cartridges...Both ‘tables ran at precisely 33 1/3. Using wow/flutter test tracks on Stereo Review’s handy-dandy SRT14-A Test Record, I found wow and flutter to be “very low indeed,” as Julian Hirsch would say. Both ‘tables exhibited very low noise on “silent groove” bands, and both arms handled all of the cartridges in exemplary fashion. -MF 1996
First of all it’s among the easiest ‘tables to set up out of the box: place on a level surface, run the belt around the pulley and sub-platter, rest the platter with felt mat on the sub-platter and then put the counterweight on the arm stub and twist until the arm balances. Add the VTF using the spring-based adjuster and then the anti-skate setting to match tracking force and after plugging in the power supply and signal cables, you’re ready to go. Takes but a few minutes. -MF 2016
None of this is surprising given the outstanding reputation Rega turntables and arms have garnered over the many years they’ve been in production. The drive system is simple yet effective, providing a great deal of torque along with accurate speed. -MF 1996
I don’t have an older Rega on hand to compare with this latest iteration, but I have a pretty good sonic recall. I started with The remarkable Elvis Way Down In the Jungle Room (RCA/Legacy)...The Planar 3’s rendering of this “live in the living room” record (with the $295 Elys MM cartridge) demonstrated the ‘tables rhythmic punch and solid bass performance... the bass that was there, was reasonably well-developed and started and stopped more quickly than I remember from the previous iteration of the Rega 3. There was less “plinth induced overhang”, which also produced a finely rendered, three-dimensional “Elvis in the room”. -MF 2016
While I’ve recommended Regas turntables and arms to many friends and to readers who’ve contacted me, and I’ve heard them in other people’s systems, until now I hadn’t had one in my own listening room. I’m glad I finally got the opportunity: Now I can say, with complete confidence, that the Regas are incredible bargains. They sound and perform even better than I’d previously thought. -MF 1996
The new Rega Planar 3 is a deceptively simple, high performance, high build quality, moderately priced turntable that is easy to set-up and even easier to use (be sure to place it on a level surface). It’s among the best, if not the best circa $1000 turntables currently available...The Planar 3’s combination of easy set-up, high build quality, reasonable price and attractive sonic performance make it easy to recommend in the $1000 price point. The $59 Ref belt and especially the $395 TT PSU seriously upgrade the 3’s sonics and are highly recommended. -MF 2016
The bottom line is that considered on its own terms, the Rega 3 offers outstanding performance: it’s quiet, dynamic (check out the opening to Pictures), free of obvious tracking distortion or other supposed analog problems, extremely well-balanced top to bottom, offers very deep and reasonably tight bass, and will do no damage to your precious records. -MF 1996

There you have it! Click on the links below to read Michael's full impressions from both generations, but we think you'll find like we did that while much has changed and improved, the song remains the same.