A world-leader in turntable design, Rega pours their soul into every product they create. Their moving coil cartridges are no different. On the top of their cartridge line is the new Aphelion 2 MC cartridge, which replaced the original Aphelion in 2020. The Aphelion 2 cartridge represents the culmination of decades of research and development Rega has done in cartridge design. Taking the technology of the previous Aphelion and the new Apheta 3 cartridge to the next level, Rega engineers fine-tuned every aspect of the Aphelion 2.
With a boron rod cantilever, Rega's signature hand-wound micro-cross and coil assembly, and the new "Fine Line" profile nude diamond stylus, the Aphelion 2 uses the latest in technology and materials to take the top spot among moving coil cartridges. Now, Noel Keywood of Hi-Fi World has had the opportunity to put the Aphelion 2 through its paces in the lab and the listening room. Noel's first thought is that the Aphelion 2 seems to be a departure from previous Rega cartridges, as the Aphelion 2 is more cool and bright in its playback. Noel spends a lot of time discussing the technology and sound profile of the boron rod and how it tends to remove the "romance" of a recording, while praising Rega's three-point fixing scheme for the cartridge.
In regards to sound quality, Keywood found that the Aphelion 2 was a very transparent and analytical cartridge, and thus care should be taken if you prefer the cartridge to add warmth or make a bad recording sound better:
The Aphelion has an icily clear mid-range that made [Hugh] Masekela's vocals shine out and cymbals were conspicuous, yet they had a lovely sonorous quality. I was pinned to the seat, blasted backwards! Well, when volume went up. Think speed and dynamics, with a sense of solid, well defined bass that we all like to hear shaking the room.
This is no sonic wimp of a cartridge, yet it is well controlled in its behaviour. There is no warmth; it is brutally honest about what is in the groove: technically correct. Forget about the easy tone of yesteryear.
For those who would rather see some cold, hard facts regarding their cartridges, Mr. Keywood took the Rega Aphelion 2 into the lab. In a series of torture tests to measure its output, distortion, and frequency response. The Aphelion 2's frequency response is remarkably flat through the spectrum showing only slight (+2 dB) fluctuations around 12kHz and beyond. Output was low at 270μV, which is very common on Rega MC cartridges, necessitating a phono stage that is designed to handle low output moving coil cartridges. If you're interested in the technical findings, then the Hi-Fi World report is a must-read.
Despite his qualms with the lack of accessories and the clear analytical nature of the cartridge, Noel Keywood gave the Aphelion 2 a 5/5 rating, stating it was "Outstanding - amongst the best" and praising its insightful playback and low weight.