Originally Published July 24, 2017
Rumors have been flying for months now. Since all of the big releases last year, you have been asking.... Well people, here she is. The all-new REGA PLANAR 6!
It all started in 2014 as Rega began their most ambitious turntable revision project to date. This comes hot on the back of the new RP10 flagship turntable model. which set the stage for what was to come, garnering instant praise for its incredible looks, ground breaking technology, and insane performance. Behind the scenes, Rega had learned a lot from RP8 and RP10 development and was keen to apply that knowledge elsewhere. First came the Planar 3 in 2016, soon followed by the Planar 2 and Planar 1. Each set the bar for exactly what Rega is capable of at their respective prices. But what about the hallmark "6" model, cried the masses? Will we ever see a Planar 6? Secrecy veiled the project, but it is finally ready to see the light.
The Planar 6 is truly all new, not sharing any components with the old RP6 except the hinges. Keep reading for an in-depth look at what makes the Planar 6 more like an RP8/RP10-lite than anything else.
Planar 6 is $1595 without cartridge, $1995 with Exact MM cartridge (save $200), and $2195 with Ania MC cartridge (save $200), US retail price. Save an additional $50 when you purchase the Fono MC phono preamp ($495) along with P6/Ania. We are extremely excited about this new turntable from Rega. It should be available in late August 2017. Pre-order yours today!
As always, Rega turntables are designed around the engineering principals of low mass and high strength. The combination of the two allows for a high degree of control over the flow and release of energy critical to the reduction of disastrous resonances and other distortions. The Planar 6's plinth, similar to that of the RP10, uses a Tancast aerospace polyurethane foam core and is skinned in Polaris high-pressure laminate, making it incredibly stiff while keeping weight to a minimum. Polaris HPL has a distinct advantage over the more basic acrylic laminate used in lower models in that it is both lighter weight and stiffer, key parameters in the Rega philosophy. Polaris is a beautiful slate gray color, naturally non-marking and will last a lifetime. The edges of the plinth are decorated in a gloss black polymer that gives the Planar 6 its characteristic two-tone looks.
Further reinforcing the lightweight plinth is Rega's Double Brace technology, made from aluminized phenolic and thicker than the last generation, attached between the central main bearing and the base of the tonearm. In theory and application, these braces form an I-beam that raises the strength of the assembly exponentially and drops noise and vibration in a perceptible way. Similar to RP10, the tonearm mounting is integrated with the beams, bolting through to increase strength, allowing the braces to operate in a similar fashion to pre-stressed concrete, as used in the building of large structures like skyscrapers and bridges.
Beauty is more than skin deep for below the luxurious plinth lay aluminum clad feet. Based on the feet from the Planar 3 and constructed from a hollow cone of stiff Santoprene. These upgraded feet do a great job of isolating the turntable from unwanted furniture-born vibrations and add a touch of sparkle from underneath.
Platter and Drive System
A critical aspect of vinyl playback is the speed and accuracy in which the platter turns. The Planar 6 utilizes a striking two-layer glass platter crafted specifically to stabilize speed. If you look closely you'll see the lower layer is narrower and thicker than the top layer, with its mass concentrated around the outside edge. By doing so Rega has increased the flywheel effect, which makes it naturally more stable and helps to relieve any cogging introduced by the drive system. To enhance the natural beauty of the individual layers, the top piece is tinted Pilkington glass and the bottom piece is clear Optiwhite glass. Cast using the float-glass technique, the platter is perfectly flat enhancing its looks and performance.
The two-layer platter is mated to new hub assembly is comprised of new high precision single piece aluminum sub-platter, much improved from the RP6, and similar again to the hub of RP10. This dramatically reduces play and chatter in the hub and reducing noise along with it. The hardened steel spindle is cold-welded into the sub-platter giving it an extremely durable and low noise zero-tolerance fit. A patent-pending compression-free brass bearing well is employed, as in the Planar 3. This new design offers a more precise fit to the plinth with the ideal torque which reduces noise. The bearing well is fitted into a machined aluminum sleeve that locks in place with the lower plinth brace. This increases the rigidity of the bracing, much like the tonearm mounting.
A new 24V dual phase motor is employed, bespoke for Rega, with high spec parts, ventilated cover and the new PCB as seen in Planar 3. Dual phase motors are naturally quiet and this benefits sound quality by not injecting vibration into the plinth. It is fitted with a precision machined aluminum drive pulley for accurate speed. A reference "white" drive belt is included. The motor is controlled by the Neo PSU outboard power supply unit via a 4 pin mini-DIN cable.
Neo PSU Power Supply Unit
The new Neo PSU replaces the old TT-PSU and features the DSP-based motor control from the RP10 power supply. Referencing the same high stability crystal clock as RP10, the DSP generates a perfectly clean sinusoidal waveform, routed into a high-quality analog drive circuit the feeds the motor with a balanced signal designed to take full advantage of the dual-phase motor. The Neo PSU included with your P6 is hand-tuned with its mated motor, optimizing the anti-vibration circuit and further dropping noise. The case in all aluminum, matching the looks of the new Brio, Fono MM and Fono MC preamps. An outboard 24VAC wall wart is included that provides clean power that won't pollute the delicate circuits inside the box.
Like before, Neo PSU gives you push-button 33 and 45 RPM speed control without having to lift the platter. And just like the RP10 PSU, it allows you to adjust speed down to .01 RPM steps, allowing minute compensation for power, temperature, humidity, and age during tuning. Rega will soon have their own stroboscopic speed testing kit, perfect for the speed freaks out there!
The Planar 6 is equipped with the now legendary RB330 tonearm. First seen with the Planar 3 last year, RB330 has reset the benchmark for tonearms anywhere near its price. It features the latest generation one-piece conical aluminum arm-wand, whose low mass is redistributed to lower noise and maximum strength. The zero-tolerance bearings are amongst the best the Rega has ever used, exhibiting an incredibly smooth motion and virtually no play. The vertical bearing housing has been redesigned to increase strength, the anti-skate housing is all new, and the spring housing has been improved as well. A custom polished stainless steel counterweight is included as fitted to the P6. High quality, low capacitance wiring is used, terminated with Neutrik RCA connectors. As before, the tonearm is mounted to the plinth with three point system that is much stronger than other methods. The headshell has provisions for both three point Rega cartridges and standard two point cartridges.
How does it compare?
Certainly, Planar 6 is superior to Planar 3, RP6, and any predecessors, but you might ask about it competition from other manufacturers. We aren't going to get into naming names, but we do simply believe that the P6 leapfrogs everyone else's similarly price turntable. The new drive system, included Neo PSU, is clearly advanced beyond the norm. The RB330 is peerless, pratically at any price. And the new plinth moves forward with Rega's philosophy regarding the control of resonance and vibration-borne distortions. Should it be compared, you'll quickly find that no one else can offer this level of performance and build quality, while still building in their home country (UK), at anything close to this price.
Although it breaks through to a higher playing field, the Planar 6 is still not quite the match of RP8 whose tonearm, platter, and plinth are still superior. Can't quite afford an RP8 or RP10 but want something comparable? Then Planar 6 is just the ticket.
Pro Tips & Tricks
Regarding Planar 6, we think two items are advisable to consider when purchasing:
The first is the aforementioned Fono MC preamp for those choosing the Ania MC cartridge option. Between its standalone performance and the compelling $50 discount when purchased together, you can't beat this combination. Read this review for some more thoughts on the matter.
The second recommendation is the Quadraspire Soundstage isolation platform, especially for those with heavy non-audiophile furniture. This stiff, lightweight bamboo device sits under your turntable and helps to further diminish furniture-borne vibrations that might muddy the sound. Well worth the $195 price tag.
Rega also makes a very cool wall shelf which we have found to be the best sounding option for your turntable if your living situation allows wall mounting, especially if you have sprung floors. Half the weight and twice the strength of its predecessor, the newest version of this wall shelf is good looking and engineered by Rega for the ideal sonic match with your turntable.
It's sometimes easy to say "that's just an upgraded so-and-such" but what Rega has accomplished with the Planar 6 requires far higher praise. The trusty old RP6 has been a favorite for the duration of its time in production and will certainly serve it owners for many years to come. The P6 is clearly a step or three forward, following very closely in the steps of the prestigious RP8/RP10, and if you are considering an upgrade this is the model to look out for. Not only has Rega moved performance upward to a large degree but they have done so with only a small commensurate increase in price, starting at just $1595. Add to that the awesome cartridge and phono-stage package pricing and this turntable is unbeatable.
It makes us scratch our heads. How do they keep doing this?? Bravo, Rega!
Planar 6 Technical Specifications
- Super-lightweight Tancast foam core plinth
- Polaris high-pressure laminate in satin gray
- Double Brace Technology, thicker than prior gen
- Aluminum trimmed Planar-style Santoprene feet
- Dual-layer flywheel-effect float glass platter
- Single-piece machined aluminum hub assembly
- Compression-free main bearing assembly
- Reference drive belt
- High-spec 24V dual-phase motor w/ custom aluminum spindle
- Neo PSU outboard power supply w/ adjustable speed
- RB330 tonearm w/ polished stainless steel counterweight
- US power spec: 115-120V/60Hz
- PS1 spec: 24VAC 350mA
- Neo PSU power consumption: 7.2W
- Turntable dimensions w/ dustcover: 448mm (17.6") W x 365mm (14.4") D x 120mm (4.7") H
- Turntable weight: 5.2kg (11.4lbs)
- Neo PSU dimensions: 180mm (7.1") W x 155mm (6.1") D x 50mm (2") H
- Neo PSU weight: .7kg (1.5lbs)
- $1595 w/o cartridge, $1995 w/ Exact MM cartridge, $2195 w/ Ania MC cartridge