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Rega Planet CD player

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Rega Planet CD player

Post by HiFiLab on Thu Feb 08, 2018 9:55 pm

Made In England

At last—a CD player from a company that doesn't like CD.

The Planet
Rega is the last major UK specialty house to produce a CD player. They are the "last adopters." You know Rega's attitude toward digital when you read the poop sheet they send out to dealers and distributors: "The Planet is a small analogue oasis in a digital world and will appeal to people who love music but have to or want to listen to the CD medium."

Rega has engineered this CD player to give a sound and an operational feel close to analog. Playing discs on the $795 Rega Planet is a lot like playing LPs: You can read the CD label as the disc sits inside the player, and you can see the disc spin as it plays.

The Planet is a top-loader, which presents a problem if you need to squeeze your CD player into a tight space. You can't stack anything on top of the Rega Planet; you need at least 5" of clearance between the top of the player and the bottom of the next shelf. Better yet, put the Rega Planet on a top shelf. (Avoid placing the player on a veneered table or shelf; the gummy foot-suspension material could stick to the surface and lift the finish. Cut out a piece of cardboard and wedge it under each foot. Or put the player on a sheet of plate glass.)

I like top-loaders.

I have a hangup about drawers. I don't like to see my CD swallowed up inside a player. This may not be rational, but I just don't like to see my CD disappear. Maybe this has to do with childhood castration fears. I do dislike drawers.

Rega has more rational reasons for avoiding drawers. As they point out, a complex motorized tray is subject to wear and tear and is thus an area of potential unreliability. Also, a repair person can quickly access the laser diode assembly of a top-loading player without taking the machine apart.

The Rega Planet's lid is viscously damped—rather like a car door (footnote 1). You open it by lifting a very convenient finger tab on the front. The lid doesn't fly up, but instead rises and draws back on two pairs of hinges. It stays open while you place a disc in the well. The well itself is ingeniously designed, with four recessed cuplike depressions for your fingertips so you can get a grip on the CD. There's no fumbling, as there is with the top-loading YBA players.

To close the lid, just press down. Doesn't matter whether you press all the way; if you have it almost closed, the viscous damping takes over and the lid closes automatically. The magnetic puck built into the lid automatically clamps the top of the disc as soon as the lid is closed. The disc takes a couple of turns and automatically initializes.

There's nothing finicky about loading, as I said. For instance, you can almost toss a disc into the well and it will fall into position. Little old ladies with shaky fingers will have no problem.

Everything about the Rega Planet is superbly thought-out. For instance, the top of the lid is metal and clear Perspex—so you can read the label through the lid. If you leave a disc in the player, you can see what it is. Three raised circles over the puck let you twirl the disc so that you can read the label right-side up without raising the lid.

One thing you have to train yourself not to do is open the lid while a disc is spinning. Also, you want to leave the lid down when the player is not in use so dust doesn't get on the lens. The upside of this is that the lens is accessible for cleaning. (Use a can of compressed air, if you can, or a very clean camel's-hair brush, either of which is available from a photo shop. Don't overclean.)

Operation is straightforward, with a minimum of front-panel fuss. Full functions, including programming, are available from the remote. You can turn off the display LEDs from the remote. Unfortunately you can't invert polarity, either on the player or from the remote handset. Hey, what do you expect from Rega? This is a company that doesn't believe in height-adjustable tonearms.

The transport mechanism is a collaboration between Rega and Sony—a straight-line laser sled. Unusually, the transport is fixed rigidly to the chassis; there is no suspension. Instead, four viscously damped feet suspend the entire chassis. Tap the top of the cast-aluminum chassis and a CD will indeed skip. But tap the table or shelf on which the chassis sits, or do the macarena on the floor, and the player remains imperturbable.

Rega maintains that the traditional subchassis suspensions in CD players actually encourage error correction. The more error correction, the worse the sound. Terry Bateman of Rega, who did a lot of the engineering to put the Planet in orbit, says, "We were amazed that so many of the high-dollar transports supported inexpensive transport mechanisms in fancy cases."

The receiver, or interface chip, is by Sony and is part of the transport mechanism. The digital low-pass filter was developed jointly by Rega and Burr-Brown, as was the DAC. "We gave Burr-Brown the design philosophy, to get us a certain type of analog output, and Burr-Brown have achieved that for us using their mathematics and modifications to an earlier Burr-Brown chip."

The player is said to use a "unique Rega analog post-conversion filter." The analog output section was designed by Rega in cooperation with Sony and Sanyo. The op-amp chips are manufactured by Sanyo.

Roy Gandy told me that he wanted to avoid some of the problems that other British specialty firms faced when they produced CD players. For instance, according to Roy, one British electronics firm (whose name he chose not to mention) helped drive itself into insolvency by designing a CD player around a Philips mechanism that suddenly became unavailable.

So how does the Planet sound? Astonishingly good, considering the relatively reasonable price.

It isn't. Like the Rega RB300 tonearm, the Rega Planet CD player is one of the biggest bargains in hi-fi, and for many of the same reasons: it's not overengineered, not overbuilt. There is no bullshit about it.

There is astonishing value for money here. And, as I've hinted, the player is an ergonomic delight. Elegant. Simple. Solid. Downright brilliant in its engineering. To see this player and use it is to want it—even before you listen.

As a player—we'll take up the Rega Planet as a transport in a moment—the Rega Planet produces a rich, full-bodied, dynamic (but not overdynamic) sound. There is much more of a sense of rhythmic pace, more of a foundation under the music than there is, for instance, with the Marantz CD-63SE. In Linnspeak, the Rega Planet plays tunes. Or as WP would say, the Rega Planet boogies. Not that this is a player just for rock'n'rollers, mind you. My tastes run mainly to classical and jazz.

Where the Rega falls down, if only slightly, is in spatial resolution—this compared with far more expensive players. It's very good, but not quite up there with the very best. I just had my Micromega Stage 2 updated to a Stage 6 ($1550). There is a tubelike beauty about the 6's midrange and treble, as well as a spacious, open sound, that the Rega can't quite match. But for almost twice the money.

The Rega Planet offers a smooth, grainless quality to the sound—even if there's not quite the exquisite delicacy and refinement of the Stage 6. The sound is crisp and well-articulated. The player sounds neither bass-shy nor bass-heavy.

Before you run to a Rega dealer, you should be aware that most dealers already have a waiting list. Also, if you intend to use the Planet as a transport, Rega may eventually introduce a dedicated transport (no timetable set). If they do—according to Roy Gandy, this is still an "if" rather than a "when"—the transport will sell for about the same as the Planet.

Hey, a person could grow old waiting for Rega to introduce a transport—look how long they took to introduce a player. The Planet is here now.

Actually, Rega hasn't been working on the Planet for the past 15 years—more like three years of development, Gandy told me. Rega hopes to amortize its development costs over tens of thousands of units, both players and transports, just as they've done with the RB300 tonearm, which has sold zillions. My vote for Digital Component of 1997 will go to the Rega Planet!

Imperfect sound forever
And don't forget that CD is an imperfect system. Never mind "perfect sound forever." We're stuck with imperfect sound—if not forever, then for many years to come.

Roy Gandy told me, "With engineering CD players, it's a science and an art, because the whole system is relatively imperfect in itself. Often, real technical improvements on paper can take you backward in sound quality."

Other talented designers seem to share this view. Yves-Bernard André, for instance, doesn't use a digital filter on his YBA CD 1, 2, and 3 players. As Bob Harley found when he measured the CD 1, the measurements are poor. Yet as JS found when he auditioned the CD 1, and as I found when I auditioned the CD 2 and 3, the sound isn't poor—it's clear, open, and spacious.

The same thing has long been true in the analog domain.

The same day I talked with Roy Gandy about imperfect sound forever, I spoke with an amplifier manufacturer. He had designed an amp that measures—and sells—exceptionally well. A great many customers like it. He intends to go on making it.

But how does this (almost) perfect amplifier sound?

In the designer's own words, "competent but boring. But the measurements are fabulous."

Single-chassis CD player ,
S/PDIF digital output,
and single-ended analog outputs.
Maximum output (0dBFS signal): 2V RMS.
Measured output impedance: 930 ohms (unbalanced).
Dimensions: 17.2" (437mm) W by 3.5" (89mm) H by 10.5" (267mm) D. Weight: 8 lbs (3.65kg).

Note : This unit No Remote Control

Price : sold

Last edited by HiFiLab on Sat Apr 28, 2018 8:58 pm; edited 1 time in total

Dealer\Reseller\Trader\Service Provider
Dealer\Reseller\Trader\Service Provider

Number of posts : 2317
Age : 39
Location : klang
Registration date : 2011-03-12

Character sheet

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Post by HiFiLab on Tue Mar 20, 2018 9:46 am


Dealer\Reseller\Trader\Service Provider
Dealer\Reseller\Trader\Service Provider

Number of posts : 2317
Age : 39
Location : klang
Registration date : 2011-03-12

Character sheet

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