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  Rega Planet CD Player

      Date posted: September 23, 1997

Rega Planet CD Player

Sugg. Retail: $995 (CAN) (Remote: $75)
Distributor: Just May Audio
9251-8 Yonge St. Suite 218
Richmond Hill, Ontario
L4C 9T3
905 780-0079
FAX 966-8833

(Reprinted from the Winter 1997 Audio Ideas Guide)

      This could be the CD player Clark Kent would have used had there been CDs in the world of Metropolis. The Planet (Daily or otherwise) is Rega’s first crack at playing the silver discs, and brings designer Roy Gandi’s unique approach to it. It’s a top loader, reminiscent of a Philips portable I once owned, the weighted magnetic clamp contained in the hinged lid so that it automatically seats properly (not always the case with the manual clamp on the Micromega Data) and rotates freely, its top spinning above the clear window in the lid.

      The objective in producing the Planet was to make a CD player that would sound as close to the best analog sources as possible. To this end, Rega worked with Burr-Brown for three years to develop a DAC chip “designed with analog in mind”, according to the company brochure. Sony produced a “unique analog post conversion filter” for the Planet, to complete the attempt to make an “un-digital” CD player. Both of these out-sourced parts are used only in the Planet.

      Its styling is very individual, matching their other electronic products’ black slim cases with ribbed tops on the right side. I’m not particularly fond of this dark and prickly look, but it does (quite literally) have Rega written all over it. The remote control is quite nicely set up ergonomically, the Play button green, Skip yellow, and the rest dark grey, with direct numeric selection and track programming possible.

      In our tracking tests, the Planet proved to be something of a world beater, though this was not immediately evident in the Verany disc calibrated dropout tests. It tracked the single dropouts cleanly through 31 (1mm), didn’t like the narrow gauge ones at all, locking up on the first, track 40 (1mm), and managed only to 46 (2 x .5mm) of the double dropouts. It seems that somewhere just below 1mm is the limit of the error correction/interpolation system.

      However, that did not stop the Planet from sailing through all tracks of our wedge test of increasing block error over 5 tracks, and similarly playing our random error track without even a blip right through. If memory serves me right, no other player has ever done this, most failing to get past the 2-minute mark. The Arcam Alpha 8 was also perfect in the wedge, but jumped around in the random errors.

      In the partially transparent CD, the Planet showed similar performance to all the players assessed for this issue, ticking loudly on tracks 1 and 2, but playing 3 and 4 easily. Based on these rsults, I’d expect this player to have exceptional ability to read even dirty or damaged discs without error, the unique top-loading transport design working very well. Discs with manufacturing flaws in the aluminizing process might not fare quite so well, but this Rega is right in there with the best in this respect.

      Sonically, the Planet was impressive for its price, just a little more detailed and rhythmically lively than the Arcam Alpha 8, but with bass that was less solid and authoritative than the more expensive TEAC VRDS-25. It seemed to have a slightly greater harmonic richness than the Alpha 8, which could, I suppose, be taken for a more analog sound character.

      Its soundstage was a little forward of some of the other players, but freer of midrange grain than the Arcam, though lacking the listen-into quality of that of the Micromega Data/Dialog, and to a lesser degree, of the TEAC.

      This is a very good player at its price point with its own unique look and style, and a sound that is closer to the best analog than most costing under $3000. In this respect, Rega has clearly met its design goals in producing the Planet.

Andrew Marshall

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