Saturday, November 29, 2008

The New Rega P3-24 Turntable

Now this just looks awesome.

Rega is one of the lions of the turntable world, and their long-running Planar 3 model runs neck and neck with Technics as the world's best-selling turntable. This latest model is the P3-24, and comes in a variety of attractive colors. This is a photo of the Rega in green.

My current turntable is a Pro-Ject Debut III, an entry level table ($350) that's perfect for anyone who is new to analog lp's. I've decked my table with all the upgrades - acrylic platter, Speed Box II, Denon DL-160 phono cart, Vibrapods for the feet. And, of course, I've steadily worked on vibration control and isolation for my entire stereo system.

The Debut now sounds quite excellent, especially when compared to when it was just out of the box. This is a turntable I really like, but don't love. This is one of those relationships you always need to "work on." All the while I'm keeping my eyes open for the next upgrade. This next time, I want a turntable that I can hold onto as a long-term investment.

The Rega P3-24 is one of my top candidates. The cool color finishes are a standout, and that's one of the things I've always missed about my Debut. I bought a basic black model, while a series of color finishes are available for $30 more. Style is very important to me. This is music, after all. We do it for love.

This latest Rega model is a special model. In addition to the new colors, an external power supply, called a PSU (Power Supply Unit) is included. It's very much like the Speed Box for my Pro-Ject table; that is an essential addition to any compatible turntable, and the PSU is just as important for the Rega models.

All of this comes at a steep price, though. How bad? $1,295.00. D'oh!!

This is one of the viscious little kicks of the hi-fi audio world. The prices are outrageous for most normal people. This has long been a playground for the rich, as analog turntables became a niche market while the rest of us moved to Compact Disc and iPod. Now analog lp's have become the latest music fad, and a new generation of kids are seeking out turntables. I don't know if that means prices would come down. It's pretty doubtful. But at least there's the "budget" market available, where you can get into the scene for about $500.

Even $500 seems costly, but that's roughly the price of a Pro-Ject Debut III turntable and a Speed Box II. With that investment, you'll begin to discover the fun of lp's. Then you can upgrade later, to that acrylic platter (the stock platter is a steel gong) and a better phono cartridge.

Anyway, I'm on to the next stage, where I'm solidly hooked and seeking out something in the mid-priced range. That brings me into the realm of Rega's P3-24, with shiny new colors and PSU. These are the kind of tables you hold onto for 20 years or more. It certainly would look great. I'll have to find a way to hear one before I commit with the money. Money, what's that? I thought we were headed into another Great Depression. We'll have to wait a couple more months before I decide to spend any great amount of money on this. Who knows? Maybe a used model will appear at Needle Doctor or Audiogon by then.

If these turntable manufacturers could just get their prices down, then we'd really be making progress.

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