Rega Research knows its way around a turntable. After more than 40 years of building high-quality and often very reasonably priced turntables, tonearms, cartridges, and even phono stages, the company has earned its vinyl spurs. So when Rega co-founder Roy Gandy decided to publish a book on all things turntable, it was going to be something of note.
The 300+ page ‘A Vibration Measuring Machine’ –co‑written by Bill Philpot, and our very own Paul Messenger – is unique in that despite more than 100 years of turntable design, development, and manufacture, there is almost no collected information on the design and development of turntables. A wannabe audio engineer can quickly find lengthy tomes on digital audio, amplification, and loudspeaker technology, but the engineering principles and design methodologies of making any aspect of turntable design are, at best, limited to a motley collection of AES papers, glorified installation manuals, and web-forum diatribes of dubious provenance. In this book, Rega attempted to redress the balance.
The book itself is three books in one binding. The first part is Philpot’s extensive history of Rega from its kitchen table days (when Tony Relph and Roy Gandy were making Planet turntables in the evenings and weekends while holding down day jobs) to the present (and, if the mythical Naiad ever sees the light of day, the future). The last is interviews with key personnel in Rega, and the two authors of the book. In between are 94 densely packed pages of turntable engineering concepts. This is Roy Gandy, translated from Engineer to English by Paul Messenger. It puts all things turntable on the same page, and although reading this book won’t turn you into a turntable designer, it does give one a profound appreciation of just what goes into the design, development, and manufacture of a turntable. More importantly, it goes some way to explain why those design decisions are made. There is also a section on myths, which is dismissive of VTA adjustment, the impact of structural-borne versus airborne feedback, long tonearms, fancy internal wiring, and so on. Infuriating as it might be to admit it, a pretty good case for busting those myths is made each time.
The book in its entirety is something of a must-read for Rega die-hards, and dealers. But more than a simple hagiography, the book has a refreshing honesty to its first and last parts, and The Engineering section is a much-needed analysis of turntable-making. OK, so if you followed this slavishly, you would find yourself making a Rega turntable, which either means the company only makes correct decisions about its engineering, or the book has some aspects of Rega dogma (I’m fairly sure if a similar book was written by Linn, for example, it would come to very different conclusions about suspension systems). However, that’s looking at ‘A Vibration Measuring Machine’ in the wrong way. Think of it as an intuition pump. Reading the whole book from cover to cover gives you an insight into how Rega works, but it also shows how engineering decisions in turntable design are reached. Well worth reading for any vinylista.
Price and Contact details
Price: £39.50 (excluding shipping)
Sold by: Rega Research
Tel: +44 (0)1702 461982