Rega published a book last year, an autobiography of sorts that charts the oft challenging history of the company and its products; they called the book A Vibration Measuring Machine (reviewed inHi-Fi+ Issue 149).This tells you a lot about Rega’s approach to designing turntables, one where the aim is to extract maximum detail from the vinyl groove with the minimum of distortion being introduced by the ‘measuring’ process. While most other turntable makers appear to base their designs on what went before, Rega pioneers new technologies and techniques, and as a result makes some of the best turntables available at their given price points. In fact, few turntables equal the Rega RP10 in my opinion.
Having achieved turntable nirvana, Rega realised that it needed a cartridge that was good enough to let people hear what its turntables could do. Rega’s approach to developing a serious moving coil cartridge has been as unique as anything that has been done for the turntables. The vast majority of MCs have a tie-wire that secures the back end of the stylus to the body of the cartridge and this fixing can be adjusted to tune the characteristics of the transducer. In the Apheta 2, Rega created an MC without a tie-wire so it could be produced without the need for hand tuning, thus creating a cartridge with greater consistency of character than usual. They did this by designing a rhomboid pivot pad suspension with butyl rubber that has a molecular migration characteristic, in other words, it bonds to the cantilever and the cartridge body over time without the need for any adhesive. It’s pretty clever stuff even by the standards of moving coil design.
The body is machined from aluminium to very high precision and houses an ‘ultra-low mass’ generator, that is the iron cross that supports the coils. This is considerably smaller than usual and the signal is generated by a neodymium magnet system, which itself is very compact indeed. You can see as much by looking closely because the cover is transparent polycarbonate, which keeps dust out and protects the fragile wiring without adding mass. The Aphelion is differentiated from the Apheta 2 by its cantilever and stylus; the former using a boron rod with a slot in the end that holds a vital profile diamond stylus. There is a loop in the Aphelion body to protect the stylus from knocks, which adds mass and potential for resonance but replacing the stylus is always going to be a pricey procedure on a cartridge like this, so it’s a compromise worth making.